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The Broadcasting Act blunder series wraps up after a month of posts, two op-eds, and a podcast with a short summary of the case against Bill C-10.  Notwithstanding some of the rhetoric, the debate is not whether the cultural sector should be supported (it should) or whether foreign Internet streaming services should contribute to the Canadian economy (they should). Rather, the issue is whether Bill C-10 is the best way to accomplish those policy goals. Having spent a month dissecting the bill, it will come as no surprise that I believe the bill is deeply flawed. My concerns involve…
The Broadcasting Act blunder series has featured several posts raising concerns that Bill C-10 is likely to increase costs for consumers and decrease choice as some services block the Canadian market altogether. Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault has regularly cited the situation in Europe as evidence that the concerns are unfounded. For example, he told the House of Commons that “European Union has adopted new rules on streamers resulting in increased investment, jobs, choice of content and ability to assert one’s own cultural sovereignty” and told the media that the European Union has had a requirement since 2018 that 30%…
The Broadcasting Act blunder series has made several references to the risk of a trade challenge over provisions found in Bill C-10. This post unpacks the trade issue and explains why the bill could result in billions of dollars in retaliatory tariffs against Canada. The starting point for the trade issue is to recognize that Canada negotiated the continuation of the cultural exemption in the Canada-US-Mexico Trade Agreement (CUSMA or USMCA). This was viewed as an important policy objective for the government, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau insisting that “defending that cultural exemption is something fundamental to Canadians.” The exemption…
The Broadcasting Act blunder series has emphasized the uncertainty associated with Bill C-10, highlighting how the bill removes foundational broadcast policies such as Canadian broadcast ownership requirements and leaves many specifics to the CRTC to sort out in a future hearing. In fact, even as Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault claims that the bill establishes economic thresholds, excludes news services, or result in a billion dollars in new funding, the reality is that the bill does not specify any of these things. Rather, Guilbeault is presumably assuming that the Commission will decide to do so. If all of…
Canada is currently considering major reforms to how it regulates Internet services. Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault’s Bill C-10 would dramatically reshape the Broadcasting Act by regulating foreign Internet sites and services with the prospect of mandated registration, payments to support Canadian content, confidential data disclosures, and discoverability requirements. The bill would also remove policies supporting Canadian ownership of the broadcasting system and reduce expectations about Canadian participation in film and television productions. This week’s Law Bytes podcast takes a closer look at the implications of the bill, examining key concerns discussed in my ongoing Broadcasting Act blunder blog series.…
The Broadcasting Act blunder series has identified many of the negative consequences stemming from Bill C-10: the beginning of the end of Canadian broadcast ownership requirements, downgrading the role of Canadians in their own productions, risks to Canadian intellectual property ownership, trade retaliation by the U.S., potential capture of news sites and smaller streaming services, and less consumer choice as services work to avoid the costly Canadian regulatory requirements. Yet for some these costs will still be worth it since their singular goal is to mandate that foreign streaming services contribute funding toward Canadian film and…
The Broadcasting Act blunder series has highlighted Bill C-10’s many regulatory requirements for Internet services including registration, regulations, CRTC-imposed conditions, discoverability requirements, and (in an upcoming post) mandated payments. There is another requirement that may raise the ire of some foreign services and force them to consider blocking the Canadian market. The bill establishes significant confidential data disclosure requirements as a condition that may be imposed on Internet services both big and small around the world. Section 9.1(1)(j) gives the CRTC the power to set the following requirement on all broadcast undertakings, including online undertakings: the provision…
The Broadcasting Act blunder series has previously examined Bill C-10’s enormous cost to the foundational elements of Canadian broadcasting policy including the beginning of the end of Canadian ownership and control requirements and how it downgrades the role of Canadians in their own programming. There is another significant cost that comes from a bill that Andrew Coyne of the Globe and Mail describes as “one of the most radical expansions of state regulation in Canadian history.” At a time when the government has emphasized the importance of intellectual property, the bill opens the door to less Canadian control and…
Several Broadcasting Act blunder posts have focused on the extensive regulatory requirements for Internet services in Bill C-10, including registration requirements, regulations, and conditions of operation all subject to penalties for failure to comply. While the CRTC will be tasked with establishing the specifics, the bill is notable in that it grants the Commission the power to target individual services or companies with unique or individualized requirements. In other words, rather than establishing a “level playing field” (itself a fiction), Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault is opening the door to multiple fields with individual companies potentially each…
Canada’s new privacy bill is only a couple of weeks old but it is already generating debate in the House of Commons and careful study and commentary from the privacy community. As the biggest overhaul of Canada’s privacy rules in two decades, the bill will undoubtedly be the subject of deep analysis and lengthy committee review, likely to start early in 2021. Last week’s Law Bytes podcast featured Navdeep Bains, the Innovation, Science and Industry Minister, who is responsible for the bill. This week, Professor Emily Laidlaw of the University of Calgary, who holds the Canada Research Chair in…
The Broadcasting Act blunder series with a continued examination of the “regulate everything ” approach in Bill C-10. A previous post focused on the regulation and registration requirements which make a mockery of the government’s claim that there are no licensing requirements for Internet services since the requirements are little different than what is often found in a licence. Indeed, Section 10(1)(i) gives the CRTC the power to establish regulations that could require all broadcasting undertakings – including online undertakings – to register with the Commission, pay registration fees, and face regulations on Canadian programming, advertising rules, and audit rules. …
I was very pleased to participate together with CBC’s Adrian Harewood in a public event last night sponsored by the Toronto Public Library on the COVID Alert App. Over the course of 90 minutes, we addressed the background that led to the app, answered questions about concerns, and explained why Canadians should feel comfortable downloading it. The full session is embedded below. The post What You Need to Know About the COVID Alert App appeared first on Michael Geist.…
The Broadcasting Act blunder series takes a day off to focus on my Globe and Mail op-ed this week on the decision in Bill C-10 to remove Canadian ownership and control requirements from the Broadcasting Act. The op-ed notes that while Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault has told the House of Commons that the bill seeks to safeguard cultural sovereignty, the reality is that it represents a surrender of Canadian ownership and control over the broadcasting system. The full column can be found at the Globe website, but it points to the irony that there are viable alternatives that…
The government’s launch of Bill C-10, the Broadcasting Act reform bill, was careful to note that it was not creating a new licensing system for Internet services. For example, the Canadian Heritage FAQ states “Canadians will still be able to watch all of their favourite programs and access their preferred services. This Bill in no way prevents online streaming services from operating in Canada, or requires them to be licensed.” Previous posts have explored why this is unlikely to be the case with the new rules leading to less consumer choice as services choose to avoid the Canadian market given…
Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault has painted Bill C-10, his Broadcasting Act reform bill, as a big win for Canadian creators, telling the House of Commons that the bill will mean “more opportunities for our creators and talent in the production sector.” The Broadcasting Act blunder series continues today with a closer examination of how the bill alters the way Canada has traditionally tried to ensure that Canadian talent plays a pivotal role in creating that content. It finds that bill actually downgrades the requirements and opens the door to reduced Canadian participation in productions in their own country. Section…
The Broadcasting Act blunder series continues with a slight tangent to consider the implications of yesterday’s Government of Canada Fiscal Update for the claim that reforms are needed to ensure that foreign Internet companies make appropriate contributions to the Canadian market. Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault emphasized the issue when discussing Bill C-10 in the House of Commons, talking about payments being a “matter of fairness” and concerns that foreign Internet streamers “make money off the system with no obligation to give back.” Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland yesterday outlined the better way to ensure equality of treatment and payments…