Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission

Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is an independent public organization that regulates and supervises broadcasting and telecommunications systems in Canada.

Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission

Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is an independent public organization that regulates and supervises broadcasting and telecommunications systems in Canada. It does not regulate newspapers, magazines, cell phone rates, or the quality and content of TV and radio programs. The CRTC reports to Parliament through the Minister of Canadian Heritage. Its mandate is to ensure that broadcasting and telecommunications systems serve the Canadian public.

The Broadcasting Act, 1967-68, established the Canadian Radio-television Commission (CRTC) to regulate and supervise all aspects of the Canadian BROADCASTING system. These functions had been carried out since 1958 by the Board of Broadcast Governors, and before that by the Board of Governors of the CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION (CBC). In 1976 Parliament transferred to the CRTC jurisdiction over federally regulated TELECOMMUNICATIONS companies, formerly exercised by the Canadian Transport Commission, and changed the name to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. The CRTC uses the objectives in the Broadcasting Act and the Telecommunications Act to guide its policy decisions.

The CRTC Act sets out the structure and powers of the Commission and provides for up to 13 full-time commissioners, including a chair and 2 vice-chairs, and 6 part-time commissioners. All commissioners are appointed by Cabinet. Their responsibilities include establishing rules, policies and guidelines for licences; participating in public hearings and consultations; developing regulations and participation in issuing CRTC decisions; consulting with members of the broadcasting and telecommunications industries, the public and other interested parties; meeting with licensees, industry organizations or other interested parties; and considering directions to the CRTC from Cabinet.


The CRTC ensures that all Canadians have access to a wide variety of high-quality Canadian programming. Programming is expected to reflect Canadian creativity and talent, bilingualism, multiculturalism and the concerns of Canada's Aboriginal peoples.

The CRTC grants, amends, renews or revokes licences for all broadcasting undertakings, including radio, television and CABLE TELEVISION. It may attach conditions to licences and establishes regulations and policies respecting broadcasting. The governor-in-council may set aside a decision granting a licence or ask that it be reconsidered by the CRTC.

In 1992-93, for example, the Commission received 3924 applications and rate filings, and held 20 oral public hearings across the country. In the same year it issued a total of 191 public notices, 784 decisions and 1634 telecom orders. Among the important early decisions of the CRTC were a provision for a minimum of Canadian music on the air; rules respecting Canadian content in television schedules; licensing of provincial educational television networks; and the nationwide licensing of television systems. In 1981 the Commission licensed Cancom, a SATELLITE distribution company, to provide radio and television services to remote and underserved areas.

Following a public review of the evolving communications environment, the Commission unveiled, in 1993, a package of regulatory reforms designed to help the Canadian broadcasting system meet the challenges of the anticipated multichannel universe. At the time, there were 6 pay- and pay-per-view television services and 13 specialty services licensed in Canada. In early 1994 a public hearing was held to consider 48 proposals for new Canadian television services, including headline news services, arts channels, cartoon and comedy networks, sport and music video services, as well as lifestyle and health channels. Licences for many of these specialty channels were granted.


The CRTC ensures that Canadians receive reliable telephone and telecommunications services at affordable prices. The chief function of the Commission in the telecommunications field is in approving rates or tolls to be charged by telecommunications companies under federal jurisdiction, and ensuring that there is no unjust discrimination in the provision of telecommunications services. Cabinet may vary, set aside or return for consideration any CRTC telecommunications decision.

In 2006, the Government of Canada directed the CRTC to rely on market forces as much as possible. In some markets, several consumer choices are available, resulting in natural competition that brings better prices for consumers. In these cases, the CRTC limits regulations and allows competition to drive the market; in other markets, CRTC regulation is necessary.


In 1932, the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission (CRBC) was established following recommendations from the first Royal Commission on Broadcasting that Canada have a national broadcasting network to be supervised by an independent federal agency. The CRBC was the earliest version of the CRTC, which was established by Parliament in 1968.

In 1936, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) was created to replace the CRBC. The CBC became responsible for providing a national radio service in Canada.

The creation of the Broadcasting Act in 1968 confirmed CBC's position as a national broadcaster; strengthened restrictions on foreign ownership; required that Canadian programming be created by Canadian talent; and created the Canadian Radio-television Commission (CRTC), a new regulatory agency that became the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) in 1976.

In 1976, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission Act expanded the CRTC's jurisdiction to include telecommunications companies.

In 1999, the CRTC ruled against trying to regulate the content of the Internet and in 2009 ruled again that it will not regulate programming on the internet or on mobile devices (new media broadcasting).

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