Canada’s federal government has unveiled long-awaited legislation aimed at making streaming companies subsidize the creation of Canadian content (“Cancon”).
Here are the details:
- The proposed amendments to the federal Broadcasting Act aim to extend regulations currently faced by domestic broadcasters and cable tv providers to global streaming companies active in Canada, like Netflix, Spotify, and Disney+. These companies will fall under a new “online undertaking” category.
- Under the new rules, streamers will have to contribute to the development, production, and distribution of Canadian content. Non-compliance could result in fines. The government estimates that, assuming the bill becomes law, these companies would have to invest CAD$830 (USD$627) million in local content by 2023. Streamers currently earn around CAD$5 billion in annual revenue.
- Exactly how these online companies will have to subsidize content has yet to be determined. The CRTC, Canada’s telecom and broadcast regulator, has been tasked with working out the details over the next nine months or so.
- Under the current law, traditional broadcasters are obliged to invest anywhere between 25% and 45% of their Canadian revenue in local productions, depending on their market share. “We can expect similar obligations from streamers,” said heritage minister Steven Guilbeault.
- The new legislation also strengthens the Broadcasting Act’s stipulation that Canadian content should reflect social diversity, “including Canadians from racialized communities and Canadians of diverse ethnocultural backgrounds, socioeconomic statuses, abilities and disabilities, sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions, and ages.”
- In September, we reported on similar changes in France, whose government is getting ready to impose European Union production quotas on streaming platforms. Netflix is lobbying against the incoming law.
Image at top: CTV Comedy Channel’s “Corner Gas Animated.”