My weekly Law Bytes column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) focuses on the growing push from the Canadian broadcasting community to revisit the CRTC's 1999 New Media decision, in which Canada's broadcasting regulator took a hands-off approach to the Internet. The support for greater regulation is often couched in Canadian content terms, but I argue that the current changes have the potential to dramatically alter Canadian content production from one mandated by government regulation to one mandated by market survival.
The issue began to percolate last June, when Canadian Heritage Minister Bev Oda asked the CRTC to conduct a six-month consultation on the effects of changing technology on the radio and television industries. The CRTC report, which was quietly released in mid-December, went almost unnoticed, yet submissions from broadcasters, copyright collectives, and labour unions all point to an increased regulatory role for the CRTC.
The underlying theme of many stakeholder submissions is that unregulated new media represents a threat to the current regulated Canadian content model.