The news that online streamers and podcasters will soon be required to register with Canada’s broadcasting regulator is causing confusion and concern that there may be stricter regulation.
On Friday afternoon, the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission announced that online streaming and podcasting services operating in Canada, with annual revenues of $10 million or more in this country, will have to register by the 28th. of November.
Record It involves providing a company’s legal name, its address, its phone number and email, and what type of services it offers. In its decision released Friday, the CRTC called the search a “very light” burden.
University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist, Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-Commerce Law, describes the information being collected as “limited” but said he suspects there is more to come from the CRTC.
“I think a lot of people look at this and feel like it’s the thin edge of the wedge. [and] that there is more regulation on the way,” he said in an interview with Breaking:.
It’s a perspective echoed by Canadian podcaster Jesse Brown, editor of Canadaland, who told Breaking: that Friday’s announcement from the CRTC concerns him.
“What they’re saying is: ‘We’re going to regulate space, but we’re not going to tell you how.’ That makes it very difficult,” he said.
CRTC action related to Bill C-11
The move is part of the implementation of the Online Broadcasting Act, formerly known as Bill C-11, which became law in April. Updated the Broadcasting Act to require streaming and online services, such as Netflix and Spotify, to eventually pay the national media ecosystem to support Canadian content, including music and television shows.
The Act does not define what that content should be or how much support will be required, and delegates that task to the CRTC.
Under the Online Streaming Law, social networks and online services that offer podcasts will now have to register with the regulator, while social media users, including those who share podcasts through social platforms, will not.
The CRTC said it does not expect that podcasters who host their content on their own websites or make it available on subscription platforms will be required to register.”because your annual income would most likely be below the proposed exemption threshold“of 10 million dollars.
However, a larger company like Spotify may need to sign up. Spotify told the CRTC during public hearings in July that he wanted podcasts to be exempt from regulation, due to “The economic stress that the podcasting industry is currently experiencing.“.
‘Uncertainty’ for podcasters
According to Brown, the CRTC’s decision to include podcasting companies in the new streaming regulations was not what he (or his industry) expected. He said he thought the CRTC was moving to regulate and govern “web giants” that offer streaming content, like Netflix or Disney, and not small podcast producers and networks like his that don’t meet the threshold. of the 10 million dollars.
“What this has created in the short term is poison for an innovative industry, which is uncertainty,” Brown said. “No one knows how this will play out. No one knows what our obligations will be. No one knows if we will benefit from it.”
The CRTC also requires online streaming services that meet its threshold to provide it with information related to the content they offer and who subscribes, and prohibits them from restricting content to people who subscribe to specific Internet providers.
The commission will also hold consultations, starting this winter, that could potentially redefine what is considered Canadian content.
‘Censorship’ claims are not accurate, says law professor
As for various claims on social media that the CRTC’s action is a form of censorship or an attack on free speech, Geist says emphatically that is not true.
“I don’t think registration is the same as a censorship regime,” he said. However, he added, he is not without concerns.
“The idea that you would potentially have to register with the Canadian government or their agency, the CRTC, in order to express yourself, because you meet a certain income threshold is, I think, a real foray into expression.”