Canada's major industry associations continue to lobby both the CRTC and Canadian Heritage for reforms, but their strongest allies may be in the Prime Minister's Office and the Senate. The senior communications advisor to Heritage Minister Sheila Copps, Jacques Lefebvre, says the minister has an open file when it comes to examining the role of the CRTC in the ever-changing environment of convergence and competition. However, attempts to strike committees to examine the CRTC have fizzled out in the past. A prime example is the creation in 1998 of Liberal caucus task force to review the CRTC's treatment of tiering and linkage rules (CCR May 13/98). Copps formed the task force after complaints from Liberal MPs that appointments to the CRTC come primarily from the broadcasting, cable or telecom industries. The task force was to review the CRTC's relationship with the industries it regulates. The national caucus met several times with the minister, but is no longer active. Apparently, Copps worried that the group was overstepping its bounds. Heritage officials say the only formal review of the CRTC's mandate currently underway is a Senate subcommittee that is examining issues related to convergence and the new economy. And unlike a House of Commons committee, which dies when an election is called, the Senate subcommittee will not be disbanded if a writ is dropped, as expected this fall. A House committee can also lose members if they fail to win back their seats in an election. Executives within the Canadian Cable Television Association (CCTA) believe the political climate is right for a fundamental change within the CRTC. Appearing at the first day of the Senate sub-committee's review, CCTA president Janet Yale delivered her industry's most recent pitch for regulatory reform, detailed in its recently released ETV report (CCR, April 13/00). "Regulators will have to demonstrate greater flexibility so that consumers drive demand," Yale told the senators May 15. "We believe it is essential for public policy to provide the right incentives, to innovate, to deploy advanced infrastructure, to invest in new media or create totally new information and entertainment opportunities for consumers." The CCTA is lobbying for less regulation of small cablecos, liberalized cross-ownership rules and changes to the Canadian Television Fund which is in the last year of its funding mandate. Insiders suggest that the Senate sub-committee's review could also lead to a re-examination of Industry Canada and Canadian Heritage, and whether the time has come to finally re-unite these two departments - and their various pieces of communications legislation - under one super-ministry. The idea isn't new, but the rapid consolidation and convergence taking place in the industry has made the idea somewhat more palatable. In a recent interview with CCR's affiliate publication, Canadian NEW MEDIA, the sub-committee's chair confirmed that the entire regulatory structure for broadcasting, telecommunications and new media could be subject to some radical proposals. "(We will look at) whether each regulator is supported by appropriate legislation," said Senator Marie P-Poulin. "The legislation for broadcasting is totally different from the legislation on copyright. Should we look at bringing these legislations together? At this time, broadcasting is also different from telecommunications. Is convergence creating the need to bring those legislations under a third umbrella, which means that it brings the agency under a single department?" The CCTA's Yale said many people in business and government seem sympathetic to her ideas about revamping the regulatory system. "I think there's a feeling that change is needed, but it's up to us in the private sector to come up with a united view- It's too early to see where the momentum is coming from, but we hope it's building," she said.