By Len St-Aubin
IN HIS RESPONSE to my critique of his article on regulating user-generated content under Bill C-11, Howard Law included a link to an opinion piece I wrote a year ago for Cartt.ca about Bill C-10, the predecessor to C-11.
While I appreciate that Law recommended my article to Cartt.ca readers, I want to correct a statement he made.
My article proposed an alternative approach to promoting CanCon online rather than intrusive, heavy handed and problematic regulation under the Broadcasting Act. Among other things, I recommended a market oriented financial commitment from foreign streamers in the range of 5% to 7.5% of gross revenues in Canada.
Law noted only the 7.5% figure and attributed it to some privileged information I may have had about my previous client’s “pain point”.
In fact, my article had attributed the range to two publicly known benchmarks. 5% was the amount proposed at the time by the Australian government for a comparable contribution to domestic content. 7.5% was the CRTC’s requirement of Canadian broadcasters for so-called “programs of national interest” or PNI. PNI is mostly scripted drama and comedy — the type of content most comparable to what the major online streamers offer. A number of potentially positive policy outcomes were listed in support of that range, primarily of benefit to Canadian broadcasters.
Given Bell’s recent comments before the Heritage Committee examining C-11, about their continued dependence on foreign entertainment content, my proposals may have been even more prescient than Law suggested they were.
In my series of articles for Cartt.ca, I have made a point of stating that the opinions expressed are mine alone and do not reflect the views of any client past or present. That statement is intended both to assert the independence of my opinions, and to protect any client from having my views falsely attributed to them, or to any privileged information about them.
Note, too, that I worked for the federal government for much longer than I have worked for any client.
Consultant Len St-Aubin concluded his previous long-time client commitment as of 31 Dec. 2020. The views expressed in this opinion are his alone. Formerly he was Director General, Telecommunications Policy, at Industry Canada, he was also a member of the policy teams that developed both the 1991 Broadcasting Act and the 1993 Telecommunications Act.