The Online Streaming Act, also known as Bill C-11, is set to update Canada's broadcasting laws for the first time in the internet age. The bill will create a framework to regulate digital streaming platforms such as Netflix, Disney+, and Spotify, and require them to contribute to the promotion and creation of Canadian content.
The Broadcasting Act has set goals for Canada's broadcasting system since 1968, which include strengthening the country's cultural fabric and utilizing Canadian talent. To achieve this, the country has rules that define what counts as Canadian programming, how much of it Canadian TV and radio broadcasters have to play, and the financial contribution required to develop and promote Canadian content.
However, with the rise of digital streaming platforms, Canadian content rules have become more difficult to enforce, and streaming platforms like Netflix have not been required to contribute financially to the development and promotion of Canadian content. Bill C-11 seeks to address these issues and create a level playing field for all broadcasters in Canada.
The bill was passed in the Senate last month with 26 amendments, and it will now be reviewed by the House of Commons before being passed into law. Canadian creative unions, including the Writers Guild of Canada and the Canadian Media Producers Association, are generally supportive of the bill but have some concerns about its language creating a two-tiered system that would hold Canadian broadcasters to higher standards than foreign streamers.
One of the key features of the bill is that it would require digital streaming platforms to contribute to the creation and promotion of Canadian content. Currently, Canadian broadcasters are required to play a certain amount of Canadian content and contribute financially to its development and promotion. However, this requirement has not been enforced for streaming platforms like Netflix, which have been able to operate without contributing financially to the development of Canadian content.
The bill would also create a framework for regulating digital streaming platforms in Canada. This would include requiring them to register with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), which would allow the regulator to monitor and enforce Canadian content rules for streaming platforms.
Another aspect of the bill is that it would give the CRTC more power to impose fines for non-compliance with Canadian content rules. This would allow the regulator to ensure that all broadcasters, including streaming platforms, are playing by the same rules and contributing to the development and promotion of Canadian content.
Overall, Bill C-11 is a unique bill that seeks to address the challenges created by the rise of digital streaming platforms and ensure that all broadcasters in Canada are playing by the same rules. By requiring digital streaming platforms to contribute financially to the development and promotion of Canadian content and creating a framework for regulating them, the bill aims to create a level playing field for all broadcasters in Canada. While there are concerns about the language of the bill creating a two-tiered system, it is generally seen as a positive step towards ensuring that Canadian content remains a vital part of the country's broadcasting system.