Monday, April 17, 2006

FREE AIR

At last the heartening news that someone is taking on the moghuls who 'control' Canada's communications systems - an action long overdue.

In to-day's electronic marketplace everything is for sale - from the concrete to the ephemeral. Electronic signals - once paid for by advertising revenue and seeking anyone to 'tune in', are now hyped by quasi-personalization and privacy into marketed commodities. What was once a free annoyance, has been 'spun' into subscribed 'necessity'.

Long ago the government, which, in theory, is mandated to control what gets electronically pumped into our environment, set up the CTRC - a commission to oversee the telecommunications industry. At one time this organization had some teeth, now, however, it appears to be a reason for a group of political hacks to get together to approve the latest industry-demanded fee increases and to have a nice social in Ottawa at tax-payers' expense. When was the last time you heard of the CTRC - other than as a reference on your cable company's letter about the latest hike in service fees? It's supposed to be looking after our interest, but that, I believe is the last item on its agenda.

In the meantime your Znaimers, Aspers and Rogers-types are the guys who really call the shots. They not only highly-profitable media empires, but because they exercise editorial control, also control the social agenda of the country to greater or lesser extents. Along with presenting Canadians with the spins that their corporate clients want us to see, they have agendas of their own. The recent up-welling of the 'gay' lifestyle was largely successful due to empathetic coverage in the media - and the contrary denigration of opposing views with the appelation of a 'phobia'. They are highly sensitive to multicultural causes, particularly in defending Judaism from comment or criticism (particularly that directed at Israel). I believe it entirely possible that media has been able to influence the government in terms of recent changes of national policy regarding Afghanistan and Palestine.

At the same time they are at the forefront of the attack on 'traditional values' - often showcasing alternative views on religious or social issues and denying opportunity to rebut, or even question them. As far as being responsive to 'consumer complaints' they have been permitted to isolate themselves in a cocoon of self-generated oversight boards which respond well to 'agenda issues' and ignore, or rationalize away, complaints to the contrary.

The moghuls have been able to convince our politicians that an increasing number of 'natural', or socially-financed resources are in need of privatization and the application of user 'fees', and of regulation to exclude the use or application of alternate sources of access. Indeed they have been able to convince our governments to provide them, and their businesses, with 'protections' - such as user 'agreements' that are reminiscent of those of the days of indentured servitude.

Kalle Lasn of 'Adbusters' who is planning to take his issue over access to the media to the Supreme court, if necessary, is doing the Canadian Public a service. His 'shtik' is anti-consumption advocacy aimed at natural resources and fast food industries. The media 'biggies' have been denying him access, since 2004, to their advvertising market because his messages conflict with those of some of their largest advertising customers. But this issue is about freedom, and access to the media - which can't, and shouldn't be, left in the hands of a few corporate 'Big Brothers'.

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