CRTC to re-examine new media

The decade-old free pass for new media will get a second look by Canada's regulator due to the rise of Internet and mobile content.

The CRTC will look at whether Canadian content should be imposed or encouraged on the Internet, announcing Thursday that it will re-examine its new media exemption order. The regulator is seeking public input into what should be examined at a public hearing to be held in early 2009 – such as whether support should be provided for the creation and promotion of Canadian content. Stakeholders have until July 11 to file comments.

In a statement, CRTC chair Konrad von Finckenstein indicated that the public hearing aims to achieve a better understanding of new media and, ‘if necessary, to propose measures that would support the continued achievement of the Broadcasting Act’s objectives.’

The commission notes that one of objectives is ensuring that the system contributes to the creation and presentation of Canadian programming. The regulator exempted new media from regulation in 1999, and broadcast services received on mobile devices, such as cell phones, in 2007. The CRTC notice, however, says it’s time to re-examine these exemption orders because the new media environment has evolved considerably since they were adopted. Canadians are now spending more time accessing broadcasting content over the Internet and on mobile devices, notes a CRTC report released in conjunction with the announcement.

The report also notes that technologies that enable the delivery of high-quality broadcasting content on new media platforms are now in commercial use, and that advertisers are increasingly embracing the online world to market their goods and services. As well, multi-media devices with greater functionality are declining in price and becoming more widely adopted.

The commission has already shown its willingness to support the new media industry. In April, it earmarked for new media $10.5 million of the benefits package associated with the buyout of BCE by a consortium that included the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. The CRTC has also indicated that the Canadian Television Fund will be launching its own new media stream.

From Playback Daily.