CRTC, Please Dissolve – BP #46

{17 Comments}

///CRTC, Please Dissolve///

Have you heard? The CRTC is drafting a new “Code of Conduct”. I’m confident saying this code will accomplish as much as the City of Toronto’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Human Rights (lack of an Oxford comma is their error, not mine). That is to say it’ll achieve nothing.

And guess what?? The CRTC even wanted to listen to YOU. They solicited online feedback about what the Code should include. Canada’s brain trust piled on with insightful pith, e.g. “Get rid of the 36 months contract!!! It first started with 12 months, then 24 months, now the standard is 36 months, which is ridiculous!” (Actual quote.)

Let me lay it out for the above participant:

If you don’t want to sign a 3-year contract — whether that’s because you think it’s a bad deal, or you just didn’t like the Telus salesperson’s haircut, whatever — then don’t sign the contract. Stop relying on my tax dollars to protect you, bail you out, and guide you to the right decision.

Of course the one real solution to Canada’s telecom debacle wasn’t even up for consideration: deregulation. Dissolving the CRTC would benefit Canadians far more than any spineless Code of Conduct their pissant bureaucrats could dream up. But, as a self-serving organization, the CRTC affords no room for critical thought. Their solution is predicated on the following illogical conclusion:

“Hey, overregulation has destroyed competition and made cellphones a hellish oligopoly for consumers. Let’s solve the problem with new regulations.”

If you don’t think there’d be competitive entrants, you’re lying to yourself. In liberalized telecom markets, consumers get better services and pay less. Heck, in spite of Canada’s horrifically over-regulated market, competitors have still entered against all odds and by the skin of their teeth, e.g. WIND. Naturally, telecom companies have tried to abuse the socialist implements of the CRTC to prevent or punish competition and they’ve been largely successful.

One thing I think everybody should have been outraged by this year was when Rogers decided to increased all bills even if a consumer was locked into a fixed rate contract. Rogers essentially took a giant dump on contract law. Their malicious conduct threatened one of the key institutions of free exchange: binding contracts. In this one egregious situation where the CRTC should have stepped up to the plate and deservedly smacked down an operator, what did the regulator do? Nothing.

What do we need the CRTC for? Not much. Auction off wireless spectrum on ten year leases. Don’t let people or companies interfere in the spectra of others. Make it a criminal offence to violate the Do Not Call list and hand the management of the actual list to the Privacy Commissioner. There; I just cut about 90% of the CRTC’s operating budget, staff, and deleterious reach of censorship into our personal lives. We don’t need scions to hand down commandments about Canadian content or to ban Money For Nothing from radio play. The CRTC is not only a largely worthless institution, but it oppresses Canadians. While we’re at it, let’s privatize the CBC. Wow, another billion a year saved! Good thing for those biased hacks that my opinions are completely un-electable.

The CRTC is not going to save consumers from their own stupidity. Stop counting on other people to make smart decisions for you. Most of those bureaucrats don’t care. They’re in it for the paycheque, and will inevitably screw it up — if not due to incompetence then most certainly to entrench their own jobs.

///Catherine Holly Wood///

Cat is also unimpressed by the CRTCCute outfit or cutest outfit?"I see what you did there."

///Mentions///

This week’s BP is truncated and next week’s probably will be, too. Apologies if you enjoy funny pictures, etc., I’ve just been busy with Christmas and house buying (more on Monday). On a related note I’m headed to Edmonton on Tuesday!

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17 Comments… Share your views

  1. The CRTC protects Canadian content and artists and thus our Canadian culture. They also help regulate the behemoths that are the companies in the broadcasting arena.

    Haha. OK, just kidding.

    They do actually do a very good job of ensuring that we’re not overrun with American influences though by preventing us from being innundated with American TV shows and music.

    OK, now that one’s not even funny. Why are news shows from other countries censored again?

    • For sure. I’m all for free speech — let Al Jazeera and Fox News broadcast their respective pro-Islamist and pro-Christian Fundamentalist propaganda; they’re just channels on peoples’ satellites for which they can pay if they want it. Meanwhile, the news we do get is also no better than garbage. The CBC is state-funded and, since they received their biggest funding increases under the Liberals, guess who their channel supports every election? Things like The Vote Compass are designed by former high-ranking Liberal party members and literally act as subsidies. I say that nowadays — ignoring the negative implications for free speech implied by having a “state broadcaster” as thought we’re some kind of communist bloc nation — technology and the free market have made the production of content so inexpensive and so diversified that the CBC’s existence and subsidies actually suppresses market competition and therefore the ability of individuals to be heard.

  2. We can’t allow foreign companies to abuse us by coming in, providing an overpriced and sub-standard service, and then arbitrarily withdrawing from a market they had promised to support for a long time. Only other Canadians get to do that to us.

  3. “Heck, in spite of Canada’s horrifically over-regulated market, competitors have still entered against all odds and by the skin of their teeth, e.g. WIND.”

    So you think that WIND and Public would have entered the Canadian market even without the Gov’t setting aside spectrum that could only be bid on by new entrants and enforcing cross-company roaming?

    • The situation you are citing was an exception after two decades of banning foreign entrants from even bidding in the first place. Does that sound like a free or even fair market? Don’t you think this sort of thing put real non-RoBelUs entrants at a massive disadvantage?

      Even the initial LAUNCH of WIND Mobile (before the auction) was directly and intentionally impeded by the CRTC, until the federal government overruled its wayward bureaucrats.

      • In response: nope it doesn’t and yes it does, respectively. To claim that the CRTC had it in for Wind is just spin. Telus complained that Wind wasn’t playing within the telecom act, and the CRTC is obliged to interpret that act based on the complaint. In the end, it was just the Government overrulling itself, as it wrote the Act and ownership tests in the first place.

        My real issue is just flippant nature of the post, I guess. Claiming that you just want to get rid of the CRTC implies that something like investigating roaming agreement, do-not-call, or internet wholesale complaints are pointless. We have a lot of bad telecom-based regulation, like our ownership rules. I just don’t think the answer is a free-for-all, but a set of regulations we will find to be more constructive, like the three I just mentioned.

        • As a former radio broadcaster for five years, I guarantee my criticism is a lot less flippant than you think.

          “The Government overruling itself”? No. Politicians acting on behalf of Canadians to reverse yet another oppressive CRTC ruling? Yes. They don’t only enforce rules, they’re a regulator; they make rules. ignoring their incompetence by implying “it’ll all get sorted out in the end” is spin, because it actually took extraordinary measures by the political level to fix. I remember watching that whole drama as it played out and WIND’s entry really was by the skin of its teeth.

          The CRTC is big on “investigating” and low on results. Its useful endeavours are few and far between and poorly enforced/inefficient compared to other countries (look at the FTC’s DNC list for example; the CRTC is always late to the game and copies America. Digital signals? DNC? Television commercial volume? What are we paying these people for if they only copy ideas from the US, enforce oligopolies, and ban Money for Nothing?)

          Name-dropping internet wholesale as if it’s a defence of the CRTC’s regulatory activity — are you kidding me? They’ve enforced the oligopoly and now ruled that small providers need to pay even more to the oligopolists. Like everything else, they’ve screwed it up royally as bureaucrats or czars or regulators are ought to do when the role should, in fact, be left to a free market.

          • I may have been not as precsise with my words as intended. I never tried to imply that it will get sorted out in the end. My only point there was that in that case, the Government wrote that act that defined the rules for foreign ownership to begin with. (Fortunately, this has been relaxed recently, but only for small players. It will be interesting to see if that promotes any change in next year’s spectrum auction)

            Nor was it my intent to try and defend CRTC decisions. Obviously in the case above, the Gov’t and courts felt the CRTC bungled the interpretation. The ones I consider positive have been few and far between. Internet wholesale is, however a good example, and our approaches to the issue might be where our differences lie. Without a that regulation and the CRTC, or CRTC-like body, my assumption would be that internet wholesale would dissapear completely. If yours does not, then sure.

  4. You better ‘splain this “house buying” thing.

    • lol initial story on Monday. You are either going to be impressed by the logistics or extremely disappointed by the blasphemy I’ve committed.

      • As long as you’ve put 20% down and not paid more than 4 times your household income and plan to live there at least 5 years, it should be okay!

        I suspect a nesting mother is behind this decision! But prove me wrong!

        • At this point, I’ve committed to 20% down. I could do 50% but that would blow through a lot of my emergency fund, although it wouldn’t touch my cash TFSAs or RRSP money. The house is under 2x my gross income and only like 1.15x our household income (obviously when I am working and not on EI, but I’m going back in March). My plan is to pay it off within 5 years, which is how long the interest rate is fixed.

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