CRTC Chair Ian Scott appeared before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage yesterday and Bill C-11 proved to be a popular topic of discussion. The exchanges got testy at times as Scott seemingly stepped outside of his role as an independent regulatory by regularly defending government legislation, even veering into commenting on newspapers, which clearly falls outside the CRTC’s jurisdiction. With respect to Bill C-11, most newsworthy were two comments regarding the regulation of user content and the timelines for implementing the bill if it receives royal assent.
Is There Anything Less Convincing than CRTC Chair Ian Scott’s Empty Assurances on Bill C-11 User Content Regulation?
The Online Streaming Act (Bill C-11) has now passed second reading in the House of Commons and will be the subject of hearings at the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in the coming weeks. With the prospect of user generated content regulation still a serious concern, outgoing CRTC Chair Ian Scott tried to provide assurances earlier this week that the Commission has no interest in exercising regulatory powers over user generated content. Yet Scott’s comments rang hollow as he twisted himself in a series of contradictory knots that lead to the inescapable conclusion that non-binding promises without actual reforms mean little.
Digging Into the Government’s Online News Act Claims, Part Two: This is “Minimal Market Intervention”?!
The government has started its defence of Bill C-18, the Online News Act, in the House of Commons with claims that it simply requires compensation for use of news content and adopts a “minimal market intervention” approach. My post yesterday focused on the use claims and this post digs into the bill to see just how minimalist it is. Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez promoted the bill as a market-oriented approach on the day the bill was tabled, leading to an interview with Vassy Kapelos in which she was visibly puzzled at the claim.
Setting aside the fact that many leading Canadian media organizations have already struck news deals with Google and Facebook without government intervention, here is a look at what the government thinks constitutes “minimal market intervention”:
Keeping the Bill C-11 Implementation Secret, Regulating User Content, and Citing Non-Existent Benefits: Some Reflections on the House of Commons Online Streaming Act Debate
The Online Streaming Act (Bill C-11) was the subject of hours of debate yesterday in the House of Commons as the government presses to get the bill out of second reading and onto committee for hearings and further study. Setting aside the claims of “censorship” on one side and “you don’t care about creators” on the other, there were some notable takeaways from the debate, including the government digging in on keeping the policy direction to the CRTC secret, acknowledging (perhaps inadvertently) that the bill does regulate user generated content, and several comments from MPs that promise outcomes that are simply not part of the bill.
Leading off during Question Period was a direct question to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about releasing the planned policy directive to the CRTC before the bill receives royal assent so that Canadians can see the details of how the bill is intended to be implemented.