Canadian independent producers welcome landmark broadcasting legislation
While concerns remain, Bill C-11 is still a major step forward in modernizing the Broadcasting Act
OTTAWA, APRIL 27, 2023 — Following years of anticipation, months of consultation and debate, and the longest ever study conducted by a Senate committee, Bill C-11 (the Online Streaming Act) has passed the Houses of Parliament and will receive Royal Assent. The Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA)—along with hundreds of thousands of Canadians working in the country’s cultural industry—has long called on the government to modernize the broadcasting system and level the playing field between foreign web giants and Canadian companies. While concerns remain, the CMPA welcomes the updated legislation.
“We are grateful to Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez for his heroic efforts in securing the passage of Bill C-11. We congratulate him and the Liberal government for getting the job done,” said Reynolds Mastin, the CMPA’s President and CEO. “We thank NDP Heritage critic Peter Julian, Member of Parliament Anthony Housefather and Senator René Cormier for their commitment to strengthening this bill, and all MPs and Senators for their detailed review. The modernization of Canada’s Broadcasting Act has been years in the making, and while the government’s stated goal of levelling the playing field has not yet been achieved, the bill contains many other positive elements that we applaud.”
For example, the CMPA commends the government for recognizing the vital role independent producers play in Canada’s broadcasting system. The bill enshrines critical provisions that ensure that producers can significantly and equitably benefit from their own stories. This will support the growth of more Canadian companies and contribute to a vibrant future for the country’s media production industry. The CMPA is also pleased that the bill includes a number of provisions to further advance representation and participation from Indigenous, Black and other racialized creators. This will foster a more inclusive broadcasting system that better reflects the needs and interests of all Canadians.
While the bill marks a milestone in Canada’s broadcasting system, it contains a provision that risks creating a two-tier system where foreign streamers are held to a lower standard than Canadian broadcasters. The unintended result could be foreign streamers being allowed to use fewer Canadian creators in the production of Canadian programming. This flaw must be addressed in the pending policy direction to the CRTC, or Bill C-11 risks reinforcing, rather than reducing, the ongoing pressures faced by the domestic production sector.
“We are on the precipice of a pivotal moment in Canadian broadcasting history. It took 30 years before the Broadcasting Act was updated. Since we don’t know when this opportunity will present itself again, it’s important that we get it right,” added Mastin. “We’re encouraged by the passage of Bill C-11, and are optimistic that the Minister’s policy direction to the CRTC will go further in helping the bill to achieve its fundamental objective of levelling the playing field.”
ABOUT THE CMPA
The Canadian Media Producers Association is the national advocacy organization for independent producers, representing hundreds of companies engaged in the development, production, and distribution of English-language content made for television, cinema, and digital media channels. We work to promote the continued success of the Canadian production sector and to ensure a bright future for the diverse content made by our members for both domestic and international audiences. cmpa.ca
Senior Manager, Media Relations & Communications, CMPA