The Canadian agency that regulates conventional (radio and television) broadcasting and the cable communications industry there opens hearings tomorrow to revisit its current policy of regulation of ‘new media’ broadcasting. That’s loosely defined as any activity identified as ‘broadcasting’ on the Internet and digital media (cell phone) networks.

The Canadian Radio Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) will consider representations from content producers, Internet and cell industry service providers and others with a stake in new media broadcasting.

The CRTC’s current stand on new media activity has been characterized by political and broadcast industry observers as ‘hands off’. There are currently no regulations on the books in Canada specifically governing new media broadcasting.

But opinions on whether that should change are deeply divided. Those involved in new media broadcasting and Net neutrality supporters are adamant that the government maintain its hands-off stance. Others are clamouring for measures that would prohibit service providers from engaging in practices such as throttling — which can hamper broadcasting activities — while others want the CRTC to place the same content and operational regulations on Internet and cell networks as it now imposes on conventional broadcasters.

The new media heargings are seen as a prelude to the CRTC’s Net Neutrality hearings which will discuss the broader implications of controlling the Internet this coming July. Public consultations on Net Neutrality close later this month as poreparations for the July hearings move forward.

4 Responses to CRTC to discuss ‘new media’ regulation

  1. Evolving Squid
    Feb 17, 2009

    Personally, I think the CRTC should instead place upon conventional broadcasters the same restrictions it currently places on the Internet and cell networks.

    If Canada has a culture, it will develop without being forced into existence by government regulation.

  2. Bill McMinn
    Feb 17, 2009

    Why would net neutrality advocates still support the current hands off approach to regulating the Internet when that’s what allowed the bandwidth capping and throttling that we see now from ISP’s?

  3. Maggie James
    Feb 18, 2009

    Capping and throttling are issues for the Net Neutrality hearing this coming summer. The main issue here seems to be the possibility of restrictions on the content we will be able to view in Canada via new media broadcasting systems. But net neutrality supporters are concerned that any regulations on high-bandwidth transmissions such as video content will be the thin end of a very big wedge.

  4. Eric Jacksch
    Feb 18, 2009

    Government regulation of communications and broadcasting has never worked particularly well in Canada. The solution is not to regulate ISPs — it is to keep the Government’s fingers out of the Internet and for consumers and businesses to address capping and throttling with their suppliers, the ISPs.

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