Bell’s behind-the-scenes effort to drum up support for its site blocking proposal at the CRTC has been the subject of several posts over the past few months. Based primarily access-to-information requests, I’ve identified Bell pressure on universities and colleges such as Ryerson University, George Brown College, and Brock University, who all submitted support letters to the CRTC, though those letters were not always quite what they seemed (Brock University quickly distanced itself from the submission, the Dean behind the Ryerson letter advised Bell that he could not speak for the faculty). Earlier posts also highlighted Bell’s astroturfing campaign with its own employees and its undisclosed meetings with CRTC officials months before the proposal was made public.
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“This Really Isn’t Our Fight and It Will Cost Us”: Behind the Scenes of CBC Support for Bell’s Website Blocking Plan
Behind Ryerson’s Support for Site Blocking: Bell Reviewed Draft Submission, Was Warned It Did Not Represent Faculty View
Having examined how Brock University and George Brown College (part one and part two) came to support the Bell coalition website blocking plan, this post relies on Ryerson documents obtained under access to information laws to reveal how Charles Falzon, Ryerson’s Dean of Communications and Design, came to write in support of the site blocking plan. Much like the other two institutions, Falzon was approached by Mark Milliere, a Bell executive, asking for Ryerson’s support for the initiative.
“One of Our Key Hiring Companies”: The Missing Link in the George Brown College Support for Bell’s Site Blocking Plan
Earlier this year, I posted the results of an access to information request to George Brown College (GBC) that sought to explain how the college came to publicly support the FairPlay website blocking proposal at the CRTC. Much like similar documents from Brock University, the George Brown College documents showed a request from Mark Milliere, an executive at Bell-owned TSN, about a week before the deadline sparked the submission. The resulting letter, which came from GBC President Anne Sado, was cited by the Bell-led coalition in its reply letter to the CRTC.
CRTC Truthiness: New Docs Reveal New Story About Bell Meetings with the Commission on Website Blocking
Earlier this year, access to information documents obtained by the Forum for Research and Policy in Communications revealed that Bell had presented its plan for website blocking to CRTC officials months before it was formally filed to allow for public review and comment. As far back as July 2017, Bell pressed a CRTC commissioner for a meeting, which led to a Commission presentation in September 2017. The CRTC downplayed the meeting, telling reporters in response to queries that there was a meeting with Commission legal staff on September 21, 2017.
Government Memo Suggests Netflix Outspends Canadian Private Broadcasters on Canadian English Scripted Programming
Canadian Heritage Minister Melanie Joly view of cultural policy shifted gears in recent months with her emphasis on the need for all players to contribute and rhetoric on “no free rides”, a position that could lead to taxes on Internet services. While Netflix has been a popular target for many Canadian cultural organizations, according to documents released under the Access to Information Act, Canadian Heritage officials appear to have evidence that Netflix spends more on Canadian English-language scripted programming than the Canadian private broadcasters. The revelations come in a June 2017 internal memo to Graham Flack, the Canadian Heritage Deputy Minister, which respond to correspondence from BCE’s Mirko Bibic. Bibic met with Flack in April 2017 and was concerned with department comments about Netflix outspending Bell.