The costs borne by public advocacy and consumer groups when they make a presentation to the CRTC will soon be offset by a fund set up by the broadcast and telecom regulator.
The fund will be fuelled in part by financial contributions from companies as part of their seeking approval for corporate acquisitions and media mergers.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) approved a proposal to establish the Canadian Broadcasting Participation Fund. This independent fund will help public-interest and consumer groups offset the costs of participating in the CRTC’s broadcasting proceedings.
“Each year, we hold dozens of public proceedings to gather views from the communications industry and the public,” said Leonard Katz, the CRTC’s Acting Chairman. “It is important that we receive a wide range of submissions to help shape our broadcasting decisions and policies. This new fund will help ensure that the voices of Canadians are heard through the participation of groups that represent their interests.”
When BCE purchased CTVglobemedia in 2011, it committed $3 million to create the Canadian Broadcasting Participation Fund. The company subsequently presented a proposal to the CRTC. Representatives from different consumer groups were consulted and provided their comments in a consultation process.
The conditions of approval for that acquisition included the establishment of an independent broadcasting participation fund to offset the costs of public interest groups that participate in Commission broadcasting proceedings.
The fund will also support groups in the research, analysis and advocacy, in English and French, of issues related to broadcasting proceedings. The CRTC is requiring that the fund provide services and publish documents (such as policies, funding criteria and annual reports) in both official languages.
The CRTC is directing the fund to start providing cost support to public interest groups and consumer groups within 60 days. The CRTC expects that any cost incurred as of now could be included in a cost application.
A mechanism also exists to support the participation of individuals and groups who represent consumer interests in the CRTC’s telecommunications proceeding.
CRTC approval for the Fund is subject to the requirement that BCE Inc. and the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (jointly, BCE and PIAC) file signed and dated executed copies of the requested documents as well as the agreements amended according to Commission’s directions set out in the appendix to this document within 30 days of this regulatory policy.
The CRTC has directed BCE and PIAC to begin immediately the process of setting up the BPF, including the process of replacing the Provisional Board of Director.