Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Tim's TV Talk.

Time for me to cut into Brent McKee's territory a bit. Too bad this isn't Tuesday, as the title would have been even more alliterative.

CBC announced this week that ratings for Little Mosque On The Prairie have been terrific. The premiere episode received 2.2 million viewers, a record for a CBC series premiere, while the 8 episodes of the series as a whole generated an average of 1.2 million viewers an episode. These are the kind of numbers generally only generated in Canada by American shows, a level of success also achieved by CTV's Corner Gas, which receives an average of 1.7 million viewers an episode. The success of Little Mosque will no doubt get the Mark Steyns of the world ranting that it's all a plot by those evil lefty multiculturalists to sell us out in the coming Clash of Civilisations, given that the series doesn't portray every Muslim as a potential terrorist third columnist.

I personally have not seen the series, as I don't watch much series television these days. Not to mention that I find the title rather grating and cheesy.

You soon may not be seeing any CBC programming if you live in certain areas of the country and watch it over the airwaves, as opposed to cable and satellite. Apparently the CBC made a submission to the CRTC last fall indicating a desire to cease over the air broadcasting in smaller centres, according to the lobby group Friends of Canadian Broadcasting. Said submission claimed that such broadcasting is increasingly unviable in smaller markets, and that cable and satellite services have supplanted it. FCB disagrees, citing a Canadian Media Research Inc. survey they commissioned that says over the air TV viewing is actually more common in smaller centres that larger ones. The survey also found that 10 percent of Canadians still rely on TV transmitters to view TV. I suspect that if this is true the CBC not only wants to drop transmitters because of the current operating costs, but also because of the costs of installing HDTV compatible transmitters for existing sites.

Of course many people these days are increasingly using the Internet to watch TV and TV type content, and one of the sources of such content, YouTube, is facing legal trouble. US multimedia firm Viacom, owner of such cable outlets as MTV and Comedy Central, is suing YouTube and parent Google over copyright infringement. Viacom claims to have found more that 150 thousand unauthorised video clips of Viacom owned content on the video service in the last two months, and as a result of what they claim is YouTube's complicity in offering such content are suing for 1 billion dollars. They want YouTube to police content themselves, not remove it only if a copyright holder complains as is now the case. Given the amount of material added to YouTube each day, and the variety of sources copyrighted content can come from, this seems highly impractical. Not only would it required a large team of screeners active 24 hours a day it would likely require additional personnel to determine whether there is copyright for specific material and whether the copyright holders want it removed. A much more likely result, should YouTube lose, is the service being heavily curtailed.

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