Heritage Minister to Usher in New Era of Cancon Laws

Heritage Minister to Usher in New Era of Cancon Laws
Thanks to our country's Cancon laws, radio and television broadcasters are required to air a percentage of homegrown content on their networks. It seems that the scope of Cancon laws will soon be expanding thanks to Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly, who has announced that she will be conducting public consultations with the aim of bringing content regulations into the 21st century.

These updates are long overdue, since Cancon regulations pre-date the Internet. The last time the laws underwent a major revision was in 1991, when Brian Mulroney's government overhauled the Broadcasting Act. Last year, the CRTC said that it would be easing Cancon requirements on TV stations.

Joly has said that she is open to changing laws, modifying the mandates of the CBC and the CRTC, and creating new agencies. Currently, digital technologies (such streaming services) aren't covered by existing Cancon laws.

"I think the current model is broken, and we need to have a conversation to bring it up to date and make sure we harness its full potential," Joly told the Globe & Mail. "For a long time, politicians have been afraid to deal with these difficult issues, but I don't understand why it wasn't done.… The issue is how can the government be relevant today, instead of being left behind."

The first phase of the consultations on this issue is an Internet survey, which has already launched. In a message attached to the questionnaire, Joly said, "As we adjust to the realities of rapid technological advances and changing consumer behaviour, I am launching consultations to better understand the challenges and opportunities brought on by this transformation."

The survey asks open-ended questions about how Canadians consume media along with questions about the role that the government should play in facilitating local content.

The online survey will run until May 20, and it will be followed by a panel that will conduct consultations called "Strengthening Canadian Content, Discovery and Export in a Digital World." Changes will begin taking place in 2017, with the aim of encouraging the creation and distribution of Canadian content.

Expect to hear of plenty of developments surrounding Cancon in the next couple of years.