I have as many issues with the CRTC as anyone does – actually more, given that I’ve been at the short end of their stick for a good 15 years. But tell me something: Does it make any sense at all for a regulator to permit broadcasters to hide their renewal and application documents behind the closed doors of the broadcasters’ own offices?

I don’t think so, and I’ve petitioned the CRTC to force an open publication of such documents, which was nearly always the norm up to now. (They use proprietary formats like Microsoft Word and inaccessible formats like scanned PDFs, but at least the norm was online publication of documents.)

The last time this happened was with Telelatino, nobody’s first choice for a broadcaster passionately dedicated to its public duties. (I can still hear the condescension in the secretary’s tone of voice when she told me I could simply drop by their offices in Woodbridge to look at the five pages of documents that interested me.)

Additionally, does this not smack of a little too much closeness between broadcaster and regulator? The sort of thing Sarah Polley had the guts to complain about before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage (q.v.)?

Sarah Polley
[T]he federal government should fill the current vacancies on the commission with people who support the letter and spirit of Canada’s Broadcasting Act, and not with former broadcasting executives who are then in a position to collude with their former employers. […] [I]t’s my understanding that all those positions are filled by executives and business people, and I think that in these kinds of organizations – and I include Telefilm in this – it cannot be just businesspeople at the table. We need a few creative voices to be making creative decisions. I think that’s imperative.
Bev Oda [former CRTC commissioner; then-current MP; present Ministrix of Heritage]
I do want to take the opportunity to make sure I don’t leave this on the record without some explanation. In your last point, you indicated there may or may not have been those who are in a position to make CRTC appointments who are then in a position to collude with their former employers. Is this a real threat, and do you have any—? I just don’t want to leave it on the record that there may or may not have been collusion, or the potential for collusion.
I think our point in general is that we need more voices at the table. We need more creative voices at the table, and we feel it is unfair that a regulatory body is comprised of broadcasting executives almost exclusively, or that the majority of it is made up of broadcasting executives. We think that’s a problem. I don’t know that we were making any accusations of collusion, but it does present a problem, I think, when a regulatory body is such an unbalanced body. That’s what we are addressing.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2006.03.23 13:26. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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