Canada needs new broadcasting legislation for two key reasons. First, the 1991 Broadcasting Act has failed to ensure implementation of the broadcasting policy for Canada set out by Parliament in that statute. Second, online broadcasting has expanded since 1999 to the point that unregulated online broadcasters make money in Canada while remaining exempted from the obligations imposed on offline broadcasters in this country.
The Forum strongly supports new legislation to obtain (among other things) more and better financed Canadian audio and audio-visual programs, more news and local news, and more employment opportunities for Canadians.
Bill C-11 could achieve these goals – if it is changed to ensure that
- the CRTC is required to serve the public interest
- broadcast regulation remains as apolitical as possible (by limiting Cabinet’s power to direct the CRTC to its current power to issue directions on broad policy matters, and the [Cabinet-appointed] CRTC Chairperson’s current power to decide which CRTC Commissioners may make decisions on behalf of the CRTC)
- the CRTC is required to operate transparently (through decisions signed by those who make them,
- gaps, exceptions and exclusions are corrected so that social-media users are not subject to the CRTC’s policies, regulations and decisions
- of the 45 subsections in the section 3 broadcasting policy for Canada, more than 2 are actually mandatory (instead of being left to the CRTC’s discretion and interpretation), and that
- more accountability is required of the CRTC, so that – for the first time in its 54-year history – it publishes an annual report card on how Canada’s broadcasting policy is being implemented.
You can find four commentaries by FRPC on Bill C-11 as follows:
Proposed Broadcasting Act updates give cabinet too much power, Opinion, The Hill Times (3 March 2022),
Bill C-11 a step backwards for transparency, accountability in broadcasting, Opinion, Hill Times (23 March 2022)
Exceptions, gaps in C-11 could make new broadcasting legislation dysfunctional, Commentary,cartt.ca, (1 April 2022)
More discretion, more power: Does C-11 delegate too much to the CRTC? Commentary, cartt.ca, (11 May 2022)
You can find FRPC’s 8-point wishlist for changes to Bill C-11 here:
Briefing document on Bill C-11: Recommendations for amending Bill C-11 so that it works, (13 May 2022)