The CRTC’s public consultations on modernizing the broadcast system officially get underway today as the commission looks to set up a framework that will re-envision how broadcasters and foreign streamers contribute to the production of Canadian content.
With a 106-paragraph consultation document attached to the proceedings, the commission cautions that it will be a long process, asserting that it is focused on an outcomes-based, adaptable approach.
The first phase proposes the possibility of flexible contribution requirements that would be potentially tailored to individual business models. That would start with a base contribution, proposed to apply to all broadcast undertakings, to a specified fund like the Canada Media Fund (CMF), Radio Starmaker, Factor, or another certified independent production fund. A secondary, flexible financial requirement would see undertakings invest in Canadian programming and/or training and development, while a third component of the proposed framework would reflect “intangible” contributions like promotion and discovery of Canadian content, back catalogues, and other company proposals that meet longterm public policy objectives.
The second phase of the consultation will look at which online streaming services need to be registered and which services will be exempted with the CRTC proposing that streamers with annual revenues under $10 million be exempt, including producers and creators of user-generated content. Additionally, the definition of Canadian and Indigenous content – and accompanying point system – will also be considered in phase two, anticipated to start this fall.
A third consultation will consider changes to exemption orders under which online streaming services have been operating and basic conditions of service to be imposed on certain streaming services.
“As we take on the task of modernizing the regulatory framework of the broadcasting system, we are focussed on ensuring that all players contribute equitably to Canadian and Indigenous content,” said Vicky Eatrides, CRTC Chairperson and CEO, in a statement. “We are starting the conversation today by looking at how streaming services can contribute. The views of Canadians will be important at every step of the process, and we encourage everyone to participate.”
Among the questions to be answered are how the Online Streaming Act would apply to streaming platforms that don’t carry Canadian content like Britbox, the BBC/ITV service specializing in British programming.
The CRTC has published an information bulletin for broadcasters outlining transitional provisions set out in the Online Streaming Act, which carry over conditions imposed under the former Broadcasting Act.
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