A key argument for Internet censorship is that film and TV is dying in Canada. It appears the numbers show otherwise.
An argument we’ve heard about why Internet censorship is necessary is because alleged pirate websites will cause revenue to shrink, thus ending thousands of jobs in the process. Some of these lobbyists are part of FairPlay Canada which includes Bell, Shaw, and the CBC. Now, new numbers are causing some to question whether Internet censorship is even needed.
A report is circulating now called Profile 2017 (PDF). The report was published by the Canadian Media Production Association. It highlights the state of the film and TV industry in Canada and it paints a very different picture from the falling sky claims made by some. Early on in the report, a summary of the findings look pretty impressive:
In fact, the report even goes so far as to say that the industry is experiencing an “explosion” in growth and doesn’t shy away from terms like “all-time high”:
It could be said that the 21st century world is one of massive production capacity, a time of scarce scarcity, an “age of abundance.” This was true in 2016/17, as the 21st edition of Profile illustrates. Indeed, if there is a common thread linking the various elements of the screen-based content sector in Canada, it is the content explosion. It is global viewers hungry for quality screen-based content. It is the proliferation of channels and platforms to deliver that content. It is the surge in production volumes and employment in Canada’s industry.
From the Canadian content user’s perspective, there has never been such an abundance of screen-based content, and ways to engage with it. Cumulatively, over the past five years, Canadian content creators have produced over 3,800 new television series and mini-series, over 1,200 theatrical feature films and television movies, and nearly 1,600 convergent digital media (CDM) productions. Each year, on average, 1,300 new Canadian content productions are added to Canada’s cumulative inventory of screen content. In 2016/17 alone, the industry produced 1,188 new television projects (i.e. series and other programs), 92 theatrical feature films, and 264 CDM productions. Production volumes in Canada in 2016/17 reached an all-time high of $8.38 billion.
The report further states that foreign investors are coming to Canada for the talent and opportunities. Why are foreign investors choosing Canada? It seems that current governmental legal framework and regulations are to thank for that. The report states, “Even the producers, distributors and exporters with the greatest international success have benefitted from a robust Canadian policy framework and support programs. A combination of tax credits, regulated contributions and exhibition requirements, public funding, and coproduction treaties and agreements has fostered both domestic and export-oriented content.”
As highlighted by Michael Geist, the record growth can be seen through charts like this:
The total volume of film and television production in Canada jumped by 24.3% to an all-time high of $8.38 billion in 2016/17.
The report goes so far as to break things down by province which show near universal growth:
From a general observation standpoint, this represents a direct hit on the suggestion that the industry is dying and government intervention is needed right now.
Moreover, this just adds to the list of reasons why Internet censorship shouldn’t be pursued in Canada. Already, questions are being raised as to whether or not such a system would run contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. On top of that, there is seemingly almost no public appetite to bring in such censorship regimes into Canada.
With justifications for bringing Internet censorship running thin, it’ll be interesting to see how lobbyists will react.