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:
- House Government Bill
- News release: Supporting a stronger, more inclusive and more competitive broadcasting system
- Backgrounder: Supporting a stronger, more inclusive and more competitive broadcasting system
- Frequently Asked Questions
Expected outcomes of the legislation
Once implemented, the amendments to the Broadcasting Act are expected to result in:
- More opportunities for Canadian producers, directors, writers, actors, and musicians to create high quality audio and audiovisual content and to make that content available to Canadian audiences
- An equitable and flexible regulatory framework where comparable broadcasting services are subject to similar regulatory requirements, taking into account their distinct business models and other relevant circumstances
- Canadian music and stories being more available through a variety of services
- A more diverse and inclusive broadcasting system that is reflective of Canadian society and that serves Canadians from all walks of life
Key milestones and timeline
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.
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.
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.
The Government of Canada launches the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Legislative Review and appoints an external Panel to review Canada's communication legislative framework.
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.
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.
The Minister of Canadian Heritage introduces proposed legislation to update the Broadcasting Act for the digital age.
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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