New Broadcast Act aims to regulate the Internet to support legacy media
New powers to the CRTC will make the Internet more like cable TV, without addressing underlying problems with existing CanCon system
November 3, 2020 — Today the federal government tabled Bill C-10, an Act to Amend the Broadcasting Act. The proposed amendment would add “online undertakings” – platforms that stream video and audio on the Internet, like Spotify, Netflix, and YouTube – into the purview of the Broadcasting Act and subject to CRTC regulation. Under the revised Act, the CRTC would be empowered to mandate financial contributions to Canadian Content, impose Canadian content requirements on those platforms, and mandate the discoverability of CanCon against other content.
“Minister Guilbeault has created an artificial sense of crisis around Canadian cultural content – content that is surviving and flourishing in the 21st century. Now he’s rushing to solutions that threaten to take our online content and make it look more like cable TV. By wrongly treating online content like a limited resource, he fundamentally misunderstands the very nature of what makes streaming platforms so popular in the first place – unlimited choice, and customized content,” said OpenMedia Executive Director Laura Tribe.
“If our government really wants to ensure the long-term success of Canadian creators, they should start with revisiting the definition of what CanCon is, and make sure it adequately reflects the growing diversity of Canadian experiences. They can't tag that revisioning on as an afterthought to chasing funding from web giants. And they should commit to adapting the CanCon system to help our creators and broadcasters compete on the global playing field the Internet supports – not try to wrangle Canada's section of the Internet into a walled garden, and hide our culture from the rest of the world. This proposal, no matter how well-intended, poses a serious threat to the future of Canada’s Internet.”
Today’s proposal draws on ideas developed in January’s Broadcasting and Telecommunications Act Legislative Review, which was widely criticized for its view of the Internet as an extension of broadcasting.
Under the Current CanCon system, the CRTC certifies programming as ‘Canadian’ based on a points system for key creative roles developed in the 1920s, and last revised in 1984. Last year, the CRTC’s Communications Monitoring Report 2019 reported that CanCon contributions were at an all-time high.
Over 13,000 people have already written to Minister Guilbeault to oppose imposing broadcast standards on Internet streaming services.
OpenMedia works to keep the Internet open, affordable, and surveillance-free. We create community-driven campaigns to engage, educate, and empower people to safeguard the Internet.