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Michael Geist particularly worried about fate of vast piracy network based at University of Ottawa

Renowned Internet law expert Michael Geist says he is opposed to proposals by intellectual property rights holders to regulate online piracy by blocking access to certain websites, and is concerned that the “decent, hard-working people” behind these websites could lose their livelihoods despite having done nothing that he considers seriously wrong.

“Networks like PolterGeist, which I think is among the best out there, and has high-quality content, low latency and no malware whatsoever, shouldn’t be punished because the big media players can’t find ways to make their content easier to consume for a nominal fee,” Geist said. “If only more Bell and Rogers-licensed content was available on YouTube or iTunes, the brilliant minds behind the PolterGeist portal, whoever they might be, wouldn’t have to engage in this behaviour, curating the largest selection of grey-market titles in the world.”

Geist said the piracy networks, which shouldn’t even be called that because what is piracy even anyway, would easily survive a court challenge and in any case with only four servers because the fifth one is undergoing maintenance, the system could easily be moved out of the University of Ottawa campus where it sits now and into any location with an Internet connection, although few would be as fast as a university.

CBC begins search for new sports couple who can be coy about a possible sexual relationship

With two years to go until the next Olympic Games, CBC says it can waste no time in preparing the groundwork for another beloved sports couple who can capture Canadians’ hearts by having them constantly question whether the two are secretly boning.

To that end, the broadcaster is launching a new reality show in which amateur athlete pairs compete to be the next couple who will create buzzworthy moments and maybe appear on Ellen simply because their interaction in competition is face-meltingly hot but they refuse to answer questions about whether they’re actually romantically involved.

CBC admits that beyond pairs figure skating and ice dance, there aren’t too many sports that fit the mold. “There’s mixed couples curling, but there aren’t that many long embraces in that sport,” said Canadian Olympic Committee organizer Josh Natreel. “There are some potentially sexy sports like beach volleyball and wrestling, but it’ll definitely take some creativity to take this to other fields of competition. We’re currently in talks with the International Olympic Committee to see if there aren’t other ways to include mixed pairs in competitions and make them as sexy as possible.”

CBC’s competition, which is open to heterosexual couples as well as homosexual ones, will include advanced seduction techniques and communication strategy sessions to teach them how to on one hand make it clear they’re not sleeping together but on the other hand leave the door open to the idea that they may be lying about that.

“World’s best treated minority” monument slated for Westmount Park

Quebec’s anglophone community, voted the world’s best treated minority for a fifth year in a row by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and United Nations Human Rights Council, will be honoured at some point this year with a monument to be installed in Westmount Park.

The announcement came buried in the Quebec budget presented last week. The government will spend $2.88 million on the monument, which would come in the form of a statue or plaque, and it will be installed in a prominent place in the heart of Quebec’s most anglo city.

“After showing our extreme generosity by allowing the anglophones to have public schools and hospitals, we felt it was the right time to honour how well we are treating this valued community and continue to tolerate its existence,” explained culture minister Luc Fortin. “I have been told we should value our anglophone neighbours so long as they remain a minority. We hope this monument will be an inspiration to figure generations to feel pride at giving the bare minimum.”

Canada’s Indigenous community remains prominent on the list of world’s worst treated minorities. Fortin said they’d figure out what to do about that later.

CTV, searching for a Canadian Roseanne, greenlights pilot for family sitcom set in Scarborough

As the camera pans around the table, several members of a working-class family sit down for a family dinner and are very polite and do not laugh or mistreat each other in any way.

If it’s familiar, it’s no coincidence. CTV is banking off the success of the Roseanne reboot to push a Canadian sitcom about a family in Scarborough that is struggling to make ends meet, has difficulty with social change and is really excited to vote for Doug Ford.

“With Ford’s win all but certain at this point, we want to get our foot in the door and capture those viewers who are part of Ford Nation,” said CTV vice-president of programming May Duppe. “We have plenty of cop dramas and medical dramas. We need a better way to connect with that government-hating, car-driving not-too-openly-racist segment of the population, and we think this will get us there.

“Honestly, we don’t know what else we could do. We’ve run out of ways to reboot Corner Gas.”

The untitled series, to start shooting this summer, will air starting in the fall.

New subsidy to help journalists fill out applications for journalism awards

In a rare showing of intergovernmental cooperation, the Quebec and Canadian governments will jointly fund a new targeted subsidy to help the journalism industry by providing assistance for journalists filling out the dozens of forms to apply for journalism awards.

“Between the National Newspaper Awards, RTDNA awards, Canadian Association of Journalists awards, Michener Award, Judith Jasmin prizes, and various awards sponsored by industry groups, the process is very time-consuming for journalists,” explained Chantal Fossenohm of the Quebec finance department. “The assistance program we’re proposing takes the arduous task of applying for awards, often including writing essays, out of the hands of journalists so they can focus on doing the work that gets them their next award.”

Under the program, an expert award application filler meets with the journalist, selects stories they believe are award-worthy, and prepares first drafts of any essays or letters that must be included in the application. “If all goes well, the journalist will only have to sign a form and everything else will be taken care of,” Fossenohm said.

Junos to honour francophone artists next year by inviting “uhh, Roch Voisine or whoever, is that his name?”

Facing criticism from pundits in Quebec that the Juno Awards were held entirely in English, the organizers of Canada’s biggest music awards show said they would fix the problem next year by inviting legendary francophone artist “uhh, Roch Voisine or whoever, is that his name?” to perform during the live broadcast.

Voisine, the veteran singer and guitar-player-we-think artist from New Brunswick or maybe eastern Quebec, would be happy to act as the token francophone at the ceremony next year, because he’s not doing much else, we think, and we’re pretty sure he’s still alive.

Just in case Voisine, whose first name we’re pretty sure is spelled with an H even though we know that’s a bit weird — it’s a French thing, we think — isn’t available, and Céline Dion can’t be booked on short notice, the Junos believe other francophone artists can be brought in, like … uhh … Harmonium and … Coeur de Pirate and we guess that French lady from Arcade FIre.

The 2019 Junos are on March 17 in London, Ont.

Quebec City to add parking to Petit Champlain St.

Rue du Petit Champlain

Feeling the pressure from suburban drivers upset at new public transit projects that do little to help drivers, Quebec City is instituting a series of measures meant to appeal to people who listen to talk radio behind the wheel. Among the more controversial ones is the plan to add street parking to Petit Champlain St. in Vieux Québec, which begins today.

The narrow street, known for its small artisanal (read: tourist trap) shops with addresses that sometimes have fractions in them, has been pedestrian-only for years, but Mayor Régis Labeaume said this week the merchants have been after him to add parking to stimulate the economy in the area.

The plan is to add parking on one side of the street on weekdays, except for a two-week period during the peak of summer. There won’t be parking meters, but a 60-minute limit will be in place.

Store owners were nearly unanimous in their approval of the plan, noting that anything that increases available parking downtown is by definition good for business.

Radio station signs sponsorship deal for emergency alerts

CFUL-FM (102.1 The Feül) in St. Catharines says it believes it is the first commercial radio station in Canada to sign a sponsorship deal for its emergency alert messages. Insurance company Federated Insurance Corp. will pay an undisclosed amount to have its name mentioned after all emergency alert messages, from flood and tornado warnings to test messages and Amber Alerts.

“We’re thrilled to be innovating in the radio business,” explained CFUL general manager Tom Natroo. “Not only will our audience be well informed about potentially life and death emergencies, but they’ll know who to call to prevent the next emergency from leaving them in financial ruin. And they’ll get an extra 15% off.”

Natroo said the partnership will also extend to special contests during major disasters where a call-in winner will win access to an emergency shelter for them and up to two friends or family members.

Canadiens sign emergency backup goalie Scott Foster to seven-year, $35-million deal

Fresh off his win for the Chicago Blackhawks against the Winnipeg Jets, 36-year-old emergency backup goaltender Scott Foster has been signed to a seven-year, $35-million deal with the Montreal Canadiens, which begins July 1.

Foster, who played 14 minutes for the Blackhawks and had seven saves, has a career 1.000 save percentage and 0.00 goals-against average and is undefeated in the NHL so far, making him statistically the best goalie in the league.

“It was quite a coup for us,” explained Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin, who made the unusual signing of the player after he was released from his Blackhawks contract. Under NHL rules, because the signing happened after the trade deadline, Foster cannot play for the Canadiens this season, except as an emergency backup if both goaltenders get injured in the same day.

Foster said he’s not sure if he’ll give up his day job as an accountant, because as Carey Price’s backup he said he doesn’t expect to be needed that much, so long as Price is healthy.

Price’s 2017-18 backup, Antti Niemi, will see his contract expire on July 1. Bergevin said he still hopes to get something for Niemi on the trade market, hopefully a veteran fourth-line winger.

24 Heures changes format, to be distributed as anarchist zine

Reeling from the recent loss of exclusive distribution rights in Montreal’s metro system, free daily 24 Heures announced today it will undergo a radical transformation, and as of Monday will be distributed as an anarchist zine.

The zine format, which will see the newspaper photocopied on 8.5×11″ letter-sized sheets folded in half, will give it a more edgy look, its publisher explains. The entire paper will be in black and white only, and editors will abandon the sleek digital layout tools they have been using for 15 years and instead lay articles out by hand.

“We hope these changes, combined with a new editorial focus, will help us better reach the youth market,” a note to readers explained. In an interview, the publisher (who did not want his name published) said the idea was to “be more like Vice News and other things the youth like.”

24 Heures will continue to be distributed by people on the street, particularly outside metro stations, but those distributors will change their looks. Gone will be the orange vests, replaced with black ones that have anti-government and anti-corporate stickers and pins all over them.

Distributor Marc Quenneville says he looks forward to adopting the new fight-the-man attitude. “Finally there will be a newspaper that stands up for the working man,” he said.

Monday’s first issue of the new 24 Heures will be sponsored by Subway.

CBC admits it already spent $675 million in new federal money on coke-fuelled orgy

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is in hot water with federal Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly after admitting it already spent the promised $675-million in additional federal funding on a coke-filled orgy for top executives last month.

“We will be conducting an investigation into this incident, but I want to remind everyone that the CBC is an arms-length organization and the federal government will not dictate how it is to spend its money,” Joly explained today at a press conference in Montreal.

Details are sketchy, but it appears that some time around St. Patrick’s Day, senior executives including the board of directors and everyone at the vice-president level and above checked into an expensive hotel in Toronto and went to town on drugs and prostitutes. Cocaine was specifically referenced, but it’s believed heroin, methamphetamine and other drugs were also used, as well as “a considerable quantity” of marijuana.

Board member A. Prelfoulle is still in critical condition at a Toronto hospital being treated for an overdose.

Joly said it’s unfortunate more of the drugs and prostitutes were not shared with more front-line employees, who have also had it rough over the past few years. “I’m sure some of them would have liked this extra money,” she said, once again stressing that the government will not dictate how the corporation is to spend its money.

Normand Brathwaite announces retirement as counterexample to criticisms of racism in Quebec media

Normand Brathwaite as François Bugingo parodying Uptown Funk

Normand Brathwaite in one of his last but-we-have-a-black-guy roles in Bye-Bye 2015

Normand Brathwaite, who for 35 years has proudly been Quebec’s go-to counterexample when confronted with criticisms of racism in the media, says he’s ready to hang up his token hat.

In an announcement posted to Facebook this morning, just after his latest contract with the Union des artistes expired, Brathwaite wrote that it’s time to pass the hat to a new generation of token black guys.

“In my 35 years in showbusiness, I’ve seen a lot of changes,” he wrote. “I went from being the only black guy in a room full of white people to being the only black guy in a room full of white people with a few arabs around.”

Brathwaite pointed to young black actors whose names I couldn’t recognize and said the future of making white people feel less guilty about profiting from a system that discriminates in their favour was in their hands.

But it’s expected that musician and TV and radio host Gregory Charles will take up much of the slack of being referenced by hard-line Quebec sovereignists and media executives alike in smug defiant response to people who say we’re not seeing enough diversity on television screens.

The Parti Québécois issued a statement congratulating Brathwaite for his service. “As an experienced counterexample myself, I know the amount of commitment it takes to be a perfect token, and the toll it takes on you to be constantly used in Twitter discussions between partisan trolls,” said Maka Kotto, on behalf of the entire PQ black caucus. “You should be proud, as I am, of how comfortable you’ve made white people feel for decades now.”

The sudden departure of Brathwaite has led to some scrambling from some quarters, with one Télé-Québec executive asking around if he could consider Adib Alkhalidey a black guy “or just a general ethnic.”

CRTC proposes “hottie basic” rules that would offer all Canadians free TV porn

As Canadians look to new “skinny basic” packages by cable companies with a sense of disappointment, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has decided to try again to win consumers over with a new set of packaging rules.

The new proposal, to be released today, calls for all providers to offer a new “hottie basic” package that would include mandatory channels and at least two pornographic channels, at least one of which would have to be Canadian. The porn channels would have to be offered at a price of $0.69 each, CRTC commissioner Jean-Michel Rousseau said with a nudge.

Rumours of the proposal led to immediate questions about quality, and whether there would be a regulatory way to distinguish, say, Playboy TV from the kind of bland, poorly produced crap you can find anywhere on the Internet these days.

Rousseau said the commission has similar concerns, and has proposed a working group of himself and “mon chum Yannick” to personally monitor the channels offered to see if they meet the commission’s standards. “But we won’t do that together, because eww.”

If all goes according to plan, consumers could see their hottie basic packages as early as Valentine’s Day 2017.

Bell makes $1.2-trillion offer for federal government

Bell parent company BCE Inc., in its most ambitious takeover move yet, has put together a hostile, $1.2-trillion offer for a majority stake in the Government of Canada.

The offer, which was just announced, would make BCE the largest company in the country, and make Canada the largest privately-owned country in the world.

“We were reaching the limits of what we could do under the current federal framework,” Bell says in a note to investors explaining the proposal. “Our board of directors concluded that the only way to continue our growth was to seek to acquire the federal government itself.”

Once the acquisition is complete, Bell would control Canada’s military, its banks, and transportation and telecommunications companies. “The increased flexibility that will come from having a controlling stake in regulatory bodies will give us the power to expand just about every aspect of our business,” the note said.

Analysts were mixed on the proposed deal. Ceci Etonpuassohn of RBC Capital Markets said BCE would be in a highly leveraged position if this deal were to go through, and he wasn’t convinced that the increased ability to levy taxes on 35 million customers would be enough to pay off the massive debt that would be undertaken. “I might have preferred a different option, like a joint deal with Shaw communications and Rogers, or maybe if they’d just started with buying a small province first, as a test run.”

If accepted by Canada’s current owner, Tim Horton, the deal would also require approval from the CRTC, since it changes its own effective ownership. This means approval would likely take another year.

AM980 to adopt all-Star-Trek-talk format

Star Trek Radio

AM980, the radio station once known as Radio Fierté before the French-language LGBT format was abandoned last fall, will be reborn as NCC-980, an innovative new format devoted entirely to discussing Star Trek.

“We’re going to be the first of our kind in this part of the world,” explained Q’lolohk Nagh (born Benjamin Stankowski), who owner Evanov Radio has hired as program director for the station. “This format has cross-generational appeal, attracting a millennial male audience while also going after nostalgic baby boomers and Gen-Xers.”

Nagh said he’s already lined up a few on-air personalities, though he wouldn’t name any names. He’s also promised “bulkhead-to-bulkhead coverage” of the upcoming Montreal Comiccon in July, which has William Shatner, Nichelle Nichols and Kate Mulgrew lined up as guests. “I’m working hard to get them in studio, but nothing’s confirmed yet,” Nagh said.

While there will be the usual Kirk-vs-Picard debates, Nagh said that to fill a full 24/7 schedule, the discussions need to be more interesting than that. He plans to bring on philosophers to debate metaphysical issues (when you transport somewhere, is that really you that materializes?), have creators of fan art discuss their creations, follow the latest news about new series and movies, and of course discuss favourite episodes and movies. One show being planned will also discuss alternate-reality scenarios, a sort of what-if for various storylines.

And capitalizing on the popularity of the “rewatch podcast” format, there will be shows devoted to accompanying fans in the rewatching of classic episodes and movies.

“There’s going to be everything here for old fans, new fans and people who want to be fans,” Nagh said. “We want to be very inclusive. Not assimilated-by-the-Borg inclusive, but welcoming,” he said with a snort.

Nagh, 15, said details of the lineup and programming should be available this summer with the station launch planned this fall. And unlike the previous formats of AM980, which have included Christmas music and easy-listening music, “we intend Star Trek Radio to live long and prosper.”