Quebec Wants to Legislate More French Content on Netflix, Spotify, Etc.

Digital platforms such as Netflix and Spotify, for example, could be forced to offer more French content, if upcoming Quebec legislation is approved.

Quebec’s Culture and Communications Minister Mathieu Lacombe announced plans to introduce legislation that will force digital platforms, including giants like Netflix and Spotify, to boost their French content offerings for Quebec consumers. This plan, the first of its kind in the province’s history, challenges the belief that digital platform regulation falls solely under the federal government.

“Many were skeptical about what options Quebec had to act. What I am happy to see is that experts say Quebec has the means to protect its culture. I am very happy,” said Lacombe recently, according to the Montreal Gazette.

The legislation follows a 65-page report by a panel, created by the Coalition Avenir Québec government last April, to investigate the possibility. The report, titled “The cultural sovereignty of Quebec in a digital era,” looks at how there’s more English content on digital services and the impact on Quebec culture.

Data from l’Observatoire de la culture et des communications de L’Institut de la statistique du Québec revealed that only 8.6% of the most streamed songs in Quebec are in French, compared to 85.7% in English.

The panel argued that Quebec has jurisdiction over cultural matters, including digital content, despite typically being under the authority of the federal government. “The digital world is in no way an enclave sheltered from laws,” suggesting that Quebec’s control extends to digital forms of libraries, the press, bookstores, theatres, and video rental clubs.

Supporting the panel’s conclusions, Benoît Pelletier, a former Quebec Liberal intergovernmental affairs minister and current law professor, added, “There is nothing anywhere that says this is only a federal jurisdiction. It’s as much a provincial affair as federal.”

The report proposes a multi-pronged approach, including amendments to the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms to ensure access to French digital cultural products, developing international strategies for linguistic diversity, and setting quotas for French content. It also suggests negotiating with the federal government to coordinate efforts.

Lacombe added, “We fully intend to follow up on this report,” saying, “It will not be shelved. There is really nothing stopping us.”

Support for the idea includes the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN). “In this report, we find common cause with Quebecers who are worried about an avalanche of English-language cultural content overwhelming what is produced and broadcast in French,” said President Eva Ludvig.

There are so many digital platforms out there that would be affected by this proposed legislation, beyond Netflix and Spotify. Apple’s own Apple TV+ and Apple Music would likely fall under the legislation, to go with Disney+, Paramount+ and any other digital streamer or music service.

P.S. Help support us and independent media here: Buy us a beer, Buy us a coffee, or use our Amazon link to shop.