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DigiCanCon Report Card

Sep 28, 2017

FRIENDS of Canadian Broadcasting has given Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly’s long-awaited Creative Canada Policy Framework an overall barely passing grade of C-.  The core challenge the policy failed to address is the crisis facing local media in Canada as a result of the exponential growth of internet advertising1 – which is siphoning revenue from Canadian media to foreign internet giants. 

Sources: Interactive Advertising Bureau of Canada for all data except for 2015 and 2016 radio and daily newspapers as published by News Media Canada

Telling our own Canadian stories on the most powerful media is more important and challenging today than ever before.

FRIENDS has graded Creative Canada Policy Framework based on action on the following themes – all critical to Canada’s cultural sovereignty.

ThemeActionGrade

Canadian Content

Minister Joly gets top marks for asking the CRTC to reconsider its decisions to relax Canadian content requirements for Canada’s large broadcasting groups.

To make a difference, Minister Joly also needs to:

 
 
  • Strengthen Canada’s domestic media production sector first.  As research funded by the Canadian Media Fund has demonstrated, a strong domestic production sector is prerequisite to establishing a strong export industry for Canadian productions;

B

New Canadian Media Fund investment will maintain, not increase, resources available to Canadian TV producers.
 
  • Assert Canadian sovereignty/jurisdiction over the internet – just as Canadian governments did at the dawn of the television age;

D

 
  • Strengthen the provisions of the Broadcasting Act that give pride of place for Canadian programs and predominant use of Canadian creative resources;

D

The Minister has effectively postponed action on this file until after the next election.
 
  • Reaffirm the critical importance of Canadian ownership and control of our media sector.

F

Level the Playing Field for Fair Competition

Foreign media giants such as Google and Netflix continue to enjoy significant and unfair advantages over their Canadian competitors. To create a level playing field, Minister Joly must:

 
 
  • Require foreign media giants to collect sales taxes, such as HST;

TBD

This reform is the responsibility of the Minister of Finance.
 
  • Direct large foreign companies to support the creation of Canadian content;

C-

The Minister has encouraged only one company to step up; what about the others? What did she give up to get the Netflix deal? Is it enforceable?
 
  • Mandate disclosure reports on key company metrics such as how much they invest in Canadian programs.

F

Local Media Crisis

The crisis faced by local media in Canada and its impact on quality journalism are obvious. One-in-three journalism jobs have disappeared since 2010, and experts forecast local TV stations in small and medium markets will soon shutter.

Urgent action is required.

Using moneys saved from closing tax loopholes that favour foreign internet giants over Canadian media, Minister Joly needs to create new incentives and supports for local news, as is already the case for other Canadian content, in order to ensure its survival in small and medium markets across Canada.

F

Public Broadcasting

As the most important platform for Canadian programs, the CBC/SRC needs to constitute an integral part of Minister Joly’s solution. Her report needs to recommend CBC/SRC reforms in the following areas:

  • Funds to reduce CBC’s reliance on ad revenues;
  • Role in promoting local presence and news – including offering news resources to private broadcasters;
  • Confirm the CBC’s Broadcasting Act mandate;
  • Strengthen independence from political control by giving the CBC Board the responsibility to hire (and, if necessary fire) its President and CEO – a power all other Boards possess.
While FRIENDS is encouraged by the Minister’s words on the topic, too few specific details are available to grade Minister Joly at this time.

New Direction for the CRTC

Two years after the end of Harper’s government, the Trudeau government has yet to give Canada’s broadcast regulator new policy direction.

As a result, the CRTC continues to pursue an agenda that puts so-called ‘consumer’ interests above all else. At a minimum, Minister Joly should confirm the cultural mandate of the CRTC under the Broadcasting Act.

A

1 The Interactive Advertising Bureau of Canada projects total internet ad revenue will rise by over $700 million to $6.2 billion in 2017, up by 13%, with French Canada exceeding $1 billion by then (+15%).

Related Documents:

Sep 28, 2017 — News Release - Joly tinkers
After two years of study and consultation, Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly has come up with only a few modest steps to boost Canadian content, according to FRIENDS of Canadian Broadcasting.