The Podcast: CRTC chairman Ian Scott (Part I)

By Bill Roberts

IAN SCOTT IS already two years through his five-year mandate as chair of the CRTC. He hasn’t been as active calling hearings as his predecessor, who kept thinking up ways of making sure regulatory departments and the journalists who cover them were always hopping, but the CRTC under Scott has still been very busy.

While the Commission is an arm’s length agency, the federal government has been quite keen on pushing a few big issues which, despite what many critics might have to say, are awfully complex and difficult for the CRTC to regulate when the lists of desires from so many different parties are so long and varied. You can’t keep everyone happy, no matter what politicians might like.

Scott (right) told our Bill Roberts last Wednesday at CRTC headquarters “we’re not the policy makers,” but he does have some wishes when it comes to how the federal government might set new policy in the wake of the Broadcasting and Telecom Legislative Review, whose panel report is due in January.

He said he’s generally pleased with the telecom toolkit already at the Commission’s disposal (and knows February’s wireless policy review hearing will be closely watched), but the Regulator needs much better direction from government on the broadcasting side where “the world has changed drastically… We need new tools to deal with the new environment,” he said.

The now-former Heritage Minister has already said digital giants should be contributing to Canadian culture, since they benefit from our market – and the CRTC has said much the same through its Harnessing Change report. However, Scott knows the any impending policy alterations won’t be as simple as applying the same levies Canadian companies now contribute to Cancon to the likes of Netflix or YouTube.

The Commission needs to know the outcomes the federal government desires so then it can “look at these companies and figure out the best way to make sure they can make a meaningful contribution to the system,” Scott says.

All this and more is just in part I of our podcast with CRTC chair Ian Scott. What’s left to discuss? Lots. Part II of the two-parter will be posted next Tuesday.