Canada

Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly urges change at CBC, CRTC to boost Canadian content in digital age

The Liberal government is prepared to overhaul laws governing broadcasting, media and cultural industries, with Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly announcing Saturday a public consultation on how to support and promote Canadian content in the current digital climate.

Changes could 'strengthen the creation, discovery and export of Canadian content in a digital world'

Minister of Canadian Heritage Mélanie Joly told a newspaper she was willing to change laws, such as the Broadcasting Act and the Telecommunications Act, and modify the mandates of the CRTC and the CBC. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Canada's Liberal government is prepared to overhaul the country's laws governing broadcasting, media and cultural industries, with Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly announcing Saturday a public consultation on how to "strengthen the creation, discovery and export of Canadian content in a digital world."

"Canada's cultural and creative industries are important drivers of innovation and a vibrant part of our economy," says Joly

"As we adjust to the realities of rapid technological advances and changing consumer behaviour, I am launching consultations to better understand the challenges and opportunities brought on by this transformation."

Joly previously said CBC/Radio-Canada will receive $75 million in new funding in the 2016-2017 budget, to be followed by $150 beginning in 2017-2018. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

Joly told the Globe and Mail newspaper she was willing to change laws such as the Broadcasting Act and the Telecommunications Act, as well as modify the mandates of the CBC and the CRTC — Canada's broadcast regulator.

She added the government could create new laws or agencies based on the feedback by 2017, when she will also prepare a new cultural strategy with International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland.

Netflix as a gamechanger

The CRTC has long had requirements for networks to carry certain amounts of Canadian content. But it cut that quota drastically last year under the Conservative government, after the industry was shaken up by the arrivals of online media services such as Netflix.

Last year, Ottawa eliminated its 55-per-cent requirement for Canadian programming on daytime local TV, with the CRTC saying the protections were no longer relevant in a world of abundance and choice. However, during the weekday prime-time slot, from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., the requirement that 50 per cent of programming be Canadian remains.

Netflix arrived in Canada in late 2010 and does not have to ensure a quota of Canadian content. (Elise Amendola/Associated Press)

Also under the relaxed rules, specialty TV channels — which currently have Canadian content requirements that range from 15 per cent to 85 per cent — will see their CanCon requirements harmonized at 35 per cent overall. There will no longer be specific CanCon requirements for the evening hours on specialty channels. 

The regulator's decision is not expected to take effect until 2017. Netflix arrived in Canada in late 2010 and does not have to ensure a quota of Canadian content, which is usually less popular than big-budget U.S content.

Netflix and similar services have shaken up the industry by offering more choices than traditional subscription TV at a bargain price point. The number of Canadians cutting their cable cords, meanwhile, is soaring.​

With files from Reuters

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.