This page has been archived.
Information identified as archived on the Web is for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It has not been altered or updated after the date of archiving. Web pages that are archived on the Web are not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards. As per the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, you can request alternate formats on the "Contact Us" page.
|Minister of Canadian Heritage and
Minister responsable for Status of Women
|Ministre du Patrimoine canadien et
ministre responsable de la Condition féminine
As a member of the Canadian Heritage Portfolio, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) plays a significant role in the cultural life of Canadians, as it regulates and supervises the Canadian broadcasting system and the telecommunications industry.
The Report on Plans and Priorities for 2007-2008 outlines the CRTC goals and work plan for the year. It details its intention to increase availability of Canadian content and programming that reflects Canadian creative talent and Canada's linguistic duality, cultural diversity and social values, as well as its national, regional and community characteristics. CRTC seeks to support a sustainable and competitive Canadian communications industry, and to increase access to a variety of innovative, high-quality communications services, at reasonable prices, that meet consumers' needs and reflect their values.
Canadians now have an unprecedented access to telecommunications, and the ways in which Canadians communicate and enjoy their information and entertainment have profoundly changed. As the world of broadcasting and telecommunications increasingly converge, we recognize the importance of the CRTC work in ensuring that our communications sector is strong and vibrant in the 21st century.
Beverley J. Oda
As the new Chairman of the CRTC, I am pleased to present our Report on Plans and Priorities. During the first year of my mandate, I intend to review the Commission's regulatory approach under the Broadcasting Act and the Telecommunications Act. I also intend to meet with the various stakeholders in the communications industry to better understand the issues they are dealing with.
These interactions will also provide me with an opportunity to talk about the principles that guide us: transparency, fairness, predictability and diligence. Our decisions must be taken in light of the submissions put forth by the people and organizations who participate in our processes. They must be fair and seek to balance the interests of stakeholders, Canadians and the laws that govern us, while fostering healthy and fair competition in the various markets. Our decisions must also be consistent with previous rulings or carefully explain any deviations or innovations. In terms of diligence, our processes must be effective and expeditious to ensure that we do not impede the vitality of the industries. At the same time, they must make it possible for interested parties to share their points of view on the various issues being examined.
The competence and dedication of the Commission's staff will allow us to accomplish the tasks set out in the following Report. I am delighted to be able to rely on such a team to meet the many challenges awaiting us in the thriving world of communications, as well as relying on the cooperation of the industries and of Canadians. The communications sector has experienced unprecedented change over the last few years, and we are facing increasingly complex issues. However, I am convinced that the CRTC will rise to meet the many challenges awaiting it, while bearing in mind the technological, social and economic changes that are taking place.
Konrad von Finckenstein
I submit for tabling in Parliament, the 2007-2008 Report on Plans and Priorities (RPP) for the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.
This document has been prepared based on the reporting principles contained in Guide for the Preparation of Part III of the 2007-2008 Estimates: Reports on Plans and Priorities and Departmental Performance Reports:
Diane Rhéaume, Secretary General
15 February 2007
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) was established to sustain and promote Canadian culture and achieve key social and economic objectives. The CRTC fulfills this mandate by regulating and supervising Canadian broadcasting and telecommunications in the public interest. The CRTC is governed by the Broadcasting Act of 1991 and the Telecommunications Act of 1993.
The Broadcasting Act seeks to ensure that all Canadians have access to a wide variety of high quality Canadian programming.
The Telecommunications Act seeks to ensure, among other things, that increased reliance on market forces for the provision of telecommunications services is fostered, that regulation, where required, is efficient and effective, and that Canadians have access to reliable telephone and other telecommunications services at reasonable prices.
Since 1928, when the Government of Canada created the first Royal Commission on Broadcasting, the government has sought to develop policies to keep pace with changing technology. This has been the government's central goal from the early days of radio and television to our current information highway era characterized by rapid technological change.
Today, the CRTC is an independent public authority and reports to Parliament through the Minister of Canadian Heritage.
The CRTC's challenge is to serve the public interest by maintaining a balance between the cultural, social and economic goals of the legislation on broadcasting and telecommunications, taking into account the wants and needs of Canadian citizens, industries and various interest groups.
Broadcasting and telecommunications industries that contribute to Canada's cultural, economic and social prosperity.
The CRTC seeks to achieve the above-noted strategic outcome, through two main activities: regulation and supervision of the Canadian broadcasting and telecommunications industry. Elements of the strategic outcome are defined as follows:
The CRTC fulfils its regulatory responsibilities through a number of interrelated tasks, including the following:
For each task the CRTC undertakes, it must balance the needs and desires of Canadians with those of the communications industry. Through its regulatory function, the CRTC addresses, among other matters, social and cultural issues that might otherwise not receive the attention they deserve. For instance, the CRTC promotes the reflection of Canada's linguistic duality and cultural diversity, the provision of closed captioning for persons who are deaf or have a hearing impairment and descriptive video for persons who are blind of have a visual impairment, and the development of mechanisms to address concerns such as violence or abusive comment in the broadcast media. The CRTC seeks to ensure that its policy directions for the Canadian industry keep pace with emerging technology and that regulation, where required, is efficient and effective.
|The CRTC mandate is to regulate and supervise the broadcasting and telecommunications industries in accordance with the policy objectives set out in sections 3 and 5 of the Broadcasting Act and in section 7 of the Telecommunications Act.|
Departmental PrioritiesBroadcasting and telecommunications industries that contribute to Canada's cultural, economic and social prosperity
Planned Spending ($ millions)
* Priorities in support of the strategic outcome for each program activity are detailed in the following section for departmental plans and priorities.
** Type of priority: new, ongoing or previously committed to (i.e. reported on in previous Report on Plans and Priorities or Departmental Performance Report).
|Expected Results||2007-2008||2008-2009||2009-2010||Contributes to the following priority|
|Strategic Outcome: Broadcasting and telecommunications industries that contribute to Canada's cultural, economic and social prosperity|
Program Activity Title
|Broadcasting||Canadian content and programming that reflects Canadians Healthy broadcasting industry||$23.5||$23.5||$23.5||A vibrant Canadian culture and heritage|
|Telecommunications||State-of-the-art technology at reasonable prices Competitive environment||$22.3||$22.3||$22.3||A fair and secure marketplace|
The CRTC is fully funded by the fees it collects from the telecommunications and broadcasting industries. The CRTC collects fees under the authority of the Telecommunications Act,the Broadcasting Act and the regulations made pursuant to these acts, namely the Telecommunications Fee Regulations, 1995 and the Broadcasting Licence Fee Regulations, 1997.
The current broadcasting and telecommunications landscape is characterized by rapid technological innovation as well as changing social and economic conditions. Globalization, broadcasting and telecommunication industry convergence, industry competition and the fast changing pace of the economic landscape, the rapid adoption of the Internet and new information technologies, in addition to the changing fabric of Canadian society, all contribute to fast evolving realities. The Commission's ongoing challenge will be to ensure that policies and regulations respond to these new realities and continue to adapt to Canadians' needs.
Looking forward, the economy as a whole is expected to continue to grow. The communications sector is expected to contribute to this growth through innovation in the form of new products and services, and improved business processes. Competition will continue to expand in certain markets. Overall, the outlook for the communications sector is positive.
The CRTC's decisions, whether taken under the auspices of the Telecommunications Act or the Broadcasting Act, increasingly have profound ramifications for industry players, whether their respective businesses originated in telephony or broadcasting. The CRTC remains dedicated, pursuant to its legislative mandate, to sustainable competition and the emergence of new services.
The following paragraphs describe the priorities that the CRTC will pursue over the next three years to move its strategic outcome forward. These priorities reflect the current and anticipated social, cultural and economic environments.
1) Cultural Prosperity:
2) Economic Prosperity:
3) Social Prosperity:
Section 3(1)(c) of the Broadcasting Act acknowledges that "English and French language broadcasting, while sharing common aspects, operate under different conditions and may have different requirements." Section 3(1)(k) of the Broadcasting Act requires that "a range of broadcasting services in English and in French shall be extended to all Canadians as resources become available" and sections 3(1)(m)(iv) and (v) of the Broadcasting Act require that CBC programming reflect the "particular needs and circumstances of English and French linguistic minorities" and "strive to be of equivalent quality in English and in French".
The CRTC is designated by the Minister of Canadian Heritage as a key institution under Part VII of the Official Languages Act (OLA). In order to fulfil its mandate under section 41 of the OLA, the CRTC is required to develop an action plan with the collaboration of minority communities of both official languages. This collaboration enables the CRTC to take into account the priorities of the minority communities in its activities, within the limits of its mandate under both the Broadcasting Act and the Telecommunications Act.
The CRTC has developed its second official language action plan based on a three-year period (2006-2009) and files annually with Canadian Heritage an achievements report. On an ongoing basis, the CRTC will continue to actively support initiatives that encourage linguistic duality, foster the recognition and use of both English and French in Canada, and support and assist the development of the English and French linguistic minority communities, within the limits of its mandate under both the Broadcasting Act and Telecommunications Act.
Beyond supporting linguistic duality, the Broadcasting Act also contains provisions requiring the broadcasting system to respect and reflect the 200 or more cultures, languages and ethnic traditions that today constitute Canadian society. Section 3(1)(d)(iii) of the Broadcasting Act states that the Canadian broadcasting system should:
serve the needs and interests, and reflect the circumstances and aspirations, of Canadian men, women and children, including equal rights, the linguistic duality and multicultural and multiracial nature of Canadian society and the special place of aboriginal peoples within that society.
The CRTC takes two broad approaches to fulfilling this objective. It licenses many services that focus on ethnic and Aboriginal communities, and requires television and radio broadcasters to reflect Canada's diverse reality on Canadian airwaves.
To expand the diversity and choice in television services available to underserved third-language ethnic communities in Canada, the CRTC has taken a number of key actions. In December 2004 the CRTC issued a revised, more open entry approach to the authorization of non-Canadian third-language general interest services for distribution on a digital basis in Improving the diversity of third-language television services – A revised approach to assessing requests to add non-Canadian third-language television services, to the lists of eligible satellite services for distribution on a digital basis, Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2004-96, 16 December 2004. In November 2005, the CRTC announced the establishment of an open-entry approach for general interest third-language ethnic Category 2 pay and specialty services in Revised approach for the consideration of broadcasting licence applications proposing new third-language ethnic Category 2 pay and specialty services, Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2005-104, 23 November 2005. To further encourage and expedite the entry of new Canadian third-language services, in November 2006, the CRTC proposed an exemption order for certain third-language services in Call for comments on a proposed exemption order respecting certain third-language television undertakings, Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2006-151, 22 November 2006. A final decision is expected in Spring 2007. Meanwhile, the CRTC continues to process new third-language applications and has issued a considerable number of new licences.
The second arm of the CRTC's approach to cultural diversity involves requirements that all broadcasters must fulfil. The CRTC requires broadcasters to improve the reflection of Canadian diversity in programming including the representation, portrayal and participation of visible minorities, Aboriginal peoples and persons with disabilities through specific commitments made at the time of licence renewals. Television broadcasters must file corporate plans on cultural diversity and report annually on their accomplishments in this regard. These reports are available on the CRTC's website.
In addition, following two significant research efforts on the part of private television broadcasters to identify the most pressing needs for action on an industry-wide level (under the auspices of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB)), the CRTC requires the CAB to report annually on a range of initiatives to which it has committed in order to address those needs identified in the research concerning visible minorities, Aboriginal peoples and persons with disabilities (Commission's response to the report of the Task Force for Cultural Diversity on Television, Broadcasting Public Notices CRTC 2005-24, 21 March, 2005 and Commission's response to the Canadian Association of Broadcasters' final report on the presence, portrayal and participation of persons with disabilities in television programming, Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2006-77, 19 June 2006). The CAB submitted its first annual report in April 2006.
One of the CAB's key initiatives to date has been a review of its broadcasting industry codes to determine whether they address concerns identified in the research findings regarding reflection and portrayal. The CAB determined that a revised, more inclusive code is needed to establish industry standards for the portrayal of ethnocultural and Aboriginal groups and persons with disabilities. An initial draft of a proposed Equitable Portrayal Code was submitted to the CRTC in July 2006. Commission staff requested adjustments to this draft code in September 2006. A revised draft of the proposed code is expected in March 2007. The CRTC will publish the proposed Equitable Portrayal Code for comments in early Fall 2007.
Furthermore, in Commercial Radio Policy 2006, Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2006-158 (Public Notice 2006-158), 15 December 2006, the CRTC announced some of the results of its new radio policy following a comprehensive review. As part of that process, the CAB submitted a set of cultural diversity best practices and an annual reporting strategy for all commercial radio broadcasters in order to improve the representation, portrayal and participation of visible minorities and Aboriginal peoples in radio. The CRTC directed the CAB to make a number of amendments to these best practices, including the incorporation of persons with disabilities, and to develop an appropriate annual reporting strategy for small commercial radio stations. Revisions to the best practices are expected in March 2007, and the annual reporting proposal is expected in June 2007. Once the best practices are approved by the CRTC, all commercial radio broadcasters will be expected to adhere to them.
Finally, beginning immediately, the CRTC announced in Public Notice 2006-158 that more than 600 commercial radio stations are now permitted to direct a portion of their required Canadian content development (CCD) spending to projects by independent parties involving Native radio and to programming serving the particular needs and interests of children, Aboriginal peoples, and persons with disabilities. Commercial ethnic broadcasters are now able to direct all of their CCD spending to independent initiatives that support their unique programming content.
In Public Notice 2006-158, Revised Policy concerning the issuance of calls for radio applications and a new process for application to serve small markets, Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2006-159, and in Digital Radio Policy, Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2006-160 all issued 15 December 2006, the CRTC announced the results of its comprehensive review of its commercial radio policy. In the upcoming year, the Radio Regulations, 1986 will be amended to implement the policy.
In its Digital radio policy, the Commission announced that the current replacement model for L-band digital radio broadcasting (DRB) should be replaced with a new flexible model allowing for new innovative services. For in-band-on-channel (IBOC) technologies, the CRTC stated that, if the Department of Industry authorizes IBOC technology (or another technology such as Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) for the AM and/or FM bands, it would be prepared to authorize services using the technology under the Broadcasting Act. The CRTC also agreed that Digital Multimedia Broadcasting (DMB), Digital Video Broadcasting-Handheld (DVB-H) and other multimedia technologies could deliver innovative programming provided that the spectrum capacity issues are addressed.
The policy notice concluded with an announcement that the CRTC will convene a round table with chief executive officers of the major radio groups in six months time to discuss the industry's proposed plan and implementation schedules for DRB and related issues. The CRTC intends to convene such a round table within the proposed timeframes.
In addition, in order to continue to address market entry issues, and as mentioned in its Revised Policy, the CRTC will meet with the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) and other broadcasting groups in 2007 to discuss issues related to the confidentiality of financial information concerning stations in smaller radio markets, in an effort to publish as much information as possible concerning the financial health of these markets. It will also address possible approaches to the issuance of calls for applications for new radio licences.
In 2006, the CRTC launched a review of certain aspects of its framework for over-the-air television. A public hearing was held beginning on 27 November 2006 in Gatineau (Broadcasting Notice of Public Hearing CRTC 2006-5, 12 June 2006), the objectives of of which were the following:
The CRTC also considered it appropriate to review its overall approach to closed captioning.
The CRTC expects to complete its review and issue its conclusions in Spring 2007. Following the issuance of its conclusions the CRTC will be implementing its policy through updated regulations and licence renewal proceedings.
Furthermore, the CRTC intends to review its drama incentive program annually and expects to evaluate the success of the program in the context of the licence renewals for major television licensees scheduled for fiscal year 2008-2009. The CRTC receives detailed annual reports from licensees that participate in the incentive program. These reports are placed on the CRTC website.
Following its review of the regulatory framework for over-the-air television, the CRTC plans to launch a review of its policy frameworks for analog and digital (Category 1 and Category 2) specialty, pay, pay-per-view and video-on-demand services. The purpose of this review is to examine, among other things, the impact of new technologies on this sector, the effectiveness of the CRTC's approach to licensing new pay and specialty services, the appropriate licensing framework for on-demand services, as well as the appropriate contributions by specialty, pay, pay-per-view and video-on-demand licences to the exhibition and development of, and, investment in, Canadian programming. At the end of the calendar year 2006, Commission staff undertook a series of informal consultations with industry and consumer representatives to assist the CRTC in identifying issues and priorities for that review. The CRTC anticipates that a public notice will be issued in the upcoming fiscal year (2007-2008) initiating the more formal phase of this review.
Following the issuance of its conclusions the CRTC will be implementing its framework through updated regulations and licence renewal proceedings.
In last year's 3-Year Work Plan, the CRTC noted its intention to initiate, in 2007-2008, a review of the Broadcasting Distribution Regulations. The purpose of the review is to update and simplify the Regulations, and to reflect changes in the environment since they went into effect on 1 January 1998. At the end of the calendar year 2006, Commission staff undertook a series of informal consultations with industry and consumer representatives to assist the CRTC in identifying issues and priorities for that review. The CRTC anticipates that a public notice will be issued in the upcoming fiscal year (2007-2008) initiating the more formal phase of this review.
Following the issuance of its conclusions the CRTC will initiate its licence renewal proceedings.
To ensure that the Canadian Broadcasting and Telecommunications policies and regulations are responsive to Canadian needs, the CRTC will continue to closely examine the Canadian broadcasting and telecommunications marketplace, benchmark with international partners, understand consumer needs, and conduct strategic research in collaboration with the industry, academia, and other private and government stakeholders. The planned strategic research for 2007-2008 will address the New Media environment with the aim of having a better understanding of this fast evolving landscape and its impact on the broadcasting and telecommunications system.
In 2006-2007 the CRTC has commissioned a wide array of analysis and research to support its decision making process with respect notably to new technologies, market conditions, audiences, competitive environment, and ownership issues. Several reports were also published including:
The Governor in Council issued a direction, Order Issuing a Direction to the CRTC on Implementing the Canadian Telecommunications Policy Objectives (the Policy Direction), under the Telecommunications Act. This direction came into effect on 14 December 2006.
The Policy Direction requires that the CRTC, among other things, rely on market forces to the maximum extent feasible and regulate, where there is still a need to do so, in a manner that interferes with the operation of market forces to the minimum extent necessary to meet the policy objectives.
The Policy Direction applies prospectively to the wide variety of telecommunications-related regulatory issues that the CRTC handles, including matters currently pending before the CRTC, subject to the limitations specified in section 11 of the Telecommunications Act.
The CRTC is required to exercise its powers and perform its duties under the Telecommunications Act in accordance with the Policy Direction. The CRTC, when relying on regulation, is required to specify the telecommunications policy objective that is advanced by those measures and demonstrate its compliance with the Policy Direction. The CRTC is also required to continue to explore and implement new approaches for streamlining its processes.
On 6 April 2006, the CRTC issued Forbearance from the regulation of retail local exchange services, Telecom Decision CRTC 2006-15 (Decision 2006-15). This Decision, among other things, established a framework for assessing applications from the incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) for forbearance from the regulation of local exchange services (local forbearance).
In Proceeding to reassess certain aspects of the local forbearance framework established in Decision 2006-15, Telecom Public Notice CRTC 2006-12, 1 September 2006 (Public Notice 2006-12), the CRTC invited comments regarding whether the 25 percent market share loss test set out in Decision 2006-15 continued to be appropriate. The CRTC also invited comments on whether mobile wireless services should be considered to be part of the same relevant market as wireline local exchange services for forbearance analysis purposes.
On 16 December 2006, the Governor in Council published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, Proposed Order Varying Telecom Decision CRTC 2006-15 (the proposed Order) pursuant to subsection 12(1) of the Telecommunications Act. The proposed Order sets out a revised framework to determine when local forbearance would be granted to the ILECs. The revised framework would, among other things, eliminate the CRTC's 25 percent market share loss test and replace it with a "competitive presence" test.
In light of the above, the CRTC deferred its consideration of the issues in Public Notice 2006-12 pending a final determination with respect to the proposed Order.
Upon coming into force (possibly the first quarter of the 2007-2008 fiscal year), the proposed Order would result in significantly more forbearance applications in the coming 12 to 18 months than would have been the case under the framework established in Decision 2006-15. In the proceedings the CRTC expects to conduct over the next 18 months, it will use the applicable criteria, i.e. the criteria established in Decision 2006-15 or the amended criteria recommended in the proposed Order.
In Decision 2006-15, the CRTC outlined, among other things, the scope of forbearance to be granted under the local forbearance framework. The CRTC retained only those powers and duties that were strictly necessary to protect the interests of customers, particularly uncontested and vulnerable customers, and to further competition. The CRTC determined that those powers and duties that related strictly to economic regulation should be removed in a forborne environment.
Industry self-regulation in the broadcasting industry has proven to be a successful model for achieving a relaxation of CRTC regulation while still achieving important public policy goals. In Decision 2006-15, the CRTC invited proposals for an industry self-regulation scheme that would permit an even greater degree of deregulation in a forborne market and set out its intention to review which, if any, remaining obligations imposed on ILECs in forborne markets would still be required.
Various markets will be forborne from regulation in the next fiscal year, which will require the CRTC to encourage and monitor the development of self-regulatory systems applicable to all local exchange carriers in forborne markets. If required, the CRTC will conduct a proceeding to review the development of an industry self-regulatory system.
Wireless number portability permits customers to keep their telephone numbers when switching between wireless service providers or between wireless and wireline service providers.
In Implementation of wireless number portability¸ Telecom Decision CRTC 2005-72, 20 December 2005, the CRTC set out the regulatory framework for wireless number portability and set as the date for the launch of wireless number portability 14 March 2007. In Regulatory issues related to the implementation of wireless number portability – Follow-up to Public Notice 2006-3, Telecom Decision CRTC 2006-28, 18 May 2006, the CRTC ruled on a number of detailed implementation issues that have permitted the industry to proceed with implementation.
The industry is working diligently in this regard and is on track to start wireless number portability on 14 March 2007. Industry efforts to expand wireless number portability to the majority of the exchanges presently served by wireless carriers' networks will continue throughout the balance of 2007. The CRTC will resolve, and provide direction on, any implementation issues that may arise as wireless number portability is introduced into smaller markets across Canada.
Area code 250 in British Columbia and area codes 403 and 780 in Alberta are projected to run out of central office codes within the next several years. The CRTC has formed several ad hoc working groups under the CRTC Interconnection Steering Committee (CISC) to develop recommendations for the relief measures to be implemented for these area codes.
The recommendations have been received by the CRTC and the CRTC has issued Relief planning for numbering plan areas 403 and 780 in Alberta, Telecom Public Notice CRTC 2007-1, 11 January 2007, and Relief planning for numbering plan area 250 in British Columbia, Telecom Public Notice CRTC 2007-2, 11 January 2007, to seek public comments on the recommendations made by the CISC working groups. Once public input has been received, the CRTC will determine the relief method and the date of implementation for area code relief.
In Disposition of funds in the deferral accounts, Telecom Decision CRTC 2006-9, 16 February 2006 (Decision 2006-9), the CRTC set out guidelines for the disposition of funds accumulated in the deferral accounts of the following incumbent telephone companies: Aliant Telecom Inc. (now part of Bell Aliant Regional Communications, Limited Partnership (Bell Aliant)), Bell Canada, MTS Allstream Inc. (MTS Allstream), Saskatchewan Telecommunications (SaskTel), TELUS Communications Inc. (now called TELUS Communications Company (TCC)), Société en commandite Télébec (which is now part of Bell Aliant), and TELUS Communications (Québec) Inc. (TELUS Québec, which is now part of TCC). The CRTC concluded that these incumbent telephone companies should, to the greatest extent possible, propose to use funds accumulated in their deferral accounts for initiatives to expand broadband services to rural and remote communities and to improve accessibility to telecommunications services for persons with disabilities.
In particular, the CRTC directed each of these incumbent telephone companies with a positive accumulated balance in its deferral account to allocate a minimum of five percent to fund programs to improve accessibility to telecommunications services for persons with disabilities. These incumbent telephone companies were directed to consult and work with the appropriate advocacy organizations for persons with disabilities prior to submitting their proposals for approval. The CRTC also directed those incumbent telephone companies that wished to pursue broadband expansion to the customer premises located primarily in communities in Bands E and F in high-cost serving areas, where service was not available from any service provider and was not part of their existing commitments or previously planned roll-out, to file proposals in accordance with the guidelines set out in Decision 2006-9. In preparing their proposals, the incumbent telephone companies were to exclude communities that had received funding or that had been approved for funding from any government broadband expansion program.
In Review of proposals to dispose of the funds accumulated in the deferral accounts, Telecom Public Notice CRTC 2006-15, 30 November 2006, the CRTC initiated a proceeding to consider the proposals submitted by Bell Aliant, Bell Canada, MTS Allstream, SaskTel, and TCC to dispose of the funds accumulated in their deferral accounts.
In the coming year, the CRTC will assess the proposals made by these incumbent telephone companies.
In 2002, the CRTC set out the existing price cap regimes for the ILECs (Regulatory framework for second price cap period, Telecom Decision CRTC 2002-34, 30 May 2002, as amended by Telecom Decision CRTC 2002-34-1, 15 July 2002, and Implementation of price regulation for Télébec and TELUS Québec, Telecom Decision CRTC 2002-43, 31 July 2002).
Price cap regulation places a ceiling on prices an ILEC can charge its subscribers for services that continue to be subject to regulation. Price cap regulation provides the ILECs with incentives to improve efficiency and introduce network and service innovations.
In Review of price cap framework, Telecom Public Notice CRTC 2006-5, 9 May 2006, the CRTC initiated a proceeding to establish the price cap regime that will go into effect in 2007. The proceeding has now concluded and a decision is expected to be issued by 30 April 2007.
In 2006, the CRTC issued Review of regulatory framework for wholesale services and definition of essential service, Telecom Public Notice CRTC 2006-14, 9 November 2006, as amended by Telecom Public Notice CRTC 2006-14-1, 15 December 2006 and Telecom Public Notice CRTC 2006-14-2, 15 February, 2007 (Public Notice 2006-14). In this Public Notice, the CRTC initiated a proceeding, including a public hearing to be held in October 2007, to consider a revised definition of essential service, and the classifications and pricing principles for essential and non-essential services made available by incumbent telephone companies, cable carriers, and competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs) to other competitors at regulated rates. The Policy Direction directs the CRTC to complete this review to determine the extent to which mandated access to wholesale services that are not essential services should be phased out and to determine the appropriate pricing of mandated services. It also indicates that the review should take into account the principles of technology and competitive neutrality, the potential for incumbents to exercise market power in the wholesale and retail markets for the service in the absence of mandated access to wholesale services, and the impediments faced by new and existing carriers seeking to develop competing network facilities.
In response to industry requests and the recommendation set out in the final report of the Telecommunications Policy Review Panel, the CRTC will initiate a proceeding that will undertake a targeted review of the Phase II incremental costing methodology.
Section 36 of the Telecommunications Act states the following:
Except where the Commission approves otherwise, a Canadian carrier shall not control the content or influence the meaning or purpose of telecommunications carried by it for the public.
In 2006, the CRTC denied an application filed on behalf of Richard Warman seeking, among other things, interim approval under section 36 of the Telecommunications Act to allow Canadian carriers to block access to certain websites. While section 36 of the Telecommunications Act does not permit the CRTC to block websites, the application raised important and fundamental questions with respect to the conditions under which the CRTC would make use of section 36 of the Telecommunications Act.
The CRTC plans to research the legal and policy issues related to section 36 of the Telecommunications Act, which could include consultation with the industry. The CRTC also plans to review and monitor the treatment of this issue in other jurisdictions.
The CRTC has been responsive to stakeholders' concerns in that it has improved with great success its regulatory processes. Streamlining of the CRTC's processes will remain a high priority in the next fiscal year to meet the following objectives: reduce delays in processing both broadcasting and telecommunications applications; establish reasonable service standards for the processing of applications; establish internal and external guidelines in support of service standards; consult and inform stakeholders; and continue to improve the quality of the analyses and decisions.
Retail and Wholesale Tariff Applications
Under the Telecommunications Act, the CRTC is required to issue, within 45 business days of receipt of a tariff application, a decision on the application, or, if it cannot do so, indicate in writing when it will issue a decision.
In Introduction of a streamlined process for retail tariff filings, Telecom Circular CRTC 2005-6, 25 April 2005, and Finalization of the streamlined process for retail tariff filings, Telecom Circular CRTC 2005-9, 1 November 2005, the CRTC streamlined the process for the approval of retail tariff applications.
Under the streamlined process for retail tariff applications, the CRTC informs an applicant of the status of its retail tariff application within 10 business days of receipt of a complete application. In the second year of the implementation of the streamlined process, the CRTC issued status notifications within 10 business days on 99 percent of these applications, including interim approval for more than 73 percent of the applications. The CRTC has reduced its average time for the initial disposition of retail tariff applications by more than 50 percent. Results posted on the CRTC website indicate that the revised service standards have been met and exceeded (Quarterly report on service standards for processing retail tariff applications 1 April 2006 to 31 March 2007).
In New procedures for disposition of applications dealing with the destandardization and/or withdrawal of tariffed services, Telecom Circular CRTC 2005-7, 30 May 2005, the CRTC set in place procedural changes to expedite the processing of tariff applications dealing with the destandardization and/or withdrawal of tariffed services. These changes have significantly reduced the time required to process such applications.
In Service standards for the disposition of telecommunications applications, Telecom Circular CRTC 2006-11, 7 December 2006 (Circular 2006-11), the CRTC re-introduced service standards for applications regarding intercarrier agreements, international telecommunications services licences, and applications received pursuant to Part VII of the CRTC Telecommunications Rules of Procedure (Part VII applications). The Policy Direction directed the CRTC to publish and maintain performance standards for its various proceedings: Circular 2006-11 establishes standards for the CRTC's various proceedings. The CRTC also indicated that the internal service standards previously adopted for all tariff applications remained appropriate and that the common service standards would now be applied to all tariff applications, whether retail or wholesale in nature. The CRTC established these service standards as follows:
• 85 percent of determinations to be issued on an interim or final basis within two months of receipt of a complete application; and
• 95 percent of determinations to be issued on an interim or final basis within four months of receipt of a complete application.
Part VII Applications
As noted above, the CRTC introduced service standards for Part VII applications in Circular 2006-11. The CRTC noted that Part VII applications vary widely in scope and complexity and considered that a single standard for all Part VII applications would not provide the most meaningful information to applicants and interested parties about expectations for a completion date. Accordingly, the CRTC stated that it would categorize Part VII applications into two types: Type 1 applications that generally do not involve multiple parties or raise significant policy issues, and Type 2 applications that involve multiple parties and/or raise significant policy issues. The CRTC adopted the following service standards for Part VII applications:
• Type 1 Part VII applications:
90 percent of determinations to be issued on an interim or final basis within four months of the close-of-record.
• Type 2 Part VII applications:
85 percent of determinations to be issued on an interim or final basis within eight months of the close-of-record.
As reported last year, the CRTC announced service standards and put in place procedural changes to streamline and expedite licence amendment and renewal applications dealt with using the public notice approach as well as applications processed using the administrative approach that does not entail a public process. In Streamlined processes for certain broadcasting applications, Broadcasting Circular CRTC 2006-1, 27 March 2006 (Circular 2006-1), the CRTC announced an expedited process whereby it would inform applicants of the status of their amendment applications within 15 business days of receiving an application. The CRTC estimated that, in the absence of any significant or unresolved issues or concerns surrounding the applications in question, the processing time could be reduced by approximately half.
In the first nine months of the first year of implementation, all the established service standards have been surpassed and the CRTC has reduced the average time to dispose of amendment applications by 50 percent over last year's results. The timeframes in support of the expedited process are reflected in Introduction of service standards for certain broadcasting applications, Broadcasting Circular CRTC 2006-2, 5 April 2006. The results are available on the CRTC website.
In Circular 2006-1, the CRTC announced other areas under review and it has since concluded streamlining review processes in the following areas: processing of requests to add foreign third-language services to the Lists of Eligible Satellite Services, exempting certain network operations from licensing requirements (see Exemption order respecting certain network operations, Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2006-143, 10 November 2006); reviewing broadcasting application forms; and reviewing the policy concerning the issuance of radio calls for applications (see Revised policy concerning the issuance of calls for radio applications and a new process for applications to serve small markets, Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2006-159, 15 December 2006). In addition, the CRTC issued Streamlining processes for annual reports filed by licensees, Broadcasting Circular CRTC 2006-6, 21 December 2006, to streamline certain reporting requirements for Class 1 cable distribution undertakings having 20,000 or more subscribers and for television licensees. A public notice proposing to exempt third-language Category 2 specialty undertakings has been issued and this process is expected to be completed this year (see Call for comments on a proposed exemption order respecting certain third-language television undertakings, Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2006-151, 22 November 2006).
The CRTC has also undertaken an exhaustive review of the process for applications that are processed using the public hearing approach. Significant measures have been identified to streamline and expedite this review process. These measures should be announced in the next fiscal year. It is also expected that a public notice will be issued seeking comments on proposed service standards in this area. A determination will follow after the consultative process is completed.
The CRTC intends to place greater emphasis on informal dispute resolution and the use of expedited hearings for broadcasting sector disputes. Early resolution of disputes pre-empts the filing of applications with the CRTC, avoids lengthy processes and saves time and resources for stakeholders and the CRTC. Where informal intervention to assist parties in resolving their disputes proves insufficient, the CRTC considers that increased reliance on expedited hearings in certain cases may prove of great value for more timely resolution of those disputes. More generally, all of the existing dispute resolution support provided by the CRTC will remain available in 2007-2008 and subsequent years.
Over time, the CRTC has placed increasing emphasis on making television services more accessible to persons who are blind or who have a visual impairment and those who are deaf or who have a hearing impairment. This Commission objective is prescribed in section 3(1)(p) of the Broadcasting Act, which states, as part of the broadcasting policy for Canada, that "programming accessible by disabled persons should be provided within the Canadian broadcasting system as resources become available for the purpose."
To that end the CRTC recently called for comments on ways to improve the accessibility of television programming for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing. In Review of certain aspects of the regulatory framework for over-the-air television, Broadcasting Notice of Public Hearing CRTC 2006-5, 12 June 2006, the CRTC called for comments on (a) the appropriateness of the CRTC adopting a requirement for the captioning of 100 percent of all television programming, (b) the feasibility of captioning in languages other than English or French and the obligations that should be applied to services that broadcast in third languages, and (c) proposals to address ongoing concerns about captioning quality, including the appropriateness of industry standards. The CRTC intends to issue its determinations on these matters in Spring 2007.
The CRTC has also been placing more emphasis on the provision of increasing amounts of programming with described video as a means of enriching the television experience of persons who are blind or who have a visual impairment. Described video is programming that is accompanied by a narrative description of the program's key visual elements to allow persons who are blind or who have a visual impairment to understand what is occurring on screen.
Since 2001, the CRTC has been imposing conditions of licence on Canadian broadcasters requiring them to provide a certain amount of programming with described video. The CRTC intends to review the obligations of Canadian broadcasters in upcoming licence renewals.
As a follow-up to Commission requirements for the pass-through of video description – Call for comments on the obligations of smaller broadcasting distribution undertakings, Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2005-18, 25 February 2005, Commission staff is now exploring the extent to which broadcasting distribution undertakings are fulfilling their obligations to pass through the described video programming provided by broadcasters. This review is expected to be completed in Spring 2007, and any further steps will be determined at that time.
The CRTC remains fully committed to government-wide initiatives to streamline and modernize the federal legal, regulatory and policy environment.
Modernization of Human Resources continues to be a key priority. As the CRTC continues to develop integrated HR and business plans, it will maximize the flexibility it has under the new legislation to attract and recruit the talent and expertise it needs to continue to meet the objectives set out in this report.