Canada: Bill C-10: Regulating Online Streaming Services – The Canadian Model
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Bill C-10, a An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, was presented to the House of Commons in November 2020.
Among other things, the bill includes a variety of proposed amendments to the Broadcasting Act. These changes are intended to give the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) new mandates to:
- Regulate Canadian and foreign online businesses (i.e. streaming services and social media websites)
- Impose administrative monetary penalties on broadcasting undertakings
- Update the broadcasting policy and regulatory objectives of the Act to ensure that the needs and interests of Indigenous cultures and Canada’s diversity are met within the Canadian broadcasting system
Considerable media attention has been paid to Bill C-10. There was a first wave in November 2020 when the bill was first introduced in the House of Commons, and then another outcry in recent weeks over the issue of social media and whether the content uploaded by Canadians on social media websites will be regulated by the CRTC. .
Bill C-10 was referred to the Heritage Committee for pre-study effective February 1, 2021 and remained there until June. It dragged on in committee for more than four months as the clause-by-clause witness review process became bogged down in a series of seemingly endless debates. In early June, the government successfully introduced a time allocation motion in the House, imposing a five-hour limit on further study of the bill. As a result of this motion, the bill was withdrawn from committee and returned to the House for consideration and has now received third reading.
The government’s main motivation in reviewing and amending the Act is to establish some form of regulation for foreign online streaming services that will ensure that they contribute to the Canadian broadcasting system. Under Bill C-10, the CRTC will have the mandate to determine the nature and extent of the contributions that online streaming services will make to the system.
Three likely types of regulations for online streamers
While the CRTC is unlikely to duplicate all of the regulations that apply to traditional television and radio today, online streamers will be subject to some form of regulation. Three types of regulation are most likely to be imposed on them.
The first is to require streaming services to contribute money to the creation of Canadian programs, either by making them devote a percentage of their annual revenues to Canadian content or by forcing them to pay a percentage. of their annual income to Canadian production funds.
The second measure that could be imposed on online streaming services would be a Canadian content obligation. Since streaming services deliver on-demand content in a manner similar to traditional VOD services, it might make sense for the CRTC to take a similar regulatory approach and require streamers to devote a certain amount of “space.” of storage ”to Canadian content. .
The third key regulatory measure is discoverability. The objective of the discoverability requirements would be to allow Canadians to easily identify and access Canadian content offered by online platforms. One mechanism that has gained attention is the use of algorithms to recommend Canadian content to Canadian consumers. But there are other measures as well, such as offering search functions that allow consumers to find Canadian content and curating Canadian content in one place on the streaming service’s platform.
By adopting these regulatory measures, and possibly others, the CRTC will develop a regulatory framework that will seek to ensure that all online streaming services make an appropriate contribution to the Canadian broadcasting system.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your particular situation.
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