As the first bite of winter streams through the Ottawa River cauldron between Ottawa and the old city of Hull, the Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Committee (CRTC) is meeting at Les Terraces de la Chaudière in Gatineau, Quebec. One of four bodies to consider the application of Rogers Communications to take over Shaw Communications, it will likely be the least important. All our hopes for the CRTC have come to naught.
Over the years, I have been a participant in some of the CRTC’s deliberations. I was there for the birth of the CRTC in a policy workshop of a liberal party meeting in Ottawa. The young Turks of the party wanted to wrest the emerging networks from the control of the Board of Broadcast Governors, who, at the time, also ran the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Prime Minister Pearson chuckled at our antics but it was under Pierre Trudeau that the CRTC became a reality.
Those were the learning years for the CRTC. Cable was happening piecemeal in Canada’s cities. Broadcasters were aligning themselves. The CRTC was there to help build the bridges, the infrastructure, and to create a truly Canadian system. The committee faced the powerful and the entrepreneurs. It never lost sight of its mission over those early years.
But the political pressure was too intense when Bell Canada decided to buy CTV. The CRTC caved in to the politicians.
And what the politicians had in mind when coincidentally chair Ian Scott and his eight, all female(?), commissioners are hearing this current plan to exploit the public, we cannot fathom.
The one thing I might observe, were I there, until the current chair of Rogers Communications learns the purpose of a board and the operating officers of a large corporation, he should practice on something smaller than a multi billion-dollar corporation with thousands of employees. The late Ted Rogers created the corporation by the skilled exploitation of new technologies. It does not seem that Rogers’ son has that same skill. He must be there for the money. Luckily, there are three more hurdles for this nascent mega-corporation. The competition bureau and the federal department of innovation will also have a say. And then it is a decision for the federal cabinet.
Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry
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