Saturday, July 30, 2005

Wendy's to let go of Tim Hortons

Wendy's to let go of Tim Hortons

Wendy's International on Friday said it will spin off its quickly growing Tim Hortons coffee shop chain to focus on the battle of its namesake restaurants with rivals such as McDonald's Corp., and its shares rose to an all-time high.

The move comes after a dissident shareholder pressured the No. 3 U.S. hamburger chain for months to separate Tim Hortons and allow investors to put a price on the business. The predominantly Canadian chain accounts for nearly a third of sales for Dublin, Ohio-based Wendy's.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Top court refuses to hear appeal on MP3 players

Top court refuses to hear appeal on MP3 players


The fight over a levy on IPods and other digital music players ended today when the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear any further arguments on the matter.

That means there will be no levy applied to digital audio recorders such as Apple's popular IPod and IPod Shuffle as well as other MP3 players like IRiver.

"Obviously we're disappointed. We felt it was self-evident that those products are sold for the purpose of copying music," said David Basskin, of the Canadian Private Copying Collective (CPCC), the non-profit agency which collects tariffs on behalf of musicians and record companies.

The group had wanted the high court to overturn last year's Federal Court of Appeal decision which quashed the levy on the popular gadgets.

The non-profit agency had been collecting the tariff — $2 for non-removable memory capacity of up to one GB, $15 for one to 10 GBs, $25 for more than 10 GB — since December 2003 through a tax built into the price of the devices.

It stopped in December 2004 when the Federal Court overturned the policy at the urging of the Canadian Coalition for Fair Digital Access, a group which represents retailers and manufacturers such as Future Shop, Wal-Mart Canada, Apple Canada, Sony Canada, and Dell Computer Corporation of Canada.

The CPCC, which collects levies on blank media such as CDs, argued that since the new technology opened yet another avenue to make illegal copies of songs, a levy should be collected on behalf of music creators.

But the Digital Access group argues otherwise. It calls Canada's levy system unfair and "a longstanding problem."

"People are forced to pay whether or not they use the media for music," said spokesman Fraser Smith, from the group's Ottawa offices. "A lot of people, including small businesses, use it to back data files and photos. That's a huge problem."

He added with the growing popularity of legal downloading websites such as ITunes and Puretracks, consumers are paying twice — once for the song and a second time when they burn it to CD to listen to it.

He added that the private copying levies were introduced in an analogue era and need to be re-examined.

"It was made for blank audio cassette tapes," said Fraser.

Approximately $4 million was collected from sales of digital audio recorders between December 2003 and December 2004.

The money is sitting in an account and will be returned to the importers and manufacturers of the products. There's no word yet on whether consumers who paid the hidden tariff will be reimbursed, said Smith.

In addition to fighting against the MP3 player levy, the Canadian Coalition for Fair Digital Access asked the Supreme Court to re-examine the validity of the private copying act which permits the CPCC to collect tariffs.

The court rejected the motion meaning the law remains constitutional and the CPCC can continue collecting levies on behalf of performers, songwriters, music producers and record companies.

However, the Department of Heritage has promised to re-evaluate the validity of the controversial levy system this fall.

Monday, July 25, 2005


Test post with a picture.
Jul. 23, 2005. 01:00 AM

Cellphone rates costly: Report

Higher in Canada than U.S., Europe Situation worse for high-end users


Claims that cellphone services in Canada are amongst the cheapest in the world are more than grossly exaggerated — they're downright wrong, according to a comprehensive report on wireless pricing to be released Monday.

SeaBoard Group, a telecom consultancy based in Toronto and Montreal, has found that the average cellphone customer in Canada pays 60 per cent more than if they had the same plan in the United States, and 19 per cent more when compared to most European plans.

"Canadians pay a significant premium for the sound of Canadian wireless dial tone," according to an excerpt from the report, obtained by the Star. "Canadian carriers need to encourage their customers to use their phones — not penalize them for use."

The Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association would not comment directly on the report, but pointed to a 2004 New Zealand study that found Canadian cellphone prices cheaper than U.S. plans in two out of three pricing categories.

"I can't comment on something I haven't seen," said CWTA spokesperson Marc Choma.

Seaboard compared a range of different cellphone plans offered in four Canadian cities to three cities in the United States and three in Europe. Plans from at least three wireless operators were analyzed in each city. All prices were adjusted to reflect the purchasing power of relevant local currencies, and took phone features and special service fees into account.

The report found Canadian rates for pre-paid and occasional users were not much different, but high-end cellphone users were paying much more than those in the United States.

For example, the Star found one $59.99 (U.S.) plan from U.S. cellphone giant Cingular Wireless that offers free long-distance, free roaming across continental North America and 1,000 free weekend and evening minutes. No such plan is available in Canada, but to get all those features would cost more than $100 through local cellphone providers.

Additional articles by Tyler Hamilton