#CRTC and #Telecom News – CRTC denies Fairplay Canada website-blocking proposal

The CRTC has denied the FairPlay Canada coalition’s website-blocking proposal to address copyright piracy. The commission says it does not have the jurisdiction under the Telecommunications Act. FairPlay Canada, comprised of more than 25 organizations spanning film, TV, radio, sports entertainment and music, includes Bell Media, Rogers, Corus, CBC, Cogeco, Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA), as well as unions and other artists groups. It had requested the CRTC create a regime that would identify websites and online services engaged in blatant copyright piracy and order internet service providers to block access to those sites. The commission said it is of the view “other avenues are more suitable to address the issue”, citing the ongoing parliamentary review of the Copyright Act, as well as the expert panel review of the Telecommunications Act and the Broadcasting Act. More than 70,000 comments were collected from Canadians against the proposal by OpenMedia, a Vancouver-based group concerned that what they saw as an over-reaching application would lead to censorship of legitimate content and erode the principles of net neutrality.

The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) or “new NAFTA” includes a clause overturning the CRTC decision to allow U.S. advertising in Canada during the Super Bowl. Canada has agreed to scrap the policy, which went into effect in 2017, banning Canadian networks from the practice of “simultaneous substitution” or replacing U.S. ads with Canadian ones. Both BCE Inc., which holds Super Bowl broadcast rights in Canada, and the NFL had launched a legal challenge of the commission’s order. While so far it’s been upheld, an appeal is set to be heard before the Supreme Court of Canada in December. NAFTA 2.0 also brings Canadian copyright protections in line with those of the U.S. and the European Union, extending copyright terms from the end of the artist’s life plus 50 years to 70 years beyond the year the creator of the work dies. The extension will mean significant costs to those who use such works. While language around Canada’s cultural exemption is preserved, protecting television, music and books, the language around digital content does not allow favouring domestic digital media over that of the U.S. or Mexico. Read more here.

The CRTC has revealed the criteria that will be used to evaluate applications for funding from its $750-million Broadband Fund. The fund, to be dispersed over five years, aims to close the gap in connectivity between rural and urban areas. The commission says it will begin the competitive process to evaluate and select projects that build or upgrade infrastructure in underserved areas in 2019.

CBC Toronto won’t be hosting a mayoral debate after John Tory refused the public broadcaster’s invitation. The debate was to take place Oct. 16 at the CBC Broadcast Centre and hosted by Metro Morning’s Matt Galloway. The debate would have pitted Tory against Jennifer Keesmaat in front of a live studio audience, so voters could also ask questions directly. In an editor’s note entitled “Why CBC Toronto won’t be hosting a mayoral debate,” Marissa Nelson, CBC’s Senior Managing Director for Ontario, writes “Tory has declined the invitation saying he will only participate in debates that include more candidates, with suggestions of who, using different criteria than those we’ve used for years. Media and politicians have different priorities — that’s fair. But to change our criteria now, at the mayor’s behest, would be arbitrary and would give the appearance of bending to one candidate’s wishes. We will not undermine our editorial independence. That independence is a cornerstone of the CBC’s mandate.”

Bell Media is refusing to run election ads from Toronto mayoral candidate Faith Goldy, in contravention of CRTC rules. Goldy, a controversial conservative commentator best known for her time with Rebel Media, has been criticized for being too sympathetic to the white nationalist movement. As Goldy points out in a recorded conversation with a Bell Media rep posted to her YouTube channel, the CRTC requires broadcasters to treat candidates equitably. CRTC rules state “If a broadcaster sells advertising time to one candidate or party, other candidates and parties must also be given the opportunity to buy commercial airtime from that same broadcaster.” It’s unclear at this point if the matter will trigger a CRTC tribunal.

Heather Butts

Nash John Gracie, the man accused of uttering a vulgar statement at a CTV Atlantic reporter during a live broadcast in Halifax last year, will perform community service as part of restorative justice. Reporter Heather Butts was on location at a downtown pub on Dec. 29 filing a report on the World Junior Hockey Championship when Gracie walked into the shot, allegedly made a crude gesture and uttered the offensive statement. The 25-year-old was charged with one count each of public mischief and causing a disturbance. In addition to community service, the restorative justice agreement also required Gracie to issue an apology to Butts. In her own statement, Butts said she’s satisfied Gracie has taken responsibility for his actions.

Fanshawe College Radio Broadcasting and Broadcast Journalism alumni are invited to a celebration of the 40th anniversary of campus station 106.9 CIXX-FM London. When “6X-FM” signed on in 1978, it was Canada’s first station with a ‘Campus Instructional’ licence. The event, featuring an open house, tours, a luncheon and guest speakers will take place Oct. 27 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Women in Communications and Technology (WCT) Manitoba will hold a relaunch panel event on Oct. 26 at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Guest panelists including producer Lisa Meeches; Think Shift founder David Baker; Kathy Knight, CEO, Information & Communication Technologies Association of Manitoba; Beth Bell, VP Enterprise & Commercial, IBM Global Markets Canada; and Beverlie Stuart, associate VP Business Development & Strategic Initiatives, Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology (MITT), will explore challenges women face in the workplace and share meaningful dialogue on breaking barriers. The panel will be moderated by Cheryl McKenzie, national news producer, APTN. Ticket info here.

Bryan Hall

Bryan Hall is celebrating 65 years in radio and will speak at the Fall Luncheon of the Edmonton Broadcasters Club on Wednesday, Oct. 17. CHED-AM morning man Bruce Bowie will moderate. In addition to his years at CKUA, CJCA and now CHED Edmonton, “Hallsy” also spent time in Toronto in the 1960s as sports director at CHUM and voice of the Toronto Maple Leafs. More info at edmontonbroadcasters.com.


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