The Canadian Broadcast Corporation recently released “Canada’s Next Great Prime Minister“, a competition show where five candidates competed to become the crowd favorite. The show is licensed to share. There’s been some buzz about it online (1, 2) and for good reason: their take on DRM is right-headed
While plenty of TV networks have experimented with offering shows online for free, it is CBC’s use of DRM-free BitTorrent downloads that is the most interesting. Guinevere Orvis, one of the interactive producers on the show, told me that the motivation for this choice was their desire for the “show to be as accessible as possible, to as many Canadians as possible, in the format that they want it in.” As for DRM, she said: “I think DRM is dead, even if a lot of broadcasters don’t realize it.” She added that “if it’s bad for the consumers, it’s bad for the company.”
and this alone puts them considerably ahead of American broadcasters who are still not clear on how they can retain control over every copy of every show, restrict copies electronically, and track viewers so as to more effectively sell them stuff. For American media distributors, DRM is still taken seriously. It’s this kind of thinking that creates a huge competitive edge for those who treat their viewers better. The CBC is way ahead of the US’ PBS in terms of licensing, DRM-freeness, and modern decentralized distribution of their shows.
But the most interesting part of this show has to do with the level of debate, a debate you won’t hear on American TV.
Why is this show worth following?
Pam Hrick brought up topics on the show that you’d never hear on American political talk shows or the US Presidential televised so-called “debates”—universal health care, universal post-secondary education, multilateral involvement to address nuclear threats and not taking the US’ word on what threat Iran poses. One look at this program and you see why Ralph Nader is not allowed on debates alongside the American Republican and Democratic Party candidates—Nader would bring up topics and views that are uncomfortable for the corporate-sponsored candidates. Today in the US, presidential candidates have their questions screened by a corporate-friendly moderator both Republican and Democratic parties had a hand in approving. If anyone dares to ask an unscreened question, their mic is turned off. The American people know these forums are horrible: they watch those debates in fewer numbers over time, according to one of the speakers on the documentary “An Unreasonable Man”.