General + Regulatory + Telecom + Media NewsCRTC moving forward with numerous consultations, Naidoo tells BCAB

CRTC moving forward with numerous consultations, Naidoo tells BCAB

The CRTC is committed to lessening the impact of the “headwinds” facing Canadian broadcasters, Nirmala Naidoo, the commissioner for Alberta and the Northwest Territories, told the BC Association of Broadcasters (BCAB) this week.

Addressing the group’s 74th annual conference the day after the release of the commission’s updated regulatory plan to modernize the country’s broadcasting framework, Naidoo outlined an ongoing series of consultations working towards an end goal of building a flexible regulatory system that can adapt to disruption.

As implementation of the Online Streaming Act moves forward, a consultation will explore new ways to fund participation of groups that represent the public interest.

“The public records we build through our consultations must be as robust and diverse as possible if it is to lead us to decisions that are in the public interest,” said Naidoo. “We’re aware that our public records are not always as comprehensive as they could be. That’s in part because access to CRTC processes is not easy for some groups. Many don’t even know they can participate in our processes, let alone how to do so.”

She told the gathering that consultation will be followed by another on structural relationships in the broadcasting sector, including a public hearing looking at small, medium and large players in both traditional broadcasting and online streaming.

Three other consultations, also supported by public hearings, will encompass studying all aspects of radio and audio streaming services in Canada, including how to support the industry and Canadian music, how to define audio content, and what regulatory obligations should exist. Another will examine possible changes to the definition of Canadian content for television and online programming, while a third will study how to ensure everyone has access to high-quality and diverse local and national news programming across TV, radio, and online.

“As I mentioned earlier, news is a subject very close to my heart,” the former CBC journalist told the gathering. “Make no mistake: journalism is what maintains democracy. It shines a light on truth, allows people to witness history unfold, and holds those in power accountable. It is the heartbeat of democracy. But at this point in the 21st century, news and journalism are under threat on a variety of fronts, including budget cuts.”

“Those challenges say nothing of the erosion of news at a local level,” she continued.
“We care deeply about the ongoing health and viability of local content, news, and information. They are often the only linkages providing communities with critical information on events that directly affect their lives.”

Another series of consultations will look at how the broadcasting system can better reflect the experiences of all Canadians and foster access to diverse voices and perspectives.

“I know this sounds like a lot and, to be frank, it is,” said Naidoo. “But we firmly believe that these processes are the important next steps to setting up the broadcasting, production and creative sectors for longer-term success. These processes are critical to our goals and they will be followed by the other processes to finalize overall contributions framework that all players will work under in the future.”

The comment period on the Indigenous Broadcasting Policy also remains open until July 22. In response to calls for improved engagement, the commission has created an Indigenous Relations Team, set to launch next month, to support Indigenous participation in CRTC proceedings

Meanwhile, Naidoo said a decision on initial base contributions by online streaming services is anticipated soon. Later this year, she said the CRTC will issue a call for proposals for an independent auditor, who will prepare an annual report on the impact of the Act on Canada’s digital news marketplace.

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Connie Thiessen
Connie Thiessen
Connie has worked coast-to-coast as a reporter, editor, anchor and host at CKNW and News 1130 in Vancouver, News 95.7 and CBC in Halifax, and CFCW Edmonton, among other stations. With a passion for music, film and community service, she led News 95.7 to a 2013 Atlantic Journalism Award and regional RTDNA award for Best Radio Newscast. More recently, she was nominated for Music Journalist of the Year at Canadian Music Week 2019. To report a typo or error please email -

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