The CRTC Meets to Look at Internet Billing

Konrad von Finckenstein, looking interested
Anyone who reads this blog knows that the CRTC is not my favourite group of regulators. Not that I have anything against regulators in general, in fact I think we need more of them here in Canada, or at the very least, at least we could use regulators who actually do their jobs.

In Ottawa this week the CRTC is hearing submissions from Canada’s internet giants who are trying to gouge even more than they already charge us for the service. Canadians we are reminded, already pay more for internet service that most other people in the world.

The CRTC, if things run true to form, will try to find a way to give the big guys what they want. Screw the consumer.

I note that at the hearings, Open Media’s Steve Anderson, got a rough ride from the commissioners. First CRTC chairman Konrad von Finckenstein - no, no that is really his name – got annoyed with Anderson who was trying to point out that internet costs were already prohibitive for some who live with within lower income brackets. Finckenstien pushed Anderson saying that he as well beyond the scope of the hearing. To be fair, Anderson most likely be unfamiliar with the finer points of the CRTC tango, a dance perfected by broadcasters, communications companies and the CRTC commissioners.

Then Vice Chair for telecommunications, Len Katz, started to push Mr. Anderson about Open Media’s “non-partisan” status in light what he saw as links to union groups. He also asked how many members it had, and who was funding it.

Katz who has a strong background with the industry giants Anderson is fighting against and one could easily assume is not pro-union, seemed to find fault with the fact that a couple of unions support Open Media. In fact the list of supporters is quite broad and includes 500,000 Canadian citizens.

The vice-chair of broadcasting, Tom Pentefountas, quoted Open Media as saying in the past that Bell’s position in the hearing is “self-serving,”. Pentefountas who seems to have missed the point of these hearings took Anderson to task for referring to Bell Canadian those terms said “Your interest is just as self-serving, is it not?”.

A Montreal lawyer and friend of Stephen Harper’s former communications director Dimitri Soudas, Pentefountas was named vice-chair of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission in a storm of controversy earlier this year. He is startlingly unqualified for the job. I have more credentials than he does.

It was advocacy by Open Media that led to the public outrage over Internet pricing and download limits that prompted the hearings in the first place.

The commissioners would rather not be there.

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