Canada’s Bill C-11 – the Online Streaming Act – has received royal assent and is now law, so we thought it was a good time to look at the bill and its implications for Canada’s streaming landscape.
What is Bill C-11?
The Online Streaming Act is Canada’s attempt to update its broadcasting laws for the first time since 1991. It would make YouTube and streaming platforms (i.e., Netflix, Disney Plus) promote Canadian content in music, TV, and film – similar to what radio stations and TV networks do already. It will also require these companies to financially contribute to the production of Canadian content.
What are the concerns around the bill?
Most Canadians may see more Canadian productions on Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, and Crave, but generally won’t notice much change since the bill’s passing.
YouTube is the platform that will be largely affected by the passing of Bill C-11. Opposition has come from YouTube and digital-first creators, who are concerned that the bill’s ambiguous wording could lead to regulation of even amateur videos contributors. Some politicians have argued that the bill’s language “opens the floodgates for algorithmic manipulation,” which has been likened to government censorship. Some content creators are unsure how or if the rules will affect them (and the content with which they compete).
Canadian creators and artists have also voiced concerns about forcing international giants to support Canadian content, government overreach, and rejigged algorithms that disproportionately bring Canadian content forward and could have unintentional repercussions on how content is seen elsewhere.
What happens next?
Within the next month, Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez will issue policy direction to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) that sets out the government’s priorities, and will ask it to update the definition of ‘Canadian content.’ Ultimately, it will be up to the CRTC to decide how to force streamers to support Canadian content, and that process is expected to take another few years.
The Globe and Mail and CTV News have good summaries of the bill, its history, timelines, and implementation, and we recommend reading these for more information – and follow this blog for future updates.