Heritage committee calls for creation of single department of communications The House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage has made dozens of broad-ranging recommendations to strengthen Canada’s broadcasting system which, if implemented, would result in greater and more stable funding provided to the industry, as well as a massive overhaul of the responsible bureaucracy.The committee tabled a report in Parliament today following a two-year study of the Canadian broadcasting system. Among its 97 recommendations, Our Cultural Sovereignty: The Second Century of Canadian Broadcasting proposes the consolidation of the Telecommunications Act, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Act and the Broadcasting Act into a single piece of legislation under the oversight of a new department of communications. This is similar to a recommendation made by the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology when it recently studied foreign investment in the telecommunications sector.The committee has also made specific recommendations about the development of local broadcasting policies, recommends a moratorium on further media cross-ownership, and urges that greater accountability in appointments to the CRTC and CBC be implemented. Further, committee members called on Parliament to resolve a longstanding broadcast industry request for stable funding to the Canadian Television Fund.As expected, the committee has also written in favour of the status quo regarding foreign ownership levels for broadcasting and telecommunications companies. This puts it at odds with the industry committee’s recommendations.In a move that broadcasters will likely cheer, the committee has also called for a review of the Part II licence fees charged to them and distributors, “with a view to their elimination if found to be discriminatory.” Canadian NEW MEDIA will have further details in its upcoming issue. As of 4:30 p.m. E.S.T., the report was not yet available online. A media release outlining the committee’s key recommendations is available here.