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Michael Geist's Blog

Why Rejecting Mandatory Distribution Fits With the CRTC's Interpretation of the Broadcasting Act

This week's CRTC mandatory distribution hearing has placed the spotlight on a fascinating disconnect between the Commission and the Canadian broadcast community. Despite months of telegraphing its intent to promote consumer choice over broadcaster revenues, the first two days of the hearing have featured repeated presentations from groups who have not gotten the message. CRTC Chair Jean-Pierre Blais could not have been clearer in a speech last October:

In our decision, we noted that consumers increasingly expect to be in control of what they watch. It makes sense that consumers and the distributors who serve them should have more flexibility in packaging choices. While we acknowledged the value of predictable revenues to the programming services, we decided that the days of guaranteed wholesale rates are over. Programming services cannot expect to remain completely insulated from the growing demand for greater choice by Canadians.

He followed that up in March by telling the production community that it "will need to compete, just like any other sector."

Despite the messaging, many of the groups seeking mandatory distribution evidently don't get it.


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