The Internet being a global phenomenon, there is now an obvious discrepancy between the rules applying to Canadian broadcasters, and what companies like Netflix can "broadcast" in Canada through a website or an app. When certain companies are subject to restrictive regulation while some of their competitors are not, there are calls from the regulated companies for the same rules to apply to their competitors.
In a 40-page opinion released last week, B.C. Conflict of Interest Commissioner Paul Fraser pretty well cleared former Agriculture Minister Pat Pimm of any wrongdoing with respect to his obligations under the Members' Conflict of Interest Act, despite the odd "tsk, tsk" here and there.
For almost a year now, Canada's broadcast regulator has been holding an important conversation with Canadians about the future of television. And while the effort, dubbed "Let's Talk TV," has heard from individual Canadians, the Commission has so far not addressed some of the most important issues.
Here's the full depth of the problem with CASL. When Parliament enacted this confusing and ambiguous legislation, it relinquished its legislative power to those regulators charged with enforcing the law. And since those same regulators have the power to directly levy enormous penalties, CASL permits bureaucrats to play the roles of legislator, police, and judge simultaneously. This combination has no place in a free and democratic society like our own.
Over the last year, we've seen the CRTC publish customer-friendly new rules for wireless, set up a special task force to investigate extortionate roaming fees, and start a conversation with Canadians about the Future of Television (and watching TV content online!) Things are starting to change.
Political speech is seemingly under attack from the last place we might expect: Canadian media broadcasters, that say parties can't use broadcasters' content in ads. Protecting copyright is not an illegitimate purpose, but this approach is less than ideal for political advertisements. Political parties rely on election advertising to persuade the electorate to vote for them. This political expression is a significantly important aspect of public discourse and should be accorded the highest priority and protection.
The National Post ran a commentary saying CBC seemed incapable of reinventing itself, which may be true, and concluded that it didn't matter since TV viewing was in decline and the television industry, that is, networks, cable, etc. wouldn't exist in its present form in "maybe two years." This blissfully ignores the fact that TV viewing and cable/satellite subscriptions have shown no decline.
To help ensure that Internet users' voices are heard, your team at OpenMedia.ca have put together a question-by-question readers' guide to the CRTC's Choicebook survey. We hope you find it useful, and encourage you to take a few moments to prevent the CRTC from going in the wrong direction.
One night not long ago I was about to take in my daily dose of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart after work, when I was forced to deal with a new popup window on the CTV website -- CTV and other Bell Media websites are the only legal websites you can use to watch this and many other shows. But a popup appeared...
Will the government cave under this pressure? We're hoping they won't -- after all, they've made a clear promise to Canadians to lower prices, a promise underlined personally by Prime Minister Harper at his party's convention last fall. We intend to hold the government to its promises. But already there are worrying signs, with Industry Minister Moore seemingly changing his tune.
It's no wonder that so many Canadians are speaking out about the state of our broken wireless market. We pay some of the highest prices in the industrialized world for often terrible cell phone service. Thankfully it looks like decision-makers are finally starting to take notice.
One of the things we at OpenMedia.ca have been calling for is for wireless companies like Ting to be able to reach Canadians just like indie ISPs like Distributel, Acanac, Start or Teksavvy, just to name a few, do for wired Internet. At the moment Canadians are blocked by the Big Three from using Ting, which I think is wrong.
As of yesterday, our hard-won new cell phone customer protection rules go into effect for all new cell phone contracts/sales. The new rules, which were announced by the CRTC (Canada's telecom policy-maker) in June, apply right across Canada, so cell phone users from coast to coast to coast will benefit. These new cell phone customer protection rules will not be enough to rein in Canada's Big Telecom giants, but this is a step in the right direction.
Because Canadians spoke out and demanded change we've forced decision-makers to sit up and take notice. All Canadians will benefit from the federal rules introduced in June, and residents of Ontario, Manitoba, Newfoundland & Labrador, and Nova Scotia can also now rely on strong provincial legislation to protect their customer rights.
Canada's wireless market has taken another step backwards. Yesterday, telecom giant Telus announced it has bought out Public Mobile, a small independent carrier with 280,000 customers in Quebec and Ontario. Our wireless market is already highly concentrated, with just three giant conglomerates controlling over 92 per cent of revenues.
Minister Moore has promised Canadians that he will fix our broken wireless market -- his own department's website promises "more choice." But "more choice" is the last thing that will happen if we let Big Telecom get special access to investment at the expense of Canadian startup providers.