Win for Canadians as Mélanie Joly puts Internet at centre of our cultural future
Creative Canada policy framework rules out new Internet taxes, safeguards Net Neutrality, and embraces a digital future for Canadian culture
September 28, 2017– This morning, Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly unveiled the federal government’s plans for the future of Canada’s cultural industries, with a focus on ensuring Canadian content can thrive in the digital age. The announcement comes against a backdrop where increasing numbers of Canadians are ‘cutting the cord’ on old-fashioned cable TV in favour of relying on the Internet for their content and entertainment needs.
Positively, the Minister ruled out new taxes on either Internet providers or ‘over-the-top’ streaming services such as Netflix, CraveTV, and DAZN, something that was clearly identified as a concern for Canadians in the #DigiCanCon consultation. She also outlined plans to make Canadian content more discoverable without compromising Net Neutrality, and announced new support for Canada’s creative industries along with a review of broadcasting, copyright, and telecom legislation. Joly’s plans came paired with a promise by Netflix to invest $500 million in Canadian production, and set up a production house in Canada.
“With Canadians increasingly turning to the Internet to consume content, it’s a smart move for the federal government to embrace a digital future for Canadian culture,” said OpenMedia’s digital rights specialist Katy Anderson. “We’re pleased to see the government firmly rule out new taxes that would make Internet access even more expensive, while emphasizing the importance of Net Neutrality at a time when the U.S. FCC seems intent on undermining it.”
Anderson continued: “We are eager to participate in the legislative reviews of Canada’s Broadcasting, Copyright, and Telecommunications acts, and will ensure that the Internet and users are central to the debate. The reviews must not be captured by legacy broadcasters and publishers who wish to protect their outdated business models at the expense of the open web.”
OpenMedia says that given that the future of Canada’s cultural industries will increasingly rely on the Internet, it’s crucial to ensure that all Canadians have affordable access to wireline and wireless Internet services. As Minister Joly acknowledged this morning, Canadians still pay some of the highest prices in the world for Internet access, and the government and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) must pursue a national strategy to lower prices and ensure all Canadians can get connected.
Canadian Heritage has also recently asked the CRTC looking to do a study on future distribution and broadcasting models, reporting back no later than June 1, 2018.
37,414 Canadians spoke out against an Internet tax at act.openmedia.org/InternetTax.