Convergence Implications in Canada Communication Policy

Introduction

Canada is one of the major global broadband markets (Wu 79). Previous years have seen telecommunication operators and broadcasters as separate entities. The incessant growth in this particular field has necessitated the concerned authorities to adopt certain policies that might simplify the working conditions of these two groups. Even the new global technology is having an impact on the broadcasting scenario. In such circumstances, convergence of the telecommunications and broadcasting fields became imperative. Convergence in the communications industry has brought together the commercial and technological aspects. As a result, now the communication networks and services work in association with each other in a manner that various network services provide similar audio, video and data transmission services (OECD 5).

Owing to the convergence, telecommunications and broadcasting services have been revolutionized and consumers are able to get better services such as digitization, better speed and broadband (CRTC 1). Besides bringing great benefits and better service for the consumers, convergence has posed great challenges for the regulators. Convergence, clubbed with private ownership and growing competition, has necessitated reforms in the prevailing communications policy of Canada (Mortensen 100). There is a huge demand for information and technology products and services and it is predicted to experience a steady growth (Messinger 1). Considering all such issues, it becomes imperative to conduct a study on the present scenario of telecommunication in Canada.

Aim of the research

The aim of this research paper outline is to evaluate the prevailing communications policy of Canada and its impact on various aspects related to consumers and the service providers.

Research problem

Over the years, telecommunications and broadcasting fields are swiftly budding and congregating into a distinct area of communication. Several innovations and subsequent acceptance pertaining to the provisions, relevance and infrastructure are being carried out throughout the world. It has become an uphill task for the supervising bodies to keep pace with such developments.

Significance of the research

Considering the aforementioned issue, it has become imperative for the regulators to consider the linkage between telecommunications and broadcasting while making decisions. The impact of such a convergence on business and user behavior should also be determined. Moreover, since various factors such as cultural expression and the related sector are at stake, it becomes imperative to conduct a study on this topic.

Methodology

Considering the significance of the topic, the researcher referred the official websites of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). In addition to these two websites, the researcher also referred some scholarly articles, journals and books.

Review of literature

Canada is a member of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). As such, its broadcasting and communication policy is governed by the OECD guidelines (OECD 10). The kind of service platform decides the intensity of regulations. Like for example, those services that are free to broadcast content have stringent regulations. This is done because such services can influence people to a great extent. Moreover, viewing of explicit content by the teenagers can be very harmful. The following table depicts the various policies and measures pertaining to free to air services:

Regulation policies for free to air broadcasting services
Table 1: Regulation policies for free to air broadcasting services Source: oecd.org

A report by Ian Hardy suggests that the wireless sector is expected to experience a growth of 100 percent during the ensuing couple of years (Hardy 1).

Wireless consumers in Canada
Figure 1: Wireless consumers in Canada Source: mobilesyrup.com

Figure 1 depicts the number of Canadian consumers for wireless services. It is evident that the projected number for the year 2014 is 30 million. After 14 years of introduction of the wireless service in Canada, the number of consumers has depicted a massive increase. Even the broadband network consumers have shown a considerable increase in numbers. The following figures depict such increase:

Percentage of domestic internet consumers
Figure 2: Percentage of domestic internet consumers Source: crtc.gc.ca
Percentage of mobile internet consumers
Figure 3: Percentage of mobile internet consumers Source: crtc.gc.ca

Competition has played a crucial role in the implementation of Canada’s communication policy. The telecommunication sector of Canada has witnessed immense growth during the past decade. Nonetheless, there has been stiff competition among the major players. The main companies engaged in Canada’s telecommunication sector are Bell, Rogers and TCC (Telus Communications Company). According to CRTC’s report, Rogers is the major company in telecommunication sector and has captured 39% of the market. It is followed by Bell and TCC. The following chart depicts the market shares of various companies in the telecommunication sector in Canada:

Market share of companies in the Canadian telecommunication sector
Figure 4: Market share of companies in the Canadian telecommunication sector Source: company—blogspot.in

The following charts depict the telecommunication revenues of Canada during different fiscal years:

Telecommunication revenues in 2010
Figure 5: Telecommunication revenues in 2010 Source: crtc.gc.ca
Telecommunication revenues in 2011
Figure 6: Telecommunication revenues in 2011 Source crtc.gc.ca
Telecommunication revenues in 2012
Figure 7: Telecommunication revenues in 2012 Source: crtc.gc.ca

As any other business, the main aim of the organizations engaged in the telecommunications and broadcasting is to keep their stakeholders happy. As such, it becomes imperative for such organizations to consider the interests and preferences of their consumers, technology providers and providers of communication provisions. All the requirements cannot be met under the prevailing communication policies. So a change in the policy is eminent. Digitalization can be considered as a step towards convergence of broadcasting and telecommunications. This has further augmented the significance of the current distribution system.

Implications

The implications of the new developments in the Canadian broadcasting policy multifaceted and can be divided into the following segments:

Convergence

Due to convergence, the line of difference amid broadcasting and telecommunication is vanishing. In spite of this, both these fields are administered by separate Acts (the ‘Broadcasting Act’ and the ‘Telecommunications Act’) (Dewing 7). This has created confusion on the inclusion of any particular service under the Acts. The Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are one such example. The Canadian organizations engaged in the telecommunication and broadcasting field have better opportunity to earn handsomely because such convergence means convergence of corporate as well (Pannekoek, Taras and Bakardjieva 15). It is expected that it will have some positive social and cultural implications as well.

Fragmentation

Considering fragmentation, the radio and television service providers have been certified and given official approval. The Canadian consumers have easy access to content from outside the country through internet. This has benefitted the students because they can now have a global perspective on various topics. The wireless and wired broadband services are getting better as a result of which communication has improved.

Canadian content

Due to the paucity of spectrum, a conventional approach has been adopted. The number of radio frequencies is limited and in order to have a right to use a frequency, it is a prerequisite for a broadcaster to obtain the required license from the concerned authority. Once a license is obtained, the broadcaster is bound by the guidelines of CRTC pertaining to the content to be showed to the consumers. It is also mandatory for the broadcaster to broadcast Canadian content for specific number of hours. A least limit for spending on Canadian content is also specified for the broadcaster (Michael 8).

The negative implications should also not be undermined. Complying with the new guidelines, the organizations have to invest lot of funds and this has brought them under huge debts (Pannekoek, Taras and Bakardjieva 16). It is true that they have become bigger in their dealings but at the same time, they have become susceptible to several risks. On the other hand, since the consumers have access to global content, there are chances of the younger generation being misled due to explicit content.

Conclusion / Summary

Considering that the changes in the communication policy of Canada have several positive implications, it is expected that the prevailing regulations will not become irrelevant in the near future. It is very crucial for the regulators to keep a close watch on the trends and devise any other strategy in accordance to these trends. The future policies should be formulated considering their long-term implications. One of the most important factors to be considered is the prevailing competition among the organizations associated with telecommunications and the impact of such competition on the prices of products and services. The prevailing scenario of the Canadian telecommunication is very encouraging and has great future prospects. But in order to safeguard the future of the country’s youth, the regulators need to consider the quality of content being aired.

Works Cited

CRTC 2011, Navigating Convergence II: Charting Canadian Communications Change and Regulatory Implications. Web.

Dewing, Michael 2012, Canadian Broadcasting Policy. Web.

Hardy, Ian 2012, CWTA says “Wireless Penetration in Canada is set to Exceed 100 Percent in Just the Next Few Years. Web.

Messinger, Hans 2003, Information Communication Technologies. Web.

Mortensen, Melanie. “Beyond Convergence and the New Media Discussion: Regulatory Models in Communications Law.” Canadian Journal of Law and Technology 2.2 (2004): 99-113. Print.

OECD 2004, The Implications on Telecommunication and Information Services Policies. Web.

Pannekoek, Frits, David Taras and Maria Bakardjieva. How Canadians Communicate, Canada: University of Calgary Press, 2003. Print.

Wu, Irene. “Canada, South Korea, Netherlands and Sweden: Regulatory Implications of the Convergence of Telecommunications, Broadcasting and Internet Services.” Telecommunication policy 28.1 (2004): 79-96. Print.