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Radio review put off

Articles in related categories
CRTC/Regulatory - Radio
Digital Radio
New Technology
QUEBEC CITY - During his speech to delegates at this week's Canadian Association of Broadcasters annual convention, CRTC chairman Charles Dalfen said the Commission is putting off its commercial radio policy review.

With new radio technology - including digital audio and satellite radio - still evolving, the planned 2004 review of radio policy will be delayed, said Dalfen.

"In addition to conventional radio and a number of initiatives in digital audio broadcasting, we now have satellite radio knocking at the door," he said. "As you know, Canadian Satellite Radio Inc., or CSRI, recently announced that it had submitted an application to the CRTC. Under this application, CSRI would offer CD-quality sound from space, delivered to paying subscribers across the country."

CSRI is a proposed partnership between U.S. company XM Satellite Radio and Canadian investors led by Toronto entrepreneur John Bitove, who was spotted at the convention, too.

"The Commission will take the necessary time to consider this application � and any others that may be filed for similar services � and the questions that they raise," added Dalfen. "What will be the impact of satellite radio on Canadian consumers, on existing licensees, and on the development of digital audio broadcasting in this country?

"We will also want to be satisfied that the proposals have fully taken into account the Broadcasting Act's objectives with respect to Canadian expression. We have therefore decided to postpone the commercial radio policy review that had been foreseen for next spring, until we have explored the issues related to the new radio technologies."

"In making this decision, the Commission has noted the very positive financial picture of the radio industry in the past year. The ownership and Canadian content changes introduced in 1998 clearly have not impeded significant growth in revenues and profits. In our view, taking a year or so to assess new developments in the industry just makes good sense," he continued.

"But there are challenges as well. New technologies bring new vulnerabilities. We have seen the music industry taking a major hit from file sharing and downloading on the Internet. Responding has been difficult, but promising avenues have been opening up� nevertheless, radio may have still have cause for concern. Will easy access to music on the Internet cut into the listener base? A report in the United States found that only 0.2% of radio listening last year was done through the Net, but we have no way of knowing how this will develop in the long term."

For the entire speech, click here.
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