Tom Pentefountas, vice-chairman of broadcasting at Canada's telecom and broadcast regulator, has announced that he plans to step down within weeks, leaving his position about four months before his term expires.
In an e-mail to staff members of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) on Monday, Mr. Pentefountas said it was "with mixed emotions that I must announce to you today that I will be leaving the commission on November 20." His five-year term was officially set to end on April 3.
"The time has come for my young family and I to start the next chapter in our lives," he said, although he did not specify what his plans are after leaving the regulator.
His departure led the CRTC to postpone a hearing on the rules regarding French-language music on commercial radio stations. The proceeding was meant to begin on Nov. 16, but at least three commissioners are required for the panel deciding the matter and after Mr. Pentefountas leaves, only two francophone commissioners will remain, chairman Jean-Pierre Blais and Quebec commissioner Yves Dupras.
CRTC commissioners are appointed by the federal cabinet, which has the ability to name a total of up to 13 commissioners, including the chairman and two vice-chairs of broadcasting and telecommunications. After Mr. Pentefountas's departure, there will be up to five vacancies for the cabinet to fill.
In an e-mail statement on Monday, Mr. Blais thanked Mr. Pentefountas for the "commitment and collegiality that he brought to his position."
The CRTC has been at the centre of some controversy in recent months as Ontario commissioner Raj Shoan has filed two legal actions against the regulator, in one case seeking a judicial review of Mr. Blais's response to a third-party investigation that found Mr. Shoan had harassed a CRTC employee over e-mail. In the second case, filed last month, Mr. Shoan argued that Mr. Blais has overstepped his authority by unilaterally appointing panels of commissioners to consider and rule on telecom files.