CRTC New Media Hearing Finished, Waiting Begins
With the CRTC hearings on new media now over, Canadians will wait for the regulator to determine whether and how to manage content on Internet and wireless platforms. It is not expected that the policy of exclusion for new media will continue.
Surprisingly, the CRTC deemed from the outset that net neutrality was not of consequence to this discussion. Since P2P transmission is one of the largest distribution channels of culture and could be an elemental part of any promotional campaign, including the distribution of Canadian music. This is why discussion around traffic shaping, as it pertains to the distribution of Canadian media is relevant, and I do hope that the CRTC will recognize the relationship of neutrality to contemporary content consumption as they deliberate.
The biggest story was the likelihood of the CRTC’s adoption of the ACTRA’s proposed ISP levy, meant to leverage the production of Canadian Content. Any taxation handed to ISPs would likely be passed on to customers, and stories about more taxes for Canadians always get attention. This would most likely be settled in the courts, so it would not take effect for some time.
Despite the disproportionate coverage of this proposal, it was actually only one of the ways the regulator could proceed in order to fulfill its mandate of protecting Canadian culture. Some groups are pushing prioritization of can-con by ISPs. The fundamental problem with this would be how anyone could determine what is and is not can-con without mass deployment of deep packet inspection. This would rightfully alarm anyone concerned about privacy. Moreover, it would result in ISPs being mandated to enforce an untenable policy by spying and then shaping traffic, ultimately annihilating net neutrality in the name of Canadian culture. This approach would be unwieldy, adversarial and unnecessary.
Michael Geist suggested a sensible sounding solution (unsurprisingly); exclude can-con from network bandwidth caps. Instead of promoting culture by means of an arbitrary cash grab, or a difficult to implement two-tiered system, it could be promoted by a win-win open-skies policy on Canadian media. By checking can-con from increasing bandwidth limits, the CRTC would enable Canadians consume it in greater quantity. This would drive advertisers to look to homegrown media, and making it a self-supporting industry. Domestic content providers will more clearly identify themselves in order to be included more seamlessly, helping promote and establish the Canadian brand.