Could the Canadian government force streaming services to contribute to Cancon creation?

One of the big cultural challenges facing Canada involves the growing encroachment of streaming services on our cultural sovereignty, especially music. Back in 1971, the government initiated the Cancon rules, which required radio stations to devote a non-negotiable amount of their playlists and airtime to Canadian artists.

That quota started at 30% and is now at 35%. And in addition to playing Canadian music on the air, radio was (and still is) required to inject plenty of money into the music ecosystem through programs like FACTOR, Starmaker, and various content creation rules.

It was ugly at times, but it was worth it. Canada now has an extremely robust domestic music industry, something that would have never happened without Cancon regulations.

But when it comes to distributing music to Canadians, radio isn’t the only game in town anymore. Streaming is big and getting bigger. Yet all the streaming platforms are based outside the country and therefore aren’t subject to any of the quotas or financial investments traditional radio faces.

This is wrong. Why should domestic media continue to make these huge investments while foreign players are funneling off massive amounts of currency without putting anything back?

The good news is that could change. From ipolitics.ca:

Ottawa is moving ahead with its long-anticipated plan to make online streaming services contribute financially to the creation of Canadian content.

Canadian Heritage Minister Stephen Guilbeault tabled a bill in the House of Commons on Tuesday to modernize the Broadcasting Act. The bill would create a new category for online broadcasting within the Act, thus allowing Canada’s broadcast regulator to seek financial contributions from players like Netflix, Spotify, Crave, and Disney Plus.

According to documents provided by the Department of Canadian Heritage, the bill will fix a “regulatory imbalance” that puts traditional Canadian broadcasters at a competitive disadvantage with online broadcasters.

This could mean $800 million in new investment in Canadian culture.

Good. About bloody time we had changes to the Broadcasting Act. Keep reading. There’s also more to be found here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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