Broadcaster Magazine

Chairman Says CRTC Will be One of Canada’s Most Trusted Organizations

Jean-Pierre Blais, the new Chairman of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, sees the country’s broadcast regulator as one of the country’s most trusted organizations, in his vision of Canada in 2017.

In remarks prepared for his speech to the recent annual conference of the Canadian Chapter of the International Institute of Communications in Ottawa, Blais noted that future gazing was a dangerous occupation, but he nevertheless embraced the opportunity.

First, he said, because 2017 marks the end of his term; it’s also the country’s 150th birthday, and so time for a review or reckoning.

In that year, Blais predicted, “I envision a CRTC that is viewed as a trusted enabler in its mission to ensure that Canadians have access to a world-class communication system. I see the CRTC as an institution that is trusted by Canadians. They trust us to ensure that Canada maintains and develops a world-class communication system. They trust us to defend their interests as citizens, as creators and as consumers.”

More than demonstrable trust, however, Blais also predicts some concrete developments in the national telecom infrastructure.

In 2015, for example, he expects high speed Internet to be available across the country, with all Canadians having access to minimum speeds of five megabits per second (Mbps) for downloads and one Mbps for uploads.

He also envisions greater protection against cyber threats, from serious national security issues through to spam and unwanted telephone solicitations.

He sees consumer further protected by a functioning wireless services and industry operations transparency code.

Blais also noted the importance of support and acknowledgement for content creators in its broadest possible meaning, and of the country’s telecom carriers, both large and small.

With all this anticipated openness and trust, it was not surprising that Blais also noted a future redevelopment of the CRTC website, one which he noted has been oft-described as “impenetrable.”

All these developments will come, he predicted, in an environment where regulation is the still exception rather than the rule.

Last year all retail telecom services brought in about $40 billion in revenue, he cited. Of that amount, 93% derives from deregulated retail services.

“Over the past few years, we have refrained from regulating in cases where we believe that market forces are sufficient to produce the desired benefits for consumers. We want service providers to have full flexibility to respond to market conditions and provide Canadians with a choice of innovative services.”

Blais has still more speeches and presentations to make about the future of the CRTC and the Canadian media landscape; he is scheduled to present his vision for the CRTC’s approach to consumer protection in telecommunications and broadcasting at an upcoming PIAC meeting, where he is scheduled to also introduce Barbara Motzney, the CRTC’s new Chief Consumer Officer.