Canada seeks consultation on media ownership

Telecom regulations could change under gov't plan

TORONTO -- The Canadian government on Monday called for public consultation on a possible loosening of the country's foreign ownership rules for media companies.

Federal industry minister Tony Clement said public response to a consultation paper on allowing more direct foreign investment in Canada's telecom sector initially will be sought, in a bid to allow Canadian phone companies to tap more international growth capital.

"This is important for the structure of the marketplace itself in this country, their ability to innovate, their ability to do research, their ability to roll out new innovations in terms of access to things like broadband," Clement said at a Toronto conference.

The federal minister offered no concrete details on how foreign ownership limits might be changed for domestic telecom companies.

Current telecom regulations limit direct and indirect foreign investment to 46.7%.

Any eventual relaxation of foreign ownership rules for domestic phone companies via the federal Telecoms Act is expected to impact Canadian cable operators and broadcasters operating under the federal Broadcasting Act as each is moving onto one another's turf amid continuing industry convergence.
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