The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the regulatory agency that oversees Canadian broadcasting requirements, was established in 1968, in part, to promote creative and cultural content produced by Canadian creators through a protective quota.
Sounds like a good thing, right? Unfortunately, the content requirements have fallen wildly, harmfully out of date. The last major revision to CanCon law was in 1991, under the Mulroney government — whoops — pre-dating the current internet landscape, which, you know, kinda revolutionized/upended/reordered the entire media world. You know how sometimes you just keep moving the toughest jobs to the bottom of the pile in hopes they sort themselves out? Well, they never do. Our current regulations don't even acknowledge the existence of YouTube or Netflix or Spotify.
Thankfully, Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly has announced sweeping reform to CanCon regulation, bringing national creative content policy into the 21st century.
“Everything is on the table,” she told The Globe and Mail. That might mean revisions to the Broadcasting Act and the Telecommunications Act or modification to the mandates of the CRTC and the CBC or perhaps the creation of brand new laws and agencies.
“I think the current model is broken," she says, "and we need to have a conversation to bring it up to date and make sure we harness its full potential. For a long time, politicians have been afraid to deal with these difficult issues, but I don’t understand why it wasn’t done.… The issue is how can the government be relevant today, instead of being left behind.”
To begin, the Ministry of Heritage has launched an online survey to consult with Canadians — both as consumers and creators — about their usage habits and their expectations regarding the role of the government in promoting Canadian-made content.
You can find the questionnaire here. It will be open until May 20. Its findings will help inform the second phase of consultations, to be called, "Strengthening Canadian Content, Discovery and Export in a Digital World," which will be completed by the end of the year.