Given the recent uproar over the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission’s (CRTC) decision that usage-based billing was an acceptable practice, you might think Canadians are eager to see the out-of-touch regulator canned.

But that’s not the case at all. Perhaps it was a Valentine’s Day phenomenon that had Canadians looking into their hearts to find a place for the CRTC, but a recent poll conducted for ITBusiness.ca by Delvinia Data Collection shows most of us aren’t ready to banish the regulator entirely.

Although about one-quarter of respondents thought the regulator “should be scrapped, 58 per cent said that “in some situations, the CRTC plays an important role.” Another 17 per cent said the CRTC “still plays a major role in regulating Canada’s communications.”

Brian Jackson, journalist
Brian Jackson

This AskingCanadians poll of 1052 respondents was conducted for ITBusiness.ca.  The data was collected from February 11th to February 14th.  AskingCanadians is an online survey community with a panel of more than 160,000 members across Canada.

With Industry Minister Tony Clement overturning a CRTC decision to disallow Wind Mobile’s operating licence because of foreign ownership concerns in 2009, and a promise to reverse the decision on usage-based billing unless the CRTC reviewed it first, some Canadians might have been left wondering what power the regulator really has. But aside from these decisions that captured media attention and political opportunism on the part of the Conservative government, the CRTC attends to a daily agenda that is important, yet not widely publicized.

Take for example a June 2009 decision by the regulator that all broadcast programming must be closed captioned. The new policy required broadcasts to provide captions for all day time programming, and all overnight programming when captions were available. It also requires that commercials and promotions be closed caption by the end of each broadcaster’s next licence term.

Here, the regulator improved access to broadcast television for the hearing impaired, those learning to read and speak a second language, and even those who watch muted TVs (like at the gym, or in restaurants). Without the CRTC, it’s doubtful that broadcasters would voluntarily take on the expense and work required to improve accessibility, since it doesn’t result in more profit.

Perhaps Canadians have a soft spot for the CRTC just because they can’t imagine life without it. Almost three-quarters of poll respondents said they had been aware of the regulator for many years. Another 15 per cent had learned about the CRTC in the last couple of years, and only five per cent had never heard of the CRTC.

So when it comes to determining the best way to regulate communications in Canada, we seem to prefer the devil we know.

Joining the AskingCanadians panel is free to Canadians who are in the age of majority in the provinces they reside, or have the permission of their parents or legal guardian. Qu’en pensez-vous is the sister community in Quebec.  AskingCanadians is owned and operated by Delvinia Data Collection for more information go to http://www.delvinia.com/askingcanadians.

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  • Pat

    The CRTC is a waste of taxpayer dollars and only ensures the Canadian telecom industry remains UNcompetitive. Make Bell and Rogers compete FOR REAL.

  • Chad

    I wouldn’t call,
    “in some situations, the CRTC plays an important role.”
    a soft spot. I would call it a tolerance.
    Canadian media needs some kind of regulation; and unfortunately these are the only people we have.
    I think they would get more support if they were more interested in what the Canadian consumers wanted, rather than catering and bending over backwards for the Canadian businesses. Competition should never be controlled or monopolized. If a corporation were to flourish in Canada, it should be because of their excellent service and content whether or not it were Canadian owned.

  • lone wolf

    The CRTC cuurently is antiquated,they haven’t bothered to update regualtions for the late 20th to 21 century. Where the internet,mobile should have more over sight to protect the consumer. Yet offer more choices,true competition,not forcing competitors to the tier A carriers /cable companies to cap bandwith for example. Canadians pay too much for their multi media,communication options. Hire less former tier A carrier employees would be a great start for more arms length regulation! Harper’s executive team’s got the right idea,thank you !

  • brassman

    Most people know the CRTC for the CanCon rules which have protected our home grown music and TV production industries. Whether or not you agree with the exact way they go about it most people accept that 30 million vs 300 million requires some sort of regulation to prevent total cultural annihilation (too strong? ok assimilation).
    Canadians also just have to look south to see what happens when you completely deregulate telecommunications and it isn’t (except in the beginning) lower prices and better service. Even on the topic of UBB I think Canadians are fairminded people but $1-2/gig for something it costs $.01-.02/gig to provide is price gouging and is a level of profit that has no place in a regulated environment or in a competitive environment.

  • Brent

    The only soft spot there is for the CRTC is the soft spot on their useless skull get rid of them already

  • p duddle

    Total BS, most Canadians want the CRTC closed. Check out the top CRTC people – all have worked for Rogers and Bell for decades. The CRTC is nothing more than a Bell/Rogers lobby group.