Backgrounder: Supporting a Stronger, More Inclusive and More Competitive Broadcasting System

Backgrounder

GATINEAU November 3, 2020

On November 3, the Government of Canada introduced Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, which proposes to amend the Broadcasting Act. The Act sets out the broadcasting policy for Canada, the role and powers of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) in regulating and supervising the broadcasting system, and the mandate for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

The Act plays an important role in supporting Canada’s creative industries and the creation of and access to Canadian music and stories. Currently, Canadian broadcasting services must invest in Canadian programming and make it available to Canadians. However, online broadcasters are not currently required to contribute. This Bill aims to change this to ensure that online broadcasters contribute their fair share. This would ensure that there is stable funding to create Canadian music and stories, that this content is made available to Canadians, and that traditional and online broadcasters can compete fairly.

Key changes to the Act would include:

Confirming that online broadcasting is covered under the Act

  • Currently, online undertakings that deliver audio and audio-visual content over the Internet are exempt from licensing and most other regulatory requirements. The Bill clarifies that online undertakings are within the scope of the broadcasting regulatory system.
  • The Bill provides the CRTC with new powers to regulate online audio and audio-visual services, allowing the CRTC to create 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.
  • 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 ensures that online broadcasters will only be regulated when doing so would contribute in a material manner to the objectives of the Act. It will be up to the CRTC to determine which services will be regulated.

Updating the Broadcasting and Regulatory Policies for Canada

  • The Bill updates key elements of the broadcasting policy for Canada so that the broadcasting system is more inclusive of all Canadians.
  • 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.
  • The Bill underscores that programming that reflects Indigenous cultures in Canada should be provided within the Canadian broadcasting system, regardless of resource availability. It also says there must be a space for Indigenous media undertakings in the Canadian broadcasting system.
  • Additional amendments would also serve to promote greater accessibility for persons with disabilities.

Creating a more flexible approach to regulation and sustainable funding for Canadian stories

  • The Bill facilitates a flexible approach to regulation, which will allow the CRTC to tailor the conditions of service and other regulatory requirements imposed on broadcasters by considering the Act’s policy and regulatory objectives, the variety of broadcasters in the system (and the differences between them), and determining what is fair and equitable depending on the circumstances.
  • The Bill provides the CRTC with express powers to require broadcasting undertakings, including online undertakings, to make financial contributions to Canadian content and creators.

Modernizing the CRTC’s enforcement powers

  • The Bill provides the CRTC with new enforcement powers through an administrative monetary penalty scheme (AMPs), which aligns the CRTC’s enforcement powers with how it regulates telecommunications and spam. The objective of the AMPs scheme would be to promote compliance, not to punish.

Updating oversight and information-sharing provisions

  • The Bill ensures that the CRTC has the tools it needs as a modern regulator, so that it may gather information from stakeholders and liaise with other departments and agencies. It also ensures that commercially sensitive information that is collected by the CRTC in the course of its proceedings is properly protected.
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