Mark Goldberg


Responding to the new environment

Delayed for a day by storm clean-up, the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Panel launched its consultations earlier today, releasing “Responding to the New Environment: A Call for Comments“.

In its call for comments, the Panel identified four broad themes intended to help guide its work. Each of these themes is accompanied by a number of paragraphs that provide some context for the discussion papers and submissions, as I have attempted to summarize below.

  1. Reducing barriers to access by all Canadians to advanced telecommunications networks;

    Much is packed into this heading, including access to, and adoption of, advanced telecommunications “to connect, communicate, innovate, consume, study, work, and participate in Canadian society and in an increasingly global digital economy.” The consultation mentions both network facilities and digital literacy under this heading.

    In addition, the consultation speaks of facilities based carriers, and incentives and opportunities for investment, while mentioning the contribution of “a number of new entrants… to the rollout of new services and facilities, enhancing both the availability and affordability of services.”

    The section looks at access to spectrum, access to poles and support structures and security. “While openness and ‘net neutrality’—a concept related to the long-standing principle of ‘common carriage’—will continue as key elements of Canada’s legislative and regulatory frameworks, there may be other principles that should be applied in order to balance the need for an open internet with security in the digital context.”

  2. Supporting creation, production and discoverability of Canadian content;

    The panel has apparently already concluded “For Canadian content programming to succeed both domestically and in the international marketplace, there must be clear policies that support quality creation, production and discoverability.”

    Importantly, the call for comments asks “how the legislative and regulatory framework may be modified to ensure that all players, including online players that garner revenue in Canada [empasis added], play a role in the creation, production, and distribution of Canadian content.”

    Further, the role of CBC/Radio-Canada has been added as part of the Panel’s review to consider how its contribution as a local and Canadian source of news and information should be adapted to a global, digital environment.

  3. Improving the rights of the digital consumer;

    Under this heading, the Panel anticipates consideration of affordable access to services, assessing terms of service, “exercising meaningful control” over consumers’ personal information and examining the exploitation of personal information in exchange for services.

    I am still trying to unpack the meaning of a line in this section: “It is challenging to balance the neutrality and openness of the Internet with the protection of privacy and personal security for digital consumers.”

    Another paragraph in this section is certain to attract a lot of commentary, dealing with “the proliferation of false or misleading information presents new challenges. In this context, independent, trusted, accurate, diverse, as well as local and Canadian sources of news and information are essential for an informed citizenry, civic participation, and democratic process.”

  4. Renewing the institutional framework for the communications sector.

    A review of the institutional framework should include the allocation of regulatory responsibilities between the government and the regulator – among other items, this will likely include examining the unimplemented recommendation from the 2006 Telecom Policy Review Panel to move spectrum management to the CRTC.

    The panel will also consider whether new or different legal powers or regulatory tools are needed “to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the system and the governance of the communications sector in the digital environment.”

I encourage you to refer to the Call for Comments for the full description of each of these themes.

The Panel is chaired by Janet Yale, and it includes Peter Grant, Hank Intven, Marina Pavlović, Monique Simard, Monica Song and Pierre Trudel.

The first round of submissions are due November 30, 2018.

Comments are closed.