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Canada’s indie production sector steps up push for streaming regulation

Canada’s independent production sector is increasing its attempts to convince the federal government to pass new legislation that will bring global streaming players under domestic regulation.

Reynolds Mastin

The Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA), which represents more than 600 production companies, on Tuesday launched a new advocacy campaign urging the government to pass Bill C-11 (aka the Online Streaming Act) and “end the free ride for foreign web giants, currently able to operate outside of the country’s federal broadcasting legislation and regulations.”

The launch of the campaign, which includes advertising, social media content and a microsite laying out the issues, comes as the minister of Canadian heritage, Pablo Rodriguez, attempts to get new regulations passed into law.

The country’s broadcasting regulations have not been updated in over 30 years and, for the past decade, the local industry has been calling for modernised media laws that reflect the digital shift and arrival of streaming entities such as Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Paramount+ and Apple TV+. HBO Max does not exist as a standalone service in Canada, as Bell Media licenses HBO and HBO Max content through an exclusive deal and places it on local SVoD service Crave.

“Canada’s Broadcasting Act was last updated three decades ago when there was no home internet and no streaming services, and when VCRs were the height of on-demand technology. The world has changed, but our laws have not kept up,” said the CMPA’s president and CEO, Reynolds Mastin.

A previous incarnation of the proposed legislation, Bill C-10, came under fire from conservative critics who said the proposed amendments would open the door for Canada’s broadcasting regulator, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, to regulate user-generated content uploaded to social media.

Despite opposition to Bill C-10, the proposed legislation went all the way to the Senate of Canada last year – just shy of being passed into law – before the bill was killed when prime minister Justin Trudeau called a snap election in August. The revised Bill C-11 was introduced earlier this year.

“The hardworking people who work in Canadian film and television production are asking the government to level the playing field. We encourage supporters to let their elected officials know it’s time to pass the Online Streaming Act.”

Earlier in the year, at the CMPA’s annual Prime Time event, industry leaders including Valerie Creighton, president and CEO of Canada’s largest funding agency, the Canada Media Fund, backed Rodriguez to get the bill passed into law.

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