Canadian readers: remember last year’s terrible Bill C–10? It did not make it through the legislative process at the time, but it is back, admittedly with some changes but still with the same goals and many of the same flaws.
Ramneet Bhullar, of OpenMedia:
Bill C-11 expands the Broadcasting Act that grants the CRTC regulatory powers over radio and television to cover all audiovisual content on the Internet, including content on platforms like Tik Tok, YouTube, Spotify, and podcast clients.
Under Bill C-11, all platforms hosting audiovisual content that are not specifically excluded must make financial contributions to producing officially recognized “CanCon” – currently defined by a 1980s era points system built around legacy media broadcast media.
Does that system support Canadian storytelling? Unevenly at best. In recent years productions about US President Trump and the English Tudors have been greenlit as CanCon, while lavish productions of iconically Canadian stories like the Handmaid’s Tale and Turning Red have not met the standard.
I understand the value in juicing Canadian cultural exports. It is likely one of the reasons why many of the biggest names in music for decades have originated in Canada: Drake, the Weeknd, Justin Bieber, and Shawn Mendes have repeatedly landed in Billboard’s top ten artist charts for the past decade, as a sort of bulwark against largely American chart domination. Frequent radio airplay in Canada probably influenced the international success of those artists.
But modern web platforms look nothing like legacy broadcasting providers, and this bill is a ridiculous attempt to fit them into the same mould. Bhullar’s guide to the bill is a clearheaded look at how wrong this system would be in a streaming and digital platform context.