The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is asking consumers and telemarketers for their views on how to reduce unwanted calls and is taking a close look at the rules for automated calls.
The CRTC is also asking for comment on a proposal by the Canadian Marketing Association to relax the rules restricting automatic calls for telemarketing.
The Canadian Marketing Association has proposed eliminating this restriction where an organization already has a business relationship with the party being called and has not made a request to be on the organization's internal do-not-call list, the CRTC said Wednesday.
"The current rules specify that consumers must provide express consent before calls using ADADs (automatic dialing-announcing devices) can be made to them," the CRTC said in a news release.
The change proposed by the Canadian Marketing Association would also mean that such calls would be allowed even if consumers have registered their numbers on the national do-not-call list, the CRTC noted.
The CRTC oversees the national do-not-call list, which protects consumers from unwanted sales calls.
For its part, the Canadian Marketing Association calls the current restriction on automatic dialing-announcing devices "unduly broad." It notes that technology has changed since rules were put in place in 1994, when the devices were capable only of one-way delivery of messages.
"As an example, these features now enable consumers to press a button on their touch-tone pad to immediately connect to a live agent, have the ADAD call returned at another more convenient time, pause or repeat a message," the association said in a letter to the CRTC dated December 2011.
The call can also be personalized by including specific customer information such as names, the association added.
The Canadian Marketing Association said these automated calls should be allowed for telemarketers who have a business relationship with the person being called because unsolicited automated calls cause "greater inconvenience or nuisance than unsolicited live voice calls."
The Public Interest Advocacy Centre, however, argues against automated calls.
"We've done surveys in the past to confirm this, but we know for a fact that people find automated calls to be extremely creepy and invasive," said John Lawford, the centre's legal counsel.
"They dislike them intensely, intensely and there is no justification for them."
Lawford said such calls have only been allowed for doctors, libraries and schools and "other goody good things."
He said the United States removed restrictions for automated calls for a while, but had so many complaints that rules had to be reinstated.
The CRTC also would like the public to comment on whether telemarketing rules should require, where technologically possible, the caller to be identified on call-display.
"A requirement to display the caller's, or client's name could lessen consumer frustration by allowing them to better distinguish calls from telemarketers versus those from other parties," the CRTC said.
The CRTC said while it would like its rules to be more effective, it also wants to help improve communication between organizations and consumers on these calls.
The regulator also said it will weigh the benefit of any changes against the administrative burden that may result, particularly for small businesses.
The deadline for comments is May 6.
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Canada's 7 Media Giants
Postmedia - $1.1 Billion
Postmedia was born in 2010, when the bankrupt Canwest media chain was broken up. A consortium led by then-National Post CEO Paul Godfrey bought Canwest's newspaper assets, including the National Post, Ottawa Citizen and Calgary Herald, as well as both English-language dailies in Vancouver.<br> <br> Pictured: Postmedia CEO Paul Godfrey<br> <br> <em>*Number denotes latest available revenue figure, for parent company</em>
Torstar - $1.48 Billion
Torstar's flagship property is the Toronto Star, Canada's largest newspaper. It also owns the Metroland chain of weeklies and the internationally popular Harlequin, publisher of pulp romances.<br> <br> Pictured: The Toronto Star building in downtown Toronto.<br> <br> <em>*Number denotes latest available revenue figure, for parent company</em>
Shaw - $4.74 Billion
Western Canadian cable TV giant Shaw entered the media big leagues with the 2010 purchase of Canwest's broadcasting assets, including the Global TV network. The company was founded by Jim Shaw and is still controlled by his family.<br> <br> Pictured: CEO Brad Shaw<br> <br> <em>*Number denotes latest available revenue figure, for parent company</em><br> <br> <em>CORRECTION: An earlier version of this slide stated that Shaw had purchased Canwest's newspaper assets. It only purchased the broadcasting assets. The company had backed out of an earlier attempt to buy three CTV stations.</em>
Quebecor - $9.8 Billion
Founded by Pierre Peladeau and run by his son, Pierre-Karl Peladeau, Quebecor owns the Sun Media and Osprey newspaper chains, as well as cable provider Videotron, Quebec TV network TVA, and a number of publishing houses.<br> <br> Pictured: Pierre-Karl Peladeau<br> <br> <em>*Number denotes latest available revenue figure, for parent company</em>
Rogers - $12.1 Billion
Founded by Ted Rogers, Rogers Communications is a major player in cable TV and wireless services. The company controls Rogers Media, which operates 70 publications, 54 radio stations and a number of TV properties including CityTV and the Shopping Channel.<br> <br> Pictured: CEO Nadir Mohamed<br> <br> <em>*Number denotes latest available revenue figure, for parent company</em>
Woodbridge (Thomson Reuters) - $13.8B
Woodbridge is the holding company owned by the billionaire Thomson family. It controls 55 per cent of Thomson Reuters, one of the world's largest news services organizations. Woodbridge's revenue is not reported, but Thomson Reuters reported revenue of $13.8 billion in 2011.<br> <br> Pictured: The late Kenneth Thomson, company chairman, in Toronto in 2003.<br> <br> <em>*Number denotes latest available revenue figure, for parent company</em>
Bell Canada (BCE) - $18.1 Billion
BCE is one of Canada's largest corporations, and owns telephone, Internet and TV infrastructure. Its subsidary Bell Media purchased the CHUM group of radio stations in 2006, and Astral Media in 2012. The company also controls CTV, making it a dominant media player in Canada.<br> <br> <em>*Number denotes latest available revenue figure, for parent company</em>