April 16, 2023
Yesterday MediaPolicy.ca published our regular weekend blog post. It covered the Broadcasting Participation Fund’s approaching funding crisis.
The BPF is a non-profit organization that funds public interest advocates whom appear before the CRTC on files that are especially important to Canadian audiences and subscribers (consumer advocates for issues arising out of broadband and wireless regulation are covered by a parallel scheme under the Telecommunications Act).
The BPF issued a press release last week highlighting what has been known for a few years: its dwindling financing is captive to a series of ad hoc contributions from big media companies like Bell as a condition of the Commission approving their mergers and acquisitions. Otherwise, the BPF has no predictable source of income.
What the press release didn’t say —-and MediaPolicy.ca overlooked—- was that Bill C-11 has a fix for that situation as follows:
11.1 (1) The Commission may make regulations respecting expenditures to be made by persons carrying on broadcasting undertakings for the purposes of…
(c) supporting participation by persons, groups of persons or organizations representing the public interest in proceedings before the Commission under this Act.
That change had been recommended in January 2020 by the government’s blue-ribbon advisory panel, the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Legislative Review committee (sometimes known as the ‘Yale Committee’ in the name of its chair).
The government acted upon it in Bill C-11. Contrary to MediaPolicy.ca’s previous post, the recommendation did not fall on deaf ears.
The regulation contemplated in section 11.1 (1) (c) could result in a sustainable stream of income for the BPF, or any another public interest organization, financed by ‘broadcasting undertakings.’ Under C-11, those broadcasters include not only Bell and the other big Canadian media companies, but also Netflix, Disney, YouTube and other foreign online undertakings.
A companion recommendation made by the Yale Committee was for the CRTC to develop further transparency and reporting obligations for public interest groups receiving this broadcaster-originated funding.
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2 thoughts on “The Broadcasting Participation Fund – A Correction”
Classy correction. I tried the link to the press release and it didn’t work properly( at least for me). .
Me too. It’s them, not me.