Online songs

Online streaming bill covers streaming giants and promotes Canadian content

OTTAWA — The Liberal government has revived a bill that would subject streaming companies, like Netflix, to the same rules as traditional Canadian broadcasters.

OTTAWA — The Liberal government has revived a bill that would subject streaming companies, like Netflix, to the same rules as traditional Canadian broadcasters.

The Online Delivery Act, introduced Wednesday, would require web companies to offer a set amount of Canadian content and invest heavily in Canada’s cultural industries, including film, television and music.

Bill C-11, as it is known in Parliament, updates the Broadcasting Act of 1991, which predates the internet revolution that changed the way people watch movies and videos and listen music.

If passed, streaming services, such as Netflix, Crave and Spotify, would be regulated by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission and required to invest in Canadian cultural businesses.

They should also commit to reflecting diversity in their programming, including Indigenous content.

Bill C-11 updates controversial sections of a previous bill that critics say could lead to the regulation of people who post videos on YouTube.

Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez told a news conference on Wednesday that “cat videos” or social media “influencers” would not be covered by the bill.

The updated legislation would only cover commercial social media content – such as professional music videos – and would not include popular popular videos posted on YouTube, such as images of children or pets behaving badly. fun way.

Rodriguez said the government has “listened to concerns about social media and we have resolved it.”

Rodriguez said he plans to write to the CRTC asking them to specifically define what constitutes commercial content on social media and what would not qualify.

Jeanette Patell, head of government affairs at YouTube Canada, said her goal is to the interest of the thousands of Canadian digital creators and the millions of Canadians who use YouTube every day. »

“We believe the government shares this interest,” she said. “We are still reviewing the impacts of the legislation on our platform and look forward to working with them on this important issue.”

The previous bill proposing to modernize the Broadcasting Act did not pass the Senate before the general election in September, although it was passed by the House of Commons with the support of the Bloc Québécois and the NDP .

John Nater, the Conservative Party’s heritage critic, argues the bill was flawed and sent a letter last week to Rodriguez asking him to end plans to reintroduce it.

The Canadian Media Producers Association, which represents independent production companies, welcomed the new bill and said it would “strengthen Canadian cultural sovereignty, requiring foreign tech giants to play by the same rules as corporations.” Canadian”.

“The Online Broadcasting Act must ensure that independent producers in Canada have a fair chance to negotiate with content buyers to own, control and monetize the intellectual property they develop and produce,” said the president of the association, Reynolds Mastin.

Stéphane Cardin, head of public policy at Netflix Canada, said the company “invests in Canadian creators and works with industry partners to bring Canadian stories to the world.”

“We are looking at new legislation, but support a forward-looking and flexible framework that recognizes how different actors contribute to our creative system,” Cardin said.

Critics have raised concerns that the bill’s definition of what constitutes Canadian content could exclude films made in Canada with Canadian actors if key figures, such as a screenwriter, director and producer , come from outside the country.

Music written and produced by Canadian artists based in the United States could also be considered non-Canadian, critics say.

Rodriguez said he would ask the CRTC to clearly state what constitutes Canadian content.

“The Online Delivery Act will help ensure that our cultural sector works for Canadians and supports the next generation of artists and creators in this country,” he added.

Nater said he supports creating a level playing field between major foreign streaming services and Canadian broadcasters, but fears the bill will affect “Canadians’ rights and freedoms on the internet.” He said the Tories would oppose the legislation if those concerns are not addressed.

Peter Julian, NDP heritage critic, said he would examine the new bill “line by line” to see if it fixes the problems of the previous version.

Marla Boltman, executive director of Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, said updating the Broadcasting Act was long overdue and needed to bring big tech into Canada’s regulatory system.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on February 2, 2022.

Marie Woolf, The Canadian Press