Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Round One Is Done

The first round of the NHL playoffs ended last night with two very exciting game 7 matches...Carolina fans must be thrilled. General thoughts: I was kinda surprised to see New Jersey, Philadelphia, and San Jose eliminated, but that's playoff hockey. Bring on Round 2.

And as for the pool, Foster is still on top, and Henshaw and I find ourselves back in the cellar. Go figure.

1. Michael Foster - 72
2. Barry Keifl - 71
3. Brian Stockton - 70
4. Moviequill - 69
5. Peter Mitchell - 68
5. Will Pascoe - 68
7. Mark Wilson - 66
8. John Callaghan - 65
8. Larry Raskin - 65
10. Wil Zmak - 62
11. Scotty William - 61
12. Allan Eastman - 58
12. David Kinahan - 58
14. Denis McGrath - 57
15. Daryl Davis - 51
16. Jeff Martel - 50
17. Jim Henshaw - 49
17. Will Dixon - 49

Check out Jim's place end of week for the next update.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Do The Math...It's Still All About Content

I still don't have much to offer these days, so will offer up some major linkage...with some minor thoughtage.

There are Heritage Committee hearings going on this week, 'exceptional' hearings in fact, for the purpose of Canada's major broadcasters to appear and speak about the current TV 'crisis' and their requirements for their license renewals. John Doyle has a fun recap of the first couple of days HERE. And some of the big issues on the table are the networks' request to reduce their content obligations, and that they want to charge carriage fees. The CRTC did the math and released some numbers yesterday (from The Globe & Mail):

The proposal, in which networks such as CTV and Global want to collect 50 cents a month per subscriber from cable and satellite distributors, would bring in more than $352-million to the broadcasting sector, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission estimates in documents made public at licence-renewal hearings for the conventional networks.

The networks want compensation for their signals, similar to the fees cable channels collect, and argue the money is necessary to support local programming in Canada, particularly in small markets where several stations are slated to be closed this year, including Windsor, Ont., and Brandon, Man.

However, the fee idea has been a controversial one, since the cable and satellite carriers have vowed to pass those charges to consumers, rather than absorb them if they are approved by the CRTC. Cable companies such as Rogers Communications Inc. And Shaw Communications Inc. are fighting the proposal, saying the networks are overstating their financial woes amid a recession and downturn in ad revenue.

350 million! Nice. The networks are clamouring they need this cash infusion to support or at least maintain local programming (whatever that is exactly) in Canada. In fact, someone needs to clearly define what 'local' programming is...because earlier this month it was revealed in this Canadian Press article that the feds were considering a $150-million fund for the country's private broadcasters to help rescue local TV stations and their newscasts.

I presume this is an either/or in, the feds will create a fund for the privates to access and support their local TV stations, OR the feds will implement a 'fee for carriage' collection system and direct the networks to use their portion for local TV stations and newscasts (although now I'm reading about a new Local Programming Improvement Fund, so maybe it is both). In either scenario however, the money is expected to come from or be collected by cable companies like Rogers and Shaw, and they don't want to potentially lose subscribers by raising cable bills, and thus are kicking up a fuss.

But millionaires arguing with millionaires isn't really my point. My point is found in the long list of comments posted on the above articles...especially the Globe piece. That's where you hear the same refrain over and over: that Canadian TV sucks; to let all the networks burn and die; and that they (the commenters) will just watch what they want to watch and when they want to watch it online...FOR FREE!

THAT's what really needs to be addressed...and fast.

To watch something there has to be something to watch. That something is called content. Content costs money to produce. Most often, quality entertaining content costs a LOT of money to produce. And the solution to that cost issue isn't user generated websites, at least not yet.

This well written article from Slate reveals how much money Google via YouTube lost last year.

According a recent report by analysts at the financial-services company Credit Suisse, Google will lose $470 million on the video-sharing site this year alone. To put it another way, the Boston Globe, which is on track to lose $85 million in 2009, is five times more profitable — or, rather, less unprofitable—than YouTube. All so you can watch this helium-voiced oddball whenever you want.

YouTube's troubles are surprisingly similar to those faced by newspapers. Just like your local daily, the company is struggling to sell enough in advertising to cover the enormous costs of storing and distributing its content. Newspapers have to pay to publish and deliver dead trees; YouTube has to pay for a gargantuan Internet connection to send videos to your computer and the millions of others who are demanding the most recent Dramatic Chipmunk mash-up. Google doesn't break out YouTube's profits and losses on its earnings statements, and of course it's possible that Credit Suisse's estimates are off. But if the analysts are at all close, YouTube, which Google bought in 2006, is in big trouble. As Benjamin Wayne, the CEO of the rival video-streaming company Fliqz, pointed out in a recent article for Silicon Alley Insider, not even Google can long sustain a company that's losing close to half a billion dollars a year.

YouTube's problems point to a larger difficulty for many Web startups: "User generated content" is proving to be a financial albatross. Two years ago, Time magazine named "you" its Person of the Year for doing your small part in fueling the Web 2.0 revolution. The magazine argued that by collecting and distributing the creations of millions of individuals, the Web is upending the way we learn about what's going on in the world around us. There's no doubt this is true; you experienced the presidential inauguration through millions of pictures captured by ordinary people, and a lot of what you learn these days comes from articles put together by the anonymous hordes who power Wikipedia. Yet even though they've changed the way we live, sites that collect and share content produced by all of us haven't done the one thing many tech evangelists said they'd do — make a ton of money. Or, in many cases, any money.

But the article goes onto say that another site, Hulu, is doing okay collecting higher ad revenue by being more selective in choosing its content...professionally produced content.

For all the frenzy surrounding citizen-produced media, the content that seems to do best online is the same stuff that did well offline — content produced by professionals. My colleague Jack Shafer recently listed the many services that people are willing to pay for online. They include music from iTunes, game videos from MLB.TV, reviews from Consumer Reports, and articles from the Wall Street Journal — and nothing made on some dude's cell phone.

Or look at Hulu, the video site that shows TV shows and movies. It attracts far less traffic than YouTube does (and thus pays far less for bandwidth). But because advertisers are willing to pay much more to be featured on its videos, Hulu is on track to match YouTube's revenues and with much lower overhead.

Which brings me to this article that criticizes Canadian TV networks for being slow to get on the online bandwagon...and warning us that Hulu is working really hard to break into Canada (Hulu can only be seen in the U.S., for now)

While Hulu buys television programs from content providers, and then sells its own ads to make money, Canadian television networks such as CTVglobemedia and Global TV have chosen to stream their own episodes of shows such as The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Heroes with their own revenue-generating ads.

But the truth is they're (the networks) probably not the right guys to deliver that content," Tauschek said, noting that a lot of infrastructure is needed to stream high-definition content to thousands of people. "Should they have embraced something like Hulu by now? They probably should have, but at least they recognized that they have to somehow get on the bandwagon."

The latest numbers show CTVglobemedia achieved 0.8 per cent of the market share for online videos and Global TV had just 0.1 per cent for their efforts.

"I think the fact is that they're not really pushing it too hard," Tauschek said, suggesting that they are really just testing the waters. He added that they may be concerned about eroding viewership on TV, irking their cable and satellite partners and whether or not they have the streaming capacity to support higher online viewership.

But Tauschek said Hulu is "working feverishly" to make its service available in Canada and other Western countries. He thinks they'll be successful and Canadian television networks should take heed.

"They really ought to embrace it because if they don't … they run the risk of the same thing happening to them that happened to the record labels," he said, adding that when the music industry fought the internet, it led to an increase in piracy and a loss of revenues for their industry.

(Note that the programs the article cites as examples of what CTV and Global stream are in fact American shows that the nets simulcast with ad substitution) So we need to get on the online bandwagon...or more specifically, the cable companies need to...and they are, sort of.

The cable and satellite television companies stand to lose revenues once consumers can get a wide range of TV with high image quality over the internet for free.

Rogers seems to have recognized the looming storm. At CRTC hearings in March on the regulation of new media, Rogers proposed an online video platform similar to Hulu as a means of ensuring Canadian broadcasting content has a home on the internet. The proposed service would require a Rogers' cable subscription for access, although Rogers' head of regulatory affairs, Ken Engelhart, said the company was open to partnering with other cable providers on the service.

And I don't think this is such a bad thing. It makes the most sense for cable providers to be creating some kind of Hulu-like site in Canada, as long as they license content worth watching for an appropriate amount of money.

Yes, Ivan (pronounced Yee-vonne)...from this National Post article, 'the conventional TV regulatory regime "no longer works" ', but I don't know that it's 'tilted to the advantage of cable and satellite companies that are recording "record" profits' either.

The reality is we have too many channels. And too many of those channels just repeat what is on other channels (owned by the same conglomerates). And advertising dollars have been falling because viewership has been shrinking. And plugging more commercials into programs to adjust for the decline just turns off viewers who are seeing quality content become compromised. Furthermore, the major broadcasters have dug the hole they're in by expanding too quickly and thus fracturing viewers, buying up all those specialty channels that already receive 'fee for carriage', and relying too long on an outdated financing model....NOT from supporting local stations and homegrown production. The pittance they throw at Canadian programs is but a drip in the bucket.

In fact, instead of reducing Canadian content, the nets should be producing more homegrown programming. And not just more programs, but better ones. For too long Canadian shows have been treated or perceived with the same respect (or lack thereof) as user generated YouTube videos. Sure, we (as the creators) have to step up our game and deliver the goods...but we need the money and support and promotion and distribution to ever have a chance of delivering successfully. I really hope the CRTC takes this into consideration as they deliberate on how to move forward from here.

It's still all about content. None of these entities...networks, cable and satellite providers, online viewing sites...generate any profits or even exist without content, especially quality content. And that's what consumers want and seem willing to pay for. But money is needed to pay the professionals to produce that content, whether it's to be viewed online or via conventional television. Ad revenue was pretty much the entire financing model for a long time, but it isn't anymore. Or it isn't until online ad revenue catches up.

That day will come I believe, but until that day there needs to be tollbooths of sorts set up on the internet and TV pipelines, collecting some amount to help pay for what you view on TV and online. And it needs to be for homegrown Canadian quality content...NOT American or foreign content. Otherwise the networks and broadcasters and cable providers will just use programming from elsewhere to stay fluid...and the small production community as it exists here will simply disappear.

Quality content still drives the bus. But it can't be 'free'. It has to come at a price.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Worthy Followers

I still don't get Twitter, perhaps it'll be another fad that I just let pass me by...but I do still enjoy these spoofs of Hitler freakin' because Twitter's down or his Followers splittin'...

Because they made me smile.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

In The Basement

Three years of doing this Infamous Writers (& Bloggers) Hockey Pool and I've never never been dead last. Henshaw I expect to see there, we all do...but me?!


Anyway sorry about the late standings update, but still decompressing from a fun-filled action-packed long weekend-like visit to Toronto...more on that in a bit.

So the standings...

1. Michael Foster - 55
2. Peter Mitchell - 53
3. John Callaghan - 51
4. Brian Stockton - 50
5. Will Pascoe - 49
5. Mark Wilson - 49
5. Moviequill - 49
5. Larry Raskin - 49
9. Denis McGrath - 47
10. David Kinahan - 42
11. Barry Keifl - 40
12. Allan Eastman - 39
13. Wil Zmak - 35
14. Scotty William - 34
15. Daryl Davis - 32
15. Jeff Martel - 32
17. Jim Henshaw - 31
17. Will Dixon - 31

I may seriously have to reevaluate my player picking strategy.

Friday, April 17, 2009


Early Bill Cosby...stand up genius...a story teller instead of a joke teller...and what stories he told: Revenge, Tonsils, Old Weird Harold (9th Street Bridge), To Russell (My Brother), Fat Albert (Buck Buck), Grandparents, Dentists, Street Football, and of course Noah...

Because he (still) makes me smile.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Between Lee And My Calvin's...I Swear

I was flipping through a recent issue of Rolling Stone and came across this new Calvin Klein jeans ad.

And being so desensitized to provocative images in today's advertising I just kept flipping...but then stopped and went back for another look. Now I don't know what you see...but to me it depicts three young guys and one girl, semi-clothed, clearly engaged in sweaty sexual activity which, in my books at least, qualifies as an orgy...a gang bang even.

And I think that crosses the line.

HERE's the television spot that accompanied this ad campaign. It was promptly banned from conventional North American TV, but apparently isn't considered 'too hot' for cable and late-night television in the U.S..

Calvin Klein has a history of pushing the envelope with their ads. Most of us old folk will remember the 1980 TV campaign starring a 15 year old Brooke Shields and what at that time was an incredibly racy tag: "You wanna know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing."

Today, of course, those spots seem quaint...cute even, because the risqué line keeps moving. That's the game you see, to successfully navigate the line of titillation and fantasy, as opposed to leaping over the line and into the abyss of taboo, perversion, and sexual deviancy.

At any rate, these new Calvin Klein print images and commercials immediately took me back to their 'kiddie porn' campaign of the mid-90's. Remember?

When those pictures first appeared in magazines, I was like...WTF? And then the TV spots started airing, which you can see in all their 'cheap wood panelled basement' glory below:

I remember just staring at my television...appalled...agape...aghast even. And yes they were promptly pulled after enough people complained, but still...ewwww, what were they thinking?? Though clearly no lesson was learned, as evidenced by this Lee jeans print campaign that ran down under a couple years ago.

I know the placement of the Lee and the whole 'Lolita with a sucker' thing is bad enough, but it's the shirtless male photographer in the background in the mirror that takes it to a new level of yuck. Yet these ads were deemed 'acceptable' by the Advertising Standards Board of Australia...go figure. Or the line has moved again.

Sidebar: I love some of the ways companies like Lee and Calvin Klein defend the ads: "It's not offensive. It is designed to reflect the brand's dynamic and innovative image..." or "...the ads were intended to convey the idea that glamour is an inner quality that can be found in regular people in an ordinary setting; it is not something that is exclusive to movie stars and models."

Um. Yeah. All I can say gentlemen, is Smell The Glove.

So what's my point. Well it certainly isn't to take Calvin Klein or Lee to task for adopting a 'sex sells' philosophy - hell, everyone does it, and we keep buying it. And I will commend the companies for effectively presenting their product in a provocative manner and thus making me remember their brand. But I guess my point is that I will never ever ever purchase or recommend that anyone else purchase a pair of Lee or Calvin Klein jeans, or any of their products for that matter. Because they're not selling sex...they're selling 'ick'.

And I'm not into ick. None of us should be.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Thin Lizzy Party's Down

So if you haven't seen it out yet I strongly suggest you give Starz new comedy series Party Down a try (available up here in Canada on Super Channel). I'm telling you true, this show is quickly growing on me, and I've been trying to figure out why.

Maybe there's just something inherently funny yet endearing about a quirky collection of wannabe's working for a L.A. catering company while still clinging to their dreams of making it in Hollywood. Maybe because its tone and style reminds me of the dark, dry, absurdist humour of some of my other favourite comedies like Curb Your Enthusiasm or Arrested Development.

Or maybe its because I'm starting to develop a serious fanboy crush on Lizzy Caplan.

Caplan plays Casey Klein - a pretty, smart, yet insecure "comedienne that happens to make ends meet as a cater-waiter.” Careening towards 30, she has been grinding away for years and perennially seems on the verge of that elusive big break.

And if Caplan looks sorta kinda familiar, that's probably because you saw her in Cloverfield, or perhaps you caught her memorable stint last season on HBO's True Blood...a role that won her Mr. Skins' Best TV Nude Scenes of 2008. Not that that has anything to do with anything.

I just think she's cute, and really like the chemistry between her and co-star Adam Scott (playing down and out 'once famous' actor Henry Pollard).

Scott's also a cutie, and also not afraid to take it all off (he previously starred in HBO's 'Tell Me You Love Me')...not that that has anything to do with anything either.

But it doesn't hurt, especially if you're looking for some sexy with your comedy.

So check it fact, you can catch up with a Party Down four episode Marathon, April 19th at 5p ET on Super Channel 1 and Super Channel HD1.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Playoff Pool

The details are up HERE at Jim Henshaw's place...go there for all the in's and out's of the 3rd Annual Infamous Writers (& Bloggers) Hockey Pool, but here's the short version:

You join "The Infamous Writer's Hockey Pool" by sending me an email at with "POOL PICKS" in the subject line between 8:00 AM EST Monday (today)and 6:00 PM EST Wednesday night (April 15/09). The Playoffs begin an hour or so later.

In your email, list the 10 skaters and 2 Goalies who make up your team. They can be members of any of the 16 teams competing in the opening round. The scoring is as follows:

For every goal or assist scored by your skater you earn 1 point. Every time your goalie wins you also earn a point and seven points each time he earns a shutout. Shutouts in Stanley Cup play are rare and skaters will always earn more points than a Goalie, but this is a way of evening things up.

The 12 players you choose are yours for the entire tournament. As the teams your players represent fall by the wayside, they cease earning you points, but their totals remain a part of your total. In the end, the poolie with the most points wins.

I'll post your team online. All players will be provided with a password so they can check their progress throughout the playoffs.

Easy easy easy....and fun! Individual player stats can be found HERE. And HERE are the first round match ups:

Boston vs. Montreal
Washington vs. NY Rangers
Carolina vs. New Jersey
Philadelphia vs. Pittsburgh

San Jose vs. Anaheim
Detroit vs. Columbus
Vancouver vs. St. Louis
Calgary vs. Chicago

So c'mon everyone, into the pool. The water may be a tad cold but still lots of fun to be had.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Eyes Forward, Stick Down, And Head(s) Up

Two years ago, David Askwith emerged victorious. Last year Will Pascoe took home top prize. Who will win it all in 2009?? (erm...what the hell am I talking about?)

The NHL regular season ends tomorrow and on Wednesday April 15 the playoffs begin...which means its almost time for the 3rd Annual Infamous Writers (& Bloggers) Hockey Playoff Pool.

The rules go up at The Legion of Decency first thing Monday morning (just for fun, no entry fee), but in the meantime listed below are the teams that made it through this year (though final seeds and match ups still to be decided)

Western Conference

1. San Jose - 117
2. Detroit - 112
3. Vancouver - 98
4. Chicago - 100
5. Calgary - 96
6. Columbus - 92
7. Anaheim - 90
8. St. Louis - 90

Eastern Conference

1. Boston - 114
2. Washington - 108
3. New Jersey - 104
4. Philadelphia - 97
5. Carolina - 97
6. Pittsburgh - 97
7. NY Rangers - 93
8. Montreal - 93

So head to and start studying up on these teams (as far as I know picking 10 scorers and 2 goalies is still the objective of the pool)...enter starting Monday, and we'll see you Wednesday!

Game on...again!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Fifth Of Vodka...Take A Poo Poo

I'm sure pretty much everyone has seen these two clips already, but they both managed to crack me up over the course of this short week.

From SNL, Like A Boss:

And almost as soon as anything gets put out there these days, it gets spoofed:

Because they made me smile.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Will In Bathroom

"Flutter is the future of nano-blogging, because ya know, flaps are faster than tweets."

This Twitter spoof from Slate V really hit the spot this morning.

Now, Will get coffee.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


It's been a serious "got nuthin' " kinda week...seriously. Though I have found it rather disconcerting to discover that more TV industry colleagues than ever before aren't planning on attending the Banff Television Festival this year...are things really that dire out there right now? Oh right...Blockbuster might be going under. Nevertheless, even big Canadian industry stories like whether CanWest Global will live to see another day still weren't sparking much inspiration in me.

And then, courtesy Bill Brioux, there was this...
Some Saturday numbers: playoff fever is building on CBC`s Hockey Night in Canada (1,209,000 and 1,039,000 for Games One and Two). Just 133,000 stumbled on Global`s Genie Awards Saturday night, about half the audience who stayed up till 11:30 to watch Saturday Night Live (267,000).

133,000 viewers for our equivalent to the Oscars. Shit. That's like...nuthin'

Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Muscle Worship, Bragging Rights, and Dopplegangers

Louis Theroux is a British broadcasting personality and interviewer who specializes in long-form 'man on the street' investigative reports...a lot of which are pretty hilarious and Friday Fun worthy.

Like with a bodybuilder and his agent, or at pro wrestling school with pro wrestling trainers, or bragging at confidence building classes.

But main reason I want to highlight Mr. Theroux is because of the number of times I've been told I look like him. I first came across one of his shows on TV last year and literally sat straight up in amazement...not quite like looking in a mirror (I do have a few years on him), but pretty darn close.

The resemblance has since been pointed out to me ad nauseam (he's at the top and bottom...I'm the two in the middle).

It's said we all have a twin out there in the world Theroux mine?

Because it made me smile.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

April Foolin'

Well that was fun. And who knows how many fools really believed...but it was just for a laugh, and hopefully nobody was truly affected or insulted. Though that all depends on how you interpreted the material I suppose. Like this:

Or THIS, or THIS, or THIS, all starting from THIS.

Holy Crap! What Next?

Denis hits the floor running this morning with HUGE NEWS that CTV and Global could be merging to form CTV about Wow! Wow! Wow!

And this after I just heard from the Heritage Committee hearings presently underway in Ottawa that Konrad von Finckenstein and the CRTC have done a 180 and are very close to approving a $2.00 per subscriber carriage fee to assist CTV and Global through the current 'domestic TV crisis'...AND considering allowing the private networks to count commercials as Canadian content, effectively immediately. Talk about a sweetheart deal!

More as it breaks...

May The Farce Be With You

Wow! Wow! Wow! First Henshaw breaks the story that CanWest Global news may be going all naked all the time...and tonight I heard that based on the high ratings of the Future of New Media hearings in February, and specifically during the session when Shaw Communications CEO Jim Shaw went head to head with CRTC head honcho Konrad von Finckenstein, a new TV series is being rushed into production.

Billed as a TMZ-styled reality dramedy hybrid, sparks are sure to fly in the pilot, especially as Heritage Minister James Moore is rumoured to make a surprise guest appearance as the`Young Jedi'.

Looks like cpac is trying to get into the original programming game now, and personally, I can`t wait. I've often thought that the politics and bureaucracy behind the scenes of the Canadian TV industry could be as entertaining as what`s actually on our televisions.

More news as it breaks...stay tuned!