CRTC urges gov't intervention on new media

Seeks to regulate next-generation TV content

TORONTO -- As Canada's TV watchdog gets set to hold hearings on Internet regulation, the CRTC has released two reports that urge government intervention into emerging digital platforms.

On Tuesday, the CRTC released a report from Columbia Business School economics professor Eli Noam that calls for harmonized regulation of next-generation TV content over fixed-line and wireless Internet pathways.

"As the Internet becomes the main platform for most media uses, the regulatory rules for the Internet become the rules for much of the media system as a whole," Noam wrote.

The report also recommends new public funding for homegrown new-media product through the imposition of an excise tax on Internet service providers and telecoms, a move opposed by Canadian content carriers.

In 1999, the CRTC declared it would not regulate the Internet, but has backpedaled in recent years as Canadian TV signals, protected by the federal government from U.S. competition, increasingly move onto the Web.

The second report from the CRTC, prepared by polling firm Nanos Research, assembled industry and public opinion on new-media regulation and cited widespread concern over Internet traffic-shaping by content carriers, including major telecoms.