Earlier this week, the House of Commons elected a new Speaker.
I congratulate Liberal MP Greg Fergus from the Quebec riding of Hull-Aylmer on becoming the 38th Speaker of our Canadian Parliament and I look forward to working with him in his new role.
A different topic that raised concern from some are recent media headlines such as the National Post’s “Yes, the Liberals are coming for your podcasts.”
Many of the headlines resulted from a rare Friday, Sept. 29 announcement from the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) that will require registration for some online content providers currently operating in Canada. The announced CRTC threshold requires mandatory registration for online streaming services that earn $10 million or more in annual revenues. They will need to complete a registration form by Nov. 28.
The $10 million threshold appears to have been selected by the CRTC to imply only large online streaming services are being targeted with this registration requirement.
However, as many in the podcast and creative community know, online streaming services are where small and independent creators post their content. These same online streaming services drive up the viewing circulation content creators need to monetize their content. That is particularly important given small and independent online content creators have few alternative opportunities to economically grow an audience that, in turn, helps to fund the creator.
The concern from many is that creating a mandatory requirement for larger streaming services to register with the CRTC raises an important question: What is the point of this registration requirement?
The chair of the CRTC is quoted as saying: “We are developing a modern broadcasting framework that can adapt to changing circumstances. To do that, we need broad engagement and robust public records. We appreciate the significant participation during this first phase and look forward to hearing diverse perspectives at our contributions proceeding in November.”
From my perspective, this statement is concerning. The Liberal's disastrous Bill C-18 resulted in major online social media companies no longer allowing the sharing of Canadian news content on their platforms and was a severe blunder. The (government) completely ignored what critics, stakeholders, experts and the social media companies themselves stated would happen when they rammed Bill C-18 through.
This latest CRTC registration requirement, which is part of the Bill C-11, raises similar concerns.
Controlling large online streaming services, which, in essence, act as a distributor for small and independent content creators that include those broadcasting podcasts, creates a concern many have raised.
Through appointed and unelected bureaucrats at the CRTC, the government could attempt to ban, or otherwise penalize, certain material from being streamed that the government either does not agree with or labels “un-Canadian” from a Canadian content perspective.
The government can, of course, state it is not telling anyone what they can or cannot create, however, by controlling the distribution source through registration, the net effect would be the same.
From my perspective, this is yet another example of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government attempting to gain control over what Canadians can view online and, in turn, potentially limit your choice and limit free speech.
For the record, the Conservatives oppose the government’s efforts to increase regulation of online streaming services.
My question to you this week:
Are you concerned about the Federal Government's efforts to create more online content control? Why or why not?
I can be reached at [email protected] or call toll-free 1-800-665-8711.
Dan Albas is the Conservative MP for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.