Canada

OTA Television Changes Along The Border

Yesterday I received a notice from WPBS-TV, the PBS station based in Watertown NY that broadcasts to Eastern Ontario, that they will be changing over-the-air channels on July 29th, 2019. And apparently several American television stations have already begun transitioning to new channels to free up frequencies for wireless services.

People who use television antennas in southwestern Ontario area have already needed to rescan to find WMYD broadcasts from Detroit on June 1st, 2019 and a new wave of channel changes are expected in July, this transition eventually ending in the summer of 2020.

If you’re getting these stations from cable, satellite or online, you will not see any changes. But if you use a television antenna to get any American station you will need to pay attention to notices by your favourite stations, that will be posted on their official sites and social media feeds for information related to this transition.

Many channels will also start airing notices featuring known personalities from television programs like The Doctors, Inside Edition, Entertainment Tonight, Dr.Phil, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy a month or so before their transition date. And monthly roundups of these transitions are also posted on the official TV Answers Blog, with occasional posts regarding individual channels appearing on TV Answer’s Facebook page.

I’m a bit too deep into Ontario to get American television stations via my antenna but thought people along the border would like to know.

Goodbye iTunes

Bloomberg has reported that iTunes will be no more shortly, Apple having planned to replace this app with three individual apps for music, television and podcasts soon.

Originally announced on January 9th, 2001 at the 2001 Macworld Expo in San Francisco, this program had been released in March 2001 and brought Apple into the music industry, changing that industry by providing easy access to 200,000 individual tracks via a newly created online store by April 2003.

With iTunes 4.1, Apple extended access to their store to Microsoft Windows operating system users on October 16th, 2003, launching the Canadian iTunes store on December 2nd, 2004 with the release of iTunes 4.7.

When version 6 of the program was released on October 12th, 2005, users of this program were given access to popular television programs, Pixar shorts and music videos, later gaining access to Digital Rights Management free recordings via iTunes Plus and the release of version 7.2 of this program on May 29th, 2007. And Canadians were able to purchase or rent major studio films the following year on June 4, 2008 via iTunes 7.6, which eventually contributed to the demise of several DVD and blu-ray rental chains in Canada.

On May 13th, Apple had announced that the AppleTV app was available to Canadian iPhone, iPad and Apple TV customers that are running iOS 12.3 and tvOS 12.3. And that Mac and select Samsung Smart TV owners (2018/19 models) will be able to install and use that new program in the fall.

I suspect the iTunes music store will simply be rebranded to Apple Music, offering streaming and music downloads. And redirect older links to this service.

Another Cash Grab?

The Copyright Act is being reviewed by the Canadian Government and some Canadians are of course concerned that this will include an extension of private copying levies to cell phones and the possibility of websites being blocked for minor copyright violations.

Unfortunately the government has been pretty quiet about this since their December 17th, 2017 press release and I didn’t want to speculate. But a line in the sand needs to be drawn, regardless of what is and isn’t being considered in the closed door meetings they might be having with foreign lobbyists.

I don’t think cell phones should be subject to the private copying levy because streaming is the preferred method of obtaining music on this device according to Music Canada, some customers listening to radio on these devices. And the possibility of having my site blocked because I accidentally linked a site that decided to offer pirated music is just absurd but these kind of proposals have been made in other countries.

This isn’t about giving artists more of their dues but giving labels more money. And streaming is where the improvements are needed when it comes to royalties for artists, so I see no point in levying cell phone storage.

The Copyright Board proposed levying hard drives and microSD memory cards in 2014 but that propose was rejected because a “recording audio medium” is defined by Part VIII, Section 79 of the Copyright Act as “a recording medium, regardless of its material form, onto which a sound recording may be reproduced and that is of a kind ordinarily used by individual consumers for that purpose”.

A cell phone’s primary function is communication, not the receipt, storage and playback of music. And this device is also used to take and view photographs and videos.

It makes no sense to levy this device for royalties for music and nothing else. And this slippery slope is not advantageous for consumers, who would object to paying levies for storing photographs, video and games on their new smartphone, or tablet.

I don’t like being gouged on data fees so I don’t listen to music, watch videos or play video games on mine now. And I seriously doubt i’d enjoy paying more for a newer model, for services I wouldn’t use.

Do we really want to burden the cell phone industry with this? And when it comes to blocking, this can be bypassed with Virtual Private Network services, so is the government going to go after those as well in the name of copyright?

VPNs are used by people who travel and use public wi-fi, for security reasons. Do we really want to loose access to this service over piracy? When a sharp decline in music piracy was observed in 2017 by Music Canada?

A form has been made available by Open Media to provide comments to the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology on these issues.

Please submit this form and share this link and your opinions on social media before September 17th, 2018. Thank you.

Save on Music, Books and DVDs at Indigo.ca

Record Store Day – April 21st, 2018

Record Store Day will be on April 21st this year and a release list has been made available.

I’m interested in the re-release of Platinum Blonde’s “Standing In The Dark” on white vinyl and Def Leppard’s “Live From Abbey Road” LP. 🙂

Why is Vinyl So Expensive?

I just ran into a Toronto Star article that I pretty much agree with.

Although I love the depth of analog, I now purchase the rare long play records to mount them on my walls as art and/or to find tracks that have not yet been released digitally online. And I would never think of replacing my CD collection with vinyl now because they’re way too expensive.

Yes, I can find popular and new releases (or new re-releases) for around $26 online. But many are well over $40 and some DVD-audio or Blu-Ray audio titles are cheaper.

I may indulge with a few of my very favourite albums and might buy LPs that include downloads but i’m happy with my collection for the moment.

My Year End Predictions For Retail

With the death of Sears Canada, had become obvious that retail is changing way quicker than anticipated by economists.

Back in the 90’s, I suspected something was going on in the industry because one of the stores I had expected to have a future went under a few years after I had left the company.

Consumers Distributing was a chain of stores in Canada and the United States that operated with catalogs like Sears but dedicated only a small portion of their retail space to displays at all of their stores. And most of their merchandise could be found stacked on shelves the back of their outlets, which were brought forward by associates to the consumer, who chose their products from catalogs located in the retail space.

Had they survived into the 2000’s, I suspect they would have progressed from their six-digit catalog system, where people physically presented order slips to an order desk or called an order in using their credit cards, to a touchscreen system that simply gave consumers an order number. And I suspect Amazon would have simply purchased the company, automating the warehouse space further.

Unfortunately, the 212 store chain went under because Sears Canada had a foothold in the catalog market and it just could not survive both the recession of the time and Walmart’s expansion into the Canadian market. But I suspect Amazon may have a limited number of retail outlets that closely resemble Consumer’s Distributing stores in the future, where people could place orders and pick up purchases 24/7 from coded lockers.

Amazon Pickup Point locations already exist in Canada and the United States. And I believe they will likely expand these to Whole Foods locations, a chain that was recently purchased by Amazon.com, creating one stop shop locations in the major cities.

I’m personally hoping they’re going to convert my local Sears Home store here in Western Ottawa to a Whole Foods/Amazon outlet. But I doubt they will consider taking over that many Sears retail stores because the large department store format is pretty much dead.

Consumers are previewing merchandise online so retailers will not need to provide as many displays as they did before. And with 3D technology, I suspect people will scroll through merchandise on virtual reality headsets with customized 3D imagery before 2020.

Optometrist retailer sites already offer services in which people can place frames on their faces and all one would need to do in the very near future is to provide their measurements for virtual models, who would wear clothing for consumers to preview.

Norstrom currently offers a service where clothing is set aside for people to try out and I suspect other stores will offer this convenience shortly through their website, with the aforementioned virtual modeling. And I wouldn’t be surprised some stores would offer perks like high-end coffee and/or liquor through these services as well.

In regards to drones and self-driving vehicles, I don’t know if drones would be the best choice for our weather.

Not only does it get quite cold in most of Canada’s major cities during the winter, it also gets quite windy.

Those who have tried to take digital photographs in the cold here can attest to issues related to draining batteries and I’m sure that drones would be constantly slammed on the side of buildings and into trees by the wind in my suburb. We even get the occasional microburst here.

Self-driving vehicles are currently being tested in my community and I’m expecting pizza/food delivery to be the first service in my area to take advantage of this new technology. But I doubt I’ll be seeing drones delivering goods in my area before 2020, especially fragile items.

The Transport Canada regulations to fly drones are quite tight and I believe we are more likely to get deliveries from our grocery stores and pharmacies in normal vehicles for quite some time. Several of my local grocery stores have only recently started offering click and collect services.

I personally don’t see many advances in music retail either.

As you may or may not know, I had originally wanted to have a career in music retailing. But when the MP3 came along I knew stores would likely go online.

Vinyl sales will continue to expand slightly until higher resolution recordings become the norm and offer the depth of vinyl. And High Definition radio will eventually become the norm, requiring consumers to purchase equipment to listen to the higher resolution recordings, although most stations will likely continue to broadcast in FM and simply include high definition recording data on the same signal.

I don’t believe Canada will follow Norway’s example and go all digital because we haven’t gone all digital when it comes to television in the minor markets. And the government will probably want as much access to Canadians as possible for emergency and weather-related broadcasts so I won’t personally be purchasing an HD radio compatible device for some time.

Even if I wanted to purchase a receiver now they’re over $100 at the moment and there are only three of four HD radio stations in my city. It just isn’t a priority for most and will not likely be until well past 2020, although virtual reality multi-cam live concerts could be a “thing” soon.

4k cameras are getting incredibly compact and can be placed in multiple discrete locations at venues, enabling broadcasts to fans via the internet now. Mostly static front row, mezzanine, and other multiple angle shots but we can just imagine what they’ll be able to do soon with VR headsets. 360-degree 4k live shots of entire performances from the front row or stage, perhaps?

I don’t expect everything to happen next year but it’ll be quite interesting after 2020.