ARCHIVED -  Public Notice CRTC 1987-9

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Public Notice

Ottawa, 9 January 1987
Public Notice CRTC 1987-9
Guidelines for developing Industry Standards
As part of its overall regulatory reform process, the Commission has undertaken a fundamental review of all of its broadcasting regulations with a view to streamlining its regulatory procedures and eliminating all but the essential regulations necessary to achieve the objectives of the Broadcasting Act.
In keeping with this streamlined approach, and following an extensive public consultation process, the Commission has recently enacted new AM and FM radio and cable regulations, revised its licence fee regulations and today has announced its new regulations for television (Public Notice CRTC 1987-8). The implementation and application of these regulations will be closely monitored by the Commission in the next two years to assess their adequacy and effectiveness.
An emphasis on a supervisory approach will give the Commission more flexibility required to make necessary changes in policy, accommodate technological advancement, provide a more timely response to changes in the environment and address consumer demands and industry needs.
Within this context, the Commission has encouraged the broadcasting and related industries and associations to develop standards for self-regulation in some areas. A continuing public concern about the content of broadcast programming, particularly on television, has been to ensure that quality does not suffer because of reduced regulation. The setting of effective industry standards could be a constructive mechanism to respond to this concern.
Such standards may consist of certain criteria or guidelines that are agreed to and applied on a voluntary basis. They could be developed and administered with the assistance of organizations whose membership reflects various public, industry, professional, consumer and social interest groups so as to ensure fair and adequate representation and the accommodation of different interests.
Reliance by the Commission on voluntary standards is only possible if broadcasters accept a greater degree of responsibility for ensuring that the objectives of the Broadcasting Act are met and that the Canadian broadcasting system is operated in the public interest.
Self-regulation must, therefore, be based on a responsible industry attitude which takes into account public concerns, respects social attitudes and aims at gaining consumer approval and developing public confidence.
The Commission also expects that the setting of standards will be accomplished through an open and fair process. The parties affected should be afforded an opportunity to make known their concerns, and members of the public should participate in the development of such standards in order to establish their credibility and to represent the public's view as to what is acceptable.
Effective administration of industry standards is essential. Adequate mechanisms should be developed to oversee the operation of a set of standards, monitor adherence and compliance by the industry, respond to complaints, and develop any necessary revisions. Commitment by the industry to the standard is also fundamental, as public concern is allayed only to the extent that the resulting standards are implemented.
During the regulatory review recently conducted, various issues and widespread concerns were raised by public groups and broadcasters with respect to industry self-regulation and the methods and procedures employed in developing industry standards.
A review of current industry standards by the Commission indicates that no consistent approach has been used. While a number of industry groups have made significant progress in the development of individual standards, there is still only limited co-ordination and voluntary application of such standards throughout the Canadian broadcasting system.
The Commission is concerned that the criteria required to ensure successful self-regulation may not be sufficiently apparent. In order to increase the involvement of the broadcasting industry and the public in the development of appropriate industry standards, the Commission invites public comment on the following proposed guidelines. These guidelines are intended to provide some basic parameters and will also serve as a basis for the Commission's assessment of industry standards.
Where regulation has been eliminated or made more adaptable, or where the Commission determines that a selfregulatory mechanism may be appropriate, it may request a particular broadcasting sector or related group to develop an industry standard. At that time, the Commission will outline its objectives and state its expectations of the industry. Once the particular standard has been developed and submitted, the Commission will issue a notice inviting public comment.
In order to assist in the development of a consistent approach to the setting of standards, the Commission proposes the following guidelines:
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 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 to the Commission.
Written comments on the proposed guidelines should be submitted no later than 12 February 1987 to the Secretary General, CRTC, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0N2.
Fernand Bélisle Secretary General

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