Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly will formally unveil her digital Cancon strategy on Thursday, but aspects of the plan are already coming to light. There have been several reports about an agreement with Netflix to commit $500 million to production in Canada over the next five years. Assuming this is accurate, it may not necessarily mean a big increase in spending (Canada was already one of the top three markets for Netflix production) but it will provide certainty about the company’s commitment to Canada.
It would also appear that the government envisions asking the CRTC to become involved in developing policy, particularly with respect to upcoming review of the Broadcasting Act and Telecommunications Act. An Order-in-Council has just been posted online that requests that the CRTC conduct a study on programming distribution models and their impact on the maintaining a “vibrant domestic market.” The report will examine:
(a) the distribution model or models of programming that are likely to exist in the future;
(b) how and through whom Canadians will access that programming;
(c) the extent to which these models will ensure a vibrant domestic market that is capable of supporting the continued creation, production and distribution of Canadian programming, in both official languages, including original entertainment and information programming.
The emphasis on the domestic market is notable as it follows from the earlier decision to send back the CRTC decision on minimum broadcaster spending. While some of these issues were covered by the CRTC’s earlier TalkTV review, this study will again place the changing market in the spotlight with groups likely to renew their demands for more regulation of the Internet-based services. The CRTC study is due by June 1, 2018.