The debate over Bill C-11 was marked by a massive effort from digital creators to urge the government to exclude user content regulation from the scope of the legislation. While Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez misleadingly insisted that user content was not covered by the bill, it took a policy direction to the CRTC (which is still in draft form) after the bill was passed to make that a reality. Many other groups stayed on the sidelines during the Bill C-11 debates, choosing to instead to wait for the CRTC process to make their concerns known. That started this week with the CRTC’s Bill C-11 consultations on registration requirements and potential exemptions (a post on my submission here) with a myriad of well-known streaming services calling on the regulator to establish additional exclusions from Bill C-11’s requirements.
The Fight for Bill C-11 Exemptions Begins: From Adult Content to UFC Fight Pass, Groups Tell CRTC They Want Out
Members Only: My Submissions to the CRTC’s Bill C-11 Consultations on Regulatory Thresholds and DMEO Transition
The CRTC’s deadline for the first two Bill C-11 consultations passed yesterday after the Commission rejected extension requests from a wide range of groups. Given the limited time – there was just a single workday from when the CRTC issued its rejection until the deadline – I submitted brief comments (2023-139, 2023-140) focusing on two concerns. First, the very short timeline for submissions did not allow for completion of research into the questions posed by the CRTC, including the appropriate threshold for regulation of Internet streaming services. I argued that the approach may have excluded many interested stakeholders from fully participating in the consultation. Second, I took issue with the CRTC’s framing of the consultation, which it said was “industry focused”, a signal that the consumer related issues raised by regulatory thresholds (including consumer choice and service costs) were viewed as irrelevant by the Commission.
That concern was amplified yesterday as the Canadian Media Fund, which receives public funding, literally gave a trophy to Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez for passing Bill C-11 and CRTC Chair Vicky Eatrides delivered remarks at the Banff World Media Festival in which consumers and the broader public were nowhere to be found. Speaking of implementing Bill C-11, Eatrides stated:
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 170: The Bill C-18 End Game – What the Senate Heard About the Online News Act
Bill C-18, the Online News Act, heads to clause-by-clause review this week at the Senate Transport and Communications Committee. The committee’s study of the bill wasn’t as extensive as Bill C-11, but it did hear from a very wide range of stakeholders and experts. Last month, I devoted the Law Bytes podcast to my appearance before the committee, including my opening statement and exchanges with various senators. This week’s Law Bytes podcast takes listeners into the committee room for clips from media big and small, independent experts, Google and Meta, and Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez.
The Draft Bill C-11 Policy Direction: Canadian Heritage Implicitly Admits What It Spent Months Denying
The government released its long-promised draft policy direction on Bill C-11 to the CRTC yesterday. The policy direction is open for public comment until July 25, 2023, after which the government will release a final version that gives the CRTC guidance on its expectations for how the bill will be interpreted. While Canadian Heritage was at pains to emphasize that the draft direction includes instructions that the “CRTC is directed not to impose regulatory requirements on online undertakings in respect of programs of social media creators, including podcasts”, the draft directive confirms that the government misled the public for months on the scope of Bill C-11 and highlights the problem with the CRTC’s rushed effort to establish regulations before the draft policy directive is final. I plan to file a submission by the deadline, but in the meantime offer several thoughts.