Government Reportedly To Let Satellite Radio Decision Stand

Sirius Canada has just issued a press release thanking the federal government for its confirmation of the CRTC's satellite radio decision.  Assuming this is correct, the decision represents a win for the two services specifically as well as a win for the CRTC, individual Canadians, and independent artists more generally.  Heading the list of losers is Canadian Heritage Minister Liza Frulla and her parliamentary secretary Sarmite Bulte, who expended considerable capital on this issue but ultimately failed to push through the reversal.  While it is tempting to think that a similar division might occur on Bill C-60, the sad reality is that user groups, libraries, and teachers simply can't afford the multi-million dollar lobby campaign mounted by the winning services and their allies.  That said, Frulla is a weakened minister today and the fight over copyright this fall just got a bit more interesting.


  1. says:

    early returns?
    I am sure if they didn’t feel confident of the outcome they wouldn’t be jumping the gun so optimisticly.

    It is nice to have another cost effective option for legal music.

    now let’s hear the cria spin this one as a negative.

  2. John Harris Stevenson, tranqui says:

    In your September 5th blog entry you state: “Should Cabinet follow Minister Frulla’s recommendation, the government will have substituted a lengthy, impartial process with one determined by lobbying power and political expediency.” I fear this statement reveals a naivete around how the CRTC works. The Commission reacts to various commercial and political pressures in a manner similar to any regulatory agency. These days, that means deregulation and greater concentration of media ownership.

    Further, I would describe the June decisions not as “impartial” but as ignorant. It is clear now to most of us on both sides of the satellite radio debate that the Commission did not have a good grasp of the issues involved and the ramifications of the decisions they were about to make. For example, the Commission stated in its decisions that it had concluded that there would be little or no impact on terrestrial radio from these services, even though the evidence from the US is pretty clear that there will be, and that it is a stated objective of XM and Sirius that they will do so.

    The CRTC also approved an entirely new way for broadcasters and broadcast distributors to do Canadian Content: stick all the Canadian stuff on channels to which no one has to listen. Love it or hate it, this runs contrary to the traditional approach to music services (require minimum percentages of 10 or 35% depending on the content) and to distribution services (require half the channels to be Canadian). The decisions, which reduce Canadian Content to a ghettoized 10%, will be used as a precedents by commercial broadcasting to have their CanCon reduced, or made voluntary.

    Now, CanCon may be outmoded and not the best way to support Canadian artists and culture anymore, but it would have been best to have a public policy hearing on that rather then decide it through the back door. I expect it is now dawning on the Commission what a mess they have made of this, one that will take years to clean up.

    But my biggest concern coming out of this is the fact that we have turned over the future of broadcast radio to a couple of companies who have no instruction or intention of sharing their bandwidth with non-commercial broadcasters. Their technologies are proprietary and no community stations will be launching a satellite anytime soon. Again, perhaps no one will miss third sector radio, but we never got a chance to debate it in front of the CRTC.

  3. Russell McOrmond says:

    Why is the “everything is a hammer” me
    I really have to ask — why is it that with people connected with Heritage that they believe that everyhing is “broadcast” and should be regulated like broadcast. Subscription based XM radio is far closer to retail than it is terrestrial broadcast radio, and yet there is this assumption that it should be regulated like broadcast rather than like retail (where there are no CANCON rules at all).

    Some other thoughts:

    Near the end I talk about XM radio:

    I also link to:

    I want Cabinet to stand up for Canada, not ‘broadcasting”:

    As to CRIA, their spin is always going to be against any alternative medium where they can’t retain their 95% monopolistic market control. Subscription based services that allowed their independant and unsugned competitors better access would be great for Canadian creativity, but competatively bad for the US and EU major labels that CRIA represents.

    CRIA is also so technically illiterate as to believe that so-called “copy control” is going to help them. The reality is that this is their greatest threat, and it is unlikely that the existing recording industry can survive fully deployed Digital Restrictions Management (DRM — Technological Measures to protect “access controls” which falsely claim to be “copy controls”, etc).