Archive for January, 2014

The CRTC’s Simultaneous Substitution Problem

The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications has spent the past year-and-a-half trying to reinvent itself a pro-consumer regulator. On the broadcast front, the most obvious manifestation of that approach is the gradual move toward pick-and-pay channels, which seems likely to emerge as a policy option later this year. Establishing mandated pick-and-pay would  be a political and consumer winner, but there are still reasons for Canadians to vent against the regulator. The retention of simultaneous substitution policies is one of them.

I made the case for gradually eliminating the simultaneous substitution policy late last year, arguing that the policy hurts Canadian broadcasters (by ceding control over their schedules to U.S. networks) and Canadian content (which suffers from promotion). Moreover, simultaneous substitution will become less important over time as consumers shift toward on-demand availability of programs. There are still supporters of simultaneous substitution, but few come from the consumer community.  Indeed, even the CRTC is hard-pressed to identify consumer benefits in its FAQ on the policy. In fact, its Super Bowl commercial FAQ claims viewers benefit from signal substitution during the broadcast, but the Commission can’t seem to identify any benefits.

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January 28, 2014 4 comments News

Rogers’ Changing Tune on Fully Opening Canadian Wireless to Foreign Investment

Rogers’ executive Rob Bruce in 2012 on changes to Canadian foreign investment rules that removed restrictions for companies with less than ten percent of the market: “Our view is ‘bring it on. As far as competition goes, we’ve always been a full-speed-ahead competitor and we’re ready to go with whoever […]

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January 24, 2014 11 comments News

Interview on the Music Industry Going After Google

appeared on Rob Breakenridge’s Show to discuss the state of music industry. They have successfully demanded  legislative reform, obtained millions in funding and now they are going after Google because they believe it provides easy access to illegal sources. Listen to or download the podcast here.

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January 23, 2014 Comments are Disabled News Interviews, Tv / Radio

Here We Go Again: Canadian Recording Industry Calls on Government To Regulate the Internet

Graham Henderson, the head of the Music Canada (formerly the Canadian Recording Industry Association) wrote a blog post late last year lamenting musicians’ earnings, a situation he blames on the Internet allowing a few to “amass staggering, unprecedented wealth” while musicians toil for tiny incomes. Leaving aside the facts that the Canadian music industry experienced increased digital sales last year (while sales declined in the U.S.) and that the Ontario government is handing out tens of millions of tax dollars to the industry, Henderson now says the government needs to step in and regulate the Internet. According to Music Canada, government support must be complimented by:

judicious and reasonable regulation of the internet. The actions taken by courts in other jurisdictions have very reasonably required ISPs to block websites that are almost entirely dedicated to the theft of intellectual property.

In fact, Internet regulation and blocking websites are not the only music industry target. Last week, Music Canada appeared before the Ontario Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs, where it cited Google as a problem:

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January 22, 2014 61 comments News

Canadian Regulators Place Google’s Business Model Under Microscope

Among the many Internet success stories of the past two decades, Google stands alone. The undisputed king of search, hundreds of millions rely on it daily, supporting an Internet advertising business model that generates tens of billions of dollars annually.

My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes that kind of success invariably leads to legal and regulatory issues, though most of Google’s legal fights have focused on content, such as the inclusion of controversial websites in its search index, the digitization of millions of books through its book search initiative, and the removal of links that may lead to websites that host infringing content.   

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January 21, 2014 7 comments Columns