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CRTC seeks further public comment on broadcast rules with online survey

File photo of Jean-Pierre Blais, chairman of the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission.

Andrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

The CRTC has a few more questions for you.

The broadcast regulator wants Canadians to spare about 30 minutes of their time to fill out an online questionnaire on seven broad topics related to television programming and reulations, including local news, sports and pick-and-pay options.

The questionnaire is the second phase of gathering public feedback that the CRTC says will be used to help shape the rules that broadcasters must follow.

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"Phase one was asking Canadians what they wanted individually from the system ... over the next five or 10 years," said Jean-Pierre Blais, CRTC chairman. "This [new] phase is going a step further. ... This phase is trying to put Canadians in the mindset of thinking of not just what they want but also what, as a country, we want for our television system."

The input will be considered by the regulator as it conducts a review of its policies that will culminate with hearings involving industry members in the fall. In an interview, Mr. Blais said he hopes next year to be implementing the new policies.

The consultations were spurred by the rise of Internet broadcasting, mounting complaints about rising bills for cable subscriptions, and demands for greater choices, Mr. Blais said. The new policy that results will reflect the new reality of television broadcasting – people are increasingly watching TV on mobile devices, and using different sources, including Web services like Netflix.

Mr. Blais said feedback from the surveys will also help the regulator write a report in April requested by the federal government on how to expand the number of broadcast choices avaialble to Canadians.

The new questionnaire poses scenarios designed to get responses to questions that include:

-Should local TV stations be forced to offer local new coverage?

-Should viewers be able to choose which channels they pay for?

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-Should there be more access to U.S. broadcasts?

-Should online services like Netflix be forced to contribute to the production of Canadian programming?

In the first phase of the public consultation, the CRTC asked people to take part in an Internet forum and offer opinions on the following:

-What do Canadians think about what's on television?

-What do Canadians think about the way they receive television programming?

-Do Canadians believe they have enough information to make choices about programming? Do they know how to find solutions if they're not satisfied?

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In that survey, feedback ranged from criticism of the CRTC to complaints about lousy TV shows.

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