The CRTC’s 2013-2016 Three-Year Plan

The CRTC’s updated Three-Year Plan was released yesterday.  This is a useful document for stakeholders to get a general idea of when larger policy hearings are intended to be conducted.  It can help in budgeting, though there will always be more hearings than are in the plan, and in research planning.  For those who haven’t read it, from a broadcasting perspective these are the CRTC’s planned activities that I think are worth noting for stakeholders (under the CRTC’s heading ‘Create’):

–       There will be a ‘conversation with Canadians’ about television in 2013-14.  I have no idea what that means but I assume that we will hear shortly.

–       The genre protection policy was to be internally reviewed in 2013-14 but that has now been postponed to 2014-15.

–       The policy for Cat A services will be reviewed in 2015-16 to see if it is time to license more of those services.  Cat A’s have priority carriage and CanCon obligations that Cat B’s don’t have.

–       In 2013-14 there will be a written consultation on the commercial radio policy

–       The CRTC will internally research Cultural Diversity policy in 2013-14, possibly undertake a public fact-finding consultation in 2014-15 and may then have a public hearing on cultural diversity policy in 2015-16.  There already is in place a cultural diversity policy that aims at ensuring that broadcasting is cultural diverse in employment and programming and the broadcasters have reports that they have to file each year to demonstrate their activities to that end.  It will be interesting to see if this policy is working well or not.

–       The CRTC will undertake the same research, fact-finding, public consultation process for Ethnic Broadcasting, both television and radio.

–       There will be a review of Native Radio Policy in 2015-16.

–       The Tangible Benefits Policy will be reviewed by written consultation as will the valuation policy, in 2013-14.  A new policy will not be implemented until 2014-15.  The knee jerk reaction is to suggest that there will be no more major transactions by that time but every time someone says that the market turns around and presents us with another major acquisition.  It isn’t going to hurt to have greater clarity on what are acceptable benefits package allocations and on how the CRTC assesses valuation of assets for determining the amount of those benefits.  I was on a panel at the 2012 Law Society of Upper Canada’s Biennial conference on Communications Law and Policy where both stakeholders and broadcasters called for greater clarity and consistency in both valuation and tangible benefits policy.

–       Rogers’ TV licences are up for renewal in 2014-15.  They have added several new stations since they were last licensed so expect a call for a higher commitment to Canadian programming and their resistance to that.

–       In 2015-16 Bell, Shaw and Corus have their group licences up for renewal.  We have not yet seen the reports of the first year of their licence term so it is early to speculate on what the issues will be for renewal – but there will be issues.

The headings for Connect and Protect have quite a few topics as well.  Feel free to review the Plan if you’re interested in what the CRTC has planned for telecomm, pay phones, broadband performance,  wireless code of conduct, 911 services and more.

I’m going to not think about the CRTC for the rest of the day.  Next week it’s Bell-Astral2 for the whole week so I don’t know about you but I need just a little break after almost two weeks of #91h.

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