The CRTC Punts Again

Update: Given the time stamp, nobody’s going to believe that I didn’t read this post first before coming up with the above subject heading. But I didn’t. Anyway, it’s the only subject heading that fits.

Every few years, the CRTC discusses what to do about “New Media,” and decides to do nothing for a few more years. (Also, at one point does it stop being referred to as “new” media?) Emphasis mine:

Canada’s broadcast regulator has decided to continue its hands-off approach to broadcasting content on the Internet and mobile devices such as iPhones and BlackBerries.

Rather than require that broadcasters adhere to similar rules online as they do on television and radio (such as producing and airing a certain amount of Canadian content) the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission said it will leave the Internet and mobile platforms unregulated…

The CRTC said it will monitor evolving trends and will review the decision in five years.

The Writers’ Guild of Canada, which is the fastest press-releaser in the West when it comes to CRTC decisions, argued in response that “traditional Canadian broadcasting content is very difficult to find online” and that there needs to be regulation to make sure that Canadian content is accessible everywhere:

“New media content has become an integral part of the Canadian broadcasting system,” says Maureen Parker, Executive Director, Writers Guild of Canada, “and we looked to the CRTC to ensure that Canadians have the ability to choose Canadian content online. The CRTC doesn’t believe regulation is necessary to ensure that choice – the CRTC is wrong. In our long experience working with Canadian broadcasters, we know that without regulation Canadian content falls by the wayside.”

Without opining too much (one way or the other) on something I haven’t really thought through, I will say only that we really are, in Canada, in the worst of all possible worlds when it comes to online content: we can’t get much of the great U.S. content online, even as Hulu and other sites become more and more important (eventually Hulu is going to have huge TV libraries, and we might still not be able to get it), and most Canadian broadcasters can’t or won’t catch up with their U.S. counterparts in terms of online content. (The most famous and obvious comparison is Comedy Central’s online library of every Daily Show and Colbert Report clip, vs. The Comedy Network’s confusing and all-but-un-embeddable system of Daily Show clips.)

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