Minister of Canadian Heritage Steven Guilbeault watches a speaker via videoconference during a news conference in Ottawa, Friday, April 17, 2020. The federal government is proposing new policy changes — with monetary penalties — to ensure online streaming platforms experiencing booming revenues face as stringent regulations as traditional broadcasters, which have seen profits decline in recent years THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Minister of Canadian Heritage Steven Guilbeault watches a speaker via videoconference during a news conference in Ottawa, Friday, April 17, 2020. The federal government is proposing new policy changes — with monetary penalties — to ensure online streaming platforms experiencing booming revenues face as stringent regulations as traditional broadcasters, which have seen profits decline in recent years THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Feds propose changes to Broadcasting Act that may raise $800-million from streamers

The bill will also allow the CRTC to levy monetary penalties for non-compliance

Online platforms like Netflix and Spotify may end up spending more than $800 million on Canadian content over the next three years under a series of policy changes the federal government has proposed in a new bill Tuesday.

The proposed changes to the Broadcasting Act are meant to ensure online streaming platforms experiencing booming revenues face the same regulations as traditional broadcasters, which have seen profits decline in recent years.

“A separate system for online broadcasters simply doesn’t work. This outdated regulatory framework is not only unfair for our Canadian businesses. It threatens Canadian jobs and it undermines our ability to tell our own Canadian story,” said Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault at an Ottawa press conference.

“The government believes that everyone who benefits from the system should contribute to it fairly.”

Guilbeault’s proposed changes centre on creating a new category within the Broadcasting Act for “”online undertakings” that will apply to streamers and broadcasters transmitting programs over the internet.

The changes involve giving new powers to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, an arm’s-length regulator of the broadcast industry.

Those powers could include the ability to force online steaming platforms to make Canadian content more discoverable and to make financial contributions to support Canadian music, stories, creators and producers.

A technical document provided by the government estimates those contributions could reach as much as $830 million by 2023.

The bill will also allow the CRTC to levy monetary penalties for non-compliance, broadcasting when prohibited from doing so or failing to submit information required.

Criticshave long complained that tech giants caught violating the law are often fined paltry amounts that don’t act as a deterrent because they are a mere fraction of the business’s revenues.

Guilbeault did not offer an estimate of how steep penalties could be, but said that he intends to get proposed changes implemented quickly, if they are approved by the House of Commons and Senate.

“We are going as fast as we can,” he said.

“We haven’t reformed he Broadcasting Act since 1991, so it takes time to do it properly, but we don’t want to take too much time because we know that there’s an emergency to act quickly.”

The changes come after years of growing calls from industry players and advocates for foreign tech giants to be regulated in the same manner as Canadian companies.

The push for change was spurred by the increasing numbers of Canadians turning away from traditional broadcasters in favour of streaming platforms like Netflix, Spotify, Amazon Prime and Crave for video and music.

The government’s technical note said online video services have grown their revenues by 90 per year over the last two years, while Netflix has made its way into 62 per cent of Canadian households.

Netflix said in an emailed statement to The Canadian Press that it is “reviewing the legislation and remain committed to being a good partner to Canada’s creative community while also investing in local economies.”

Netflix reported revenues of $780 million revenue in Canada in the first nine months of the 2019 fiscal year, while the CRTC said the traditional television sector saw its revenues decline on average by 1.8 per cent per year between 2014 and 2018.

On top of facing revenue declines, traditional broadcasters have also had to comply with government demands to support Canadian music and storytelling, but the streaming giants have largely been free of such requirements.

The government will now turn its attention to bridging that gap.

The government’s technical document said it could ask the CRTC to decide which online broadcasters should be regulated, but Guilbeault stressed that user generated content, news content and video games will not fall under the policy.

The CRTC may also be tasked with determining the merits of giving additional regulatory credits to those producing content that is “culturally desirable, but otherwise less likely to be produced, such as supporting Indigenous peoples, French-language creators and racialized and ethno-cultural communities.”

The note said the CRTC may also be ordered to look into what qualifies as Canadian content and whether that definition takes into account tax credits or intellectual property

Even regulatory tools that would provide fair and transparent remuneration for musical artists could be analyzed, the document said.

Guilbeault teased that further regulations could be coming soon to deal with tech giants like Facebook, Google and Apple, which have had tremendous impacts on the revenue of media companies and disrupted advertising.

“We are working on other elements of changes of modernization to the Canadian ecosystems, but these elements will come further down the road.”

Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press

Canada

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

<a href="Facebook users reported seeing a body on the side of the road this morning." target="_blank"></a>Facebook users reported seeing a body on the side of the road this morning. (File photo)
Man killed in fatal hit-and-run collision between Abbotsford and Chilliwack

Body reported at 6 a.m., police close North Parallel Road, single highway lane as they investigate

Westbound traffic is slow moving on Highway 1 following a crash that has police blocking one lane. Google Maps screenshot taken at 9:07 a.m.
TRAFFIC: Crash on North Parallel Road causes road closure, single westbound Highway 1 lane blocked

Abbotsford Police investigating, roads closed between McDermott and No. 3 Road

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of May 9

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Kassandra Clack of Abbotsford has been named one of 18 finalists in the Jim Beam Virtual National Talent Search, taking place in June.
Fraser Valley country singer Kassandra Clack a finalist in national talent search

18 finalists vie to win Jim Beam Virtual National Talent Search in June

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

Twenty-nine staff members at Sunrise Poultry Processors Ltd. in Newton have tested positive for the virus, according to an information bulletin from Fraser Health Saturday (May 8). The health authority issued a 10-day closure order, effective May 7. (Image: Google Maps)
29 staff test positive for COVID-19 at Surrey poultry processing plant

Meantime, outbreak over at Surrey Memorial Hospital

Canada’s chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Post-inoculation, Theresa Tam says the risk of asymptomatic infection and transmission is far lower but not obsolete

The dash cam footage, taken May 7 at 8:18 a.m. belonged to the driver of a southbound vehicle that recently travelled out of the tunnel. (Reddit/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Dash cam captures dramatic rollover crash on Highway 99

Only one person sustained injuries from the collision, says B.C. Ambulance Services

Chevy stranded on a ledge above a rocky canyon at Mimi Falls near Logan Lake, April 28, 2021. (Photo credit: Margot Wikjord)
Police officer and fire chief team up in risky rescue of stranded dog near Logan Lake

Chevy, a rescue dog, needed rescuing again after getting stuck on a ledge above rocky canyon

Police were on the scene of a fatal shooting in Abbotsford. (Black Press Media files)
B.C. government to give more than $8 million for programs to curb gang violence

221 not-for-profit projects led by local governments and school districts among others will receive a one-time grant

Most Read