CRTC Chair Ian Scott returns to the Standing Senate Committee on Transportation and Communications tomorrow for yet another appearance on Bill C-11. According to multiple sources, the appearance came at the Scott’s request, who is seeking yet another chance to “clarify” his earlier remarks. I’m hardly one to criticize multiple committee appearances, but the continued effort to clarify earlier comments smacks of political involvement. Indeed, when combined with the controversial Section 7(7) of the bill, it suggests that the government envisions a permanent erosion of the independence of the broadcast regulator in Canada.
Clarifying the Clarification of the Clarification: Why Yet Another Upcoming “Clarification” from CRTC Chair Ian Scott Demonstrates the Risks of Bill C-11 and Government Interference
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 146: Axel Bruns on What the Australian Experience Teaches About the Prospect of Facebook Blocking News Sharing in Response to Bill C-18
As Bill C-18 heads to clause-by-clause review later this week, the prospect that Facebook could block news sharing on its platform in Canada in response has attracted the ire of politicians and concerns from media outlets that rely on social media as part of their business model. But is this a bluff or, having just laid off 11,000 employees, an accurate reflection of where the company stands on the value of news on its platform given current economic realities?
Axel Bruns is a Professor of Communication and Media Studies at QUT Digital Media Research Centre, Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, who has written about the Australian News Media Bargaining Code and the effects of the Facebook news sharing blocking in 2021. He joins the Law Bytes podcast to discuss the Australian experience in an effort to answer the question of whether Facebook is bluffing or if news sharing on the platform in Canada is placed at risk should Bill C-18 become law.
Last week, I appeared before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage as part of the last panel of witnesses on Bill C-18, the Online News Act. For the first time since the start of the pandemic I attended in person, which provided the opportunity to witness a scene that partly occurred off-camera. NDP MP Peter Julian started his questioning by citing with approval a Postmedia editorial, itself based on a Brian Lilley column. The editorial expressed support for Bill C-18, criticized Facebook, and took the Conservatives to task for not being more supportive of the proposed legislation. Seeing an NDP MP rely on a Lilley-inspired Postmedia editorial was strange enough, but adding to the weirdness was Liberal MP Lisa Hepfner scrambling to find the editorial on her phone and showing it around to caucus colleagues. While some might merely chalk this up to a common enemy – Facebook – I believe there is a bigger enemy at work, namely the loss of an independent press.
Register Your TikTok Videos at the CRTC?!: Commission Encourages TikTokers To Participate in Future Process on Bill C-11 Content Registration
Even as Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez continues to insist that user content isn’t touched by Bill C-11, the CRTC is sending a different message. In a recent article on how digital creators are contemplating leaving Canada as a result of Bill C-11’s regulation of user content, the CRTC stated:
We strongly encourage interested parties – like TikTok users – to monitor our announcements and participate in public processes. Any decisions on who would have to register and how would only follow those processes, and people should make no assumptions about how the Commission may rule beforehand.
The CRTC and its chair Ian Scott contradicting Rodriguez has been a regular occurrence throughout the Bill C-11 process.
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 145: Why Bill C-18’s Mandated Payments for Links is a Threat to Freedom of Expression in Canada – My Appearance Before the Heritage Committee
The hearings on the Online News Act – Bill C-18 – wrapped up last week with a final session in which I had the unexpected opportunity to appear and again raise concerns with the bill. My focus this time was on how the bill mandates payments for links and why that approach is a threat to freedom of expression in Canada. This week’s Law Bytes podcast takes you inside the hearing room as it features my opening statement and clips from exchanges with MPs from several parties that touched on everything from innovation to copyright reform to the rules for final offer arbitration. My full opening statement is posted below.