Coolcaesar, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Coolcaesar, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons


The Bill C-11 Fallout Continues: Disney+ Pauses Original Commissions in Canada

The fallout from Bill C-11 has been the subject of several posts this week, including the demands from a wide range of services for exceptions to the law and warnings from streaming services such as PBS and AMC that they may block the Canadian market due to the regulatory burden imposed by the law. While those stories focus on the availability of services and content in Canada, a new Variety report points to another negative impact from the bill: less film and television production in Canada, at least in the short term. Throughout the Bill C-11 debate, there were concerns that the large streamers might pause their productions in Canada given the uncertainty over whether they would “count” for the purposes of new CRTC imposed contribution requirements. In other words, the bill could initially lead to less investment in Canada.

Sure enough, Variety reports that Disney+ has paused original commissions in Canada at least until the end of the year and possibly into the 2024. The reason? Variety speculates that Bill C-11 uncertainty may be at play:

One reason for Disney’s absence could be Bill C-11, Canada’s Online Streaming Act, which was passed in late April, and will require online streaming companies to invest in Canadian content (known locally as CanCon), as traditional broadcasters in the country already do. In exchange, streamers could also qualify for certain financial incentives and tax breaks. The act currently awaits a clear outline from Canada’s media regulator, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), which is consulting with the industry on how to enforce the new laws.

While Disney has not confirmed Variety’s theory, this was raised as distinct possibility throughout the Bill C-11 process, particularly when the government was content to leave so much uncertainty in the bill. For example, I wrote the following in November 2020 on Bill C-10, the predecessor to Bill C-11:

Reduced spending on production could result from uncertainty about what counts toward the new mandated Canadian-content contributions. The bill contains few specifics about how much spending will be required or what constitutes Canadian content for the purposes of the new rules. With those issues left to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to decide, it may be years before would-be producers find out…companies that invest in the Canadian market won’t know whether their current spending will meet the regulatory requirements or hundreds of millions more will be required. The uncertainty could lead to lengthy delays in Canadian production and lost jobs during what is obviously a particularly difficult time for the industry.

These risks were obvious, yet much like the risks to blocked news or streaming services, the government ignored them, repeatedly rejecting efforts to amend the bill by addressing the uncertainty. That inaction has consequences and it leaves Canadian consumers and the creative community to pay the price.


  1. So, Disney will be pulling out of Canada and laying off much of their Canadian staff and crippling many of their Canadian suppliers.

    That’s OK. the PM can just accuse Disney of being right-wing deplorables and that will solve everything.

    • Fortinbras says:

      What Michael Geist carefully omits in his quote from Variety is the article’s conclusion, “Another reason for Disney’s low-key presence in Canada could be the company’s internal woes. Disney recently reached its 7,000 layoffs goal, handing out notices to the remaining employees impacted in its third round of job cuts ahead of the Memorial Day holiday weekend. The 7,000 layoffs are part of the company’s $5.5 billion cost-savings target, of which $2.5 billion represents “non-content costs,” including labor costs.”

  2. Regulation brings reactions. And sometimes the reactions are not the ones the regulations were meant to induce. Pablo should know this, but it appears he didn’t – his staff probably failed to tell him of any possible negative reactions.

    • Why would staff tell him anything he doesn’t want to hear? That is NOT how you get ahead in Ottawa!

  3. Pingback: Bill C-11 fallout continues: Disney+ suspends original orders in Canada

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  6. Ontarian Smaritan says:

    This is a disaster rom the get go. so vague, it woud pass as most obsured ever.

  7. “With great power comes great responsibility?” I think this is ridiculous to be quite honest. Unless it provides Canada a million jobs, why would they really try to strongover one of the biggest streaming services out there?

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