Here is what we believe must be done.
First, access to Canadian audiences comes at a price, and everyone must pay — no exceptions.
Secondly, the outdated rules that restrict Canadian media company operations, strategies and ability to grow must change.
All who benefit from the Canadian system should contribute to that system. Not only must foreign digital media companies share responsibility for supporting Canadian content, Canadian media companies must be better positioned to compete with them. This is about so much more than “taxing Netflix”; it must also be about clearing the way for strong Canadian companies.
In order to compete with multibillion-dollar — even trillion-dollar — foreign internet giants, Canadian media companies need enough scale to finance increasingly expensive programming and the freedom to make the types of shows audiences want to watch. Unfortunately, that is not possible today, not because we don’t aspire to do so, but because it is expressly forbidden.
Canadian broadcasting policy still regulates the type of content we can make, where we can get it from, and when we can broadcast it. To my knowledge, no other country’s regulatory and funding mechanisms are designed specifically to limit their home broadcasters from producing programming they can own outright and export internationally.
I am unaware of another Canadian business sector with this level of government intervention, or another sector of Canadian businesses rendered as uncompetitive by regulation. In an industry where size matters, our policies leave Canadian companies sub-scale. To my knowledge, no other Canadian businesses are required to pay a 10-per-cent tax on domestic ownership transactions when there is a change of control. Nor do other countries render levies to discourage their media companies from building scale to compete with the likes of Netflix, Google, Amazon and others.
We are eager to evolve with the times, grow our business and reinvest in Canada. We are doing what we can, but Canadian broadcasting policy must let us do more.
The future of Canadian media, and the stories, brands and talent it supports, literally depends on it.
Doug Murphy is president and CEO of Corus Entertainment.
© Financial Post