My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) takes a look back at last week's CRTC broadcast policy decision and report on the consumer impact. The piece covers much the same terrain as two blog posts on the same issue. I note that after months of intense lobbying and marketing that pitted broadcasters ("Local TV Matters") against cable and satellite companies ("Stop the TV Tax"), the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission weighed in last week with its much-anticipated broadcasting regulatory policy decision.
Post Tagged with: "value for signal"
The CRTC released its follow-up report to cabinet yesterday on the consumer impact of new fees associated with fee-for-carriage/value-for-signal (as a side note, the Commission's approach on releases – the financial reports on broadcasters and BDUs last week, the broadcast policy on Monday, and the consumer impact the following day – feels far too manipulative and staged. There was no good reason not to release the broadcast policy and its consumer impact simultaneously).
The Commission conclusion amounts to an acknowledgement that prices will go up, but it believes that Canadians will continue to pay based on past experience of steady price increases imposed by cable and satellite companies. It states:
The CRTC's release of its much-anticipated broadcasting regulatory policy decision set off a flurry of comments yesterday with broadcasters welcoming the prospect of negotiating fees for their local signals, broadcast distributors warning of increased costs, and the CBC arguing that the decision was a "dark day" for public broadcasters after it was excluded from the negotiating process. While there is understandably considerable discussion in the decision on programming requirements, the media focus centered on the fee-for-carriage issue. On that front, the CRTC has opened the door to negotiations, subject to a court ruling confirming the Commission's jurisdiction to implement such an approach.
It seems appropriate that on the day the CRTC released its decision, a new study was published that found Canadians now spend more time online than watching television. While the world is increasingly moving online, the CRTC decision acts as if the Internet scarcely exists. The broadcasting policy decision mentions the Internet once (acknowledging that it is a platform for content distribution) and does not including any reference to streaming, Youtube, podcast, BitTorrent, or peer-to-peer (used by the CBC to distribute its content). The word "consumer" is mentioned five times, though the consumer perspective will be addressed in a second report due later today to Cabinet.