ARCHIVED -  Public Notice CRTC 1987-205

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Public Notice

Ottawa, 15 September 1987
Public Notice CRTC 1987-205
An Approach to Industry-Administered Standards: A Broadcast Council
In keeping with its fundamental review of all its broadcasting regulations with a view to making them more adaptable and eliminating all but the essential regulations, the Commission encouraged the broadcasting and related industries to develop industry standards in some areas.
On 9 January 1987 the Commission, in Public Notice CRTC 1987-9 entitled "Guidelines for Developing Industry Standards", proposed guidelines to assist broadcasters and related industry associations to develop standards relating to specific issues of concern to the Commission and the public. The notice emphasized that the setting of effective industry standards would be a constructive means of responding to continuing public concern about the content of broadcast programming.
The Commission requested public comment on its proposed guidelines and on the most appropriate process to safeguard the public interest.
These guidelines were as follows:
1. In developing the proposed standard, the industry should address the concerns which led the Commission to request that a standard be developed;
2. The industry should define the type of standard to be developed (guideline, code of ethics, code of conduct, etc.) and specify to whom the standard will apply;
3. The Commission will wish to be assured that the industry standard is developed pursuant to a fair consultative process;
4. The industry should describe in some detail how the standard will be administered and what action will be taken in the event of non-compliance;
5. Amendments to the industry standard should be submitted to the Commission for approval;
6. An annual report dealing with the progress of the licensees in applying the industry standard, including the disposition of any complaints, should be submitted the Commission.
In response to the public notice, the Commission received 30 submissions. While a number of the submissions generally endorsed the Commission's intention to encourage broadcasters to develop industry standards that would respect social attitudes and develop public confidence, many expressed misgivings about industry "self-regulation" and the ability of broadcasters to adhere to voluntary standards.
To some extent, such views may be the result of a misinterpretation of the Commission's use of the term "self-regulation". It was not, and is not, the Commission's intention to delegate its regulatory responsibility either to the licensee or to a related industry group. Current legislation does not permit such action.
The Commission does, however, encourage broadcasters and related industry associations to assume more responsibility with respect to broadcast content, and to develop standards that would complement or reinforce existing regulations. The Commission must, nevertheless, be satisfied that such standards ensure that adequate treatment of the issues have been made, that broadcasters have demonstrated their willingness to adhere to the industry standards, that the process by which the standards are developed is open and that a process to administer the standards has been put into place.
Several submissions also suggested that mechanisms to ensure compliance with self-administered standards were needed to deal with complaints. Some underlined the importance of ensuring that the existence of any guidelines, codes or standards not diminish the Commission's responsibility to regulate and supervise the Canadian broadcasting system.
While some submissions recommended that voluntary industry standards be separate and distinct from the Commission's regulatory structure, others saw regulation as being necessary to complement or reinforce any voluntary industry standards or guidelines.
It was also suggested that any proposed industry guidelines or associated processes be made widely available for public comment prior to their implementation.
In response to Public Notice CRTC 1987-9, the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB), which is the voluntary trade association representing the majority of private radio and television broadcasters, submitted a "Proposed System for Industry Standards" which includes a proposal for a National Broadcast Standards Council. The CAB's suggested model sets out mechanisms whereby voluntary industry standards may be developed, modified and administered.
In response to the requests for wide public input and consultation, the Commission submits the CAB's model for public comment. Also attached are the CAB's proposed structure for this model (Appendix B) as well as the proposed "Complaints Management Procedures" (Appendix C).
Written comments should address this proposal in light of the Commission's proposed guidelines. Submissions should be directed to the attention of the Secretary General, CRTC, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0N2 and be received by the Commission not later than 13 October 1987.
Appendix A, which contains a legal opinion provided to the CAB concerning the development of self-regulatory industry standards, is available for viewing on the public file of this proceeding.
Fernand Bélisle Secretary General

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