New CRTC appointments signal potential pro-consumer shift on Canada’s horizon
Appointees’ competition and spectrum allocation experience welcome
DECEMBER 19, 2022 — Today OpenMedia welcomes the government’s appointment of Vicky Eatrides as new chairperson and CEO of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), alongside new vice-chairs Alicia Barin and Adam Scott. Ms. Eatrides’ term is for a period of five years, beginning January 5th, 2023.
Ms. Eatrides is a lawyer specializing in competition, having worked at a senior level within the Competition Bureau where she led Competition Act enforcement. Her appointment comes on the heels of a lengthy push by consumer advocates for a public interest champion to take over from outgoing chair Ian Scott, whose period in office was marred by public scandal over his close relationship with telecommunications companies. The CRTC is also facing increasing scrutiny given the extremely new broad powers granted to it under Bill C-11 and Bill C-18.
“Ms. Eatrides’ appointment is a hopeful sign that the next CRTC will finally put the needs of ordinary Canadians first,” said OpenMedia Campaigns Director Matt Hatfield. “Canadians pay some of the highest prices in the world for both home and wireless Internet — and prices continue to rise. Our last CRTC made our affordability problems worse, refusing to introduce services-based competition and even endorsing the Rogers-Shaw deal every other government body judged harmful. The critical eye of a pro-competition chair could be exactly what we need to get the CRTC to finally open the doors to mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) and wholesale Internet competition, which helps lower prices in many other countries.”
“The CRTC’s mandate has grown exponentially in the last couple years, as more and more critical decisions about Canada’s future are assigned to the Commission,” continued Hatfield. “What’s a Canadian story, and who gets to tell one? To implement Bill C-11, this CRTC is going to have to finally update our 1980s era “CanCon” definitions and answer that question. We’re hoping their response will include all Canadian creators, providing equal financial support opportunities to Internet-first creators.”
Pending legislation may further expand the CRTC’s mandate. If the government passes Bill C-18, the Online News Act, the CRTC will be asked to oversee and potentially arbitrate a complex set of deals between online intermediaries and news outlets. Recent House amendments could make the CRTC directly responsible for evaluating the journalistic standards and ethics of news outlets seeking funding.
This summer, over 14,000 OpenMedia petition signers in Canada urged the government to appoint a new CRTC chair with a documented history of standing up for the interests of ordinary people, not telecom giants. The OpenMedia community has sent over 200,000 messages calling for fixes that respect user choice and content to Online Streaming Act Bill C-11 and its predecessor, Bill C-10.