POLITICS

CRTC board picks former broadcast exec as interim chair

01/25/2012 11:10 EST | Updated 03/26/2012 05:12 EDT

Len Katz has been elected as interim chair of the CRTC, Canada's national broadcast regulator.

He replaces former chair Konrad von Finckenstein, 66, whose five-year term expired this week.

It was reported in September that von Finckenstein would not be reappointed to the position after his term expired.

The Harper government strongly disagreed with von Finckenstein on a number of issues during his term, including his stances on internet companies' billing methods and restricting foreign ownership of telecommunications companies.

But von Finckenstein also had his share of criticism for the government, citing its lack of action on regulating digital media as a major policy gap. He said that current legislation is outdated and desperately needs updating.

He has advocated creating a single regulator to cover broadcasting, telecommunications and wireless, a suggestion he said the cabinet will not act on.

But despite all the controversy, the CRTC did launch some popular initiatives under von Finckenstein, including the national do-not-call registry, improved 911 service for cellphone users and a commissioner to address telecom complaints.

Von Finckenstein has said that his successor will have to have a deep understanding of business, governance and legal relationships.

Katz, who has served as vice-chairman of telecommunications for the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission since 2007, will fill the post until a new chair is appointed by the cabinet.

The government launched the selection process two weeks ago, but it is unclear how long it will take. The last two interim chairs led the CRTC for three weeks and 10 months respectively before an appointment was made.

Katz was elected by CRTC commissioners in a secret ballot. He was one of two vice-chairs who were eligible to assume the interim leadership.

Katz has spent the majority of his career in private broadcasting, having worked for Rogers and Bell Canada.