Are Canadians against levies on ISPs?

by Paul Jay, CBCNews.ca. While a number of artist groups and broadcasters have called on the CRTC to impose a levy on internet service providers, a couple of new polls suggests Canadians aren't crazy about the idea.

On Thursday, Angus Reid Strategies published two online polls, both of which suggested Canadians aren't enamored with ISP levies.

The first poll said 79 per cent of respondents worried putting a levy on ISPs to fund Canadian TV programming was "an unnecessary and/or inappropriate fee that would end up being passed along to consumers." And in another poll, 73 per cent of respondents said a levy going towards artists to offset the lost revenue due to file sharing was similarly inappropriate.

The polls were based on interviews with 1,395 randomly selected Canadian adults, with a margin of error of +/- 2.6 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Neither poll is a direct reflection on the proposals put toward the CRTC, however, as most groups have called for the levy to support new media programming, and not television programming.

Angus Reid senior research manager Lucas Marshall told CBC News his understanding was that funds raised from a levy would go to broadcasting, and that would include both TV and new media funds. However, he acknowledged the poll was conducted before Heritage Minister James Moore actually merged the Canadian Television Fund with the Canadian New Media Fund and wasn't sure if that would change the equation.

In fact, many groups calling for the levy, including ACTRA and the Writers' Guild of Canada, were against directing the money to an all-purpose fund that might support TV programming and wanted it earmarked for new media ventures only.

It's likely true, however, that this distinction may be lost on consumers. But for now, the issue of ISP levies appears a long way from affecting the average Canadian, particularly since the ISPs themselves reject the legality of imposing them, a stance that will likely see the issue go before the courts before it shows up in our bills.