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Your Impact in Action: OpenMedia’s Submission on Bill C-11 Policy Direction

Over 5,000 community members speak up on Bill C-11.

Today, OpenMedia submitted over 5,000 comments as feedback to the government's draft policy direction on the implementation of Bill C-11, the Online Streaming Act. You can view our full submission here

Let's recap the fundamental points covered in our submission:

  • We expressed our support for the aspects of the draft policy that encourage user choice and limit algorithm manipulation on platforms, and requested they be further strengthened;

  • We urged the government to prohibit the CRTC from any mandatory manipulation of algorithms. Instead, we suggested measures that users can opt into in order to ensure that users can access the content they want without being forced to consume government-approved Canadian content (CanCon);

  • We emphasized the importance of precisely defining which services are covered by the policy in order to protect Canadians' access to valuable platforms that may otherwise choose to leave Canada; and

  • We advocated for a broad and inclusive redefinition of CanCon to ensure fair and equal treatment for all Canadian online creators. Any benefits resulting from Bill C-11 should be accessible to all creators, regardless of their chosen platform.

What is a policy direction and what does it mean for YOU?

After months of government denials that Bill C-11 empowers the CRTC to regulate our content and feeds, the draft directive sheepishly acknowledges the need to keep cleaning up the bill. While the directive takes some steps to exclude user content and respect user choice, there are still concerns that need to be addressed.

The draft directive acknowledges the need to further refine Bill C-11’s application and clearly exclude our user content (para.33,27). Job done, mission accomplished? Not exactly. This is regulatory guidance, NOT a final decision, or a legislative protection. It is because this kind of protection is revocable — in the final version of this direction, or by a future government — that we fought so hard for legislative changes to protect our content in C-11. That being said, some safeguards are better than none at all, and so we’re asking the government to maintain this exclusion in the final direction, so the CRTC is well aware of the need to leave user content alone.

On the positive side, YOUR hard work has resulted in some key improvements in the government’s approach to Bill C-11. The fact that the draft directive explicitly excludes our content and emphasizes the need to respect your user choice is because YOU fought so hard at the Senate and House of Commons. We’re also glad to see that the government is discouraging changes to algorithms, although “minimizing” algorithmic manipulation does not automatically mean your feeds will be respected (para.33, 27).

That’s why we’re calling for the government to direct the CRTC NOT to make changes to user feeds and search results without our willing consent. Without clear protection, there’s still a risk that the CRTC can manipulate our online feeds without asking by prioritizing "CanCon" and deliberately downranking the content we choose for ourselves. We need protections LOCKED IN to make sure that your content and feeds are off limits from potential abuses by the CRTC.  

What’s next? 

In the coming weeks, the government will review all YOUR comments on the draft policy direction — as well as comments from other stakeholders — before issuing their final direction. While this version of the policy directive for Bill C-11 shows some promising developments because it’s still a draft, it could be improved –  or get much worse. The possibility of the final version changing for the worse makes it necessary to ensure that the directive firmly commits to respecting user feeds and choice. We’ll be sure to keep our eyes peeled for you about the final version.

Meanwhile, the CRTC will be holding further public consultations on the implementation of Bill C-11 through the fall and winter. We’re pleased to share that with your incredible support, we've submitted a combined total of over 12,000 unique community comments to Bill C-11 consultations so far. We’ll keep you posted on future avenues of participation as the CRTC rolls them out. Every step of the way, we’ve heard your voices loud and clear – respect our feeds and our content!

Your active participation in these consultations will shape the future of online streaming and broadcasting for years to come. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for speaking up and for your unwavering support.

To read the full submission, click here.

Image Credit: James Beheshti from Unsplash

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