Media officials say liberals’ internet regulation bill should provide ‘flexible’ definition of Canadian content

The pending internet regulation bill must provide liberals with a “flexible” definition of what they consider “Canadian content” if it is to succeed in promoting Canadian culture and creators for the country’s viewers, several media giants say.

“The rules defining what qualifies as Canadian content must be updated and relevant commitments must reflect the podcast model,” Nathan Wisniak, head of artist and label partnerships at Spotify, said during testimony September 15 before the Senate Communications Committee.

“Given the scale of streaming libraries, the industry would benefit if platforms could make reasonable, good faith and commercially real judgments to select Canadian content using the expertise and information available to them,” Wozniak continued.

Bill C-11, which is awaiting Senate and royal approval before becoming law, would amend the broadcasting law to bring major streaming and content creation platforms such as Spotify and YouTube under the control of the Canadian Radio, Television and Communications Commission (CRTC).

If passed, the C-11 would give the CRTC the authority to ensure that all internet content available in Canada through major broadcasting and social media platforms promotes Canadian culture and artists.

incomplete definition

David Faris, Disney’s vice president of global public policy, said the C-11 provides an incomplete definition of Canadian content and that “flexibility” should be taken into account in the legislation.

“No single factor should be decisive in determining what constitutes Canadian content,” Faris told the Senate Communications Committee.

Faris said Disney has produced three Canadian films and TV shows — Barkskins, Turning Red and Washington Black — but none of them count as Canadian content in the C-11 definition because Disney owns their intellectual property.

“On the flip side, there are situations where content is identified as Canadian content even though it doesn’t tell a Canadian story,” said Faris. It was not produced in Canada. However, it meets the points system and [intellectual property] It is owned by Kennedy.

Faris said Turning Red, a 2022 Disney animated film that was shown in Toronto, “had a full cast and crew of Canadians” and was directed by Canadian, but it still does not qualify strictly as Canadian content.

“So, what we are trying to do is correct this anomaly … so that there is a flexible definition like Turning Red, Barkskins and Washington Black that can actually qualify as Canadian content,” he said.

“The mere fact that we own the intellectual property should not rule this out when the work is produced in Canada [and] Tells a Canadian story, Faris continued.

Reagan Smith, Spotify’s head of public policy and government affairs, said the C-11’s goal of regulating podcasting is “a first in the world”.

“We believe there should also be industry-specific guidelines to uniquely this aspect of the industry,” she said, adding that the bill should “accommodate some reasonable business provisions” in its requirement that media platforms promote Canadian content.

Wisniak said the government should be aware that some Canadian artists make their music outside the country, adding to the need for an accurate definition of Canadian content.

“some [artists] In the country music industry they move to Nashville to create country music, write with potential international writers, collaborate with producers, and record at studios that may not be in Canada,” Wyzniak said.

“However, this artist is from Canada based on the country of origin; we still call them Canadian artists.”


Peter Wilson is a reporter based in Ontario, Canada.

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