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Industry Minister Christian Paradis put a timeline on the "Penske File" yesterday, promising to deliver a Canadian digital economy strategy by the end of the year.
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The IFPI, the global recording industry association, recently released its Recording Industry in Numbers 2012, which provides detailed sales data from countries around the world. Years ago, the Canadian Recording Industry Association would promote its annual sales data, but it no longer does. Perhaps that is because the data tells a far different story from the one CRIA (now Music Canada) seeks to promote. While CRIA talks about "rebuilding the marketplace", the industry's own data indicates that Canada already stands among the global leaders in digital music sales.

The most obvious metric (and one relied upon by IFPI) is paid digital music downloads. According to the IFPI data, Canadians purchased 94.2 million single track downloads in 2011, making it the third largest market in the world (trailing only the U.S. and UK). The Canadian numbers represented a 39% increase in sales, far ahead of the U.S. (8% growth) and U.K. (10% growth). The data shows Canadians purchased more single track downloads than Germany or Japan, and more than double the sales in France, despite the fact that each of those countries has far larger populations. In fact, Canadian sales were larger than all the sales from Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden combined. Moreover, given the current growth rates, Canada seems likely to pass the U.S. on per capita single track downloads in about 18 months (not coincidentally iTunes entered the Canadian market 18 months after it debuted in the U.S.).


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CRTC Chair Len Katz called out Bell Canada and Bell Aliant yesterday for failing to extend broadband to dozens of rural communities across the country as required by a 2010 decision. Katz noted that in August 2010 the Commission directed the large phone companies to spend over $420 million from their deferral accounts on extending broadband to hundreds of rural communities. While MTS Allstream and Telus appear to be on track, Bell Canada is not. According to Katz:

Unfortunately, it's a different story with Bell Canada and Bell Aliant. Nearly two years after we issued our directive, Bell has extended broadband service to only three of its 112 communities. Broadband service is more and more of a necessity for full participation in the digital economy and in our life as Canadians. The funds were collected over a number of years from Bell subscribers. I urge our friends at Bell to give a higher priority to the needs of the people in these rural and remote communities by accelerating their rollout plans.

The deadline to complete the broadband rollout is 2014. The deferral account case involves hundreds of millions of dollars collected by large telephone providers as surplus funds. In 2010, the CRTC ordered a portion be refunded to consumers and remainder spent on broadband services.
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