Mr. von Finckenstein, a Federal Court judge who was commissioner of the Competition Bureau from 1997 to 2003, was named chairman of the CRTC on Thursday for a five-year term. He will take over from Charles Dalfen, whose tenure ended last month...While the article doesn't discuss specifics about von Finckenstein's tenure as a Federal Court judge, it's worth pointing out his most famous decision - which both refused to allow the recording industry to force ISPs to disclose customer identities, and helped to shape the current law on file-sharing by calling into doubt whether existing copyright law even covers the activity.
Mr. von Finckenstein's tenure at the helm of the federal Competition Bureau was marked by several high-profile interventions on major files. He also changed how the bureau operated, opening the watchdog to regular reviews of the legislation he administered.
Known as a no-nonsense administrator, he blocked the takeover of ICG Propane Inc. by Superior Propane Inc., and overruled the CRTC when it allowed Astral Media Inc. to buy several radio stations in Quebec from Telemedia Communications Inc.
Mr. von Finckenstein, 61, was unavailable to comment yesterday. He takes the job at a crucial time for the CRTC, which has just completed an extensive review of its telecom policy, including deregulation of the home phone and voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) phone services. But several key broadcasting decisions are on the horizon. Two industry-changing takeovers -- the purchase of CHUM Ltd. by CTVglobmedia Inc. and the acquisition of Alliance Atlantis Communications Inc. by CanWest Global Communications Corp. -- loom large...
The CRTC is likely headed for a makeover as well, with several commissioners approaching the end of their terms. Since the chairman and commissioners each have one vote on regulatory matters, the makeup of the CRTC will have a different look under Mr. von Finckenstein.
Needless to say, that background may bode all the better for his refusal to allow big businesses to trample on the interests of the public at large based solely on its own word. But since Maxime Bernier has shown he's entirely willing to overrule the CRTC when its concern about consumers gets in the way of an anti-government agenda, the question now is whether any move by von Finckenstein and the CRTC to protect consumers will be allowed to stand.