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Michael Lithgow's blog

May 28, 2008 Weblog:

CRTC preparing to regulate the internet

They said they wouldn't do it 1999. And they said it again in 2003. But now the Canadian Radio-Television Telecommmunication Commission is getting set to regulate the internet and they want Canadians to help them set the terms for an upcoming hearing into the matter.

The CRTC is Canada’s federal communications regulator. In 1999, they took the position that the internet was mostly alphanumeric text, not technically sophisticated enough to provide audio and visual content easily, and not of sufficient interest to consumers of audio and visual content to warrant regulation. Well, that’s changed, and regulations are coming. In Broadcasting Public Notice 2008-44, the CRTC has announced a major investigation into the feasibility and scope of regulating content on the internet.

But before they rip open the discussion, they want input from Canadians about what questions to ask -- What areas to focus on? What concerns should get priority? For example, should questions about net neutrality be raised?

This is a chance to have legislation put into place that will protect net neutrality.

The Commission wants to know if the upcoming hearing should ask questions like:

Are there practices that effect distribution of and access to Canadian new media broadcasting?

Is the new media broadcasting environment contributing sufficiently to the achievement of the broadcasting policy objectives of the Broadcasting Act?

Who are the relevant stakeholders in the creation and distribution of Canadian programming in the new media environment?

» continue reading "CRTC preparing to regulate the internet"

May 22, 2008 Weblog:

Rally on Parliament Hill for Net Neutrality

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Canadians outraged by the slow strangling of the internet are invited to share their outrage with the Parliament of Canada on May 27th.

The Net Neutrality Rally will demand legislation to protect the internet from predatory practices like traffic shaping and data management, and to encourage transparency among ISP companies.

Transportation assistance is available -- check out the Net Neutrality Rally website for more details.

This is an important first step in the battle to save the internet -- a strong showing at this rally could be the beginning of legislative protection for net neutrality in Canada.

For more info on the net neutrality movement in Canada, check out savethenet.ca.

March 29, 2008 Weblog:

Net neutrality in Canada under siege: Bell implements “traffic shaping” service to throttle Internet access

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Bell Canada - Canada's largest internet provider - is going ahead with its plan to undermine net neutrality. They call it “traffic shaping” and “traffic management”, but what it adds up to is the end of net neutrality for anyone on the Bell system. This includes Bell customers and non-Bell customers who contract with third party ISPs who use the Bell system.

Bell and other Canadian ISPs such as Rogers have been “traffic managing” for over a year, slowing some kinds of traffic down while privileging others. The data that Bell tends to target for slow down is peer-to-peer and torrent traffic. Last week, Bell applied the same “traffic shaping” controls to its third party ISPs, service providers who use the Bell system but who are independent companies with their own clients. What this means is that Bell is screwing, not only with its own customers' data, but with the accounts of third party Internet users.

Do you know whose system your ISP is using?

April 7 is the date Bell has set to have the “traffic shaping” procedures implemented across its entire network.

Check out the Bell the Throttler video -- helps to explain the warp and waft of the Bell attack on net neutrality.

For more information, check out Michael Geist's blog . To get involved in the campaign to save the internet from telecommunications robber Barons, contact Campaign for Democratic Media.

February 18, 2008 Weblog:

Venezuela government supports community television in response to “savage” opposition media campaign

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In a surprise move, the Venezuela government has donated audio-visual production equipment to 69 community television facilities across the country. The Communication and Information Minister Andres Izarra, speaking to over 400 community television representatives in Caracas, said that community television has a crucial role to play in the struggle for truth. The donation comes in response to what has been described as a “savage” opposition media campaign currently underway by Globovision.

The donation has been well received by community television producers, according to Jhonny Pancho, representative of Catia TV, one of Venezuela's oldest community television stations. As for any perceived influence peddling by the government, Pancho and Caita TV president Gabriel Gil were adamant that community television remains independent of government.

Community television responds to people's needs rather than government needs, said Gil. More than 70 per cent of the programming is produced by community collectives.

Go to venezuelanalysis.com for the more story.

Also, for some background check out Justin Podur's piece on Znet.

February 11, 2008 Weblog:

Honk Kong pirate radio station gets OK from High Court

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The Hong Kong government's attempt to shut down pirate radio broadcaster Citizen's Radio was scuttled in a recent decision of the Hong Kong High Court. In the decision, the Court stated that it did not see how the station's broadcasting could jeopardize public safety.

In a complicated ongoing legal battle, the Hong Kong government had sought to extend an injunction preventing the station from going to air. Citizen's Radio argued that denial of their application for a license violated their freedom of expression.

The unlicensed broadcasts were started in 2005 by a group of pro-democracy activists after their application for a license was denied by the Broadcasting Authority. The station airs phone-ins and discussions about current events and politics, including discussions about Hong Kong's transition to full democracy. In 2006, the station was raided by state agents, members were arrested and equipment confiscated.

After resuming broadcasts, the station got under official skin once again in May 2007 after legendary democracy activist, Szeto Wah, was interviewed about the Tiananmen Square Massacre. After the interview, Wah was charged with "knowingly becoming involved in the use of unlicensed communications equipment in order to transmit radio signals."

Citizen's Radio broadcasts on 102.8 FM from a tiny 150 square foot studio in a warehouse district in Mongok. They also distribute programming from their website.

» continue reading "Honk Kong pirate radio station gets OK from High Court"

November 30, 2007 Weblog:

CRTC Awards Compensation to Citizen's Advocacy Group for Cost of Preparing Submission

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The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) has won a major victory for Canadians who want a say in telecommunications policy in Canada. In Telecom Costs Order CRTC 2007-14 issued today, the CRTC upheld PIAC's request for compensation for the preparation of a submission to a public hearing on whether or not to eliminate regulatory constraints on telephone companies' basic rates.

The original public hearing (Telecom Public Notice CRTC 2006-10) was instigated in response to a letter from Bell Canada requesting deregulation of basic phone service fees. PIAC was strongly opposed to such a move, and included with its submission a request under s.44 of the CRTC Telecommunications Rules of Procedure for compensation for the costs of preparing its submission. Under s.44, the CRTC can award costs against a regulated company to an intervener who represents a class of subscribers with an interest in the outcome, who has participated in a responsible way, and who has contributed to a better understanding of the issues. The CRTC ordered that PIAC be compensated in the amount of $20,182.74.

» continue reading "CRTC Awards Compensation to Citizen's Advocacy Group for Cost of Preparing Submission"

September 24, 2007 Weblog:

CRTC Proposal Threatens Community Television in Canada

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Community access television in Canada is once again at risk of being destroyed as an access medium for the Canadian public. The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) wants to remove the community channel from the basic cable package, a move that would, in effect, gut community television as an access medium. Canadians are being urged to write to the CRTC and demand that community television remain in the basic cable package. The deadline for submissions is October 9, 2007.

If you want to respond immediately, here's what to do. Click here, to see the CRTC's call for comments in CRTC 2007-10. Paragraph 73 proposes that community television be removed from the basic cable package. Find paragraph 105 and follow the links to file an electronic response. You can also write your response in a separate file and attach it to your electronic submission.

If you would like to know more about this issue, and where to find supporting documents such as existing regulations for community television and learn about others working on the issue, keep reading...

» continue reading "CRTC Proposal Threatens Community Television in Canada"

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