CRTC Will Have 9 Months to Force Streaming Services Like Netflix to Contribute to Canadian Content

The CRTC will have nine months to impose new regulations on streaming services such as Netflix, to force the latter to start contributing to Canadian content, as per draft instructions obtained by the National Post.

When the federal government passes its Bill C-10 update to the Broadcasting Act into law, the CRTC will have powers to regular online services.

The National Post says the draft policy tells the CRTC to “ensure that online undertakings are required to contribute appropriately to the support for and promotion of Canadian programming and Canadian creators.”

Also, the draft policy says “broadcasting services that do not have a material effect on Canada’s economy, national identity, or cultural fabric” will be exempt, including video games.

The CRTC will have nine months to establish a regulatory framework, which includes a consultation stage and a final decision, considered a very short timeframe for the regulator, which usually operates at a much slower pace.

The draft seen by the Post also instructs the CRTC that its regulation “ensures that non-Canadian online services receive treatment no less favourable than comparable Canadian online services,” and “streamlines regulatory obligations so all broadcasting undertakings are in a position to compete in the modern broadcasting environment.”

Back in February, Netflix told a heritage committee it supports the CRTC in its right to require Canadian content from broadcasters, but regulations should be different for streaming services versus traditional broadcasters. For traditional broadcasters, they want a level playing field across the board.

Last month, Netflix also announced it would be opening up its first Canadian office, either in Toronto or Vancouver.

The draft policy says the CRTC needs to hold a public proceeding on new financial contributions and create “a clear methodology that sets an appropriate level of funding,” detailing which services will have to contribute funds.

Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault said back in November when Bill C-10 was tabulated, the government would outline specific actions by the CRTC once the bill was passed into law. A draft copy of the new policy is being studied by the House heritage committee, which requested a copy of the bill last month.