Canadian Broadcasters Ask Regulators For Level Playing Field


Canadian broadcasters are asking the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to prevent carriers providing preferential treatment for some content providers at the expense of others. At a hearing by the commission into whether to regulate new media, Paul Temple, the vice-president of regulatory affairs for Pelmorex Media, which owns The Weather Network, said: “Under the rules as they exist today, mobile carriers can decide which programming gets preferential packaging, and they can get programmers to pay a fee for it…If we say no or are not given the opportunity, they may require the customer to pay more to access our content,” reports CBC. The profitability of mobile sites is being undermined by by the policies of the carriers, according to Pelmorex.

The Star lists the broadcaster’s complaints of the behaviour of carriers: Blocking ads from mobile sites; stripping out tracking codes embedded in Web pages, thereby limiting ability to deliver ads; establishing “walled gardens” that provide preferential access that reduces data charges for sites within the walled garden; forcing users to use the wireless carrier home page when accessing the Internet on feature phones; demanding prior approval of applications for use on smart phones; Wireless carriers imposing additional fees for text messages that include advertisements; and limiting to whom ads in text messages may be sold.

Others have argued that the exemption on regulating new media should be extended, with the Association of Canadian Advertisers and the National Hockey League both arguing that internet and wireless were still in their infancy and needed more time before their impact on traditional broadcasting could be assessed. Ontario Culture Minister Aileen Carroll and the Ontario Media Development Corp also said the exemption should continue, but new funding mechanisms should be introduced to support the creation of Canadian content.

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