Newly named ‘Digi Awards’ unveil nominees

The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. and National Film Board dominated the 2011 Digi Awards nominations announced in Toronto on Thursday night as the event enters its 11th year with a new name and new categories honouring tablets, digital publishing and e-learning.

CBC walked away with six nominations while the NFB received nods infive categories for the awards, which fête the best in digital mediacreation and distribution in Canada. Other multiple nominees includeGlassBOX Television Inc., Stitch Media, the Globe and Mail, Shaw Media andmarblemedia Inc. which all had three nominations each.

Contenders for Canada’s top digital company are Enflick Inc., VisionCritical, HootSuite Media Inc., Kobo Inc. and Acquisio. Finalists for top digitalexecutive are Neil Sweeney of Juice Mobile, Peyman Nilforoush ofNetShelter Technology Media, and Arcana Studio Inc.’s Sean O’Reilly.

Though founded as the Canadian New Media Awards, the event has beenrebranded this year as the Digi Awards.

“We’re just looking to bring it into a new era. New media? It goesbeyond that. We’re looking to focus on all things digital,” saidTiffany Rushton, producer of the awards.

The influence of tablet computing is reflected in new categoriesfor tablet-based publishing, gaming and applications. Existingcategories that have been expanded with new awards include gaming,cross-platform, Web series and mobile.

Also debuting this year is The List, an online directory of everynominee in all 31 categories.

“It’s a way of bringing the best in Canadian digital media and digitalin general into one space that we can showcase and use as a marketingtool for these companies,” Rushton said. “(It’s) not only to showcase(them) in Canada but also internationally to the rest of the world.”

Comparing  Canada’s digital sector to the rest of the world,award nominee David U.K. pulled no punches in listing some of theweaker areas of this country’s industry. First, though, he offeredpraise.

“I think there’s some really great talent coming out of Quebec,” saidU.K., CEO of Toronto’s Cue Digital Media Inc. The two-year-old firm, upfor most promising new digital company, produces branded online contentand represents large international Web properties in the Canadianadvertising market.
Although U.K. gives kudos to Quebec tax incentives to foster new talent and companies in that province, he says Canada as a whole is stuck in a dated mindset (and government funding model) that still favours long form content produced for traditional television or film screens rather thanshort form content made for Web sites, mobile devices or other new media streams.
“(Canadian content providers and distributors) are losing eyeballs tothe south because 80 per cent of content being consumed is only two tothree minutes long,” U.K. said. “We have the talent (inCanada).  But if we don’t have short form content, we don’thave the eyeballs. If we don’t have the eyeballs we don’t have theadvertisers (to support production). Government needs to fund moreshort form content.”

Although some federal and provincial government tax credits and grantstarget short form digital content creation, most stipulate the contentmust also be broadcast on TV or radio, he said, even though somedigital content isn’t suited to those media.

Canadian digital producers must also do a better job of making contentfor multiple platforms, pushing and promoting it, and marrying it withbranding and advertising, U.K. said.

“The brand needs to be infused into the scripting (of the content) andyou have to be flexible with it… The content producers need to infusemore brands (into content) and develop content that is engaging whilstbeing able to deliver a marketer’s message in an unobtrusive way,” saidU.K., whose clients include the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) ultimate fighting league and theL.A.-based gossip Web site TMZ.

The 2011 Digi Awards will be handed out Dec. 6 at the Carlu as part ofthe nextMEDIA Toronto digital media forum.

Christine WongChristine Wong is a Staff Writer at Follow her on Twitter, and join in the conversation on the IT Business Facebook Page.

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Christine Wong
Christine Wong
Christine Wong has been an on-air reporter for a national daily show on Rogers TV and at High Tech TV, a weekly news magazine on CTV's Ottawa affiliate. She was also an associate producer at Report On Business Television (now called BNN) and CBC's The Hour With George Stroumboulopoulos. As an associate producer at Slice TV, she helped launch two national daily talk shows, The Mom Show and Three Takes. Recently, she was a Staff Writer at and is now a freelance contributor.

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