The CRTC listened intently to the CFRO presentation. by Robin Puga (CC0 1.0)

The CRTC listened intently to the CFRO presentation. by Robin Puga (CC0 1.0)


The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 179: Peter Menzies on Why the CRTC Feels Broken Right Now

Last week, the CRTC issued the first two of what are likely to be at least a dozen decisions involving the Online Streaming Act. Those decisions are already sparking controversy, but as the Commission focuses on Bill C-11 and perhaps soon Bill C-18, there is mounting concern that its other responsibilities are falling by the wayside that its independence from the government is starting to show cracks. Peter Menzies is a former Vice-Chair of the CRTC and frequently commentator on broadcast, telecom and Internet regulatory issues. He joins the Law Bytes podcast to talk about the current state of the Commission, which has never seemed more important but also seemed more out of touch and incapable of meeting its duties.

The podcast can be downloaded here, accessed on YouTube, and is embedded below. Subscribe to the podcast via Apple Podcast, Google Play, Spotify or the RSS feed. Updates on the podcast on Twitter at @Lawbytespod.


Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications, June 22, 2022


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  2. Fortinbras says:

    It appears to me that Peter Menzies, like Michael Geist, has never been more out of touch with the objectives and administration of broadcasting policy. To my mind, the Commission is doing a credible job and, though I don’t agree with all of its decisions, the universe is unfolding as it should…

    Peter Menzies says that the CRTC appears to be unprepared for the work load imposed on it by the Online Streaming Act, but presents no credible evidence to support this view. I would say the Commission is methodically fulfilling its duties. Of course, in fairness to all players, it is obliged to put many current responsibilities aside, as it has frequently done in the past. What would be the sense of conducting licence renewal hearings, which are burdensome for everyone involved, in the current environment where the parameters of regulation are about to change? Such licence renewal hearings would only result, after a lengthy process, in the equivalent of administrative renewals, at great cost to everybody involved ! As it is, all of the players have been given the certainty they seek for the length of the administrative renewals. What uncertainty remains is the result of the adoption of the Online Streaming Act itself, and this occurs when any new piece of legislation is introduced. Change is disruptive… I feel very sorry for the radio broadcasting consultant mentioned by Menzies, who is supposedly out of work for two years, but frankly… The CRTC cannot be taxed with the weaknesses, if there are any, in Bill C-18 which lies outside of its normal responsibilities.

    There are other misinterpretations in what Menzies says. I don’t think the wishy-washy “Harnessing Change” report by the CRTC in 2017 had any influence whatsoever on the Online Streaming Act. Its genesis was clearly in the 2019 Yale Task Force Report to the government though, of course, various parties had called for legislative reform since 1999… Similarly, the question-and-answer document published by the CRTC earlier this year was simply an attempt to state clearly what Bill C-11 contained, in the face of the misinformation and confusion occasioned by commentators such as Michael Geist and Peter Menzies…

    Peter Menzies was a Harper appointee to the CRTC and, at one point, Vice-Chair, Telecommunications. He has no particular knowledge of broadcasting issues, but, like Michael Geist, is adept a recycling libertarian talking points. When it comes to solutions to the supposed problems that the Commission faces, what do they propose? “Make the playing field as small as possible.” (My quotes are approximations.) In other words, eviscerate the Online Streaming Act by reducing its impact as much as possible. “Let the you-tubers know that they will not be targeted and that the web giants are the only ones concerned.” But this is what the Commission has been saying over and over again…

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