Michael Geist on a new Communications regime for Canada

In answer to a question about the role of the CRTC in the transition from television (content delivery) to the internet (participatory media), Michael Geist told the Heritage committee last week:

    Last year was obviously a very busy one for the commission, where they were looking at broadcast as well as some of the telecommunications issues. What I thought became readily apparent, particularly as part of the telecom discussions when we were talking specifically around things like network neutrality and the guidelines that Internet providers have, is that you had groups like ACTRA and many other creative groups up there wanting to talk about the impact those telecommunications rules were going to have on what most of us would conceive as broadcast–on that ability to take content and ensure that it’s available on all the various platforms.

    The commission was very reluctant to do that. They said we’re talking about telecom here, and there are separate hearings for broadcast. What I think has become increasingly apparent is that the silo approach of regulation saying this is broadcast and this is telecom is almost completely broken down. I think the ability to distinguish between these two and say the restrictions and the rules that apply in one sector don’t apply in the other is a problem. The CRTC finds itself often really bound in that regard, and having trouble dealing with that.

    In an ideal world I think we would revisit, frankly, the separation of those two acts and come up with a broader communication act that recognizes that it is certainly true today, and it’s only going to be more true in the future, that distinguishing between what we see as conventional broadcast and what we see as telecom are virtually indistinguishable.

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