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CRTC 2011-344 re: OTT Programming
Mr. Robert A. Morin
Ottawa, ON K1A 0N2
Dear Mr. Secretary General:
SUBJECT: BROADCASTING AND TELECOM NOTICE OF CONSULTATION CRTC 2011-344
VIA ELECTRONIC SUBMISSION
The Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians / L’Alliance Pour L’Egalite des Personnes Aveugle du Canada (AEBC) is pleased to submit by Fax the attached intervention in response to Broadcasting and Telecom Notice of Consultation CRTC 2011-344.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
BROADCASTING AND TELECOM NOTICE OF CONSULTATION CRTC 2011-344
A Brief Submitted to the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)
Submitted by: Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians / L'Alliance pour l'Égalité des Personnes Aveugles du Canada (AEBC)
In its notice, CRTC 2011 344, the CRTC indicates that it is seeking submissions about the impact of OTT services on the Canadian broadcasting system, and related developments in telecommunications and that it wishes to hear from Canadians about:
- The capabilities of measurement and analytical tools to enable a better understanding of OTT programming trends over time;
- Trends in consumer behavior, including the current and projected consumption of programming in the next five years, including Canadian and non-Canadian programming;
- Technological trends in consumer devices and network capabilities that will influence the development of OTT programming;
- The possibility that, in the near term, OTT services may cause replacement or reductions in BDU subscriptions;
- The opportunities and challenges for the Canadian creative industries associated with OTT services;
- The impact that OTT services might have on the acquisition and exhibition of programming available to Canadians;
- The impact of the growth of OTT services on consumers; and
- Any additional issues or evidence relevant to the contribution of OTT programming services to the achievement of the policy objectives of the Broadcasting Act.
WHAT IS OUR PRIMARY CONCERN?
Today, Canadians with disabilities note that an increasing number of television programs are being streamed over other delivery mechanisms, including the internet, and that some are only available via the internet. Too often, the described video component that may be provided through one's television is not also provided via the internet. The AEBC believes the CRTC must reverse its previous stance, and fully regulate the delivery of television programming, regardless of where and how it is delivered.
WHO IS THE AEBC?
The Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians / L'Alliance pour l'Égalité des Personnes Aveugles du Canada (AEBC) is a national organization comprised mainly of rights holders who are blind, deaf-blind, and partially-sighted. Our work focuses on removing existing barriers and preventing the introduction of new ones, improving public attitudes, and to providing input on public policy issues that affect the daily lives of members of our community. For background on our work, including some of our previous submissions to the CRTC, please visit our website at: www.blindcanadians.ca.
WHY IS REGULATION SO NECESSARY AT THIS TIME?
As we have stated repeatedly in previous submissions to the CRTC, neither voluntary guidelines nor relying upon the free market approach have adequately addressed the needs of Canadians with disabilities in most areas of life, including telecommunications. Most of the progress we have achieved has occurred through the assistance of legislation or regulations. As a result, we again call upon the CRTC to expand its use of its regulatory authority in this important area of access to programming.
WHAT IS THE LEGAL BASIS FOR OUR RECOMMENDATIONS?
The legal basis for our call for increased regulation of the broadcasting industry has long been present in Canada through provisions in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Human Rights Act. These provisions were further strengthened when Canada ratified the UN Convention On the Rights of Persons With Disabilities (CRPD). Article 21 of the CRPD addresses the provision of accessible broadcast and internet services:
Article 21 - Freedom of expression and opinion, and access to information states:
Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities can exercise the right to freedom of expression and opinion, including the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas on an equal basis with others and through all forms of communication of their choice, as defined in article 2 of the present Convention, including by:
- Providing information intended for the general public to persons with disabilities in accessible formats and technologies appropriate to different kinds of disabilities in a timely manner and without additional cost;
- Accepting and facilitating the use of sign languages, Braille, augmentative and alternative communication, and all other accessible means, modes and formats of communication of their choice by persons with disabilities in official interactions;
- Urging private entities that provide services to the general public, including through the Internet, to provide information and services in accessible and usable formats for persons with disabilities;
- Encouraging the mass media, including providers of information through the Internet, to make their services accessible to persons with disabilities; and
- Recognizing and promoting the use of sign languages.
AEBC's EXPECTATIONS OF THE CRTC
The AEBC reiterates its position that the CRTC must use its regulatory power to require all broadcasters and telecommunications providers to make all their services fully accessible to persons with disabilities, regardless of how content is transmitted - via satellite, through cable, over the airwaves or on the internet and regardless of the type of device that is used by the consumer to receive the content - television, computer, and smartphone. This level of access must be achieved within the next ten years.
The AEBC calls upon the CRTC to use its regulatory authority, in a manner consistent with human rights principles, to ensure that Canadians with disabilities will receive 100% access to television programming, regardless of how content is transmitted and regardless what device a consumer uses to receive the program.