ISPs not covered by Broadcast Act: Court 0
Canada's top court has ruled that Internet service providers (ISPs) aren't subject to the federal Broadcasting Act. (QMI AGENCY FILE)
Canada's top court has ruled that Internet service providers (ISPs) aren't subject to the federal Broadcasting Act.
The Supreme Court had to weigh the issue of whether Internet providers should fall under the Act as the federal telecommunications watchdog wrestles with how to regulate the growing trend of online TV and radio and a changing media landscape.
In its unanimous judgment released Thursday, the top court said the Act can't cover "entities that merely provide the mode of transmission" and that ISPs "take no part in the selection, origination, or packaging of content."
The judgment upholds an earlier ruling by the Federal Court of Appeal that argued ISPs shouldn't be subject to the Broadcasting Act because they're "content-neutral" and simply deliver content to clients.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) referred the question of whether it has the authority to regulate ISPs under the Broadcasting Act to the appellate court in 2010.
The Supreme Court heard submissions from two groups in January - an umbrella group of cultural unions including ACTRA, and ISPs including Bell, Rogers and Telus.
ACTRA national executive director Stephen Waddell said Thursday he was disappointed by the ruling.
The push by the ACTRA-led coalition is a bid to get the ISPs to contribute some of their profits into programs such as the Canada Media Fund, which uses taxpayer money and private capital to support Canadian programming.
"Our objective here is to have the ISPs contribute like their sister corporation, cable companies, do, " he said.
While federally regulated funding for Canadian productions is expected to be stable for the next few years, Waddell said "there's never enough money to support programming."