At a recent conference organized by the Forum for Research and Policy Communications (FRPC) and the University of Ottawa’s Centre on Governance in Ottawa May 22-23, academics, legal specialists, researchers and representatives of media workers came together to share ideas and information on communications legislation in Canada.
Participants were invited to examine key questions regarding current broadcasting and telecommunications laws in Canada, as well as the CRTC which administers these laws, and suggest ways forward for consideration by the next Parliament.
Focusing on the Broadcasting Act, CMG shared its position that the Act has the correct orientation and focus, striking the right balance when it comes to the public interest, and remains relevant in the current environment.
At the same time, CMG highlighted concrete examples from the field, showing issues in the implementation of the Act where the public interest is concerned. For instance, the fact that recent Let’s Talk TV consultations did not deal with CBC as the national public broadcaster is baffling for many observers and seems inconsistent with the Act which specifically recognizes a key role for Canada’s national public broadcaster in our system. This problem was raised by a number of intervenors before and during the hearing. See more examples here.
CMG also looked at the employment requirements in the Broadcasting Act and argued that while it’s difficult to legislate employment, employment provisions are in the Act for a reason, and future intervenors before the CRTC should push for the Commission to clarify how it honours that part of the Act in its decisions.
“We were delighted that CMG participated in Rebooting Canada’s Communications Legislation on behalf of media workers,” said Monica Auer, Executive Director of FRPC, one of the conference organizers. “Whether Parliament amends Canada’s broadcasting and telecommunications laws – or not – it is critical for Parliament to understand the perspective of those who work in Canada’s cultural sectors.”
FRPC and the Centre on Governance have been planning to publish participants’ contributions later this year, if not they will be making the documents available on www.frpc.net.