#CyberFLASH: CRTC should let consumers decide future of TV, Google’s Schmidt says

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Eric Schmidt has a message for Canada’s government: Back off and let consumers decide how they want to watch television.

On his first visit to Canada, one of Google’s most powerful executives waded into the contentious debate over regulation of Internet services as CRTC hearings wrap up in Ottawa that could lead to new broadcasting rules. He told The Globe and Mail in an interview that governments should stop trying to protect existing industries from innovative new startups.

“I think the evidence is that governments around the world are heavily influenced by both political matters, but also incumbency in one form or another,” said Mr. Schmidt, the company’s executive chairman. “We’re taking the position that governments need to ultimately serve their citizens by giving the citizens choices, and the market will sort it out.”

It is, in many ways, the defining opinion not just of Mr. Schmidt, but of Silicon Valley, whose myriad startups are challenging traditional business models in a variety of industries – from taxis to television. Google is perhaps the most influential among several tech industry companies – including Netflix and transportation startup Uber – that vocally oppose what they say are government efforts to protect out-of-touch incumbents.

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