A central part of Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault’s argument for Bill C-10, his Internet regulation bill that reforms the Broadcasting Act, is that it levels the playing field between traditional and online broadcasters. Guilbeault has tweeted images showing a scale that are designed to suggest that conventional broadcasters such as Bell and Rogers face an unfair disadvantage by facing regulations and mandated payment requirements that do not apply to Internet streaming services. These claims are regularly repeated in the House of Commons with Guilbeault stating this week that “the purpose of the bill is to level the playing field” and “this bill will level the playing field between traditional Canadian broadcasters and online broadcasters.” Those claims continued during debate on Thursday, when MPs repeatedly referenced levelling the playing field as the goal of the bill.
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Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault rose in the House of Commons yesterday for the second reading of Bill C-10, his Internet regulation bill that reforms the Broadcasting Act. Guilbeault told the House that the bill would level the playing field, that it would establish a high revenue threshold before applying to Internet streamers, would not impact consumer choice, or raise consumer costs. He argued that even if you don’t believe in cultural sovereignty, you should still support his bill for the economic benefits it will bring, warning that Canadian producers will miss out on a billion dollars by 2023 if the legislation isn’t enacted. He painted a picture of Internet companies (invariably called “web giants”) that have millions of Canadian subscribers but do not contribute to the Canadian economy,
Guilbeault is wrong. He is wrong in his description of the bill (it does not contain thresholds), wrong about its impact on consumers (it is virtually certain to both decrease choice and increase costs), wrong about the contributions of Internet streamers (who have been described as the biggest contributor to Canadian production), wrong about level playing field claims (incumbent broadcasters enjoy a host of regulatory benefits not enjoyed by streamers), wrong about the economic impact of the bill (it is likely to decrease investment in the short term), and wrong about cultural sovereignty (it surrenders cultural sovereignty rather than protect it).
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 69: Bram Abramson on the Government’s Plan to Regulate Internet Streaming Services
Last week, Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault introduced Bill C-10, legislation that would significantly reform Canada’s Broadcasting Act. A foundational part of what he has called a “get money from web giants” legislative strategy, the bill grants new powers to the CRTC to regulate online streaming services. Bram Abramson is one of Canada’s leading communications law lawyers and managing director of a new digital risk and rights strategy firm called 32M. Bram acted as an outside consultant on telecom regulation for the recent Broadcasting and Telecommunications Legislative Review panel – often called the Yale Report – but he joins the podcast to talk about the past, present and future of broadcast regulation, in particular what Bill C-10 could mean for the regulation of online streaming services.
Cultural Uncertainty: A Closer Look at Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault’s Timeline For Internet Regulation
Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault has told the Wire Report (sub req) that he expects Bill C-10, his Internet regulation bill, to pass through the House and Senate by early 2021 and for the CRTC to establish the regulatory specifics within nine months so that the system is in place by the end of next year. Guilbeault says that he isn’t concerned that the process could drag out for years and create significant industry uncertainty, indicating that “I think this is a really high profile issue. I’m not sure that these companies want to bear the public scrutiny of…trying to delay and delay the implementation of this.”
The Government’s Internet Regulation Bill: Why Bill C-10 Will Mean a CRTC-Approved Netflix Service, Reduced Consumer Choice, and Less Investment in Canadian Culture
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.