While a panel is still considering its recommendations for modernizing Canada’s broadcast legislation, Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez has signalled an intention to regulate digital streaming for the first time – if the Liberal government is re-elected this fall.
In a statement on Tuesday, Mr. Rodriguez wrote that the government intends to ensure that all players in the Canadian broadcasting system, “including the web giants,” are responsible for contributing to the broadcasting system. That includes providing “meaningful levels of Canadian content” on their services, promoting that content and making it easier to find, and contributing to the creation of Cancon.
The statement was a response to questions from reporters about a tweet by the minister last week, thanking a panel currently reviewing the Broadcasting Act for their work and saying that “we’ll require web giants to create Canadian content + promote it on their platforms.”
Mr. Rodriguez declined requests for an interview on Friday and on Monday, and press secretary Simon Ross declined to specify whether the minister meant that digital services should contribute financially, such as through spending level requirements of the kind currently enforced for TV broadcasters in Canada. The panel reviewing the Broadcasting Act will have to determine the form that a contribution takes, Mr. Ross said.
However, the statement is a signal to the panel on the direction the current government wants to take. The panel was appointed in June, 2018, to review the laws governing both the broadcast and telecommunications sectors, and released a report last week detailing recommendations put forward during months of consultations on the issue. The group will make their recommendations to the government by January.