Corus, SaskTel Block Access to Broadcast Panel Review Submissions

University of Ottawa Law Professor, Dr. Michael Geist, has been sharing various submissions to the Broadcast and Telecommunications Legislative Review Panel, from major telecoms and broadcasters, obtained through Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) requests.

While his previous ATIP requests obtained submissions not previously available online from Bell, Shaw, Cogeco, Quebecor, CWTA and Rogers, his latest request for documents from Corus and SaskTel were blocked.

Geist says both companies are arguing the public disclosure of their submissions at this time would “prejudice the competitive position” of both parties, citing Section 20(1)(c) of the Access to Information Act.

The professor scathingly concludes the secretive nature goes against transparency of the federal government and the entire Broadcast and Telecommunications Legislative Review Panel, saying:

The notion that a company can stop public disclosure of submissions to a public process by claiming prejudice to a competitive position raises serious transparency concerns about public processes. As I told the ATIP officer, withholding an entire document – even including materials that are presumably introductory in nature and surely inconsequential to a competitive position – creates a level of secrecy that runs directly counter to the very goals of open government. While the submissions will be made publicly available within a matter of weeks, the process associated with BTLR secrecy ultimately reflects poorly on the panel itself which unnecessarily adopted a secretive approach, Corus, SaskTel, and the government.

Recent submissions from Bell argued for the criminalization of illegal online video streams, while Shaw said it supported more broadcast competition and rejected a Netflix Cancon tax.