Charles Dalfen (1943-2009)

Charles Dalfen
Charles Dalfen

Year Born: 1943

Year Died: 2009

Year of Induction: 2009

Member of CAB Hall of Fame

Dalfen, Charles (1943-2009)

Charles Dalfen was born in Montreal on February 23rd 1943. He grew up in the city, and earned a B.A. degree from McGill University in 1964. After moving to England, where he received a B.Phil degree at Oxford in 1966, he returned to Canada, and completed his law degree at the University of Ottawa in 1969. He was called to the Bar in Quebec in 1970.
He then taught briefly at Carleton University, before accepting an appointment as a legal adviser to the Department of Communications in 1970, his first exposure to the world of broadcasting that was to occupy him for most of his career. In 1972 he moved to Toronto, where he taught law for two years at the U of T until 1974, when he moved to British Columbia to serve for two years as the province’s Deputy Minister of Communications.

In 1976 he became Vice-Chairman of the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission, leaving in 1980 when he was not invited to replace the departing Chairman. He then returned to private law, and in 1999, after many years with his own firm, Dalfen, Johnston and Buchan, he became a senior partner with Torys LLP. There he chaired the firm’s Communications Law Group, and had many major broadcasting industry companies as his clients.

In 2002 he returned to Ottawa on his appointment as Chairman of the CRTC, a position he was to hold for six years. During his time as Chair, the Commission had many crucial and often controversial matters with which to deal, including the decision not to renew the licence of radio station CHOI-FM in Quebec City, and the approval of carriage of the US Fox network as a specialty channel on cable and satellite, both in 2004, and the approval of the carriage of the Italian network RAI on cable and satellite, and the decision to allow satellite radio into Canada, both in 2005. It was also during his time as Chair that the CRTC began to open up the Canadian telephone industry to competition.

During his tenure, Charles Dalfen also made every effort to induce Canadian television broadcasters to increase the amount of Canadian drama they broadcast. He called the matter one of “national self-respect”. He was also respected for having maintained a hands-off position in respect of the Internet.

On leaving the CRTC on December 31st 2006, Charles Dalfen rejoined Torys LLP, where he again offered legal advice to members of the broadcasting and communications industry. He was a senior adviser on legal and policy matters related to radio, television, cable, new media, satellite, wireless, and wireline telecommunications, and provided guidance, advice and support to Canadian and foreign clients and members of the firm on licensing, ownership and control, mergers and acquisitions, financing, and regulation.

During his career, Charles participated as a delegate to various international organizations, including the International Telecommunications Union, Intelsat and the United Nations Committee on Direct Broadcast Satellites. He was a Director of the Institute of the Americas Board from 2006 to 2009.

Charles Dalfen died suddenly of a heart attack on May 26th 2009, at the age of 66.

In November 2009, Charles Dalfen was inducted posthumously into the C.A.B. Broadcast Hall of Fame for his services to the industry.

Written by Pip Wedge – November, 2009