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Social media creators, podcasts won't be regulated under Liberals' online streaming law



In a significant development for Canada's broadcasting landscape, the Canadian Heritage has unveiled its final policy direction for the federal Liberals' much-debated Online Streaming Act, an initiative designed to modernize the nation's broadcasting laws. The issuance of this directive today signals the conclusion of the government's direct involvement with the legislation, previously known as Bill C-11. This represents the second attempt by the Liberal government to integrate major online streaming services into Canada's broadcasting framework, aligning them with traditional media such as television and radio.


Crucially, the final policy direction explicitly instructs the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) not to impose regulations on social media content creators and podcasters. This decision underscores a commitment to fostering a regulatory environment that allows for the continued growth and innovation of these digital content platforms.


While the Online Streaming Act aims to bring online broadcasters into the fold of Canada's broadcasting system, it notably excludes social media creators and podcasters from the regulatory framework. Instead, the focus will be on requiring online broadcasters to contribute to the creation, production, and distribution of Canadian content. Additionally, the legislation aims to support Indigenous content and original French-language programming, recognizing the diversity of Canada's cultural landscape.


In a recent move by the CRTC, it was announced that online streaming and podcasting services operating in Canada with an annual revenue of $10 million or more would be required to register with the CRTC by November 28. However, the registration process faced backlash and scrutiny, especially from the podcasting community. The registration would have mandated podcasters to provide details such as the legal name of the company, address, telephone number, email, and the types of services offered. Despite initially labeling the registration as a "very light" burden, the CRTC's approach faced criticism.


The decision to exclude social media creators and podcasters from regulatory measures aligns with the government's recognition of the dynamic and evolving nature of digital content creation. This exemption acknowledges the unique characteristics of these platforms, which often thrive on user-generated and diverse content.


As Canada navigates the evolving landscape of digital media, this final policy direction reflects a balance between fostering a robust broadcasting ecosystem and allowing for the continued innovation and expression inherent in social media and podcasting. The coming months will likely see further discussions and adjustments as the Online Streaming Act takes effect, shaping the future of digital content regulation in the country.


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