Online Streaming Act (Bill C-11) – Where Things Stand Today

We haven’t covered the Online Streaming Act (Bill C-11) lately. Here’s what’s happening and where things go to from here.

You might have noticed that the coverage of Bill C-11 has slowed down quite a bit around here. Although the odd minor development happened here and there, there hasn’t been a whole lot that was really worth reporting on lately. This especially with all the complete insanity that is the Online News Act (formerly Bill C-18). Unfortunately, because of the general drop in coverage elsewhere, it can be difficult to really discern what all is happening right now. So, for those who are kind of wondering what all is happening right now, hopefully, this article will fill in some of those gaps.

Well, in June, we noted that numerous smaller streaming organizations were threatening to pull out. In addition to this, other streaming services like Disney+ were pulling their investment money out of Canada in the midst of the chaos that is Bill C-11. Probably the only other noteworthy development is the fact that pretty much everyone who partook in the CRTC hearings have been asking for exemptions. One example being MindGeek who is asking for an exemption to pornographic content because pornography isn’t exactly a cultural staple in this context. It’s actually a reasonable ask. From the Globe and Mail report (probably paywalled):

MindGeek argues pornography sites should be exempted as well. “As elemental as explicit adult entertainment is to the human condition, it is not an expression of Canadian cultural identity that Canadians expect the federal government to protect,” it states.

The private-equity firm that bought MindGeek says in a separate CRTC submission that if porn is also not exempted from the act, its producers must be able to “access Commission funds to support production of Canadian adult film.”

Ethical Capital Partners, which bought MindGeek this year for an undisclosed sum, also argues that before regulating the industry, the federal government must also address issues including stigma and discrimination of people performing in adult films.

“To impose regulation on the adult industry without first establishing, or even laying the groundwork, for sex worker rights in Canada would be putting the cart before the horse,” it says.

Sarah Bain, a partner at Ethical Capital Partners, said the company believes “stigma, discrimination, criminalization, labour issues, access to funding, and the ability to host healthy discourse around all sexualities and gender-related topics need to be addressed before Canada can equitably regulate online adult content.”

MindGeek is far from alone in requesting exemptions of course, but this is one example of companies saying that the regulations make no sense when it comes to imposing them on certain industries. Perhaps one notable industry is the traditional broadcast industries. In the same consultation, despite the bluster about “telling Canadian stories”, a number of companies have been rather forceful in trying to ensure they aren’t the ones shouldered with it. Companies in the traditional space have gone so far as to requesting that regulations be relaxed when it comes to broadcasting and/or producing Canadian content so they aren’t so heavily burdened with that as a condition of their licenses.

Ultimately, no one wants to be part of this regulatory framework and some are just hoping that someone else gets to be regulated instead.

Of course, there has been that slowdown in coverage as of late and there appears to be good reason for that. Going back to our coverage of the original Online Streaming Act timeline, there is a notable gap in hearings. The next set is said to take place in the Fall of this year. In the original hearing plan page, the only thing that appears to be ongoing is a consultation. You might think that this is going on now, but in looking at the calendar, the only reference to this is located on November 20th. So, it sounds like the public hearing won’t happen until after the next set of consultations take place in the Fall.

So, there may be some developments that happen on this file between now and the fall, but things have definitely slowed down. Critical steps in the process won’t happen for some months yet. If there was anyone out there thinking I had forgotten about this whole debate, don’t worry, it wasn’t forgotten by any means. It’s just going to be a bit harder for big developments happening in the next little while is all. This is because things are more or less on hold for the time being.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: