Digital Revolution Rendering Canadian Content Rules Obsolete, New Approach
Needed: C.D. Howe Institute

TORONTO, Jan. 28 /CNW/ - In the unfolding digital world, the regulations traditionally used to foster Canadian content in the broadcasting and telecommunications sector will not be viable, according to a study released today by the C.D. Howe Institute. In Scrambled Signals: Canadian Content Policies in a World of Technological Abundance, authors Lawson A.W. Hunter, Edward Iacobucci and Michael J. Trebilcock assess the implications of the rapid digital revolution underway for the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission's regulatory tools, and point to the need for new approaches to promote and fund Canadian content.

Having undergone a transformation from an era of a few channels broadcast over the air to hundreds of channels available via cable or satellite, Canada's broadcasting and telecommunications sector is on the verge of another tectonic shift, say the authors, of which Internet Protocol (IP) TV is an example. The transition from a "push" network, where entertainment choices were limited to those available at a given time, to a "pull" network, where content is available on demand, will render many current regulatory tools obsolete, they say. Ownership regulations and exhibition and expenditure quotas that mandate Canadian ownership of media and the percentage of Canadian content broadcast or purchased will be unenforceable online and should be abolished.

Other tools that promote Canadian content may still be useful in the future, they suggest. More direct subsidies to Canadian content would ensure that there is Canadian content available for those who want it. Public broadcasting, including the CBC, could be focused as an outlet for Canadian content. The authors conclude that a review is urgently needed by an independent expert panel charged with proposing a transition roadmap.

For the study click here.

SOURCE C.D. Howe Institute

For further information: For further information: Lawson A.W. Hunter, Q.C., Stikeman Elliot LLP; Edward Iacobucci, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto; Michael J. Trebilcock, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto; Benjamin Dachis, Policy Analyst, C.D. Howe Institute, (416) 865-1904

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