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Canada’s head regulator steps down with hard hitting speech

Jean-Pierre Blais spared no criticism of the government and the communications industry in his final speech as chairman of Canada’s telecom and broadcast regulator, blasting both for trying to preserve the status quo despite the disruptive force of broadband, reports the Financial Post. During his five-year tenure leading the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), Blais contends the regulator broke the status quo and fundamentally changed its perspective by putting broadband, not voice, at the centre of the system. “I’m deeply concerned by the fact that some people in industry and in government continue to bang their heads against the wall and argue on the margins of traditional institutions when we’re in the midst of a sea change,” Blais said in a speech at the Banff World Media Festival. Blais “went out with a bang, lobbing barbs at wireless providers, cabinet, minister of cultural heritage Mélanie Joly, media creators, broadcasters and the CBC during the lengthy address”. “Well, I’m staying true to form I guess,” Blais said in an interview prior to the speech. “The reason we have an independent regulator is to be able to speak truth to power.” While his words no longer directly indicate policy direction – the government has yet to name his successor – Blais predicted what will be on the CRTC’s radar in the next five years, including the death of print journalism, irrelevance of music radio quotas and a need for regulators to boost competition in the wireless market. “Hopefully what I’ve left behind however is a public process that invites every Canadian to participate and make their views known as to what the best way forward is,” he said. Over his term, Blais introduced policies that shook up the industry including the wireless code that killed three-year contracts, $25 “skinny” TV packages and pick-and-pay channels, and a series of policies that require providers to treat all data equally. Read more

  • Tuesday, 20 June 2017

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