ARCHIVED -  Public Notice CRTC 1998-82

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Public Notice

Ottawa, 31 July 1998
Public Notice CRTC 1998-82
Telecom Public Notice CRTC 98-20

New Media - Call for Comments

Table of Contents
Purpose of any Regulatory Framework
Support for Access by Canadian New Media Producers to Distribution
Financial or other Support for the Development and Production of Canadian New Media Services
 Deadlines for submissions of written comments
 First Phase: 1 October 1998
 Second Phase: 21 October 1998
 Date of Public Hearing: 23 November 1998
 Deadline for submission of final written comments: 15 January 1999
New Media - Call for Comments
1.  With this public notice, the Commission initiates a proceeding, under both the Broadcasting Act and the Telecommunications Act, to examine the rapidly expanding, and increasingly available, range of communications services collectively known or referred to as "new media".
2.  In this proceeding, the Commission wishes to conduct a thorough public consultation on the broad implications and significance that the new media hold for such affected parties as the developers and producers of these services, those who are engaged in their delivery, and those who ultimately make use of them.
3.  The Commission's purpose is to establish a forum in which interested parties can set out their views on the new media and engage in a constructive discussion about issues of concern. It is the Commission's expectation that, from this proceeding, a comprehensive record will emerge that will provide the Commission with a better understanding of the scope and impact of the new media, the evolving industry structure, and the potential competitive access issues that may affect consumers in all regions of Canada. The Commission also believes that the proceeding will offer Canadians a clearer perception of the potential benefits they may reap from the evolution of new media services, as well as of the economic and cultural contributions of such services to Canadian society.
4.  The Commission wishes to underscore the fact that it brings to this proceeding no preliminary views with respect either to how new media should be defined, or to what role, if any, the Commission should play in their regulation or supervision. In this proceeding, the Commission intends to develop a comprehensive record in order to assist it in answering the following questions.
a)  In what ways, and to what extent, do new media affect, or are they likely to affect, the broadcasting and telecommunications undertakings now regulated by the Commission?
b)  In what ways, and to what extent, are some or any of the new media either broadcasting or telecommunications services?
c)  To the extent that any of the new media are broadcasting or telecommunications, to what extent should the Commission regulate and supervise them pursuant to the Broadcasting Act and the Telecommunications Act?
d)  Do the new media raise any other broad policy issues of national interest?
5.  The Commission notes that, among participants in this process, the term new media will likely have many different meanings. Views will undoubtedly vary just as widely concerning whether there is a benefit to be gained or other purpose served through any regulatory initiatives regarding their development, distribution, transmission or eventual use.
6.  New media can be described as encompassing, singly or in combination, and whether interactive or not, services and products that make use of video, audio, graphics and alphanumeric text; and involving, along with other, more traditional means of distribution, digital delivery over networks interconnected on a local or global scale. The Commission considers that this may be a useful working description for the purposes of this proceeding.
7.  At the same time, the Commission notes that under such a description, virtually all services found on the Internet could be considered as forms of new media. Some might argue that services, when delivered using private corporate networks, should be excluded from any description of new media. Others may suggest that the definition of new media services should exclude certain types of services in any event, regardless of the technology used for their distribution (i.e. whether they are delivered via the Internet or by a private network). There may well be many services that, for various other reasons, are considered to be new media services by some, but not by others.
8.  The Commission therefore encourages interested parties to provide it with comments on, among the other issues set out below, an appropriate working description of new media.
9.  Following the public hearing, the Commission intends to document the various views expressed by those participating in this proceeding, for the purpose of identifying any issues, trends or options that may emerge. The Commission may also, where appropriate, make determinations with respect to certain of these issues.
10.  By Order in Council P.C. 1994-1689 dated 11 October 1994, the Government requested that the Commission report back to it on a number of matters, as they relate to the Commission's area of responsibility respecting the development of content and competition policies for new communications technologies and services that will comprise the "information highway".
11.  In particular, the Order in Council stated:
 Our policies must encourage the development of Canadian content that can compete with the best the world has to offer, including cultural, entertainment and educational products. Our policies must also ensure the continued support of our cultural industries by ensuring that new broadcasting content services meet the sovereignty and cultural identity objectives of the Broadcasting Act, and that content services are introduced in a manner which contributes to the objective of reinforcing Canadian sovereignty and cultural identity.
12.  The Order in Council also indicated that the four principles to guide the information highway strategy would be:
. an interconnected and interoperable network of networks,
. collaborative private and public sector development,
. competition in facilities, products and services; and
. privacy protection and network security.
A fifth principle was added by the Information Highway Advisory Council in its September 1995 report stating: lifelong learning as a key design element of Canada's Information Highway.
13.  In its 19 May 1995 report to the Government entitled Competition and Culture on Canada's Information Highway: Managing the Realities of Transition (the Convergence Report), the Commission noted, among other things, that the current definitions in the Broadcasting Act will likely capture many new and emerging services, for example, on-line commercial multimedia services.
14.  In the period since publication of the Convergence Report, it has become apparent that there are increasing numbers and types of services being delivered by way of new distribution methods and technologies. Internet audio, video and other services, whether delivered on demand or in real time, are becoming more widely available as the result of software and hardware developments and greater network capabilities.
15.  A fundamental objective of the Broadcasting Act is to ensure the availability of high quality and diverse Canadian programming that maximizes use of Canadian creative and other resources in a manner that supports Canadian sovereignty and Canada's cultural identity. The substantial growth and development of new media, and their delivery over both global and domestic networks, have not altered this fundamental objective, which has challenged and preoccupied Canadians for much of the 20th century.
16.  The Commission, in furtherance of its mandate to implement the policy objectives contained in the Broadcasting Act, has sought to enrich and strengthen the economic, social and cultural fabric of Canada by ensuring a prominent Canadian presence in the content and delivery of broadcasting services.
17.  Nevertheless, the Commission is aware that the approaches that have proven successful in the past with respect to the distribution of the programming services of conventional broadcasting undertakings may be inappropriate for the distribution of new media services to Canadians, or inadequate in an age of worldwide networks and the global delivery of services.
18.  The Commission also considers that its regulation of the Canadian telecommunications system has served to achieve the Canadian telecommunications policy objectives of the Telecommunications Act. This includes the continued provision of reliable and affordable services during a period of increased reliance on market forces.
19.  The Commission examined the matter of access by Canadians to new media services in the Convergence Report, and this topic continues to be an important issue. In its report, the Commission noted that the objectives of its traditional regulatory approach have been to achieve universality in telecommunications. The Commission, however, is also aware that, as technology continues to evolve, and as traditional telecommunications services are increasingly delivered using alternative distribution networks such as the Internet, the existing subsidy approach may come under increasing pressure.
20.  The worldwide growth of interconnected local and larger public networks, and the global nature of the new media services developed and provided over them, may thus raise other issues upon which interested parties may wish to comment. Within the framework of this proceeding, parties may, for example, wish to provide their views on the ability of Canadians to access new media services, in all their dimensions and diversity (including health, learning, entertainment and commerce), with a view to contributing to the identification and discussion of issues in this area. The Commission notes that it is currently examining related issues in the proceeding initiated by Service to High-Cost Serving Areas, Telecom Public Notice CRTC 97-42 dated 18 December 1997.
21.  In order to assist interested parties in developing their submissions, but without wishing to limit comment, the Commission has set out below a number of questions for parties to address, in the context of responding to the more general questions set out in the Preface to this Public Notice.
. What kinds of new media services are either currently available or can reasonably be expected to emerge in the future?
. How does the current industry structure contribute to the development, production, transmission, distribution and use of new media? What role might the industry play in the future in carrying out these functions?
. What are the competitive implications arising from the development, production, transmission and distribution of new media in Canada?
. What are the current and potential business and economic models for the development, production, transmission and distribution, use and export of new media?
. What incentives might prompt existing and new industry participants to develop, produce, promote and distribute Canadian new media?
Purpose of any Regulatory Framework
. Would some form of broad enabling framework serve to stimulate the economic and cultural development of a new media industry?
. If so, what are the elements of any such enabling framework for Canadian new media that would best ensure the continued growth and development of the sector and, at the same time, achieve the social, cultural and economic objectives of the Broadcasting Act?
. Would regulation of the undertakings providing these services contribute materially to, or detract from, the attainment of the objectives set out in the Broadcasting Act?
. Would the issuance of an exemption order, under the Broadcasting Act, in respect of some or all broadcasting undertakings engaged in the provision of new media products and services facilitate or hinder the achievement of the Act's policy objectives?
. If an exemption order would facilitate the achievement of these policy objectives, what would be the appropriate scope of such an exemption order?
. Are there forms of Canadian new media content for which some degree of regulation would be appropriate with respect, for example, to privacy issues, offensive content (e.g. obscenity, hate propaganda, and discriminatory material), violence and gender portrayal, and advertising to children?
. Are there issues of concern related to the production and distribution of Canadian new media that could be appropriately dealt with through self-regulatory initiatives? If so, what forms should such initiatives take?
. To the extent that new media are now, or may reasonably be expected to become, complementary or substitutable for existing broadcasting services and their distribution systems, what is the potential impact of this on the existing regulatory and policy framework, and what mechanisms could be developed that would be fair and equitable to all parties?
Support for Access by Canadian New Media Producers to Distribution
. If access by producers of Canadian new media to distribution channels and content aggregators is an existing or potential problem that needs to be addressed, how should this be accomplished?
. Are there issues of access to distribution by new media present in other countries that might impact on Canadian producers?
. What approaches to these issues might be appropriate in the Canadian context, and why?
. Should on-line distributors of new media in Canada be required to contribute to the production of Canadian new media products and services? If so, what impact would such a requirement have on the development of the industry generally, and on the deployment of infrastructure?
. Can the promotion and prominence, within Canada, of Canadian new media product be ensured? If so, how could the development and production of Canadian new media (in English, French and other languages) best be achieved, both domestically and internationally?
Financial or other Support for the Development and Production of Canadian New Media Services
. What forms of support for the development and production of Canadian new media currently exist?
. What further forms of support, if any, for the development and production of Canadian new media might be required?
. If financial support is required, what might be the most appropriate mechanisms for delivering that support?
. How have the broad issues of new media funding been approached in other countries?
. Which of these approaches would or would not be appropriate in the Canadian context, and why?
. Is it necessary to define what constitutes a Canadian new media product or service for funding and support purposes and, if yes, what criteria should be used for doing so?
. What role, if any, should the Commission play in encouraging or requiring the provision of support for the development and production of Canadian new media?
22.  The Commission will hold a three phase process for the submission of written comments by interested parties on the above questions or on any other matters relevant to this examination of new media. In the first phase interested parties may file comments with the Commission by no later than 1 October 1998.
23.  Interested parties, regardless of whether they have made submissions during the first phase, may then file comments, by no later than 21 October 1998, with respect to matters raised by any of the comments submitted during the first phase.
24.  Interested parties filing submissions that are over five pages in length are asked to include a short executive summary of no more than three pages in length.
25.  The Commission will only accept submissions that it receives on or before the prescribed dates noted above. While submissions will not otherwise be acknowledged, they will be considered by the Commission and will form part of the public record of the proceeding, provided the procedures set out herein have been followed.
26.  The Commission will hold the oral phase of this proceeding to consider the matters addressed in this notice commencing at 9:00 a.m. on 23 November 1998 at the Conference Centre, Phase IV, 140 Promenade du Portage, Hull, Quebec.
27.  Interested parties wishing to appear at the oral public hearing must state their request on the first page of their written submissions. Such parties must also provide clear reasons, on the first page of their submissions, as to why their written submissions are not sufficient and why their appearance is necessary. The Commission will inform parties whether their request to appear has been granted.
28.  The Commission may, in advance of the oral phase, request that interested parties focus on specific issues in their oral presentations.
29.  Following the oral public hearing, interested parties, including those who have participated in the New Media Forum (see below), will have an opportunity to file with the Commission final written arguments. These final comments must be filed no later than 15 January 1999.
30.  Submissions filed in response to this notice must be addressed to the Secretary General, CRTC, Ottawa, K1A 0N2.
31.  All submissions must be filed in hard copy format. The Commission, however, also encourages parties to include, with the hard version of their submissions, a copy on diskette, or to file copies electronically. Each paragraph of the document should be numbered. In addition, as an indication that the document has not been damaged during electronic transmission, the line ***End of Document*** should be entered following the last paragraph of each document. The Commission's Internet e-mail address for electronically filed documents is .
32.  The Commission requests that parties wishing to send submissions to it in the form of e- mail messages or as file attachments to e-mail messages, should include information clearly identifying the name of the individual or company making the submission, the name of the proceeding or other subject to which the submission pertains, the date the e-mail was sent, and the name that has been given to any file attachment.
33.  In order to facilitate access by the public, submissions filed in electronic form will be available, in the language and format in which they are submitted, on the Commission's web site at .
34.  The McLuhan Program E-Lab unit, on behalf of the CRTC, will host a New Media Forum website at (English) and at (French). The website will allow the public to engage in discussion on issues relating to this public notice. The launch of the site is scheduled for 31 July 1998.
35.  The site will be open for postings on 22 September 1998 and will provide an opportunity for the public to participate in both moderated and unmoderated discussions of the issues addressed in this notice. Acceptable use policies are posted on the web site; McLuhan Program E-Lab moderators will ensure that a civil discussion environment is maintained and that no material that may be construed as discriminatory, promulgating hatred or obscenity, or defamation of any kind is posted on the site.
36.  In addition, summaries, in both official languages, of all moderated and unmoderated discussions on the site will be made available and will form part of the record of this proceeding. The first summary will be posted, on both the Forum website and the CRTC website, two weeks after the site is opened for posts. Further summaries will be prepared and posted at least every two weeks thereafter.
37.  The New Media Forum will accept postings up to and including 22 November 1998. A final summary of the postings shall be prepared and placed on the public record of the proceeding before final comments are due. All content posted by the public and all summaries prepared by the McLuhan Program form part of the record of this proceeding.
Central Building
Les Terrasses de la Chaudière
1 Promenade du Portage, Room 201
Hull, Quebec K1A ON2
Tel.: (819) 997-2429 - TDD: 994-0423
Telecopier: (819) 994-0218
Bank of Commerce Building
Suite 1007
1809 Barrington Street
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3J 3K8
Tel: (902) 426-7997 - TDD 426-6997
Telecopier: (902) 426-2721
Place Montréal Trust
1800 McGill College Avenue
Suite 1920
Montréal, Quebec H3A 3J6
Tel: (514) 283-6607 - TDD 283-8316
Telecopier: (514) 283-3689
55 St. Clair Avenue East
Suite 624
Toronto, Ontario
Tel. : 1-877-249-2782 (Toll Free)
Kensington Building
Suite 1810
275 Portage Avenue
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 2B3
Tel: (204) 983-6306 - TDD 983-8274
Telecopier: (204) 983-6317
530-580 Hornby Street
Vancouver, British Columbia V6C 3B6
Tel: (604) 666-2111 - TDD 666-0778
Telecopier: (604) 666-8322
Laura M. Talbot-Allan
Secretary General
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