CRTC Announces Hearings on New Media

Somewhat buried in all the news today of Liberal infighting, market meltdowns, and U.S. electioneering was a CRTC notice announcing the beginning of hearings on broadcasting and New Media. This hearing follows up on its earlier consultations this year setting the terms of reference for the hearings, and more generally on the CRTC’s New Media Project Initiative, begun in 2007.

No one, surely, could accuse the CRTC of acting precipitously on this issue: even with respect to yesterday’s announcement, a CRTC spokesman (quoted in today’s Globe and Mail) emphasized that the proceeding is about “understand[ing] the Internet”, not regulating it.

Nonetheless, the CRTC has made no secret of its concern to ensure the availability of high-quality Canadian content in Internet broadcasting. Michael Geist has a recent column on the possibility of a new levy on Canadian ISPs that might be used to help subsidize such content. Given the acrimony on display between content creators and distributors in the recent hearings on the broadcasting regulatory framework and the Canadian Television Fund, it seems a safe bet that such proposals will generate a lot of sparks.

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