CRTC Chair: Bill C-11 Doesn’t Regulate User Generated Content Because it Regulates User Generated Content

CRTC chair, Ian Scott, has said that Bill B-11 doesn’t regulate user control… because it regulates user generated content.

We’re at the point of wondering if Bill C-11 supporters can’t help but make stupid comments to the media. One of those supporters is CRTC hair, Ian Scott. Scott, of course, has already made an attempt last month to try and offer reassurances about Bill C-11. Those reassurances fell flat with experts describing the speech as an April fools joke. Scott remarked that Bill C-11 doesn’t regulate user generated content because the CRTC doesn’t think the bill mandates them to do anything. The test of the bill pretty much debunked those claims.

So, while the speech, hilariously published on April 1st, was a disaster, it seems that Scott isn’t done yet. Scott has made some comments in the media about how he thinks Bill C-11 doesn’t regulate user generated content. The comments popped up in the Windsor Star:

“It is not the focus of the CRTC. Regulating it will not be in the public interest and will not contribute to the system,” Scott said at industry conference IIC Canada. “We have lots of things to do. We don’t need to start looking at user-generated content.”

So, if the text of the bill says otherwise, what reassurance does the chair have that the regulator won’t go after user generated content? Basically, he pinky swears that he won’t do it:

Scott said even if the bill does give the CRTC that power, the commission won’t use it. “There’s just no purpose in regulating user-generated content,” he said.

If you are making a living creating user generated content, would you bet your whole livelihood on a chairperson totally pinky swearing he won’t do what the bill says that the CRTC would do? Probably not.

So, what does Bill C-11 do instead of user generated content according to Scott?

“We might ask a player, how are you going to make your Canadian content more visible?” Scott said. “And that’s perfectly acceptable and appropriate as part of the regulatory regime.”

OK, serious question: does Scott even understand the words that are coming out of his mouth? Basically, Scott said that Bill C-11 doesn’t regulate user generated content. All it does is regulate user generated content and that it’s perfectly acceptable.

One of the things we have been wondering in this debate is this: “how do you even separate the platforms from user generated content?” As far as we can tell, there is no real way to do this. When you remove the content from the platforms, what’s left of the platform? The comments section? Random accounts to a platform with nothing on it? Some algorithms that manage content that doesn’t exist? The bottom line is this: without user generated content, you don’t really have much of a platform with the likes of YouTube. The distinction between platform and content is almost non-existent, but the real question is whether or not any of the Bill C-11 supporters know this.

Based on Scott’s comments, at least some of them don’t know this. In their minds, sites like YouTube have loads of content made by YouTube and only a handful of cat video’s. It’s completely divorced from what sites like YouTube actually are: a hosting platform for video’s. The most you are ever going to come to finding content on YouTube is a handful of channels and a couple of extra video’s floating around. This isn’t even a drop in the bucket in terms of overall content on that site.

So, for those who have missed how Scott says that the legislation does regulate user generated content, you can look at an article we wrote in June of last year about how the legislation affects user generated content. The short of it is, there is a limited number of spaces for recommendations. When the government demands that a certain number of video’s are “cancon”, then that eliminates a number of those spaces (and, therefore, possibilities that your video will crop up).

What’s more is that what qualifies as “cancon” isn’t just “you are a creator in Canada”. As we explained back in March, the rules for qualifying to be “cancon” are so archaic and out of date, a vast majority of Canadian creators making content in Canada don’t have a shot at being qualified as “cancon”. It’s purely thanks to the CRTC points system that makes this happen.

Some supporters have suggested that they just have to register their company to qualify for grants, but this completely ignores the realities of how user generated content is produced today. Digital first creators are, more often then not, individuals or partners making content with minimal resources. They are not companies with editing crews, directors, “picture editors”, and screenwriters. It’s 1970’s style thinking applied in 2022 with foreseen disaster being as obvious as the nose on Scotts face.

The reality is that, at its core, Bill C-11 is a solution looking for a problem. What’s more is that it views the established broadcasters as the players that “should have won” in the world where the information superhighway highway reigns supreme. The way it is set up is that, even though the large broadcasters didn’t do anything to react to the Internet age, Canadian’s should be force fed that content anyway until that content is successful online. What’s more is that it views those “pesky teenagers” who managed to make some decent cash in the online ecosystem as part of the problem and thinks they should be shoved aside for the all important established broadcasters.

Any reasonable cursory reading of the bill and a half decent understanding of how recommendations work in social media will invariably draw the same or similar conclusions at the end of the day. The days where the VHS tape has long since past. The world has changed since then. Placing arbitrary rules modelled on that environment is destined for failure.

The only thing Scott accomplished with these latest remarks is confirm that he has no idea what Bill C-11 actually does, nor has he even taken the time to understand what effects Bill C-11 would have on platforms, the users, and the content that is on them. Even when Liberals were pressed on how digital first creators would benefit from this legislation, the response was, in a nutshell, “I don’t know“. That, alone, should tell you everything you need to know about how much user generated content was even considered in these debates.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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