MONTREAL, June 2 /CNW Telbec/ -
Opinion letter by Françoise Bertrand
President and CEO - Federation of Québec Chambers of Commerce
Former CRTC Chairperson (1996-2001)
We need to restore fairness and free competition in the media
No one will dispute that our media have undergone a complete
transformation in the past 10 years. The proliferation of specialty channels
has fragmented audiences and advertising revenues. The Internet has become a
mass medium, and the availability of high-speed technology has made it
possible to download movies, music and television programs. Print media now
have Web platforms.
The CRTC, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications
Commission, is currently assessing these major changes affecting the media
industry. The Federation of Québec Chambers of Commerce (FCCQ) feels it
important to issue a reminder that, in a highly competitive market such as
that of the media, allowing businesses to evolve freely is the best way to
encourage innovation, increase productivity, stimulate creativity and, in the
long run, guarantee their survival.
A level playing field among media is a necessity
Several of our traditional media still operate in a regulated
environment. In 2009, such regulations not only stifle creativity, but also
threaten the very survival of our mainstream newspapers and television
networks. The fact that Internet companies and a number of new media are not
regulated raises the issues of fairness and free competition.
Based on the findings of a study on the state of the media industry
conducted for the FCCQ by Professor Yves Rabeau,(1) we conclude that the only
solution to the problem is to deregulate the traditional media. Why not
regulate the Internet instead? Because the fluid nature of content on the
Internet makes it almost impossible to effectively regulate the medium.
Moreover, several stakeholders who have appeared before the CRTC believe that
new communication technologies mark a fundamental change that might eventually
lead to the disappearance of regulated companies.
We also believe that it is mistaken to pretend that our culture needs a
protected environment in order to flourish. Some of our greatest
entertainers-Céline Dion and the Cirque du Soleil, to name just two-have
become household names worldwide without any protectionist measures. We have
been given every opportunity; it is now time for us to fly on our own.
Essential conditions for success
Through an examination of several case studies,(2) our study enabled us
to identify the conditions necessary for companies to succeed in the Canadian
media industry in 2009.
Firstly, a company must be able to draw on existing assets to find the
resources needed to make a shift in technology. Success will only be possible
once the corporate culture is changed and employees stop working in silos. All
players on the media scene must therefore demonstrate creativity, reposition
themselves and, in many cases, re-examine their business model.
Secondly, there are costs involved in developing new platforms. In
general, revenues generated only help recover the revenues lost by traditional
media. New ways of doing things, therefore, have to be developed to offset
costs through gains in productivity. Using brand awareness is essential to
migrating the customer base to the Web. Offering local services and making
partnership agreements are also key to the survival of our media companies.
The media, as well as information companies, agree that creativity needs
to be encouraged and that there must be a move toward significantly reducing
regulations in order to cope with new competitive market conditions and to be
better positioned to innovate. In short, companies must be allowed to develop
freely within in a limited, but highly competitive market.
The FCCQ strongly supports them.
(1) Media and Communications Study, prepared for the FCCQ by Yves Rabeau,
PhD, Professor at ESG-UQAM, March 2009
(2) Transcontinental Media GP (TM), Société Radio-Canada (SRC), La Presse
(Gesca Ltée), Canoe, Quebecor Media Inc. (QMI).
For further information:
For further information: Bruno-Serge Boucher, (514) 844-9571, Fax: (514)