CRTC Chair Ian Scott’s first speech provides no ‘grand vision statement’ for the future

Scott's speech hints at a more industry-friendly approach

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The chairperson and CEO of Canada’s telecom watchdog has issued his first public proclamation.

In an address to the International Institute of Communications (IIC) Law and Policy Conference in Ottawa, Ian Scott — the head of the Canadian Radio-Television Telecom Commission — delivered a speech on the chief concerns of the CRTC under his leadership.

He began by addressing the fact that many were listening to his words in the hopes of discerning some “grand vision statement, a tip of the cap that we are pro this or opposed to that.” He continued by saying that he would issue no such statement.

However, over the course of roughly 3,500 words, Scott delivered an address that certainly hinted towards a CRTC more open to collaboration between industry and public actors, while still attempting to uphold the interests of the Canadian public.

Scott also provided an update on the report regarding Canadian content in a digital world for Heritage Minister Melanie Joly and the reconsideration on MVNOs for Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains.

The CRTC’s report for Joly should be completed by “next June,” and the CRTC’s reconsideration for Bains must be completed by March 2018.

“Our role is to balance many competing ideas and approaches while consistently fulfilling our statutory mandates, and we will uphold the public duty to the best of our abilities,” said Scott, in his remarks. “That’s what this organization has done throughout its history. Its course will not change.”

“Although my immediate past experience is in the private sector, I have a long history of work in the public service.”

Scott delved briefly into the history of the CRTC, beginning with its inception as the Canadian Radio and Television Commission in 1976.

The speech then delved into some of the CRTC’s accomplishments, as well as the fact that “there were social and cultural implications inherent in every decision it took.”

During this history lesson, Scott shared a number of quotes from “our earliest days of telecommunications regulation.”

One in particular hinted towards the aforementioned spirit of collaboration, stating that “it is nevertheless the view of the Commission that no single person or group embodies the public interest…”

Scott emphasized this belief in the importance of the CRTC’s work, stating “we invite — indeed, we encourage — stakeholders from across industry, the government and the public at large to share their comments and opinions on the issues before us.”

Furthermore, Scott briefly hinted towards any concerns listeners might have as to the nature of his work as a member of Canada’s telecom industry.

“What you may not know is that, although my immediate past experience is in the private sector, I have a long history of work in the public service,” said Scott.

Scott concluded his speech by highlighting six desires expressed by Canadians to the CRTC: “fast, affordable and reliable internet access”; “access to and be able to create, high-quality and diverse content”; “use applications and service on the devices of their choice”; “the benefits that come from competition”; “to be protected against spam and unwanted telephone calls”; and, talking about the desires of companies and corporations “they want to earn reasonable returns on their investment at the same time.”

Scott concluded his speech by reiterating his promise that the CRTC will ensure “that Canadians have access to a world-class communications system.”

“This is the promise that I and my fellow commissioners make to you today, and the mantra that will guide us over the next five years,” concluded Scott.