Government of Canada Introduces Legislation to Support the Next Generation of Canadian Artists and Creators

Bill C-11 would require online streamers to contribute more to Canadian creators and our culture

GATINEAU, QC, Feb. 2, 2022 /CNW Telbec/ – Today, the Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage, introduced the Online Streaming Act (Bill C-11), which would require online streaming services to contribute to the creation and availability of Canadian stories and music. It would require online streaming companies to pay their fair share in supporting Canadian artists, just like traditional broadcasters.

For decades, Canadian broadcasters have invested in and introduced us to the incredible Canadian programs that so many of us love. We are updating our laws so online streamers have to contribute in a similar and equitable way.

The Online Streaming Act does just that. It brings online broadcasters under similar rules and requirements as our traditional broadcasters.

The legislation would ensure that online streaming services showcase Canadian music and stories and support our creators and producers. It would make programs by talented artists in both official languages more accessible to Canadians. That includes artists who currently face systemic barriers, such as Indigenous and racialized artists and artists with disabilities.

The bill does not apply to individual Canadians, but to streaming platforms that broadcast commercial programs. It would require those platforms to contribute to the creation of Canadian series, music and movies. It would make sure that programs are showcased to Canadians.

Online streaming has changed how we create, discover, and consume our culture, and it’s time we updated our system to reflect that.

Our proposed approach is flexible, fair and modern. It will lead to increased investments in Canadian culture and support jobs in the industry, while ensuring Canadian stories continue to be shared for generations to come in Canada, and across the world.

Quotes

Canada’s strong culture is no accident. We chose to be different. We care about our cultural sovereignty, and we believe diversity makes us stronger. Our culture is who we are. It is our past, our present and our future, it is how we tell our stories. The Online Streaming Act will help make sure that our cultural sector works for Canadians and supports the next generation of artists and creators in this country.”

—The Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage

Quick Facts

The Canadian broadcasting, film and television production sectors are an important part of the Canadian economy. In 2019, the broadcasting, audiovisual and music sectors combined contributed about $14 billion to Canada’s gross domestic product and accounted for over 126,000 jobs.

Backgrounder: The Government of Canada introduces legislation to support the next generation of Canadian artists and creators

Today, the Government of Canada introduced the Online Streaming Act. The proposed bill would update broadcasting policy for Canada and require online streaming services to contribute to the creation and availability of Canadian stories and music in an equitable way.

Key features of the proposed bill include:

Confirming that online broadcasting—commonly referred to as streaming—is covered under the Act.

  • Currently, online services that deliver audio and audiovisual content over the Internet are exempt from most regulation. The proposed bill clarifies that major online streaming services are subject to the Act and are required to contribute to supporting Canadian culture.
  • Many social media services are engaged in online broadcasting. The proposed bill requires them to contribute when commercial programs, such as music albums, are uploaded and distributed on their platforms. However, the proposed bill clearly specifies that it does not apply to individual users of social media services or amateur programs uploaded by those users. No users or online creators will be regulated; only the platforms themselves will have an obligation to our culture.

Updating the broadcasting and regulatory policies for Canada

  • Key elements of the broadcasting policy for Canada are updated to be more inclusive of all Canadians.
  • The proposed bill recognizes that the Canadian broadcasting system should, through its programming and the employment opportunities arising out of its operations, serve the needs and interests of all Canadians—including Francophones and Anglophones, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, Canadians from official language minority communities, Canadians from racialized communities and Canadians of diverse ethnocultural backgrounds, socioeconomic statuses, sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions, and ages.
  • Programming that reflects Indigenous cultures in Canada should be provided within the Canadian broadcasting system. The proposed bill secures a space for both Indigenous programming and media services in the Canadian broadcasting system.
  • The proposed bill reinforces the commitment to official language minority communities and the production and broadcasting of original programs in French on all types of services and platforms.
  • The proposed bill promotes greater accessibility for persons with disabilities.

Creating a more flexible approach to regulation and sustainable funding for Canadian stories

  • The proposed bill facilitates a flexible approach to regulation, which will allow the regulator to tailor the conditions of service and other regulatory requirements imposed on broadcasters by considering the Act’s policy and regulatory objectives, the variety of broadcasters in the system (and the differences between them), and what is fair and equitable depending on the circumstances.
  • The proposed bill provides the regulator with express powers to require broadcasting undertakings, including online undertakings, to make financial contributions to Canadian programs and creators.
  • The regulator would not control what you can or cannot see on social media. To that end, the regulator would only prescribe certain outcomes, not how they are achieved. For example, the regulator would not be able to impose specific algorithms or source code. They will work with the streaming companies to contribute to our cultural policy objectives.

Modernizing the regulator’s oversight and enforcement powers

  • The proposed bill ensures that the regulator has the tools it needs as a modern regulator to collect information from stakeholders. It also ensures that commercially sensitive information that is collected by the regulator in the course of its proceedings is properly protected.
  • The proposed bill provides the regulator with new enforcement powers through an administrative monetary penalty scheme (AMPs), which aligns the regulator enforcement powers with how it regulates telecommunications and spam. 

In the last Parliament, there was debate about the role of social media services in supporting Canadian artists and culture. The re-introduced bill balances two objectives. On the one hand, it captures commercial programs regardless of how they are distributed, including on social media services. On the other hand, the proposed bill is also clear that the regulator does not have the power to regulate Canadians’ everyday use of social media, including when they post amateur content to these services. The proposed bill does not apply to Canadian users or individual creators.

The re-introduced bill also corrects drafting errors, including but not limited to placement and numbering of provisions.

The updates respect the previous work of Parliamentarians, and the new bill reflects largely what was approved by the House of Commons in June 2021. 

Associated Links

Online Streaming Act

Canada’s Communications Future: Time to Act

Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission

SOURCE Canadian Heritage

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