Monthly Archives: October 2013

The CRTC Wants You To Talk About TV

Today the CRTC released its public consultation on the state of the Canadian broadcasting system.  I assume that most of my readers are involved in the Canadian broadcasting industry and are not members of the general public (I’m not sure about you readers from Russia or the former SSR of Georgia).  So you may be asking yourself “should I get involved in this stage or wait for the industry consultation next spring?”*  You might want to get involved now.  If you are part of a member-based organization then I definitely think that you should get your members involved now.  We’re all part of the public, right?

The CRTC has set up a lot of different ways to get involved.  Find the official invitation here.  You can call, email or fax your thoughts.  There is a discussion forum, similar to past public consultations such as the ones on the wireless code or the CBC.  And new for CRTC public consultations is the encouragement to hold “Flash!” Conferences.  I don’t know the logic behind “Flash!” – flash mob?  It has nothing to do with the software.  The CRTC wants Canadians to gather, talk about the issues, and send the CRTC a report.  Interesting.  There’s a toolkit to facilitate the “Flash!” Conferences and the CRTC has limited funds to subsidize the cost of running them for smaller organizations (apply by November 13, 2014).  There doesn’t seem to be a push to get Canadians to use social media other than the request to use the hashtag #TalkTV (Note:  I may cave but at the moment I’m not using #TalkTV because it is already an active hashtag for people to talk about Canadian and US talk shows.  I’ll stick to #CRTC and #CdnTV for now.)  Update:  The FAQ suggests that there will be Twitter chats and a Reddit AMA.  Should be interesting.

What are the topics?  In most of the material there are only three general topics mentioned.

Programming:  What do you think about what’s on television?

Technology:  What do you think about how you receive television programming?

Viewer toolkit:  Do you have enough information to make informed choices and seek solutions if you’re not satisfied?

Those are pretty vague and general topics but if you dig into the Notice of Invitation you’ll find more detail on the questions and context for them.  I’ve put them all together in one place for ease of use (for you and for me).

Programming

1. What television programs are most important to you (children’s programming, comedy, documentaries, drama, feature films, news, sports, reality TV, variety, other)? Why?

2. Do you know which of the television programs you watch are Canadian? If so, how do you know which programs are Canadian? Would it be important for you to know which programs are Canadian? Why?

3. What programs do you consider to be local television programming—programs about your city, your province, other? How important is local news to you? Why? How important is community access programming and “community TV” to you? Why?

4. Do you think the programming on television is fully reflective of Canada’s cultural, ethnic, linguistic, geographic and demographic diversity? If not, what’s missing? How important is reflection to you? Why?

5. What do you think programming will look like in the next 5 to 10 years? Why? Would you be satisfied with that situation? Why?

Technology

1. How do you prefer to watch television—on a traditional television set, online, on a smart phone, etc.? Why? How do you usually watch television programs—live, on-demand, recorded on a PVR, other? Why?

2. If you subscribe to cable TV or satellite TV, how satisfied are you with the way your channels are packaged?

3. What type of television service do you subscribe to—cable TV, satellite TV, Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) or other?  Do you intend to stay with your type of television subscription in the next few years or switch to something else? What would make you stay? What would make you switch?

4. How do you think we will receive and watch television in Canada in the next 5 to 10 years? Why? Would you be satisfied with that situation? Why?

Viewer Toolkit

1. How satisfied are you that your television service provider supplies the information you need to understand your service options, including packaging and pricing?

2. Are you experiencing barriers that prevent you from changing your television packages or switching to another television distributor? If so, what are those barriers?

3. How satisfied are you that your television service provider supplies the information you need to make informed choices about programming that you may consider inappropriate for you or your family?

4. Do you have a visual or hearing impairment? If so, how satisfied are you with the tools available to enable you to share in our television culture?

5. Do you know where you can voice your concerns over television content, your television services and bills?

6. How do you think we will make informed content choices as program viewers and consumers in Canada in the next 5 to 10 years? Why? Would you be satisfied with that situation? Why?

I think these are really great questions.  All of us would like to know what the general public thinks of these questions.  For too long at public hearings all sides of the industry have tried to speak for the general public and what they want from our broadcasting system.  I just wonder how the CRTC is going to get people motivated to get involved.  There isn’t any hot button issue like there is whenever you deal with the CBC or want Canadians to talk about their cell phone bills.  This is big picture thinking that most Canadians, I think, would rather someone else do for them.  I suspect that organizations with agendas will be the easiest to motivate.  We know how important this is so perhaps we should start with our own people.  Gather and have a “Flash!” Conference in the next two months so that a report on the conference can be filed by January 10, 2014.  [Shameless Self-promotion – you can hire me to help you do that.]  I assume that anything gathered will be useful as well in the industry consultation.   Spread the word about the consultation.  The more ‘general public’ who hear about this and get involved the better for the industry.

*As part of this invitation to the public, the CRTC released its updated schedule on the industry consultation on the state of the Canadian broadcasting system.  There will be a call for submissions Spring 2014 and a public hearing September 2014.  Expect that one to be a doozy!

Hashtag Rules

I didn’t think this post was needed but apparently so.

What is a hashtag? It is a word, or group of words with no spaces or punctuation, preceded by #. On Twitter, and now on Facebook and Instagram, soon the entire world (but please not verbally), it allows you to tag your tweet or post with a searchable term. That is basic function no. 1. Say you are watching a TV show and tweeting. You end each post with #MurdochMysteries. Sometimes you need to put the broadcaster in there because there are different Canadian and US broadcasts so #FPCTV vs #FPIon (for Flashpoint). Then other fans can search the hashtag and see all the posts whether they are following you or not. That works great for tweeting television and for attending conferences or following along with CRTC hearings.

Who comes up with a hashtag? Conference organizers set it, broadcasters and producers set it but for the rest they come about by consensus. If the ones that are set don’t work then consensus will find a new one that does work so you might want to think of the rules of hashtags if it is your job to set it.

The Rules:

1. They are short. You are asking people to remove possible characters from their 140 character limit so keep it as short as possible. Stick to what’s necessary. If it is absolutely necessary to have your broadcaster in the hashtag then keep it (eg. #FPCTV) but if it’s not the fans will likely drop it (eg. PlayedCTV). If it is necessary to put the year in do you really need to put 2013 and not 13? But do you really need that year??

2. Search to make sure that your hashtag isn’t already being used by something else. Remember the purpose. You want people to search the hashtag and follow along. That doesn’t work if you want to talk about Canadian TV but the hashtag is already in use for US chat shows, for example.

3. No punctuation. Only the letters before the punctuation will be an active hashtag.

4. It should make sense for what you are trying to identify with the hashtag. If you are a small group, say those following a CRTC hearing, you can be a bit obscure like #91h or #GLR but if you want a wider audience you need to be really clear.

5. Consider an already acceptable hashtag that is in use. Is it necessary to reinvent the wheel or specifically brand your exercise? If you adopt one that is in use you will become part of an existing conversation instead of trying to start your own from scratch. Easier, eh?

What about all those long hashtags or strange ones like #whatdoyoumeanitsFridayalready or #wheelsup. These would be for advanced users ;). They give flavour to a tweet and aren’t intended to be searchable. Sometimes they become searchable re-used hashtags through use (like #loungesoup or #wonkcake) but usually they are one time only hashtags used to add emotion to a tweet, which can often read emotionless. I’m partial to them myself.

If I’ve missed any of the rules or uses of hashtags, let me know.

Update:  For a little hashtag and grammar fun check out this post:  https://medium.com/we-live-in-the-future/1bb14533fbfd (h/t @elizadushku – another fan of hashtags).