Fasken Communications Law Triannual Update



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Nathalie Théberge has transitioned from Vice-Chair and Chief Executive Officer of the Copyright Board to Vice-Chair (Broadcasting) of the CRTC, replacing former Vice-Chair, Alicia Barin...
Canada Media, Telecoms, IT, Entertainment
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Top News

  • Nathalie Théberge has transitioned from Vice-Chair and Chief Executive Officer of the Copyright Board to Vice-Chair (Broadcasting) of the CRTC, replacing former Vice-Chair, Alicia Barin, who resigned from her role in January. Ms. Théberge's term of office will last five years from the appointment. Lara Taylor, Secretary General, has assumed on an interim basis all the responsibilities and authorities delegated to the position of Vice-Chair of the Copyright Board.
  • In legislative news:
    • As reported in our bulletin on March 7, 2024, the Government of Canada introduced its anticipated "online harms" bill. The legislation proposes a definition of "harmful content" and establishes new obligations for social media services that will be regulated under the Act. It also provides an overview of the mandate of the proposed new regulatory body, known as the Digital Safety Commission, including its enforcement capabilities, and the range of penalties and sanctions it may impose, as well as its regulatory authority and the implications for regulated social media services.
    • The Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security commenced the study of Bill C-26, An Act respecting cyber security, amending the Telecommunications Act and making consequential amendments to other Acts in February. The Committee proposed limited amendments in a report to the House of Commons on April 8. Bill C-26 remains in the report stage in the House of Commons and has not yet received a third reading.
    • The CRTC published an updated version of its Regulatory Plan to Modernize Canada's Broadcasting Framework, with significant changes to its timelines for initiating new consultations within its phased approach to implementing the amended Broadcasting Act. The CRTC's Regulatory Plan can be found here.


Regulatory Policies and Bulletins

Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2024-65 - The CRTC issued new Broadcasting Fees Regulations that account for its oversight of online streaming services and other amendments to the Broadcasting Act. Under the new regulations, traditional broadcasters will pay a lower percentage of total "Part I" fees, which are collected from broadcasting undertakings to finance the CRTC's operations. The Broadcasting Fees Regulations came into force on April 1, 2024 at the beginning of the CRTC's 2024-2025 fiscal year. Please see our prior bulletin on this topic for more information.


Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2024-103 - The CRTC approved an urgent request from Corus Entertainment to amend two conditions of service relating to expenditures on programs of national interest (PNI) and Canadian programming expenditure (CPE) under-expenditures for its English-language television stations and discretionary services.

Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2024-106 and Broadcasting Order CRTC 2024-107 - The CRTC approved an application by Aboriginal People's Television Network (APTN) to combine its four programming feeds into two high-definition feeds, APTN and APTN Languages. The CRTC also approved APTN's request for an increase to its mandatory wholesale rate from $0.35 to $0.38, effective September 1, 2024 until August 31, 2026.

Telecom Decision CRTC 2024-42 – The CRTC approved an application by Execulink Telecom Inc. (Execulink) for timely access to three multi-dwelling units (MDUs) owned by JLC Homes Ltd. (JLC). Under the CRTC's MDU access condition, telecommunications service providers must be able to access end-users in an MDU on a timely basis under reasonable terms and conditions. After finding that Execulink was denied access to the MDUs contrary to the MDU access condition, the CRTC stated that it would apply increasingly stringent regulatory measures against JLC 30, 45 and 60 days following the date of the decision unless JLC provided timely access.

Public Consultations

Telecom Notice of Consultation CRTC 2024-25 – Following its 2023 decision on regulatory measures to make access to poles owned or controlled by Canadian carriers more efficient (Telecom Regulatory Policy CRTC 2023-31), the CRTC initiated a consultation to examine whether it should modify existing support structure access rules for purposes of third-party wireless attachments (including 5G small cells) to telephone company poles across Canada. As part of the consultation, the CRTC is gathering information on the types of wireless facilities and technologies that must be deployed on ILEC-owned or controlled support structures to support wireless networks and examining the regulatory processes that are needed to support these deployments.

Compliance and Enforcement Notice of Consultation CRTC 2024-43 – The CRTC initiated a public consultation on whether to require all telecommunications service providers to implement a call traceback process to determine the origin of unsolicited "nuisance" calls made in non-compliance with the Unsolicited Telemarketing Rules. Participation in the call traceback process is currently voluntary.

Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2024-67 – The CRTC has launched a public consultation on the co-development of an Indigenous Broadcasting Policy. This process represents the first significant review of the Indigenous Broadcasting Policy in over 30 years. See our previous bulletin for more information on the consultation process.

Online News Notice of Consultation CRTC 2024-55 – The CRTC published a Notice of Consultation on the regulatory framework for the Online News Act. The CRTC asked questions on how to set up the bargaining process and how to handle complaints about unfair treatment. For more information, see our bulletin.


Decision on New Access Licensing Framework, Changes to Subordinate Licensing and White Space to Support Rural and Remote Deployment - In January 2024, ISED announced its new access licensing framework, which is intended to facilitate the migration of licences that are not currently used by licence holders to other providers that will use them in remote and indigenous regions. The new framework will initially impact the Cellular (800 MHz), Personal Communications Services (1850-1910 MHz and 1930-1990 MHz) and Land Mobile Radio (900 MHz) bands. In a separate but related decision on the same day, ISED released a document titled Spectrum and the Indigenous Priority Window, which provides a mechanism for Indigenous applicants to obtain spectrum licences in certain spectrum bands, on a first-come, first-served basis.

ICES-Gen — General Requirements for Compliance of Interference-Causing Equipment - ISED released a new issue (Issue 2) of its requirements for interference-causing equipment in February 2024. Among other things, the new issue: clarifies key definitions, including "residential environment" and introduces new definitions; updates requirements for host equipment; clarifies requirements for user manuals; introduces QR code labelling and otherwise simplifies and clarifies mandatory ISED labelling. All equipment manufactured, imported, distributed, leased, offered for sale, or sold in Canada, must comply with Issue 2 after a transition period (continuing until February 22, 2025).

Spectrum and Telecommunications Service Standards – ISED updated its Spectrum and Telecommunications Service Standards, which cover the timelines for: processing radio and spectrum licence applications and investigating harmful interference to radiocommunication.

Spectrum and telecommunications fees – In April 2024, ISED announced that the annual CPI adjustment to radio and spectrum licence fees for the 2024-2025 fiscal year will be 4.4%.

Court & Copyright Board Decisions

Copyright Collective of Canada et al. v. Bell Canada et al. (FCA File No. A-57-24)- In February 2024, a consortium of copyright holders filed an application for judicial review to the Federal Court of Appeal of a redetermination decision by the Copyright Board of Canada that lowered the rate broadcasters pay to rightsholders for the retransmission of distant television signals. This comes after the Federal Court of Appeal had already sent the original decision back to the Copyright Board for reconsideration. Among the consortium's concerns are the length of time it took the Copyright Board to render a decision, as well as the calculation method for the rate, which led to a reduction from $1.17 to $1.12 per subscriber per month.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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