CRTC Proposal for Internet Providers to Pay Towards Canadian Content “Not a Tax” Says Chair

Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission wants Internet service providers (ISPs) to start funding more than television broadcasters, when it comes to Canadian programming.

CRTC chairman, Ian Scott, defended the proposal recently at the International Institute of Communications conference last week in Ottawa, saying the funding shift towards ISPs is not a tax.

According to the Financial Post, Scott said “New actors draw significant revenues and should also contribute to the system,” referring to Internet service providers, who have profited from consumer demand for data.

Broadcasters of TV and radio contribute towards Canadian content funding, but with advertising revenues declining, the argument is digital players such as Netflix and ISPs should step in to fill the void.

Rogers disagrees, as Pam Dinsmore, vice-president, regulatory, said at the conference, “To be fair, I think the network is our contribution,” referring to the billions and billions spent on broadband and wireless networks.

Scott told the Financial Post in an interview the proposal is “not a tax”, instead calling it a shift. The change could mean consumers will start paying more for Internet, but the chair says the fees won’t be substantial.

“If you’re asking me: ‘Is 46 cents worth it per month in order to support the future of viable Canadian programming?’ The answer is yes,” explained Scott, referring to how average Internet bills are $46 per month. (btw, my Internet bill is higher than $46 per month)

Last year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said “We’re not going to be raising taxes on the middle class through an Internet broadband tax. That is not an idea we are taking on.” But despite the Prime Minister’s claim, the CRTC appears to be moving this way.

Non-profit and Internet advocate OpenMedia, is urging Canadians to write to the new Minister of Heritage, Pablo Rodriguez, and reject any calls for an Internet tax on broadband and on streaming services such as Netflix.

“The proposal to apply a tax on Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will be a cost sure to be passed to Internet users. This disastrous idea would disproportionately punish low-income Canadians — widening the digital divide, and forcing the most vulnerable Canadians offline,” writes OpenMedia.

What do you think? Should there be an Internet tax…err…’fee’ on ISPs or services like Netflix?

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