Technology & Science

CRTC opens up invitation-only meeting

A group advocating for more open internet access is lauding the CRTC's decision to broaden representation at an upcoming invitation-only meeting on regulating digital services.
Telecommunications is about more than just TV and radio these days as online video streaming services like Netflix encroach on the market of traditional broadcasters and content providers. CRTC is to discuss that and similar issues at a meeting in Ottawa next week. (Damian Dovarganes/The Associated Press)

A group advocating for a more open telecommunications policy in Canada is lauding the CRTC's decision to broaden representation at an upcoming invitation-only meeting on regulating digital services.

Last month, Openmedia.ca criticized the telecommunications regulator for keeping closed its meeting on the issue, scheduled for March 23 and 24 in Ottawa.

It warned that lack of public oversight threatened to turn the meeting into "yet another big telecom lobbying bonanza."

A CRTC spokesman said the meeting's aim is to evaluate approaches to regulation in a digital economy where telecommunications and broadcasting are converging into a single world of communication.

In a news release issued Monday, Vancouver-based Openmedia.ca said it welcomed the CRTC's efforts to broaden representation at the meeting, which will also address the CRTC's controversial internet metering proposal.

"So far, it has been confirmed that the CRTC will disclose the list of participants and in so doing, promote a balance between representatives of Big Telecom, broadcasters, digital creators and people working for Canadians' interests," the organization said.

It also said it has received an invitation to the meeting.

OpenMedia.ca is asking that the meeting be recorded and streamed live online and for meeting minutes to be made publicly available.

The meeting comes at a time when companies such as the online video streaming service Netflix are blurring the line between telecommunications and broadcasting.

The CRTC does not currently consider services such as Netflix to be broadcasters, meaning they are not subject to the same regulations as traditional broadcasters.

The Canadian Media Production Association, however, considers Netflix a direct competitor of broadcasters and cable and satellite companies that provide similar content to the same customer base.