OpenMedia.ca has been working with a coalition of organizations to raise awareness about the federal government’s impending “Lawful Access” legislation – dubbed “Online Spying” by its critics. As part of this effort, OpenMedia.ca has launched the following documentary featuring Canada’s leading privacy experts explaining the dangers of the proposed legislation – namely, that these new electronic surveillance laws allow authorities to access the private information of any Canadian, at any time,without a warrant.
Video produced in collaboration with The New Transparency: Surveillance & Social Sorting, and DigitallyMediatedSurveillance.ca. The video is also available here with interviews and under a CC license can be remixed: http://unlawfulaccess.net/
In CRTC 2011-601 issued on September 21, 2011 the CRTC issued their decision on a framework for media integration of large companies in Canada: the “vertical integration” hearings. According to the CRTC, vertical integration refers to “the ownership, by one entity, of both programming and distribution undertakings, or, both programming undertakings and production companies.” This has been a pressing issue especially as the integration of broadcasting-telecom-internet companies has been increasing in Canada, with the big 4 integrated companies (Bell, Shaw, Rogers and Quebecor) dominating the market. In their decision, CRTC Commissioner Konrad von Finckenstein wrote that
“Given the size of the Canadian market, there are benefits to integrating television programming and distribution services under the same corporate umbrella..At the same time, we felt that some safeguards were needed to prevent anti-competitive behaviour. In particular, Canadians shouldn’t be forced to buy a mobile device from a specific company or subscribe to its Internet service simply to access their favourite television programs.”
The CRTC decision:
Prohibits companies from offering television programs on an exclusive basis solely to their mobile or Internet subscribers. Programs broadcast on television must be made available to other media company competitors under ‘fair and reasonable’ terms. This includes hockey games! And other live events.
Allows media companies to offer exclusive programming to their Internet or mobile customers if it is produced specifically for an Internet portal or a mobile device – and this can include extra programming including ‘behind-the-scenes’ clips.
Requires media companies to adopt a code of conduct in order to prevent anti-competitive behavior. This code will also ensure that all distributors, broadcasters and online programming services ‘negotiate in good faith’. When firms are in the process of negotiating, subscribers/users will be protected, and broadcaster must continue to offer the service to their subscribers.
Requires media companies to create measures so that independent distributors and broadcasters are treated fairly by the large integrated companies. 25% minimum of specialty services1distributed by large integrated companies must be owned by an independent broadcaster. Any new pay or specialty services launched by a broadcaster must be available upon request to all distributors as an individual service, even if commercial agreements have not yet been finalized.
See Susan Krashinsky, CRTC Rewrites Rules for Mobile Broadcasting, Globe and Mail, September 21, 2011
CRTC Broadcasting Notice of Consultation 2010-783: Review of the Regulatory Framework Relating to Vertical Integration.
CRTC Simplified Index of Media Ownership Charts
Some media coverage in Globe and Mail – also check out CBC.ca
Susan Krashinsky. (June 28, 2011). CRTC Faces Regulating a Confounding ‘New World’. Globe and Mail.
Susan Krashinsky. (June 19, 2011). Rogers Urges CRTC to Reign in Broadcast ‘Wild West’. Globe and Mail.
Dwayne Winseck. (June 20, 2011). Big Media in the Hot Seat at CRTC Hearings. Globe and Mail.
Blog columnist Dwayne Winseck of Carleton University has two posts that meticulously detail data on the Canadian media sector between 1984-2010. In a series of two columns Winseck examines the structure of the Canadian mediascape especially regarding concentration. In his first column (appearing August 23, 2011) he documents the size of the Canadian media economy, one that is the eighth largest globally. He details wireless and telecom growth, the broadcasting industry, and the newspaper industry. In his second column (appearing September 6, 2011), he investigates whether the internet and new media have become more concentrated. Winseck specifically looks at the network infrastructure industries (wireless and telecoms), the content industries, and online media. Conclusions?
Combining all of the segments of the network media (except wired and wireless because their size overshadows everything else), the big four’s share of the mediascape has risen steadily: Bell (CTV), Shaw (Global), Rogers (CityTV), QMI (TVA). In 1984, the big four accounted for 40 per cent of all revenues; in 2010, their share was 54 per cent – a far bigger slice of a much bigger pie.
Add these four massive media conglomerates with six other large but more specialized firms and you have the big ten companies at the core of the network media economy: Bell (CTV), Shaw (Global), Rogers (CityTV), QMI (TVA), CBC, Post Media, Cogeco, Astral, Telus and Torstar (see here). Their share of the total network media economy (excluding telecoms services) between 2000 and 2010 hovered steadily around 70-75 per cent – a substantial rise from 63 per cent in 1996, and further still from 53 per cent in 1984.
As for the internet – Google, Facebook, Microsoft dominate.
With Parliament set to resume soon, Heritage Minister James Moore says he is prepared to reintroduce amendments to the Copyright Reform Act, the previously called Bill C-32, before Christmas 2011. However, the Supreme Court of Canada has said that it will hear a series of cases about copyright, which could either directly impact the proposed legislation, or delay its re-introduction. One of the issues that will be heard by the SC emantes from educators, in a consideration over whether grade school teachers who make copies of textbooks should be shielded from paying tariffs. According to a CP report, “NDP heritage critic Charlie Angus said the government should be listening to criticism of the bill and making changes before it is forced to by the courts”.
Moore says that there will be no more consultation on the proposed legislation, and a legislative committee will be struck to review the material.
Bill C-32 has been heavily criticized for its strong digital locks provisions, a direct submission to the US copyright legislation. Michael Geist released information wherein US government cables released by Wikileaks
show a stunning willingness by senior Canadian officials to appease American demands for a U.S.-style copyright law here.
The documents describe Canadian officials as encouraging American lobbying efforts. They also cite cabinet minister Maxime Bernier raising the possibility of showing U.S. officials a draft bill before tabling it in Parliament.
The cables, from the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa, even have a policy director for then industry minister Tony Clement suggesting it might help U.S. demands for a tough copyright law if Canada were placed among the worst offenders on an international piracy watch list. Days later, the U.S. placed Canada alongside China and Russia on the list.
The Government’s ultimate goal is to create a culture of cyber-safety whereby Canadians are aware of both the threats and the measures they can take to ensure the safe use of cyberspace. Creating such awareness will require a sustained effort over a period of several years. The effort must start now.
Tim Naumetz, Sun TV’s application should be all about fair play, say opposition MPs. The Hill Times, September 13, 2010.
The uproar over Sun TV’s bid to launch a conservative all-news channel may be dripping with cross-border Republican versus Democrat politics but, Liberal and NDP MPs insist, the fight over the proposal should be all about fair play and equal access under Canadian broadcasting rules.
OpenMedia.ca: ‘You’re Not Special’
“The best way to stop political interference and special treatment for Fox News North,” said Steve Anderson, National Coordinator of OpenMedia.ca, “is for citizens to ensure their voices are heard during this proceeding. Someone must have unwisely told Teneycke and Quebecor that they deserve special privileges. We should all use the CRTC’s process to let them both know, you’re not special”
John Geddes,, Can Fox News North Win Its Next Battle? Macleans.ca, September 24, 2010.