OpenMedia takes out full-page “Ottawa Citizen” ad inviting CRTC Chair Ian Scott for beers

This statement was originally published on openmedia.org on 20 July 2021.

Picture this: It’s Saturday morning in Ottawa. CRTC Chair Ian Scott grabs his morning coffee and sits down to read the paper. He flips open the Ottawa Citizen, and – SPIT TAKE!

 

A photo of a full-page ad in the Ottawa Citizen that reads the following: IF BEERS ARE HOW THIS CRTC DOES BUSINESS, WE’RE IN. Dear CRTC Chair Ian Scott, We don’t think internet policy should be made over beers. But since news leaked of you having one-on-one beers with Bell CEO Mirko Bibic, people are wondering if that’s how your CRTC does business. Over 7,000 members of the OpenMedia community have emailed you directly, asking if you’ll have a beer with us too.  But we still haven’t heard back, so we thought we’d try this ad. People in Canada are feeling ignored by the CRTC. We’re still struggling with some of the most expensive cell phone prices in the world, insufficient choice of internet providers, and inadequate connectivity throughout rural and remote Canada. Yet your CRTC’s recent decisions prioritize Big Telecom’s shareholders, and completely ignore the needs of internet users.  Your job is to represent everyone — not just Big Telecom. It’s time you give us the same attention you give Bell. WILL YOU HAVE BEERS WITH US TOO? [ ] YES [ ] NO To learn more and RSVP, visit openmedia.org/crtcbeers.

Having difficulty reading the text in the photo? Click here or on the image above for the full-sized version.

That’s right! On July 17th, we ran a full-page ad in the Ottawa Citizen with a simple message: If CRTC Chair Ian Scott is regulating the Internet via friendly beers with Big Telecom executives, he needs to have a friendly beer with Canadians, too.

You may have heard about the 11 one-on-one lobbying meetings the CRTC Chair took with Big Telecom before making numerous decisions in their favour – including the photographed beer with Bell CEO Mirko Bibic.

On June 12, the Toronto Star reported that Big Telecom met with Industry, Science, and Economic Development (ISED) Canada over 250 times since the CRTC’s 2019 wholesale rates ruling – and nearly a DOZEN times just with CRTC Chair Ian Scott himself. In contrast, indie ISPs met with the same groups just 19 times in the same timeframe, while OpenMedia met with ISED just 4 times during that period, and not once with the CRTC.

That’s a ton of lobbying, but the infamous Bell-CRTC meeting over beers at an Ottawa pub might just be the worst of them all. In broad daylight, Scott sat down for beers with Bell CEO Mirko Bibic – just one week after Bell filed its appeal of the CRTC’s 2019 wholesale rates.

And given the recent scandal that unfolded as the CRTC stunned everyone by reversing its own policy and taking Bell’s side at the expense of Internet customers across the country, it’s pretty easy to see why we’re concerned Chair Scott is only listening to one side.

Our invitation for beers may seem tongue-in-cheek, but we’re not joking. We don’t think drafting Internet regulation over a cold one is right. But if this is how the CRTC works now, we’re game to do what it takes to advocate on behalf of our community.

People in Canada are still paying some of the highest rates for their Internet and mobile data of any country in the world. People are suffering, and those with the least connectivity and least ability to pay, are the most hurt by all of this.

Since Scott’s beer with Bell, the CRTC threw out its own calculations on fair wholesale rates, ignoring its own analysis that Big Telecom dominates the market and extracts monopoly profits in Canada, and even ignored Cabinet’s policy direction that the CRTC must prioritize affordability. Not to mention their complete rejection of MVNOs, which would have brought in more affordable cell phone rates.

These rulings are straight out of Big Telecom’s fantasy policy wishlist – so much so that many experts, including a past CRTC chair, expressed their astonishment at the ridiculousness of the decision. Coincidence? We think not.

So here’s our exact proposal for Ian Scott: Meet us and a handful of OpenMedia community members for a beer, and hear directly from the folks he’s been screwing over with the CRTC’s recent decisions.

The post OpenMedia takes out full-page “Ottawa Citizen” ad inviting CRTC Chair Ian Scott for beers appeared first on IFEX.

Source: MEDIA FEED

HRNJ-UG Admin

Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) is a network of human rights journalists in Uganda working towards enhancing the promotion, protection and respect of human rights through defending and building the capacities of journalists, to effectively exercise their constitutional rights and fundamental freedoms for collective campaigning through the media.

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