Should The Weather Network be available OTA? - Page 2 - Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums

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post #16 of 28 (permalink) Old 2010-11-11, 10:32 AM
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Interesting exchange of comments, but wanted to clarify a couple of items that might help out your discussions.
We do not receive any funding from any gov't for providing the alerting service. There is no cost to gov't to access the system. There is no fee for anyone. Any broadcaster or private individual can access the feeds.

In exchange, what we do get is CRTC continuing the rule making The Weather Network required distribution as part of the cable or satellite TV service. This rule has actually been in place since 1988, but by offering this alerting service the CRTC has agreed to continue the distribution of The Weather Network on basic.

The rate we charge cable and satellite is set by the CRTC and has not changed since the mid 90's at 23cents.

We have a Governance Council which includes every province, territory as well as the federal govt and private sector broadcasters, CBC etc that provide direction and advice with regard to the alerting service.
We make the alerting data freely available to everyone so that there is no preference to The Weather Network in accessing the data.

Hope this helps.


Paul Temple
Pelmorex Communications [The Weather Network]
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post #17 of 28 (permalink) Old 2010-11-11, 11:46 AM
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Quote:
We do not receive any funding from any gov't for providing the alerting service.
With all due respect, you receive a massive subsidy from the government that brings in millions every month. The 23 cents per month is a tax on consumers.

When multiplied by 10 million or so subs every month and then 12 times a year then consumers are being gouged close to $30 million annually for a service that a majority of the population never watches or might never watch if they actually had the discretion to pay for.

That is best described as a cross subsidy.

I would much prefer that The Weather Network tax be killed and the feds can pay someone for the actual cost of an emergency system.
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post #18 of 28 (permalink) Old 2010-11-11, 03:02 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Ptemple View Post
We do not receive any funding from any gov't for providing the alerting service. There is no cost to gov't to access the system. There is no fee for anyone. Any broadcaster or private individual can access the feeds.
Thank you for the clarification. I was mistaken with regards to the financials; I must have misinterpreted what I had read on the CRTC website.

With that aside, can you comment on the possibility of Pelmorex seeking permission to carry TWN over-the-air? Depsite the fact the emergency alerts are provided free to other media outlets?! Or is this aspect entirely up to the Governance Council?

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post #19 of 28 (permalink) Old 2010-11-11, 10:20 PM
 
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With all due respect, you receive a massive subsidy from the government that brings in millions every month. The 23 cents per month is a tax on consumers.

When multiplied by 10 million or so subs every month and then 12 times a year then consumers are being gouged close to $30 million annually for a service that a majority of the population never watches or might never watch if they actually had the discretion to pay for.

That is best described as a cross subsidy.

I would much prefer that The Weather Network tax be killed and the feds can pay someone for the actual cost of an emergency system.
Ptemple provided a set of facts about Pelmorex and The Weather Network to clarify readers' understanding of the funding behind the emergency alert service. You replied by calling TWN business revenue a "government subsidy" and referring to it as a "tax on consumers". I don't see how inaccurate language and aggressive opinions contribute to the discussion of distributing The Weather Network as an ATSC subchannel.

Pelmorex is a business that has received a license to provide The Weather Network television service and the right to charge for that service. In exchange for continued mandatory cable and satellite carriage, Pelmorex has assumed the responsibility to operate an open access weather alert service without getting an increase in revenue. That is not a tax by any objective measure. In fact, Pelmorex is providing a public service that the government might have been obligated to provide itself which would generate a direct tax on Canadians.

The Canadian broadcasting industry is riddled with examples of consumers being charged extra to provide subsidies for services that the CRTC deems worthwhile but customers may resent. That is a whole separate discussion which might as well include CBC/SRC funding because lots of people don't like being taxed to pay for it.

Ptemple's statement that "We do not receive any funding from any gov't for providing the alerting service" is correct.
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post #20 of 28 (permalink) Old 2010-11-11, 11:25 PM
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I'm quite interested in whether Ptemple can indicate whether Pelmorex has considered the idea of a DTV OTA presence in Canada, and if so whether such research has shown it to be a potentially worthwhile venture for them.
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post #21 of 28 (permalink) Old 2010-11-12, 04:16 PM Thread Starter
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GeorgeMx: My interpretation of Hugh's comments are this:

Pelmorex has negotiated a "must carry on basic package" position with the CRTC. This is a lucrative exception, as it provides TWN revenue from each and every BDU customer in Canada. This could, with validity, be considered a government-protected tax on basic subs for a service (emergency system), as the FFC costs are no doubt passed on to the consumer.

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post #22 of 28 (permalink) Old 2010-11-12, 04:32 PM Thread Starter
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My position is simple: If Pelmorex was serious in their desire to deliver emergency alerts to Canadians, then they would do so in a manner that wouldn't require a BDU subscription. Yes, third party radio stations and local TV are free to use their service, but there are no guarantees--the service is voluntary. It's possible the service isn't being used whatsoever.

For all we know, Pelmorex hired a University student on work term on the cheap, asked this person to create something, gave it a fancy and official-sounding name, then ran off to the CRTC and said, "look at what we did! Can you give us consideration in the form of must carry?".

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post #23 of 28 (permalink) Old 2010-11-12, 05:48 PM
 
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Weather Radio and Emergency Alerts In Manitoba

It took several serious and fatal tornadoes in Manitoba, like the F5 in Elie Manitoba in 2007 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32L5OtnIPGk before The Weather Radio Service http://ec.gc.ca/meteo-weather/defaul...n&n=0F875320-1 was increased from two signals to the twelve reported they have today.
It was only a few years ago the Air Raid Sirens were removed from the school I attended, now towns like Altona http://winnipeg.ctv.ca/servlet/an/lo...b=WinnipegHome are adding sirens to alert residents of emergencies.
If Pelmorex is saying that they are going to do something like the emergency warning, and others are going to pass it along, they need to follow through.
Bell Sat TV recently started running a Amber Alert channel, and the one Amber Alert I followed closely was never posted to the channel. These inconsistencies can cause loss of life, and they should take it seriously. Unfortunately it took loss of life for the Government to take it seriously, but are they just passing the buck?

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post #24 of 28 (permalink) Old 2010-11-13, 07:10 PM
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For the most part I receive my weather information via EC's Weather Radio service. And with all due resect to TWN I would rather get it from the horse's mouth than having it disseminated by a third party first.
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post #25 of 28 (permalink) Old 2010-11-13, 09:54 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Jase88 View Post
My position is simple: If Pelmorex was serious in their desire to deliver emergency alerts to Canadians, then they would do so in a manner that wouldn't require a BDU subscription. Yes, third party radio stations and local TV are free to use their service, but there are no guarantees--the service is voluntary. It's possible the service isn't being used whatsoever.
Any emergency alerting system must have the ability to put the message where the public will see or hear it. There are two main ways of accomplishing this objective.

The most direct is a system like the one used in the US that operates using the NWS radio network. NWS has a group of radio frequencies around 162 MHz used to relay weather information to the public. Relatively inexpensive sets are available at retail to receive these stations. The user can listen to the continuous weather broadcasts like a conventional radio or program a geographic code into the radio that will cause it unmute when an emergency message is sent that affects the listener's geographic location. These radios are silent except when an alert is being transmitted so they can be ready at night for weather and disaster emergencies. The dedicated system is very good if people buy the radios and keep them ready for an emergency message.

The alternative system requires interrupting broadcasting services that already have a significant number of listeners/viewers. The ears and eyeballs are already listening or watching so the alert message will reach its target. The message must interrupt regular programming and not be carried on a special channel that most people will not be using. The most effective broadcast channel for an alert will depend on the time of day. Radio is most effective when many people are in their cars or listening while they work. Television will be better in the evening. Wireless broadcast messages can also be effective because of the number of cell phones in use.

The only way to access these channels is through cooperation with the broadcaster or BDU having the technical capability to insert the message. Pelmorex could not do it on their own.

The deficiency of the broadcast based approach is the lack of messaging capability when the radio and TV are off and people are sleeping. Dedicated systems like the US weather radio and warning sirens have the advantage when people are sleeping. About the least useful system for a first alert is a television weather channel on a BDU or OTA that people only tune when they are already aware that a problem exists or may be about to occur.

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Originally Posted by Jase88 View Post
For all we know, Pelmorex hired a University student on work term on the cheap, asked this person to create something, gave it a fancy and official-sounding name, then ran off to the CRTC and said, "look at what we did! Can you give us consideration in the form of must carry?".
Ptemple: "We have a Governance Council which includes every province, territory as well as the federal govt and private sector broadcasters, CBC etc that provide direction and advice with regard to the alerting service." I think these government and private entities will be well aware of the capabilities of the Pelmorex system.

I understand that Pelmorex provides the critical capability to collect emergency messages, not just weather related, and distribute them to broadcasters and BDUs. If the system works well, the volunteer fire chief in a small community will have a phone number to call with emergency information when a tractor trailer carrying hazmat flips on the Trans-Canada highway outside town, and Pelmorex will get that information to broadcasters in the affected area. That is a very useful service and by itself is probably worth 23 cents a month.
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post #26 of 28 (permalink) Old 2010-11-14, 04:15 PM Thread Starter
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GeorgeMx: Thank you for the lengthy explanation of emergency systems in the US. And while I agree the US alert system is excellent, it's not germain to our discussion here.

I've pondered this "Governance Council". Again, another term flouted by this broadcaster that sounds impressive. But what is it comprised of exactly? It seems to me that it's made up of industry peers; all of whom have the same interest: To maximize profit. It's probably more of a lobby group than anything...

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post #27 of 28 (permalink) Old 2010-11-16, 12:59 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Jase88 View Post
GeorgeMx: Thank you for the lengthy explanation of emergency systems in the US. And while I agree the US alert system is excellent, it's not germain to our discussion here.
The description was provided to explain why Pelmorex could not provide the last link of the emergency alert system to the listener. You either require a dedicated system like the US or access to the existing broadcast audience. Sticking TWN on a DTV channel does not solve the problem.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jase88 View Post
I've pondered this "Governance Council". Again, another term flouted by this broadcaster that sounds impressive. But what is it comprised of exactly? It seems to me that it's made up of industry peers; all of whom have the same interest: To maximize profit. It's probably more of a lobby group than anything...
My read of Ptemple's previous post leads me to believe that the Governance Council includes representatives from provincial and territorial governments plus private and public broadcasters. Most government representative and businesses do not screw around with public safety issues - I certainly would not expect to find a publically and politically sensitive organization like CBC involved with any organization that functions the way you suggest in your post. Perhaps you could ask Ptemple to elaborate rather than engage in speculation.

I also have to express another concern. Over the 9 or 10 years that I have participated in DHC I have noted that nothing destroys an interesting thread faster than posters resorting to ideology, conspiracy theories and general mud slinging. You don't know what the Governance Council is but you freely characterised it as a conspiracy: "It seems to me that it's made up of industry peers;all of who have the same interest" then threw in the ideology part "To maximize profit". Finally, you dismiss the value of the Council with "It's probably more of a lobby group than anything..." All of this commentary and condemnation without, by your own admission, knowing anything about the group.
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post #28 of 28 (permalink) Old 2010-11-17, 08:28 AM
 
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I might be a bit off topic but TWN recently offered an app called "Weather Eye" which I have been using since it came it for Windows PC's. It gives weather forecasts for any city in your task bar and has some vids from TWN as well. Also if there is an alert it shows up in red in the task bar. Wish TWN was OTA if even a sub.
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