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Friends of Canadian Media’s proposed amendments to Bill C-11, as submitted to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.

FRIENDS continues to support the government’s intention to modernize the Broadcasting Act. While Bill C-11 has fixed many problems, there are still issues that we feel need to be further examined. As we are eager for this Bill to be implemented, our proposals and comments below only reflect what we believe are priority amendments that should be addressed. FRIENDS may have additional comments as discussions about the Bill continue.

We propose the below amendments to Bill C-11. Note that numbering indicates the section of the Act which will be affected, not the section of Bill C-11 itself, accordingly, these proposals are in the order they appear in the Act, not in order of priority.

3(1)(a) – Restore Canadian ownership and control provisions
Minimally change 3(1)(a) language as proposed by Parliamentarians for C-10, to maintain intent while addressing drafting concerns: “the Canadian broadcasting system shall be effectively owned and controlled by Canadians, recognizing that the Canadian broadcasting system includes foreign broadcasting undertakings that also provide programming to Canadians”;


The 1991 Act prescribed a broadcasting system that must be effectively owned and controlled by Canadians. Even the 1993 Telecommunications Act promotes Canadian ownership; a policy provision that remained when the Harper government opened up the Act to increased foreign ownership in 2012. Bill C-11 proposes to refer to both foreign and domestic players, without any priority being afforded to Canadian undertakings. The decision to completely remove any preference for Canadian ownership and control is both unnecessary and dangerous. Not only would it make it harder for the CRTC to introduce or maintain any measures to support Canadian broadcasting undertakings over foreign ones, but it would also effectively put a “for sale to US Networks” sign on struggling Canadian broadcasters. The repercussions for local news, particularly in smaller centres, would be devastating. Local TV stations in small communities would close, larger market stations with dozens of reporters reduced to each having a provincial correspondent, and the welcome mat rolled out for Fox News North.

3(1)(f) – Ensure all broadcast undertakings support Canadian talent and programming FRIENDS supports the language proposed by the Coalition for the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (CCDE).


The modernization of legislation is meant to improve it, but by drawing a distinction between Canadian and foreign undertakings, the new Bill proposes to revise 3(1)(f) in such a way that waters down the importance of using Canadian talent. The government says that this is necessary to include foreign players, but we, like many in the cultural community, disagree. CCDE’s proposed construction of this section of the Bill speaks specifically to the need to maximize Canadian talent when commissioning Canadian programming. Foreign players would continue to have the flexibility to use non-Canadian talent when making non-Canadian programming or service productions.

Further, no distinction should be drawn between the financial contributions required of domestic and foreign broadcasting undertakings. Drawing such a distinction could result in a dangerous and unnecessary “levelling down”, rather than a “levelling up”, of the support for Canadian programming.

3(1)(m) – Ensure the CBC is fundamentally non-commercial
Add 3(1)(m)(xiii): “be predominantly non-commercial and be generally and universally available, at no incremental cost, to all Canadians on the platform of their choosing.”


Private broadcasters, newspapers, and many Canadians complain that the CBC is too commercial. The proliferation of pre-roll ads, subscriber fees for Gem, and now Tandem, a branded content initiative, is compromising its public service mandate.

Of course, the drive to earn more is understandable. According to a study commissioned by CBC/RadioCanada [link to PDF], at $33 per capita, Canada ranked 17th out of 20 Western countries in terms of per capita public funding for public broadcasters. Still, we need to ensure that the cure is not worse than the sickness. The above amendment would clarify CBC’s purpose without being overly restrictive. And it will provide a clear indication of Parliament’s intent: that CBC be predominantly non-commercial.

9.1 and 10 (1.1) – Specifically empower the CRTC to require and enforce terms of trade and promote Canadian ownership of intellectual property
FRIENDS supports the language proposed by the Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA).


Promoting Canadian ownership of the broadcasting system must include promoting Canadian ownership of economic interests in Canadian programming. Retaining intellectual property and with it, the ability to monetize content, maximizes reinvestment in new Canadian programming, and builds successful independent Canadian production companies. The CMPA’s proposed amendments help achieve this by giving the CRTC the express power to require and enforce collective terms of trade with broadcasting undertakings and consider the extent of intellectual property retention in making regulations on what constitutes a Canadian program.

9.1(1)(h), 9.1(1)(l.1), 9.1(10) and 10(1)(h) – Strengthen the CRTC’s oversight over the distribution, discoverability and fair treatment of Canadian apps and services online FRIENDS supports the language proposed by the Independent Broadcasters Group (IBG).


A key objective of amending the Broadcasting Act should be to ensure that Canadian services are made available and treated fairly in an online environment. In their amendments to Bill C-10, Parliamentarians recognized that Canadian independent broadcasting undertakings play a vital role in the broadcasting system ((3(1)(d)(iii.5)), and, among other things, gave the CRTC authority to establish conditions for online distributors relating to the discoverability of Canadian programming and to require them to distribute programming services specified by the Commission ((9.1(1)(e)&(i)). Unfortunately, gaps remain – including the Commission’s ability to set more general service conditions relating to online distribution and the resolution of disputes – that would prevent the CRTC from regulating online television distributers in an analogous way to that traditional television distributers (BDUs). IBG’s proposed amendments fill those gaps and ensure that “equitable treatment” does not automatically mean a lowering of the bar in terms of support for Canadians services.

11.1(1) Specifically empower the CRTC to apply expenditure requirements in support of local news
Amend 11.1(1)(a) as follows: “developing, financing, producing or promoting Canadian audio or audiovisual programs, including local news and independent productions, for broadcasting by broadcasting undertakings”


Section 11.1(1)(a) gives the CRTC express powers to impose expenditure requirements in respect of Canadian programming, including independent production, but fails to recognize one of the most important categories of programming, local news, produced and aired by local broadcasters. This amendment would add teeth to the new policy objective at subparagraph 3(1)(i)(ii.1) that the broadcasting system “include programs produced by Canadians that cover news and current events”

Amending the Interpretation Act
Amend section 35(1) of the Interpretation Act by replacing the definition of broadcasting with the following: “broadcasting means broadcasting as determined under the Broadcasting Act; (radiodiffusion).”


The new law amends the definition of “broadcasting” in many other acts, but not the Interpretation Act, which takes its definition of “broadcasting” from the 1967 Broadcasting Act. This is a necessary update that can keep the rest of the law up to date with the technology-agnostic definition of broadcasting that appears in the 1991 Act and continues in this version. It would, among other things, permit Finance to review the applicability of the advertising deductibility provisions of the Income Tax Act to online undertakings.

For further discussion, please contact:

Marla Boltman, Executive Director