2021 Conference Schedule

May 3-7, 2021

A video archive of the conference is available.

Day 1: Monday, May 3rd

Time Info +/- View

Indigenous welcome ceremony: Darlene LaForme (Cayuga Turtle Clan)

Opening remarks:

Introduction: Adrianne Xavier (McMaster University)

Jesse Wente is an Anishinaabe writer, broadcaster, speaker and arts leader. Born and raised in Toronto, his family comes from Chicago and Genaabaajing Anishinaabek and he is a member of the Serpent River First Nation. Jesse is best known for more than two decades spent as a columnist for CBC Radio's Metro Morning. Jesse was with the Toronto International Film Festival for 11 years, the last seven as the director of film programmes at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. An outspoken advocate for Indigenous rights and First Nations, Métis and Inuit art, he has spoken at the International Forum of Indigenous Peoples, Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, the Canadian Arts Summit, the Cultural Summit of the Americas, and numerous Universities and Colleges. Jesse has served on the board of directors of the Toronto Arts Council, The ImagineNative Film and Media Festival and Native Earth Performing Arts. In summer 2020 he was appointed Chair of the Canada Council for the Arts, the only First Nations person to ever hold the position. Jesse is currently finishing his first book for Penguin Random House Canada. Jesse was named the first Executive Director of the Indigenous Screen Office in February 2018. Playback Magazine named Jesse the trailblazer of the year for 2020, and he was also included on Maclean's Magazine's Power List for 2020 and Toronto Life's list of the most influential Torontonians of 2020.

1:15pm-1:30pm ET Break

Chair: Monique Manatch (Indigenous Culture and Media Innovations; Carleton University)
Format: Live

This panel will explore the following themes and questions:

  • Indigenous media digital initiatives: What initiatives are happening? What policies and initiatives (can) support such initiatives?
  • Indigenous data initiatives: What initiatives are happening? What policies and initiatives (can) support such initiatives?
  • Indigenous broadband (digital infrastructure) initiatives: What initiatives are happening? What policies and initiatives (can) support such initiatives?
  • What is an Indigenous platform? What role, if any, do non-Indigenous platforms have in supporting Indigenous media and voices?
  • What role can or should regulators play?
Participants/Presenters:
  • Jesse Wente (Indigenous Screen Office)
  • Gwen Phillips (BC First Nations’ Data Governance Initiative)
  • Rob McMahon (University of Alberta)
  • Dan Smoke (Smoke Signals, 94.9FM Radio Western)
  • Mary Lou Smoke (Smoke Signals, 94.9FM Radio Western)


Day 2: Tuesday, May 4th

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Introduction: Peter Cockett (McMaster University)
Presenters: Sharon McGowan and Susan Brinton

Women have moved into key creative positions in the Canadian film and TV industry and they’re getting significantly more government funding for productions. Making such inroads in the traditionally male-dominated screen industry has been a long fight. It’s taken decades of targeted research, policy analysis and unrelenting advocacy by women’s industry organizations. Recently, the MeToo movement has spurred more awareness and access for women.
But major roadblocks to gender equity remain. Those who have benefited are mostly white women. Indigenous women, Black women and Women of Colour remain vastly underrepresented. And while women have broken through in key creative roles - writer, director, producer - the massive below-the-line workforce of film technicians remains solidly the domain of white men. Public money is funding this inequity, since Canadian tax credits worth hundreds of millions of dollars annually, is given to both Canadian and foreign productions.
Women also are confronted by the family-toxic “bro’ culture” of film and television sets. The hierarchy is rigid, the working hours punishingly long, and getting a job or moving up relies on “who you know.” That keeps out women, gender-diverse and racialized people, as well as people with disabilities.
In this talk, we’ll cover the history and key turning points in the struggle for gender equity in Canada’s film and television industry. We’ll highlight some current research and developments for getting more women into jobs. Gender equity matters deeply, both on a personal level for women and in cultural recognition, since who’s behind the screen profoundly influences what’s on the screen.

1:00pm-1:15pm ET Break

Chair: Tamara Shepherd (University of Calgary)
Format: Live

This roundtable considers the process of engaging in policy proceedings from the perspectives of citizens, advocacy groups, cultural producers, and academics. Speakers will discuss their experiences interfacing with various government stakeholders as part of their public consultation strategies. The roundtable will also include a speaker from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), who will discuss the ways that the CRTC has worked to engage diverse publics in policymaking.
Participants:

Chair: Stephen Surlin (McMaster University)
Format: Live

Presenters:

David Dubinski (University of Ottawa)
Paper Title: From ‘cultural’ to ‘deliberative’ sovereignty: How an update of cultural policy from the analog era could help frame Canada’s policy response to the use of artificial intelligence on digital networks
Paper Abstract:
The Digital Charter sets out a framework policy to guide future Government of Canada actions to enhance the benefits and mitigate the harms arising out of the use of artificial intelligence to harvest, analyze and monetize data on digital networks. The Charter includes a section on “Strong Democracy” regarding threats “designed to undermine the integrity of elections and democratic institutions.”
In fact, the threats posed by algorithms online go far beyond elections and institutions. Search and social media networks host targeted advertising services that have drained advertising revenues from quality professional news services while at the same time enabling the distribution of toxic disinformation and hateful, violent content. Shoshana Zuboff, drawing on Hannah Arendt, has argued that ‘surveillance capitalism’ further threatens individuals ‘right to a future’ because social media algorithms’ have the ability not just to know our beliefs but alter them. These and related developments mean that there are grave threats not only to elections but the entire public sphere where individuals seek information, form opinions, and deliberate with fellow citizens.
The logic of the existing cultural policy of ‘cultural sovereignty,’ usually seen as the goal of ensuring access to Canadian content in mass media, already includes an underlying objective of ensuring the integrity of a Canadian public sphere where Canadians could be informed about Canadian public life. My paper will show why this concept should be updated to the principle of ‘deliberative sovereignty’ to ensure the integrity of a democratic public sphere. Drawing on the history and theory of the communicative public sphere, it will show how the concept of ‘deliberative sovereignty’ could effectively frame what is at stake for democratic life in the new digital environment and guide policymakers in the choice of effective policy instruments.

Derek Hrynyshyn (York University)
Paper Title: Algorithms, Platforms and the Public Interest: Responding to the Crisis in Canadian Communication Policy
Paper Abstract:
Communication and cultural policy is confronted by a crisis as much in Canada as anywhere else. The emergence of online platforms as a dominant means of production and distribution of media content is leading to a collapse of the capacity to ensure that the media system serves national public interests. This essay argues that many different issues in communication policy can be seen as different aspects of this crisis, and that public institutional support for new kinds of platforms must be an essential part of any strategy to deal with the root of these problems.
Problems such as the difficulty in mandating national content, the unreliability of political information, a local of production of local news, violations of privacy, as well as others, are all either generated or exacerbated by the reliance of most of the dominant online platforms on advertising revenue. The algorithmic determination of distribution of content on these platforms is not designed to keep users of the platforms satisfied or to meet their needs but to maximize revenue. This leaves no means of ensuring an accountability over the flow of information and cultural goods to the public.
The existing framework of Canadian policy designed to regulate national media markets is, consequently, becoming ineffective. Subsidising the production of content by private producers, and funding a public distributor of content to fill gaps left by the market, both depend on the ability to impose regulations on a marketplace of private producers and distributors. In a world dominated by global monopolistic platforms, that ability is disappearing.
What is needed, it is argued, is not a new publicly owned and managed platform, but a new type of platform: not centrally controlled but instead distributed and connected by open-source protocols. While open-source projects have had limited success competing with monopolistic platforms, government support in terms of financial and logistic support for non-profit projects developing new platforms could begin to solve many of the problems that cultural policy makers face.

Daniel Paré (University of Ottawa) and Charles Smith (St. Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan)
Paper Title: Free to express yourself outside of work? Workplace discipline in the age of social media
Paper Abstract:
In an age when social media platforms are embedded into peoples’ daily routines and the boundaries between public and private spheres are blurred, the power yielded by rights of property extends workplace discipline far beyond one’s place of employment. This, in turn, challenges existing understandings of freedom of expression and the political economy of time.
Such realities raise countless public policy questions about the best ways for labour, unions, employers, and governments to balance competing needs of security and privacy in an increasingly ‘open’ society. In terms of labour relations, the myriad opportunities social media platforms provide for amplifying individual expression, some of which may clearly be damaging to employers, presents a host of ethical, legal, and moral challenges pitting employee rights against the authority and power of employers. Put simply, the relationship between employees’ experiences at work and their ability to publicly express their voice without fear of reprisal constitutes an important public policy and human rights issue. This highlights the need for developing governance mechanisms to ensure an effective balance is struck between the interests of employees and those of employers.
At the centre of our work is the following question: How are the discursive and dissemination opportunities afforded by social media platforms altering the balance between citizens’ public rights to freedom expression and their private contractual obligations as employees?
In this paper we investigate the extent and manner in which legal doctrine protecting the freedom of expression and personal privacy of employees is being transformed by the contending opportunities social media platforms afford. Our research is anchored in an analysis of 27 cases of workplace arbitration and court decisions dealing with disciplinary actions resulting from online speech. The findings show that in each instance the imposed disciplinary measures have been constructed in accordance with how employees’ speech reflects on employers and/or professional associations. More concretely, decision outcomes demonstrate that the property rights of the employer or larger professional bodies, is the principal issue guiding the types, and degrees, of penalties to which employees are subjected for expressing their voice.

Julie Yujie Chen (University of Toronto)
Paper Title: The mirage and politics of participation in China's platform economy
Paper Abstract:
Despite considerable attention paid to the roles played by digital platforms in mediating and organizing the economy and sociality, there is a dearth of knowledge about how the platform economy is operationalised, discursively, politically, and practically in China. The article explicates the semantic deployment of the term platform in the national development policies generally and the specific manifestations in the policies and praxis of ride-hailing and food-delivery services – two of the fastest growing sectors in China’s platform economy. The study contextualises the framework and rationale behind the governmental promotion of the platform economy in the state’s long-term efforts to be part of the global digital capitalism. It also charts the persistent and shifting struggles facing workers in the new socio-technical and economic landscape in which digital platforms play a crucial role. The article demonstrates how the characterization of digital platforms as participatory infrastructures for (new) jobs takes precedence in contemporary China. Juxtaposing policies with praxis, it is argued that the mirage of participation conceals an emerging digital infrastructure of distribution to the disadvantage of the workers, which may eventually undermine the development agenda.

Guy T. Hoskins (York University)
Paper Title: The Submissive Citizen in the Shadow of Platform Power: Between Rights Claims and Active Citizenship
Paper Abstract:
In a context of pervasive datafication, an essential component of the quest for ‘data justice’ (Hintz et al 2018) is to establish a framework of rights that can safeguard fundamental freedoms for the ‘data citizen’. As Isin & Ruppert (2015) make clear, however, the performance of rights claims makes the data citizen both a subversive and a submissive figure: simultaneously making demands and submitting to authority. It is my contention that the rights claims of the data citizen, and the dominant imaginaries that surround them, are often best defined as submissive to platforms rather than subversive of them. They are submissive because the core rights, usually centred on dimensions of privacy and expression, fail to connect to broader social struggles and over-emphasize individualist and technical solutions. Moreover, I contend that we can better understand this failure to adequately challenge the systemic injustices implied in the mass capture of citizen data if we examine the earlier lineage of digital rights frameworks, from WSIS to the present day.
Using a poststructuralist political economy approach (Schoonmaker 2009) that takes into account discursive as well as political-economic components, I examine some of the most prominent bills of digital rights, such as the IGF’s Charter of Human Rights and Principles for the Internet. In so doing I propose that the dominant formulation of rights claims has had the effect of sating the systemic needs of informational capitalism, as well as foreclosing the potential to substantively address its inequities in the form of monopolization, surveillance and commodification. By contrast, I explore the potential for models of active data citizenship (Powell 2016), such as ‘platform cooperativism’ (Scholz 2014), to more effectively democratize the processes of datafication.

Mariane Bourcheix-Laporte (Simon Fraser University)
Paper Title: VUCAVU.com: Artist-Run Distribution of Independent Canadian Film and Video in the Age of the Platform
Paper Abstract:
VUCAVU.com is a pay-per-view streaming platform for independent Canadian film and video. Independent here means that the artist or producer had complete artistic control and that their work was created primarily for purposes of artistic expression. VUCAVU.com was launched in 2016 following an initial investment of $1.5M, by the Canada Council for the Arts. The platform is managed by the Coalition of Independent Media Art Distributors (CCIMAD), which brings together eight media distributors from across Canada, i.e. most of the distributors of independent film and video that receive operating support from the Canada Council. These are non-profit organizations that emerged from the late 1960s onward out of the artist-run centre and alternative film distribution movements. The lack of commercial viability of artist-driven film and video has long been established and CCIMAD distributors and VUCAVU operate in an ecosystem historically characterized by market-failure. Since its inception, VUCAVU has generated low revenues from its streaming services and, not benefitting from stable financial support from funding bodies, is presently struggling to establish a sustainable operating model. This paper examines the development of VUCAVU, the platform’s networked governance structure, and its operating model. An analysis of the ways in which VUCAVU both resists and embraces aspects of the platform economy is developed. It is argued that VUCAVU constitutes an artist-driven appropriation of the audiovisual distribution platform, which nevertheless challenges established models in the independent media arts sector. It is proposed that VUCAVU can serve as a case study in the opportunities and challenges that the adoption of digital models represent for the market failure artistic sector. Lessons learned from this case study are particularly relevant to consider in light of the recent push for the adoption of digital models in Canadian arts funding orientations.

Chair: Mary Elizabeth Luka (University of Toronto)
Format: Pre-recorded presentations with live Q&A

Presenters:
Mary Elizabeth Luka (University of Toronto), Claudia Sicondolfo (York University), Mariane Bourcheix-Laporte (Simon Fraser University), Debbie Ebanks (York University) and Raegan Swanson (The ArQuives: Canada’s LGBTQ2+ Archive; Dundee University)
Paper Title: Archive Counter/Archive: Activating Principles of Respect in Archival Policy Development
Paper Abstract:
Archive/Counter-Archive (A/CA: https://counterarchive.ca/) is a six-year partnership project funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSRHC) “dedicated to activating and remediating audiovisual archives created by Indigenous Peoples (First Nations, Métis, Inuit), the Black community and People of Colour, womxn, LGBT2Q+ and immigrant communities. Political, resistant, and community-based, counter-archives disrupt conventional narratives and enrich our histories.”
Embodied within the A/CA commitment is the intent to develop policy protocols and recommendations that are based on principles of respect and that have the potential to challenge and change regulatory and legislative approaches to the inclusion, preservation and uses of increasingly prolific forms and amounts of media content for marginalized and underserved archives and media-making communities. At the December 2019 A/CA Symposium, researchers initially discussed compiling evolving policy discoveries and recommendations throughout the six-year project in the form of a White Paper, to be delivered to SSHRC and university Ethics Review Boards (ERBs), while also becoming a contribution to a potential scholarly publication. Since then, the very nature of how we gathered and discuss these matters has shifted more deeply into considerations about how to activate and support the community arts and media activists, artists and organizations we partner with.
The paper proposed for the conference at McMaster will address outdated policy and procedural considerations for working with community archives currently imposed by research and ethics boards as well as constraints resulting from legislation or regulatory limits. Many of these boards and policies purport to encourage knowledge mobilization or sharing (for-profit or for social benefit) through the increased circulation of media material. However, A/CA participants observe a lack of evidence of synchronous reporting, archiving, and ethical policies in place aimed at prioritizing community members and their archival objects and knowledges above the procedures and protocols of the researchers--or more precisely--the ERBs or legislation in place.
Comprising seven case studies, and 28 official core partners (made up of representatives from universities, provincial and federal archives, artist-run centres, community organizations across Canada), the project involves more than 100 collaborating artists, academics and activists. In this presentation, members of A/CA’s Policy & IP, Knowledge Architectures, and Principles of Respect working groups will delineate the consultative and collaborative ecosystem that is evolving from a commitment to Indigenous methodologies, respectful and inclusive protocols for working with community archives, reflections from annual meetings, and deep dives into current case studies, including the Margaret Perry Collection, the Winnipeg Film Group and Urban Shaman. Despite the many complex sets of relations in Canadian settler society, A/CA’s commitments remain firmly grounded within the various communities and case studies we are working alongside, attempting to directly address and activate (re)conciliation and related ethical commitments. Rooted within a broader understanding of data sovereignty, moral rights and ethical frameworks as the foundation for sharing or withholding intellectual permissions, acknowledgments and property rights, we will share how A/CA is mobilizing a multi-layered, and multi-year online platform for communication, presentation and facilitating open-ended resolution attempts for vulnerable digital archives.

Robin Nelson (MacEwan University)
Paper Title: Digitizing Governance: The Evolution of Community Museum Policy in Ontario
Paper Abstract:
According to a policy translation perspective, museum policies are the relationships mobilized to support and enact museums. New technologies have (re)shaped those relationships, changing the governance of the sector. When the Province of Ontario introduced a museum policy (1981) and standards of operation attached to an operating grant (1984), the use of computers in museums was limited. The Ontario Museum Association (OMA) then led an automation project, encouraging museums to use new technologies and providing a computer advisory service. Today, digital platforms have become key to the OMA’s resource development and training activities. The province has also adapted to new realities, providing funding for digital initiatives and updating the standards to include electronic systems. Museums are expected to respond to new developments. For example, they are now asked to show social media plans to meet the provincial community standard.
The proposed paper considers how digital technologies have changed community museum governance in Ontario from the OMA’s automation project in 1986 to the Province’s expectation for a social media plan as part of the 2016 operating grant application. Using data from interviews and archival research, it will discuss changing regulatory expectations and means of governing. After outlining the intersections between museum policy and digital technologies, the paper will critically reflect on the implications of the redefined relationships. In particular, museums’ relationship to knowledge and information has changed, which results in a redefinition of roles for those governing the sector. Second, technology has altered how time is understood, privileging those with the capacity to act quickly. The paper contributes to understanding the critical role technology has played in museum governance, (re)creating particular power dynamics as relationships are (re)shaped and resources become more or less accessible to specific institutions.

Véronique Guèvremont and Diane Saint-Pierre, with the collaboration of Iris Richer (Université Laval)
Paper Title: Recognizing and supporting the specificity of “digital cultural goods and services” in the digital environment: Comparative study of innovative measures/ instruments (10 case studies)
Paper Abstract:
In recent years, Canada and Québec have been negotiating free trade agreements that contain binding commitments on electronic commerce. Although cultural exception clauses have the effect of excluding cultural industries from these agreements, doubts remain about their scope for cultural contents circulating in the digital environment. A legal uncertainty surrounds Canada's and Québec's ability to implement cultural policies, to promote their cultural contents on the Internet. Failure to clearly recognize the dual nature of cultural goods and services online could thus limit Canada's sovereign right to adopt policies which protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions on its territory, as well as at the national level under the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.
Located at the junction of three fields of study ― international law of culture, trade liberalization agreements, and states' cultural policies ― this research project focuses on three main objectives: 1) identify new legal arguments to allow Canada and Québec to reaffirm the dual nature of cultural goods and services accessible through the Internet; 2) identify and compare the most innovative cultural policies in support of the various links in the value chain of cultural expressions in the digital environment, with the goal of identifying best practices that can inform policies and programs targeting Québec and Canadian audiences; and (3) identify cultural clauses that allow states to protect their culturally appropriate cultural policies in a context of electronic commerce liberalization. This project aims at responding to a need expressed not only by Canada and Québec, but also by the civil society and civil organizations in the cultural sector that act locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally (UNESCO).
Based on the review and analysis of relevant government documentation (2013-2019) produced by ten states (France, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Spain, Catalonia, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Denmark, and the Wallonia-Brussels Federation) and two supranational organizations (the European Union and the Council of Europe), the paper will discuss the reflections and observations resulting from this research on the most innovative legal and policy measures / instruments (IPAs) with regard to ""digital cultural goods and services."" This paper is based on a project funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

M. Sharon Jeannotte (University of Ottawa)
Paper Title: Digital Platforms and Analogue Policies: Governance issues in Canadian Cultural Policy
Paper Abstract:
Governance is about choices – about both what to govern and how to govern it. In Canada, a complex set of public action instruments (or instruments of governance) have been used over the past 100 years or so to encourage, regulate and support Canadian cultural expression. During this period, governments were primarily motivated by three normative imperatives: national identity, economic vitality, and cultural diversity. One question now facing governments, as digital platforms disrupt the equilibria of economic, social and cultural life, is whether these motivations continue to be salient issues. A second question, if the first one is answered in the affirmative, is whether the traditional instruments of governance can be adapted to a media environment dominated by foreign entities that have so far managed to circumvent most of the legal, regulatory and financial instruments traditionally used by Canadian governments to protect and promote domestic cultural expression. This presentation will explore the cultural stakes for Canada in the digital platform environment to determine if the government’s normative perspectives are still valid and if they need to change. It will also examine options within the field of taxation – one of the most prominent public action instruments governing cultural policy – to explore the limits of political agency in this disruptive environment.

Pascale Chapdelaine (Faculty of Law, University of Windsor) and Jaqueline McLeod (Department Rhetoric, Writing, and Communication, University of Winnipeg)
Paper Title: Contested Sovereignties: Canada’s Regulation of Communication and Culture and the Networked Society
Paper Abstract:
This paper queries the foundations, legitimacy, and other ongoing challenges of Canada’s media and communication regulation through the concept of sovereignty. We look at sovereignty from various vantage points, i.e. State, personal data subject, and transnational digital platform sovereignty, and at how the tensions between these different levels of sovereignty are (should be) addressed in ongoing legislative reform and policy in Canada. We analyse the extent to which new methods of delivery and access to content through online digital platforms, coupled with massive personal data extraction, call for revisiting the traditional assumptions and objectives of Canada’s regulation of culture and content. More specifically, we look at the regulatory challenges regarding broadcasting and privacy law reform, and at the interaction between the two bodies of law in relation to Canada’s cultural policy.
We bring cross-disciplinary perspectives (in law, communications, media, and technology theory) to enable policy and language analysis. Our research methodology is mixed. We rely on rhetorical and discursive analysis to examine the language of current laws and recommendations, to identify potentially conflicting values animating communications’ regulation and how they may be (ir)reconcilable.
Applying the theories of McLuhan—in particular the ones about space, borders, environment/anti-environment and change—we will consider how he dealt with questions of individual and collective rights in the face of media change. Although he frequently cited the dissolution of borders, government and politics—of traditional forms of organization and affiliation—his probes and theories nonetheless turned on the exercise of humanistic leadership and intervention, and thus he was working in his day with interlocking questions similar to those we raise about the efficacy of state power and nation-based regulations, about protecting and nurturing individuals and communities, and about limiting corporate and technologized power.
Our analysis will drive toward considering options for (re)framing issues deserving regulatory and legal intervention, and the justifications therefore.

Kait Kribs (York/Ryerson University)
Paper Title: "Our Band is a Bandcamp Band": Making Music and Earning a Living in the Platform Era
Paper Abstract:
Digitization has had significant repercussions for the sharing and consuming of music commodities. For years, the Recording Industry Association of America flexed its litigious muscle in an attempt to stop so-called piracy, but failed miserably to curb illegal file sharing; and in Canada, the approach was litigiously reticent (if not altogether negligent). Only recently have the North American music industries begun reconfiguring themselves around the distribution, circulation, and presentation of music online via digital marketplace and streaming platforms. While it is important to examine how music is sold and how digital platforms reshape this exchange, I want to draw due attention to the following reality: when changes are made to the methods for selling music, it ultimately alters how artists are compensated — and usually not for the better. Consequently, the effectiveness of the policies and regulations designed to support or protect sound recordings become outmoded.
Within the last few years, however, in Canada, there has been great change afoot at the policy level, with several committees researching and examining the state of the music industry in a digital world. This paper asks: How have these recent reviews and reports addressed key changes to musician labour in the platform era? How have they failed to? What possible structural supports can be offered to ensure ongoing, sustainable music creation, production, and distribution in Canada?
The paper’s central argument asserts that there is a disconnect between how musicians see themselves and conceptualize their labour practices, and how industry officials understand and characterize musician labour. Employing a cultural industries approach that uses a combination of document analysis and the data collected from eight semi-structured interviews with musicians from across Canada, I assess the degree to which these platforms enable or constrain musician labour with the ultimate goal of introducing viable policy solutions that address the unique challenges faced by Canadian musicians in the platform era.


Day 3: Wednesday, May 5th

Time Info +/- View

Chair: Sara Bannerman

President and CEO of the Public Policy Forum, a non-profit Canadian thinktank, Edward Greenspon worked as founding editor of globeandmail.com and Editor-in-Chief of the Globe & Mail and in numerous prominent media roles, over the past 30 years from the Lloydminster Times to Bloomberg News. He is the co-author of two books on Canadian politics. In 2017, he authored The Shattered Mirror on news, democracy and trust, followed by Democracy Divided: Countering Disinformation and Hate in the Digital Public Sphere, co-authored with Taylor Owen. Democracy Divided offered policy options that respond to the policy challenges from digital platforms. Under Greenspon, the Public Policy Forum has produced a number of important studies, including its recent Commission on Democratic Expression chaired by former Supreme Court of Canada Chief Justice Beverly McLachlan and its January 2021 report, Harms Reduction: a six-step program to protect democratic expression online.

1:30pm-1:45pm ET Break

Chair: Paula Gardner (McMaster University)
Format: Live

Paula Gardner (McMaster) will guide a panel on the topic of surveillance capitalism in the smart city context, inviting discussion of policy responses to such problems. The rise of surveillance capitalism has only recently begun to be examined by policymakers, including representatives of governments around the world as part of the International Grand Committee on Big Data, Privacy, and Democracy. The rise of surveillance capitalism is a problem that is compounded by the rise of smart city platforms.

Presenters:
Beth Coleman (University of Toronto (Mississauga))
Paper Title: Activating Context: Disruptive Data Pedagogies and Smart Infrastructure
Paper Abstract:
In thinking about urban surveillance, what if “risk” is the better civic framework over the conventional wisdom of “privacy”? In this light, I ask how are ubiquitous automation technologies (“smart”) such as Bluetooth and visual-capture IoT deployed in public space? I look at several case studies of urban smart installations, such as the Toronto King Street pilot, the New York City LinkNYC Wi-Fi kiosks, to discuss issues of design ontology, data sovereignty, and the smart topos of “efficiency.” In many ways, these urban installations are the ideal picture of smart technology application. Yet, I am interested in the slippage between the language (and methods) of “efficiency” and the complexities of deploying what are, in effect, surveillance technologies in public space. If one looks closely at the structures of data acquisition, holding, and analysis, one finds a complicated scenario of “efficiency” obfuscating the (design) values of transparency, consent, and privacy. Part of the attraction of such case studies is that the city agents are largely working toward a public good; it is the complexity and invisibility of machine-to-machine (m2m) automation that presents new challenges for human-computer interaction. Increasingly, the contours of a data-driven society are shaped by the transformation of nearly all interactions (monetary, communication, locational, etc.) into a modality of quantifiable data. The significance of this is profound and, often, largely, invisible. In making visible the infrastructure and ontology of such public works project, I ask a broader question regarding smart technology in context and the civic status of data ethics and data sovereignty, with implications for data Justice.

Natasha Tusikov (York University)
Paper Title: Signage, Consent, & Data Standard Setting in the Smart City
Paper Abstract:
The Toronto smart city project, Quayside, is no ordinary smart-city project. It is Google’s flagship (and, to date, only) venture into the billion-dollar smart-city industry. This presentation explores the controversial silence of Sidewalk Labs, the Google spin-off company, on its data collection plans and implications for privacy in the Quayside public consultations. Drawing on critical data studies and an analysis of Sidewalk Labs’ data governance proposals, this presentation argues that Sidewalk Labs is strategically shaping rules on data and privacy to privilege its business model and economic interests. Sidewalk Labs, arguing that obtaining people’s consent for data collection in public spaces is difficult, proposes to use a prototype system of signage to indicate how data will be collected, by whom, and for what purpose. Signage, however, does not constitute consent.

Blayne Haggart (Brock University)
Paper Title: Surveillance, marketing and misdirection: The selling of Toronto’s smart city
Paper Abstract:
In 2016, Daniel L. Doctoroff, financier, former deputy mayor of New York City and head of the then-year-old Google company Sidewalk Labs, asked the question, “What would a city look like if you started from scratch in the internet era – if you built a city ‘from the internet up?’” This catchy turn of phrase became Sidewalk Labs’ calling card, eventually landing it a deal to co-partner with the Waterfront Toronto, an arm’s-length government agency, to develop a smart city project in the Quayside neighbourhood of Toronto’s waterfront. However, between the October 2017 awarding of this contract and Sidewalk Labs’ presentation of its plans in June 2019, “from the internet up” disappeared completely from the company’s lexicon.
This vanishing trick is the key to understanding the Quayside project, while also telling us something about the general concept of “smart cities.” An examination of the Quayside project reinforces the extent to which “smart city” is a marketing device. It also highlights the extent to which such projects are designed to provide the illusion of accountability while maintaining top-down control over the project. Most interestingly, Sidewalk Labs’ attempt to downplay the importance of data and surveillance, which seems particularly absurd coming from a company whose only competitive advantage is its links to Google, highlights the difficulty that all smart-city companies face in the post-Cambridge Analytica era. Ubiquitous commercial surveillance may now be a political landmine, but it’s also necessary to make a Google-style smart city work.

Michael Darroch (York University)
Paper Title: Open Cities in a Border Region: Windsor-Detroit
Paper Abstract:
While divided by the international border, Windsor and Detroit also constitute a curiously integrated urban environment. This paper contrasts each city’s approach to both open data portals and data-driven initiatives to consider ways in which the cities are connected and disconnected on a range of informational scales. Through their shared histories of colonial expansion, international networks of manufacturing and trade, and coordinated management of waterways and air pollution, the cities have long been linked by cross-border governance and mobilities of people, labour, goods, and information (Klug 1998; Oiamo, Lafreniere & Parr, 2016). As recently as October 2018, Detroit-based entrepreneur Dan Gilbert announced that one hundred employees of his Quicken Loans online mortgage company would take up residence across the Detroit River in a previously empty building in downtown Windsor. The announcement followed the recently failed bid, led by Gilbert, to land the new Amazon Headquarters as a cross-border Detroit-Windsor venture. At a time of deepening uncertainty about American border policies and the future of North American trade agreements, Gilbert was compelled to initiate a cross-border IT workforce by tapping into the talent pool of southwestern Ontario’s rich university and technology sectors, without the necessity for workers to cross the border physically. At the same time, both city-governed and independent open data portals in each city (such as Windsor’s Open Data Portal and Data Driven Detroit) are strangely disconnected, despite broad recognition of the deeply interdependent factors of cross-border labour, consumption patterns, agriculture and food industries, transportation networks, and international property speculation. Data-driven and smart-city initiatives that increasingly recognize the need for coordinated cross-border information sharing are rather sponsored by groups such as the Ontario-sponsored Local Employment Planning Council Workforce WindsorEssex, the University of Windsor’s Cross-Border Institute, or by each city’s commissioning of for-profit companies such as Kitchener-based Miovision to develop smart traffic intersections and traffic flow leading to Windsor-Detroit’s central border crossings.

Kuan-Yun Wang (Communication and Cultural Studies, York University)
Paper Title: Surveillance Capitalism and the Political Economy of Technology in the Global “War on Terror” Ideological Battlefield: The case of Palestine during Covid 19 Pandemic
Paper Abstract:
Surveillance has always been a part of the Israeli government’s settler-colonial project (Abu-Laban et al., 2011; Lyon, 2011; Lentin, 2017). In March 2020, the Israeli government announced new emergency regulations in response to the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory. For Palestinians living in the occupied territory to hold a valid or renew their permit to enter Israel for work, family visit, school or medical checkups, they are asked to download the ‘Al Munasiq’ in Arabic, or ‘The Coordinator’ app. This app then “allows the army to track the user’s phone location as well as access any notifications they receive, files they download or save, and the device's camera” (Ali, 2020, p.11).
Building upon the existing literature, I want to further address the question of visuality and Necropolitics in the context of settler colonialism (Mirzoeff, 2011, Zureik 2011, Mbembe, 2019). I also investigate how surveillance technologies and surveillance capitalism contribute to the “death world”, as Mbembe puts it, as a result of the global war on terror.
I first outline the history of surveillance methods used on Palestinians, and then bring the theory of visuality for counterinsurgency in the military-industrial complex into the discussion (Mirzoeff, 2011; Zureik, 2011). Mbembe’s works on Necropolitics is timely when examining the case of Palestine especially during the covid-19 pandemic. The division and control over space/territory and the use of technology are two crucial characteristics. Then, by situating the context in the global picture, I discuss how popular media culture is itself forms of surveillance to normalize certain discourses and ideologies, and part of the surveillance capitalism through the Netflix television series Fauda (Lyon, 2007). The examples I investigate are two different types of media products; one is from Fauda to critically study the relationship between technology and race, and connect them it to the present reality. The second part includes reviewing how the discourse of surveillance and use of technologies show up in media articles, official statements, and reports from civil society organizations during the pandemic in Israeli English news outlets.

Chair: Tanner Mirrlees (Ontario Tech University)
Format: Live

Presenters:
Alex Dean Cybulski (University of Toronto)
Paper Title: Taking the NSA Open Source: A Political Economy Approach to the Ethics of Hacking and the Identity of Hackers
Paper Abstract:
Using a structuralist political economy approach, this paper will analyze the open source production of Ghidra, the American National Security’s Agency’s reverse-engineering tool to critique the positive notion that “commons-based peer production” of open source software is a democratizing alternative to production (Benkler, 2006). By analyzing the labour of open source production of state-sponsored hacking software, the paper will argue how perceptions of “ethical hacking” in western hacker culture and the information security industry are culturally situated to an individual or institution’s relationship to geographically oriented state and corporate power. While hackers have been recognized for their work in opposing state surveillance efforts (Kubitscho, 2015) and advocate for greater political transparency (Schrock, 2016) this paper reconciles this radical identity with the ‘everydayness’ of those hackers who work in the information security industry and whose expert labour is just as likely to be captured by state and corporate interests in the production of signals intelligence and the maintenance of global capital. By analyzing Ghidra’s GitHub repository, the NSA’s marketing of the project and the hacker/information security’s reception of the tool, as well as perceptions of the signals intelligence agency in these communities this paper will dispute the tendency to align hackers with any particular ethical valence (Tanczer, 2020) and use political economy to contend that the morality of a hacker is instead contingent on those who their production serves.

Nick Dyer-Witheford and Alessandra Mularoni (University of Western Ontario) (Presented by Nick Dyer-Witheford)
Paper Title: Big-Tech and Anti-Trust: Left Dilemmas
Paper Abstract:
This paper analyzes the policy proposals of new “left populisms” (Mouffe 2017) for the regulation and reform of the “platform capitalism” (Srnicek 2017). The 2008 crash and subsequent recession saw the emergence in North America and Europe of new left-wing electoral parties or party fractions. These include, in the USA, Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Democrats; in the UK, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party; in Spain, Podemos; in Germany, Die Linke; in France, La France Insoumise. While many might be described as socialist, or democratic socialist, they often also distinguish themselves from older socialist or social democratic formations; we call them left populisms. Left populisms are connected in contradictory ways to the platform capitalism exemplified by Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon and Uber. Left populist parties emerged from the anti-austerity movements (Occupy in the USA, the Indignados in Spain, student campus occupations in the UK) organized with the help of social media platforms. However, the failures and scandals of platform capitalism have also been important to left populism. Edward Snowden’s revelations of ubiquitous surveillance and the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica-Russian hacker imbroglio around the 2016 US election have fueled a “techlash” against giant digital corporations that is now an important component of left populist sentiment. Drawing on policy documents, manifestos, speeches, position paper, this paper analyzes the policy platforms in which left populist parties confront platform capitalism around issues of content regulation; concentration of ownership; the rights of digital workers; alternative ownership models; and proposals for a high-tech driven transition to “postcapitalism” (Mason 2016). It considers the similarities and difference between and within left populist parties on these issues; the extent of their departure from neoliberal policies; and their differences, and occasional similarities, with right-wing populisms, such as that of Trump. It then reviews critiques of left populism made from Marxist and ecological anti-capitalist positions, with particular reference to technological issues. The paper concludes with a summary of the opportunities and problems for a left wing “data populism” (Morozov 2016) in the current political conjuncture.

Andrey Miroshnichenko (York University)
Paper Title: Platform design for anger and polarization in old and new media
Paper Abstract:
Social media are designed to encourage user engagement. Users get involved in self-actualization through the recognition by others – through their likes, comments, shares and other forms of automated and accelerated social exchange. But this service comes with a disservice. As many studies have shown, social media posts that express odd or radical views and ideas have a higher potential of being liked, commented on and shared. The same features that provide an amazing service of self-actualization – rapid responsiveness, engagement, virality – simultaneously propel the extremization of expression.
The news media experience dramatic shift in their business model, which leads them to inciting polarization, too. Circa 2014, the news media business switched from collecting plentiful ad revenue to struggling to get some reader revenue. The news media increasingly solicit subscriptions as donations. Donations require triggers, so the media supply those triggers. As a result, the media need to induce frustration and polarization in order to keep the audience engaged. The ad-driven media used to manufacture consent, but the reader-driven media manufacture anger. The former served consumerism. The latter serve polarization.
Thus, the entire media environment, comprised of both new and old media, rewards now the rage and polarization of their actors and users. Digital platforms give regular people power that they otherwise would have never had access to. The mass media reinforce and articulate this power into political discourses. In return, people provide platforms and the media with a degree of engagement that allows for monetization. Populism and polarization are structurally embedded into this social-economic symbiosis. This media hardware can and must work only with this cultural software.
I explore the issue from a media ecological point of view with employing the political economy of communications.

Zeinab Farokhi (University of Toronto)
Paper Title: Islamophobization of a nation: the nexus between news channels and Twitter in India
Paper Abstract:
In an increasingly digital world, right-wing Indian mainstream media are taking an increasing interest in incorporating SNS as a standard communication strategy in an attempt to instill their muscular Hindu nationalism onto wider audiences. In particular, an adaptation of Twitter by right-wing news media outlets is noteworthy. While many of the Indian right-wing news channels use Twitter on a regular basis to spur audiences to stay in tune with any potentially breaking news, to get engaged with them and/or to follow the regular updates, Twitter is being increasingly used to amplify Hindu nationalist propaganda.
In this paper, I argue that the two prominent Indian English news channels, Time Now and Republic TV, have co-opted Twitter to install the political project of Hindu nationalism within Indians. Drawing on the theory of digital governmentality, I argue the modality of Twitter serves the news channels to advance their Hindu nationalist agenda and exert power over users by constraining their online conduct in specific ways. This paper posits that the nexus of both media technologies (i.e., mainstream media and Twitter) gives rise to the proliferation of hatred against Muslims and result in Hindu-Muslim polarization, which may lead to an extreme Islamophobization of India. In other words, the main motive of these channels in co-opting Twitter into their debates, I suggest, is to create a strong and wide base of audiences both offline and online who succumb to the channels’ Hindu nationalist and Islamophobic viewpoints. The co-option of Twitter seems to be beneficial to Republic TV and Times Now to produce, amplify and, circulate anti-Muslim rhetoric in a subtle yet effective way. Furthermore, by using Twitter, these channels perpetuate fear and anxiety against Muslims, thereby polarizing Hindus and Muslims and mobilizing Hindu voters to maintain a ‘Hindu’ party into power.

Tanner Mirrlees (Ontario Tech University)
Paper Title: Privatizing Hate Speech Governance on Social Media Platforms: Outsourcing, Downloading and Automating Hate Content Moderation
Paper Abstract:
Over the past few years, research has highlighted how white supremacists have used the services of social media platforms to produce, circulate and consume hateful content. For example, early in 2018, many hate groups identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center were running Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, and YouTube channels. What policy tools do Canadian Federal government agencies possess for regulating the flow of hate speech on the world’s largest social media platforms, and how are the US corporations that own and operate these platforms regulating, or failing to regulate, user-generated hate speech on their sites? For much of Canadian print and broadcasting history, the Canadian Federal government used legal, policy and regulatory tools to prohibit the free flow of hate speech in society, but in the age of platforms, the Canadian Federal government is taking a laissez-faire approach by empowering platform companies to act as judge, jury, and executors of their own “terms of service” and “community guidelines” pertaining to hate speech. As a consequence, the work of governing hate speech on platforms is being exempted from democratic, public and national communication policy deliberation and decision-making, and uploaded to the market-oriented, private and international US corporations that own and operate platforms. This paper identifies and assesses three ways that platform companies are privatizing hate speech governance: outsourcing to waged human content moderators, downloading to unwaged users, and automating with algorithms.

Rianka Singh (University of Toronto)
Paper Title: Toward a Feminist Platform Studies
Paper Abstract:
“Toward a Feminist Platform Studies” offers an intervention in the field of Platform Studies by showing how a materialist Feminist Media Studies perspective lends itself to recognizing how platforms are media with capacity to structure social and political life.
It proposes a new feminist media theory of the platform that positions the platform as a media object that elevates and amplifies some voices over others and renders marginal resistance tactics illegible. I introduce the term “Platform Feminism” to describe an emerging view of digital platforms as always-already politically useful media for feminist empowerment. I argue that Platform Feminism has come to structure and dominate popular imaginaries of what a feminist politics is. In the same vein, the contemporary focus on digital platforms within media studies neglects the strategies of care, safety and survival that feminists who resist on the margins employ in the digital age. If we take seriously the imperative to survive rather than an overbearing commitment to speak up, then the platform’s role in feminism is revealed as limited in scope and potential.

Chair: Leslie Regan Shade (University of Toronto)
Format: Live

This roundtable will discuss the concept and parameters of algorithmic literacy, and how it can best be integrated into a range of formal and informal educational programming, from those focusing on children and young people, to adults and seniors. The roundtable will also consider the recent development of various codes of practice and principles for algorithmic transparency and digital and data literacy, from a range of stakeholders, including government and civil society in Canada, the EU and UK. The roundtable will conclude with ideas for best practices for integrating algorithmic literacy into digital literacy education, especially from a human rights perspective.

Participants:


Day 4: Thursday, May 6th

Time Info +/- View

Chair: Ira Wagman (Carleton University)
Format: Pre-recorded presentations with live Q&A

This panel, led by Ira Wagman (Carleton University), will be focused around the various ways different actors (from traditional actors such as domestic broadcasters and film producers to recent entrants, such as powerful digital platforms like Netflix) engage with the institutions that regulate broadcasting in Canada. However, there are other interfaces with the policy apparatus that are worth considering, including those from the world of advocacy, multicultural broadcasting, and other components in the Canadian media landscape. This panel will explore top-down views of policymaking as well as bottom-up attempts to advocate for legitimacy within the policy process.

Presenters:
Sherry Yu (University of Toronto)
Paper Title: Canadian broadcasting and cultural diversity
Paper Abstract:
Canadian broadcasting is expected to represent multicultural and multiracial diversity through programming and employment, as stipulated in the 1991 Broadcasting Act. But what does diversity mean for Canadian broadcasting, specifically the governance of diversity? This presentation reviews the CRTC’s definition of ‘cultural diversity’ and explores some of the related policies and policy documents produced in the practice of governance. The focus of this review is on how these documents interpret and articulate cultural diversity, not on the effectiveness of outcomes, to explore the underlying position of stakeholders on cultural diversity.

Lowell Gasoi (Carleton University)
Paper Title: Open media?: vernacular advocacy in Canadian media policy
Paper Abstract:
This paper, part of the panel "Broadcast and Digital Media," will argue for a localized perspective on interactions among artists,advocates, and the policy apparatus in Canada. Bill Kirkpatrick's "vernacular media policies" suggest the importance of thinking through media policies not as the rarified field of the state and corporate elites, but as bottom-up practices, even in the home. Des Freedman seeks a way to think beyond policy fetishism in linking policy study to that of media production. Taking the advocacy work of Open Media, and Quebec's English-Language Arts Network as case studies, Lowell will suggest our Innisian obsessed media policy studies can benefit from a more quotidian approach.

Daniel Keyes (University of British Columbia)
Paper Title: The Canadian Media Fund and Google-YouTube's channel Encore+: Cancon's Archival Salvation or Digital Waste Bin?
Paper Abstract:
Despite the rise of over the top (OTT) internet streaming of audiovisual content, classic Canadian audiovisual content remains inaccessible. In 2017 in tune with Canada 150 celebrations, the Federal government announced a media policy where Canadian producers would work with big digital players like Netflix and Google/YouTube to promote Canadian content online. In 2017, Carolle Brabant, an executive at Telefilm heralded the creation of Encore+, a partnership between Telefilm, the Canadian Media Fund and Google/YouTube, as an “arsenal of discoverability” that would launch the likes of Mr. Dress Up (1966-1996) on the Internet for a new generation of viewers (“Back,” 2017). Journalists uniformly praised Encore+ as the long awaited realization of the lost treasures of Canadian content (Leblanc 2017; Brioux 2017; Canada Press 2017; Encore+,” 2017). Encore+ after its initial launch has faded from the attention of TV critics. These same critics who regularly review the new offering of CBC’s Gem, Netflix, etc. do not do so for Encore+. Despite this lack of print media attention as of 15 December 2019, Encore+ has 58000+ subscribers. Encore+ has gained an international audience for its old content that may see some old shows returned to production and the availability of long lost feature films like the first Canadian feature film directed by a woman Sylvia Spring’s Madeline Is, (1971). Encore+’s design operates as a fragmentary algorithmic archive that allows viewers to communally engage with old commercially abandoned content. Encore+ deviates from traditional television broadcast royalty schemes to remunerated directors, actors, and producers based on the number of views a particular film or episode garners. This talk explores the risks and rewards of using YouTube-Google to solve the conundrum of Canada’s fading audiovisual heritage.

Taeyoung Kim (Simon Fraser University)
Paper Title: Cultural politics of Can-Con in SVOD market: A case study of Netflix Canada
Paper Abstract:
Media aggregation and distribution businesses face a massive restructuring due to the rise of online streaming services (Doyle, 2016). Audiovisual streaming service providers like Amazon Prime, Hulu and Netflix grow their market shares in the global market and reform the business structure of the industry. In contrast, the number of television viewers and pay-per-view subscribers is in decline due to the rise of SVOD and preferences of young audiences on these aggregation platforms. That said, they have been often used to explain the global homogeneity in the digital entertainment media market and represent the continuing power of US contents and platforms in the cultural industries (Wayne, 2017).
Meanwhile, the penetration of foreign streaming platforms has provoked serious controversies in Canadian society and has challenged a series of major pillars of the state’s cultural policies such as cultural sovereignty and net neutrality, etc. (Taras, 2015). Moreover, the federal government’s recent agreement with Netflix which would suspend the collection of ‘Netflix tax’ in reward for Netflix’s investment on Canadian cultural entrepreneurs triggered strong backlashes from Québec, whose cultural policies have come in conflict with the federal government. Combined with a series of the state’s recent trade negotiations, such changes in the distribution market question the future of Canadian content.
Against such a backdrop, this study examines how the Canadian state responds to the penetration of foreign SVOD services and how it has understood Netflix in its policy measures to find the discursive dynamics of the state’s platform policies, which are outcomes of the nexus between neoliberal globalization and the state’s long-standing principles such as the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunication Commission (CRTC)’s policies on promoting Canadian Content (CanCon), and the government’s arguments of cultural exemption. Based on documents released by the Ministry of Canadian Heritage and CRTC from 2009 to 2019, it traces the how the federal government has recognized this new service provider and its streaming services and its underlying meanings. The findings of this study are expected to shed lights on the complex relationship between the global streaming platform and major stakeholders in the Canadian cultural industries: as both threats to the domestic distribution market and opportunities for its cultural creators.

Geneva Nam (Simon Fraser University)
Paper Title: Digital streaming and new media: the future of Canadian broadcast
Paper Abstract:
In 2018 the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) released a study on Canadian broadcast and discussed the critical shift in Canadian viewership from traditional cable systems to digital streaming services. The CRTC titled the study “Harnessing Change: The Future of Programming Distribution”. In its analysis the CRTC identified key gaps in Canadian English and French market viewership that indicated a decline in Canadian cable package purchases—draining this viewership are the new media platforms and private digital streaming sites available over the Internet. Canadian Broadcasting policy has maintained its support in favour of Canadian content and are able to control viewership through licensing renewals and evaluations.
Building on existing frameworks of ‘new media’ as influential mediascapes by D. Winseck that challenge the existing flows of media content. The CRTC has determined to uphold its policy of net neutrality, yet by not regulating the Internet, audiences are free to consume content outside of the Canadian television broadcasting framework. Based on a detailed analysis of the 2018 CRTC study, how can Canada navigate a net neutral streaming environment while still upholding its Canadian content goals?
The results indicate that while the CRTC navigates the shifting new media landscape, supporting policies to support Canadian content creators on new platforms, incentives for digital streaming site investment in Canadian media industry and policy reform for business practices for businesses operating sites in Canada are key factors in fostering a positive Canadian new media environment. Further research is needed to identify other factors to strengthen policy in favour of Canadian content while accommodating changes in viewership to Internet based streaming.

Steven James May (Humber College)
Paper Title: A Learning Opportunity by TVOntario
Paper Abstract:
This paper features analysis of research findings related to the role that the digital over-the-air (OTA) television transmitters owned and operated by the Ontario Educational Communications Authority (known as TVOntario or TVO) play in the provision of access to the provincial educational television broadcaster’s programming. Sparked by a short-lived plan by TVO in 2017 to reduce its slate of nine digital OTA transmitters to a single OTA transmitter broadcasting from Toronto’s CN Tower, this article examines why some Ontarians continue to turn to TVO’s digital OTA broadcast signals for access to the broadcaster’s educational content and how such viewing serves to inform the future digital dissemination of educational television programming. While the Canadian government and the province of Ontario each announced in November 2020 additional support to improve broadband internet availability in Ontario during the COVID-19 pandemic, TVO’s slate of eight OTA transmitters located outside Toronto continue supplying no-fee, high-definition, educational television programming access to Ontarians who reside outside of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and who are without 50/10 Mbps internet in the meantime. In light of TVO’s expanded distance education duties assigned by the Ontario government in July 2020 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Canadian government’s recently announced proposed amendments to the Broadcasting Act under Bill C-10, it is an appropriate moment to examine the quality of digital access to TVO across Ontario and how the educational broadcaster might best make its materials available. The access concerns and realities shared by the interviewed research participants featured here helped to inform analysis of their collective insight and the identification of TVO access concern themes related to infrastructure, monetary concerns, educational programming concerns, and non-GTA geographic concerns.

Chair: Dwayne Winseck (Carleton University)
Format: Live

Dwayne Winseck (Carleton) will organize a panel that challenges the impulse amongst many observers to reach for media policy as a touchstone for platform regulation. This panel will ask, instead, whether telecoms regulation might offer a better guide; telecommunications regulation has a long legacy of bright light rules governing market dominance, data and privacy protection, and common technical standards for interfaces and interconnection that open up the blackbox of complex technical systems. Telecoms regulation can ensure that freedom of expression and other normative goals triumph over those of the owners of complex technical systems in regulating illegal content.

Presenters:
Dwayne Winseck (Carleton University)
Paper Title: Digital Platforms are Not Media Companies: Telecoms Regulation as a Guide to Platform Regulation
Paper Abstract:
Public inquiries around the world are casting a critical eye on the economic and political clout of digital platforms, asking what---if anything---should be done to bring them under effective regulatory control. They are also blamed for destroying the commercial basis of journalism and entertainment media and for their corrosive impact on democracy and public culture. This paper acknowledges that the digital behemoths have considerable power but argues that such assertions are often overwrought and based on shaky evidence. Further, critics who point to the effects of "harmful content" and disinformation campaigns to justify calls to regulate platforms as media companies too often conflate reach with impact. Ultimately, this paper argues that rather than turning to media regulation, the focus of telecoms regulation on constraining market power, unbundling control over networks from control over content, enforcing common technical standards in order to open up the blackbox of complex technical systems and putting people's communication rights first over the owners of these complex technical systems might be a better guide.

David Nieborg (University of Toronto)
Paper Title: Platform governance and cultural production
Paper Abstract:
The increasingly central role of major platform companies---Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon---in the media industries, as well as other parts of the economy, has triggered renewed concerns about media concentration. We argue that platforms signal a qualitative shift that cannot be measured in economic terms alone. Similar to their integrated incumbent counterparts, platform companies not only host cultural products, but also a variety of services, including app stores, cloud hosting, and digital advertising. We suggest that it is through these "infrastructural platform services" that cultural producers and a wide range of other third parties become dependent on platform companies. Thus, to study digital dominance, we need to investigate how such relations of interdependence take shape in processes of cultural production. We suggest how this can be done through a careful examination of financial data as well as platform documentation on application programming interfaces (APIs), software development kits (SDKs), and user and developer agreements. The authors of this paper are David Nieborg with Thomas Poell and José van Dijck.

Jonathan Obar (York University)
Paper Title: The Governance of Social Media: Revisiting the Special Issue
Paper Abstract:
In 2015, I co-edited a special issue of Telecommunications Policy entitled “The Governance of Social Media”. Contributors to the issue included some of the leading scholars of internet governance, including Laura DeNardis, Philip Napoli, Milton Mueller and others. Now almost five-years since the issue was published, many of the ideas presented require revisiting. Beginning with the editorial, questions about whether new law or regulation is necessary, or whether existing policy is useful will introduce the discussion. Certainly in the privacy context it is clear that calls for the former are growing, while evidence of the latter wanes. To help reveal this particular platform governance challenge, the contribution “Internet Governance by Social Media Platforms”, by DeNardis and Hackl is revisited, and their argument that platforms, primarily via design and policy choices demonstrate the strongest examples of pragmatic-while-problematic internet governance. Expanding upon the problems identified by DeNardis and Hackl, Philip Napoli’s contribution “Social Media and the Public Interest” will also be revisited, emphasizing how traditional regulatory concepts might guide new approaches to policy in an attempt to move regulators away from problematic self-governance models. The extent to which the public interest concept can be mapped onto the current internet governance debate will be considered, suggesting that while normative regulatory philosophy borrowed from the broadcasting era might be useful, challenges of definition and jurisdiction are problematic. Lastly, Milton Mueller’s contribution on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which directly addresses the internet governance role of platforms, will connect the commentary on the future of platform governance to the fake news challenge. This will attempt to present another example of how the debate over the limitations and possibilities of platforms in the internet governance space must be clarified.

Dana Cramer (University of Calgary)
Paper Title: Internets: The changing relevance of Internet Protocols in next generation broadband networks
Paper Abstract:
In 2020 two events dramatically shaped the evolution of internet infrastructure development. The first, as obvious, was the COVID-19 pandemic. The transition of work from home led to the high awareness of the public’s need for broadband infrastructure as critical infrastructure. The second event, which has not been publicized other than in pockets of information technologies circles, is the submission and lobbying campaign to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) by China for a ‘New Internet Protocol.’ The ‘New Internet Protocol’ as it is named under ITU submission filings, is a proposal for a new set of technical standards for the ongoing development of 5G/6G—and so on—broadband technologies. This new suite of protocols would not work in tandem with the existing Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) suite which the internet is currently built on, but instead will make an entirely new internet for this next generation network. Hence, our global networked society is on the cusp of ‘internets’ opposed to a singular internet. Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications manufacturer, which increasingly has had their 5G equipment banned in Five Eyes countries due to privacy and spying concerns, has responded to worries over the ‘New Internet Protocol’ with a marketing campaign of ‘ManyNets.’ In the ManyNets campaign, they have argued for the need of a new suite of technical specifications of THz data transfers for meeting the needs of a 2030 internet environment, as well have attacked journalists reporting on this manner. This presentation will identify the changing landscape of the internet’s infrastructure and the position Canada may take in protecting our domestic interest through the international internet standardization process.

Lianrui Jia (University of Toronto Scarborough)
Paper Title: Disrupting platform power: regulation of Apple App Store in China
Paper Abstract:
App stores, such as Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store, are key sites where digital platforms operationalize their power in deciding what gets distributed, under what conditions, and to whom. They constitute infrastructural platform services that facilitate the circulation of cultural content by setting the price, terms and conditions of distribution, and the technical standards of privacy protection (Greene & Shilton, 2018; van Dijck, Nieborg, & Poell, 2019). Because of this gatekeeping role, app stores are key sites to study platform governance. They serve as the vital techno-economic infrastructure upon which digital platforms, such as Google, Apple, and Tencent, have built their ecosystems (Dieter et al., 2019).
China has a lucrative and one of the largest app markets in terms of app developers, app users and app store operators. To give a sense of their economic might, in 2018, China’s market for apps reached $23.6 billion, nearly one fifth of the world’s total (iResearch, 2018). China’s app stores are markedly different from the West. With Google’s exit from mainland China in 2010, China is one of the few markets where Google Play and Apple App Store do not form a tight duopoly. Instead, China’s app store market is much more diverse and chaotic, featuring device manufacture app stores (Huawei, Xiaomi, Vivo), app stores owned and operated by internet companies (Tencent MyApp, 91 Wireless, Qihoo) and telecommunication operators (China Telecom and China Mobile). With the emergence of such a dynamic market, the Chinese government has taken steps to devise a holistic regulatory framework of app stores, including a set of licensing rules, app registration and audit, as well as data localization.
This paper examines the regulation of U.S-owned and -operated Apple App Store in China. In particular, this paper looks at how state power intersects and interjects platform power in app store regulation through analyzing three key processes: app review, app takedown, and data localization. It is argued that the regulation of Apple App Store in China crystalizes the contestations and clashes between the expansion of U.S platform power on the one hand, and the Chinese national regime of internet regulation and governance agenda, on the other. Analyzing how Apple App Store is governed both by platform owners and government institutions in China showcases how platform governance is localized in various jurisdictions and global geopolitics. In sum, this paper contributes to a multileveled understanding of platform power (from a company level to geopolitical level) (Nieborg, van Dijck, & Poell, 2019) as they expand beyond their respective geopolitical spheres.

Chair: Christina Baade (McMaster University)
Format: Live

This panel examines the impact of the pandemic on Canadian music making, music institutions and industries, and musical livelihoods—and how musicians and music communities are responding. The panelists will take up two key lines of inquiry: 1) What has been the role of online platforms in pandemic musical life? How have musicians used platforms to sustain communities and livelihoods? How has the turn to platforms strengthened corporate power (what corporations? what sorts of power?)? How have platforms in the pandemic reinforced and/or challenged longstanding inequalities in music cultures and industries. 2) As we look toward life after the pandemic, what do musicians and others involved in musicking need? What have been the limitations of cultural and media policy in Canada before the pandemic? What sorts of policy would help musicians, including those from marginalized communities and equity seeking groups, survive and thrive?

Participants:

1:30pm-1:45pm ET Break

Chair: Mary Elizabeth Luka (University of Toronto)
Format: Live

Eighteen months after more than 120 cultural leaders convened at the Banff Centre for Arts & Creativity for the Digital Transformation Summit, this roundtable will come together to examine what has changed strategically since then in the debate over digitizing the creative industries and culture sector. Once the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, digital infrastructure priorities and processes—and related policy implications including media and arts funding programs—rapidly shifted at all the organizations represented at Banff.
The Summit’s aspirational language reflects nation-state building approach that has been used in policy-based documents by many federal regulatory or funding bodies over the years (including the Canada Council for the Arts, the Canadian Radiotelevision and Telecommunications Commission, the Department of Canadian Heritage and others): Together we will absorb big questions around big data, delve into discoverability, and explore relationships with rapidly evolving audiences...We will encounter Indigenous views and practices, and explore how Indigenous voices inform our digital landscapes. We will seek to understand how Canada’s digital arts opportunity connects to larger strategies for our nation as a whole.
Even now, this language permeates funding, legislative and production/distribution systems and strategies in an increasingly platformized world. And while the 2019 Banff Summit attempted to focus on how a vaguely defined ‘digital transformation’ was playing out in the cultural sector, the many conversations begun there were quickly superseded by global events, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the surge in social movements such as Black Lives Matter, and a complete rethink of Federal and other funding programs.
In format, the Summit reflected a hybrid approach that was neither academic (where most attendees present a formal paper) nor the TED-talk corporatized approach often taken in the creative industries (where thousands of attendees come to hear financially successful emerging or established thought leaders perform their ideas), nor an art exhibition or performance (even though several industry-leading artworks were also on display, and performances were built into the evenings of the Summit). It is worth noting that the Banff sessions quickly evolved into a series of onsite intensive discussions about social engineering (how to change the field and society), and community engagement (how to involve people in the arts, culture and media, whether as audiences, citizens, makers or more). While feedback during and after the Summit noted that there was no funding provided to subsidize artistic, non-profit or civic actors to attend the event itself, none of the hybrid ways of convening on a face-to-face basis experienced at Banff could be undertaken at all in the year that followed. Indeed, the debate over access was superseded by the massive shift to online convening that followed just a few months later.
As we look forward to coming together virtually in Hamilton in May 2021, the global shift that happened in the time since the Summit provides a new set of lenses to reflect not just on whether gatherings such as the Banff Summit are as accessible as they could be, but whether the sector as a whole will continue to move towards a more inclusive and culturally engaged world through the strategic shifts in digital platformization that we have experienced throughout 2020. Are we in a position to better understand how advocacy, artistic and social justice approaches are being mobilized to intervene in varied relationships among artists, culture makers, citizens, Indigenous knowledge, and media and communications systems? How has this shifted since the Summit? How might the innovations and experiments of the last year be used to engender sector transformations that might actually have more to do with community building and decolonization (outward facing relationship-building) than with simpler but still crucial professionalization and literacy questions about digital infrastructures, platforms and tools (inward facing structural engagement)?

Participants:

Chair: Philip Savage (McMaster University)
Format: Live

Led by Philip Savage (McMaster), this panel will discuss the various relationships (of content dissemination, video and audio distribution, and advertising) between Canada’s national public broadcaster and digital platforms, including Facebook and Netflix.

Presenters:
Philip Savage (McMaster University)
Paper Title: The CBC and Public Service Media Universalism: An International Comparison
Paper Abstract:
An analysis of the range international of public service media (PSM) approaches to universal program and service provision around the world (c.f. UK, USA, Russia, Japan, Germany, Netherland and Canada). To what degree and how do different PSM digital forms and platforms, and their attendant content development and distribution respect the diversity of the unique affordances provided? And in doing so how do they maintain sufficient degrees of cohesion, trustworthiness, fairness, and inclusion that remain the professed universalist obligation of public service media?

David Skinner, Miles Weafer and Amanda Oye (York University)
Paper Title: Living On-line: Platformization and the CBC (Presenter: Miles Weafer)
Paper Abstract:
This presentation explores CBC’s engagement with the field of digital media platforms and the relationships between these efforts and its mandate. Relationships with dominant platforms such as Facebook, Spotify, YouTube, iTunes and the App Store are considered as well as the Corporation’s own efforts to establish itself as a public service media platform. Key questions explored include: What kinds of relationships does CBC have with media platforms? What kinds of policies does it have with regard to these platforms? What kinds of presence does CBC have on these platforms? How is that presence supported? How does that presence relate to the Corporation’s mandate?

Lizzie Jackson (London South Bank University)
Paper Title: To be Seen and Heard is to be Datafied: Public Service Media 3.0
Paper Abstract:
Speaking to the interaction between public service media and technology clusters around the world, with an analysis of the case study of the CBC in developing various platforms approaches for new and other content in local CBC operations in Toronto and Hamilton. It is proposed that datafication enables media to be delivered to audiences in fluid multi-way recombination for universal and individual or group consumption that can be live or independent of time or platform. This is dependent on having an adaptive organisational structure to support such data flows. The argument is made for‘Public Service 3.0’, a twenty-first century version of public service media.

Daniel Bernhard (Centre for International Governance Innovation)
Paper Title: Organisational Cultures for Datification and Platform Fluidity in Public Service Media
Paper Abstract:
Overview of the developments in citizen engagement and lobbying by public interest groups and media users, relative to the access to and affordability of private and public digital media services and content available to citizens and consumers. The discussion looks to the role and tactics that are effective in providing input and oversight to a range of users across regions and levels of accessibility to new digital media, including that provided by the national public service provider, CBC-Radio-Canada.

Christopher Cwynar (Defiance College)
Paper Title: Podcasting, Platformization, and the Future of the CBC
Paper Abstract:
This paper endeavours to understand the CBC’s position in a rapidly shifting mediascape through the institution’s engagement with the emerging medium of podcasting. Using discourse and textual analysis, it argues that the CBC’s engagement with podcasting is emblematic of the tensions within the institution between public service and commercial imperatives. Podcasting appears to offer the CBC the means to potentially revitalize its radio division, an historical strength with respect to its fulfillment of its national public service mandate, to better serve domestic stakeholders. At the same time, the financial pressures on the CBC, and the evolution of the medium and its platforms, are clearly pushing its podcasting and audio media operations toward the commercial marketplace in a manner that threatens to undermine their legitimacy. This paper builds this argument through an historical sketch of CBC radio, an examination of the division’s engagement with podcasting from its earliest forays to the Tandem fiasco, and implications of the platformization of podcasting for the CBC. It concludes with some brief policy recommendations drawn from the CBC’s engagement with podcasting, the emergence of major audio platforms like Spotify, and the institution’s need to adapt to the networked digital media paradigm.

Chair: Sara Bannerman (McMaster University)
Format: Pre-recorded with live Q&A

Presenters:
Alex Mayhew (Western University)
Paper Title: Social Selection of Algorithms
Paper Abstract:
Increasingly algorithms are being used to govern complex decisions, such as criminal sentencing and insurance premiums. The increasing influence of algorithms has brought the question of algorithmic bias to prominent attention. If the data we generate to power the algorithms captures our prejudices, then it is little surprise that algorithms themselves reproduce those same prejudices. Worse still, at the moment most algorithms are blackboxs, leaving this bias hidden.
One potential response to this challenge is Explainable AI (XAI): often these are algorithms that analyze other algorithms and explain their ‘reasoning’, exposing the hidden bias and enabling us to respond. While this is a promising approach, it poses its own challenges. Obviously any XAI system would itself be an algorithm, subject to prejudiced data and biased outcomes.
But the case of XAI reveals another challenge. Like any software, XAI systems will increasingly exist as a population, with future versions preferentially based on particular versions of XAIs under use in the previous generation. This creates an evolutionary environment where the selection of each generation is influenced by nebulous social measures, like user satisfaction or mollification. Cognitive Science has shown us that humans typically prefer coherence over truth. This could result in the XAI optimizing for what is convincing instead of what is true, without anyone intending such an outcome.
As computer system designers well know, the machine does what you tell it to do, not what you want it to do. In this case the ‘telling’ is not an intentional act. Compounding the problem, in this case it is possible to still generate results that are superficially acceptable to the stakeholders of the system. The evolutionary perspective can be helpful in framing and understanding some of the challenges surrounding XAI.

Fenwick McKelvey and Robert Hunt (Concordia University) (Robert Hunt presenting)
Paper Title: Algorithmic Regulation in the Era of Platform Governance
Paper Abstract:
In 2017, YouTube re-built its artificially intelligent (AI) recommendation algorithm “to maximize users’ engagement over time by predicting which recommendations would expand their tastes and get them to watch not just one more video but many more” (Roose, 2019). According to the New York Times, Reinforce, YouTube's new reinforcement learning-driven recommender, changed which videos the site suggested to viewers and arguably led them to watch more extreme videos. We argue that deploying Reinforce was as much an act of cultural and media policymaking as an act of programming. Platforms rely on AI algorithms to filter, rank, recommend, sort, classify, and promote information and content. Unlike the debatable but public policies that motivate governments, these black-boxed algorithmic regulations are driven by inscrutable, profit-oriented optimizations, leaving this emerging area of cultural policy largely unaccountable.
Our paper provides a framework for evaluating the barriers to holding algorithms accountable as instruments of cultural policy. Drawing on cultural studies’ use of circuits and moments to interpret culture, we identify three moments—input, code, and context—to evaluate how different algorithms act as cultural and media policy. These moments do not simply offer the chance to make algorithmic governance transparent, but provide opportunities to situate algorithms within larger systems of power and structural inequity. Building on our analytical framework, we conclude by offering recommendations for policymakers and other stakeholders to begin to address the algorithmic regulation of culture. We provide suggestions for governments (either national or international governmental organizations), cultural institutions (such as civil society, independent public media, or unions of cultural workers) and technology and media firms (such as content platforms and social media companies).

James Meese (RMIT University)
Paper Title: News, algorithms and regulatory responses in Australia and Europe
Paper Abstract:
The ability of social media platforms to independently adjust their recommender systems and preference certain types of content over others has been an issue of ongoing concern, particularly with respect to journalism. Scholars, policymakers and the media industry have been increasingly worried about the critical gatekeeping role that platforms play, and whether the provision of platform metrics influences how journalism is produced (Tandoc Jr. 2014). In recent years, this concern has turned into action. Regional groupings and individual countries have introduced a number of regulatory interventions to regulate recommender systems and other forms of algorithmic distribution.
The leading reform agenda has arguably emerged from the European Union through the proposed Digital Services Act. The Act requires specified platforms to outline “the main parameters of their recommender system are and the options for users to modify or influence those parameters” (Helberger 2021). Australia has also embraced some sort of enforced transparency through its News Media Bargaining Code. The reform introduced a standard that required platforms to give news outlets advance notification of algorithm changes if it affected referral traffic to news content. Other interventions address algorithmic distribution from the perspective of media diversity. Both Germany and Australia also have introduced non-discrimination requirements that requires platforms that are deemed large enough to not unfairly discriminate between news outlets (Nelson and Jaursch 2020). Elsewhere in Russia, a reform attempts to make algorithmic systems responsible for the circulation of ‘fake news’, but this law operates within a fraught political context. In this paper, I outline these reforms, develop a taxonomy of the dominant regulatory approaches and assess their effectiveness.

Charlotte Panneton (Western University)
Paper Title: Regulating Twitch.tv: Prefiguring the Policy Implications of Game-Oriented Live-Streaming
Paper Abstract:
Amazon’s Twitch.tv is a gaming-oriented, online live-streaming platform that enable users to broadcast/stream themselves playing video games and interact with viewers for free and in real-time. Twitch is branded as an interest-specific alternative to traditional broadcast media, catering to niche audiences centered around video games and e-sports.
However, the emergence and growth of Twitch, and platforms like it, have challenged existing understandings of ownership, intellectual property and fair use related to user-generated content. Game-oriented live-streaming platforms complicate the legal and regulatory precedents set by more generalized, video-sharing platforms such as YouTube. This is namely due to, one, the position they occupy within the video game industry and, two, their technical features. Twitch has become central to the operation of competitive gaming (e-sports) and the promotional initiatives of game developers and publishers. Further, the live-streaming affordances of these platforms pose their own difficulties with regards to content regulation and moderation.
The aim of this presentation is to highlight the multitude of legal ‘grey-areas’ involved in the use of gaming-oriented live-streaming platforms. This presentation will describe the commercial and technical dimensions of Twitch, addressing its ownership structure, its partnerships within the video game industry, and its user activity. Ultimately, the goal of this presentation is to problematize notions of intellectual property and copyright as they manifest on Twitch, and to incite a discussion about the potential role of cultural policy in the advent of these complex media platforms.

Sara Bannerman, Emmanuel Appiah, Fizza Kulvi, and Charnjot Shokar (McMaster University)
Paper Title: Platform lobbying and relational sovereignty in Canada
Paper Abstract:
This paper examines the relationship between digital platforms and the Canadian government. Drawing on the concepts of relationality and relational sovereignty outlined in part one, it examines the complex interactions between the Canadian government and digital platforms (Amazon, Facebook, Google and its sister company Sidewalk Labs, Netflix, and Twitter), highlighting the ways that digital platforms are simultaneously the objects of regulation, stakeholders and lobbyists in shaping regulation, and tools used in regulation and government service provision. Our examination is based on records contained in the Canadian lobbying registry and a large corpus of government documents obtained via access to information requests; our method is outlined in part two. In part three, we present an overview of the interactions between the Canadian government and digital platforms between 2008 and the present, drawing on records in the lobbying registry and our corpus of access to information documents. We find that many areas of federal regulation and governance are increasingly mediated by digital platforms. We note growing numbers of meetings and involvements between foreign digital platforms and government officials. We see that platforms provide knowledge to government that is required to regulate or govern (Beretta 2020, 142). We find that platforms influence regulations, or play a role in regulation, beyond simple lobbying.


Day 5: Friday, May 7th

Time Info +/- View

Joan is the inaugural Executive Director of the Black Screen Office where she works to support Black Canadians in developing talent, accessing funding, and in assuming decision-making roles in television, film and digital media. She fosters relationships with federal funding agencies, broadcasters and distributors to eliminate anti-Black racism in the screen industries. Joan is a founding Partner/Producer at Artemis Pictures which is focused on developing and producing high-end scripted content for television and the cinema, for international audiences. Joan was Vice-President of Independent Production for ZoomerMedia Limited, Television Division. She commissioned, developed and executive produced hundreds of hours of award-winning creative content in all genres for VisionTV. Joan spearheaded VisionTV’s ground-breaking DiverseTV/NSI initiative which produced award-winning comedy and drama programs and earned her a Visionary Award from the ReelWorld Film Festival. For five years, Joan served as Executive Director of Women in Film and Television - Toronto (WIFT-T), where she established professional development training and networking opportunities for women in screen-based media.

1:30pm-1:45pm ET Break

Chair: Faiza Hirji (McMaster University)

Keynote panel: Joan Jenkinson (Black Screen Office), Sharon McGowan (Women in Film and Television-Vancouver, University of British Columbia), Susan Brinton (Women in Film and Television-Vancouver), Edward Greenspon (Public Policy Forum), Jesse Wente (Indigenous Screen Office)

Recent critiques have made it clear that media systems require change and transformation that go beyond responding to the challenges posed by digital platforms. Digital platforms have created opportunities for diverse voices, while also constructing potential filter bubbles, echo chambers, and new forms of digital oppression. For Black, Indigenous, people of colour, and all women, digital platforms, like media systems more broadly, represent both opportunities and threats. Policy responses to the role of digital platforms in media ecosystems could have significant and differing effects on diversity and inclusion. The keynote panel will bring a depth of discussion to these issues, and will be followed by a question and answer period.

2:45pm-3:00pm ET Break

Chair: Tamara Shepherd and Dana Cramer

The conference will culminate in a plenary discussion facilitated by Tamara Shepherd and Dana Cramer (University of Calgary). This discussion will result in a collection of policy recommendations, to be compiled by Shepherd and Cramer, emerging from the panels and keynote presentations.

3:50pm-4:00pm ET - Indigenous closing ceremony: Darlene LaForme (Cayuga Turtle Clan)


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