Canadian legislators are looking at changes to the Broadcasting Act that would see millions of dollars put towards Canadian content creation.

In November, the government formally introduced Bill C-10, which would update the Broadcasting Act. Changes to the act would mean that streaming services such as Netflix and YouTube would be considered broadcasters.

As broadcasters into Canada, these producers would be required to pay some taxes and/or have more Canadian content on their service. The government has estimated it could amount to over $800 million by 2023. Projections of the Canadian industry without Bill C-10 estimate a $1 billion decline in Canadian content production by 2023.

Bill C-10 has been seen as a way to level the playing field between streaming services and Canadian broadcasters. Currently, Canadian broadcasting companies are obliged to contribute a portion of revenues to home-grown content. If passed, the bill will require streaming services and online broadcasters to help fund Canadian productions as well.

3 Ways to Prepare Now for Bill C-10

So what does it mean for producers if online streaming services become designated as broadcasters? Here are three things you can do now to prepare for the changes.

1. Consider the financials. According to Statista, Canadian-only production brought in $2.23 billion in 2019, up from $2.98 billion the previous year. With online streaming services contributing to local production, that amount will escalate substantially. Organizations wanting to be involved will need to have flawless financial reporting processes. This includes having a reliable tracking and recording method for production costs, distribution, and licensing costs. You’ll want to ensure that the tech you use for the financial tracking of projects is capable of scaling up when needed.

2. Plan to manage more projects. Companies and producers that want to increase the number of Canadian productions will need to have an acceptable method for managing several projects simultaneously. While this often goes without saying, not all software has what it takes. You’ll need a solution that can manage development projects, submissions, work samples and more while enabling you to share comments with your team and generate pre-greenlight options.

3. Know what makes content Canadian. Since the bill’s introduction, there has been some debate about what makes a project a Canadian one. Many productions simply rent space at Canadian studios but bring their own team. Bill C-10 aims to create more content that tells Canadian stories. In particular, stories of the country’s minorities, such as the indigenous people.

Responses to Bill C-10

Bill C-10 has been met with a mixed response. While Canadian talent seems to be looking forward to expanding production, some critics claim the bill may cause online streaming services to back out of the country.

President of the Canadian Media Producers Association, Reynolds Mastin, said they were happy the government was offering support to communities that have been under-represented in the country’s media landscape.

Mastin also said that keeping intellectual property ownership in Canada was vital.
“IP is the new currency of the global economy and we must ensure Canadian producers from all backgrounds are well-positioned to compete on the world stage,” he said in a written statement. Critics of the bill also note that updating the Canadian content regulations is needed, which hasn’t been updated for decades. They claim that Canadian content should be more about telling Canadian stories rather than just have production completed in Canada.

They also claim that regulation isn’t the answer. “With no long-term commitment and plenty of competition, subscribers will leave if they do not find programming that appeals to them,” Dr. Michael Geist, a law professor at the University of Ottawa, wrote in a blog. “If the culture sector is right, their success in Canada is directly linked to offering Canadian programming and ensuring that their subscribers are able to find it. In this scenario, it is not regulation that drives access to Canadian content but rather subscriber demand.” Regulation of the changes would fall to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). The public body would be responsible for creating the conditions that online broadcasters would have to follow. The CRTC will also be given the power to determine what services will be regulated.