Lawyer enters CRTC’s choppy waters

A Montreal lawyer is wading into the contentious area of telecommunications regulation with the announcement of his appointment to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

On Friday, Heritage Minister James Moore said Athanasios Pentefountas, a partner at Silver Sandiford in Montreal, would become vice chairman of the CRTC. “I am delighted that Mr. Pentefountas has agreed to join the CRTC,” said Moore. “I am certain that his leadership, extensive knowledge, and strong legal background will be great assets to the CRTC.”

Pentefountas’ appointment has drawn criticism from the NDP, which has noted his connections to the Action démocratique du Québec, which is, of course, a conservative provincial party. It comes at a time of increasing controversy around the CRTC, which suffered a public rebuke last week after the federal government announced it was taking on the regulator over its decision to impose usage-based billing on small Internet service providers.

At the same time, the CRTC has been in the limelight over its 2009 move to block the entry of Globalive Wireless Management Corp. into Canada due to restrictions on foreign investment in the telecommunications sector. Last week, the Federal Court struck down cabinet’s decision to overturn the CRTC ruling. The move added new uncertainty to the sector, which has been in flux with the entry of new competitors in recent years. It’s unclear what the government will do next.

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