Navigating new horizons for media, technology employers

The impact of Bills C-11 and C-18 on media and employment law in Canada

Navigating new horizons for media, technology employers

The Canadian government's passage of Bills C-11 and C-18 has stirred the waters of the media and technology sectors, bringing a tide of uncertainty and debate.

Bill C-11, or the Online Streaming Act, casts a wide net, extending broadcasting policy to the digital realm. With the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) now wielding the power to regulate and penalize digital entities, content creators face a sea of change. The Bill's intention to enforce Canadian content quotas and promote cultural heritage could indeed buoy local talent, but the wave of regulatory scrutiny may also carry unintended consequences.

In a notable development, podcasters generating revenue above $10,000 are now required to register with the CRTC, ushering them into a new regulatory phase. This move marks a significant shift from the relatively unregulated space that podcasters have traditionally enjoyed, potentially adding a layer of complexity to content creation and distribution. For podcasters, this could mean navigating through additional legal and bureaucratic channels, affecting the ease and freedom with which they operate and potentially impacting their employment and revenue streams.

Bill C-11’s ripple effect on employment

The enforcement of Bill C-11 has the potential to dampen the spirits of content creators and media professionals. The requirement for streaming platforms to fund Canadian content could lead to a redistribution of resources, affecting budgets and potentially leading to job restructurings or cuts. Moreover, the threat of financial penalties may propel a cautious approach from digital platforms, potentially resulting in self-censorship, which in turn could limit creative freedoms and job opportunities in the sector.

Though Bill C-18 – The Online News Act - aims to support journalism by mandating platforms to compensate for news content, it may have undercurrents that could drag down the industry. By altering the revenue model, the act could inadvertently narrow the stream of content that reaches the public, which may affect the demand for journalistic and creative roles. Furthermore, the apprehension of American entities towards these Bills hints at a potential cooling of international relations, which could freeze cross-border collaborations and employment opportunities.

With the US expressing concerns about discrimination against its businesses and creators, there is a risk of international trade tensions, which could reduce foreign investment in Canada. Such an outcome could see a downturn in employment prospects within the media and technology sectors, further underscoring the need for legal foresight and support.

Ronald S. Minken is the founding lawyer and managing principal at Minken Employment lawyers, an employment law boutique in the Greater Toronto Area.

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