The Liberal government on Monday accelerated the study of the broadcasting bill, for adoption in the Commons before the summer. His opposition rallies multinational platforms who say they are doing enough for Quebec culture and conservatives who fear censorship of their Twitter page.

“I don’t know how long the government will let this video stay online. » The rhetorical question is posed on Twitter by Saskatchewan MP and former leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, Andrew Scheer.

In the associated video, we can hear a youtuber comparing Canada to Russia in terms of censorship, and see Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in front of the logo of the World Economic Forum. “The Liberals have a bill that will give the government a lot of control over what you can see, and post, online,” says Scheer.

Bill C-11 specifies in full that it does not apply to ordinary Internet users, but only to platforms that broadcast “commercial content”. It aims to force them to contribute financially to Canadian productions, as is already imposed on traditional broadcasters, and to make this content more easily discovered.

“More conspiracy theories,” Liberal Randy Boissonnault sent to the Conservative benches, whom he accused of filibuster, Monday. His party passed a motion in the Commons, with the support of the New Democratic Party, to begin votes on the text and its amendments on Tuesday. The Trudeau government thus hopes to send the bill to senators before the summer.

Last year, the government joined forces with the Bloc Québécois to adopt such a gag order in the hope of having the previous version of the bill (then called C-10) passed before the election. Without success, since the triggering of the summer ballot killed him on the soap opera. This time, the Bloc rejected the closure to protest the government’s delays in its legislative timetable, but the party also supports C-11.

Platform reserves

The bill should pass easily, with the Conservatives as the only parliamentary opposition. Its critics can also count in their ranks the main web platforms, which have each expressed their reservations, but in a register absent of references to the dictatorship.

They all pointed to a “lack of clarity” in the federal definition of what content would be “commercial” enough to be regulated, fearing, for example, that influencers or youtubers would fall into this category.

Even if Minister Pablo Rodriguez has repeated several times that the law essentially only applies to music or films, this precision does not appear in the text of the bill. No more than his idea of ​​limiting the obligation of content discovery to the mere existence of a Canadian playlist, for example.

It is the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) that will have to determine all these details, after consultations and according to directives that the minister has not yet published. Pablo Rodriguez also promises to review the criteria of “Canadian content”, since many productions made in the country escape this definition for the moment.

Sufficient contribution

Unlike YouTube, which is more comfortable contributing financially than having to showcase Canadian content, streaming music giant Spotify fears C-11 will force it to pay artists even more. The company maintains that it already contributes enough to the local culture.

“We want to be sure that all our contributions are taken into account, including the payment of our royalties, in order to ensure that our obligations are fair and proportional,” indicated to the To have to Spotify’s head of international communications, Taylor Griffin, from New York.

In a brief filed in Ottawa, the Swedish multinational specifies that two-thirds of its musical revenues have already been returned to artists, which would be 8.5 times more than radio royalties. Spotify, which has 28 Quebec or French-language playlists, has partnered with Les Francos de Montréal and collaborates with ADISQ, among other contributions. Asking her to do more would force her to “make tough choices,” it read.

The government estimates that it can raise up to $1 billion from cultural platforms, but has not detailed the contributions expected from each.

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