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Jean-Pierre Blais Appointed New Chairperson of the CRTC

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Today Prime Minister Harper announced the appointment of a new head of the CRTC, veteran public servant Jean-Pierre Blais. The five year term is effect June 18th, 2012 and will replace the current chair, Konrad von Finckenstein.

“Mr. Blais is well qualified for the position of Chairperson of the CRTC. He brings a strong legal background and a comprehensive understanding of the broadcasting and telecommunications sectors and the role of the CRTC, having held high-level positions at the Treasury Board Secretariat, the Department of Canadian Heritage and the CRTC,” said the Prime Minister. “I wish him all the best as he takes on the challenges of his new role.”

If you’ve wondered what the role of the CRTC is, here is how the PMO describes it:

The CRTC is vested with the authority to regulate and supervise all aspects of the broadcasting and telecommunications systems in Canada. The Commission reports to Parliament through the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

According to the Globe and Mail, Blais is a former lawyer by training and is well-connected in Ottawa. He is known as “a conciliation-minded type who would seek compromise on issues” instead of acting on his own. Sources mention he is ‘enforcement minded’ and would have no issue enforcing consequences should CRTC rules be broken.

Telecom insiders view Blais as “relatively compliant with Conservative government policy leanings and endeavour to keep the CRTC out of the headlines”, unlike Konrad von Finckenstein (think: UBB, wireless rules, foreign ownership rules).

Will we see a change in the way the CRTC is managed with Mr. Blais as the new chair? It’s too early to tell, but the word on the street says he’s more to side with the Prime Minister’s Office. Thoughts?

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