CRTC to Get New Chair as Role of Broadcast Regulator Expands

CRTC to Get New Chair as Role of Broadcast Regulator Expands
CRTC Chair Ian Scott in Gatineau, Quebec, on Feb. 18, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
The Canadian Press

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission chair is to be replaced within months and Canadian Heritage is already accepting applications for the $328,000-a-year role.

Ian Scott and his broadcasting vice-chair, Caroline Simard, were appointed to five-year terms at the broadcast regulator in 2017 and their tenures are set to wrap in early September.

The CRTC is set to get new leadership as it faces a huge expansion to cover online streaming platforms, online news and technology giants, with several government bills proposing it have new powers.

The commission has faced criticism that it might not have the expertise to regulate the digital sphere as well as traditional broadcasting and telecommunications.

Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez tweeted his thanks to Scott for five years of service and hard work.

In a speech last week to a culture summit, Rodriguez said it was “time to modernize” the CRTC.

He said he had heard the “concerns” about the CRTC, adding that “government and technology haven’t always worked so well together.”

But he said the CRTC has a long history of supporting Canadian culture, has “done a lot of great things” and has more expertise than anyone else in its sphere.

He said the government is going to “make sure they have what they need to deliver,” including funds.

Michael Geist, the University of Ottawa’s Canada Research Chair in internet law, said the new chair will be “a hugely important appointment that will have enormous influence over the future of the internet, communications, and culture in Canada.”

“Given that the commission has lost the confidence of many Canadians, job one will be to restore public confidence by operating in a more non-partisan manner that puts the public interest at the forefront,” he said.

“It will be a challenge to find the right person, which may require choosing someone who is not viewed as aligned with any of the regulated sectors and therefore free from concerns about bias.”

The chair, vice-chairs and commissioners of the CRTC are appointed by the governor-in-council, typically for a five-year mandate.

Scott’s term ends Sept. 4 and Simard’s term ends Sept. 10.

In its advertisement for Scott’s role, the federal government says it’s seeking experience in digital media, broadcast or telecommunications, as well as in the regulatory environment in Canada and abroad.

By Marie Woolf