January 26, 2009
Last Post For a While
If you haven't noticed, it's been a long time since I've posted any messages on this Web site. In fact, this might be my last post for a very long time.
The reason is simple. All my time is now dedicated to launching my television channel. And ever since I've discovered Wordpress, I didn't feel like manually updating this site anymore. However, this Web site will still continue to exist since I've already created many links to this site on other Web sites, mostly links to my image files. If I shut down this Web site, all the links would be broken.
If you're interested in following my progress with my television channel, just head over to http://www.thecanadianpublic.com for an ongoing progress report.
Thanks for reading!
September 6, 2007
Jean Caron, 1931 - 2007
My father died a week ago at the Maison Mathieu-Froment-Savoie in Gatineau following a long battle against liver cancer. He accepted his fate with such an incredible amount of bravery that it surprised all of us siblings. All we can hope is that we'll be just as brave when our time comes.
The relationship between my dad and I wasn't always the best. We've drifted apart after my parents got divorced almost thirty years ago. For the longest time, we went for months without talking to each other, and I even questioned if he actually loved me or not because for much of my childhood, I've found him to be a cold and distant man even when we were in the same room. But when he almost died from gall bladder problems some nine years ago, I realized how much I loved him because I was totally distraught at the thought of losing him.
He survived that episode, but his health was affected. A few years later during a follow-up examination, his doctor discovered he had liver cancer. However, our dad was in a way very lucky since if it wasn't for those frequent exams related to his gall bladder intervention, the cancer wouldn't have been detected until it was too late to do anything about it. Instead, the specialists at St-Luc Hospital in Montreal treated him using laparoscopic surgery, delivering the chemotherapy drugs directly to the tumour with only mild to moderate side-effects on the rest of his system. The five treatments given to my dad allowed him to maintain a reasonable quality of life for an extra four years.
Because of his health, our dad realized his time was short. Over the years, he rebuilt the relationships with all of his children, allowing us to get closer to him than was ever possible in the past. Some people may see this in a cynical way, but none of us siblings cared much about the circumstances. It got us all together and that's all that really mattered.
He was one of my biggest supporters for my future television station, encouraging me every step of the way and always giving me excellent advice whenever we discussed it. Not once did he ever question the validity of the project and gave encouraging advice even when considering the possibility the project may not work out. No matter what happens to the station, he always saw a positive outlook. It's regrettable he hasn't survived to see the station's launch, but I'm happy that he's had the chance to find out the CRTC approved the application just a few months ago.
It's funny. Our father never pushed us in this direction, but all of us siblings are now working or will be working in sectors related to the communications field. My sister Chantal works as a reporter for a community paper, my sister Jacinthe is a communications officer for the Canadian Museum of Civilisation, and I'm trying to launch a TV station. We're actually working in fields our father was working in many years ago, and he never pushed, encouraged or even hinted that we should work in those fields! Some families try to force the children to work in certain fields, causing all kinds of problems. We all enthusiastically jumped into it without a second thought!
Now we have to live with the knowledge our father is gone and will never come back. On the plus side, we did have a chance to see and talk to him before he passed away. Not many families get that chance. Very often, people die without warning as is the case with heart attacks and car accidents. But we were given the chance to say goodbye to him and tell him how much we loved him. And he died knowing his children are all doing well and have a bright future ahead of them. Because of all of this, we are deeply saddened of the loss of our father, but we're not incapacitated by it. We thank him for being such an important part of our lives and we promise to live out our lives to the fullest just like he wanted.
March 25, 2007
The Commission APPROVES the application!
On March 19 2007, the CRTC APPROVED my application for a Category 2 Digital Specialty Channel. Best of all, everything I've asked for has been accepted with so few alterations that it shouldn't affect the service in any way. You can read the full decision at the following link.
First of all, I want to thank everyone who has helped me with this project. If it wasn't for your support and your interventions to the CRTC, this project may not have seen the light of day.
Now let's move on to the alterations to the conditions of license.
The first alteration was the 15% limitation in the presentation of theatrical release movies. Astral Media Inc., the owners of the specialty channel "The Movie Network", requested this limitation so that the new service won't compete directly with their established movie service. I asked that the limitation be imposed on a yearly basis and not on a daily basis otherwise I wouldn't be able to present the occasional mini Canadian film festival on weekends and holidays. The CRTC altered the conditions of the license so that the 15% limitation would be imposed on a weekly basis which is the normal time frame for this type of limitation. The Commission believes this modification in the condition of license would not adversely affect the service, and I agree with their assessment.
After I've sent my reply to Astral's intervention, I've discovered that Astral Media Inc. normally sends the same type of intervention to all new license applications that include the theatrical feature films category in their application. Astral is simply protecting their market and they have the right to make such requests to the CRTC. Also, it's important to note that the more movies I air, the less airtime is available to the independent content providers. In a way, the condition of license will prevent me from drifting away from my intended goals.
The second alteration was the amount of Canadian content the service would be required to present. The Commission decided to impose the standard Canadian content quotas for a Category 2 service instead of the targets I have originally proposed. My targets were a daily minimum of 70% Canadian content by the end of the first year of operation and an overall daily average of 90% Canadian content within three years. The CRTC's Canadian content requirements for the broadcast year and evening broadcasts are 15% the first year, 25% the second year and 35% the third year. The Commission didn't feel it would be right to impose higher Canadian content quotas given the distribution environments of Category 2 services, instead preferring to impose the standard Canadian content quotas for a Category 2 license. However, they still encouraged me to achieve the Canadian content levels I've imposed on myself.
So how does that affect me? Technically, I'm now authorized to present a proportion of Canadian content that is well below the targets I've originally set for myself. However, this reduction in Canadian content would also be going against the intentions of the service which is to present the highest amount of Canadian content ever presented on the Canadian airwaves. Still, I do want to thank the Commission for giving me such a wide latitude, and I will stick with my original Canadian content targets of 70% the first year and 90% after three years.
The only "problem" I have with my license application is with the condition of license that I can only accept national paid advertising (the Commission specifically reminded me that's all I can accept). My problem is not with the license condition itself, but with the meaning of "national paid advertisement". Despite searching all over the Internet, I haven't found the true definition for "national paid advertisement". Does this mean advertising destined for a national audience or broadcast to a national audience? The distinction is important because I may be receiving advertising from local merchants who will be advertising their products or services to the entire nation even if their intended audience is located within the area they serve. If "national paid advertisement" means advertising broadcast to a national audience, them I'm in the clear since I don't intend to create separate local or regional advertising slots where the commercial presented during a specific slot will be different from one region to another. But if the products or services must be destined for a national audience with no regional or local distinction, then those local merchants will not be able to advertise their products or services since the intended markets are local or regional in nature, and not national.
This is just a minor thorn in a huge bouquet of roses, and I do have a work-around if I need it. The thing to remember is that the license application has been approved and I can now officially start working on the project. I have a lot of things to do before I can begin working on this project full-time, so progress will appear to be slow at first. But once I've freed myself from my current responsibilities, then we should start seeing some real progress some time in the fall of 2007.
Supplementary, April 4 2007
I've called the CRTC about the definition of "national paid advertising". As it turns out, both of my definitions were correct. It's not only the broadcast location; it's also the target market of the commercial. The best example given to me is a car commercial. If the commercial is from the manufacturer, it's national. If the commercial is from a dealership, it's local.
So how do I get around this dilemma? Simple. I don't. I just have to make sure the "local" advertisers also sell their products or services on the Internet, and they include their Web address in their commercials. The moment they indicate their product or service is available nationwide, that qualifies as national paid advertisement.
For now, this means anyone wanting to sell their car on the station won't be able to do so for the time being. And yes, I am working on a solution to the problem. In fact, I already have a few issues with the original concept, none of them related to the license application. So in effect, the clarification on the definition and the delay that it has imposed on me will give me time to work out a proper solution to this particular situation. If need be, I can always request a license amendment with the CRTC.
More to come!
July 15, 2006
The Canadian Public
The application for a Category 2 Digital Specialty Channel has been filed with the CRTC. You can obtain more information on the proposed service at this page.
The more I discuss this idea with others, the more they like it. What I thought would be a crazy business venture is becoming a viable business plan for an innovative television channel. I don't know how smoothly the license application will go, but supposedly the CRTC is willing to take bigger chances with Category 2 licenses that they would with any other television endeavour, so anything is possible.
May 9, 2006
It's been five months since my last update. Since then, very little has changed in my life. But I'm working on it.
IBM 600 Battery Page: R.I.P.
First of all, there will be no more updates made to the IBM 600 Battery Page. The notebook has been rendered obsolete by my new Toshiba tc4200 tablet PC, a notebook with no CD-ROM drive. As a consequence, the battery can last up to four hours depending on usage. Much of the power seems to be consumed by the screen's backlight which is very bright in the dark.
The new notebook is not perfect however. I seem to be having driver issues with the graphics chipset, and the latch can no longer hold the screen down in the "closed" position. A service call may be necessary in the near future. Aside from that, being able to read full-page material in portrait mode is a blessing! I'm surprised at how much extra resolution and clarity you can get out of a display just by turning it sideways!
A note to purchasers: the basic model has a 40 GB drive, 512 MB of memory, and a 1.73 GHz Pentium M processor. All together, this is a great configuration to get you started. I haven't loaded up the hard drive so I have plenty of space left on it. As for the memory, I bought an extra 512 MB module just recently and everything is working fine.
No, the memory is not responsible for my video problems. That started before I did the upgrade.
Build a house...
My next projects will depend on the path my life takes. Right now my current employment is still going fine so I'm not in a rush to leave it. But I still like to check out what I could be doing in the future if ever the need arises.
The first project that came to mind was building my own house. And I do mean build my own house with my own two hands! Those, and a few power tools.
Here's the house I'm considering, the Victoria's House from Country Plans. The company sells reasonably priced small house plans which you are free to reproduce and alter for the construction of a single home only. The company's Web site includes a heavily used forum where owner-builders can ask for help or show off their accomplishments.
I figured that if I can find cheap land in an area where the local planning offices are open to various building styles, I could actually build most of the house on my own, leaving the roof and electrical work in the hands of professionals. And I could build this at a substantially reasonable cost.
There will be three major design changes implemented in this home when compared with traditional homes. First, no electrical or plumbing in the exterior walls. By keeping the exterior walls free of any holes, this will seal up the house against the elements better than homes where all the electrical and plumbing conduits wreck up the insulation. My goal is to use surface conduits to run all the electrical wiring. I currently have this in my loft, and it isn't anywhere near as bad as it looks. In fact, it's pretty practical if ever you need to make any modifications in the future.
Second, all plumbing will be PEX based, not copper based. This way, I can do the work myself and have better control over the final result. I'm even planning a layout change to the original design so that I can build a proper "wet wall" where all the plumbing will be built. By reducing the maximum distance between fixtures, I also reduce the overall construction and maintenance costs.
Third, this home may use alternate energy sources. That mean solar panels, wind turbines and water wheels. The goal here is not necessarily to "live off the grid", but more to ensure I always have some reserve power in case of a major power failure as well as reduce my electrical bill. However, this component will only be added if the costs can be justified. That's because in Quebec, we have the third lowest electricity rates mainly due to the fact our power comes mainly from hydro-electric dams and not from coal or gas plants.
...or apply for a television broadcast license
The second project may actually sabotage the first project if it's ever accepted. My goal is to apply for a television license for a Category 2 digital specialty channel. Unfortunately, I can't tell you exactly what it is since the application hasn't been made yet. But what I can tell you is that it will give many people the opportunity to "put on a show" where they wouldn't be able to do this with just about every other Canadian broadcaster.
It's a high-risk venture, and what I have planned will probably ruffle a few feathers in the industry both in Canada and the rest of the world. Most people will think the entire venture is insane, which it probably will be. But the application will give me the opportunity to see what it takes to apply for a broadcast license at the CRTC, a process that in a way fascinates me. From what I could find on the CRTC's Web site, the procedure is free and the license fee is 1.365% of your advertising revenue exceeding 1.5 million dollars. So if the station doesn't sell enough ad revenue, you pay nothing for the license.
I always wondered what it would take to get into the movie or television industry. I'm about to find out!