Hollywood haggles Canada

The Motion Picture Association (MPA)—a trade group made up of major Hollywood studios, including Disney and Netflix—published a report claiming that Canada’s system for defining homegrown content is unusually narrow and out of step with the rest of the world. 

Catch-up: American studios have taken an interest in Canadian content laws following the passage of the Online Streaming Act. As regulators move to update the way Canadian film and TV content is defined, Hollywood sees it as an opportunity to sway things in its favour. 

Currently, points system determines the Canadian-ness of content, and copyright must be 100% owned by Canadian producers—a rule that the MPA says is far too stringent and does a disservice to the growing international nature of the Canadian film industry. 

  • The MPA wants the CRTC to remove the copyright rule, recognize cultural criteria (like in the UK), and lower the minimum percentage of a production’s budget that must be spent in Canada. 

Why it matters: Removing the copyright rule would create a broader (and some would say more logical) scope of what counts as Canadian content, but some producers argue the rule is necessary to ensure that money stays in Canada to invest in other Canadian projects. 

  • “If we surrender the ownership of the intellectual property, we are regulated to being service providers,” producer Edwina Follows told The Globe and Mail. 

Zoom out: It’s worth noting that the desire for Canadian content does exist. A 2021 Telefilm Canada survey found that, on average, 24% of Canadians’ at-home viewing time is devoted to Canadian content and that 75% believe more should be done to promote it.—QH