The Broadcasting Act Blunder series yesterday covered claims by Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault that the bill contains significant economic thresholds as a guardrail against over-regulation. As I noted, the bill does no such thing, though the CRTC will be able to establish regulatory exemptions once it conducts extensive hearings on implementing the legislation should it pass (prior posts in the Broadcasting Act Blunder series include Day 1: Why there is no Canadian Content Crisis, Day 2: What the Government Doesn’t Say About Creating a “Level Playing Field”, Day 3: Minister Guilbeault Says Bill C-10 Contains Economic Thresholds That Limit Internet Regulation. It Doesn’t).
Guilbeault also told the House of Commons that news is excluded from his bill:
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The Broadcasting Act Blunder series continues this week with posts focused on the uncertainty fuelled by a bill that was months in the making, yet leaves numerous issues unanswered (prior posts in the Broadcasting Act Blunder series include Day 1: Why there is no Canadian Content Crisis, Day 2: What the Government Doesn’t Say About Creating a “Level Playing Field”). Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault tried assure the House of Commons last week that the bill features several “guardrails” against over-broad regulation. In particular, he stated:
entities would need to reach a significant economic threshold before any regulation could be imposed. This keeps the nature of the Internet as it is. It simply asks companies that generate large revenues in Canada to contribute in a fair manner.
With all due respect, this is simply false. There is no specific economic threshold established by the bill. The starting point is that all Internet streaming services carried on in whole or in part within Canada are subject to Canadian regulation. In other words, if you have Canadian subscribers, the law applies regardless of where the service is located.
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Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault tabled his “get money from web giants” Internet regulation bill this morning. As expected, Bill C-10 hands massive new powers to Canada’s telecom and broadcast regulator (the CRTC) to regulate online streaming services, opening the door to mandated Cancon payments, discoverability requirements, and confidential information disclosures all backed by new fining powers. Given that many of the details will be sorted out by the CRTC, the specifics will take years to unfold. In the short term, the bill creates considerable marketplace uncertainty that could lead to reduced spending on Canadian film and television production and delayed entry into Canada of new services. Once the policies are in place, the end result will be CRTC-approved versions of Netflix, Disney+, or Amazon Prime in which the regulator decides how these services promote Canadian content to their subscribers.
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