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O Canada: Canada's "FCC" Seeks More Canadian Content in Porn

While this blog is focused on spectrum policy, from time to time we diverge into other communications policy issues. The recent headline in Huff Post Canada “CRTC Hits Porn Channels For Not Enough Canadian Content” just could not be ignored.

CRTC, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, is the Canadian counterpart to the parts of FCC that deal with broadcasting content and ownership issues as well as the business side of telecom. Since Canadian federalism differs from US federalism, the control over telecom within provinces is a more complex issue. The Spectrum, Information Technologies and Telecommunications sector of Industry Canada is an executive branch agency that deals with the technical aspects of spectrum policy and non-spectrum communications. SITT is structured like EPA, while CRTC is a commission of political appointees that is more like FCC.

In general your blogger prefers this basic structure over the US structure as it keeps the political issues in a political organization away from the technical issues where politicians add little value. The instant problem arrises not from the Canadian structure, rather from long standing Canadian legislation that mandates “Canadian content” in the media industry for nationalistic reasons that might be appropriate considering the relationship of Canada and its southern neighbor and unique aspects of Canada’s culture and history that are not well known in US media.

The Toronto Sun, you may recall Toronto’s mayor has been frequently discussed on Jon Stewart’s Daily Show, wrote

“The CRTC says a group of Canadian porn channels needs a few more naughty Newfoundlanders, Manitoba MILFs and promiscuous prairie girls.

In a notice posted online Wednesday, the telecommunications regulator warned that channels owned by Toronto-based Channel Zero -- including porn stations AOV Adult Movie Channel, AOV XXX Action Clips and AOV Maleflixxx -- are not complying with the requirement for 35% Canadian content.”

The staid CBC, the national broadcaster and BBC equivalent, wrote

The federal broadcast regulator wants the naked truth about a couple of porn channels.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission says AOV XXX Action Clips and AOV Maleflixxx may not be airing enough Canadian content or closed captioning.

The X-rated specialty channels are supposed to air 35 per cent Canadian programming over the broadcast year and 90 per cent of its content should have captioning.

At least CRTC was treating the apparently straight and gay AOV XXX Action Clips and AOV Maleflixxx equally.

So while your blogger generally admires the Canadian telecom policy system and interacted with IC many times during his FCC career, this incident shows what happens when you start regulating content for political reasons. In the special case of Canada content regulation of national origin might be useful, but it become problematic in a shrinking world.

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