Week 2: Inside the Senate Schedule on Bill C-11 Hearings

This week, there are going to be more hearings on Bill C-11. We take a look at next weeks meetings.

Earlier this month, we looked in advance at the Senate schedule. Admittedly, at the time, we were under the impression that this might be the only hearings that were going to be held on the legislation. As it turns out, that is not the case as more hearings are forthcoming including beyond this week.

One thing we did note is the fact that the Senate hearings seemed to be slightly tilted towards those who support the legislation. While this may be a sign that this is a process run by corporate lobbyists from established broadcasters, it is actually less obvious then the comically tilted House of Commons hearings where critics were kept to a minimum and seemingly reserved to be a verbal abuse punching bag after delivering thoughtful and insightful remarks on the legislation. Improvement from that is a very low bar, but the Senate did fairly easily get above that bar.

Something that was noted by the Chair during the last hearing is the fact that time constraints were quite loose (multiple hearings ran over time). The reason for this is the fact that the Bill C-11 hearings were the only hearings that were happening last week. So, in the interest of fairness, time constraints are going to be more strictly adhered to because the schedule is now much more full. Looking at the schedule, that is very easy to confirm.

Judging by the schedule, it looks like there will be half as many hearings as before. There are two meetings on the schedule. Here’s the first:

September 20, 2022 9:00 AM ET

The subject matter of Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts

Brad Danks, Chief Executive Officer OUTtv
Aldo Di Felice, Co-Founder and President, TLN Media Group Inc. Canadian Ethnocultural Media Coalition
Monika Ille, Chief Executive Officer Aboriginal Peoples Television Network
Joan Jenkinson, Executive Director Black Screen Office
Nancy Juneau, Chairman of the Board Fédération culturelle canadienne-française
Marie-Christine Morin, Director General Fédération culturelle canadienne-française
Lisa Valencia-Svensson, Managing Director Racial Equity Media Collective
Madeline Ziniak, Co-Founder and Chair, Canadian Ethnic Media Association Canadian Ethnocultural Media Coalition

So, another hearing that involves traditional broadcasters. In fact, looking back at the previous meetings, it looks like this is the third hearing where Senators are hearing from broadcasters. So, we are already seeing an over-representation of traditional broadcasters – the very organizations lobbying for this bill in the first place.

After that, we see this:

September 21, 2022 6:45 PM ET

The subject matter of Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts

Andrew Cash, President and Chief Executive Officer Canadian Independent Music Association
Simon Claus, Analyst, Regulatory Affairs Association québécoise de l’industrie du disque, du spectacle et de la vidéo
Steve de Eyre, Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs, Canada TikTok
Eve Paré, Executive Director Association québécoise de l’industrie du disque, du spectacle et de la vidéo
Jeanette Patell, Head of Canada Government Affairs and Public Policy YouTube
Jérôme Payette, Executive Director Association des professionnels de l’édition musicale
Patrick Rogers, Chief Executive Officer Music Canada

So, a mixture of the platforms and the music industry. Some might balk at the idea of Music Canada given the history that organization has with technology, however, we happen to know that even Music Canada is expressing concern about the bill as well. A moment I described as “Hell freezing over” because I don’t remember a time where the major record labels have found themselves on side with digital rights in any other debate before that moment. A very pleasant surprise to say the least.

I’m personally not familiar with the other music groups position on Bill C-11, but if Music Canada is seeing problems (and they are very right in raising concerns over user generated content given the detrimental impact it would have on their members as well as their artists), that very likely increases the odds that other members in the music industry are growing rather worried about where this legislation is headed.

As for the platforms, obviously they are probably going to adopt similar approach to the other platforms we’ve previously heard from. In all likelihood, they’ll be asking about clarity of the rules and agreeing with digital rights advocates about Section 4.1 (2) and 4.2.

Maybe we’ll see something interesting that goes outside of this, but we do have a vague idea of where these hearings might be headed. If those we are uncertain about do ultimately join the opposition, then this looks like a more balanced set of hearings.

One thing that is worth observing is how those who would be most affected by this – digital first creators – haven’t really been represented yet. A source did tell Freezenet that names have been brought forth, but no word has been received that they have been specifically asked to appear before Senators. That offers quite the contrast to traditional broadcasters because, so far, the number of hearings for both are traditional broadcasters 3, digital first creators 0. From the sounds of things, we are still in the early days of hearings, so this might change, however, that is starting to be a worrying trend.

We’ll continue to provide in-depth coverage of the hearings moving forward as best we can.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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