In a previous blog post, we covered the impact of Bill C-11 and how the proposed legislation would regulate social media and streaming companies in Canada. In spring 2023, Bill C-11 received Royal Assent, becoming the Online Streaming Act, and began amending the Broadcasting Act. This included the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) developing a three-phase approach to modernize Canada’s broadcasting system by implementing the amended Broadcasting Act. The goal of implementing the modernized system is to ensure that online streaming services will make meaningful contributions to Canadian and Indigenous content by providing opportunities for creators to tell their story, and providing Canadian users the opportunity to have greater variety and diversity in accessing this content by accounting and prioritizing their needs and interests in broadcast programming.
Three Phase Approach
- Phase 1 – Commenced in spring 2023, includes the Online Streaming Act receiving Royal Assent; the CRTC publishing its Regulatory Plan; the CRTC publishing an Information Bulletin to clarify technical details for broadcasters; consultations on registration requirements for certain online streaming services; reviewing exemption orders and basic conditions of services; and developing a framework for contribution that applies to traditional broadcasters and online streaming services.
- Phase 2 – Commencing in summer/fall 2023, includes public consultations on definitions of Canadian and Indigenous content, identifying tools in supporting Canadian music, video content, accessibility and competition, and ways of protecting consumers; focusing on the CRTC building and publishing updated versions of the Regulatory Plan; and refining expectations and requirements for different broadcasting services.
- Phase 3 – With the targeted launch date in late 2024, focuses on implementing the new regulations and policy decisions.
As of September 29, 2023, the CRTC has advanced its Regulatory Plan in modernizing Canada’s broadcasting framework by issuing two decisions. First, the CRTC is establishing a threshold that subjects only certain online streaming services to the new rules under the Online Streaming Act. Notably, online streaming services, not users, that offer broadcasting content in Canada and earn $10 million or more in annual revenues must first register with the CRTC before November 28, 2023 to provide their activity information. Second, these online streaming services operating in Canada must then provide the CRTC with information related to their content and subscribership and the comprehensive availability of content not tied to specific mobile or Internet services. A third consultation is currently ongoing to consider the contributions traditional broadcasters and online streaming services will need to support Canadian and Indigenous content.
As these two decisions have been issued, and other consultations and expected changes are currently underway, online streaming service companies must remain informed of these updates and take necessary actions to the extent that any updates apply to their services.
Thanks to Katie Cheung (firstname.lastname@example.org), articling student, for her assistance with this article.