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Vol 1, #1, March 17, 2009
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Telecom giants opposed to proposed CRTC levy

According to two of Canada’s largest telecom companies, the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission’s proposed levy on Internet service providers to fund Canadian new media content is an illegal idea.

At last week’s CRTC public hearings on new media regulations, Rogers Communications Inc. and Shaw Communications Inc. called the levy “unlawful” and both companies have filed legal opinions with the CRTC that question the legality of the proposal.

The federal broadcast regulator is considering the idea of imposing a new tax on Internet service providers that would be used to fund the creation of Canadian broadcasting content for new media platforms like the Internet.

Canadians say “no” to ISP levies

In two polls conducted by Angus Reid Strategies, the Canadian public is saying that they are against proposed new ISP levies for new media content creation and for file sharing.  Some noteworthy revelations:
  • 80 per cent said that a new CRTC levy on ISPs to pay for Canadian new media content creation was unnecessary and/or inappropriate
  • 73 per cent said that an ISP levy to compensate for file sharing was unnecessary and/or inappropriate
  • 45 per cent said that downloading music was simply people doing what they should be able to on the Internet
  • 27% said that they shouldn't do it but that it is not a big deal
  • Only three per cent said that file sharers "are criminals who should be punished by law." 
  • Downloading still exceeds paid downloads
  • 41 per cent of people who download were more likely to buy a CD as opposed to 34 per cent among non-downloaders

According to a report in the Globe and Mail, Rogers vice-chairman Phil Lind told the hearings that because Internet service providers “do not buy, package or sell programming or any other Internet content,” they should not have to support Canadian programming development.

But according to the Globe, those comments brought a “stern rebuke” from CRTC chairman Konrad von Finckenstein.

“The courts will decide,” he said.

Not everyone is opposing the idea. The Canadian Film & Television Production Association had their own lawyers review the proposal. The legal opinion from McCarthy Tétrault LLP suggests that the CRTC does, in fact, have the authority to implement such a proposal.

“We respect Rogers’ opinion, but our own legal opinion shows otherwise,” Mario Mota, vice-president of broadcasting policy and regulatory affairs for the CFTPA, told the Globe.

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