Canada’s communications regulatory regime is in desperate need of a significant overhaul.
In The End of that ‘70’s Show: Rethinking Canada’s Communications Regulatory Institutions for the Twenty-First Century, communications consultant and former AIMS research director Ian Munro says technological advances have made the existing regime obsolete.
“Long gone are the days when the telecommunications and broadcasting sectors were distinct entities,” says Munro. “Yet the regulatory regime still treats them as such, which creates inefficient duplication and complete disconnects across government agencies and departments with responsibilities for different aspects of regulating Canada’s communications sector.”
He calls the regulatory framework outdated and says in order to improve effectiveness, efficiency and accountability of communications regulation there need to be a number of institutional changes.
3. The CRTC should relinquish its role in cultural regulation; the era of “Canadian-content” requirements should come to an end.
4. The Competition Bureau should become the sole agency responsible for competition policy in communications marketplaces.
5. Industry Canada should retreat to a role of setting broad economic policy for the communications sector.
6. The Department of Canadian Heritage should retain its role in setting broad cultural policy, but any failure of the market to provide certain cultural goods and services should be addressed by financing out of general tax revenues rather than by specific levies on communications service providers and/or customers.
“It’s time to get rid of the antiquated rules that control Canada’s communications industry,” says AIMS incoming President Charles Cirtwill. “The rules were made for an era before iPhones, webcasts, VOIP, and e-communication. It is the Canadian consumer who is paying the price.”
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