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Sour grapes in Alemany Farmers' Market by SMcGarnigle, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Sour Grapes: Big Media Lobby Wants to Squash the New Collective Responsible For Administering Google’s $100 Million Online News Act Money

Late last month, I wrote about the behind-the-scenes battle over the selection of a collective to administer and allocate Google’s annual $100 million to news outlets as part of its Bill C-18 deal with the government. I reported that there were two proposals: the Online News Media Collective, a big media consortium led by News Media Canada (NMC), the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB), and the CBC, which was pitted against the Canadian Journalism Collective, a proposal spearheaded by a group of independent and digital publishers and broadcasters that promised a more transparent and equitable governance approach. To the surprise of many, last week Google selected the Canadian Journalism Collective.

The importance of who administers the collective is open to some debate since all eligible news outlets get their fair share regardless of which collective is responsible for allocating the money. However, concerns emerged that the big media collective envisioned a governance structure almost completely controlled by its own members, largely shutting out independent outlets and digital publishers and broadcasters. That governance control opened the door to implementing Bill C-18 in a manner that would benefit big media over the independents.

Yesterday members of the big media collective responded to Google’s choice with a request to the CRTC that can only be described as sour grapes.

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June 12, 2024 3 comments News
Return to normality- 124: still watching far too much TV by Paul Hudson CC BY 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/2mbcHbd

The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 205: Len St-Aubin on What the CRTC’s Internet Streaming Ruling Means For Creators, Competition and Consumer Costs

Last week, the CRTC released its much-anticipated Bill C-11 ruling on the initial mandated contributions from Internet streaming services. While the government focused on the requirement to contribute 5% of Canadian revenues, a closer look revealed the CRTC largely ignored industry data and the actual contributions from Internet streaming services and seemed entirely unconcerned by the effects on competition and consumer costs. Len St-Aubin is the former Director General of Telecommunications Policy at Industry Canada and played a role in the development of both the Broadcasting Act and Telecommunications Act. He provided consulting services to Netflix until 2020 and has since been an active participant in the debate on Internet policy. He joins the Law Bytes podcast to talk about the CRTC ruling, the state of TV and film production in Canada, and what may lie ahead for the streamers, creators, and consumers.

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June 10, 2024 3 comments Podcasts
PLEASE INFORM US IF ANYTHING IS MISSING OR INCORRECT by Leo Reynolds https://flic.kr/p/tV5uM CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Pay Up and Shut Up: How The CRTC Has Removed Canadians From Broadcast and Internet Policy

Last December, I appeared before the CRTC as part of Bill C-11 hearings, where I emphasized the need for the Commission to pay attention to competition, consumer choice, and affordability. My takeaway from that appearance was that “my intervention met with skepticism from some Commissioners who see their role as guardians of the broadcasting system on behalf of longstanding beneficiaries with little regard for the impact on consumers or the risks to competition.” It turns out that was a pretty good read of the situation as this week’s Bill C-11 streaming ruling acts as if consumers, competition, and affordability are irrelevant issues that are at best someone else’s concern. The result is that Canadians has been largely removed from broadcasting and Internet policy at the regulator, expected to pay up and shut up.

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June 6, 2024 6 comments News
Spotify by Jon Åslund https://flic.kr/p/8aTxPM CC BY 2.0

CRTC Bill C-11 Ruling “Makes Web Giants Pay” But it is Canadian Consumers That Will Get the Bill

The CRTC has released its much-anticipated Bill C-11 ruling on the initial mandated contributions from Internet streaming services. The headline the Commission and government will promote is that the services will be required to contribute 5% of their Canadian revenues to support various Canadian funding programs that support film and TV production, news, and music. The decision is a perfect illustration of a sector that is too often focused on regulatory payments rather than market-based success with incredible micromanagement of funding in which the CRTC is turned into a policy funding machine of the government (no surprise that government officials spent last week calling stakeholders for advance supportive comments). For the moment, the actual contributions from Internet streaming services are ignored, an updated definition of Canadian content doesn’t exist, commercial success is irrelevant, and subsidies for the news operations of companies such as Bell and Rogers are encouraged. To top it off, the streaming services are required to pay but are unable to access the funds even as they invest in production in Canada. Bill C-11 was about “making web giants pay” and that is what the CRTC was determined to do even if it is consumers that will ultimately get the bill.

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June 4, 2024 10 comments News
Game of Thrones - House Targaryen and House Lannister banners by Heather Paul CC BY-ND 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/a81kM3

The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 204: What Could Have Been for the Bill S-210 Hearings

Bill S-210, the mandated age verification bill for pornography sites that in reality targets everything from Google Search to Netflix, was expected to be the subject of extensive hearings by the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. But after a Conservative filibuster, it appears that there will be only one hearing and that the bill will be reported back to the House unamended. Before that vote, this week’s Law Bytes podcast offers up a “what could have been” hearing on the bill. It features my mock opening statement alongside responses to some of the actual questions raised by MPs on issues such as privacy, website blocking, and poorly defined terms in the bill.

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June 3, 2024 4 comments Podcasts