Bill C-11: Streaming Act Passed in Senate


Big tech companies offering streaming services may soon be required to contribute to Canadian content as the controversial Freedom bill moves one step closer to becoming law.

The Senate passed a streaming bill known as Bill C-11 with dozens of amendments after a lengthy study by senators.

The bill would update Canada’s broadcasting rules to reflect streaming giants like YouTube, Netflix and Spotify, and require them to contribute to Canadian content and make it accessible to users in Canada. access that content — or you’ll be fined heavily.

Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez said he expects the House of Commons to pass the bill next week after reviewing the Senate changes.

The senators made amendments to protect user-generated content and highlight the promotion of Indigenous languages ​​and Black content creators.

They also include a change that would ban CBC from producing sponsored content, and another that would require companies to verify users’ ages before they access pornographic material.

Rodriguez said on Thursday that the Liberal government would not accept all of the Senate’s recommendations, but he did not say which he disagreed with.

“We’ll see when the bill comes back. There are amendments that don’t affect the bill. And other amendments that do, and those amendments, we won’t accept them,” the minister said. learned Thursday during a conference of the Canadian Association of Media Producers.

The Senate also removed a provision in the bill that Senator Paula Simons described as giving “special new powers to the government to make political decisions about everything.”

Ian Scott, former chair of the Canadian Telecommunications and Television Commission, told a Senate committee that some provisions in the bill shifted the equilibrium “a little bit closer to less independence.” ‘ by the regulator – although he insisted that would happen. keep independent.

The CRTC, now led by Vicky Eatrides, will be tasked with enforcing the bill’s provisions.

The Senate passed the bill on the anniversary of its introduction in the House of Representatives.

Between the House and Senate, there were about 218 witnesses, 43 meetings, 119 abstracts and 73 proposed amendments, Rodriguez said.

“It’s the longest bill,” he said.

The proposed law has come under scrutiny amid accusations by companies and critics that it leaves too much room for the government to control user-generated content and social media algorithms.

Rodriguez said the tech giants can get creative with the ways they promote Canadian content, such as with billboards, ads or, if they choose, tweaking their algorithms.

The bill has also attracted the attention of the United States. Its embassy in Ottawa recently said it was holding consultations with US companies it fears could face discrimination if the bill passes.

Last week, two US senators called for trade sanctions against Canada over Bill C-11, saying the upcoming law flouted trade agreements.

“I’m not worried, because we think it’s in compliance with commercial obligations,” said Rodriguez.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on February 2, 2023.

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