CRTC Chair Konrad von Finckenstein delivered the lunch keynote at today's Canadian Association of Broadcasters conference. While von Finckenstein came armed with a few goodies for the broadcasters (possible subscriber fees for over the air broaadcasts), the majority of the speech featured the kind of straight talk that rarely happens in Ottawa. He noted in particular the CAB's opposition to the Dunbar/Leblanc report (which he defended as an independent expert report) and the consultations over the summer on increased fees. To quote the Chair:
We understand it may be difficult for an organization as diverse as yours to reach a unified position. But we hope that in the future you will be able to have an open and constructive dialogue with us. We hope you will feel free to say just where you stand. We can’t get anywhere when there are confusing or conflicting messages coming from your organization, particularly with the CAB expressing different views to Ministers than to the CRTC. The Commission is committed to full transparency and open dialogue with its stakeholders. We expect the same from the industry. I trust the incident of the fee payer consultation was an isolated instance that will not be repeated.
Ouch. The Chair also notably went out of his way to indicate that the CRTC has no interest in regulating the Internet, but is instead interested in broadcasting on the Internet. His prepared remarks (the actual delivery was slightly different) state:
Since we are the regulators of broadcasting, our main focus is on commercial television delivered over the Internet and through mobile devices. We are only interested in content that is professionally produced. We are not concerned with all the other aspects of New Media, such as the way it may alter consumer behaviour, facilitate the production of user-generated content or establish new forms of social networking.
The CRTC may be a favoured punching bag, but with von Finckenstein's frankness, it should be clear that everyone is at least going to get a chance to be heard.