Advanced Television

Canada: CRTC calls for digital creative levy

June 1, 2018

By Colin Mann

As consumption of audio and video content shifts to digital, all services should contribute to ensure a vibrant domestic market, according to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

The call came in a report on the future of programming in Canada. The report proposes to the government new tools and regulatory approaches to support the production and promotion of audio and video content made by and for Canadians.

The CRTC says the Internet plays a central role in the emerging digital media environment. Although traditional services will continue to evolve and play an important role, that role will become smaller in the coming years. Canadians will rely more and more on the Internet to discover and consume music, entertainment, news and other information.

New and innovative approaches are required to support content made by Canadians and ensure they can seize the many opportunities made possible by the digital era.

The CRTC proposes that any future policy approaches to content and its distribution should:

  • Focus on the production and promotion of high-quality content made by Canadians that is discoverable by audiences in Canada and abroad.
  • Recognise that there are social and cultural responsibilities associated with operating in Canada. All players benefitting from the Canadian broadcasting system should participate in an appropriate and equitable manner.
  • Be nimble, innovative and continuously capable of rapidly adapting to changes in technology and consumer demand.

In its report, the CRTC sets out certain policy options that could help ensure a vibrant domestic market, including:

  • Replace prescriptive licensing with comprehensive and binding service agreements for all video and audio services offered in Canada and drawing revenue from Canadians.
  • A restructured funding strategy to ensure sustainable support for content production and promotion in the future, including the participation of television service providers, radio stations, and wireless and Internet service providers.
  • The development by government, in consultation with stakeholders, of national and cross-sectoral strategies.

“Canadians have access to a wide range of content on multiple online platforms, as well as through traditional radio and television services,” said Ian Scott, Chairperson and CEO of the CRTC. “While this evolution is a good thing, it has an impact on the traditional model that was designed to provide support for programming made by and for Canadians. At the government’s request, we have looked at how our stories can continue to be told and our broadcasting system can remain vibrant. Our digital-first report identifies possible options for a future where high-quality Canadian content continues to be produced, promoted and discovered.”

The CRTC held two public consultation periods, conducted public opinion research and reached out to multiple stakeholders to ensure the report provides a fact-based picture of the present market and where it may be going. The resultant report offers important context and policy options to inform the government’s review of the Broadcasting Act and the Telecommunications Act.

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