Tag Archives: bad ideas

CHOM changes logo, pretends it’s more than that

CHOM's new logo

That’s CHOM’s new logo.

No, seriously.

No, seriously.

They launched it this morning, to great fanfare:

With PJ Stock joining the morning show this week (it will be “Chantal, PJ and Bad Pete”), it made sense to do it now. CHOM had risked being the only Montreal music station not undergoing a bullshit renaissance over the past year (see Mix 96, Q92, Énergie).

They made a big deal of it on the morning show, though I can’t figure out what other than the logo is changing. The tagline is still “The Spirit of Rock”, and it sounds like the music is still going to be the same (Pete Marier made a vague reference to “nicely tempoed rock and roll”). The press release makes mention of “more music” (sound familiar?), but gives little details. It lists three bands: 30 Seconds to MarsCavo and Shinedown (three bands I’ve never heard of) as examples of music that will “now strengthen the core of music that CHOM listeners love”, whatever that means. Listening to their music just now, I can’t say that makes me terribly optimistic.

But, it also reassures loyal CHOM listeners that Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Pink Floyd and Metallica aren’t going anywhere.

You can listen to their new audio branding here, which sounds pretty indistinguishable from their old branding if you ask me.

The logo

CHOM’s old logos are everywhere, they’re familiar, and they feel like the kinds of logos you’d find on a classic rock station:

CHOM's old bumper-sticker logo

With a 2002 redesign, it kept the red and black motif, even if it lost some of its charm. Still, it was clean and simple. Professional, even if a bit too corporate:

CHOM's most recent logo

This new monstrosity of a logo looks like it was cooked up by a 14-year-old in his basement using Adobe Illustrator. The black and orange seem to evoke a Harley Davidson-esque feel* (without being so similar that they’d get sued over it), but other than that there doesn’t seem to be any reason behind it. Why orange? Why something that looks like an American highway sign? (Is it because Tom Cochrane’s Life Is A Highway is going to be even more overplayed?) Why go overboard on the simulated gradients?

*UPDATE (Feb. 2): Apparently it’s no coincidence. Their contest of the week involves giving out a Harley Davidson motorcycle.

Why is there nothing about this logo that makes me think of Montreal or rock music?

It’s been compared to a U.S. hockey team’s logo. I can’t think of a worse insult.

If this is CHOM’s “new baby”, I’m just going to have to be brutally honest: It’s a really ugly baby.

UPDATE (Feb. 11): Hour’s Craig Silverman explains the new logo with comments from program director Daniel Tremblay (and quotes this blog post). Rue Frontenac also has a piece on CHOM’s attempts to attract a younger audience.

Just give money, m’kay?

Mittens for Haiti!

I passed by this donation bin setup at Concordia for Haiti. In it, I saw bags with scarves, winter coats, and mittens.

I’m guessing they were from people who have never been to Haiti, and who aren’t experts in meteorology. (Or, as someone comments below, hopefully for Haitian refugees coming here, which would save on shipping costs.)

The difficulty in getting supplies (particularly the right ones) to disaster zones is one of the reasons charities ask you to give money instead of stuff. A lot of stuff, unfortunately, is useless.

Hope for Haiti Now is on until 10 p.m. on CBC, CTV, Global, CityTV, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, Vermont Public Television, CNN, MuchMusic, MTV Canada, National Geographic Channel, WGN, WPIX and BET. Quebec’s Ensemble pour Haïti airs on Radio-Canada, TVA, V, Télé-Québec, TV5, LCN, RDI, MusiMax and Musique Plus.

Remember if you’re watching the U.S. special to donate to Canadian charities to take advantage of the government’s donation matching program 1-877-51-HAITI or canadaforhaiti.com.

The Globe Ad Fail

Newspaper advertisements – both in print and online – often suffer from failure of context, where the ad seems inconsiderate next to specific kinds of news stories (usually bad ones).

In newspapers, it tends to happen because advertisers don’t know what copy will appear next to their ads, and copy editors often (for good reason) don’t know what ads will appear next to their copy. The most obvious example is an ad for an airline next to a story about a plane crash (which is why airlines regularly pull their ads after plane crashes, and editors are told not to put plane crash stories next to airline ads).

The Globe and Mail Jan. 20 Pages A8-A9

In today’s Globe and Mail, American Express has one of those special-order ads, the ones with a weird shape that dominate pages without filling them, purposefully leaving holes for editorial copy so that readers’ eyes will stay on the page.

The ad reads: “Tired of standing in line?” (or, more accurately, “Tired of standing in liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine?” – the lower-case “I”s like little stick figures weaving across the two-page spread), with a kicker that talks about travel (it doesn’t say so explicitly, but the assumption is plane travel for a vacation).

You can probably figure out where this is going by now.

Two editorial holes appear on the page, and both contain news about Haiti. On the top, two standalone pictures from photographer Peter Powell of people struggling for survival. The headline reads: “Where food and water are worth fighting for”. On the bottom, an article from Paul Koring about the overtaxed Port-au-Prince airport.

It’s not just an ad fail, it’s a huge, spectacular double fail filling a two-page spread in the middle of the A section of Canada’s national newspaper. Making fun of standing in line is cute anywhere in a newspaper except next to a picture of starving Haitians beating each other up for the necessities of life. And having an ad about vacation travel works everywhere except next to a piece on how the airport is congested at the most awful place on the planet right now.

It’s not like it was a massive coincidence that this stuff ended up on this page. Haiti coverage is all over this paper, and has been for the past week.

So, then, I have to ask: Did no one at American Express Canada (wow that’s a silly name) think for a moment that the holes they left for editorial content might be filled by news from a disaster that’s already a week old, and that such coverage might not play well with their campaign? Did no one in the Globe’s advertising department put two and two together?

This is the risk you run when you book these kinds of ads, especially in the A section. Advertiser beware.

See also: Timothy Hunt, who points to a similar problem with a similar ad in another edition.

A study into Quebec media

Quebec culture minister Christine St-Pierre announced at the FPJQ conference that she has ordered a study be done on the future of media in Quebec. Dominique Payette, a professor at Université Laval and former journalist for Radio-Canada, has been put in charge of this study.

The scope seems to be pretty large, and could touch on everything from whether newspapers should be subsidized to whether the government should fund a news department at Télé-Québec. (My knee-jerk reaction to both would be “no”.)

Although the situation in Quebec media is different from the rest of the world (some would say we’re behind the times, which is a plus for newspapers and television networks), I don’t know if it’s so different that a study like this will bring any new insight into this debate that has already been over-analyzed by self-proclaimed experts all over the world.

More information at Le Devoir, Agence France-Presse (!) and Projet J, which has an interview with St-Pierre.

All your eggs in one Scribd

This blog post at the Globe and Mail is kind of funny.

It started off innocent enough: the Globe wanted to embed a part of the auditor-general’s report into a news article, so it posted a chapter to a website called Scribd, which converts PDFs into embeddable Flash applications.

The auditor-general, however, apparently took exception to that move. It wasn’t because of copyright infringement – the report is freely available on the AG’s website. It was because, the office said, “On the Scribd website, it appears, or it makes it appear, that anyone using the document or accessing the document has an ability to adapt the content and use it in different ways.”

Their concern was people altering the document, and potentially making others believe the alterations were genuine.

Setting aside for the moment the AG office’s apparent misinterpretation of technology and the power people have to alter other people’s Scribd documents, not to mention the fact that this in no way prevents people from forging AG reports (is this really a big issue? Is there a huge auditor-general-report counterfeiting industry out there I don’t know about?), I suppose such a concern makes sense. And besides, all they were asking was to link to the report on the AG’s website instead, a small accommodation.

The Globe initially relented, replacing their embedded Scribd document with a link to the PDF on the AG’s website. But after the public (well, okay, noted copyright activist Michael Geist) objected, the Globe changed its mind and reposted the Scribd document.

The auditor-general, determined to push its case, then filed a copyright infringement claim with Scribd itself, and Scribd took the document down. The Globe responded by hosting a copy of the PDF on its server and pointing to that.

As Geist says, this is a clear case of government exploiting crown copyright against the media (unlike in the United States, government publications and works in Canada are subject to copyright, though it is rarely enforced). It also brings up questions about the Globe’s editorial processes and the auditor-general’s office wanting to control information.

But the last part of this story makes me wonder: Are we relying a bit too much on fly-by-night third-party free-as-in-beer services?

It’s one thing to use Google Analytics or WordPress or Linux, but Scribd? Twitter? CoverItLive? These services are young, run mainly out of venture capital financing (instead of a sustainable business model), and there’s no guarantee they won’t just close up shop tomorrow, taking all our data with them. (And unlike Linux or WordPress, they’re not open source, which means they control their software and your data.)

As the Scribd case showed the Globe, the service can unilaterally delete your data, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Twitter has periodic outages that nobody can control, yet some have already turned Twitter into a mission-critical component of their business model.

Just because it’s free – even to big media companies – doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

CBC fee-for-carriage solution isn’t really one

The fee-for-carriage/local TV debate is over. The CBC has solved it. In was a stroke of absolute brilliance, the Mother Corp. has come up with a system that makes local broadcasters happy, reduces cable costs for consumers, and provides a fair system that doesn’t threaten cable companies’ profits.

Oh, and they solved the digital TV transition problem too.

Haha, just kidding. Their proposal does nothing of the sort.

On Tuesday, the CBC heralded a submission it made to the CRTC that “offers a solution to the issue of the affordability should a compensation regime for the value of local television signals be implemented.”

I asked the CBC for a copy of this submission, and they kindly forwarded it to me. I’ve uploaded it here for you to read (PDF).

Here is the key part of the CBC’s proposal (emphasis mine):

The CRTC should require cable and satellite companies to offer consumers a small, all Canadian basic package which would include all local television stations plus a few other licensed services.  The rate for this small basic package would not exceed a maximum rate established by the CRTC.  This would ensure the affordability of television service for all Canadians.

Consumers would be free to purchase – but would not be required to purchase – any additional services they may want that are not included in the small basic package.  The cable and satellite companies would negotiate with broadcasters to determine the compensation payable for the services they distribute – including the local television services in the basic package.  The CRTC would act as arbitrator in any situations where the parties could not agree.

The CBC explains how this would work in its “straightforward” three-step process:

First, the Commission would need to determine the services to be included in the streamlined basic package.

Second, the cable and satellite BDUs would have to negotiate wholesale rates with the programming services included in the new basic package – including the local television stations.  Commission arbitration would be available if the parties could not reach an agreement.

Third, the Commission would approve the proposed rate to be charged for this basic package.

Wait, hold on a second. Wasn’t the entire point of “negotiation for value” that consumers would have the choice of what local television stations they would carry on cable? The CBC’s proposal does away with that (what a surprise) and goes back to forcing the cable companies to carry their stations. It mentions that they would “negotiate wholesale rates”, but what kind of negotiation can you have when the only response the cable and satellite companies can give is “yes”?

So this would go to “arbitration” in front of the CRTC. Which means the CRTC would simply set the rate for carrying local stations.

In other words, this is fee for carriage.

In fact, it goes beyond fee for carriage. Now the CRTC would set the price for basic cable as well, and say what channels can and can’t be carried on it:

Cable and satellite BDUs would not be permitted to include any additional services in the basic package beyond those required by the Commission.

Surely they could throw in some freebies (like advertising channels) and nobody would get hurt.

The CBC’s argument includes a lot of charts and data showing that cable and satellite companies are rolling in cash while broadcasters face certain doom. These things, of course, we knew already. It also brings up all the “save local TV” talking points, like how taxes aren’t taxes:

It has become all too common in the Canadian communications environment for cable and satellite companies to disguise items on their consumers’ bills as government imposed retail taxes when they are not (e.g., “system access fee”, “government regulatory recovery fee”, “LPIF tax”, “CRTC LPIF Fee”).

While fee-for-carriage is still up in the air, the LPIF fee is a tax as much as the GST is. It’s a mandatory percentage fee added to the total price of a service that’s taken by the government. The fact that the CRTC says the cable companies should pay it instead of consumers is semantics at best.

It’s not that I oppose the LPIF, or even fee-for-carriage, but don’t get all bent out of shape because we call a tax a tax.

Cheap cable solves digital TV?

The submission also pretends to offer a solution to the digital TV transition. In addition to requiring many people across the country to modify or replace television sets that are up to half a century old, the transition will mean many Canadians in remote regions won’t have access to free, over-the-air TV, because the broadcasters are too poor/cheap to replace the analog transmitters with digital ones.

I’ve already argued that this digital transition is completely unnecessary, and that goes double for remote areas with few television stations. But the CRTC is going ahead with it anyway, and in August 2011 will create a problem where none existed.

So what is the CBC proposing? Well, their argument is that cheap cable can replace free television:

While not everyone would choose to subscribe to such a service, those who did not would not be deciding on the basis of affordability.

If this sounds a bit familiar, it’s because Bell thought up the same thing with cheap satellite. Both seem to ignore the fact that cheap is not free. Though it’s unclear how much basic cable would cost under CBC’s plan (I’m willing to guess it won’t be much cheaper than it is now), it will still be infinitely larger than zero.

There’s also another problem with this idea: The CRTC setting the rate for basic cable tips the economic scales, and reduces the incentive for entrepreneurs to enter the cable market, especially in remote areas where the economies of scale don’t work out as well in their favour.

Perhaps the CRTC would set a different rate for big-market and small-market cable, but then it starts to get more complicated.

What is basic?

The CBC’s submission is based on the premise that basic packages contain a bunch of channels that Canadians don’t want and are being forced to pay for. It doesn’t list them, nor does it list the channels it would want to keep.

To get some context, I looked at the channels that are included in my basic (digital) service through Videotron:

  • 10 broadcast stations:
    • CBFT (2, Radio-Canada)
    • CBMT (6, CBC)
    • CJOH (8, CTV Ottawa’s retransmitter in Cornwall)
    • CFTM (10, TVA)
    • CFCF (12, CTV Montreal)
    • CIVM (17, Télé-Québec)
    • CFTU (29, Canal Savoir)
    • CFJP (35, V, ex-TQS)
    • CKMI (46 Global)
    • CJNT (62)
  • Three parliamentary channels:
    • Assemblée Nationale
    • CPAC (French)
    • CPAC (English)
  • Eight must-carry specialty networks
    • CBC News Network
    • RDI
    • The Accessible Channel
    • Aboriginal Peoples’ Television Network
    • The Weather Network
    • MétéoMédia
    • Avis de recherche
    • TV5
  • Télé Achats (an advertising network that would be silly to demand subscriber fees)
  • VOX, Videotron’s public access channel
  • Cable barkers, including the Canal Info Videotron (Channel 1), the video on demand barker channel and the Viewer’s Choice / Canal Indigo barkers
  • GameTV
  • Local radio stations, Galaxie and other audio-only services

With the exception of GameTV and the advertising channels (which we’re not charged for), these are all part of the basic service because the CRTC requires it to carry them.

So which of these channels would the CBC make discretionary? Surely not the parliamentary channels, nor the cable access channel, nor its own all-news channel.

Maybe I’m on the wrong track. For one thing, Videotron forces its customers to choose a package (either a theme package or an a-la-carte channel package) in addition to the basic service. This would stop under the CBC proposal.

On the satellite side, there’s Bell TV, whose digital basic package includes, besides broadcast television stations and must-carry networks, the following:

  • Treehouse
  • W Network
  • CTV News Channel
  • Vision TV
  • Teletoon Retro
  • MTV Canada
  • The Shopping Channel

These would also be pulled from the basic package under the CRTC proposal.

There is also, of course, analog cable, in which everyone gets the same service. That includes more channels, including:

  • Vision TV
  • YTV
  • MuchMusic
  • TSN
  • CMT
  • VRAK.TV
  • MusiquePlus
  • RDS
  • Showcase
  • Bravo
  • Discovery Channel
  • W Network
  • Canal Vie
  • MusiMax
  • Canal D

But analog cable doesn’t provide for discretionary channels, at least not on the level of digital.

Despite my criticisms, there’s some merit to some of the CBC’s proposal, specifically the creation of a basic package, whether on satellite, digital cable or analog cable. The practice of forcing people using digital services to add packages to basic lineups needs to stop.

But what the CBC is proposing is fee for carriage, and that’s a tax. And it would do nothing to stop the cable and satellite oligopolies from further solidifying their hold on the market.

Traffic problem: solved.

Matt Forsythe points out this video from the NFB’s archives, talking to Mayor Jean Drapeau about plans to improve traffic in the city, which has by now grown so much it’s on the other side of the mountain.

Among the plans discussed are, of course, the widening of thoroughfares like Dorchester Blvd. and Henri-Bourassa Blvd. (but don’t worry, they’ll still have sidewalks) and the creation of a new elevated expressway on the north side of the island, which will be totally awesome and maintain our status as Canada’s largest city.

Oh 1955…

(That sound you’re hearing right now is Richard Bergeron having a stroke.)

Dear “Friends of Louise Harel”

Friends of Louise Harel

Friends of Louise Harel

Good for you with the website rallying anglos to the defence of Louise Harel. Providing a new voice in the election campaign is always welcome. And you’re getting the francophone media to use anglo headlines, which is always a plus.

Here’s the thing: Maybe people would believe you more about the surge of Montrealers from ethnic communities who have come out in support of her if the pictures on your website weren’t stock photos from a U.K.-based stock photo service.

These aren’t Montrealers, nor are they friends of Louise Harel, so why are there pictures of them on your website? Does Harel not have enough real friends that you’ve had to import pictures of fake ones?

UPDATE (Oct. 5): And I see you’re also plagiarizing blog posts. (Original, FOLH version)

Transcontinental and the freelance union oxymoron

Over the past few years, a group of Canadians fed up with increasingly restrictive standardized freelance contracts from large print publishers (combined with stagnant or even declining freelance fees) has been toying with the idea of starting up a union.

It’s not clear what form such a union would take, since the entire point of being “freelance” is to negotiate deals on your own. But the media environment that has developed, with just about every magazine and large newspaper owned by one of only a dozen or so major media companies, has meant that freelancers face a take-it-or-leave-it proposition that leaves no room for negotiation. Groups of professional freelancers have been looking at banding together to get these standard contracts changed so that publishers have to pay if they want to re-use freelance content on other media, particularly on the Internet or in electronic databases.

This all came to a head this week when the Canadian Writers Group, the Periodical Professional Writers Association of Canada and a bunch of other similar groups called on all freelancers to boycott Transcontinental, which publishes Canadian Living, Elle Canada and dozens of regional newspapers. The press release is here (PDF).

The groups argue that the so-called Master Agreement (PDF) that Transcontinental is forcing all its writers to sign is over-the-top, even to the point of licensing TV rights for free.

The move prompted reaction from Transcontinental, which said it was surprised and it thought the contract was fair. It argues that the language is misunderstood, and that the rights grab is only for properties tied to a particular brand, and that Transcontinental can’t re-use content across brands (read: magazines and their associated websites) without paying an extra fee. The writers’ groups dispute those arguments.

So the campaign has begun, and writers are asking people to boycott anything published by Transcontinental. They’re even asking people to unfollow The Hockey News on Twitter, since it’s a Transcontinental publication.

This is all coming at the same time as Transcontinental is considering a lockout of its employees at community weeklies in and around Montreal. Not a good week for the company.

Freelance for free

The problem with this boycott campaign is the same one that has caused these contracts to be put forward in the first place: writers are a dime a dozen, and so many of them are willing to work for peanuts that publishers find they can demand more rights for less pay and still have people climbing over each other trying to get a byline.

The erosion of freelancer rights has already hit newspapers, where Canwest, Sun Media and others have forced their freelancers to accept these terms or stop contributing. Now Transcontinental is trying to move this to the magazine world (with a contract that’s still much more generous to freelancers than the newspaper freelance contracts), and the professional writing community has said it’s not going to take it anymore.

Even with a writers’ boycott in place, expect plenty of journalism school students, part-time writers and others to jump at the chance to take the place of the professional freelancers for the few bucks an article that Transcontinental will offer them.

This slide to mediocrity won’t end because of a boycott by the cream of the crop, it’ll end when either publishers decide that the content they’re paying peanuts for is too crappy to justify the savings, or when young status-hungry writers figure out that an eight-point byline nobody will remember and a cheque for $100 isn’t worth all the work they’ve spent crafting a magazine feature.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for either of those to happen, unfortunately.

Death to the lip dub

I got a short email today pointing to “a pretty cool video on YouTube”: students from UQAM doing a lip dub to the Black Eyed Peas’ I Gotta Feeling (a song also responsible for the wiping of all meaning from the term “flash mob”).

My response: sigh.

For those of you unaware of this concept, it all began (or, at least, it grew online fame) with an iconic video by the staff at Connected Ventures (they’re the people behind College Humor, BustedTees and other young, hip online properties). It starts off with a young woman (Amanda Ferri) pressing play on her iPod, and then follows as a bunch of people, one after the other, lip sync to Harvey Danger’s Flagpole Sitta:

The music cuts out at the end to reveal the staff singing the end of the song a capella. The video is well done, well choreographed (you notice it’s done entirely in one take) and creative, but despite all the planning that went into it you get the sense that everyone had lots of fun making it.

Ferri uploaded the video to Vimeo on April 20, 2007, and it has since been seen about 2 million times, not including all the views on the College Humor site and elsewhere. (There’s even a making-of.) That’s far more than is needed to be branded viral (and certainly a lot for a 2007 video on a non-YouTube site).

For some reason, rather than simply admiring the video for its creativity and entertainment value, some people decided they wanted to create their own versions. The first such video I saw was done by Hochschule Furtwangen University last year. It was more professional, and clearly involved a lot more planning than some drunk college kids bored after work. But despite picking a different song, it was still the same concept.

Earlier this year saw the first such video produced in Quebec, by students at HEC (at least according to Dominic Arpin, who tracks these kinds of things). I thought it was cute, but the fact that it basically copied the same routine (albeit with a different song and a different cast) kind of bothered me. HEC followed with another one. There was one by Buzz Image Group (jazzed up with some special effects), and another by Sacré Coeur Hospital. Hipsters around the world have copied the concept.

It’s not even that many copied the original idea, they copied the original script. Many copied it exactly, from the single person with headphones to the crowd singing at the end with no music (all in one take). It’s as if they were prohibited from making any changes to that formula.

The result is something that, while no doubt incredibly fun to produce, lacks any originality. And without that spark of wow-this-is-cool, the videos become little more than a bunch of kids mouthing the words to a pop song one at a time. And lip syncing by itself is not fun to watch.

So please, to those people considering doing something like this: Put some of that energy and talent into coming up with something new.

Don’t expect me to be impressed by a bad copy of something someone else has already done, any more than I should be impressed with Wipeout Québec or the new Melrose Place.

UPDATE: Dominic Arpin, Patrick Lagacé and others seem to love them still, so maybe I’m out on a limb here. So be it. I’m not preventing anyone else from enjoying these videos.

UPDATE (Sept. 22): Global National, which apparently has run out of real news to cover, also sent a reporter to cover this.

Two metro elevators open on Monday

An elevator at Berri sits just above a recently reopened escalator.

An elevator at Berri-UQAM sits just above a recently reopened escalator.

The STM has asked the media to assemble at the Lionel-Groulx metro station on Monday morning to mark the inauguration of elevators there and at Berri-UQAM.

The elevators, whose construction began more than a year ago, are the first to be put in service on the island, and will join the three stations in Laval as the only ones so equipped. Elevators at Bonaventure, Côte Vertu and Henri-Bourassa are also under construction.

Continue reading

V?

TQS - V télé

That’s what TQS is going to change its name to: V. Not Canal V, just V. This, after seven months of brainstorming, is the best they could come up with. The idea is that the network will have a lot of stuff starting with V, and so this links it all together.

Coverage:

I guess Canada has this thing about single-letter networks: E!, /A\, D and now V.

And yet, the same thing I said about “A” a year ago still applies: The name is ungoogleable, and therefore useless in a new media environment. Go ahead, put “V” into a Google News search and see what comes up. Compare that to TQS. If you think that’s a minor issue for a television network, you clearly don’t understand how the Internet works.

Even Remstar should have figured that out quickly. The website isn’t v.com or v.ca, but vtele.ca. That should have clued them in that their idea was flawed.

Besides, V is also the name of a bunch of other television networks around the world: the multinational Channel [V], Portugal’s Canal V on Cablovisao, plus all sorts of networks that call themselves VTV.

Maxime Rémillard and TQS’s PR team expect all the media will be talking about this in the morning. And he’s right, the story is everywhere. But in what is perhaps the worst timing ever, the news will be packaged (like in this Radio-Canada piece) with news that came out earlier Wednesday that TQS had violated the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ code of ethics with unfair contests on its Call-TV program.

That story is being reported at Presse Canadienne, Rue Frontenac, La Presse and Le Soleil, among others.

The decision of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council, which decides on complaints against private broadcasters, is available online. In summary, it takes issue with the fairness of the contests, particularly with one that asked callers to guess names that turned out to be anything but guessable: Pancho, Hakan, Gabor, Darko, Lamar and Nanno. (I’m not sure if those were chosen to be intentionally deceptive, or because the show is shot in Austria and the crew have no idea what names are common in Quebec.) It also said the program was not being transparent enough about its rules, which is especially a problem when people are asked to pay to take part.

TQS, for its part, didn’t put up a defence of the program. Instead, it absolved itself of responsibility, claiming Call TV was an infomercial, and wanted to pass the buck to creator Mass Response.

The CBSC rightfully called this suggestion ludicrous on its face, reminding TQS that broadcasters are responsible for everything they put on air.

But the CBSC also said it could only adjudicate stuff that was broadcasted, not the stuff that went on behind the scenes. It couldn’t comment on how people were charged for their calls, or whether they might have been overcharged. That, it said, was the responsibility of the government or another government-run body.

That’s one of two big problems with this decision: It doesn’t solve the underlying problem. This isn’t an issue of inappropriate content making it to air, or a broadcaster providing biased information during a newscast. This is an unlicensed overseas gambling operation masquerading as a quiz show to deceive people out of their money one dollar at a time. The investigation must be done by Quebec’s gambling authority, not the CBSC.

The other big problem goes to the heart of the CBSC itself. It’s one of those industry-self-regulation bodies, and so it’s in its best interest not to impose serious fines. Therefore, it doesn’t impose any fines or other serious punishment for such gross violations of its codes.

Instead, despite being found in violation of its own industry’s code, the only thing TQS has been mandated to do is air a short notice twice during the next week.

And presumably make Call TV more fair. Otherwise they might get an even more strongly-worded letter.

Rogers reverse graffiti ads are a ridiculous waste

A worker pressure-washes the sidewalk through a Rogers ad template

A worker pressure-washes the sidewalk through a Rogers ad template

The other night, leaving work just after midnight, I noticed a pair of guys with a truck doing some cleaning. It’s not uncommon for graffiti removal pressure-washing to take place late at night downtown, since that’s when pedestrian and other traffic is at its lowest.

But I noticed something odd: They were spraying a board of some sort.

The Rogers template up close

The Rogers template up close

Getting a closer look, I saw it was an ad for Rogers, and put two and two together: these guys were part of some guerilla marketing campaign for Rogers, engaging in “reverse graffiti

Now, reverse graffiti is not a new concept. It’s been used before to great effect artistically, and it’s been usurped by corporate forces too. So despite what the marketing genius behind this thinks, there’s no new ground being broken here.

But that’s not what bothers me.

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