Pierre-Karl Péladeau, the big cheese behind Quebecor, caused a bit of a stink this week when he wrote an op-ed (published in French in Le Devoir and in English in the Financial Post) attacking the CBC over the fee-for-carriage debate, even though the CRTC has already decided that the CBC shouldn’t be able to charge cable and satellite providers for permission to rebroadcast its signals.
The CBC (or, more accurately, Radio-Canada) has been a bug up Péladeau’s butt for quite a while now. He’s angry that the government-funded broadcaster competes with his privately-run TVA network, and similarly how its all-news network RDI competes with TVA’s all-news network LCN.
It’s not that he doesn’t think there should be a public broadcaster. He just doesn’t want there to be one that competes with the private networks, offering popular programming and in particular taking U.S. programs and re-airing them for profit. The Radio-Canada envisioned by Péladeau is more like CPAC, contributing to the public dialogue but not with anything that people actually want to watch. Certainly nothing anyone would want to pay to advertise on.
In a way, I can see where he’s coming from. Imagine if you ran a business, and next door there’s a competing business that gets heavily subsidized by the government. I’m sure the CBC bosses and supporters have a ready-made retort to attack that comparison (CBC boss Hubert Lacroix touched on some of them in the National Post), but even if it’s not perfect, it still makes a strong point.
If only someone who’s not Pierre-Karl Péladeau (or from some government-hating conservative think-tank) would make it, it might carry more weight.
This week, though, Péladeau added another aspect to his anti-CBC rant:
Furthermore, the CBC has launched the Tou.tv website without consulting the industry, a move that jeopardizes Canada’s broadcasting system by providing free, heavily subsidized television content on the Internet without concern for the revenue losses that may result, not only for the CBC but also for other stakeholders, including writers and directors.
By “without consulting the industry”, he means, well, him. Tou.tv has programming from Télé-Québec, TV5, TFO and others. V and RDS aren’t included, but they have their own websites that provide video on demand.
TVA, meanwhile, doesn’t offer shows on demand online, even those shows that you’d think would get a pretty high audience there. Instead, it offers them on Videotron’s Illico on demand (Videotron, by wacky coincidence, is also owned by Quebecor).
Péladeau argues about “heavily subsidized television content”, which is hardly new to Tou.tv. Somehow, I suspect he might be a bit more angry at the fact that Tou.tv has become popular, and might even become a Québécois Hulu, leaving TVA in the dark.
Mind you, Hulu isn’t making money either.
Hulu is, in fact, profitable:
Tou.TV is an awful website.
1. If you want people to visit you site, don’t put white text on black background. Websites simply don’t work this way.
2. No comment function, no recommendation function. In other words, the only thing the site can offer is Watching TV, yet it doesn’t work on iPod or iPad.
3. What would you expect when you pull one part of content from Radio-canada.ca and rebrand it as “Tou.tv”? Few new content created, therefore no new value added.
4. Because of 1, 2, and 3, the traffic is minimum and still decreasing.
Usually, a public corporation does a better job in making websites (see BBC/CBC) because they have deeper pocket; in the case of Radio-Canada, it’s complete opposite. The website of Tou.tv is just another big fail. Frankly, I don’t get the logic behind that.
Pierre-Karl is correct; only public-funded corporations can waste taxpayers’ money like that.
How do you know the “traffic is minimum and still decreasing”? Where are you getting your figures from?
Also, while the look doesn’t thrill me either, this is hardly the first website I’ve seen that features white text on black background and I have a hard time believing it’s even partly responsible for what you claim is happening to their traffic.
Alexa provides traffic info.
Why don’t you name one of top 100 website using white text on black backgrounds?
White text on black background is a big no-no in web design. Of course, there are tons of bad web design examples out there; tou.tv is one of them.
While you can use black background on a couple of special sections, dark background shouldn’t be on every page. Do you want to live everyday as Halloween?
Setting aside the fact that Alexa doesn’t analyze traffic directly and can’t really be trusted on matters like this, the link you provided shows that traffic is actually stable, not declining.
As for white text on a dark background, who cares? People don’t go to this website to read, they go there to watch videos. And videos should appear on a dark background so they don’t distract.
Also, the NFB blog just announced the site’s five millionth view in just over a year:
The content at NFB.ca is different from Tou.tv, I know; but it’s another made-in-Quebec white-on-black video site that seems to be doing okay, even when it’s not Halloween…
I’ll throw in a few points that I’m sure will spark a few more posts from the readers.
1 – I understand what Peladeau is trying to get at. But, would you accept the francophone market being completely controlled by Quebecor? It’s bad enough as it is now. If we were to say that another network or media company where to step up if SRC would step out of the picture and compete with TVA and company, OK! But, the pockets and the influence of Quebecor are way too deep. We’ll turn Quebec in a province controlled by Peladeau much in the same way the Irvings seem to control New Brunswick.
2 – Lack of focus on the part of SRC/CBC. As far as I understand, the public broadcaster was suppose to provide just that. A national broadcast for Canada. That meant offer over the air TV and Radio. That focus seems to be lost. Both services are involved in things that don’t do that. The CBC owns a piece of Siruis Canada. Both services have Cable speciality channels, or are in partner with others in these channels. They are doing stuff on the web as mentioned. And the more they do this, the more they spread themselves thin with the funds the are granted. I think the SRC/CBC should focus on providing TV and Radio over the air for Canadians. This is the front line for access for all Canadians. The rest, let somebody else do it.
“only public-funded corporations can waste taxpayers’ money like that”
Yeah, they’re letting us watch the stuff that was paid with our taxes whenever we want and without publicity! The bastards!
Pierre-Karl Péladeau, thinks that he is entitled to demand his “vig” from every transaction he comes across. I am fed up with these near Nazi’s and how they think they should run our lives. His newspapers are full of bigotery and fabrications.