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Liberals’ online streaming bill set to become law after passing Senate

Click to play video: 'Liberals’ online streaming Bill C-11 set to become law after passing final vote in the Senate'
Liberals’ online streaming Bill C-11 set to become law after passing final vote in the Senate
WATCH: The Liberals’ online streaming bill passed its final vote in the Senate and is now awaiting royal assent. Bill C-11 will force digital platforms, like Netflix and YouTube, to contribute financially to Canadian content – Apr 27, 2023

A federal bill that will force digital platforms like Netflix and YouTube to contribute financially to Canadian content is on the cusp of becoming law.

The Liberals’ online streaming bill passed its final vote in the Senate today and is now just awaiting royal assent.

The bill updates the Broadcasting Act to bring online streaming platforms under the regulatory authority of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

It also sets steep penalties for digital platforms that don’t make Canadian content available to their users in Canada.

The government says the bill will not apply to individuals who post on social media which had been a chief concern of opponents to the bill.

It will apply to platforms like Facebook and TikTok that distribute commercial programs like sporting events or live singing competitions.

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Once the bill receives royal assent a policy directive will be issued to the CRTC, which is required to develop regulations following consultations with the public.

Click to play video: 'Conservatives ‘think culture is what you find in a yogurt bottle’: Rodriguez'
Conservatives ‘think culture is what you find in a yogurt bottle’: Rodriguez

Quebec Sen. Marc Gold, the Liberal government’s representative in the Senate, says platforms that make money from their commercial activities must reinvest in Canadian creators and local content.

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Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez, who sponsored the bill, says it simply requires streamers to contribute to Canadian culture.

“It’s a bill that’s been well studied in the House and the Senate,” Rodriguez said Tuesday.

“It’s the longest in the history of Canada, and it’s a very important bill. So I’m looking forward for the bill to pass, and yes, I am excited.”

The Liberal bill has been widely supported by the NDP and Bloc Quebecois, but the Conservatives have called it a “censorship” bill and ran fundraising campaigns to “kill Bill C-11.”

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Click to play video: 'Trudeau doesn’t commit to releasing policy directive to CRTC on Online Streaming Act'
Trudeau doesn’t commit to releasing policy directive to CRTC on Online Streaming Act

Conservative senators attempted to stall the bill’s progress when it arrived back in the Senate last week, which prompted Gold to introduce a time-allocation motion that limited further debate to six hours.

In the end the debate at third and final reading didn’t even last that long, and it came to its final vote Thursday evening.

This bill was the second attempt by the Liberals to get an online streaming bill passed. The first version introduced in 2020 did not pass before the 2021 election.

It was reworked and then reintroduced in February 2022.

The Senate spent 67 hours studying the bill at the committee stage alone, hearing from 138 different witnesses and receiving 67 written submissions.

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