CRTC wants new legislation to optimize competition, encourage CanCon, enable affordable access

Canada’s telecom watchdog has filed a preliminary submission to the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Legislative Review Panel


The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has formally filed a preliminary submission to the panel responsible for reviewing the country’s broadcasting and telecommunications laws.

The CRTC’s January 10th, 2019 filing comes one day before the January 11th deadline, and urges that any new telecom legislation proposed by the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Legislative Review panel should focus on “outcomes that will benefit Canadians in an era of hyper-connectivity by optimizing competition, enabling affordable and innovative services and extending these services and the facilities necessary to access them across the country.”

The Commission’s use of the phrase “optimizing” is explained by its belief that “varying degrees of competition” have already been introduced to Canada’s telecom market.

The submission filed by Canada’s telecom watchdog also outlined recommendations for changes to Canada’s broadcasting framework, referencing points raised in the Commission’s May 2018 programming distribution report.

According to the CRTC, new broadcasting legislation should encourage the production and consumption of Canadian content (CanCon), while also ensuring that all participants in the country’s broadcasting industry should “participate in appropriate and equitable—though not necessarily identical—ways to benefit Canadians and Canada.”

The CRTC’s submission further expanded on the subject of CanCon, arguing that an emphasis should be placed on the “promotion and discoverability of Canadian content throughout every element of the system,” including podcast, music, short-form video, feature-length film or “any other type of content, regardless of what platform it is offered on.”

While the CRTC’s submission was more of a general analysis of how the country’s broadcasting and telecom frameworks could be improved, the filing did offer some specific suggestions.

For example, the CRTC recommended that “administrative monetary penalties, which are available for the telecommunications sector,” should also be available to regulate the broadcasting industry.

A “simple means of complaint and recourse,” in addition to “comparable content and services that meet [Canadians’] needs” was also proposed.

The CRTC’s filing reiterated the Commission’s defence of net neutrality, arguing that the country’s existing legislative framework “will be sufficient to continue to protect and enforce net neutrality in the evolving Internet of Things environment.”

However, the CRTC did state that “new legislation should ensure that key sections apply equally and directly to common carriers and resellers of telecommunications services.”

“This change would be required to ensure that the current framework for net neutrality applies directly to all Internet service providers, including resellers,” reads an excerpt from the CRTC’s January 10th, 2019 submission.

The CRTC concluded its submission by proposing that the Commission be granted the authority to create advisory committees that would provide the opportunity to better engage the public with the Commission’s agenda.

The federal government formally unveiled its Broadcasting and Telecom Legislative Review Panel in May 2018, announcing the public consultations would begin in September 2018.

Panel members have already met with a number of industry stakeholders, including the country’s Big Three telecom service providers, as well consumer advocacy groups, and even representatives from major tech players like Facebook and Google.

Anyone interested in filing a submission with the Panel has until January 11th, 2019.

Source: CRTC