Appeared in the Toronto Star on January 25, 2014 as Why Canada’s Telecoms Should Come Clean About Customer Information Last week I joined leading civil liberties groups and academics in a public letter sent to Canada’s leading telecom companies asking them to shed new light into their data retention and […]
Archive for January 28th, 2014
The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications has spent the past year-and-a-half trying to reinvent itself a pro-consumer regulator. On the broadcast front, the most obvious manifestation of that approach is the gradual move toward pick-and-pay channels, which seems likely to emerge as a policy option later this year. Establishing mandated pick-and-pay would be a political and consumer winner, but there are still reasons for Canadians to vent against the regulator. The retention of simultaneous substitution policies is one of them.
I made the case for gradually eliminating the simultaneous substitution policy late last year, arguing that the policy hurts Canadian broadcasters (by ceding control over their schedules to U.S. networks) and Canadian content (which suffers from promotion). Moreover, simultaneous substitution will become less important over time as consumers shift toward on-demand availability of programs. There are still supporters of simultaneous substitution, but few come from the consumer community. Indeed, even the CRTC is hard-pressed to identify consumer benefits in its FAQ on the policy. In fact, its Super Bowl commercial FAQ claims viewers benefit from signal substitution during the broadcast, but the Commission can’t seem to identify any benefits.