Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party has taken another step forward in its attempt to create streamer regulation and bring foreign-based OTTs under domestic regulation.
Bill C-11 (also known as the Online Streaming Act) was passed by the Canadian House by a vote of 208 to 117. The Conservative Party opposed the bill, while the New Democrats and the Quebecois Bloc supported it.
The bill will now move to the Senate, where it will be considered and voted on again.
Canada’s local television industry greeted the news with cautious optimism. Enthusiasm is understandably dampened after a streamer regulation bill (Bill C-10) foundered less than a year ago.
The main purpose of the bill is to bring streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ under national regulation. However, critics argue that the bill also paves the way for regulation of user-downloaded content, which has sparked a heated debate on free speech in Canada.
Last week, at the Banff World Media Festival, Ian Scott, president and CEO of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), said the “system is broken” and urgently needs to be fixed through legislative change.
According to Canadian government projections, imposing contribution requirements on foreign-based streaming services would bring more than $1 billion ($772 million) in new funds into the national funding system each year.
At a panel in Banff, Canadian media leaders said a key question has yet to be answered: how will this money be used?
“If there is a billion dollars up for grabs, who will control it? Who will have access to it? And what rules will there be for its use?” said Barbara Williams, executive vice president of Canadian broadcaster CBC.