Streaming platforms to incur penalties if not abiding by Broadcasting Act rules, Ottawa proposes

Ottawa is proposing new policy changes — with monetary penalties — to ensure online streaming platforms experiencing booming revenues operate under rules that are as stringent as those faced by traditional broadcasters.

The regulations put forth by the Liberal government today in a new bill focus on clarifying that online streaming platforms like Netflix and Spotify will fall under the Broadcasting Act through a new category called “online undertakings.”

The bill also proposes giving the CRTC new powers to require broadcasters and online streaming companies make financial contributions to support Canadian music, stories, creators and producers.

A government briefing note says if the CRTC applies the same requirements around Canadian content to streamers that it applies to broadcasters, online platforms could contribute as much as $830 million worth of Canadian content by 2023.

The briefing note says the bill could result in the government asking the CRTC to look at which online broadcasters should be regulated and determine whether it is a good idea to give additional regulatory credits to broadcasters producing works about Indigenous peoples, racial communities or in French.

The briefing note says the CRTC may also be ordered to look into what qualifies as Canadian content and whether that definition takes into account tax credits or intellectual property.