I <3 PBS by CDBerrios https://flic.kr/p/9rQdt9 (CC BY-ND 2.0)


Foreign Internet Streaming Services Warn CRTC Its Bill C-11 Regulations May Lead to Blocked Content or Services in Canada

The Bill C-11 process featured a marked divide on the implications for consumer choice. While Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez claimed it would lead to increased choice (a claim he re-iterated this week in Banff), critics of the bill argued that the opposite was true, namely that the bill would likely lead to fewer services entering the Canadian market or streamers reducing content choices. The net effect – contrary to government claims – would be to impact what Canadians could watch. With the CRTC’s Bill C-11 consultations now underway, foreign streamers are warning that they may block services from Canada or reduce the scope of their content libraries due to the regulatory requirements or burden. This notably includes mainstream streamers such as PBS and niche services such as AMC’s ALLWAYSBLK.

My post yesterday on the CRTC’s Bill C-11 consultations (my submission here) focused on the numerous demands for new exceptions covering everything from adult content to fitness apps. In addition to seeking exceptions, some services are warning the CRTC that the regulatory framework may cause them to stop streaming into Canada altogether. For example, PBS has called for exception for non-profit broadcasters and warned that its stations could stop streaming services into Canada:

CRTC regulation could also inadvertently cause PBS member stations to have to withdraw online streaming offerings from Canada if making them available becomes unduly burdensome on stations’ very limited resources, thereby hindering the stations’ ability to provide their educational public service to their local communities.

Leading U.S. Broadcaster AMC has warned the Commission that a low threshold for exemption – which would have the effect of regulating more services – would make it more likely that its smaller niche services could withdraw from the Canadian market:

Imposing administrative and potential financial burdens on smaller or emerging players that are seeking to compete in the Canadian market will discourage those players from entering or remaining in the market, thereby choking innovation, lessening competition, and reducing consumer choice. AMC currently offers a diverse array of distinct online services to Canadians, including ALLWAYSBLK, a service that offers programming that primarily stars and is produced by the Black community. AMC is proud to contribute these diverse voices to the Canadian broadcasting landscape, in line with the policy objectives of the Broadcasting Act; however, such services ultimately generate relatively modest Canadian revenue. Establishing a threshold which aggregates the revenues associated with these distinct services for the purposes of imposing regulatory obligations on each service (regardless of size) would ultimately undermine the business case for offering such services in Canada and may lead online undertakings to withdraw smaller niche services from the Canadian market.

There are similar warnings from Roku, which warns about reduced Canadian investment for its Roku Channel:

Developing TRC in Canada will continue to demand a significant amount of investment in the years to come. It will also require that Roku refine and experiment with TRC’s accessible and consumer friendly business model. Roku is participating in these consultations to emphasize to the Commission that imposing substantial new administrative burdens on still-nascent services could have the perverse effect of dissuading investment in Canada.

And even from Crunchyroll, the Japanese anime streaming services that noted it participated in the process to raise its concerns about the ability for small players to operate in Canada given the regulatory requirement:

An appropriate threshold should ensure that larger players contribute in a way that is commensurate to the place they occupy and the role they play in the Canadian broadcasting system, while ensuring that smaller players can continue to operate without facing a significant burden that could jeopardize their presence in the market 

For those remaining in Canada, the Bill C-11 regulations may result in the removal of content for Canadian subscribers. For example, Tubi warns:

As we note in paragraph 5 above, Tubi offers 46,150 titles available for exhibition in Canada, all for free. By contrast, Netflix offers 6,673 titles available for a minimum of $5.99 per month with advertising or $16.49 per month to view without advertising. Tubi may be forced to reduce the number of titles available in its catalogue by necessity of compliance with the proposed regulatory requirements which would have the unfortunate effect of decreasing content diversity available to Canadian viewers.

None of this should come as a surprise as the potential market effects of Bill C-11 have been well known for months. The government declined to address the concerns during the legislative process and now the prospect of blocked services or content in Canada has become a reality. Indeed, much like the Bill C-18 process, in which the government ignored the commercial impact of its policies that could lead to blocked news content, officials acted as if streaming services would simply accept the increased costs without consequence. As a result, the government’s Internet policies  threaten to reshape what Canadians can access and watch with less choice and higher consumer costs.


  1. I am very sorry for being rude – but this guy Pablo is dumber than a rock.

    Close your eyes so his stupid face doesn’t affect your judgment – just listen to his voice / words and you would turn off your TV!

    • That goes for anyone that supported Bill C-11. They did not understand how the internet works.

    • Fortinbras says:

      What is, in fact, notable about the submissions on the CRTC’s consultations coming from the vast majority of US studios, online undertakings and broadcasters is how measured and reasonable they are. They display none of the hysteria that Michael Geist predicted… And as the spokesperson for PBS makes clear, member stations are all locally owned and operated non-profit broadcast licensees, and operate autonomously from PBS. The author of the PBS intervention does not speak for member stations. She also says that PBS stations distribute their content online for free, including to residents of Canada – whenever such distribution rights are available. In most cases, PBS’ high-profile content broadcast over-the-air is not presently available online in Canada – because the rights are not available…

      • However you neglected to mention “However, given their limited resources, if all PBS member stations were newly required to comply with Canadian broadcasting regulations, they may have to cease providing this free online public service to Canadians.” And that was for some CanCon series that is broadcast at some of the border stations (WPBS in Watertown, NY and Vermont Public Television) (page 5, para 14, section Streaming Services, Non-Passport) as well as educational programming.

        Please provide a link to “hysteria” that you referred to; I was unable to find it looking at the posts on C-11. And I was unable to find where in the submission it indicated that “the rights are not available”.

        • Fortinbras says:

          I do not advise going to a PBS web site originating in the United States to watch Canadian television series… As I said, in most cases, the high-profile content PBS broadcasts over-the-air is not presently available online in Canada – because the rights are not available… This applies to children’s television series, such as Arthur, about which Vermont Public Television says “PBS video is restricted to the United States and its territories.” It also applies to drama series from Britain and high-profile documentary series, such a those of Ken Burns. Try streaming Ken Burns’ Hemingway via the VPT web site and you’ll be told, “We’re sorry, but this video is not available.”

          • Buffalo’s PBS station provides almost identical content, including Hemingway, on its American and Canadian apps. Most content requires a Passport membership (a subscription that requires a donation of at least $60). The Buffalo station promotes itself as Buffalo Toronto which indicates how heavily it relies on Canadian donations.

          • So you are referring to the situation where the station does not have the Canadian broadcasting rights, either because they didn’t purchase them, or probably equally as likely, the Canadian broadcast rights are owned by someone else; in the case of PBS it is likely a regional network such as TVO.

            The issue then becomes, if they are expected to provide a certain amount of CanCon but can’t as a result of the fact that someone else has the Canadian rights for a large part of their catalogue, will the CRTC still apply the CanCon provision requirements? If yes, then they would not be able to satisfy the CRTC requirements and they would pretty much need to block access to Canadians as a result of the regulations.

      • once bill C-11 goes into effect i will be cancelling my internet & if any Canadians want to send Trudeau a message & do not like the new Internet (you won’t) then you too can cancel your internet.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Bell just announced about 1300 let-go and pointed at this uncertainty of this bill?

    Any financial deal or beer meeting with Bell Media and Mr. Rodriguez?

    Seems like Bell is trying to push this bill to take affect sooner – shareholders are starving!

    • That is because Trudeau bill C-11 & Bill C-18 is all about the CBC,CTV,Global & Bell.When these go into effect the only news you will be able to watch on Canadian internet is the CBC,CTV & Global all bought & payed for by the Trudeau Government,you know like Dictators do.Canadians just got tired of listening to CBC news lies & is the reason why they are one of the lowest watched news in north America,instead of changing & doing some research & reporting truth they just decided to be lazy & take 1.2 billion dollars every year in welfare.Fox news & Wion news are the most watched in the world because they have a much better accuracy rating than CBC or CNN.Do what i am going to do & many many Canadians once bill C-11 goes into effect cancel your internet,that will be the loudest voice .

  3. Bring on the great-firewall-of-Canada VPN solutions!

    We know that Netflix and friends actively seek out and block VPNs used for getting around geoblocks, but hopefully they embrace the VPNs that Canadians will use to get the actually watchable content and not just the few hundreds of “Canadian-made” garbage items that Netflix will be reducing their catalog to just for Canadian subscribers.

    Pablo is an idiot for not seeing this coming. The entire country saw this coming.

    Of course I jest. Pablo saw this coming. It just didn’t matter to him as he lined his coffers with all of the lobbyist $$$s.

    • If Canadians do not like their new internet than do what i am going to do once bill C-11 goes into effect cancel your internet that will hit where it hurts & send the loudest message possible.Look at Bud weiser it still has not ended no one is buying that beer they sent a strong message that isn’t going to end until Bud Weiser goes bank rupt.Trudeau is for groomer your children,for Censoring free speech & censoring free press.If a Country doesn’t have free speech or free press it is not a free Country.Canadians need to wake up & get this freak out of office.If Trudeau was president in the states & did half the stuff he has done in Canada they would have strung him up.We need to protect our Children from our own prime minister WOW! Didn’t he have to leave his teaching job for inappropriate relationship with under age student????????

      • Yeah, they would have “strung him up” for sure. Because that happens to Presidents of the US all of the time.

        You might want to take that tinfoil hat off for a while. I think your brain is being deprived of something critical.

  4. I almost wish Pablo was lining his coffers. Sadly, I think it is much worse than that.

    We are no longer limited to the “broadcasting of linear signals” world. And, unfortunately, too many people think we can try to still live there – a point, that if presented this way, would be considered silly by most Canadians. But “something must be done”. Never mind that Canadians consider this to be a golden age of content, and some Canadians consider this to be a golden age for creators – just not the traditionally structured ones, who plan to sell their results once to “a channel”.

    Pablo is “just following orders”. The spin of ‘bullying’ or ‘threatening’ is there to avoid admitting that perhaps the real goal of the bill was to make it uneconomic for many of the world-wide competitors to be here. Because – if you spend a few bucks on BritBox and CrunchyRoll and Disney and Netflix and Prime and Nebula and Apple and a couple others, you might eventually decide that whole television bundle coming from a big Canadian conglomerate just is not working for you.

    But, what about what Canadians think? Unfortunately, our political system has become one where the primary role of your representative is not to represent your interests to the government, but to represent the government’s interests to you.

    So, my scariest scenario? Pablo knew this would happen. But he did it anyway.

    • send a message to Trudeau & once bill-C-11 goes into effect do what i am going to do & that is cancel my internet.Just like with Bud Light Money speaks Volume.Once bill-C-18 goes into effect the only news you will find on Canadian internet is the CBC,CTV & Global news,all bought & payed for by Trudeau.No one watches the CBC news anymore & is why Trudeau has to bail them out every year in the amount of 1.2 billion.Advertisers no know one watches them so why would they pay to advertise.People got tired of watching CBC news & listening to half truths,misleading facts & just out right liars.Go back the last 4 years & see if they ever talk negative of Trudeau the answer is no they do not talk bad about their sugar dadd

      • Yeah, Cy, we get it. You are going to (well, not really) cancel your Internet. You don’t have to repeat it here 47 times.

        I say not really, because i defy you to live for any meaningful period of time with no Internet at all.

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  9. Japanese anime streaming providers that made a point of their involvement in the process to voice their worries regarding small players’ capacity to operate in Canada given the regulation requirement:

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