Did you watch television today? Listen to the radio? Make a phone call? If you’re reading this post, you’re almost definitely using the Internet.

But have you ever wondered who’s in charge of regulating these services? Meet the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

The CRTC was established through the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission Act in 1968. It is an administrative tribunal dedicated to supervising and regulating “broadcasting and telecommunications in the public interest”. Specifically, the CRTC aims to achieve policy objectives within three key Acts: (1) the Broadcasting Act, (2) the Telecommunications Act, and (3) Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation. These cover a wide range of activities – too many to be listed in a blog.

As a general overview, the CRTC regulates over 2,000 broadcasters and service providers (including television providers, radio stations, Internet service providers and telephone companies). The Commission administers and manages licences while ensuring that their holders comply with the laws that govern their activity. The CRTC also regulates competition in the telecommunications market so that Canadians have options when selecting their service providers. With that in mind, it makes merger, acquisition, and change-in-ownership decisions. If there are any information requests or broadcasting/telecommunication concerns, the CRTC oversees responses.

In executing its tasks, the CRTC is committed to a mission mandate supported by three main pillars. First, the “create” pillar ensures that Canadians have access to compelling, creative content that reflects Canada’s diverse culture. Crucial to this pillar is the ability of Canadians to participate in our country’s democratic and cultural life.  Second, the “connect” pillar aims to ensure that “Canadians can connect to quality and innovative services at affordable prices”. Finally, the “protect” pillar promotes compliance with (and enforcement of) the laws that the CRTC is tasked with upholding.

This year, the CRTC is celebrating its 50th anniversary. A lot has changed in regards to how broadcasting and telecommunications are consumed worldwide (the Internet didn’t exist in any significant way 50 years ago!) – and a lot will continue to change. This places a heavy responsibility on the CRTC to keep up with the times, although the CRTC frequently engages with the public through many forums to gather a multitude of perspectives. If you’ve been a passive consumer up to this point, perhaps you’ll reconsider your level of engagement with the CRTC. As an Internet user, you may be interested in a current public consultation where you can make your views known on the creation of an Internet Code – a code of conduct for Internet Service Providers. Comments on that are being solicited until December 19, 2018.  

Or perhaps you’ll return to favorite television program… and trust that you are in good hands!

-Christopher Lupis – Queen’s Law Class of 2019