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Competition Bureau Warns CRTC Against New Media Intervention

The Canadian Competition Bureau has waded into the CRTC's new media regulation debate with a submission that pretty clearly sides with a no-intervention approach.  While couched in language that gives the CRTC some flexibility, the Bureau is at pains to note that no intervention may be needed, that regulation carries a significant cost, and that shifts in the marketplace from traditional media to new media are not reason enough to regulate.

7 Comments

  1. Let me get this straight. The Competition Bureau wants to leave things as they are right now? They state that market forces should be relied on to allow competition. But I don’t see how an increase in the market force of the Internet will allow other ISPs to come in with content that is Net Neutral. Bell has been expanding their network for decades and so has Rogers. There is no way that another independent ISP will come in and start rolling out wires to start its own network.

    I’m rather disappointed with the Competition Bureau’s response. I expected something that would promote competition not stifle it.

  2. They’re afraid of regulation, without it things remain on their turf: competition.

  3. Well said!

  4. Unfortunately I disagree with this as a new media producer. We need regulation to ensure an open, transparent and fair approach to competition in new media. Not necessarily regulating content, but more or less the regulation of network access fees, consumer protection and information collected at the gate keeper level.

    Without regulation in this aspect independent Canadian new media producers will be unable to compete globally, and the market will only be available to a selected few. The competition Bureau snubbed it’s nose with regards to dealing with complaints filed by new media producers over the bell throttling issues. They seem to be uninformed as to where new media is heading next. Not a good idea for a govenment body that is supposed to understand and inforce rules and compitition laws.

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    Without regulation in this aspect indipendant Canadian new media producers will be unable to compete, and the market will only be available to a selected few.

  5. The Competition Bureau rides again
    The Competition Bureau has, over the years, never missed an opportunity to argue to the CRTC that, really, the Bureau should be the one charged with regulating things. Which the Bureau then promptly proceeds not to regulate at all.

    Exhibit A: the mobile industry, which the Competition Bureau is charged with regulating. Yes, that\’s the same Bureau that allowed the merger between Rogers and Fido, the country\’s two GSM providers, on the grounds that it couldn\’t hurt competition.

    The best thing that could happen for Canadian consumers would be for the CRTC to develop more spine and, for perhaps the first time, say to the Competition Bureau: no, we won\’t keep on relinquishing powers to you and, what\’s more, we may need to reregulate stuff that we ceded to you. And the best way to help the CRTC to develop that spine is to loudly advocate for it.

  6. Serge is right
    It appears that the Competition Bureau is afraid of some competition, or rather that they are afraid of losing some of what they view as their empire. While the concept that competition will take care of the problem can be valid (the more competitors there are, the more likely it will), in a situation where there are so few competitors such as we have today, market forces and competition are much less effective.

    After all, where there are 3 companies involved, if one decides that they are going to do something to boost their revenue in the short term, do they really think that the other two are going to not follow suit, risking a shareholder backlash? A privately held company has less incentive to follow suit… my reasoning is that the owner has the option of going for profits in the longer term from migrating customers and is answerable only to himself. A publicly held company, on the other hand, is answerable to the share/unit holders, many of whom are after short term increases in the share/unit price so they can unload at a gain.

  7. As well
    One other thing that I forgot to add, is that the distribution channels for the new media are mostly controlled by the same conglomerates/companies that represent the “old” media. So, why would they think that the “old” media wouldn’t make accessing the “new” media difficult? Why wouldn’t they give their own stuff precedence if they could figure out a way around the rules.

    While it could be argued that there are literally hundreds of ISPs in Canada, the fact is that these companies tend to deal with the last mile component from the backbone to the consumer, while the “old” media companies tend to control the backbone and can affect the traffic there, affecting not only their own customers, but also customers for their competition and for customers in other countries (if the data is routed through Canada). So they could say with a straight face that they don’t affect or filter on the customer’s connection… they don’t need to, since the throttling/filtering could be done in the backbone.