Bill C–11 will pass… eventually

The contentious Bill C-11, or The Online Streaming Act, is set to pass in the Senate any day now. Here are the latest developments, drama, and everything in between.  

Catch-up: The law would put streaming platforms like Netflix, YouTube, and Spotify under the purview of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), forcing them to uphold revised standards of promoting and funding Canadian content. 

  • Right now, Canadian TV and broadcasters have to follow strict rules when it comes to playing, financing, and promoting Canadian content. Online streamers don’t. 

After passing the House of Commons last summer, the bill was kicked back by the Senate with 26 amendments. The House accepted most of them but notably rejected one that would exclude most user-generated from the bill’s domain. This updated version is now back in the Senate and will likely pass after a motion to limit any more debate on the topic is introduced.

  • Talks between supporters and critics in the House often devolved into putdowns and debates about things like cat videos and the cultural relevancy of Corner Gas.   

Why it matters: Streamers have come out hard against the bill saying it would limit access to what Canadians can watch, hurt creators on their platforms, and could actually discourage Canadian content consumption because users would resent being forced to interact with it. 

  • The feds argue the bill is necessary to support jobs for Canadian artists and promote their content, while the CRTC has reiterated it won’t police user-generated content.  

What’s next: With support from the Liberals, NDP, and BQ, Bill C-11 will pass eventually, but the drama won’t end there. The full scope of the CRTC’s powers will only be determined after the bill passes.—QH