A modernized Broadcasting Act is coming…

November 3, 2020

Dear ACTRA Members,

I want to thank all of you for helping your union make history today following the introduction of long-awaited legislation by the federal government to modernize Canada’s Broadcasting Act (Bill C-10). The two main goals of this Bill are to bring online streaming services into the broadcasting system and equip the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) with the necessary tools. ACTRA has focused much of our lobbying efforts over the years on changes to the Broadcasting Act so this is a big win for Canadian performers and our industry.

If the proposed legislative changes are passed, and the CRTC requires online broadcasters to contribute to Canadian content at a similar rate as traditional broadcasters, online broadcasters’ contributions to Canadian music and stories could amount to as much as $830 million per year by 2023.

While the legislation introduced today is only a first step, the proposed changes will help strengthen our industry and lead to increased investment in Canadian content production and, by extension, increased work opportunities for Canadian performers. Some of the changes include:

  • The inclusion of online broadcasters, such as streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, will fall within the scope of the Act.
  • More fair and equitable treatment between online and traditional broadcasters, which will allow governing bodies to require a certain level of Canadian programs be showcased on streaming platforms and/or require online broadcasters to make financial contributions to support Canadian music, stories, creators and producers.
  • Update policy to better serve the needs and interests of all Canadians and Indigenous peoples, including individuals from racialized communities and of diverse ethnocultural backgrounds, socioeconomic statuses, abilities and disabilities, sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions and ages.

The government has also stated there will be additional reforms made to modernize the Act, which may include:

  • Assessing which online broadcasters should be regulated and ensuring they are required to contribute appropriately to the broadcasting system.
  • Ensuring support for programs created and produced by racialized groups, official language minority communities, women, Indigenous peoples, and LGBTQ+ communities.
  • Revisiting how “Canadian programs” are defined for the purposes of broadcasting regulatory obligations and ensuring this definition takes into account other relevant federal Canadian content policies, and recognizes the importance of Canadian intellectual property ownership.
  • Considering additional regulatory credits for broadcasting activities that are culturally desirable, but otherwise less likely to be produced.

While there is still work to do to create a more modern and equitable broadcasting system in Canada, this is a positive first step. ACTRA will further analyze the bill in the coming weeks to assess its impact on our industry and will participate in any government consultation process about the proposed legislation. The federal government will need to work across party lines before this bill can become law. You can help ensure the voices of Canadian performers are heard by reaching out to your Member of Parliament and encouraging them to support this bill.

Thank you again for supporting your industry and your union.

In solidarity,
David Sparrow