The Broadcast and Telecommunications Legislative Review Panel released its much anticipated report last week. The report’s recommendations call for substantially expanding the notion of what is considered broadcasting in Canada and consequently calls for a broader mandate for a renamed Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). The expanded mandate of the renamed CRTC would include regulatory authority over internet based services such as Netflix, Facebook and YouTube – regulatory authority it does not presently have.
The rationale behind the Panel’s recommendations is that the world of Canadian broadcasting has changed dramatically in the past 20 years and for an important part of Canadian culture to survive, the regulatory framework must be modernized and expanded.
The changes in broadcasting include the huge growth in global content available to Canadians, the growing presence of foreign companies that compete directly with Canadian broadcasters in the Canadian market, the shift by Canadians to consuming content online, the growing role of Big Data in determining the visibility of what is available (i.e. algorithmic determined visibility), and the negative economic impact of internet-based business models (e.g. Neflix, Facebook, YouTube, etc.) on Canadian broadcasting.
The panel argues that these trends raise questions concerning every aspect of the traditional framework for the Canadian broadcasting system. For example, while the abundance of content arising from the global nature of the Internet offers both more choice to consumers and greater export opportunities to Canadian creators, it also reduces the capacity of the traditional Canadian broadcasting sector to contribute to the production of Canadian content.