On June 4, 2009, the Canadian Radio-television and
Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) released Broadcasting
Regulatory Policy 2009-329: Review of broadcasting in new
media (the Decision). Unlike traditional television and radio
broadcasting services, broadcasting services that are delivered and
accessed over the Internet or received by mobile devices (new media
broadcasters) had been exempted by the CRTC from licensing and
other regulatory requirements of the Broadcasting Act. The
CRTC had conducted a proceeding to examine, among other things,
whether these exemption orders warranted revision or
In the Decision, the CRTC concluded that currently, regulatory
intervention remains unnecessary; accordingly, it determined that
it will continue to exempt new media broadcasters.
In a notice of consultation accompanying the Decision (with
comments due July 6), the CRTC published for comment the following
proposed amendments to the existing new media exemption order:
Wireless Providers - the definition of new media
broadcasting undertaking will be expanded to encompass all Internet
based and mobile point-to-point broadcasting services.
Reporting Requirement - in order to provide the CRTC
with the information necessary to review and develop policy in this
area, new media broadcasters will be required to report details of
their activities, possibly including broadcasting content usage and
offerings, revenues and expenditures (specific reporting
requirements and affected undertakings to be determined pending the
Undue Preference Prohibition – given that
many new media broadcasters have ownership interests in content
providers, new media broadcasters will be prohibited from
conferring an undue preference on themselves or another person, or
subjecting any person to an undue disadvantage in the course of
their new media broadcasting activities.
In other key determinations:
the CRTC declined to impose any levy on Internet service
providers (ISPs) to fund the production of Canadian content;
the CRTC announced that, in order to determine whether ISPs are
subject to the exemption orders, including the new conditions, it
will refer to the Federal Court of Appeal the question of whether
ISPs, when they provide access to broadcasting content, are
broadcasting undertakings within the meaning of the
Broadcasting Act; and
the CRTC called for a national digital strategy, under which
the Federal government would develop a "coordinated
approach" to ensure Canada will compete and prosper in a
rapidly evolving digital environment.
The CRTC has indicated it expects to conduct its next review of
the new media exemption orders within the next five years.
The content of this article does not constitute legal advice
and should not be relied on in that way. Specific advice should be
sought about your specific circumstances.
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