Modernization of the Broadcasting Act

The Broadcasting Act outlines Canada’s broadcasting policy, defines the role of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission as the regulator of the Canadian broadcasting system and sets out the mandate of CBC/Radio-Canada. The Act is a key instrument in supporting Canada’s creative industries and in ensuring that Canadian music and stories are available and accessible.

The last major reform of the Broadcasting Act was in 1991 – before Internet was widely available in Canada. Online streaming services have dramatically changed how we watch television and movies, and listen to music.

Introduction of proposed legislation

On November 3, the Government of Canada introduced proposed legislation to update the Broadcasting Act for the digital age. The Bill will clarify that online broadcasting services fall under the Act and it will ensure that the CRTC has the proper tools to put in place a modern and flexible regulatory framework for broadcasting. These tools include the ability to make rules, gather information, and assign penalties for non-compliance. Additionally, the Bill will support greater diversity and inclusion in the broadcasting sector, ensuring the promotion of a broad range of Canadian views and talent.

Learn more about the proposed legislation:

Expected outcomes of the legislation

Once implemented, the amendments to the Broadcasting Act are expected to result in:

Key milestones and timeline

2017

March 22

Budget 2017 proposes a review and subsequent modernization of the Broadcasting Act, examining issues such as content creation in the digital age and cultural diversity.

September 22

The Governor in Council issues an order to the CRTC to produce a report on new distribution models for broadcasting, and the extent to which they will ensure a vibrant domestic market that supports Canadian content production.

2018

May 31

The CRTC releases its report, entitled Harnessing Change. The report recommends that all players benefiting from operations in Canada also contribute to the production of Canadian content.

June 5

The Government of Canada launches the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Legislative Review and appoints an external Panel to review Canada's communication legislative framework.

2019

December 13

The mandate letters for the Minister of Canadian Heritage and the Minister of Industry, Science and Innovation contain commitments to modernize the Broadcasting Act and ensure that internet giants contribute to Canadian content in both Official Languages.

2020

January 19

The Broadcasting and Telecommunications Legislative Review Panel present their final report, Canada's Communications Future: Time to Act. The report includes an urgent call to include online broadcasters in the regulatory framework.

November 3

The Minister of Canadian Heritage introduces proposed legislation to update the Broadcasting Act for the digital age.

Next steps

Once Parliament has approved the Bill and it has received Royal Assent, the Minister of Canadian Heritage intends to ask the Governor-in-Council to issue a policy direction to the CRTC on how it should use the new regulatory tools provided by the Bill.

In consultation with stakeholders, the CRTC will develop and implement new regulations to ensure that both traditional and online broadcasting services, including internet giants, offer meaningful levels of Canadian content and contribute to the creation of Canadian content in both Official Languages.

The Bill is the first step in the Government of Canada’s efforts to modernize the broadcasting sector for the digital age. The Government of Canada will continue to develop additional measures to support Canadian broadcasting and Canadian creators.

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