Steven Guiton is Vice-President, Technology, and Chief Regulatory Officer. This time last year, he and part of his team were scrambling to get ready for CBC/Radio-Canada’s appearance before the CRTC. The public broadcaster laid out its vision and arguments during two weeks of licence renewal hearings. It had been over 10 years since the last renewal – an eternity in the broadcast industry! The Corporation’s new licences took effect a few days ago, making it the perfect time to delve into Steven’s complex world of technology and regulatory affairs.
1. What is regulatory affairs? What does it mean for us as a public broadcaster?
CBC/Radio-Canada operates in an industry regulated by the CRTC, which oversees Canada’s entire broadcasting and telecommunications system. Our role is to navigate in this environment – to participate, inform and, when we can, add value to the CRTC’s discussions about industry issues, particularly those directly affecting the public broadcaster.
2. CBC/Radio-Canada’s licences have been renewed after 11 years. How do you prepare for two weeks of hearings like the ones in fall 2012?
A big part of the job is to defend the public broadcaster’s interests with solid, credible arguments. Each project is a challenge and I say to myself: “Wow! Now there’s a winning argument, and we’re going to win!” But you also have to anticipate the strong arguments that will be made by interveners.
3. You used to work for the CRTC, so I gather you’re familiar with its workings?
I’m an economist by training. I worked for the CRTC from 1990 to 1992 as chief economist specializing in telecommunications.
4. So you started off as an economist, but ended up in a department surrounded by lawyers!
[Laughs] I’m a wannabe lawyer in my spare time! I read Supreme Court decisions, listen to oral arguments before the Court on TV, and so on – I love that stuff!
5. How important is innovation to you?
CBC/Radio-Canada needs to be groundbreaking and innovative whether it’s in the area of Regulatory Affairs or Technology. However, there is also a need to balance innovation with practicality and efficiency. New ideas and new ways of doing things are important and valuable provided that we recognize the difference between innovation and experimentation.
6. What do you think of today’s rapidly evolving technology environment?
For me, the changes that are going on are extremely exciting and stimulating. It gives us the chance to reinvent ourselves! Helping CBC/Radio-Canada choose the right technology strategy for our services, at the right time, is also part of my job. I work through these questions with the Technology Strategy Board (TSB).
7. The licence renewal that you spearheaded obviously required leadership. What makes a good leader in your opinion?
Being able to motivate and inspire employees, while staying strategic. For instance, the CRTC may rule on questions or issues that look pretty trivial at first glance. You have to see beyond the question to understand the whole picture. I hope that the leadership I provide inspires my employees to look further ahead.
8. Your French is excellent. Where did you learn it?
In Montreal, where I was born and spent most of my childhood. My parents are Anglos from Baie-D’Urfé, but my father worked for Nortel and we travelled a lot.
9. What challenges lie ahead for you and your team in the coming months?
On the regulatory side, we’re focusing on digital media and new broadcasting services. New technologies are out there and the CRTC needs to strike a balance between old and emerging platforms. How can we reconcile the two and update the regulatory framework? In terms of my responsibilities in the areas of technology and research, it’s about helping the organization deliver services using new technologies that are faster, more integrated, with equipment that is more compact and versatile. All with the goal of working together to offer services when and where Canadians want them, and to measure use across all platforms.
- France Belisle, Manager, Media Relations and Issues Management