CRTC 50th anniversaryCRTC 50th anniversary

The CRTC is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2018. To celebrate this milestone, we will be publishing a series of articles throughout the year on various highlights of the CRTC’s history. Here are the published articles.

The CRTC’s origins

We have to go back to 1852, when the first Telegraph Act was adopted, to discover the origins of the CRTC. From the invention of the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell to the first radio station that broadcast regular programming, the broadcasting and telecommunications industries have continually developed in Canada. The regulation of these industries has also continued to evolve.

As early as 1928, the first Royal Commission on Radio Broadcasting recommended the creation of a national broadcasting network supervised by an independent federal organization. Consequently, the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission (CRBC) was created in 1932.

However, in 1936, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) / Société Radio-Canada (SRC) was founded and replaced the CRBC. In 1957, the Fowler Commission recommended that the CBC/SRC abandon its role as the broadcasting regulator. One year later, a new organization, the Board of Broadcast Governors, took over the CBC/SRC’s functions related to the regulation of Canadian broadcasting, including the CBC/SRC and private broadcasters.

In 1966, the government announced its broadcasting policy and deemed it essential that Canadians retain control over new communications technologies. In 1968, the Canadian Radio-Television Commission (CRC) was founded and entrusted with this mandate. To include telecommunications companies and broaden its jurisdiction, the CRC became the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) in 1976, as we know it today.

Since then, the CRTC has been an administrative tribunal that regulates and supervises broadcasting and telecommunications in the public interest. It is dedicated to ensuring that Canadians have access to a world-class communication system that meets their needs.

The CRTC encourages the growth of Canadian culture

In the early 1970s, the CRTC was responsible for implementing the Broadcasting Act, and it put in place a set of rules to guide the mandatory broadcasting of Canadian content in the country. Today, this important decision to impose Canadian content quotas still contributes actively to creative production adapted to the Canadian public.


In the 1960s, in was difficult for Canadian music to find its place on the Canadian airwaves. Radio stations were airing mostly British and U.S. songs. To be heard in the country, Canadian musicians first had to break into the European or U.S. markets.

In 1971, the rules on quotas for Canadian content became a game-changer. From then on, the majority of Canadian stations were required to broadcast a minimum of 25% Canadian content. In 1980, these quotas were reviewed and adjusted upwards to 30%, and in 1999 they rose to 35%.


Like radio, the Canadian television channels faced strong competition from the U.S. cultural market. Beginning in October 1972, the CRTC required that at least 60% of the content presented be of Canadian origin.

With the CRTC’s interventions, the Broadcasting Act (adopted in 1968) took shape and the Canadian cultural industry benefited enormously. Today, Canadian creativity is renowned across Canada and around the world.

The CRTC authorizes the first specialty television services in the country

It was in 1982, when it authorized pay television channels, that the CRTC opened the door to specialty television services. Two years later, the CRTC approved the applications of CHUM/CITY-TV for the creation of MuchMusic, and Action Canada Sports Network (ACSN) for the creation of TSN. In 1984, the first two specialty channels made their debut on our television screens.


Until then, in Canada, music videos were generally limited to certain programs airing on conventional television stations. According to the Commission, establishing a network that specialized in music would mark a turning point in the production of music videos and showcasing of Canadian artists. MuchMusic would also prompt the Canadian industry to experiment and to meet the demand of an increasingly large audience for music video programming.


This new channel was to complement the offer of sports programming aired on conventional and pay television channels. The ACSN’s objective was to provide fans with a diversified range of Canadian and international sports and to broadcast certain Canadian university and amateur sports. The agreement between the ACSN and the CRTC included, among others, provisions to air a Sports Canada program every week. All of the advertising revenues generated by this two-hour sports magazine show would be retained by Sports Canada to cover the cost of producing and purchasing programs. Other commitments were also made to ensure the promotion and visibility of Canadian amateur sport.

Also in 1982, the CRTC approved three other ethnic services—Chinavision, Cathay and Telelatino—in addition to the distribution in Canada of 17 U.S. channels, including CNN, A&E, CMT, FNN, TLC and The Weather Channel.

In the years that followed, the CRTC periodically approved the addition of numerous specialty channels. With the advent of digital cable, Canadians today have access to hundreds of specialty channels, and the cable industry continues its transformation.