Catching Up on – capitulating on cultural trade? – Rogers-Shaw update – Massive EU fine for Facebook.

January 7, 2023 was able to shake off the holiday season lethargy and publish a long post on one of the few cultural trade disputes we have had with the Americans. 

This one was the 1995 battle that broke out after the CRTC allowed the TV licence of an American music video station to expire and replaced it with a Canadian start-up.

The Clinton Administration threatened a half billion dollars in trade retaliation. You be the judge of whether Canada “capitulated” or responded pragmatically. Either way, it’s a valuable history lesson for followers of the debate over C-11 and C-18.


As media policy buffs you are probably up to date on the Competition Tribunal’s approval of the Rogers-Shaw merger and rejection of the Competition Bureau’s attempt to block it.

If not, the Globe, the Star and the Financial Post always do a good job reporting on it. The Tribunal decision itself is easier to read than you think; you can read the “bottom line” ruling or the full reasons.

To provide a condensed summary right here, the Tribunal ruled that the merger “is likely” (everything about competition law is about ‘what is likely’) to increase wireless competition in B.C. and Alberta rather than decrease it.

The Bureau is contesting the ruling and we will likely have the results from the Federal Court of Appeal by the end of January.

Most of the published criticism of the Tribunal decision is intensely partisan as anything pertaining to telecommunications regulation tends to be. Professor Jennifer Quaid offers a detached criticism of the ruling here.


It seems we can always count on the European Union to move the yardsticks on regulating American Big Tech.

The latest is a EU ruling that invalidates Facebook’s terms-of-service waiver of EU users’ rights to opt out of personally targeted advertising. The decision comes with a 390 million Euro fine for past transgressions. More importantly, the New York Times story predicts future compliance will shave five to seven per cent off of Facebook advertising revenues. 

Big Tech companies prefer homogenous regulatory compliance (or none) across multiple jurisdictions. With US Congress mostly inactive, the Australian/Canadian news compensation legislation and European GDPR regulations are growing the compliance gap.


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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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