Canada’s broadcasting regulatory body, the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) published a news release announcing that it would require podcast providers, social media services and online streaming platforms to register with the government.  

“We are developing a modern broadcasting framework that can adapt to changing circumstances. To do that, we need broad engagement and robust public records. We appreciate the significant participation during this first phase and look forward to hearing a diversity of perspectives at our contributions proceeding in November,” said CRTC Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer Vicky Eatrides. 

The first thing the CRTC plans to do is force all podcast providers that operate in Canada and earn over $10 million annually to formally register with the CRTC. 

“The CRTC is setting out which online streaming services need to provide information about their activities in Canada. Online streaming services that operate in Canada, offer broadcasting content, and earn $10 million or more in annual revenues will need to complete a registration form by November 28, 2023. Registration collects basic information, is only required once and can be completed in just a few steps,” read the release. 

Secondly, “the CRTC is setting conditions for online streaming services to operate in Canada. These conditions take effect today and require certain online streaming services to provide the CRTC with information related to their content and subscribership. The decision also requires those services to make content available in a way that is not tied to a specific mobile or Internet service.”

There is no shortage of confusion surrounding who and what will be affected in online entertainment regarding the CRTC’s new powers since the passing of Bill C-11. 

Currently, content creators earning under $10 million a year and post content onto their own website will remain unaffected, however the social media services which platform these content creators will have to register with the CRTC. According to University of Ottawa Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law Michael Geist, due to the way Bill C-11 is written, this would encompass individual podcast creators who meet the benchmark.

“Given the government’s regular insistence that “platforms are in and users are out”, it begs the question why some users are, by the Commission’s own admission, now in,” wrote Geist in response to the announcement on Monday. 

If the online services are only providing a platform for video games or audio books they will not be required to register.

The CRTC plans to provide a list of all online services that have registered with them on their website. 

Registry with the CRTC applies to not just those living and creating in Canada but also  foreign online streaming services that are accessible to users in Canada. 

These decisions have been made as a result of numerous public consultations that were first launched in May. Another consultation remains ongoing, which asks respondents what contributions should be made by legacy media broadcasters and online streaming services to support Canadian and Indigenous content.

The CRTC announced that it will be holding a three-week public proceeding for the ongoing consultation, which will begin on November 20, 2023. The proceeding is expected “to hear from 129 intervenors who represent a broad range of interests.”