The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Decima Reports.The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has strict rules on the issue of socializing between regulators and industry: people who have filed applications cannot meet with commissioners or staff. Informal meetings between industry people and the FCC are allowed, but the subjects of discussion must be disclosed and listed on the FCC's web site. The rules apply not only to commissioners, but to all officials of the FCC. In Canada, things are not so rigid. And Ottawa - with its senior bureaucrats, regulators and lobbyists - tends to be a very small town. CRTC commissioner Stuart Langford says he won't socialize with anyone who may have dealings with the quasi-judicial agency. "In terms of risk management, it really isn't worth it," he says. CRTC decisions "can mean the difference between enormous wealth; and great dreams being dropped into the dumpster." And, to him, it doesn't matter whether a regulated company has an application pending. Eventually, by definition, they will all be asking the CRTC for something sometime. But Peter Miller, a lawyer with CHUM City, says, as an honest business executive, he does nothing wrong when he meets with regulators. After all, the CRTC is supposed to be made up of people who have expertise in the area they regulate. There's an entire academic discipline built around the study of ethics, but they are something that can't be taught. Ban open communications between regulators and those who would sway them, and sleazy regulators will meet with lobbyists out of public view. Voluntary codes and even laws can be subverted by people who are bent on twisting the system for their own benefit. The answer isn't in nitpicking over every lunch between a broadcaster and a CRTC staffer or commissioner. If the system is too cozy, the onus should be on the federal government to clean it up. The best way is by appointing commissioners who are honest, who care about the commission's mandate, and who are determined to give everyone with a stake in CRTC decisions a fair shake. The appointees could be vetted by Parliament, but that's grist for another editorial.