ca: CRTC to hold hearings on Internet regulation

Canada’s broadcast watchdog will hold public hearings next year into the thorny question of extending its purview to the Internet, a medium that it deemed a regulatory-free zone nearly a decade ago.The Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission today released a final, 75-page report that summarizes research and stakeholder opinion on a wide range of issues, including Canadian content that’s broadcast online or mobile devices, and the recent debate over Internet Service Providers who deliberately slow certain types of Internet traffic. launches consultation on broadcasting in new media for future hearing [news release]The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) today launched a consultation on broadcasting in the new media environment for a public hearing to be held in early 2009. The Commission is asking for public input on the scope of such a proceeding.”The Commission has a responsibility to ensure that the broadcasting system is in a position to achieve the objectives of the Broadcasting Act, today as well as in the future,” said Konrad von Finckenstein, Q.C., Chairman of the CRTC. “New digital technologies and platforms are creating opportunities for the broadcast of professionally-produced Canadian content that simply didn’t exist a few years ago. Our intention is not to regulate new media, but rather to gain a better understanding of this environment and, if necessary, to propose measures that would support the continued achievement of the Broadcasting Act’s objectives.”Today, the Commission released a compilation of research and views titled Perspectives on Canadian Broadcasting in New Media. This document is the result of research commissioned by the CRTC over the past year and includes views obtained from the Canadian broadcasting and telecommunications industries, academia, and national and international policy-makers.Broadcasting in the new media environment is an expansive and complex subject. Those consulted held different opinions on its very nature. They also expressed various ideas on how to make the most of emerging opportunities for the broadcast of high-quality, professional Canadian content in new media.The Commission therefore wishes to narrow the range of issues that could be considered as part of a proceeding on broadcasting in this environment. In a call for comments also issued today, it is asking for public input on whether the following questions, and what other questions, should fall within the scope of the public hearing to be held early next year:

  • What is broadcasting in new media?
  • Should the creation and promotion of Canadian broadcasting content for the new media environment be supported? If so, how?
  • Are there any barriers to accessing Canadian broadcasting content in the new media environment?
  • What other issues should be considered?

Interested parties may submit their comments by July 11, 2008. They may do so by filling out the online form, by writing to the Secretary General, CRTC, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0N2, or by fax, at 819-994-0218.Beginning today, the CRTC is also enabling an online consultation to allow Canadians the opportunity to discuss the issues and questions related to Canadian broadcasting in the new media environment. The website will remain open for postings until June 15, 2008, and is available at: Commission will issue a notice of public hearing by the late summer of 2008 outlining the details of the public hearing on Canadian broadcasting in the new media environment.Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2008-44 [.htm][.pdf]
Perspectives on Canadian Broadcasting in New Media [.htm][.pdf]
CRTC section on new mediaThe CRTCThe CRTC is an independent, public authority that regulates and supervises broadcasting and telecommunications in Canada.Reference documents: Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2007-13 [.htm][.pdf]
Public Notice CRTC 1999-197 [.htm][.pdf]

Backgrounder on broadcasting in new media

What is broadcasting?Broadcasting is defined in the Broadcasting Act as the transmission of programs by radio waves or other means of telecommunication and which are for reception by the public. The Act further defines a program as sounds or visual images, or a combination of the two, that are intended to inform, enlighten or entertain. Visual images that consist predominantly of alphanumeric text are not considered as a “program” under this definition.
What is considered broadcasting in the new media environment?Broadcasting in the new media environment consists of the distribution of audio or video content, or a combination of the two, using new technologies and platforms, such as the Internet and mobile devices. The Commission considers that alphanumeric text and content customized by users fall outside of the scope of broadcasting in new media.
What do you mean by “professionally produced?”The Commission is mainly concerned with the broadcast of professionally-produced Canadian content over the Internet and through mobile devices. This type of content is generally expensive to produce, of a high quality and comparable to what has traditionally been aired on television and the radio. Audio and video content customized by users is not considered as being professionally produced.When did the Commission exempt new media?In 1999, the Commission examined new media services that deliver broadcasting content over the Internet and concluded that regulation was not necessary to achieve the objectives of the Broadcasting Act.The Commission issued an Exemption Order for these services, observing that:

  • there was no discernible impact on conventional radio and television audiences attributed to new media services
  • market forces were providing for a Canadian presence on the Internet, which was supported by a strong demand for Canadian content, and
  • there was no evidence that the Internet had impacted the traditional broadcasters’ advertising revenues.

In 2007, the Commission issued a similar Exemption Order for broadcasting services that are received through cellphones, personal digital assistants (PDAs) and other mobile devices.Why review new media broadcasting now?The Commission has made it a practice of periodically reviewing its exemption orders. In the decade since the Commission exempted new media broadcasting services, the landscape has evolved significantly. In particular:

  • Canadian are spending more time accessing broadcasting content over the Internet and on mobile devices, and asserting greater control while doing so.
  • Globally, the pace at which professionally-produced broadcasting content is being made available online is accelerating, but Canadian participation is lagging.
  • Advertisers are increasingly embracing marketing strategies tailored to broadcasting in new media.

Which objectives of the Broadcasting Act are relevant to broadcasting in the new media environment?There are two main objectives that are particularly relevant to the issue of broadcasting in new media. The first is that each element of the broadcasting system must contribute to the creation and presentation of Canadian programming. This programming must reflect Canada’s creativity and talent, its two official languages, its multicultural diversity, its social values and the special place of Aboriginal peoples within its society. The second objective is that Canadians should have full access to the broadcasting system, both as audiences and as producers and creators in the industry.This news release was sourced from the CRTC website at

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