CRTC and Telecom News – ISED proposes new directive for CRTC

Navdeep Bains

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Min. Navdeep Bains is proposing a new direction for the CRTC that puts the Canadian consumer first. Bains’ proposed policy directive would require the CRTC to consider competition, affordability, consumer interests and innovation in its telecommunications decisions and demonstrate to Canadians that it has done so. A press release says the proposed order aims to improve the affordability of internet and cellphone services for Canadians. It comes less than a week after the release of the commission’s heavily-criticized report on misleading and aggressive sales practices in the telecommunications industry. Read the full story here.

Michael Geist, University of Ottawa Law Professor & the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law, was our guest on Broadcast Dialogue – The Podcast last week to talk all things regulatory. Listen here:

The CRTC has finally released the Broadcast Sector Overview part of the 2018 Communications Monitoring Report, based on data from 2016-17. In 2017, broadcasting services [including radio (private and CBC), conventional television (private and CBC), discretionary and on-demand television services (pay per view (PPV), video-on-demand, and broadcasting distribution undertakings (BDUs), such as cable, satellite and IPTV distributors], generated total revenues of $17.3 billion, a 3.3 per cent decrease compared to 2016. BDUs generated the largest portion of revenue, reporting $8.5 billion in 2017, almost half of total broadcasting revenues, followed by television services ($6.9 billion, 40 per cent) and radio stations ($1.8 billion, 11 per cent). In comparison, revenues in Canada of internet-based audio and video services totalled $2.7 billion, less than a sixth of those from traditional broadcasting services. Download the full report here.

The CRTC is inviting Canadians to share their views on its Facebook page until Mar. 4 on the possible creation of a mandatory code of conduct for internet service providers (ISPs). The commission says it wants to hear from all Canadians, but especially internet subscribers who may have experienced issues related to contract clarity, bill shock, and cancelling or changing service providers. Facebook posts that comply with the CRTC’s Rules of Engagement and that are posted in the #InternetCode: Have your say! album will be added to the public record for the ongoing proceeding. The public comment period comes amidst contention that intervenors weren’t given enough time to adequately respond during the initial consultation period from Nov. 9 – Dec. 19, 2018. A who’s who of Canadian telecom researchers and consumer advocacy organizations, including the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC), OpenMedia, and the Consumers Council of Canada, among others, boycotted the proceeding.

Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, are among the executives who’ve been invited to appear before an international committee on disinformation and fake news in Ottawa this May. Struck as part of a British probe that began in 2017, the committee of elected politicians from nine countries, including Canada and the UK, says it will not permit alternates. Zuckerberg declined to attend the committee’s last meeting in November, sending a VP in his stead.

Cogeco Communications has reached an agreement to sell its data centre Cogeco Peer 1 Inc. to global investment firm Digital Colony. The transaction, expected to close in Q3 2019, is valued at $720 million. Cogeco says it plans to use a significant portion of the net proceeds from the sale to repurchase subordinate voting shares under a normal course issuer bid to be implemented after closing of the transaction. Under the transaction, Cogeco will retain significant fibre capacity in Toronto and Montréal and has signed a business development agreement with Digital Colony. Cogeco president and CEO Philippe Jetté said the sale will allow the company to focus its resources on Canadian and American broadband business and allow for greater flexibility “to pursue organic investment and acquisition opportunities.” Cogeco Peer 1 will remain headquartered in Toronto and adopt a new brand.

Huawei celebrated 10 years of Canadian operations during its fifth Canadian Partner Convention on Feb. 21. Attended by over 300 people from 100+ partners, including carriers, channel partners, suppliers, universities, governments, and others, the evening’s theme was “Grow with Canada in a New Decade.” Amidst ongoing speculation the Canadian government will join Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S. in banning or limiting the use of Huawei technology, Eric Li, President of Huawei Technologies Canada,  told the audience the company looks forward “to continuing, and expanding, our commitment to the Canadian market over the next decade.” Christian Chau, president of R&D, said the company plans to add 200 new, high-paying R&D jobs and expand R&D investments in Canada in 2019 by 15 per cent. Chau also indicated Huawei plans to change its R&D investment practices to ensure all intellectual property (IP) generated in collaboration with Canadian institutions remains in the country.

TekSavvy and its affiliate cable company Hastings Cable Vision have expanded its IPTV service, TekSavvy TV, to the Ottawa region. Launched in Chatham earlier this month, TekSavvy TV offers access to over 100 HD channels of sports, movies, series and kids programming including video-on-demand content from selected channels. TekSavvy TV is currently available as an app for Apple TV, Android TV, and Amazon Fire Stick. Customers can start with TekSavvy TV Basic at $20/month and then add additional theme packages ranging in price from $6 to $20/month.

The Canadian Journalism Foundation’s (CJF) J-Talk Fending off Threats Ahead of the Federal Election will take place in Montreal on Feb. 28 at Radio-Canada’s head office. Grégoire Lemarchand, Paris-based deputy editor-in-chief and head of social networks at Agence France-Presse who specializes in fact-checking, and Stéphane Perrault, chief electoral officer of Elections Canada, will share their insights in a conversation with moderator Anne-Marie Dussault, host of Radio-Canada’s 24/60. The discussion, which starts at 7 p.m., will be in French.

The Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom is hosting upcoming event “HARD TRUTHS + FAKE NEWS – A timely bootcamp for users of democracy and defenders of press freedom.” The Mar. 30 event at the Carleton School of Journalism and Communication will feature BuzzFeed editor Craig Silverman, CBC’s Rosemary Barton, Susan Delacourt of the Toronto Star; Mike De Souza, National Observer; Murad Hemmadi, The Logic; Michelle Richardson, Ottawa Citizen; and Lindsay Sample, The Discourse, discussing strategies to fight misinformation leading up to the 2019 federal election. Find more info here.

The Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom is accepting nominations for its annual Press Freedom Award, which goes to a journalist or media worker in Canadian print, digital or broadcasting who has made a significant contribution to freedom of expression, either by standing up to government or private interests that would thwart the reporting of events or stories of significant public interest, or by advancing press freedom through the subjects he or she reports on. Institutions that work towards the same objectives may also apply or be nominated. The application deadline is Mar. 25. The winner receives a $2,000 prize and a certificate from the Canadian Commission for UNESCO at the annual World Press Freedom Day Luncheon in Ottawa on May 2. Last year’s winner was The Independent, an online publication in Newfoundland and Labrador, whose reporter Justin Brake was criminally charged with mischief and violating an injunction after he followed Indigenous protestors into a construction site of the controversial Muskrat Falls hydro-electric project.

Accessible Media Inc. (AMI) is accepting applications for its annual AMI Robert Pearson Memorial Scholarship. This year marks the eighth anniversary of the scholarship program providing financial assistance to students with a disability. Applications will be accepted until Friday, May 10, at 5 p.m. ET. Find information and eligibility requirements here. Two $5,000 bursaries will be awarded to two deserving students with a permanent disability; one from the English community and one from the French. Laura Lefevre of Edmonton and Elisanne Pellerin from Montreal were the 2018 recipients.


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