Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge has issued the final policy direction to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) for the regulation of Bill C-11, after it initiated a public proceeding in June.
The legislation, which forces streaming services like Netflix, Disney Plus, and YouTube to pay to support Canadian media content, faced years of pushback, mostly over concerns that user-generated content will be clamped down on.
But the final policy direction shows that social media and digital creators, including podcasts, and video games will, in fact, not be subjected to the law.
The Canadian government assigned two years for the CRTC to spearhead major consultations and hearings, tasked to define Canadian content, engage with Indigenous People, equity seeking groups, ensure regulations are fair, and flexible, and more.
The first hearing, slated to start on Nov. 20 and last three weeks, will consider the contributions online streaming services will need to make to support Canadian and Indigenous content.
“Canadians can expect open, transparent, and respectful consultations leading to timely decisions,” said the CRTC in a statement.
In an interview with The Globe and Mail, St-Onge claimed that “things are happening rapidly and that time is of the essence,” adding that Canada’s broadcasting system, and the people working in it, need help right away.
University of Ottawa internet law professor, Michael Geist contended in a blog post that the Bill C-11 process was never going to be fast because the government left so much to regulatory processes.
“Despite numerous efforts to include greater specificity in the bill, the government rejected most amendments, leaving it to the CRTC to figure things out.”
St-Onge also blamed the Conservatives for “scaremongering”, spreading disinformation about the bill, and delaying its passage.
The Conservatives promised to repeal the act should they form a government, reiterating censorship and overreach concerns.