Towards an Innovation Agenda for the Communications and Media Sector
16 and 17 november, 2016
Shaw Centre, Ottawa
IIC Canadian Chapter Annual Conference
The annual conference of IIC Canada was held in Ottawa on November 16-17. More than 180 registrants heard keynote speeches from two Canadian Cabinet Ministers, the Chair of the communications regulator and a range of speakers on major issues facing the communications industry.
The conference was opened by CRTC Chair J.P. Blais, who presented a strong argument supporting the pro-consumer decisions the Commission has made since his appointment. He also criticized industry resistance to Commission decisions which have granted consumers greater choice, but were opposed by broadcasters and incumbent telecom carriers who obtained less regulatory protection in the face of disruption from Internet-based services.
Following the opening keynote address, a panel including a senior industry representative, an equity research analyst and two industry associations discussed options for the federal planned “innovation agenda”, as it applies to the communications field. A second panel of Canadian and U.S. political insiders discussed the role of media in the recent U.S. election of Donald Trump and in rececent Canadian elections. The discussion focused on new techniques to gather and analyze changing attitudes of increasingly smaller voter segments and to fine tune messages delivered by political candidates to the specific segments who could tip the balance in elections.
The second day of the conference began with a “fireside chat” with Canadian Heritage Minister, Mélanie Joly, who was interviewed by Policy Options editor Jennifer Ditchburn. The Minister candidly expressed her views on a range of current issues, including her initial reactions to her ongoing review of Canadian cultural policies. In a departure with some prior government statements, the Minister suggested that the door was not closed on the possibility of an ISP levy to help fund Canadian content production.
Immediately after Minister Joly, Minister Navdeep Bains took the floor to describe the innovation policies being developed by his department, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED), formerly known as Industry Canada. The Minister discussed plans to make more spectrum available for new mobile services, and actions to improve access by technology-intensive companies to the best available talent. On the latter point, he described the Government’s recently-announced program to fast track immigration approvals for non-Canadians with special skills in areas related to improving innovation and productivity.
Following Minister Bains, speech the conference heard a blow-by-blow description of the crippling cyber-attack launched on the global TV5 television network. M. Yves Bigot, the network’s Paris-based director-general, described the highly-sophisticated attack which took down all of TV5’s broadcast centres, ostensibly in the name of an Islamic terrorist organization. A subsequent investigation demonstrated that the attack was actually the work of Russia-based hackers. The malware used for the attack had been installed some two months before it was triggered. It appeared designed to permanently destroy TV5’s network. After hearing M. Bigot’s account, a representative of the Canadian Department of Public Safety and a Canadian academic considered the implications of the TV5 attack and discussed Canadian government programs to increase cyber security.
The next panel discussed the increasing use of big data in Internet and broadcasting content to more directly respond to viewer’s interests. Industry players candidly discussed their own use of Internet analytics and other techniques to develop successful content.
Finally, a panel of representatives from emerging Canadian content producers in the new video distribution environment, including four producers for online and traditional media, discussed the techniques they use to succeed in the increasingly diverse and competitive online environment.
Closing remarks were delivered by Hank Intven, chair of the Canadian chapter of IIC. Hank thanked the members of the chapter board, and particularly its program committee for organizing a very successful conference. Program committee members included Jim Patrick, Monique MacAlister, Paul Beaudry, Marie-Phillipe Bouchard, Ian Scott, Jay Thomson and Raja Khanna. He also thanked the conference sponsors, who represented a cross-section of the leading new and traditional players in Canada’s communications industries.
Visit our website at www.iic-canada.ca for further information on the conference.