Regulatory, Telecom & Media News – Senate committee completes Bill C-11 review

The Senate Standing Committee on Transport and Communications has completed its review of Bill C-11, the Online Streaming Act. Among recent amendments are a provision that would prohibit CBC from publishing sponsored content; an age verification requirement to access certain content; and an added amendment aimed at scoping out user content from CRTC regulation. As Michael Geist, Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-Commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, covered in a recent blog post, the question now is whether the House will accept those changes or vote to remove some amendments and send the bill back to the Senate yet again. Meanwhile, the House has approved Bill C-18, the Online News Act, in its last act before breaking for the holidays, which is now off to the Senate.

The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) has released a lengthy decision concerning an episode of Happy Days broadcast on CHCH-TV Hamilton, finding that while “outdated” it did not violate broadcast codes. The episode of the American sitcom in question – which originally aired in 1974 but was set in the 1950s – was Episode 1 of Season 1 entitled “All the Way.” A viewer complained that the episode contained “extremely sexist” and racist content and was demeaning to women. The complainant also took issue with several jokes, including one suggesting that if an “Eskimo” ever became president, he would throw a snowball to start the World Series. The panel found no breaches of any of the broadcast codes, but acknowledged the difficulty in applying modern standards to retro programming. While agreeing the portrayal of women could be considered sexist, it found nothing that rose to the level of a code breach. Read more here.

 

Corus Entertainment has released its first-ever Sustainability Report, which outlines the company’s approach to implement Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) initiatives. Centred on the three pillars: People, Planet and Responsibility, it outlines both progress made to-date as well as a series of foundational goals. The report also publicly discloses the company’s workplace diversity, including that 48% of all employees identify as women and 21% as a visible minority. At the executive level that translates to 33% and 11%, respectively, with the Corus board of directors now comprised of 42% women and 17% racially diverse individuals. A number of the company diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives outlined in the report speak directly to the findings of its 2020 diversity review, including a lack of intercultural awareness by some managers and too few accountability measures to ensure diversity and inclusion goals were being met. Read more here.

CBC/Radio-Canada’s new Environmental Sustainability Report, the first since the launch of its Greening Our Story strategy, includes reductions in carbon emissions, energy and water consumption. The report covers key initiatives from April 2021 to March 2022, underscoring the “heightened priority” the public broadcaster has placed on reducing its environmental footprint. Among the report’s highlights are an 11% reduction in carbon emissions; energy and water consumption reductions of 10.5% and 11% respectively. Fuel-efficient or alternative-energy vehicles now make up 27% of CBC/Radio-Canada’s vehicle fleet.

The CRTC has refused a request by TELUS to introduce a processing fee in Alberta and B.C. on payments made by credit card. The request only applied to services that are regulated by the CRTC, which are generally home telephone services in certain smaller communities. TELUS began to charge a 1.5% fee to clients paying by credit card on Oct. 17 in areas where services are not regulated by the commission. The commission says while TELUS didn’t need its approval to add the surcharge to its unregulated services, the practice goes against affordability and consumer interest. The CRTC says its decision sends a clear message to telecommunications service providers thinking of imposing such a fee on their customers and should the practice continue, it will explore all available regulatory options.

RTDNA Canada Awards are now open for submissions. Recognizing the best in audio, digital, and video journalism first published in 2022, among the revised categories are a new VJ Award, open to both Regional and National entries. Final entry deadline is Monday, Jan. 30. You must be an RTDNA Canada member to enter. 

The Canadian Journalism Foundation (CJF) is now accepting entries for its 2023 awards and fellowships, including the newly-launched Edward Burtynsky Award for Climate Photojournalism, open to professional Canadian photojournalists employed by Canadian news outlets or freelancing for a Canadian news organization. The deadline for all awards submissions is Jan. 20. CJF has also announced another Black Journalism Fellowship, this one in partnership with The Globe and Mail and the fifth in the program, launched to amplify Black voices, improve coverage of Black issues in the news and cultivate future Black media leaders. The fellowship will provide a unique opportunity for an early-career Black journalist to be hosted for six months at the Globe and Mail’s Toronto newsroom. 

Hannah Mondiwa

The Jack Webster Foundation has announced its 2022 BIPOC Student Journalism Award recipients. The 2022 awards, supported by the B.C. Teachers’ Federation, will see $2,000 each issued to BCIT journalism student Tchadas Leo and Langara College student Hannah Mondiwa. The BIPOC Student Journalism Awards, along with the Student/Indigenous Student Journalism Awards, are presented each year in order to support the next generation of journalists in British Columbia.

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