CRTC Locks Out Non-Mainstream Media Voices Before Technical Briefing

Worry that the CRTC is picking sides in the contentious Online Streaming Act debate grew after independent voices were denied.

One of the long running complaints about the Bill C-11 legislative process is that lawmakers were heavily siding with their lobbyist buddies at the expense of every day Canadians. Creators who have been happily growing their online business and expanding their reach were routinely ignored, told they didn’t know what they are talking about, gaslighted, and even threatened with politically motivated “investigations” for the crime of criticizing the bill. Experts also weighed in and agreed with content creators only to be subject to accusations of being “shills for Big Tech” or told that they are all just wrong among other things.

As a result of a rather one-sided set of hearings, calls to fix the legislation and ensure that it doesn’t ruin the careers of content creators went ignored and the bill was largely passed unchanged at the senate. What little progress was made in the legislation was then rejected by the Heritage Minister and rammed through the royal assent process. This in a massive bid to appease their lobbyist pals as the government did everything they said.

The legislation has since been working through a delayed CRTC process where creators made some last ditch efforts to save their own careers. While the chances are low that the regulatory captured CRTC will even bother to listen to Canadian creators, it was ultimately worth a shot. Unsurprisingly, things are looking bad for Canadian creators as a ruling suggests that digital first creators are subject to platforms forking money over to mainstream media companies and the cultural elite. Google responded by coughing up the money earned by independent creators, but then proceeded to sue the CRTC over it. Hey, at least the company is doing something to protect the careers of creators, so there’s that.

Recently, however, there was the possibility that the CRTC could start meddling in algorithms before the year is out before even holding a hearing on defining what Canadian content even is. The move has raised a lot of eyebrows and fresh worries that the shoe was going to drop for Canadian creators as they see their audience disappear due to downranking caused by CRTC algorithmic meddling.

An announcement was made about an up and coming technical briefing about how the CRTC was planning on moving forward with the meddling of algorithms. An invitation was presumably sent out to mainstream media companies who have long been pushing for these changes so they don’t have to worry about competition. Scott Benzie, founder of Digital First Canada, in response, requested to be part of the technical briefing. Digital First Canada is, of course, an organization that represents creators who use online platforms for their careers. His request was denied:

Rejected! Hey @CRTCeng do you have a list of “qualified” media? Can @mgeist join? how about @JesseBrown? They are media….podcasts are great you should check it out.

The English part of the image reads as follows:

Thank you for your interest in our technical media briefing. Unfortunately, this is for media outlets only and w are unable to accommodate additional registrations at this time.

In other words, voices who just so happen to agree with this legislation are invited, but those who don’t agree are mysteriously not invited. This, understandably, is leading to worries that important questions won’t be asked. If creators are hoping to have their voices heard here, they are seemingly out of luck.

The move ultimately highlights, yet again, just how one-sided the whole process is. The large media companies get their exclusive club and can shape what is said while people who are at high risk of being negatively impacted will get locked out of the process. It’s asinine, but not surprising given the obvious levels of corruption we’ve seen throughout the legislative process in regards to this bill.

Drew Wilson on Mastodon, Twitter and Facebook.

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