CRTC Will Have ‘Some Authority’ Over User Content with Broadcast Bill [VIDEO]

Representatives from the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) on Tuesday told MPs that the regulator will have “some authority” over user-generated content under Bill C-11, but claimed that the scope of that power will be limited — reports the National Post.

“User uploaded content can be the subject of some authority by the commission,” said Rachelle Frenette, CRTC general counsel and deputy executive director. However, she argued that “in relation to social media platforms, and user-uploaded content, are actually quite narrow.”

“The commission could, for example, issue certain rules with respect to discoverability, could perhaps issue rules… to respond to certain concerns on accessibility,” Frenette added.

Bill C-11 was tabled by Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez in February as an amendment to the Broadcasting Act. The legislation is designed to give the CRTC dominion over online streaming companies in a similar way to which it regulates traditional broadcasters.

It is the federal government’s second attempt to push taxes and mandatory promotion of Canadian content onto online platforms. Its predecessor, Bill C-10, failed to pass prior to the last election, largely due to fears that it would regulate user-generated content on social media platforms.

Bill C-11 now faces the same concerns, not only from the government but corporations and the Canadian public as well. What’s more, Ottawa and the CRTC’s flip-flopping on whether the Commission will regulate user-generated content under Bill C-11 and what the scope of that regulation will be have added fuel to the fire.

While the bill’s language outlines exclusions for videos uploaded by one user for other users to watch, it also includes clauses that give the CRTC the power to make regulations relating to “programs” and determine what qualifies as commercial content under the proposed legislation.

Minister Rodriguez previously promised that the revised bill would exclude user-generated content. However, CRTC chairman Ian Scott last month admitted that the legislation would indeed give the broadcasting authority power over user-generated content on the internet.

Frenette also noted during the Tuesday hearing that the CRTC will not be able to impose any rules around standards of programming on user-generated content under Bill C-11.

Back in March, YouTube bashed the proposed legislation for its potential to oppose the platform’s algorithm-dependant discoverability system and ultimately hurt Canadian creators. Local content creators, the majority of whom get most of their video views from outside Canada, largely agree.

When asked whether YouTube is considered “broadcasting” and would be regulated under Bill C-11, Scott said it would depend on the content.

“Depends what YouTube is doing. If they’re engaged in broadcasting, then we will be interested. If they’re engaged in other activities, no, then not,” he said.

Scott is set to be replaced in September as his five-year term as chair comes to an end.

Bill C-11 is currently making its way through parliament.