Several Broadcasting Act blunder posts have focused on the extensive regulatory requirements for Internet services in Bill C-10, including registration requirements, regulations, and conditions of operation all subject to penalties for failure to comply. While the CRTC will be tasked with establishing the specifics, the bill is notable in that it grants the Commission the power to target individual services or companies with unique or individualized requirements. In other words, rather than establishing a “level playing field” (itself a fiction), Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault is opening the door to multiple fields with individual companies potentially each facing their own specific requirements and conditions to operate in Canada.
The source of this targeted approach is Section 9.1 (2), which provides:
(2) An order made under this section may be made applicable to all persons carrying on broadcasting undertakings, to all persons carrying on broadcasting undertakings of any class established by the Commission in the order or to a particular person carrying on a broadcasting undertaking.
In fact, as will be discussed in an upcoming post, the same approach can be taken with respect to mandated payments.
The regulatory ability to single out individual services for specific conditions (as opposed to common rules for all) creates significant regulatory uncertainty, invites the possibility of a trade challenge, could spark allegations of unfair treatment, and will raise further doubts for potential entrants into the Canadian market. The government claims that consumer choice will not be affected by Bill C-10, but the likely repercussions of its legislative proposal strongly suggest otherwise.
(prior posts in the Broadcasting Act Blunder series include Day 1: Why there is no Canadian Content Crisis, Day 2: What the Government Doesn’t Say About Creating a “Level Playing Field”, Day 3: Minister Guilbeault Says Bill C-10 Contains Economic Thresholds That Limit Internet Regulation. It Doesn’t, Day 4: Why Many News Sites are Captured by Bill C-10), Day 5: Narrow Exclusion of User Generated Content Services, Day 6: The Beginning of the End of Canadian Broadcast Ownership and Control Requirements, Day 7: Beware Bill C-10’s Unintended Consequences, Day 8: The Unnecessary Discoverability Requirements, Day 9: Why Use Cross-Subsidies When the Government is Rolling out Tech Tax Policies?, Day 10: Downgrading the Role of Canadians in their Own Programming, Day 11: The “Regulate Everything” Approach – Licence or Registration Required, Broadcast Reform Bill Could Spell the End of Canadian Ownership Requirements, Day 12: The “Regulate Everything” Approach – The CRTC Conditions)