Canada’s New Online Streaming Act Requires Companies to Support Canadian Content and Heritage

  • May 2, 2023

KEY TAKEAWAYS
Canada's Online Streaming Act requires streaming platforms to support Canadian content and heritage.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has the power to impose fines and penalties for non-compliance.
The law aims to offer more opportunities for Canadian creators and easier access to Canadian and Indigenous stories.
Other countries, such as the European Union and Australia, have also implemented local content regulations for streaming companies.
The Canadian Media Producers Association has largely backed the bill, praising its recognition of the role of independent producers and promotion of representation from Indigenous, Black, and other racialized creators, but also warning of potential flaws.

 

Canada’s controversial Bill C-11, also known as the Online Streaming Act, has become law following years of debate.

The legislation mandates that streaming platforms like Netflix, Prime Video, and Disney+ follow similar regulations to those governing the country’s traditional networks.

As a result, these streaming services are now required to contribute to the creation and availability of Canadian stories and music and support Canadian artists financially, just as traditional broadcasters do.

Fines and Penalties for Non-Compliance

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has been granted broad powers to impose fines and other penalties on streaming companies that fail to comply with the new regulations.

Critics of the legislation, including YouTube and TikTok, argue that the bill could lead to over-regulation online.

The Conservative opposition in Canada has also expressed concerns, suggesting that the law gives the government the power to control online content.

Supporting Canadian Culture and Heritage

The Canadian government claims that the law will offer more opportunities for Canadian producers, directors, writers, actors, and musicians to create high-quality content.

Additionally, it aims to give audiences easier access to Canadian and Indigenous stories while establishing a fair set of rules for all comparable broadcasters, whether they are online or traditional media.

The last changes to the Broadcasting Act were made in 1991, long before the rise of streaming services.

The European Union mandates a minimum of 30% locally produced content for member nations, and Australia plans to introduce content quotas for international streamers by July 2024.

International Context and Impact on Streamers

Canada is not the first country to implement local content regulations for streaming companies. 

The European Union mandates a minimum of 30% locally produced content for member nations, and Australia plans to introduce content quotas for international streamers by July 2024.

The United Kingdom has also tightened rules on streaming video-on-demand services, which now face fines if their content violates fairness, accuracy, or privacy principles.

Canadian Production Community’s Reaction

Canada’s production community, represented by the Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA), has largely backed the bill.

The CMPA commended the government and Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez for their efforts in passing the legislation, which they view as essential for modernizing Canada’s Broadcasting Act.

The association praised the bill for recognizing the critical role independent producers play in the Canadian broadcasting system and for promoting representation and participation from Indigenous, Black, and other racialized creators.

However, the CMPA also warned of potential flaws in the bill that might result in foreign streamers being held to a lower standard than Canadian broadcasters.

Craig Paradise media

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