CCD Comments on Over-the-Top Services

27 June 2011


Mr. Robert A. Morin
Secretary General
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0N2
Fax: 819-994-0218

Dear Mr. Secretary General:

Re: Broadcasting and Telecom Notice of Consultation CRTC 2011-344

Filed Via Fax Submission

The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) is pleased to submit by Fax the attached response to Broadcasting and Telecom Notice of Consultation CRTC 2011-344.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.




Laurie Beachell
National Coordinator


BRIEF TO: Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)

RE: Broadcasting and Telecom Notice of Consultation CRTC 2011-344

As contained in Broadcasting and Telecom Notice of Consultation CRTC 2011-344

BRIEF SUBMITTED BY: Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD)
Mailing Address: 926-294 Portage Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R3C 0B9

27 June 2011


In its notice, CRTC 2011-344, the CRTC indicates that it is seeking submissions about the impact of “over-the-top” (OTT) services on the Canadian broadcasting system, and related developments in telecommunications, and that it wishes to hear from Canadians about:
• the capabilities of measurement and analytical tools to enable a better understanding of OTT programing trends over time;
• trends in consumer behavior, including the current and projected consumption of programing in the next five years, including Canadian and non-Canadian programing;
• technological trends in consumer devices and network capabilities that will influence the development of OTT programing;
• the possibility that, in the near term, OTT services may cause replacement or reductions in BDU subscriptions;
• the opportunities and challenges for the Canadian creative industries associated with OTT services;
• the impact that OTT services might have on the acquisition and exhibition of programing available to Canadians;
• the impact of the growth of OTT services on consumers;
• any additional issues or evidence relevant to the contribution of OTT programing services to the achievement of the policy objectives of the Broadcasting Act.

In this submission, CCD will comment on the impact of OTT services on consumers.


CCD is a national human rights organization, working for an inclusive and accessible Canada.


CCD was founded in 1976 and our thirty-five year history has taught us that neither the voluntary guideline approach nor the free market model deliver effective access for Canadians with disabilities to broadcasters’ services. Access to these services is essential for effective participation in today’s society. Regulation, guided by human rights principles, is what has created access for people with disabilities to other systems of society. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Human Rights Act support our call for the regulation of the broadcasting and telecommunications industries to ensure access to persons with disabilities. By ratifying the CRPD, Canada made a commitment to meet the standards set by this international law. Article 21 of the CRPD addresses the provision of accessible broadcast and internet services.


CCD expects the CRTC to use its regulatory power to establish a climate whereby all broadcasters and telecommunications providers are obliged to make all their services fully accessible to persons with disabilities, regardless of how content is transmitted—via satellite, through cable, over the airwaves or on the internet and regardless of the type of device that is used by the consumer to receive the content—television, computer, smartphone. This level of access should be achieved within the next ten years. Undue hardship is the only defense for not undertaking disability accommodations.


1. People with disabilities are finding that increasingly the internet is being used by broadcasters as a vehicle for transmitting programing and some programing is only available through the internet. One case in point was CTV’s coverage of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and Paralympics. Much of the programing for the Olympics and all the programing for the Paralympics was available only via the internet. CTV provided its internet programing in a manner that was inaccessible to some persons with disabilities. The programming was not captioned to make it accessible to Deaf Canadians. The streaming video player on the CTV web site functioned exclusively by the use of a mouse, which made it inaccessible to persons with vision impairment who use screen readers. These two barriers excluded many people with disabilities from accessing an event which was very important to many Canadians.

2. A variety of people with disabilities made CCD aware of the discrimination which they experienced when they sought to use the services being provided by the CTV web site. People with disabilities were very concerned about this lack of access because a great deal of work has gone into ensuring the availability of captioning, for example. Our community does not want to see the progress made toward access eroded because television broadcasters are now using the internet to reach their viewers. Our community wants to prevent the creation of new barriers such as television programing, available on the internet, which can only be accessed through the use of a mouse and television programing that loses its captioning and described video components when it is made available to the public on the internet.

3. CCD made a complaint to CRTC about the lack of access being provided by CTV with respect to its Winter Olympics coverage transmitted via the internet.

4. CCD was informed by the CRTC that it could not address the community’s concerns because the programing in question had been delivered via the internet.

5. The inaccessibility of the 2010 Winter Olympics programing provided by CTV on its web site is only one example of an inaccessible Canadian broadcasting service on internet. People in our network have also informed us of other instances where programing that was captioned when it was shown on television becomes available on the broadcaster’s web site but without the captioning. This is an example of an accessible service being made inaccessible. The erosion of access is of great concern to the disability community.

6. CCD disagrees with the CRTC’s decision not to regulate Canadian broadcasters’ programing on the internet.

7. CCD expects more from the CRTC. It is insufficient to encourage broadcasters to make their programing on the internet accessible to people with disabilities.

8. Market forces are not going to bring about the access needed by Canadians with disabilities. If this were the case, the access would already be in place and we would not be making this submission. Instead, we see broadcasters choosing to use inaccessible technology, such as the video player that was used for the live streaming video from the Olympics. Technology is exclusive because it has been made that way. The fault is not with technology but with the decisions that are made along the way toward implementation.


CCD urges the CRTC to exert its regulatory authority over OTT for the purpose of ensuring access to Canadians with disabilities.


CCD calls upon the CRTC to use its regulatory authority, in a manner consistent with human rights principles, to deliver to Canadians with disabilities 100% access to television programing regardless of where or how the content is delivered to consumers.