On October 2, 2018, Nordicity partner Stuart Jack gave a presentation before the Senate Committee on Transport and Communications on the key issues for consideration in revising the Telecommunications Act, the Broadcasting Act and the Radiocommunication Act.
Stuart’s comments primarily focused on some key objectives that a new Communications Act might incorporate rather than the legislative framework itself. Stuart noted that Canada is some 30 years behind other OECD countries in adopting a modern communications act that unifies the Telecommunications Act, the Broadcasting Act and the Radiocommunication Act. In modernizing the act, Canada needs to ensure to incorporate various objectives including a level playing field for players, regulatory efficiency, rapid adaptation to new technologies and equity in contribution to ensure Canadian players can continue to play a dynamic role in the Canadian communications market.
Summary of recommendations made:
1. Create a level playing field
Where the global content services provide services similar to Canadian providers but on different distribution platforms, they should be deemed functionally equivalent and subject to Canadian contribution regimes similar to the case in Europe under BEREC. For example, where Google effectively acts as a broadcaster on its platform, it should contribute a portion of its revenues to the production of Canadian content.
2. Incorporate all service providers in the legislation
The new Communications Act needs to:
- Recognize all the substantive players in the industry including infrastructure and rights of way owners and content providers
- Recognize the principles of equity and fair rate of return
- Set the stage for the regulatory framework for common carrier infrastructure to ensure equitable treatment and fair return on investment
3. Develop regulatory efficiency
- Recognize the cost and technological challenges of broadband in rural areas
- Recognize needs of rural and niche service providers for access to secure, affordable spectrum
- Set out policy objectives, funding & timelines to overcome those challenges
- Permanent broadband fund
- Differentiated spectrum management for rural areas
- Fairness in contribution for all content, services and distribution network providers
- Apply the Competition Act equally to all Communications Service Providers
- Spectrum management should be refocused on the principles of sharing and efficiency
- Move the functions of spectrum regulation into a single communication regulatory and eliminate the current dual policy – regulatory function of ISED
Stuart Jack speaking before Senate Committee
To read full transcript, click here.
To watch full appearance, click here.