February 26, 2022
My latest blog post digs into the story behind the notorious photo of CRTC Chair Ian Scott having a beer with Bell executive Mirko Bibic in December 2019 and the now iconic status of the picture amid allegations from Internet service re-sellers of regulatory capture.
Mostly I think it’s nonsense as you can probably tell from the blog, but there was another chapter in the ISP saga this week when Bell acquired Quebec’s biggest independent ISP re-seller EBox. Former CRTC Chair and still federal civil servant Jean-Pierre Blais –never one to hide his light under a bushel– publicly criticized the deal as a blow to ISP competition.
Speaking of acquisitions: the Rogers/Shaw merger needs approvals from the CRTC (for cable and satellite assets), the Competition Bureau, and finally from ISED Minister François-Philippe Champagne for the wireless spectrum. The Globe’s Alexandra Posadzki reported that the MPs on the INDU Parliamentary committee are pushing Champagne to make his approval conditional on Rogers divesting the Shaw mobility operations. Industry analyst Mark Goldberg, ever the deflator of populist dreams, tweeted a previous blog with another perspective: maybe a merger of Rogers and Shaw wireless operations will intensify competition between Telus and Rogers.
Fair-Pay-for-News: Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez revealed that the long awaited Online News Bill will be tabled in the Commons soon and covers not only written journalism but also television news posted on Facebook NewsFeed, Google Search, and YouTube.
This “Australian model” of realigning the bargaining power between the Silicon Valley giants and news outlets is picking up traction internationally: the UK government is committing to an even stronger version while there is a weaker version (no binding arbitration) in US Congress.
All of this coincides with the publication of a Press Gazette interview with the architect of the Australian “Media Bargaining Code” Rod Sims on the first anniversary of the legislation. Unfortunately key details of the series of deals struck with Australian news outlets remain shrouded in non-disclosure secrecy. An interesting tid-bit: he refutes the notion that large media organizations have elbowed smaller publications aside at the waterhole.
The New York Times in Canada: Canada’s number two (so it’s said) and least edited newspaper the New York Times has ticked off some Canadian subscribers with controversial coverage of the Convoy Occupations. That drew a rebuttal worth reading from the National Observer’s Max Fawcett.