The federal government will give the CRTC nine months to force international streaming giants to contribute to Canadian content.
In November 2020, Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault tabled a proposed bill amending the Broadcasting Act that would give the CRTC new flexible powers to regulate online platforms and said that a policy direction was forthcoming.
MobileSyrup has obtained a copy of the minister’s preliminary draft policy direction to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, which outlines the type of regulation the government is expecting.
As first reported by the National Post, the policy direction states that the CRTC will be tasked with ensuring “that online undertakings are required to contribute appropriately to the support for and promotion of Canadian programming and Canadian creators.”
“To promote regulatory transparency, predictability and consistency within this scheme, the CRTC is directed to, after holding a public proceeding, establish a clear methodology that sets an appropriate level of funding and determines which classes of broadcasting undertakings are required to contribute in a way that is proportionate to this objective,” the document notes.
When the bill was tabled last year, the government stated that if online broadcasters, such as Netflix and Spotify, are required to contribute to Canadian content at a similar rate to traditional broadcasters, their contributions to Canadian music and stories could amount to up to $830 million by 2023.
Further, the policy direction outlines that the CRTC will be required to regulate the Canadian broadcasting system in a manner that ensures programming in English, French and Indigenous languages is available and easy to discover.
In an emailed statement, Guilbeault stated that “these draft instructions demonstrate our government’s priorities and our commitment to ensuring that Francophone, Anglophone, Indigenous, disabled, racialized and LGBTQ2+ creators have the means to tell their own stories, from their own perspective.”
“Recognizing ourselves, in the diversity of our identities, on screen and in music, is essential to the development of our communities and future generations. This is how our sense of belonging is forged and how our cultural sovereignty is preserved.”
Michael Geist, the Canada Research Chair in internet and e-commerce law at the University of Ottawa, outlined in a blog post that nine months is a “completely unrealistic time frame.”
“The opposition parties know this bill hurts consumers, competition, and the little money it might generate for creators years from now requires eliminating Canada from Canadian broadcast policy. It is time to take a stand and demand a re-write.”