A new era for Canadian community media
March 4, 2007 § Leave a comment
Of late, I have been thinking that a) we need to re-invigorate the Canadian social media tradition that we lost with the demise Challenge for Change and community television and b) we’re on on the cusp of some new ‘open philanthropy’ breakthroughs that use the wisdom of the crowd to make (and deliver on) social investments.
My pondering on both these fronts accelerated this weekend as I saw Antonia Zerbisias’ article on the pending CTV / CHUM merger. The article made me think: why not channel some of the public benefit money into an innovative Community Media Foundation that would focus on the Internet generation? So, I wrote this letter to the CRTC:
I am writing to support the pending CTVgm / CHUM merger, and also to propose that an improved public benefits package be included as a part of this deal.
Canada stands to benefit from the emergence of stronger, more resilient media companies like the one that will be created through this merger. Run properly, such companies have the potential to provide better content to Canadians and to take a lead role in marketing Canadian media to the world.
Succeeding in global markets is central to long term sustainability of Canada’s cultural industries. Of course, strengthening our media industry should not be our only goal. We must also grow a new generation of young people who build on Canada’s tradition of innovative, socially-engaged media. While the proposed CTVgm / CHUM benefits package includes new approaches to funding traditional Canadian content, it includes nothing to encourage the success of the young basement filmmakers, budding Djs and web mashup artists who are the future of Canadian media. The benefits package also lacks any real way to ensure social issues have a bigger place on Canada’s media stage.
As a part its benefits package, I propose that CTVgm / CHUM create an independent Canada Community Media Foundation. This foundation would provide micro-grants, mentoring and distribution support to young Canadians producing socially engaged media. At least 25% of the currently proposed benefits pages should be dedicated to this purpose. Created in 1998 as an outcome of the SBC / PacTel merger, the California Community Technology Foundation provides a successful example of this model.
The CTVgm / CHUM merger offers a historic opportunity to at once nurture a next generation of media producers and create a bigger, better media stage for social issues in Canada. I encourage the Commissioners, CTVgm and CHUM to take this idea seriously. I would be happy to discuss these ideas further at the upcoming public hearings.
I also sent out a similar letter to about 30 of my closest friends and encouraged them to get in touch with the CRTC. In a way, I did this as a bit of an experiment in low cost community organizing. But I would also love to see an idea like this get some traction.