Technology is evolving at a rapid pace, and while it has been widely accepted by most audiences, its use is just as often criticized as it is praised. In this generation, updates on the news, entertainment, friends, and work are just a few basic elements of everyday life that can all be attained at one’s fingertips. On one hand it is convenient, on the other hand, some might deem the reliance on technology dangerous.
The pandemic forced almost everybody to adapt to a tech landscape — one where it’s impossible to avoid ads or various and differing opinions. As time progresses, reliance on technology becomes increasingly imminent. Over the course of this year, the Senate has been debating Government Bill C-11, the Online Streaming Act.
Introduced in February by the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Pablo Rodriguez, “Bill C‑11 modernizes the Broadcasting Act to bring online undertakings within its scope. It amends broadcasting and regulatory policies to ensure that the programming provided is accessible and that the entire Canadian population is represented, including Canadians from racialized communities or of diverse ethnocultural backgrounds, socio‑economic statuses, abilities and disabilities, sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions, and ages,” per the Library of Parliament.
With this bill, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications (CRTC) will have greater authority over certain matters, including the “ability to impose financial penalties against people and businesses that violate certain provisions of the Broadcasting Act or its regulations.”
While it seeks to amend the Broadcasting Act to account for the increased prominence of internet video and digital media, the bill has received mixed reactions from Canadians. Supporters of the bill are optimistic that foreign streaming services like Netflix and Youtube will fund and encourage the production of Canadian content for their platforms, in turn, pushing said content to a wider audience.
Many concerns are centered around the amount of control that would be given to the CRTC as they are deemed “unelected regulators and receive very little guidance from Parliament or the government.” On the Senate’s website, it is implied that much of the bill lacks transparency in its legislative process as there are no certainties as to what the CRTC will be capable of, but what they “may” be capable of. Therefore, aspects of this bill could have a great effect on the broadcasting industry and Canada as a whole— or a more modest effect, depending on future CRTC decisions and if the bill gets passed at all.
A similar version of the bill was introduced in 2020, known as Bill C-10. It died however, on the Order Paper when Parliament was dissolved on August 15, 2021. Bill C-11 has had three readings in the House of Commons, its most recent being the 21st of June and is once again pending the Senate’s approval. Several debates have been held in regards to the bill, the most recent being on Nov. 22.
More about Bill C-11 can be read here.