What Do the Parties Say About Our Media Sector?
We analyzed the main party platforms or past records with a focus on four main issues:
Making foreign media companies – like Netflix, Amazon, Facebook and Google – pay for news content to level the playing field so Canadian companies can compete, ensuring that web giants are responsible for what is posted on their websites, CBC funding and the Canadian journalism labour tax credit.
The New Democrat Party platform:
“…we will step up to make sure that Netflix, Facebook, Google and other digital media companies play by the same rules as Canadian broadcasters. It means that these companies need to pay corporate taxes now, support Canadian content in both official languages, and take responsibility for what appears on their platforms, just like other media outlets.”
“New Democrats will do what the Liberals failed to do and modernize the Broadcasting Act fairly in order to create a level playing fieldbetween Canadian broadcasters and foreign streaming services, to rebalance negotiating power for Canadian independent producersand the Canadian cultural sector, and to ensure Canadian programming is owned by Canadians.”
“We’ll also increase funding for CBC and Radio-Canada to help reverse the damage of decades of funding cuts under both Liberal and Conservative governments.”
“We will make sure that arts and cultural institutions receive stable, long-term funding to grow and promote Canada’s diverse culturesand histories. We will also extend support to Canadian media to assist them in making the digital transition.”
What do we make of the above promises?
Canadian broadcasters are required to pay into funds that support the creation of Canadian content, and they are also required to air a certain amount of Canadian content. It appears that Netflix will be brought into this regulatory realm and will have to follow the same rules as Canadian broadcasters.
Facebook and Google have recently come under fire for using news content without compensating news outlets. The NDP’s leader Jagmeet Singh, although vague in this statement, said in a recent interview with the FRIENDS of Canadian Broadcasting that the NDP supports the “Australian model” [of legislation] that forces the web giants to pay for journalistic content. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNQEF4oSxX8
Google and Facebook don’t take responsibility for what is shown on their platforms, which allows them to profit from misinformation, material infringing copyright, and other nefarious content that would not be allowed on TV, for instance. If Facebook and Google are going to profit from this content and take ad dollars away from Canadian companies, they must take responsibility for the content they broadcast online.
The NDP also promises stable funding for the CBC, which is important to ensure that Canadian stories are told in every corner of this country.
Although the NDP hits on all of the important themes for a strong and diverse media industry in Canada, their statements are vague.
The Liberal Party of Canada platform:
Supporting Canadian Music, Film and Television
A re-elected Liberal government will:
• Within the first 100 days, reintroduce legislation to reform the Broadcasting Act to ensure foreign web giants contribute to the creation and promotion ofCanadian stories and music.
• Modernize the institutions (Telefilm, National Film Board, Canada Media Fund) and funding tools that support Canada’s audio-visual sector, including video games, in order to make funding platformagnostic and open to more traditionally underrepresented storytellers, while favouring Canadian productions over foreign ones and ensuring that Canadians are better equipped to own and benefit from the content that they produce.
• Support Canadian feature films by permanently increasing funding to Telefilm Canada by $50 million.
• Support Canadian television productions by doubling the government contribution, over three years, to the Canada Media Fund.
• Increase the proportion of funding for French audiovisual content at Telefilm and the Canada Media Fund from 33% to 40% to support a better presence of French-language productions.
• Ensure better and stable funding for the music sector by increasing the annual contribution to the Canada Music Fund to $50 million by 2024-2025.
• Provide the Indigenous Screen Office with $13 million per year, permanently, so more Indigenous stories can be told and seen.
Levelling the Playing Field with Digital Giants
In 2021, most Canadians get their news from digital platforms which drives key advertising revenues away from Canadian news organizations and towards platforms owned by social media companies and digital giants.
A re-elected Liberal Government will:
• Introduce legislation, within 100 days, that would require digital platforms that generate revenues from the publication of news content to share a portion of their revenues with Canadian news outlets. This legislation would be based on the Australian model and level the playing field between global platforms and Canadian news outlets. The bill will also allow news publishers to work together to prepare for collective negotiation.
A re-elected Liberal Government would:
• Update CBC/Radio-Canada’s mandate to ensure that it is meeting the needs and expectation of today’s Canadian audiences, with a unique programming that distinguishes it from private broadcasters.
• Reaffirm the role of the public broadcaster in protecting and promoting the French language and Francophone cultures in Quebec and across the country.
• Increase production of national, regional, and local news.
• Strengthen Radio Canada International, our voice for peace, democracy, and universal human values on the world stage.
• Ensure that Indigenous voices and cultures are present on our screens and radios.
• Bring Canada’s TV and film productions to the world stage.
• Provide $400 million over 4 years to CBC/RadioCanada so that it is less reliant on private advertising with a goal of eliminating advertising during news and other public affairs shows.
What do we make of the above promises?
While the Conservative platform gives with one hand and takes away with the other, the Liberal platform is definitely a plus for our members and the media sector in general.
However, the Liberal platform leaves some unanswered questions (as we know the devil can be in the details). It is, however, more detailed than the NDP’s platform about funding specifics.
The Liberal party will double the funding for the Canadian Media Fund and increase funds for film and music. By making the funding platform-agnostic, many other storytellers will have access to that funding.
The Liberals will also introduce a revamped Bill C-10 within the first 100 days of office to ensure that Netflix, Amazon, Disney+ et al. will abide by the same rules as Canadian broadcasters, in effect “levelling the playing field”. Many of the details in this act will flow from subsequent CRTC hearings.
The Liberals will use the “Australian model” to make the platforms, Google and Facebook, pay for using news content, increase the funding to the CBC and increase the production of national, regional and local news on the CBC.
The Conservative Party of Canada platform:
Canada’s Conservatives believe in supporting Canadian culture and creating a level playing field between Canadian businesses and foreign web giants.
Canada’s Conservatives will repeal Liberal Bill C-10, which gives too much power to regulators while
failing to provide businesses with the clear guidelines they need to operate. We will replace it with
legislation that updates the Broadcasting Act to deal with the realities of an increasingly online market and the need to provide businesses with certainty and consumers with choice.
Our alternative approach will:
Require large digital streaming services like Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video to reinvest a significant portion of their Canadian gross revenue into producing original Canadian programming, of which a mandated proportion must be French language programming.
If they fail to do so on their own in a given year, they will be required to pay the difference into the Canadian Media Fund.
The proportion chosen will vary based on the nature of the streaming service and would be determined based on the best practices of other jurisdictions, such as those in Europe and Australia, as well as the nature of the Canadian market.
Content reinvestment requirements will also recognize and incentivize partnerships with Canadian independent media producers.
Streamline and reduce the regulatory burden placed on conventional Canadian broadcasters and cable companies, including CRTC license fees and Canadian Media Fund contribution requirements, with the loss in revenue to be compensated by a portion of the revenue from the new digital services tax.
This will include abolishing CRTC Part II license fees.
The health of the Canadian cultural sector depends on the continued viability and success of its private broadcasters. Conventional Canadian broadcasters and cable companies have experienced significant losses in subscribers and revenue in recent years due to the rise of online streaming services.
Canada’s Conservatives will also conduct a full review of the mandate of the CRTC to ensure that it better reflects the needs of Canadians and doesn’t prevent Canadian broadcasters from innovating and adapting to changes in the market.
CBC and Radio Canada have made important contributions to Canada over the past 84 years. While parts of it remain as relevant as ever, including Radio Canada, CBC Radio, and CBC North, many question whether CBC’s English TV continues to live up to its mandate. There are also concerns that CBC’s online news presence is undermining the viability of Canadian print and online media, reducing the diversity of voices available to Canadians.
Canada’s Conservatives will:
Review the mandate of CBC English Television, CBC News Network and CBC English online news to assess the viability of refocusing the service on a public interest model like that of PBS in the United States, ensuring that it no longer competes with private Canadian broadcasters and digital providers.
Protecting and Ensuring the Independence of Canadian Media
Canadian media is in crisis. The loss of digital advertising revenue to American tech giants like Google and Facebook is putting local newspapers out of business, costing Canadian jobs, and undermining our ability to tell local, Canadian stories
Canada’s Conservatives will:
Introduce a digital media royalty framework to ensure that Canadian media outlets are fairly compensated for the sharing of their content by platforms like Google and Facebook. It will:
Adopt a made in Canada approach that incorporates the best practices of jurisdictions like Australia and France.
Include a robust arbitration process and the creation of an intellectual property right for article extracts shared on a social media platform.
Ensure that smaller media outlets are included, and that the government won’t be able to pick and choose who has access to the royalty framework.
Introduce a Digital Services Tax representing 3% of gross revenue in Canada to make web giants pay their fair share.
Significantly reduce the amount of money the government is spending on advertising with big foreign tech companies like Twitter and instead direct federal ad dollars to Canadian media, including community weeklies, regional media, and ethnic media.
Recognize and correct the adverse economic impact for creators and publishers from the uncompensated use of their works in a manner consistent with the unanimous recommendations of the Heritage Committee of the House of Commons Report in 2019.
End Trudeau’s $600 million media bailout. While we support Canadian media outlets, they should not be directly receiving tax dollars. Government funding of “approved” media undermines press freedom, a vital part of a free society.
What do we make of the above promises?
The Conservatives certainly have the most detailed media platform of the three major parties. While they say they support Canadian media and will level the playing field, they spend a great deal of effort criticizing the Liberals and trying to differentiate themselves.
The first distinction is the revocation of Canadian Journalism Labour Tax Credit program, currently paying 25% of editorial salaries (to a maximum of $14,000). This could lead to massive layoffs in an already devastated news industry.
Next, Conservatives say they’ll repeal Bill C-10 and revamp the Broadcasting Act to give less power to the CRTC. They go on to say they will fully review the CRTC’s mandate. The CRTC was put in place to be an arm’s length commission from government, so as not to have government directly meddling in media decisions. We may not be happy with some of the CRTC’s recent decisions, but this seems to contrast with the Conservatives’ argument that the Liberals are using “tax dollars” to fund media outlets that “undermines press freedom”. Why then would they want to meddle more in the commission designed to make independent decisions from government?
The Conservative platform says that it will “level the playing field” between Canadian businesses and foreign web giants – like Netflix, Disney + and Amazon Prime – and will make them create Canadian content. They go on to say that if web giants don’t do this, they will have to pay contributions to the Canadian Media Fund. Then, in the next paragraph they say they will reduce the amount that Canadian broadcasters contribute to the Canadian Media Fund and recoup that money with the Digital Services Tax, a tax already passed by the Liberal government and set to take effect next year.
The Conservatives will also abolish CRTC Part II licensing fees and eliminate the $600 million earmarked for local journalism. So, while they talk about supporting a vibrant Canadian media culture, there seems to be more money leaving the system than coming into it.
The Conservatives also say they will review the mandate of English language CBC, but publicly Erin O’Toole has said that he “will gut the CBC”.
Arts et culture Le Bloc Québécois propose le rapatriement de tous les pouvoirs en matière de culture et la création d’un organisme québécois se substituant au CRTC, parce qu’on ne confie pas sa culture à la nation voisine.
Les Québécois sont attachés à leur culture et tiennent à sa promotion ainsi qu’à sa protection. Les Canadiens, un peu moins. Cette différence a joué un rôle fondamental dans le sabordage de la loi C-10 visant à mieux encadrer la culture à l’ère du numérique et à forcer les géants du Web à faire leur part pour l’essor de l’art et des médias québécois.
Le Bloc Québécois s’engage à améliorer et redéposer cette réforme incontournable pour l’avenir de la création de langue française, notamment les amendements essentiels du Bloc qui assuraient la protection du contenu canadien et québécois, la «découvrabilité» et la mise en valeur des arts québécois et la production de contenu francophone. Le Bloc Québécois insistera jusqu’à gain de cause pour l’imposition des revenus des géants du numérique à un taux de 3 %, comme le fait déjà la France. Le Bloc Québécois imposera aux multinationales du Web des négociations avec les créateurs de contenu québécois et canadiens afin d’établir un partage équitable des revenus.
Le Bloc s’engage à se tenir derrière la culture québécoise afin d’assurer la pérennité et la prévisibilité des programmes et des subventions culturels et touristiques, alors que le secteur, ses créateurs, ses diffuseurs et ses petits comme grands événements, subiront encore les conséquences de la pandémie durant les quelques années à venir.
De plus, nous nous assurerons que les médias écrits et régionaux fassent partie de cette réforme. Le Bloc Québécois exigera, de plus, que les sommes perçues en taxes et impôts des géants du numérique soient redirigées vers un fonds dédié aux arts et à la culture du Québec ainsi qu’à nos médias.
Arts and culture
The Bloc Québécois proposes the repatriation of all cultural powers and the creation of a Quebec organization replacing the CRTC, because that we do not entrust our culture to the neighboring nation.
Quebecers are attached to their culture and value its promotion as well as its protection. Canadians, a little less. This difference played a fundamental role in the scuttling of Bill C-10 aimed at better regulating culture in the digital age and forcing the web giants to do their share in the development of art and the Quebec media. The Bloc Québécois is committed to improving and re-tabling this essential reform for the future of the creation of French language, especially the essential amendments of the Bloc who ensured the protection of Canadian content and Quebecers, “discoverability” and the enhancement of Quebec arts and the production of French-language content.
The Bloc Québécois will insist, until it wins, to the taxation of the income of digital giants to a rate of 3%, as France is already doing. The block Québécois will impose on the multinationals of the Web negotiations with Quebec content creators and Canadians in order to establish an equitable income sharing.
The Bloc pledges to stand behind Quebec culture in order to ensure the sustainability and predictability of programs and cultural and tourism subsidies, while the sector, its creators, its distributors and its small as major events, will still suffer the consequences pandemic over the next few years.
In addition, we will ensure that the written media and regional are part of this reform. The Bloc Québécois will demand, moreover, that the collected in taxes from digital giants be redirected to a fund dedicated to the arts and to Quebec culture as well as to our media.