Alicia Barin to the Association Québécoise de la Production Médiatique (AQPM)
April 26, 2023
Alicia Barin, Vice-Chair of Broadcasting
Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)
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Hello and thank you for this warm welcome. It is a pleasure for me to be here today, and I thank the AQPM for inviting me to speak to all of you here.
Before I begin, I would like to acknowledge that we are gathered here today on the unceded traditional territory of the Algonquin nation. I would like to thank their Elders and pay tribute to them.
Throughout my career, both in the industry and as a regulator, I have always had a deep admiration for the familiarity and energy that permeate this annual gathering of Quebec producers. Your presence here represents the very essence of why I dedicated myself to this profession—you are an integral part of why the regulatory framework for Canadian broadcasting was created.
The CRTC regulates so that you can produce high quality programming for Canadians and Indigenous peoples to enjoy. As Canadian producers, beneficiaries of the broadcasting system regulated by the CRTC for the past fifty years, you are at the forefront of our efforts to establish a modern and flexible regulatory framework. This is precisely where we are now—on the cusp of a new regulatory era to support the creation of quality Canadian radio and television programming and ensure its continued success in the decades to come.
I know that many of you are hoping to hear me speak about Bill C-11 today, but let me begin by saying that as a policy maker, it is impossible for me to speculate on the passage or timing of the bill. However, I am hopeful that the spring and summer will be busy for us at the CRTC, and that we will be able to begin our consultation processes.
I want to assure you that the CRTC is working to ensure a smooth transition for the broadcasting and production sectors as a whole. So, while I cannot speak about the substance of Bill C-11, I can tell you what I know for sure: if it passes, new guiding principles will guide us, and you will be able to plan accordingly.
A wind of change is currently sweeping through the broadcasting and production community, and we will all have to grow new leaves (pardon the spring metaphor). We will review the current regulatory system to ensure that it remains relevant, effective and able to withstand the test of time, technology and a changing audience, which includes all Canadians.
My message is simple: be ready, because one way or another, regulatory change is coming. But above all, I invite you to actively participate in this exciting time ahead. We need your expertise and, more than ever, your vision to shape the future of Canadian programming and the regulations that support it.
In the CRTC's regulatory framework, what works for producers?
What is not working? Can it be further improved and, if so, what aspects of it should be improved?
What do you need to keep on creating Canadian content that resonates with audiences in Canada and internationally?
One thing will not change: the role of the CRTC will remain to implement all of the objectives set out in the Broadcasting Act. This is the very heart of our mandate in the public interest.
I have always believed that the Commission played an essential role in showcasing our culture—to support and encourage a nation's ability to express, communicate and connect through words, ideas, images and music. And this is where you come in. As audiovisual content producers, you play an essential role in achieving these goals and in building a strong and lasting connection with the Canadian public.
Should Bill C-11 pass, the Act will be amended in order to guarantee that online broadcasting services contribute to Canadian and Indigenous content. It also aims to give Canadian and Indigenous creators the opportunity to tell their story, as well as to better reflect diversity within our Canadian culture. In particular, the bill places great importance on the participation and reflection of Indigenous peoples, as well as all equity groups, official language minority communities, and Canadians identifying as 2SLGBTQIA+.
This will impact the creation and broadcast of Canadian productions. In Quebec today, 16.1% of the population is a visible minority, 2.5% is First Nations, and a large proportion of the population is made up of immigrants (14.6%), or people whose mother tongue is not English or French (13.9%). 1
It is essential to reflect the diversity of our society. The CRTC will be responsible for creating and supporting opportunities for new and diverse producers, and it will be important for the industry and AQPM members to reflect this diversity in their on- and off-screen creations, as well as among key people in audiovisual program production (i.e., directors, writers, principal actors, etc.). As members of the production sector, would you be able to help ensure that the needs of Canada's diverse population as well as Canada's Indigenous peoples are met and reflected in all types of programming, and that programming that should be relevant to them is in fact relevant to them?
So consider this a challenge to you, here and how.
One of the big myths about Bill C-11 is that the CRTC could censor online content, or interfere with it by artificially highlighting specific pieces of content. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In terms of discoverability, we want audiences to be able to easily find Canadian and Indigenous content. There are many tools available to online distribution services to increase the discoverability of our content, and many strategies may be used to achieve that goal.
As always, we will hold open and transparent public consultations, and we wish to see a lot of participation and a variety of perspectives.
In the future of regulation (and it's coming soon!), the CRTC will ensure that the broadcasting system and all players in the broadcasting ecosystem contribute to these key principles: reflecting all Canadians, our linguistic duality, and ensuring that the Canadian and Indigenous programming available to Canadians and Indigenous peoples is both high quality and inclusive.
In conclusion, I would like to stress that you, as producers, are spearheading the transmission of these principles through your creations and productions. And, of all the players in the broadcasting community, because you are the beneficiaries of regulation, you have the opportunity to be at the forefront of shaping the new rules that will allow you to continue to tell our stories and engage with the Canadian public in this online, global megaphone.
But to do so, you'll need to be open to change, new ideas and taking risks. Rest assured, the same will be true for the CRTC; we will also need to be open to change, new ideas and regulatory risk-taking. We will have to build on what we have achieved and, above all, not to underestimate these accomplishments: together, we have created a viable traditional broadcasting sector in a market (in terms of population) that is one-tenth the size of our neighbours to the south.
And what’s even more impressive is that together we have been able to achieve undeniable success in a French-speaking market that is just under 20% of the size of the Canadian market and just over 2% of the size of the American market. The future regulatory challenge will therefore be to use this launch pad and build on it.
I invite all of you to play an active role in shaping the future of the broadcasting and production sector. Share your ideas on the new regulatory framework during our future consultations. Keep on telling your stories and reflecting the diversity and richness of Quebec society, and keep on captivating and inspiring audiences, and the CRTC, for generations to come.
Thank you very much!
Toll-free 1-877-249-CRTC (2782)
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