Canadian TV networks see Bill C-11 as a lifeline, it’s not the solution

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Bill C-11, this monstrous attempt by the Trudeau Liberals to regulate the online world, this week received support from some of Canada’s biggest broadcasters.

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I don’t have time for this bill, which could completely change the way we create and consume online content in this country in a way that’s only for the worse. But I understand where the broadcasters come from.

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Troy Reeb of Corus Entertainment and Pierre Karl Peladeau of Quebecor both appeared before the Senate Transportation and Communications Committee. Their message was simple, if we are to be regulated, then foreign competition should be subject to the same regulations.

“The biggest television networks in Canada day in and day out are no longer Canadian. At all. They are unregulated foreign streamers,” Reeb told the committee.

It’s a compelling argument from broadcasters, they just want a level playing field.

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Conventional broadcasters in this country are subject to CRTC regulation and have no compliance limits in order to retain their licenses. They operate in a system that was designed when television was king, when revenue flooded the system, which they no longer do.

Yet traditional broadcasters are still being told how much original Canadian content they need to produce and broadcast each week. Their mandate is to support independent production companies in the creation of Canadian content. They are often told what kind of Canadian content should be produced, when it should be broadcast and even how much of their income should be devoted to these projects.

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None of these terms apply to Netflix, Prime or Disney+ or other foreign streaming services. Yet these companies are able to do an incredible amount of business in this country.

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“The same American studios that used to license content for Canadian TV are now making the rounds to Canadian broadcasters delivering it directly to Canadians themselves,” Reeb said.

Understandable but wrong

Given this scenario, it is understandable that Reeb and Péladeau, along with other broadcast executives, support Bill C-11. Whatever other flaws there are in the bill, and there are many, they see it as a way to make their competitors follow the same rules that they are required to follow.

My favorite solution, and probably Reeb and Péladeau’s favorite solution if you catch them in a moment of silence, would be for the CRTC to place fewer restrictions on traditional broadcasters. That doesn’t mean no restrictions, but it would mean fewer hurdles to jump through to deliver content that Canadians want to watch.

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Yet no government, Liberal or Conservative, has wanted to do this in recent decades. In fact, the Trudeau government has continued to impose more licensing requirements on traditional broadcasting.

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I see where traditional broadcasters are coming from, I understand they want a level playing field. But C-11 will do much more than that. It will give the already incredibly powerful CRTC the ability to regulate the music you hear on streaming services, the podcasts you listen to on Spotify, the audiobooks you listen to on Audible, or the videos you see on YouTube. .

It has the ability, as it stands, to impose requirements designed for large broadcasters on smaller creators who have carved out a niche for themselves to earn a living or extra income.

Corus, owner of Global, and Quebecor, owner of TVA, want the bill passed and passed quickly. Every day they lose viewers and revenue because they are subject to these regulations which do not apply to foreign streamers.

Bill C-11 isn’t the answer, it shouldn’t pass, but while the chances of the Trudeau Liberals lowering regulation for all are slim, I understand why broadcast executives will take what they can get.

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