Jesse Brown: Does CanCon have a digital future?


By Jesse Brown, CBC technology columnist.

Canadian radio and television must contain a certain percentage of content made in Canada, by Canadians, and about Canadians. So sayeth the CRTC. But so far, the CRTC has kept its hands off of the Internet.

That may soon change.

This February, the CRTC is holding a public hearing on its New Media Exemption rule - a decision that dates back to 1999, when people still said "New Media".

They've asked for input from key players, and around 150 various stakeholders have chimed in.

Among them is Google, which is encouraging the CRTC to leave well enough alone. To quote its brief,

"the New Media Exemption is the best regulatory approach to keeping the Internet awesome."
What a Googly thing to say!

Google goes on to argue that CanCon is doing just fine on the Internet without the CRTC's help, thanks very much. By including User Generated (Canadian) Content in its calculations, it figures that:

"even if ...CBC, CTV and Canwest Global increased their Canadian content to 24 hours per day, YouTube would still have more Canadian content than those three television networks combined."

So what'll it be, CRTC - a thousand adorable puppies or Peter Mansbridge?

Or, to ask the CRTC a couple more practical questions:

  • How could you regulate CanCon on the Internet anyway, even if you wanted to?
  • If everyone ends up getting their TV and radio through the Internet, will CanCon rules even matter?