Streaming Companies Should Make ‘Equitable’ Contribution to Production of Canadian Content: CRTC

Canada’s broadcasting regulator is arguing that internet service providers, wireless companies and foreign streaming services should be forced to fund the production of Canadian cultural content to compensate for the declining contribution of cable and satellite providers.

According to a new report from National Post, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission says that streaming companies like Netflix and Amazon will inevitably have to make an “equitable” contribution to the production of Canadian content.

CRTC chairman Ian Scott said that some companies, including Netflix, are already paying more to create Canadian content than many might think.

“Companies who are extracting a profit, they are participating in the Canadian market and deriving revenues, should be contributing,” Scott said. “That includes Netflix and all of the others in that situation. The manner that they contribute is what’s at issue.”

Companies like Bell and other traditional Canadian broadcasters are required to pay into the fund — called the Canadian Media Fund — to aid in financing Canadian content.

“Companies like Netflix are making very good profits in Canada because they have good products. But there’s no reason why they should contribute any less than, say, CTV,” said Daniel Bernhard, executive director of advocacy group Friends of Canadian Broadcasting.

Netflix, on the other hand, argues that it shouldn’t have to pay the tax because it’s not able to draw from it to create its own content. The company has instead pledged to spend itself at least half a billion dollars over five years on original Canadian productions.

As a result, Netflix is “probably the single largest contributor to the (Canadian) production sector today,” said Scott. “They are filling up production facilities across the country. So is Amazon, so is Disney.”

While the CRTC’s proposals are only suggestions — Ottawa will have the final say when it reviews the telecommunications and broadcasting acts — they come despite the government’s repeated pledges not to tax Netflix or the internet.