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    Broadcasting Policy Without The Net

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    Tuesday March 23, 2010
    The CRTC's release of its much-anticipated broadcasting regulatory policy decision set off a flurry of comments yesterday with broadcasters welcoming the prospect of negotiating fees for their local signals, broadcast distributors warning of increased costs, and the CBC arguing that the decision was a "dark day" for public broadcasters after it was excluded from the negotiating process.  While there is understandably considerable discussion in the decision on programming requirements, the media focus centered on the fee-for-carriage issue.  On that front, the CRTC has opened the door to negotiations, subject to a court ruling confirming the Commission's jurisdiction to implement such an approach.

    It seems appropriate that on the day the CRTC released its decision, a new study was published that found Canadians now spend more time online than watching television.  While the world is increasingly moving online, the CRTC decision acts as if the Internet scarcely exists.  The broadcasting policy decision mentions the Internet once (acknowledging that it is a platform for content distribution) and does not including any reference to streaming, Youtube, podcast, BitTorrent, or peer-to-peer (used by the CBC to distribute its content).  The word "consumer" is mentioned five times, though the consumer perspective will be addressed in a second report due later today to Cabinet.


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    CTV & Canwest Ask CRTC To Order Blocking Of U.S. Programs

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    Friday November 13, 2009

    The CRTC kicks off two weeks of hearings next week that place the spotlight on the fee-for-carriage fight. Last night, I participated in an interesting debate on the issue on TVO's The Agenda called A Pox On Both Their Houses: Cable and TV.  The program is embedded below.  One issue that was not raised - indeed it has not received any real public attention - was noted earlier today by Alan Sawyer.  He notes that CTV and Canwest have quietly asked the CRTC to order cable and satellite companies to establish a new policy of "program deletion."  The new policy (which is supported in a Toronto Star piece today) would mean that when a Canadian broadcaster buys the Canadian rights to a U.S. program, the U.S. broadcast would be blocked in Canada for a seven-day window. 

    In other words, rather than the current simultaneous substitution policy, which allows for the programs to air at the same time and for the substitution of the Canadian broadcast on the U.S. channel (thereby leading to the annual complaints about Super Bowl commercials), the U.S. broadcast would be blocked altogether.  That would allow Canadian broadcasters to air the U.S. program whenever they like and block the U.S. version altogether.  In a world when consumers expect to view programs on their schedule, CTV and Canwest seek a return to a prior era when the broadcaster retains (now illusory) control over access to the broadcasts in Canada.


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    CRTC Releases Communications Monitoring Report

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    Thursday August 06, 2009
    The CRTC has released the second annual Communications Monitoring Report 2009.  The nearly-300 page report is filled with data and charts that will generate considerable study and commentary.  Some of the points that jumped out at me:
    • Do-Not-Call: As of May 19th, there were over 6.8 million registrations, 145,000 complaints, and over 700 investigations.
    • Internet Access: 95% of Canadian households have access to fixed broadband. 91% to mobile broadband.  In 2008, virtually all Canadian households in urban centres could have access to broadband services, versus 78% of households that were in rural areas.
    • TV Viewership: TV viewing biggest drop in 12 - 17 age demographic down 5.9%.  Over 18 down 1.4%.
    • Internet use: 95% of 18-34 anglophones use the Internet; 91% of 35-49, 70% of over 50. Numbers slightly lower for francophones.
    • Accessing Music: "downloading music and streaming radio over the Internet have shown a steady decline in popularity among Anglophones, and appear to have stagnated among Francophones."
    • ISPs: Top 5 ISPs (Bell, Telus, Rogers, Videotron, Shaw) capture 76% of Internet access revenues. 69% of households subscribe to broadband.
    • Price comparison w/US, UK, France, Australia. Good pricing for low wireless & broadband usage, avg for mid-to-high usage.  Canada lowest number of wireless subscribers/100 inhabitants.  High broadband, but low mobile broadband.
    More on the report on the days ahead.
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    Survey Shows Wide Opposition to Two-Tier OTA Television

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    Thursday July 30, 2009
    The Canadian Media Guild has published the results of a survey that show 84% of respondents opposed to a plan that will create a two-tier system for over-the-air television signals (some will have it, others won't). The survey was conducted in Kamloops, which stands to lose its OTA signal in 2011.
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