Minister of Canadian Heritage Steven Guilbeault responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on November 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Minister of Canadian Heritage Steven Guilbeault responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on November 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

User-generated content not a target of Broadcast Act changes, says heritage minister

Legislation appears to exempt online giants Facebook and Google from CRTC regulations, one MP points out

The minister responsible for making changes to Canada’s broadcasting laws says legislation he introduced recently does not target user-generated online content.

Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault told a House of Commons committee Monday the aim of Bill C-10 is to regulate online video and music streaming services in much the same way as conventional broadcasters.

But Guilbeault says homegrown content carried online won’t be regulated under the legislation.

The bill, if passed, would expand the authority of Canada’s broadcasting regulator, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, to include online video and music streaming services.

New Democrat MP Heather McPherson told the committee the legislation appears to exempt online giants Facebook and Google from CRTC regulations.

Guilbeault explained that is not the case and that online services would be regulated when they carry out business as broadcasters.

“When they will act as broadcasters, then the regulations will be able to apply to them,” Guilbeault explained.

“As a legislator, I am not particularly interested in when my step-uncle posts pictures of his cats on YouTube or Facebook.”

Guilbeault also faced questions over why Bill C-10 did not included provisions aimed at curbing online hate.

“That legislation will come later,” the minister said, arguing that it would take much longer to pass the bill had it included many more elements, if it’s to pass at all under the current legislative calendar.

The federal government tabled the proposed changes to the Broadcasting Act in November that could see online streaming services contribute as much as $830 million a year toward Canadian content by 2023.

While some Canadian media producers have welcomed the bill, other supporters of content rules have criticized it as being too soft. Critics of expanded regulation warn it will ultimately harm consumers.

Terry Pedwell, The Canadian Press

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