CRTC Launches Lopsided Talk TV Consult: Raises Prospect of Net Regulation & Net Neutrality Violation
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Wednesday February 19, 2014
The CRTC launched the second phase of its Talk TV
consultation with a series of questions that place the big
regulatory issues squarely on the table. After asking some basic
data questions, the consultation addresses a series of issues with
scenarios that are framed in a lopsided manner. The consultation
addresses hot button issues such as online video, pick-and-pay channels,
and simultaneous substitution, but the options presented to respondents
are limited and skewed toward Internet regulation for online video or supporting the status quo for conventional broadcast. For example, access to more U.S. programming
is presented as a choice between increased fees, lost Canadian jobs, or
larger television packages with Canadian channels. The online video
discussion is premised on new CRTC regulations that with a series of
increased fee options presented.
consultation is a signal of where the CRTC is headed, not only is
the notion of true pick-and-pay channels dead and simultaneous
substitution alive, but the Commission may be willing to toss out
net neutrality in a race to regulate online video services. The issues raised in the consultation:
While virtually the entire questionnaire is lopsided (the framing of
U.S. programming as resulting in lost Canadian jobs, the
pick-and-pay discussion, and the limited choice for signal substitution is
striking), the online programming discussion is particularly
problematic since it raises the prospect of regulating online video
services, increasing the cost of the services through contributions
programs, and institutionalizing net neutrality violations by
permitting regulated services that do not count against a user's
data cap. The inclusion of the net neutrality violation is shocking
since a variation on that scenario is currently the subject of a
complaint before the Commission that is unresolved. The consultation is open
until March 14, 2014. Concerned Canadians should take 15 minutes to complete the survey and tell the CRTC what they think.
- Basic service: There are four scenarios presented,
three of which support the ongoing need for mandatory basic
services and one that envisions a very basic service. None of
the scenarios raise the possibility of eliminating basic service
altogether in favour of a full pick-and-pay model. Respondents
are asked whether they support a broader basic service or one
that is more limited.
- Local news: Two people in one scenario enjoy local news
and a single person relies on Internet services. Respondents are
asked which they think local news requirements should remain in
- Pick-and-Pay: There are three scenarios: one
pick-and-pay and the other two maintaining packages (one the
current system and the other involving choice on packages).
Respondents are asked which they prefer.
- Sports: This is the first issue that is presented with
two people in two scenarios - important sports programming for
free to all or some on fee-based networks. Respondents are asked
which they prefer.
- U.S. and international programming: Three scenarios on
access to U.S. and international programming with two suggesting
that Canadians get a good deal right now. Respondents are
asked if they want direct access to U.S. and international
channels if that means paying more, results in lost Canadian
jobs, or comes packaged with Canadian channels.
- Signal Substitution: There are no scenarios in this
section. Instead, after providing some historical context,
respondents are provided with three choices: maintaining signal
substitutions, blackouts, or paying extra fees to compensate for
lost revenue. No other choices are offered.
- Online Programming: This section features two yes or no
questions: (1) should online services be required to pay to
create Canadian programming and (2) should they provide
closed-captioning and adhere to programming standards.
Remarkably, the follow-up questions all involve further payments
with respondents asked if they would pay an extra 50 cents per
month for Canadian-made programming, a few cents for closed
captioning, and $5 per month for increased usage costs of
Wednesday February 19, 2014