The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Decima Reports. Broadcasting should be included in any review of the telecommunications industry. The federal government in its budget announced this week indicated that it was going to appoint a panel to review Canada’s telecommunications policy and regulatory framework (see article on page 7). As advocated by the Canadian Cable Television Association, however, any such review must take into account the converged nature of the ICT industry. Telcos have entered the broadcasting distribution business, and this year many cablecos are jumping into telephony. At the same time, distributors, such as Rogers, Shaw, and even Bell ExpressVu, through sister company CTV Inc., are not only distributors but also producers and broadcasters. Because of the interconnected-ness of the two regulated branches of the ICT sector, any review cannot ignore broadcasting. Granted the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage has already undertaken a massive review of the broadcasting system, which resulted in the Lincoln report and its 90-odd suggestions. The federal government has stated that it will respond again to the report, and hopefully move on some of the recommendations. However, there are things that will be looked at in the review of the telecommunications industry that were not touched upon by the Lincoln committee that also apply to broadcasting. Giving the CRTC direct fining authority would go a long way in helping the commission more effectively regulate not only the telecom industry, but also the broadcasting sector. In a nutshell, fines would be levied for breaking the rules as opposed to needing pre-approval to change rates on tariffed services for example. On the broadcast side, fining powers would also give the CRTC added flexibility. For example, the commission was recently forced to revoke the radio licence of CHOI-FM for failing to comply with its terms of licence. The regulator had no other punishment mechanism available, so was forced to take the extreme measure of taking away the radio licence. It if had fining powers, it could have fined the radio station, and avoided the messy court battle that’s now under way. CHOI-FM owner Genex has gone to court, saying that the CRTC has overstepped its bounds (CCR Update, Nov. 12/04).