The CRTC first looked into licensing new media in 1999 but with few households at the time having access to high-speed Internet it decided that licensing would not contribute to its development and that exempting it would not make it difficult for licensed broadcasters to follow the rules.Here you have it: Licensing. Now, guess who is going to bear the cost of those licenses? It's a tax grab, all right; it's going to make yet another special interest group richer at our expense, but how is that going to promote Canadian content online?
With 93 per cent of Canadian households having broadband access and anyone being able to watch videos and television shows, play games and listen to music online, the CRTC has decided to revisit the issue.
The ACTRA representatives highlighted that point in their presentations and said licensing new media will provide needed funding and protection of Canadian content.
Are they going to force the ISPs to bombard users with pop-up windows, to inform them about some new Canadian content which is posted online? Are they going to mandate the ISPs to forcefully redirect users to Canadian mirrors of the major websites, so that we get yahoo.ca and ebay.ca instead of yahoo.com and ebay.com? Will the users be forced to use their ISP website as a default page for their browsers? Or maybe they're planning to force all of us to use a specific ISP-approved browser that would shove CRTC-approved content down our throats?
If you find all that ridiculous - then so are the arguments that ACTRA uses in support of their case. Licensing ISPs will do nothing to advance Canadian content online. If anything - licensing costs will make it harder for the new ISPs to offer their services in Canada, leaving us with the virtual monopoly of the two giants - Bell and Rogers. Then, once the competition is gone or nonexistent, some of those ridiculous measures could actually be implemented - either as a gesture of goodwill or under threat of having their license revoked.
In the end we may eventually see the ISPs not just forcefully redirecting us to the .ca mirrors of the major internet portals but also blocking access to some of the content which is, while perfectly Canadian, not the kind of Canadian content which the CRTC and the ACTRA would want us to see. Not to mention that such licensed and regulated internet will cost us more than unlicensed and unregulated internet costs today.
So let us say NO to the ACTRA initiative. No to costly licenses on the ISPs which would transform to an extra tax on the internet. No to CHRC shoving its regulated content down our throat. No to fixing a system that is working fine as it is! Use this form on the CRTC website to voice your opposition.