Canada's federal broadcast regulator will be considering extending its jurisdiction over new media in public hearings into cross-ownership of broadcasting companies to begin in September.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission released terms of its planned review on Friday.

In the wake of three large media takeovers in the past year, the CRTC announced in March it would conduct a review to ensure "a diversity of voices" in Canadian broadcast media.

"The commission intends to adopt a holistic approach that will include all components of the broadcasting industry,"Konrad von Finckenstein, chairman of the CRTC, said in a statement.

That approach includes determining whether the CRTC has a role to play in regulating new media, such as broadcasting over the internet.

Earlier this year, the CRTC issued results of a study that found new mediado not yet have a significant impact on broadcast markets.

It will also look at cross-ownership of broadcasting companies and companies that are moving into broadcasting digitally over the internet.

The review was prompted by the purchase of CHUM Ltd. by CTVglobemedia and the purchase of Alliance Atlantis by CanWest and Goldman Sachs.

It also could have an impact on this week's deal by Astral Media to buy Standard Radio.

Among the questions the CRTC will be attempting to answer at the hearings:

  • Whether a company holding both distribution and programming undertakingswill hurt diversity of voices.
  • What are the concerns when a single company owns both radio and TV licences in a single market?
  • How has permitting cross-ownership of TV stations and newspapers played out?
  • Have the limits the CRTC placed on owners helped ensure diversity?

The federal regulator is also inviting comments on a Journalistic Independence Code prepared by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council that would apply where a company owns broadcast and newspaper interests in a single market.

The CBSC wants to write its own code to replace limits the CRTC placed on CTV, CanWest, Quebecor and TVA.

The CRTC had required the companies maintain "separate structures" in their newsgathering activities in broadcast and newspapers, and ensureseparation of news management and news decision making.

The code put forward by the CBSC would still demand news management be separate at affiliated broadcasters and newspapers, but would notmandate separate newsgathering.

It also sets out terms for a Journalistic Independence Panel, with members appointed by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Association, to handle complaints related to reporting by a broadcaster.