Last week was a busy one in the wireless world in Canada. Just as people were debating the proposed Rogers – Shaw merger, the CRTC released its long awaited wireless decision involving the possibility of mandated MVNOs or mobile virtual network operators. While the CRTC notably concluded that Canadian wireless pricing is high relative to other countries and attributed that to insufficient competition, it ultimately was unwilling to fully embrace a broad-based mandated MVNO model. To help break down these recent developments, joining the Law Bytes podcast this week are Dwayne Winseck, a professor at the School of Journalism and Communication at Carleton University and the director of the Canadian Media Concentration Research Project, and Ben Klass, a senior research associate at the Canadian Media Concentration Research Project and board member at the Internet Society Canada Chapter. They both join the podcast in a personal capacity representing only their own views.
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The LawBytes Podcast, Episode 26: There Is No Crisis – Dwayne Winseck on the State of Canadian Communications, Media and Cultural Policy
The future of Canadian communications law has emerged as political hot potato in recent weeks with political parties engaged in finger pointing over who is acting – or failing to act – on issues closely aligned to cultural policy. Just prior to the election call, Dwayne Winseck, a professor at Carleton who has been one of Canada’s most prominent experts on communications and cultural policy, joined the podcast to provide his take on the initial report from the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Legislative Review Panel, the tech-lash against companies such as Google and Facebook, and what the numbers tell us about the state of media and advertising in Canada.
The Globe and Mail’s James Bradshaw reports that Bell Media President Kevin Crull banned CTV media properties from including CRTC Chair Jean Pierre Blais in coverage of the recent TalkTV decisions. The report indicates that Crull ordered the head of CTV News to stop including Blais in coverage following an interview on BNN, which led to the cancellation of an interview with Don Martin and dropping him from local news stories (he was included in the national newscast as Robert Fife defied the order). Bell Media has still not publicly commented on the pick-and-pay decision. Crull is the same Bell executive who earlier this month called for the blocking of U.S. channels and for new measures to make it more difficult for Canadians to access U.S. Netflix.
I would say the story is shocking, but this is not the first time of reports that Crull has meddled in news coverage related to his company. In August 2013, Dwayne Winseck reported that Crull intervened on coverage of the wireless sector when Verizon was considering entry into the Canadian market. Winseck posted emails from Crull to news executives throughout CBC urging certain coverage of a wireless report throughout Bell Media’s television and radio stations. I wrote about Winseck’s story here.
Carleton professor Dwayne Winseck has posted a bombshell report that uncovers editorial interference at Bell with Bell Media President Kevin Crull issuing directives to CTV and company-owned local television and radio channels to provide favourable coverage of the wireless issue just as the incumbent campaign against Verizon was ramping up in early July. Winseck posts details on internal company emails that indicate Crull sent the message to provide coverage on the CRTC-sponsored Wall Report:
Kevin Crull our President wants us to give this report some coverageâ€¦.â€ and â€œKevin is asking if this report can get some coverage today on Talk Radio. National news is covering for TVâ€.
As I posted on the same day as the emails, the Wall Report actually found that Canada falls on the high side of wireless pricing among the countries surveyed. Yet Crull was looking for different talking points from Bell’s media properties. As Winseck notes:
The emails begin by setting out a couple of definitional issues and then distill the two key talking points to be covered: (1) that cellphone rates in Canada have fallen in recent years and (2) that they are generally cheaper than in the US.
Dwayne Winseck examines many of the copyright maximalist claims and doesn’t pull any punches: The biggest problem with all of this is not the underlying faulty economics and total absence of meaningful evidence, but rather the complete bankruptcy of the lawyers and lobbyists peddling the case. They appear to have […]