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Internet giant Google, which owns video sharing giant YouTube, this week petitioned the Canadian Radio, Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to maintain its 1999 decision to exempt broadcasting via mobile phone networks and the Internet from federal regulation.

As reports: “[In 1999], the CRTC said these new media were not used widely enough to merit CRTC rules. But with widespread use of high-speed Internet access by Canadians, the CRTC is prepared once again to consider whether new media should be regulated and has scheduled a hearing on the topic in February. … A report commissioned by the CRTC earlier in 2008 concluded new media broadcasting was a significant force and should be subject to the same regulations as other Canadian broadcasters.”

The purpose of the February hearing will not be to discuss specific regulation proposals but simply to update the CRTC’s reference file on new media and look at whether regulations should be considered:

“The regulator hopes to look at how to define new media, what impact it is having on traditional media, how widespread access is across Canada and whether incentives or regulatory measures should be used for the creation and promotion of Canadian content.”

What is Google’s stake in the eventual CRTC decision on regulation of new media? A Decima survey in 2007 revealed that 37 per cent of Canadians regularly accessed YouTube to view online videos. The figures are likely even higher now, in line with increases noted in more-recent U.S. surveys.

Other new media outlets have warned that, if one country regulates Internet broadcasting, others will follow. On the other hand, groups that represent actors, writers, musicians and composers say government should regulate Internet broadcasting — and require that Internet broadcasters pay royalties to performers and other content creators as conventional broadcasters do.

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