Canadian Media Falls for Misleading CRTC Ruling on Online Streaming Act Hook, Line, and Sinker

The Canadian media apparently took a recent CRTC decision on the Online Streaming Act at face value and published incorrect news articles.

Yesterday, we published a detailed analysis of the recent CRTC ruling on the Online Streaming Act (formerly Bill C-11). The conclusions of our analysis was that user generated content is still in while the CRTC tried to use slippery language to mislead the reader into honestly believing that user generated content is out.

Let’s rewind the main criticism of the legislation – that being that it regulates user generated content. How does the Act accomplish this? Simply put, it promotes government approved speech known as “Cancon” over other forms of content on platforms. So, if you post a cooking video and your content would normally get promoted to users who enjoy watching cooking video’s, the algorithm unfairly promotes something produced on Global TV over you simply because that content was registered and approved as “Cancon” content over your own. It doesn’t matter if you are Canadian and you produced that content in Canada, your video gets downranked as a result.

The recent CRTC ruling ultimately didn’t change that aspect. Here’s one of the excerpts that proved this including what the media seems to be latching on today:

Social media creators and video games

10. The Commission is directed not to impose regulatory requirements on:

(a) online undertakings in respect of the programs of social media creators, including podcasts; and
(b) broadcasting undertakings in respect of the transmission of video games.

Regulations — section 4.2 of the Act

11. In exercising its powers under section 4.2 of the Act, the Commission is directed to set out clear, objective and readily ascertainable criteria, including criteria that ensure that the Act only applies in respect of programs that have been broadcast, in whole or in significant part, by a broadcasting undertaking that is required to be carried on under a licence or that is required to be registered with the Commission but does not provide a social media service.

(emphasis mine)

Despite the first half of this excerpt, the second half perfectly and cleanly overrules that, putting the debate back at square one. As a result, we basically did our job in showcasing that the ruling changes little in the debate. Today, we are finding out that we are one of the few out there that actually did our job. Large Canadian media outlets have been running headlines today that basically said that user generated content won’t be affected by the Online Streaming Act which… is completely inaccurate. Take, for instance, the CBC which published this headline:

Social media creators, podcasts won’t be regulated under Liberals’ online streaming law

The article goes on to state this:

The CRTC has also said it will not regulate content creators, whether they upload makeup tutorials, review restaurants, dance to music trends, promote their local businesses or criticize the government.

This is, of course, completely wrong. The CRTC did not clear digital first creators in the slightest. They will still have government mandated content promoted over them. This is especially the case with YouTube which is one of the largest platforms on the planet.

Of course, the CBC is far from the only wrote to publish a dead wrong article on this. There was also this article published on MSN:

This version specifies that social media creators, podcasts, and video games are exempt from the regulation.

CTV also screwed up in their reporting:

Social-media creators, podcasts won’t be regulated under Liberal online streaming law

The ironic part of that article is that a later paragraph should’ve clued the reporter in that something doesn’t add up here:

On Tuesday, Canadian Heritage issued its final direction to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission on the legislation in order to scope in streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon, YouTube and Apple because they also broadcast commercial content.

(emphasis mine)

You would think that if the author was writing that, including YouTube would get them to think, “Wait a minute. YouTube has user generated content. If the government is regulating that service, does that mean user generated content might be affected?” If that thought crossed that journalists mind, it should’ve prompted the journalist to go back and re-read the ruling with questions in mind. Questions like, “How is YouTube regulated, yet social media content is out?” A careful re-reading of the decision would’ve saved that journalist the embarrassment of publishing a completely wrong news article.

Broadcast Dialogue also messed this story up:

Canadian Heritage Min. Pascale St-Onge has released the final policy direction around the Online Streaming Act to the CRTC, clarifying that social media, digital creators, podcasts and video games will be exempt from regulation.

iPolitics was also guilty of publishing an erroneous article:

The Liberal government has released its final policy direction for the Online Streaming Act, requiring digital giants to contribute to Canadian content while leaving individual content creators alone.

(that version of that story is reg-walled, but may be also read on Windsor Star if you want to read the whole article)

A legitimate argument can be made that this may be a case of lazy journalism. I can definitely see a reporter just skimming the ruling, then writing accordingly and having the rest of the media simply pick up the story from there, magnifying the bad reporting after. Either way, this is a perfect demonstration of how the Canadian media has failed Canadian’s. It’s an impressively big faceplant by the media. Lucky for you, you have people like myself here to set the record straight. I mean, someone has to set the record straight, right? From personal experience, that is nothing new from me as this is far from the first time I got to humiliate the mainstream media.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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