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Media and socio-cultural communication
In December 2006, the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) issued its review of Digital Radio Policy. This replaced the transitional digital radio policy of 1995, and sought to implement a framework designed to support multi-platform digital radio broadcasting in an increasingly complex technological environment for the medium. Drawing on policy analysis, interviews and expert group perspectives, this paper traces the background to the legislative provision for digital radio development in Canada. While Canada was an early adopter of the Eureka-147 or Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB), the policy of DAB as a replacement technology approach proved to be mistaken. Subsequent extensive regulatory intervention to protect Canadian interests similarly proved ineffective against the dominant influence of US interests on Canadian broadcasting, evidenced most recently by the entry of satellite- delivered subscription radio services of XM Radio and Sirius. It is argued that the approach adopted in Canada’s new digital radio policy needs to be set against the background in which the future of radio is now much less obvious and clear than it was ten years ago. Instead of a relatively straightforward transition from analog to digital audio broadcasting (DAB), there is now a wide selection of both competing alternative and complementary technological options for digital audio delivery. As such, radio can be seen to be either facing the danger of fragmentation or in fact surviving by infiltrating into new platforms and becoming more polymorphic. The paper offers a critical appraisal of whether, given previous experience and lessons learned, Canada’s regulatory approach is the appropriate one and potentially a model for other sectors and other markets.
O’Neill, B. ‘Digital Radio Policy in Canada: fragmentation or evolution of the medium’, presented at IAMCR 50th Annual Congress, UNESCO, Paris, July 2007.