Canadian content rules need updating, the majority of respondents in a new online poll said — but people had more divided views on whether online media should be subject to the same regulations as traditional media.
The online poll conducted by the Angus Reid Institute comes after Federal Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly announced in April a period of public consultation around current broadcasting and content regulations, with the possibility of changes to laws and agencies as soon as 2017.
Roughly 56 per cent of the 1,517 Canadians surveyed said online media should not be subject to the same types of CRTC regulation as traditional media, while 44 per cent said all media should be regulated the same.
When asked by pollsters whether existing policies "do a good job of promoting" Canadian cultural content, 40 per cent said yes, 26 per cent said no and the rest were uncertain.
However, 60 per cent of those surveyed replied that the current Cancon regulations need to be reviewed and updated.
The survey's release coincides with CTV's announcement it would cancel Canada AM after 43 years, a change that could leave a "big hole" in the Canadian content spectrum depending on what replaces it, said Shachi Kurl, executive director of Angus Reid.
Overall, Kurl said that Canadians support media regulations, but want a more "hands off" approach online.
This is especially true among Canadians aged 18 to 34, she said, who use newer media such as Spotify and Netflix.
Young people often see stars, including Justin Bieber, who were discovered on YouTube and perceive it as "doing it on their own," Kurl said.
"The argument has yet to be made for these younger Canadians that protection, supports and government regulation is something that will enable Canadian content to thrive," she said.
Protect and promote culture
A majority of respondents, 61 per cent, said Canadian culture is unique and needs government support to survive, while the remaining 39 per cent said Canadian media "will be fine without specific protection policies and support from government."
Respondents across the country supported cultural protection, with Quebecers having the most support at 70 per cent and Albertans showing the lowest support at 54 per cent.
Kurl said that even though the majority of Canadians still support regulation, it may not stay that way.
"Across Canada, two in five [people] or more think that actually it's time to take the reins off," she said. "It's not the majority view, but it's a growing view."
The polls by the Angus Reid Institute were conducted between May 10 and 13, 2016, interviewing 1,517 Canadians via the internet. A probabilistic sample of this size would yield a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.