Monique Lafontaine to the annual conference of the Ontario Association of Broadcasters

Speech

October 19, 2022

Monique Lafontaine, Commissioner for Ontario
Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)

Check against delivery

Thank you very much for the kind introduction.

I would like to begin my address today by acknowledging that we’re gathered on the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, the Huron-Wendat and Wyandot Nations. I would also like to acknowledge the many Indigenous communities located throughout our vast province. I pay respect to these Nations and to their Elders.

OAB and the Canadian broadcasting sector

I’m delighted to participate in the OAB’s first in-person conference since 2019. Thank you to Val Skivington and to the OAB for the gracious invitation. I would also like to congratulate all of the exceptional award nominees who are being celebrated here today.

It is a privilege to be among so many broadcasters who provide an essential service to Canadians. Since we last met three years ago, you ensured that your stations remained on air during periods of great uncertainty, you maintained a strong presence in your local communities, and you remained committed to broadcasting informative and engaging – and in some cases life-saving – content throughout.

Indeed, radio and TV continue to be important ways for vital information to be shared quickly and effectively with Canadians.

Changing digital landscape

Despite broadcasters rising to the occasion during periods of crisis, the Commission is aware that the last twenty months have not been easy for many OAB members. While data suggests that a recovery may well be underway, it also shows that revenues and audience numbers continue to pose certain challenges. This year’s Connection 2022 conference helps shed light on how industry participants might address these challenges. As always, the OAB is providing its members with highly relevant information about current and emerging media trends, along with the latest best practices.

I salute the conference organizers for putting together such a timely and robust program.

As a regulator, the CRTC’s objective is to ensure that we have an accessible, world-class communications system that keeps pace with evolving technologies and enriches the lives of all Canadians. With the rapid rise of digital technologies and the changing ways that Canadians consume content, broadcast regulation must also evolve.

To that end, I would like to discuss three CRTC initiatives that may be of particular interest to OAB members.

Commercial radio policy

First, the CRTC launched a review of its commercial radio policy two years ago. Key questions considered in that proceeding were: a) How can we establish a flexible policy for Canada’s radio industry? b) How can we ensure that Canadian musical artists are best supported? and c) How can our policy help ensure the broadcast of diverse, relevant and quality programming on commercial radio?

While that proceeding is still ongoing, a new commercial radio policy will be published in the coming months. I hope you will find that this policy balances the various interests of the sector and addresses these three important questions.

Public participation in CRTC proceedings

Second, I would like to discuss public participation in CRTC proceedings.

The CRTC very much appreciates the input of OAB members in policy reviews such as the commercial radio review. Prior to joining the Commission, I worked as a communications lawyer for the better part of twenty years. I wrote many applications and broadcast policy briefs to the CRTC.

Now as an adjudicator and decision-maker, I can see how important it is for stakeholders to make their views known to the Commission. Indeed, it is critical that the Commission hear from a broad range of stakeholders, including radio and television broadcasters, when considering applications and establishing new public policy.

I urge you to continue to participate in CRTC proceedings, either on your own or through the industry associations with which you are affiliated.

Database

Finally, the CRTC continues to work on a digital reporting project that intends to make life a little easier for OAB members. One of the ideas put forward in the CRTC’s Harnessing Change Report was a digital monitoring system for radio. We are, therefore, working with partners in the industry, such as SOCAN and software developers, to create a practical industry tool that can be readily adapted to the ever-changing digital environment. The project will also facilitate digital reporting by radio broadcasters.

This is a complex project with many challenges, but we’ve made good progress through our initial tests. Ultimately, this initiative will help to reduce the administrative and regulatory burdens on both the radio industry and the CRTC.

More information about these initiatives is sure to follow.

In recent years, the pace of technological change has accelerated. Radio, television and other media industries, along with regulators such as the CRTC must adapt. To do so, we must continue to learn, to cooperate, and to share insights and information. The OAB conference provides a valuable opportunity for this work to be done.

Thank you for your attention. I wish you all a productive, enjoyable and inspirational conference.

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