Katz has been the CRTC’s vice-chairman of telecommunications and previously served as the executive director of broadcasting and telecommunications. He also has 30 years of private sector experience, having served in senior and executive roles with Rogers Business Solutions and Digimerge Technologies.
The CRTC has been in the crosshairs of just about everyone involved in the telecommunications sector as of late. Politics has become par for the course, especially with controversial issues like usage-based billing and the upcoming spectrum auction dotting the horizon.
The government has reversed two key regulatory decisions, too, and that hasn’t been easy to face. When the CRTC decided that WIND Mobile’s ownership structure was in contravention of the Telecommunications Act, the government overruled it and allowed WIND to open. And when the regulator allowed Bell to implement usage-based billing, Tony Clement, then-industry minister, reversed that too.
The CRTC doesn’t have much room to create policy, as they must uphold the aforementioned Telecommunications Act and the Broadcasting Act. The regulator reports to Parliament through the Minister of Canadian Heritage and, contrary to popular belief, has nothing to do with broadcast standards except in cases of appeals.
Katz steps into the chair of this organization and certainly has his work cut out for him. He may only be warming the seat, but his post is expected to run until the fall. In Canada’s suddenly raucous telecommunications universe, it’s safe to say that an awful lot could happen before then.
As von Finckenstein said last fall, “Our present tools are very inadequate.” He’s right and Katz will most certainly be up against the same wall of legislation and government tinkering. Faced with upholding outdated legislation and a government that will flip the script should it appear smart politically is not easy task, even for the most rigid and experienced of chairpersons.