Thursday, October 25, 2007

Why Was "Space" Absent from This Year's Aurora Awards?

As I noted in my previous posting, something odd about the Aurora Awards on the final day of VCon32/Canvention27 was the absence of Space – Canada’s science fiction and fantasy-oriented cable TV channel. This was something that struck me only after I got home Sunday night and my wife asked if Space was there. I thought back to the ceremony and very clearly remembered that there was no professional cameraperson present. Moreover, there has been no posting of the Aurora winners’ list on the channel’s website for the past couple of days. It’s not like they could have received the results early and gone to air with them – the final ballot is voted on by attendees at the con on Friday and Saturday, and the week’s episode of Hypaspace has already gone to air by Saturday, and websites can be updated at any time. Rather lame behavior for a station that’s pursuing viewers from this particular community.
So, I sent the following letter (note the typo where I list the send date as Oct 24, when technically, having hit midnight, it’s the 25th. Oh well.) off to the contact emails listed on the Space website (for both programming and the website). It’ll be interesting to see if they bother responding, and if so, what they’ve got to say for themselves. I’m not terribly optimistic. But if they do respond, I’ll be sure to post it. Stay tuned.

To whom it may concern:

I am writing to express my disappointment that Space, and more specifically, Hypaspace, was not present at the annual Aurora Awards ceremony, hosted this year by VCon32/Canvention27 on Sunday, October 21.

The Auroras are Canada’s premier award for excellence in professional science fiction and fantasy literature and art, as well as outstanding fan achievement. Internationally respected authors (see the Aurora site for the listing: were among the winners this year.

And yet, puzzlingly, you weren’t there. There was no camera with Space stenciled on the side or on a microphone flash in the ballroom during the ceremony Sunday afternoon. Nor was one of your cameras waiting outside to do interviews after. And, as of the writing of this letter, 12am pacific Thursday, October, 24 (3am eastern, Thursday, October 25), there has been no listing of the Aurora winners on your website’s homepage or the Hypaspace page. This information has been available on the Aurora site for the past couple of days.

For years, Space has coveted the niche as Canada’s cable TV provider of science fiction and fantasy, both in terms of TV shows and movies, as well as book and comic previews and reviews. Your show Hypaspace claims to be “An informative look at news and gossip from the Entertainment Industry as it relates to Science Fiction and Fantasy.”

And yet, how can Hypaspace claim to be informative at all if it isn’t covering news as significant to Canadian SF as the Auroras? This is our country’s major sci-fi awards ceremony! You can cook up your own campy, and admittedly mildly amusing, awards show called The Spaceys, but you don’t bother to cover the real thing?

I’ve been trying to figure out why Space would take a pass on the Auroras and I’ve failed to come up with any satisfactory answer.

Perhaps you think that the Auroras, being Canadian awards, are of no consequence. If that’s the case, I urge you to remember that you’re broadcasting to a Canadian audience that reads what our national authors generate, buys Canadian SF magazines like On-Spec, Neo-Opsis and Solaris, and sometimes even watches Space. Moreover, in terms of fan voting, it’s interesting to note that the Auroras see a higher percentage of voter turnout than the Hugos (US-based, but voted on internationally) do.

Or perhaps you will claim that the time and expense involved with sending a videographer from Toronto to Vancouver are prohibitive. If that’s the case, I would point out that Space has frequently in the past made an effort to be present or to acquire footage from conventions in San Diego and other non-Toronto locations, so clearly there is a precedent for you spending money on this sort of event. I would also point out that as a property of CTVglobemedia, Space could easily access resources at the Vancouver CTV station and have one of their camerapersons dispatched to cover the awards. If CTV Vancouver’s resources were unavailable, it would have been easy for you to obtain the services of a freelance videographer. There are many talented and experienced individuals on the Lower Mainland. Failing that, you could have contacted the Television department in the School of Broadcast at the British Columbia Institute of Technology – they have many well-trained student camerapersons who would be more than happy to get footage for you in exchange for experience and a cheque.

There is also the question of the use of airtime. As a former broadcaster, I understand how difficult it can be to squeeze items into a finite broadcast slot. That being said, looking at the track record of Hypaspace, you could probably drop one profile of the newest line of He-Man collectibles, or yet another Simpsons collectible line, or the newest ugly toy or odd Toronto-area art gallery for just one weekend to fit in two minutes about the Aurora results (3 to 5 if you could actually be bothered to go to the effort of interviewing one of the winners). Moreover, there is no excuse for failing to update the Hypaspace page of your website with this information.

The Aurora Awards are the highest achievement for science fiction and fantasy in Canada. The Canadian authors who have won them are greatly respected in their own country and many receive international renown. Ignoring the Auroras is simply not an option for a station that calls itself Space.

I would urge you, in the few days you have left to produce this weekend’s edition of Hypaspace, to take a look at the Aurora website (mentioned above) so you can at the very least get the list of winners for your show and your website and possibly arrange an interview or two. I would urge you to contact the VCon32/Canvention27 organizers through their website ( to see if they know of anyone in the room who was shooting footage on a home camcorder who could sell it to you so you’d have something to air.

I would urge you to think long and hard about whether you’d like to have credibility among Canada’s science fiction and fantasy community, the people who are your viewers.

Sincerely, etc.
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