The Canadian Government is Amending the Broadcasting Act

Posted on
November 4, 2020
Tagged as
Broadcasting Act, crtc

What this means for Canada’s music industry:

The Minister of Canadian Heritage tabled Bill C-10 in Parliament this week. This Bill, if approved by Parliament as currently written, would amend the Broadcasting Act in many ways that are beneficial to the music industry.

In short, defined online services, including music streaming services, would be obligated to contribute funding and promote Canadian cultural content. Government estimates this would generate funding over $800 million a year by 2023. This money would presumably be invested in Canada’s cultural industries, including music.

The new Broadcasting Act would also expand the authority of Canada’s broadcasting regulator, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), to include online video and music streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify.

Currently, such services (‘online undertakings’) that deliver audio and audio-visual content over the Internet are exempt from licensing and most other regulatory requirements. This means that unlike commercial radio stations, ‘online undertakings’ (i.e. streaming services like Spotify) are not required to make financial contributions towards Canadian Content Development (CCD) or have any promotion requirements. This will change if the new Act is approved.

The CCD dollars invested by commercial and ethnic radio broadcasters include important contributions to FACTOR or Musicaction and the Community Radio Fund of Canada (CRFC).

Key changes to the Act would include:

  • The Bill clarifies that ‘online undertakings’ would now be within the scope of the Canadian broadcasting regulatory system.
  • The Bill provides the CRTC with new powers to regulate online audio and audio-visual services, allowing the CRTC to create new ‘conditions of service’ and other regulatory requirements under which these online broadcasters would operate in Canada. It also updates the CRTC’s regulatory powers as they relate to traditional broadcasters.
  • Traditional broadcasters would be required to obtain a license to operate, but this license will only give them the authorization to operate. This is new. What was formerly known as the ‘Conditions of License’ is changing to ‘Conditions of Service’ for all online and traditional broadcasters, which will dictate their obligations to operate in Canada.
  • The Bill provides the CRTC with express powers to require broadcasting undertakings, including online undertakings, to make financial contributions to Canadian content and creators.
  • The Bill ensures that the Act would not apply to users of social media services, or social media services themselves for content posted by their users.
  • The Bill provides the CRTC with new enforcement powers through an administrative monetary penalty scheme (AMPs).
  • The 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, Canadians from racialized communities and Canadians of diverse ethnocultural backgrounds, socioeconomic statuses, abilities and disabilities, sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions, and ages.

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