Regulatory, Telecom & Media News – Guilbeault wants broadcast reform bill tabled by June

Reynolds Mastin and Canadian Heritage Min. Steven Guilbeault

Canadian Heritage Min. Steven Guilbeault says he’s aiming to have a broadcast reform bill tabled in the House of Commons by June. Speaking at the Prime Time in Ottawa conference in a fireside chat format with Reynolds Mastin, CEO of the Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA), Guilbeault did not get into the specifics of which recommendations from the Broadcast and Telecommunications Legislative Review, the government might act on. But he praised the panel for what he described as “a colossal job.” “If it was only up to me, I’d say we’d have a bill tabled in the House of Commons in the next few weeks, but it’s not just up to me. We are in a minority government, we don’t control the parliamentary agenda as much as we would if were in a majority context, but as fast as I can, we will be tabling a bill,” said Guilbeault, who added that realistically he anticipates that happening sometime during the current parliamentary session. In the meantime, he told Mastin that the government will be looking at measures that can be undertaken without legislative changes. Read more here.

The Canadian Media Guild (CMG), the union representing CBC/Radio-Canada employees, is urging caution when considering the recommendations issued by the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Legislative Review Panel. While the report recognizes that CBC/Radio-Canada is underfunded compared to its counterparts in other countries, Kim Trynacity, CMG President at CBC/Radio-Canada, says any changes that are implemented must boost the public broadcaster’s ability to deliver on its mandate, not deplete it. “There are many recommendations, and caution will be key,” Trynacity said in a statement. “Certainly, the call to drop advertising from the network over five years is premature given the continued and ongoing financial struggles to operate without stable, adequate, long-term funding. That’s why we are urging a careful review of the possible impacts before going ahead with the proposed measures.”

The CCTS (Commission for Complaints for Telecom-Television Services) is now enforcing the CRTC’s Internet Code, which took effect on Jan. 31. The mandatory code of conduct applies to large internet service providers and their flanker brands and affiliates, including Bell Canada (and Bell MTS, NorthernTel, and Télébec), Cogeco, Eastlink, Rogers, SaskTel, Shaw Telecom, TELUS, Videotron, Xplornet and Northwestel. It encompasses all retail fixed internet access services like cable, fibre, DSL, fixed wireless, and satellite. The code applies to individual customers only, however small business customers can still file complaints with the CCTS if they have billing, contract, service delivery or credit management disputes with their internet service providers.

The Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) says it’s pleased that the general exception for Canada’s cultural industries was maintained with last week’s ratification of the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA). Among the provisions of the so-called “new NAFTA,” internet platforms will be protected from liability related to third-party information they publish; customs and other charges on digital products like music, games, videos and ebooks will be prohibited; and Canadian copyright protection will extend from the current 50 to 70 years past an author’s death.

Western Association of Broadcasters (WAB) has announced its call for nominations from its member stations for its 2020 Gold Medal Awards celebrating broadcasting excellence in the Prairie provinces. Awards are handed out in the following categories: Gold Medal Award for Community Service (separate nominations accepted for Radio and TV), Gold Medal Award for Digital Innovation, Leader of Tomorrow and Hall of Fame. View awards criteria here. The deadline for submissions is Mar. 27. This year’s WAB President’s Dinner & Gold Medal Awards Gala will take place June 11 at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel.

Sportsnet and Ryerson University’s Faculty of Communications & Design, FCAD, have announced the Sportsnet Diversity and Gender Equity Initiative, set to launch for the Fall 2020 semester. The initiative is aimed at empowering students from diverse backgrounds to pursue careers in sport media. Sportsnet has committed $100,000 to FCAD’s Sport Media program to provide scholarships to four students, plus year-round diversity workshops at the university’s Global Experience Sport Lab (GXS). The scholarships wil be awarded to two high-performing third year students and two students entering the program who identify as a woman, Indigenous and/or a member of an equity-seeking group. Sportsnet will also provide resources and mentoring opportunities to foster a culture of diversity in the workplace for Sport Media students.

The Canadian Journalism Foundation’s Landsberg Award is now open to applications from working journalists – staff or freelance – doing research, analysis, and reporting through a gender lens on women’s issues. Journalists working in print, broadcast and online news are eligible to apply. The recipient will receive $5,000 from the Canadian Women’s Foundation. Last year’s winner was Connie Walker, now developing a podcast for Gimlet Media, for her work as an investigative reporter and host of CBC podcast Missing & Murdered: Finding Cleo, exploring the story of Cleo Semaganis, a young Cree girl scooped from her parents, who died years later in the United States. Deadline for applications is Feb. 21.

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