Banff World Media Festival attendees look into the future of Canadian TV

Marc Weisblott
National Affairs Reporter
Daily Brew

Canada's entertainment industry will be focused on Alberta's Rockies from now through Wednesday. But it's not because they're being used as the backdrop for a movie.

The annual Banff World Media Festival, which was billed as a TV-focused event since 1979, has modified its name to reflect innovation across all platforms.

Naturally, some in attendance have shared their observations on Twitter and no single delivery system is expected to define what's ahead.

"Digital can tell everyday stories in ways that TV can't," said Katerina Cizek, director of the National Film Board production "Highrise," on a panel about the latest approaches to storytelling. "We have to let go of the shackles of TV."

A popular tweet noted the new favourite buzzword for those in the business was "innovation," which replaced "social media" as the most common cliché, a signal the future is about multiple devices working in tandem.

Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission chairman Konrad von Finckenstein delivered a speech on Monday that reiterated the need to reflect these changes in regulation.

But he also acknowledged the uncertainty surrounding 'over-the-top' services like Netflix, which are currently not required to contribute to the creation and promotion of Canadian content like traditional broadcasters.

Questions have been raised whether such measures are needed in the digital age. Then again, many in attendance at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel wouldn't have jobs in the industry without those rules.

While the Internet has nurtured new audiences around the world, though, Hollywood has still dominated the perception of success.

Sessions on Monday morning featured executives from U.S. networks explaining what kind of ideas they were looking for in one room while "Parks and Recreation" co-creator Greg Daniels talked about his NBC success in another. Both talks reflected what the Banff Festival was about for the past 32 years.

Now, the conference has expanded to areas like thought-controlled computing and how apps and online games can be incorporated to engage the TV audience.

And, inevitably enough, most of those in Banff will get around to recognizing the scenery that surrounds them outside is more inspiring overall.

(CP Photo: Konrad von Finckenstein)