Canada's broadcast regulator has scheduled hearings for February to determine whether broadcasting over the internet should be subject to federal regulations.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission announced the hearings on Wednesday.

The CRTC exempted broadcasting over mobile phones and the internet from regulation in 1999, saying these new media were not used widely enough to merit CRTC rules.

But with widespread adoption of high-speed internet access by Canadians, the CRTC is prepared once again to consider whether new media should be regulated.

A report commissioned by the CRTC earlier in 2008 concluded new media were a significant force and should be subject to the same regulations as other Canadian broadcasters.

The CRTC cautioned that report was for information only and the final decisions on whether and how to regulate new media had yet to be made.

Among the subjects the regulator hopes to look at in its review:

  • How to define new media broadcasting.
  • What the impact of new media broadcasting is on traditional broadcasting.
  • Whether incentives or regulatory measures should be used for the creation and promotion of Canadian content.
  • How widespread the access to new media broadcasting is across Canada.
  • Other broadcasting or public policy objectives.

The CRTC is soliciting comments from interested parties until Dec. 5 and plans a hearing beginning Feb. 17, 2009, in Gatineau, Que.