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Bill C-10 Explained

Bill C-10 is largely designed to allow the government to regulate streaming services and content, under the Broadcasting Act. Our current Broadcasting Act dates from 1991and builds upon the regulation of radio and television broadcasting in Canada going back to the 1930’s. It involves the federal government because it was, and in many cases still is, public airwaves that are used to broadcast content to Canadians.

Even at the dawn of public broadcasting it was recognized that regulations would need to take account of the educational, social, and cultural interests of Canadians. Over the years there have been many updates and changes, including the creation of the Canadian-Radio Television Commission (CRTC) in the 1960’s, and the inclusion of television media by airwaves or cable in the 80’s and 90’s.

In addition to setting out the role of the CRTC and the mandate of the CBC, the Broadcasting Act plays an important role in supporting Canada’s cultural industries and ensuring Canadian content is available and accessible. It encourages the development of Canadian entertainment industries and the use of Canadian talent and content.

There was no world wide web platform until the early 90’s. By the end of 1990 however, the first web page was served on the open internet and it quickly grew and evolved into what it is today; an all-encompassing, fully mobile platform for sending and receiving virtually any kind of media. Delivery of content, both news and entertainment, now outstrips newspapers, radio and television. This latest update to the Act, Bill C-10, is intended to bring internet broadcasting (streaming) into the same regulatory rules as radio and television.

In that sense, I think we can agree that foreign streaming platforms like Amazon, Crave and Netflix, that claim a large segment of the Canadian film and television audience, should be subject to the same rules as Canadian broadcasters. The foreign big-tech giants should not have better, cheaper access to Canadian living rooms and mobile devices than Canadian broadcasters and content producers.

So, initially, the bill made some sense. Our party supported it being adopted at second reading so that it could be referred to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. However, in the committee’s study of the bill, government members did not support a clause that would have exempted an individual’s video posts to social media from regulation by the CRTC. The government claims that it was not their intent to regulate such content but at this point, it is not clear individuals would be exempt. This is what has caused so much concern about over-reach and regulation of a person’s own video posts and the potential diminishing of freedom of speech.

Without clear language exempting individual posts to social media, many experts argue it opens the door to government regulation of your posts to social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and YouTube. We have heard from many experts, including Peter Menzies, the former commissioner of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), who have affirmed that these proposed changes are misguided and set a dangerous precedent on the freedoms of individual internet users in Canada.

The bill is still in committee and at this juncture, I have a hunch it will never pass before this parliament runs into a federal election.

 

I hope you find this information helpful.

 

-Bruce