Catching Up on – Parliamentary approval for Online Streaming Act; Australia mulls over its C-11.

Graphic from Irene Berkowitz’s 2019 report ‘Watchtime Canada’

April 29, 2023

Yesterday published some thoughts on the final Parliamentary approval of the Online Streaming Act, Bill C-11.

The sound and fury over the Bill continues to revolve around whether the CRTC will require algorithm-driven recommendations of Canadian videos and music on social media platforms.

It’s been well established that social media users — ranging from major movie studios to individual YouTubers— won’t be directly regulated as businesses, only YouTube will be. But their programs might be if they are sufficiently ‘commercial,’ a line drawing exercise delegated to the CRTC.

The point of our post is that the uncertainty over the eventual CRTC outcome is driving all the political noise and that more certainty might calm things down.


The Australian government’s 2021 News Media Bargaining Fund set the precedent for Canada’s Online News Act, Bill C-18. Now the Australians are following Canada’s lead on Bill C-11 with their own version of a Netflix Bill.

Still in policy development, the Australians are tossing around ideas of how the global streamers should contribute to local Australian content.

One of the settled issues is that global streamers won’t be invited to pay their fair share by purchasing programming rights for sports (Time Warner’s Paramount Plus just acquired rights to Australian football). The same with news.

An unsettled issue is how the streamers should meet Australian-content targets: by making their own dramas, documentaries and children’s programming, or by funding Australian media companies to do it?

The film production community wants the big streamers to commission their own made-in-Australia content, but the broadcasters just want the streamers to write a cheque and have no interest in having to bid against the web giants for broadcast rights to Australian shows.


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Howard Law

I am retired staff of Unifor, the union representing 300,000 Canadians in twenty different sectors of the economy, including 10,000 journalists and media workers. As the former Director of the Media Sector and as an unapologetic cultural nationalist, I have an abiding passion for public policy in Canadian media.

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