CRTC New Media Hearings – Day Two: Quebec Creator Unions, CIRPA, SOCAN, CEP, CaleyWray Labour/Employ

Day Two at the CRTC’s new media hearings saw an escalation of demands with groups seeking broad regulations, Internet-based Canadian content requirements, and even reform to the Copyright Act. The following review was compiled by University of Ottawa student Frances Munn (Globe and Mail live blog of the hearing is here; Day One coverage here).  

Quebec Creator Unions

The hearing opened with several Quebec creator unions (L'Alliance québécoise des techniciens de l'image et du son, l’Association des réalisateurs et réalisatrices du Québec, la Guilde des musiciens et musiciennes du Québec, la Société des auteurs de radio, télévision et cinéma, la Société du droit de reproduction des auteurs, compositeurs et éditeurs au Canada, la Société professionnelle des auteurs et des compositeurs du Québec, et de l’Union des artistes), talking about the usefulness of new media in promoting Quebec culture and arts, while warning that the current model is threatened by those who do not believe the CRTC should regulate new media.

The Unions expressed particular concern with the CRTC’s 1999 decision to grant a new media exemption.  The Unions argued that things have changed since 1999 and that Internet broadcasting services are growing and will only continue to grow. Moreover, while Canadian companies are well represented in new media, they do not offer substantial Canadian content. The Canadian content will only lessen over the next few years due to foreign competition. Regulations are therefore necessary for the future of Canadian content and the CRTC should not renew the exemptions.

The Unions argued that new media regulations should be similar to the regulations for traditional television and radio broadcasts. Moreover, following the example of the Canadian television industry, licensing conditions should be set out for the specific obligations of Canadian content. The Unions argued there was no reason why ISPs should not be governed by the same regulations as satellite and cable companies.


CRTC Chair von Finckenstein opened the questioning by expressing scepticism at the idea that traditional regulations can be applied to new media. Given that new media can reach the entire world and create virtual communities, he did not see how current regulations that apply to the traditional system could simply be transferred to new media. The Unions responded that they believed broadcasting is increasingly done through the Internet, which allows for broadcasters to ignore Canadian content quotas.

Von Finckenstein asked what would keep Canadians from turning to foreign ISPs if the CRTC imposed regulations. The Unions admitted that they do not have all the answers, but that regulations would be a good start.

The Commission was particularly concerned that the Unions were looking for substantial funding. Further, they said that the Broadcasting Act is in opposition to the aims of the Telecommunications Act, which seeks to promote telecommunications access for all Canadians.  The Commission argued that a funding subsidy would likely fall as a burden on consumers, thus limiting their access to telecommunications. The Unions replied that Canadians are substituting television viewing with Internet viewing that the public should contribute to the content creation costs. Funds would provide incentives for artists to create content specifically for the Internet.

The CRTC asked about foreign competition and criticized creating a “Great Firewall of Canada” that would lead to two tiers in the Internet industry. The Unions said they welcomed competition with opens arms, and reiterated that similar regulations exist for TV and radio broadcasts.

The Commission recognized that Quebec has always had slightly different regulations than the rest of English speaking Canada and asked whether this should be carried over to the new media. The Union said that more studies had to be done, but that there was less French language new media available and would probably require different regulations.

L’Office des télécommunications éducatives de langue française de l’Ontario (TFO)

TFO acknowledged that there was no currently accepted business model for the Internet, but that one was needed. TFO emphasized that broadcasting is present in new media and the CRTC should find a way to ensure ISPs and wireless services contribute to the creation process. Consistent with the first presentation, they also criticized the CRTC exemptions, arguing that the CRTC should develop a new system to allow for regulations.

TFO argued that minority communities need equitable access to the new media. They said that the Broadcasting Act does not contain any minority provisions and that minority linguistic communities should be taken into account. They pointed out that s. 3 of the Broadcasting Act protects both Official Language communities including minorities in either language.


CRTC Chair von Finckenstein raised the issue of the lack of a business model to govern new media. The TFO argued that there should be a sustainable business model for emerging minority communities. However, they pointed to the têtes à claques model as an excellent cultural model. Further, von Finckenstien made a veiled criticism at the earlier group by saying that he liked the TFO approach of asking for changes to the exemptions rather than demanding an entirely new approach. The TFO director expressed admiration for têtes à claques, but went on to say that the Internet today is used for more than just email, and that the TFO aimed to promote minority media in Ontario as well as Quebec.

The Commission asked what the impact of new media is for TFO. The Director said that the aim was to allow creators to create high quality content strictly for the Internet. The Commission was interested in some way of measuring how many people are watching new media rather than traditional media. The TFO said that two studies are underway, but have yet to be completed.

The Commission asked about the possibility of the Internet replacing traditional broadcast services and whether the TFO might one day drop conventional broadcasting. The Director of TFO admitted that today she would not say that, but that they were trying to broaden their platform to reach as many people as possible. She was reluctant to make any firm predictions, but implied that one day the Internet may replace more traditional broadcast.

Canadian Independent Record Production Association (CIRPA)

CIRPA President Duncan McKie argued that Canadian musicians are finding it harder to produce music as anything more than a hobby because it is no longer easy to be a professional artist. McKie said that people are listening to more music than ever before, but downloading does a lot of damage to the industry. He argued that it is not just leading artists such as Madonna who are being downloaded, but smaller artists as well. McKie added that there are no business models that can compete with free online file sharing.

Despite the small gain in market share, CIRPA argued that profits continue to fall. They said Canadians are among the worst downloaders, reiterating that it is not just the big labels that are suffering, but the entire Canada’s music industry.   CIRPA went on to say that other countries such as Britain, France, and the U.S. have shown resolve in limiting free downloads and ensuring the survival of their music industries. They argued that Canada must show the same resolve in order to be seen as full partners.

Much like the first two presentations, McKie reiterated that the Internet can be used to broadcast media and should therefore be governed by similar rules. Internet broadcast channels provide an alternative to traditional broadcast channels, and since they are unregulated they pose potential harm to the distribution of Canadian content. CIRPA claimed that music artists are the main victims of new media, arguing that the ISPs receive a subsidy from their high-speed Internet services since part of why people purchase high speed Internet is to download music.


CRTC Chair Von Finckenstein opened the questions by asking if CIRPA had any numbers on the amount of music being downloaded, expressing scepticism about their conclusions since they were based on assumptions rather than real evidence. McKie said that some global studies were underway, but admitted that they did not have any numbers. They also said that the ISPs could measure downloads, but that the information was considered private.

The Commission recognized that the music industry was the first group that had suffered from the free download phenomenon. However, the Commission inquired into the possibility of new media bringing robust returns through advertising. CIRPA said that there were not any strong numbers in the Canadian context, but in the United States, new media was using advertising to generate profits. CIRPA also admitted that it was something that required further study.

The Commission then asked about what sorts of changes they wanted to implement. CIRPA referenced the earlier presentations, reiterating their point that ISPs were part of the broadcasting sphere, but not covered by the Broadcasting Act.  CIRPA added that ISPs should pay for their use and their benefit of Canadian music, though he admitted he did not yet know where and to whom that money should go. He emphasized that the Internet is just another way to broadcast media and that ISPs should not get a free ride.

Continuing this line of thought, the Commission talked about a hypothetical model where the CRTC implements everything CIRPA wants. They asked how they could prevent Canadians from simply visiting foreign websites. CIRPA pointed out that similar fears were raised when the Canadian television industry was initially regulated. They argued that it is not a punishment to listen to Canadian music, and that people want access to Canadian content.

The Commission emphasized that Internet media is different and presents infinite choices for Canadians, and that CIRPA was essentially asking them to constrain these choices. CIRPA became defensive at this accusation and argued that what they wanted was a healthy market for Canadians.
The Commission concluded by asking whether Apple iTunes would have entered the Canadian market if regulations had been in place. CIRPA argued that they would have, though CIRPA is not advocating regulating something like iTunes since it is essentially a store.

Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN)

SOCAN argued that regulating Canadian content is important and that leaving it up to the free market is not good enough. They want a Copyright Act that will allow them to share their works with the public. They said that legislation should provide rights for composers.

Their second argument focused on the Broadcasting Act. In order to fulfill the economic objectives, they argued that regulation was necessary. The Broadcasting Act promotes creating Canadian content and access to it. In order to fulfill these two objectives, they argued that we need regulations and incentives. In addition to incentives, they argued that there needed to be regulations that promote the visibility of Canadian creations in the media. Finally, they argued that the Broadcasting Act establishes that it is up to new media broadcasters to demonstrate that it is impossible for them to use predominantly Canadian broadcasting.

Further, they argued that the exemption measures are not appropriate because they violate the principle of technological freedom. They argued that the CRTC should focus on what is being broadcast rather than technology doing the broadcasting.  In summary, they believed that the CRTC should end the exemption orders and instead use incentives and regulations to meet the objectives of the Broadcasting Act.

SOCAN General Counsel Paul Spurgeon then addressed two questions:

1). Who should the Commission regulate? SOCAN argued that they should regulate Canadian commercial websites or websites made in Canada.

2). What regulatory measures should the Commission apply? He argued that there are two kinds of Internet programming. First, there is “linear non-interactive programming” that a consumer has no control over and can only get at a specific time. The Commission all ready applies traditional regulations to these programmes. The second is “pull programming” where consumers can pull what they want when they want off the Internet. SOCAN argued that on-demand “pull programming” should also be regulated by the CRTC in the same way as traditional media.

Further, he argued that SOCAN did not wish to exclude foreign content in the regulations. Their aim is to improve access to Canadian content, not to constrain Canadians’ choices. Though there is no way to control what Canadians are downloading, he argued that new media broadcasters must provide substantial access to Canadian content so that it does not become buried in the Internet.


CRTC Chair Von Finckenstein opened the questioning and asked Spurgeon how they can control foreign competitors because they provide choices for Canadians in ways that technology has never done before. He wanted to know what there is to be gained from putting restrictions when it is so easy for Canadians to circumvent them. Spurgeon argued that there are studies that show Canadians want Canadian content and access. He further pointed out that these are not too different from the debate held in the late 1960s when the CRTC first instituted regulations. Von Finckenstein was sceptical of this argument and said that he was in a different position than his predecessors because the Internet is different than traditional media.

The Commission asked what turned a site into a “commercial” one and whether a blogger would count. Spurgeon implied that a blogger would not be covered by the SOCAN proposed regulations, but that the Internet was always evolving. The Commission asked whether Spurgeon was trying to control what people could and could not say since it was worried that people who use blogs to communicate freely with the world might be constrained since they are technically “broadcasting” and should be regulated. Spurgeon denied this aim. The Commission asked whether regulations would lead Canadian broadcasters to leave the country and broadcast from elsewhere. Spurgeon believed that most people would want to stay in Canada and would find a way to do so.

Panel – Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada & CaleyWray Labour/Employment Lawyers

Peter Murdoch – Communications, Energy, and Paperworkers Union of Canada

Murdoch claimed that ISPs made 6 billion dollars from Internet services last year. He argued that ISPs benefit from their broadcasting abilities to attract new customers and that these capabilities are putting local television news in danger because online news is an increasing part of news sources. Further, he said there are currently no statistics on just how many people rely on online news as opposed to local news. Murdoch also criticized the idea of “unlimited shelf space” on the news. He pointed out that if the content is poorly made, it will not be popular and that Canadian content deserved more than that.

Jesse Kugler – CaleyWray Labour/Employment Lawyers

Kugler argued that there has been a shift toward new media broadcasting and that it has led to a heavy investment in Internet broadcasting. As such, content that used to be available in traditional forms and regulated by the government is now available online and on-demand and is not subject to regulations. He pointed out that this is part of larger trends stemming from technologies that enable high-speed broadcasts. Like the previous presentations, he argued that Canadian broadcasting regulations should be extended to these new broadcasters.


CRTC Chair Von Finckenstein sought clarification of the panel’s position on local news and asked if they wanted a fund for local news. Murdoch said that if the ISPs are asked to contribute to the broadcasting system, they should also contribute to local news.  Further, von Finckenstein asked why they felt that new media should be regulated. Murdoch replied that regulations had contributed to the broadcast system over the years and that it would perform the same function in the Internet.

The Commission then asked whether regulations handcuff new media. Murdoch replied that it did not and that guidance helps achieve goals that are not possible through the free market. Moreover, he pointed out that Parliament has said that broadcasters have to meet certain goals and that those goals should also apply to broadcasting through the Internet. If there is a fundamental shift towards the Internet and it is not accompanied by regulation, we will have free market principles at work.

The Commission inquired into online content. A representative from CTV said that there were about 60 employees who work exclusively on the online broadcasts. The Commission again inquired into the news angle, asking whether what they wanted was for the web to provide competition for more traditional news sources. There was some discussion on this issue, but Murdoch concluded that a diversity of news was unlikely because broadcasters have so far attempted to converge their news operations.


  1. Great Coverage & A Few Comments
    First, in a nutshell, great coverage by everyone here.

    “SOCAN argued that regulating Canadian content is important and that leaving it up to the free market is not good enough”

    So they’re basically saying that their content can’t hold its own, but it should be forced down our throats anyway (or at least monies funneled into the production, just so no one can watch it)?

    From Communications, Energy, and Paperworkers Union of Canada: “Further, he said there are currently no statistics on just how many people rely on online news as opposed to local news. ”

    Well… I get my local news online. I think that would make their heads spin a little bit.

    “1). Who should the Commission regulate? SOCAN argued that they should regulate Canadian commercial websites or websites made in Canada. ”

    Seriously, who the heck are these clowns? Have they totally lost their minds? I cringe to think about what kind of regulations they’re talking about.

  2. Absolutely stunned
    “CIRPA President Duncan McKie argued that Canadian musicians are finding it harder to produce music as anything more than a hobby because it is no longer easy to be a professional artist.”

    Wow. Myspace,, podcasts, Zunior, Radio 3 (stream, podcast, satellite), etc. etc….

    Indie artists: does that statement up there sound as many different flavours as wrong as I think it does? Clearly things aren’t all milk and honey, but it’s “no longer easy”? Like it was? Things have gotten worse? With more means of distribution available to more artists than ever in history? Am I missing something? Does this guy really represent you?

  3. I’ve seen some of the live coverage today, and I’m quite baffled that some groups don’t have relevant information to back up their claims…for instance Communications, Energy, and Paperworkers Union of Canada and CEL arguments on some of their issues on new media including monitoring content for several years and then regulate it?? Some organizations need a shift in organizing themselves before they get “shift-kicked” by the public, and come up with better claims than “scare tactics”.

  4. Devil's Advocate says:

    The inmates want to run the asylum!
    Regulating Internet Content?!?
    It’s got to be one of the most idiotic things I’ve ever heard! And, to see so many different groups lobbying for it just makes me lose any faith I had left for the human intellect.

    The Internet was not conceived, funded, or built by any of these people. The Internet was formed by a cooperation of computer owners and furthered by server operators, who now get to collect our money from those who don’t own a gateway.

    There is no “broadcasting” (in the old sense of the word) taking place over a limited natural resource (like the air waves). It is the end user that initiates a connection and “serves himself” using a process that rarely requires any scheduling, and everybody at both ends already PAYS for their own resources.

    Most content acquired through the Internet is independently produced. Most attempts to introduce “commercial” content have failed. There’s a reason for that.

    People need to understand that reason.
    Only then will they wake up to what the Internet really is, and hopefully back off, and leave it the fuck alone!

  5. Regulating the Internet?
    Um…I’ve been out of the loop on this one and I can’t say I know entirely what’s going on with this. It seems as though they want to limit internet access and lean it more towards allowing Canadians to access Canadian content more than foreign websites. If that’s what they plan to do then I think they’ve all lost their marbles…

    Also, if that’s what they want to do, then I have to say I am totally against it.

    Canada is a country of immigrants, right? Shouldn’t they be allowed to access content from their home country?

    What about people like me who like foreign media? As a huge Japanese music and films, why can’t I be allowed to access to what I like from that country? I don’t want just Canadian content as that’d get very boring very quickly for me.

    No regulated internet…ever…and whatever you do, do not limit me to exclusively Canadian content or I will be one of those Canadians circumventing the system. This almost borders on censorship I’d say.

  6. grunt
    a subscrition based web means you all just got unpersoned.
    welcome to web 3.0 facebook doesn’t need a reason, and like cable, what theISP’s let thru is gonna be really arbitary.

    web 2.0 got the news sanitized by killing off political opposition. (like

    more to the point, the dayobama arrived, a ottawa sex-toy got included in the oscar grab-bag. On the same page?
    safe to say they’re all in bed together.

  7. Since when is an ISP a broadcaster?
    I seem to mis-understand their use of the them ISP. My ISP connects me to the internet, they don’t broadcast anything. Apart from the day I installed my router I haven’t thought of who my ISP is – as long as I can get my e-mail I’m oblivious to who they are or what they do.

    I think the comment has already been made, but there’s no content broadcasting on the internet, I have to go get the content myself, be it from Tetes a Claque or YouTube or or

    And I don’t see how firewalling Canada is going to work either. Creating the content is one thing, serving it up is another. The content may well be created in Canada but the nature of how the networks are interconnected might make more effective to serve the content from multiple locations (or even from the cloud) so your fastest connection may be in the US, or even Europe or Asia (depending on the time of day).

  8. People don’t make a living delivering ice anymore. Should the government regulate the distribution of freezers so I can get someone to deliver my ice once again? Sure are alot of folks that don’t understand the underlying fundamentals. Sure are a lot of folks that think we need more studues (whatever taht means). The world’s a changed place.

  9. To Content Creators and Consumers
    It is really shameful to see so many organizations coming together to try to control the internet. There are already too many restrictions on devices you purchase (PVR’s being locked down, DVD/CD DRM, game DRM, etc…) because these organizations fear what they do not understand.

    When consumers get fed up with ‘content’ control or quality, they look elsewhere. Colin Mochrie wants to regulate the internet so Canadian artists have a chance in the massive sea of the world’s content.

    Why do Canadian content creators fear competition so much? Do they doubt their own quality? It certainly seems that way. And regulation is certainly a great way to alienate your consumers, which results in them simply turning elsewhere.

    SOCAN and the like, adapt or move over! Give us something we want or step aside! You can’t truly represent creativity if you can’t be creative enough to see the advantages of the global internet. You’ll also set precedents you don’t want, suppose the US does the same, you’ll lose those viewers!! Did you think of that? Doesn’t sound like you did.

    To consumers, do you really want to make a difference?

    Don’t buy any new TV, DVD player, CD, DVD, PVR, etc… switch to basic cable if you have it (go read a book from the library or rent movies from mom-pop shops – go get a VCR ans suffer with lower quality but adequate viewing of ‘content’), do everything you can to remove any possible profits they could make. Let’s make the ROI ZERO!!!

    The stores will complain to the manufacturers who’ll lobby the governments to get the **AA off their backs!

    DVD/Blu-Ray is super clear right? Full of extra features? Amazing sound? But the same CRAP content! The only way you’ll buy the content is if they pretty it up with technology, swearing, violence, and lots of T&A.

    Will those PVR’s work on public broadcast networks? Probably not because they can’t afford the license for the ‘Flag.’ Is that an American flag by the way (I know it is a watermark signal — at least I think it is that)?

    We consumers STILL have control, we just don’t realize the power we have!

    Spread the word, do NOT buy anything that’s locked down, let your dollar speak and it WILL work!

  10. Canuck Business says:

    GOOD to list the enimies of the people of canada
    Well here you have all the whiners in one basket , the big welfare scam , and why people that need food in this country will continue to get nothing while these bad actors and bad musicians that cant innovate and cant figure out the use of technology will whine and beg to gouge us all.

    More and more people are coming to my way a thought FOOK THE INTERNET.
    DON’T BUY form them
    DON’T own a tv ( use rabbit ears)
    and DON’T use a cell phone or other phone service.
    GO get a tb HD and GET it full then say SCREW YOU.
    We will trade offline and enjoy our selves completely without you and our 22 billion yearly revenue versus the entire mpaa = 9 billion profit will go poof and then you will see those profits dry up further and then you cant cry OMG its pirates cause there aren’t none.

    TAKE two months off in the summer and go party get laid and enjoy yourselves.
    time to put the screws to them.
    AND if you read torrent freak you know hackers are smashing ifpi( mpaa/riaa conglomerate) websites to pieces.

    I warned you all there are going to be consequences . I am washing my hands of it.
    We gave you the chance to TALK it out. That has failed.

  11. Handouts
    It sounds to me that all these groups are just interested in getting handouts. They fear the free market because what they produce obviously is of little interest to Canadians. They can’t compete so they come begging to the CRTC for some easy money. Pathetic.

    BTW, they keep mentioning that they’d like a piece of ISP’s profits but the reality is that this is a tax on all consumers. The ISP will simply pass on any expenses they are forced to pay to it’s customers.

    Socialism at it’s worst.

  12. Enemies of Canadians

    We can starve THEM!

    Yes, we CAN!

    Let’s do it!

  13. Democracy vs CENSORSHIP
    I am OUTRAGED by all this! We are going to be FURTHER banned by CRTC regulations and the result will be: All content on our computers.. filtered by our internet providers.. chock full of only Canadian Content with limited access to the “net” outside our country. What good is the “internet”.. if we are being CENSORED. Is this a Communist country? I think our forefathers spent a lot of blood sweat and tears to prevent this kind of censorship and banning (equivalent to what was going on in their countries that they smartly left.. to be free).

    I am all for supporting our Canadian Artists (the artists I support will be the good ones).. but hey!.. Lookout for the banning of what we choose to read and visit on the net. It is tantamount to book burning in my point of view. Our Canadian artists should not be afraid of competing with any artist from any country… (or should they?) And we should NOT be ‘handholding’ these people. What ends up happening here is that only Canadians will see the Canadian artists work (and no way to compare how good they are – just ram it down our throats, telling us they are good, that is the way it is, and that is final). Seems to me like that is a bit backwards. We need more openness, more competition. A big wide world to be famous in. Why CENSOR? I would hope that Canadians want to compete globally..(?).. and we would like to watch, globally. Compare globally. The cream rises to the top naturally. Let’s not be afraid of some global competition.

    I am wondering what measures we can take in this new century (hey- we are nine years into it already people) that may help fellow Canadians to be free to enjoy online viewing like other free countries around the world. Come on CRTC and Canadian Content – Step up to a new century and a new generation. The law has done it’s job and we are now a GLOBAL world. Let us enjoy our freedoms.

    What can we do about this??
    Can we get some people to lobby somewhere??? Or are we all going to get steamrolled into it just happening without someone speaking out about it!!

    I agree with the above comment that the CRTC made the way to comment bureaucratic and unfriendly. That is what happened last time the CanCon laws were visited. That is why we were steamrolled.. because it was too difficult to respond and complain and comment.

    Some comments and some HUGE interest to the point of writing.. lobbying.. calling.. would be appreciated. Let’s get on and voice our opinion. I hope I am not the only one here with this point of view. We need to back up our words by actions and not be complacent.

    Canada is a democracy.

  14. Wow, do those people get paid by members?
    Firstly kudos to Mr Geist for publishing the proceedings. Even better that it is on the very internet that these paid bozos want to regulate. I read incredulously as these representatives of the their interest groups embarass themselves. How is it even remotely possible that 10 years after the emergence of the Internet into public view, that they are still claiming not to have any facts to back up their claims of damage to their industries? I haven’t watched any video yet of this debacle but I can imagine that the messengers look sincere. How sad to be so in the dark in this enlightened world.
    My response to the music and movie industry efforts to control how I use what I pay for is to no longer buy any of their products. I only buy from independent artists, preferably directly from their web site. And I listen to radio, either over cable or internet. And surprisingly those artists who ‘get it’ are financially viable. Those who are locked into typcial 3% contracts are not, possibly as a reesult of industry bungling with outmoded business models.
    My personal preference would be to increase CBC, TVO and NFB funding to provide Canadian artists an outlet for their good works. CBC has excellent recording studios, let them produce ‘records’ for commercial market. And let the record companies stand on their own 2 feet. They certainly have in the past. And there are already Cdn record companies that ‘get it’ in the new business model, those are the ones not part of the CRIA, what a coincidence.

    Can’t wait to see what the ISP’s come up with.