The Canadian Heritage consultation on Canadian content in a digital world recently concluded and the department has now posted the responses. There are few surprises with many creator groups supporting Netflix and Internet taxes, while Internet providers and consumer groups oppose them (my submission can be found here). The Ontario government was the only provincial government to file a response. The Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport’s submission acknowledges that there is “no evidence of an overall Cancon policy failure that would justify revolutionary policy reform”, but leaves little doubt that the government is open to new Internet taxes to fund Canadian content.
The Ontario government previously worked toward a Netflix tax as part of the CRTC’s Let’s Talk TV consultation. Given the controversy that generated, it is a bit more cautious this time but its support is not difficult to discern. Its starting point is that all industry players in the Canadian media market be required to contribute to Cancon. The submission states:
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My column/post this week on the Ontario Music Fund’s lack of transparency and exaggerated impact has elicited numerous private responses from people frustrated by the program (some public too) as well as some comments from the Ontario Media Development Corporation. Speaking to FYI Music, OMDC unsurprisingly defend the program and its results. However, the comments appear to confirm that claims about the impact of the program by Michael Coteau, the Minister of Tourism, Culture, and Sport, were inaccurate.
Coteau spoke to Karen Bliss, Billboard’s Canadian correspondent, in April 2015 about the Ontario Music Fund. As part of the interview, Coteau was asked about auditing or vetting where the money was spent:
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Earlier this month, the British Columbia government unveiled a new $15 million music fund to support the local music industry. The fund matches a similar Ontario initiative that has doled out nearly $30 million over the past two years with a commitment from Premier Kathleen Wynne to make the Ontario Music Fund a permanent program to support the industry.
The millions of taxpayer dollars earmarked for the music industry represents a major success for the industry lobby, which shifted several years ago from focusing on digital copyright reform to identifying new sources of government financial support.
My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes that despite the industry accolades, the Ontario program suffers from a surprising lack of transparency with virtually no public information on how the money is actually spent. Moreover, according to documents obtained under provincial access to information laws, the Liberal government has exaggerated the impact of the first round of funding with the creation of relatively few new full-time positions and limited international investment in the province.
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