The Broadcasting Act, 1967-68, established the Canadian Radio-television Commission (CRTC) to regulate and supervise all aspects of the Canadian BROADCASTING system. These functions had been carried out since 1958 by the Board of Broadcast Governors, and before that by the Board of Governors of the CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION (CBC). In 1976 Parliament transferred to the CRTC jurisdiction over federally regulated TELECOMMUNICATIONS companies, formerly exercised by the Canadian Transport Commission, and changed the name to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. The CRTC uses the objectives in the Broadcasting Act and the Telecommunications Act to guide its policy decisions.
The CRTC Act sets out the structure and powers of the Commission and provides for up to 13 full-time commissioners, including a chair and 2 vice-chairs, and 6 part-time commissioners. All commissioners are appointed by Cabinet. Their responsibilities include establishing rules, policies and guidelines for licences; participating in public hearings and consultations; developing regulations and participation in issuing CRTC decisions; consulting with members of the broadcasting and telecommunications industries, the public and other interested parties; meeting with licensees, industry organizations or other interested parties; and considering directions to the CRTC from Cabinet.
The CRTC ensures that all Canadians have access to a wide variety of high-quality Canadian programming. Programming is expected to reflect Canadian creativity and talent, bilingualism, multiculturalism and the concerns of Canada's Aboriginal peoples.
The CRTC grants, amends, renews or revokes licences for all broadcasting undertakings, including radio, television and CABLE TELEVISION. It may attach conditions to licences and establishes regulations and policies respecting broadcasting. The governor-in-council may set aside a decision granting a licence or ask that it be reconsidered by the CRTC.
In 1992-93, for example, the Commission received 3924 applications and rate filings, and held 20 oral public hearings across the country. In the same year it issued a total of 191 public notices, 784 decisions and 1634 telecom orders. Among the important early decisions of the CRTC were a provision for a minimum of Canadian music on the air; rules respecting Canadian content in television schedules; licensing of provincial educational television networks; and the nationwide licensing of television systems. In 1981 the Commission licensed Cancom, a SATELLITE distribution company, to provide radio and television services to remote and underserved areas.
Following a public review of the evolving communications environment, the Commission unveiled, in 1993, a package of regulatory reforms designed to help the Canadian broadcasting system meet the challenges of the anticipated multichannel universe. At the time, there were 6 pay- and pay-per-view television services and 13 specialty services licensed in Canada. In early 1994 a public hearing was held to consider 48 proposals for new Canadian television services, including headline news services, arts channels, cartoon and comedy networks, sport and music video services, as well as lifestyle and health channels. Licences for many of these specialty channels were granted.
The CRTC ensures that Canadians receive reliable telephone and telecommunications services at affordable prices. The chief function of the Commission in the telecommunications field is in approving rates or tolls to be charged by telecommunications companies under federal jurisdiction, and ensuring that there is no unjust discrimination in the provision of telecommunications services. Cabinet may vary, set aside or return for consideration any CRTC telecommunications decision.
In 2006, the Government of Canada directed the CRTC to rely on market forces as much as possible. In some markets, several consumer choices are available, resulting in natural competition that brings better prices for consumers. In these cases, the CRTC limits regulations and allows competition to drive the market; in other markets, CRTC regulation is necessary.
In 1932, the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission (CRBC) was established following recommendations from the first Royal Commission on Broadcasting that Canada have a national broadcasting network to be supervised by an independent federal agency. The CRBC was the earliest version of the CRTC, which was established by Parliament in 1968.
In 1936, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) was created to replace the CRBC. The CBC became responsible for providing a national radio service in Canada.
The creation of the Broadcasting Act in 1968 confirmed CBC's position as a national broadcaster; strengthened restrictions on foreign ownership; required that Canadian programming be created by Canadian talent; and created the Canadian Radio-television Commission (CRTC), a new regulatory agency that became the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) in 1976.
In 1976, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission Act expanded the CRTC's jurisdiction to include telecommunications companies.
In 1999, the CRTC ruled against trying to regulate the content of the Internet and in 2009 ruled again that it will not regulate programming on the internet or on mobile devices (new media broadcasting).
Author A. DAVIDSON DUNTON Revised: JESSICA POTTER
Links to Other Sites
Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission
Click on the "Frequently Asked Questions" and "Consumers" links for quick access to backgrounders on current issues of interest to consumers. Click on "Our Organization" for links to information about how the CRTC operates and its history. Also offers links to online copies of many reports and publications that examine specific issues in detail.
The website for "Playback," provides the latest news and career opportunities in Canada’s production, broadcasting, and interactive media industries. Subscription required to access full text articles.
Canadian Television Programming In English
A historical overview of Canadian television production and broadcasting. Focuses on news, current affairs, drama, comedy, children’s shows, sports, and more. Includes some comparisons with the US television industry. From the Museum of Broadcasting Communications in Chicago.
Listen to a 1970 CBC audio clip of Pierre Juneau talking about the issue of Canadian content in television and radio programming. From the CBC Digital Archives feature "Ruling the Airwaves: The CRTC and Canadian Content."
A bilingual glossary of frequently used terms and industry acronyms used in the wireless telecommunications industry.
With this online collection of digitized charts from RPM, visitors can check out the rankings of their favourite tunes of yesteryear. From Library and Archives Canada.
Canadian Private Copying Collective
Find out what Canada's Copyright Act has to say about private copying of music and related royalty collection issues.
Media in Canada
The latest news about Canada's dynamic media industry.
The latest news about the Canadian communications sector.
The website for Dr. Michael Geist, the Canada Research Chair of Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa. Features numerous articles and other resources pertaining to technology law issues. Check out his film "Why Copyright?"
Canada's Telecommunications Hall of Fame
Check out the "Virtual Hall of Fame" for biographies of outstanding Canadian innovators and leaders in the field of telecommunications.
Taking sides on net neutrality
An article about CRTC regulations concerning Canadian Internet providers. From thestar.com.
The corporate website for Shaw Communications Inc., a diversified communications company with interests in broadband cable television, and Internet and direct-to-home services to Canadian customers.
The Media Monitor covers news about Canada's broadcasting system, media ownership, and cultural policies.
CRTC won't regulate new media
A news story about the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunication Commission's decision to not regulate new media programming on the Internet or on mobile devices. From thestar.com.
The website for "mediacaster" offers the latest news about Canada's media sector.
Search the extensive archives for news stories about prominent personalities and companies in the Canadian broadcasting industry.
Pierre Juneau, former CRTC and CBC chief, dies
A CBC News obituary for Pierre Juneau, first chair of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission and a former head of the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.