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New for February 2013
  • Independent Broadcast Executive Honored for Contribution Work in Accessibility
    Toronto, January 31, 2013

    Beverley Milligan, CEO of Media Access Canada, has been awarded a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition of her many years of work on behalf of Canadians with disabilities in the area of accessible media. No only am I so very honored by this recognition, but also my mother, who is deaf and needs closed captioning to understand audio in media, was born the same year as Queen Elizabeth - a parallel that makes the award very special to me, noted Ms. Milligan.

    In celebration of Queen Elizabeth's diamond jubilee, 60,000 Canadians who have made exceptional contributions to their country are being honored with the medals. The Lieutenant Governor and a group of distinguished Ontarians will present the medals at a special Diamond Jubilee Gala at Roy Thompson Hall, in Toronto, on 6 February, 2013.

    This award recognizes Milligan's ongoing contributions to Canadian society through her work developing the corporate sponsorship model that led to widespread closed-captioning of television programs for the deaf and hard of hearing. She has also worked tirelessly to push for increased attention to and funding for accessibility in broadcasting, telecommunications and on the world wide web. It is a well known fact that what is good for Canadians with disabilities is good for all Canadians, so it has always been a honor to volunteer in this area, said Ms. Milligan.
New for August 2011
  • CRTC Broadcasting Notice of Consultation 2011-523
    Ottawa, 24 August 2011
    Call for comments on the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund

    MAC, on behalf of the Access 2020 Coalition of accessibility organizations across the country, was successful in convincing the CRTC to establish the Broadcast Accessibility Fund, which the Coalition insisted should be controlled by the accessibility community and not the broadcasters. MAC will be posting a response to the Commission's call for comments for the $5.7 million dollar Broadcast Accessibility Fund (BAF), governance of which has been proposed by Bell Media, an organization which faught the establishment of the fund until the CRTC forced them to make it part of their tangible benefits package in BCE's acquisition of CTV Globemedia. MAC's suggested position on the BAF will be discussed at the Access 2020 Teleconference, with position points appearing on our website shortly. MAC is committed to the BAF, ensuring its control remains with the accessibility community and to supporting 5 key areas including; business innovation, technical innovation, monitoring and measurement, standards and best practices and education. MAC will submit its response by the CRTC deadline of 24 October 2011.
  • CRTC Broadcasting Notice of Consultation 2011-488
    Ottawa, 15 August 2011
    Call for comments on proposed English-language Closed Captioning Quality Standards

    In response to the Commission's call for comments on the Closed Captioning Quality Standards, MAC will be posting some key position points shortly and urges you to use them to file your response. MAC's position points will also be discussed at the Access 2020 Teleconference on September 8th. Using data collected from the Monitor 2 Study on Accessible Content in Canada that measured over 1800 hours of television across 10 Canadian broadcasters, MAC will be drafting a response that addresses issues such as; the speed of captions, captions that block or are blocked by other on-screen information; captioning error rates; and the types of error rates by captioning type. MAC will submit its response by the CRTC deadline of 14 October 2011.
New for March 2011

Opinion: The CRTC's expertise may not be as expert as we think

Published on The Wire Report (

By Beverley Milligan

Created 06/09/2010 - 11:31am

Last Tuesday, those attending a Federal Court of Appeal hearing in Ottawa—to consider whether Internet service providers are broadcasters—laughed somewhat nervously when Justice Marc Noël asked whether the court has become Canada's broadcasting expert in place of the CRTC.

According to The Wire Report, Justice Noël said, It would have been useful if [the CRTC] had expressed [whether ISPs are doing broadcasting], because they are the experts. I'm a little troubled by that. Have we become the experts? That's what the CRTC is there for.

Read the complete The Wire Report story. External link

June 29 Roundtable: Strengthening Canada's Communications Industries

The last several years have been exceptionally challenging for Canada's audio-visual and cultural industry sectors due to turbulent changes in the overall economy coupled with ambitious and complex regulatory, funding and government agendas.

In the last three years, audio-visual associations, groups and organizations have felt the heavy costs of this turbulence in time and other resources necessary to address

  • CRTC policy proceedings,
  • references to the Federal Court of Appeal,
  • studies by the House of Commons Heritage and Industry Committees , and
  • results from the Competition Policy Review Panel regarding foreign ownership restrictions in the cultural sector

Added to this have been

  • the closure of more than ten over-the-air TV stations since 2000,
  • an ever-shrinking number of broadcasters able to support Canadian program production,
  • the loss of local and regional program productions, and
  • a five-percentage point reduction in private over-the-air TV Canadian content exhibition requirements, all of which have affected and continue to impact the audio-visual and cultural industry sectors.

Over the next year cultural stakeholders must address

  • the federal government's National Digital Strategy consultation
  • the federal government's consultation on foreign ownership in telecommunications, along with the Industry Committee's report on reducing foreign ownership restrictions in telecommunications,
  • the CRTC's review of the Shaw purchase of Canwest,
  • the Heritage Committee's continued pursuit of its own New Media study,
  • the CRTC's review of the basic obligation to serve with respect to the internet, and
  • the CRTC's ownership group renewals in 2011.

Media Access Canada, or MAC, has organized an invitation-only roundtable for non-broadcaster stakeholders in Ottawa for the end of June, whose theme is Strengthening Canada's Broadcasting System for the 21st Century.

Our goal is to bring together Canada's major audio-visual, non-broadcaster stakeholders in a private setting, to discuss major trends in the cultural sector, legislative gaps that limit effective stakeholder remedies, and to identify and collaborate on stakeholder concerns for the overall prosperity of the audio-visual sector.

MAC gathering folks together to talk broadcasting


June 09, 2010

TORONTO — Non-profit corporation Media Access Canada is hosting a private roundtable of audio-visual associations, guilds and unions at the end of this month in Ottawa, to discuss ways of strengthening Canada's broadcasting system, it announced Tuesday.

The roundtable will include sessions on the federal government's just-announced consultation on foreign ownership, its ongoing digital consultation and the CRTC's 2011 licence renewals of Canada's major broadcasting ownership groups.

Read the complete story about the roundtable. External link

MediaAccess Canada to Honour Canadian Communications Research

- posted 2010-06-11

Source: mediacaster

Media Access Canada, a not-for-profit corporation focused on research and analysis in the communications and cultural industries, has established five awards for new and original, empirically oriented research about Canada's communications industry.

The Awards have been established to honour Joseph ('Sjef') Frenken, a central figure in the development and implementation of Canadian broadcasting policy, to commemorate his 75th birthday.

Read the complete mediacaster story about the awards. External link

MAC comments on Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2009-732

- posted 04 March 2010

1 March 2010

Mr. Robert Morin
Secretary General
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0N2

Dear Mr. Secretary General,

Re: Call for comments on proposed revisions to the criteria used to assess applications for mandatory distribution pursuant to an order under section 9(1)(h) of the Broadcasting Act, Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2009-732 (Ottawa, 30 November 2009)

  1. Media Access Canada, (MAC) is a Not-for-Profit corporation to be incorporated (federally) with a mandate to increase the quantity and quality of accessible content in Canadian broadcasting and telecommunications. Since its inception, MAC has worked with the broadcast and accessibility industries in developing consensus-based dialogue to promote harmonized accessibility standards; education and awareness; and research and development.
  2. We are pleased to provide our comments on Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2009-732.
  3. We have reviewed the criteria proposed by the Commission in considering whether to grant specialty programming services mandatory carriage on the basic tier.
  4. Our main concern with the Commission's proposal is that the criteria contain no reference to the issue of access for persons with disabilities, despite the CRTC's strong and demonstrated past commitments to accessibility. The Commission has stated that its objectives include
  5. the accurate reflection of the presence (i.e. "who we see" and "who we hear") of ethnocultural minorities, Aboriginal peoples, and persons with disabilities; and
  6. the accurate, fair, and non-stereotypical portrayal (i.e. "how we see" and "how we hear") of such groups.
  7. In 2007 the Commission established a new closed-captioning policy that requires all television broadcasters - including specialty, pay, pay-per-view and video on demand services, to provide 100% captioning over the broadcast day.
  8. What Canadians do not know - because the data are not published - is to what degree Canada's programming services are actually providing this level of captioning. The degree to which programming content is accessible varies by service. For example, when the CRTC granted the licence for Parent TV, neither the text of the decision nor Parent TV's conditions of licence addressed accessibility.
  9. While we have noted the CRTC's intention of reviewing mandatory carriage status when it hears programming services' licence renewal applications, we understand that the Commission has licensed more than four hundred specialty programming services. In our view, ensuring that programming is accessible to all Canadians should not have to wait for periodic licence renewals of several hundred different services.
  10. We suggest that the Commission could efficiently maximize the achievement of its objectives noted above, by adding accessibility to the criteria it has already set down for mandatory carriage. We propose the following:
    • j. provide evidence that the programming to be provided on the programming service will be 100% accessible through closed captioning and through described video, and [Morin criteria follow]
  11. MAC also suggests that a programming service that will commit to provide 100% accessible programming within its first licence term or that is continuing to provide 100% accessible programming, receive an additional point under the Revised Morin Model. All else being equal, a licensee's willingness to serve all Canadians, regardless of their physical abilities, should weigh in the licensee's favour.

Thank you for the opportunity to respond to the Commission's notice in this matter. We look forward to your decision.

Sincerely yours,

Beverley Milligan

Recruiting Now — Study on Audio Description and Synthesized Speech External link

- posted 21 February 2010

IBM-Japan and the WGBH-Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM, the research and development half of the Media Access Group) will conduct a joint study via an online survey on the applicability of speech synthesis for audio description of Web-based video. Adults (18+) who are blind or have low vision will be asked to share their opinions about short video clips which include synthesized description. Intrigued, interested, want to be involved? Follow the above link.

Or, if you're game already, email and put the word "participate" in the subject line. We'll send you a Web site address once the survey window opens on March 1 (you'll have until March 12 to complete the survey, which should take no more than one half hour).

Google introduces Voice Recognition Captioning on You Tube External link

- posted 27 November 2009

Excerpt: Automatic captions will be generated using Google's automated speech recognition (ASR) technology and the same voice recognition algorithms used in Google Voice.


MEDIAC recognizes CTVglobemedia as key supporter of its Accessibility Lens service to meet CRTC accessibility requirements

Toronto, 26 October 2009

Thanks to support from CTVglobemedia Inc. (CTVgm) through the CTVgm-CHUM tangible benefits, MEDIAC INC. has launched its Accessibility Lens monitoring service. This new tool will help broadcasters comply with requirements introduced by the CRTC in 2009 to encourage broadcasters to provide more closed-captioned programming for hearing and visually-impaired Canadians.

CTVglobemedia was the founding sponsor of a research tool created by MEDIAC to monitor accessible programming content. Continuing its support, CTVglobemedia's financial commitment of Monitor 2: A report on best practices in the provision of accessible media in Canadian Broadcasting will make possible the development of quantitative measures of the effects of policy, marketing and sponsorship revenue, on the availability, quality and technological advances of accessibility in Canadian broadcasting.

The Monitor 2 study is taking place fifteen years after the publication of MEDIAC's first snapshot, The Monitor Project. MEDIAC's new research will not only permit broadcasters and decision-makers to assess progress over time, but will also enable broadcasters to demonstrate their compliance with CRTC accessibility requirements for closed-captioning and descriptive video.

When we first discussed this research, CTVglobemedia emphasized the importance of using it not just for reporting purposes, but as a way to encourage additional partnerships and tangible progress, explained Beverley Milligan, President and CEO of MEDIAC INC. As an independent, third-party service, the Accessibility Lens will help all broadcasters comply with the CRTC's regulatory framework for accessible content.

CTVglobemedia is pleased to support the research that will aim to provide additional tools for broadcasters to meet their goals to further the availability of accessible programming content in Canada said Paul Sparkes, Executive Vice President, Corporate Affairs at CTVglobemedia."

Other partners in MEDIAC's research initiative include Media Access Australia, Ryerson University, Nordicity Group, and Starling Access Services.

MEDIAC INC. is a provincially incorporated company with offices in Toronto, Canada. It is a business development firm for broadband industries specializing in research, compliance measurement, and the production and distribution of accessible media. MEDIAC's services include business and strategic planning and execution, marketing, public relations, education, market research and monitoring, standards, and industry development. It focuses in particular on the creation, distribution and monitoring of accessible content.

CTVglobemedia Inc. is Canada's premier multimedia company with ownership of CTV, Canada's #1 television network, and The Globe and Mail, Canada's #1 national newspaper. CTV Inc. owns and operates 27 conventional stations across the country, with interests in 32 specialty channels, including Canada's #1 specialty channel, TSN. CTVglobemedia also owns the CHUM Radio Division, which operates 34 radio stations throughout Canada, including CHUM FM, Canada's # 1 FM station

For more information contact:

Beverley Milligan
President and CEO

Workshop: Broadband Accessibility for People with Disabilities II: Barriers, Opportunities and Policy Recommendations External link

- posted 02 November 2009

Source: U.S. Federal Communications Commission - BROADBAND.GOV BETA
This page contains a link to an archived recording of the workshop. The proceedins are captioned.

RNIB: talking up digital technology External link - PDF file

- posted 22 October 2009

Excerpt: Millions of people worldwide are set to gain an improved experience of TV thanks to a collaboration between The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and leading digital technology companies to develop the world's first 'talking' technology – which will reach the market later this year.

Rogers Wireless Adapts Nokia Handset for Vision Impaired Customers External link

- posted 5 October 2009

Excerpt: Canada's Rogers Wireless has announced the availability of an additional mobile device enabled with Nuance's TALKS software for consumers who are blind or living with vision loss. The Nokia E71 is pre-loaded with TALKS, Nuance's assistive technology that converts displayed text into speech.