Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Boin: "CRTC's chairman has to go"

Paul Boin, professor of media studies and communication at the University of Windsor, lambastes CRTC chairman Konrad von Finckenstein for the CRTC's recent decision not to set a limit on the number of advertising minutes allowed on Canadian broadcasts in today's Globe and Mail (A19) (subscriber version). He argues that the CRTC has abrogated its role of protecting the "public interest" and flaunted the Broadcasting Act in following the government directive to reduce the amount of broadcast regulation.
Prof. Boin misquotes the Broadcasting Act to make his point. The Act does not say that the CRTC "shall" make regulation "respecting the proportion of time that may be devoted to...advertisements" but that it "may". (Sect. 10.1)
He is also wrong to state that the CRTC should ignore the clear directions it has received from the government to rely on market forces to the maximum extent possible in telecommunications markets, and the broad policy directions being taken by the government to move away from micro-regulation. Although the CRTC is an arm's length organization, the measures in place allowing the government to set broad policy directions in Canadian communication are good ones. Any criticism of the current policy direction should be pointed not at Chairman von Finckenstein, but at the current government.