The CRTC has released its much anticipated broadcast review decision. The Commission:
- rejects (again) the request from over-the-air broadcasters for a new fee-for-carriage payment (ie. payment for over-the-air signals).
- establishes a new fund for local programming that will cost cable and satellite subscribers about 50 cents per month. The new fund sparked two dissenting opinions.
- concludes that time shifting (in this case carrying multiple versions of the same network) should be compensated and calls for negotiations to establish a price.
- continues to move toward greater deregulation by dropping regulation for smaller broadcast distribution companies (under 20,000 subscribers), removing "genre protection" in competitive areas (which for the moment are sports and news), and provides greater flexibility in packaging channels.
- opens the door to new forms of targeted advertising (ie. closer examination of viewing profiles and interests) with a hearing on the matter scheduled for next year.
While this suggests a mixed bag, it ultimately leaves consumers paying more (the new fund and time shifting fees), though not quite as much as some broadcasters were hoping for. Interestingly, the Internet and new forms of broadcast scarcely merit a mention in the entire decision with those issues slated for review in the new media hearings next February.
Update: A Canadian Press reporter asked for my views on whether today's decision would change broadcasting in Canada by 2011. My response: