CRTC investigating new media in Canada

The Canadian Radio and Television Commission has launched a major review of the impact that the internet is having on Canadian broadcasting and whether it should try to govern content on new digital media. That’s quite a change from 1999 when they announced the following in this news release:

News Release 

May 17, 1999

CRTC WON’T REGULATE THE INTERNET

OTTAWA-HULL — The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced today that it will not regulate new media services on the Internet*.

After conducting an in-depth review under the Broadcasting Act and the Telecommunications Act beginning last July, the CRTC has concluded that the new media on the Internet are achieving the goals of the Broadcasting Act and are vibrant, highly competitive and successful without regulation. The CRTC is concerned that any attempt to regulate Canadian new media might put the industry at a competitive disadvantage in the global marketplace*.

“By not regulating, we hope to support the growth of new media services in Canada,” says Françoise Bertrand, CRTC Chairperson. “The CRTC is one of the first regulators in the world to clarify its position on the Internet.”

(*BRASSmedia’s highlights)

 

What’s happened since then? In a news release from May 15, 2008 . . .

News release

May 15, 2008

CRTC launches consultation on broadcasting
in new media for future hearing

OTTAWA-GATINEAU — The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) today launched a consultation on broadcasting in the new media environment for a public hearing to be held in early 2009…….

“The Commission has a responsibility to ensure that the broadcasting system is in a position to achieve the objectives of the Broadcasting Act, today as well as in the future,” said Konrad von Finckenstein, Q.C., Chairman of the CRTC. “New digital technologies and platforms are creating opportunities for the broadcast of professionally-produced Canadian content that simply didn’t exist a few years ago. Our intention is not to regulate new media, but rather to gain a better understanding of this environment and, if necessary, to propose measures that would support the continued achievement of the Broadcasting Act’s objectives.*”

There is a mention of another document further into the news release … Perspectives on Canadian Broadcasting in New Media- a compilation of research and stakeholder views -May 2008. It’s a big one you can read it if you want or if you care about what may happen to Canadian new media in the years to come. The big question is why is the CRTC so interested in new media now, compared to an apparent lack of interest back in 1999? Maybe this data from the report:

  • While tuning levels in radio’s core 35 to 54 demographic have remained fairly steady, overall per capita weekly radio listening levels decreased by 1/2 hour from 2005 to 2006 (from 19.1 to 18.6 hours.) and experienced a continued decline in 2007 (to 18.3 hours). Since 1999, per capita weekly radio listening levels have decreased by more than two hours (from 20.5 to 18.3 hours).
  •  In 2007, over 50% of Canadians with Internet access downloaded videos from the Internet (23% at least once a week) and over 56% of Internet users downloaded or listened to music online.
  • All major mobile providers offer broadcasting content to their subscribers.

This is one stat I like.

Question: “Please tell me how frequently you use the Internet for the following activities…Download or listen to podcasts”
Source: CIP2, 2007.

 68. Downloading podcasts occurs among 9% of Quebec respondents, while 18% of respondents outside Quebec report podcast activity. In total, 16% of Canadians reported that they download podcasts according to the same survey.

 

Who’s watching and how much?

72. Younger Canadians lead the way in use of new media platforms, potentially at the direct expense of traditional media consumption:

 In 2006, 91% of Canadians aged 18 to 34 accessed the Internet, compared to only 69% of Canadians aged 55 or older.17

 

Canadians under 18 now spend roughly the same amount of time online (watching videos, exchanging emails, participating in social networking sites, etc.) and watching TV (15 to17 hours).

There’s lots more in this report but the general trend is this…..Canadians are consuming less traditional broadcasting (TV and radio) and turning to the internet for their entertainment, news and information. Surprise! Traditional broadcating is nervous and they should be.

The CRTC is asking for public input so get involved and give them your two cents worth. We need to make sure that the choices the web gives us continue and let the CRTC (and traditional broadcasting) know that we won’t let them stop it or control it or twist into what we are turning our backs on.

Dean

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