Catching Up on MediaPolicy.ca – “Telling Canadian Stories” – “Lawyers, Beer & Money” – ‘Bell’ cuts prices, wait what?

September 10, 2022

Last week I posted about something missing in online commentary about Bill C-11 and that is more discussion about what is meant by “telling Canadian stories” as a good reason for passing the Bill.

And then for something completely different…I also posted about a telecom issue. I don’t offer much expertise in this area, but I note that media and telecom policy have some important things in common: the large “vertically integrated (VI)” media companies that dominate the market, the CRTC as their much-maligned regulator, and the same critics and consumer advocates.

If the VIs dominate markets, the critics dominate the public messaging, making their voices heard by politicians, journalists, the Competition Bureau, and the public at large. That messaging, reduced to its essence, is that big is always bad and the CRTC is always wrong. The VIs’ counter-messaging doesn’t get a lot of air play: maybe the 900 pound gorilla doesn’t feel the need to explain itself (except when screwing up over network outages and firing TV anchors). 

With all of that in mind, I dug a little deeper into a high-profile telecom file, the CRTC’s setting of wholesale broadband prices paid by “service-based” ISP providers (e.g. TekSavvy) to piggy back onto the VIs’ fibre networks. 

To drum up interest in such a dry subject matter, I entitled the post “Lawyers, Beer and Money.”

Enjoy.

***

While we are still on the subject of telecom policy, I updated you last week on Bell’s purchase of Canada’s second-largest re-seller, the Ontario-based Distributel. That follows BCE snapping up a similar company in Quebec, EBOX, only last February. 

LaPresse has published a timely survey which says that EBOX’s prices have gone down considerably since Bell bought them.

The impact that Bell’s moves may have on competition has surely attracted the attention of the Competition Bureau and the state of telecom regulation seems to be in flux more than the usual. The Globe and Mail’s Andrew Willis provides a  recent overview of what is happening in the industry.

***

If someone hasn’t already coined the phrase “never send a blogger to do the job of a journalist,” then I claim dibs. I have provided occasional updates on the winding road followed by the federal Liberals in putting forward an Online Harms Bill, promised in their last election platform. 

CTV’s Rachel Aiello has done a better job and will get you current. 

***

US Bill S-673/H.R.1735 is the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, the equivalent to our Bill C-18 Online News Act.

The Senate Judiciary Committee began its first hearings on the Bill this past Thursday. Authored by Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar, S-673 is co-sponsored by five other Democrats and seven Republicans, including Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Rand Paul (R-Ky).   

***

Has it really been more than two years since Christie Blatchford left us? A great journalist and a wonderful soul. There is a scholarship fund at OCAD being launched in her memory, you may wish to check it out.

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Howard Law

I am retired staff of Unifor, the union representing 300,000 Canadians in twenty different sectors of the economy, including 10,000 journalists and media workers. As the former Director of the Media Sector and as an unapologetic cultural nationalist, I have an abiding passion for public policy in Canadian media.

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