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Community Media Convergence Ramps Up to Welcome Visitors to Ottawa

CACTUS is helping to organize and host the Community Media Convergenge at Carleton Univeristy which kicks off next weekend. The following article is cross-posted from the web site of the conference at www.ComMediaConverge.ca:

(Ottawa) Nov. 11, 2015 With less than two weeks to go, things are heating up in the community media world, with the first ever gathering of community media practitioners from all sectors (community TV, community radio, community online media such as The Media Co-op and gamers) at Carleton University Nov. 22-24th.

The conference features two days of panels about everything from “Social Media: Is it Community Media and How Do We Leverage It?” to “Community Media 3.0: Games and Interactivity?” The third day is a policy development forum, where attendees will have the opportunity to help shape a policy proposal to support community media in the digital environment.

Speakers include grandfathers of our broadcasting system such as:

Clifford Lincoln, author of Our Cultural Sovereignty: The Second Century of Broadcasting
Florian Sauvageau, author of the 1986 Report on the Task Force on Broadcasting
... to the new generation of bloggers and podcasters, including Mark Blevis, Victoria Fenner of rabble.
... and gaming organizations such as Dames Making Games and the Hand Eye Society.
Conference goers will be able to check out the latest from technology companies in the Tech Fair and watch the best community media the country has to offer in the evening Media Festival.

The conference is timely, and organizers hope it will help inform the CRTC's on-going review of its community TV policy, which is 40 years old and lags behind the reality of the digital distribution and creation of content.


ComMedia 2015 Invites CRTC to Community Media Conference

CACTUS alerted the CRTC to the fact that it was planning to organize the first national digital community media conference in the fall of 2014, with the hopes that both CRTC staff and commissioners would be able to attend, contribute to panels, and get to know the frequently overlooked sector of the broadcasting system that they regulate.

It was on the CRTC's three-year work plan that it would review community TV policy, and CACTUS' intent in liaising with the CRTC as soon as it had 'hatched' the idea for the conference was to make sure that all parties could maximally benefit from the research, best practices, and policy alternatives that might arise from this first coast-to-coast meeting of community media practitioners on all platforms.

In February of 2015, the CRTC announced following its recently completed "Let's Talk TV" process that it would shortly review community TV policy in the broader context of its policies for local conventional television.

Concerned, CACTUS requested a meeting with CRTC staff to:

  • renew our invitation to participate in the community media conference
  • discuss the timing of the proposed review
  • express our concern that the needs of the community TV sector might be sidelined in favour of the needs of larger interests and owners of conventional broadcasting networks.

When the CRTC met with CACTUS in late May, CACTUS learned that the community TV policy review notice might be posted before the end of summer, possibly precluding CRTC staff and Commissioners from participating, and precluding any of the research, practitioner knowledge and experience from shaping the CRTC's understanding of the sector and the policy review framework.

CACTUS therefore submitted the following formal request to delay a community TV policy review until after the conference, allowing the CRTC to participate fully, in a collegial fashion with media researchers and practitioners.


CACTUS Presents "Community Media in Canada" Workshop at IAMCR, Montreal

CACTUS presented an hour-and-a-half long workshop entiteld "The State of the Nation: Community Media in Canada" at this week's International Association of Media and Communications Research conference, held for the first time in Montreal, at UQAM (the University of Quebec at Montreal). This is a yearly conference that attracts researchers from around the world. The conference has a "Community Communications" section. The IAMCR is a project of UNESCO.

The intent of the presentation was to provide international attendees with an overview of community media in their host country. The session was attended by researchers from Canada, England, Ireland, France, and Columbia. A lot of discussion ensued about digital standards and the impact that gaming is having on traditional media.

CACTUS will also present a 12-minute 'highlights' talk at a second session on Wednesday, July 15th.

The presentation was developed with input from David Murphy, Darryl Richardson and Barry Rooke regarding community gaming applications, community online media, and community radio, respectively.


CACTUS and Carleton University Partner to Host First National Community Media Conference

The Canadian Association of Community Television Users and Stations and Carleton University will host the first national digital community media conference November 22-24 in Ottawa.

CACTUS' plans to host a professional and policy development conference to bring together community TV, radio, online and gaming pracitioners with the general public, researchers and policy-makers was first announced at the People's Social Forum in Ottawa in 2014. Since then, plans have progressed apace. Researcher Kirsten Kozolanka of the School of Journalism and Communications at Carleton University agreed to partner with CACTUS in order that the conference could be held centrally in Ottawa, easily accessible to government agencies whose policies affect community media, including the CRTC, Canadian Heritage, and Industry Canada.

The goals of the conference include exploring:

  • best practices in the digital environment, ways in which the divisions between traditional community media such as community TV and radio are breaking down, and the need for new strategies to serve communities online. Also to be explored is the way in which youth and new demographics are increasingly developing media literacy skills through gaming.


    CACTUS Submits Comments to Industry Canada 600 MgHz Spectrum Auction Consultation

    February 15th was the dead-line to submit comments to Industry Canada regarding its proposal to align its television spectrum usage plans with those of the US.

    At issue is the US' plans to offer financial compensation to US television broadcasters to vacate channels between the low 30s and 58 to make way for data-rich mobile applications (aka video distribution via cellular technology). Industry Canada was seeking comment from Canadians regarding how closely Canada should align its own spectrum usage with those of the US.

    The proposed spectrum auction will follow closely on the heels of last year's auction of the 700 MgHz band, in which former TV channels above 60 were auctioned off for use by wireless providers.

    In its submission to Industry Canada, CACTUS prioritized:

    • maintaining access to bandwidth by local authorities, and not allowing it all to be auctioned for private use.
    • over-the-air broadcasting, because of the local control over content that over-the-air towers offer communities
    • creating incentives for broadcasters to multiplex using digital technologies, to ensure that bandwidth is used efficiently, and there are always available over-the-air frequencies for new television services to use, including community television services
    • community broadcasters as generators of unique local and Canadian content
    • compensating broadcasters for the cost of moving to a lower channel assignment from the auction (i.e. incoming wireless providers should compensate outgoing TV broadcasters)
    • using some of the proceeds of the spectrum auction to develop digital literacy at the community level

    You can read CACTUS' full submission here.