Canadian programming will receive at least $1.B a year from the bill for online streaming: Minister – National

The online streaming bill will bring in at least $1 billion a year for Canada’s creative industries, including Indigenous programming, Heritage Secretary Pablo Rodriguez told a committee of MPs on Monday.

Rodriguez released the figure to the House of Commons heritage committee, which is studying a bill that will update broadcasting laws and apply them to streaming services such as Netflix and Disney Plus.

Rodriguez said some of the money would go toward supporting productions by indigenous and minority communities, as well as French productions from Quebec.

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The Heritage Department originally said the online streaming bill would bring in about $830 million a year by allowing streaming services to fund Canadian creative work, as traditional broadcasters do now.

Rodriguez said the figure would exceed $1 billion because — since his department made the original calculation — more people have subscribed to streaming platforms, such as Netflix.

More platforms, including Disney Plus, have also come to Canada and have become increasingly popular during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said some of the funds would support various programs, including in French.

“We want to be able to hear more different voices. We want to hear more indigenous voices. Maybe we can make do with a mandatory provision. Maybe we can find other ways to do this — and also look at official languages, and maybe other languages,” he said.

“The money will go toward these goals and it will be over $1 billion a year.”

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The minister said “strengthening facilities to help indigenous peoples and racialized Canadians” in the bill was one of the “great ideas” he had heard discussed in the committee.

MPs heard that the bill would also put a burden on some platforms to carry channels like OutTV, which air LBGTQ shows and movies.

At an earlier committee hearing, OutTV said some of the major foreign streaming platforms had refused to offer the channel and told them there would be no demand, which OutTV disputed.

Peter Julian, the NDP heritage critic, who raised the issue of OutTV in the committee, said the $1 billion a year was a “significant amount”.

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Kevin Waugh, a member of the Tory Committee, expressed surprise at how large it was and asked for more details on how it was calculated.

Thomas Owen Ripley, assistant deputy minister at Canadian Heritage, said some of the $1 billion could be used to support Canadian productions, including dramas, documentaries and children’s programs.

Ripley said “just over $900 million” a year would come from “spending requirements” in the bill that would allow streaming platforms like Netflix to spend a certain percentage of their revenue on Canadian productions, as traditional broadcasters do now.

He said traditional Canadian broadcasters currently spend just under $3 billion a year on Canadian programming, including news.

Ripley said Netflix already has a “huge amount of production activity” in Canada, but “most of it would not currently qualify as a Canadian show,” under its current definition.

“Part of the motivation behind this bill is to get them to do more on the Canadian side,” Ripley said, including involving more “Canadian creatives” and telling “more Canadian stories.”

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Rodriguez has said he will ask the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the country’s broadcasting regulator, to modernize the definition of what would qualify as Canadian content, including a movie or TV show, after the bill is passed. has been adopted.

In often tense talks with Conservative MPs, the minister reiterated his claim that the online streaming law will not affect people who upload videos to YouTube.

Rodriguez said the CRTC had “zero” interest in regulating the messages of millions of people.

The minister said the bill does not cover user-generated content and only commercial material. When the bill was launched, Rodriguez said it could be a professional video that will be streamed on Spotify and will also appear on YouTube.

Rodriguez faced persistent questions from Conservative MPs about the definition of “commercial” content with Rachael Thomas, MP for Lethbridge, and repeatedly demanded that he put a number on it.

“What is the turnover threshold? Who’s in, who’s out?” she demanded, accusing the minister of not answering her questions.

Rodriguez’s appearance is the committee’s second. Last week he was forced to leave before he had a chance to speak as Tory and Liberal MPs argued over procedural issues and accused each other of delaying tactics.

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