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January 10, 2023
Thanks so much for your kind words and warm welcome.
I would like to acknowledge that we are meeting on Treaty 1 traditional territory and the heartland of the Métis people. I would like to give thanks and pay my respect to their Elders.
I’m delighted to join you for this in-person conference. Of course, meeting, working and sharing our work online has become our daily reality in the digital age. And that’s something that preoccupies us all these days, whether we are independent producers or regulators.
If there’s been an upside to the pandemic for your industry, it’s that it has underscored the important role you play in Canadians’ lives – keeping them informed and entertained, but also engaged and inspired.
We know all too well, however, that it has been a challenging few years. According to the CRTC’s latest Communications Market Reports, the broadcasting industry suffered a significant drop in advertising revenues during the pandemic. In addition, television service providers continued to see year-over-year revenue declines in 2021, while digital media broadcasters reported double-digit yearly increases.
The preliminary data suggest that the broadcasting industry’s financial situation improved in 2022. The final numbers will tell the tale, but I’m hopeful that the early signs are pointing to a turnaround.
That being said, the reality is that Canadians are using digital services more and more each year. Twenty-two percent of anglophones and 15% of francophones aged 18+ watched TV exclusively online. That’s up from just 5% and 2% respectively in 2012.
The Canadian Media Producers Association’s annual economic report, Profile 2021, highlighted another notable trend having an impact on your industry. It reported that Canadian audiovisual production has decreased by 9% over the past decade, while foreign location and service production in Canada has grown by 212%!
These disruptive forces reinforce the necessity of Bill C-11, currently working its way through Parliament.
Bill C-11 will modernize Canada’s broadcasting legislation and give us the tools we need to empower the broadcasting system to adapt to the digital environment. The legislation prioritizes the needs and interests of Canadians and stipulates the inclusion and involvement of Canadians of diverse backgrounds in Canadian content. Once adopted, the Act will ensure the promotion and discoverability of Canadian content in both official languages, as well as Indigenous content.
This will lead to more Canadian stories being told, domestic and global success for Canadian productions and artists, and more choice for consumers.
As soon as the legislation receives Royal Assent – which we hope will happen early this year – the CRTC will hit the ground running. There is already an extensive amount of work that’s been completed by CRTC staff that will enable us to swing into action.
Our first priority will be public consultations. Rest assured that nothing will change before the public and all interested parties are given a chance to have their say about how the legislation should be implemented.
So, the onus will be on you to bring your knowledge, creativity or concerns to the Commission’s attention.
I realize that you all have a lot on your plates and that keeping up with regulatory processes may not be at the top of your to-do list. But I truly believe this is a once-in-a-generation chance to shape the future of your industry. This is an extraordinary opportunity for you, as content creators, to provide your perspectives on fundamental changes to the way we fund, present and distribute Canadian culture.
While we prepare for the legislation’s coming into force, the Canada Media Fund has undertaken to develop a new definition for Canadian content. We are monitoring this process with interest, and there will no doubt be other opportunities to have discussions about Canadian content. I encourage you to get involved as those discussions unfold.
You will have opportunities to contribute, either individually or through your associations, to defining clear directions and core values as we decide what we want this new system to look like over the next decade or more. We will need to determine what we really want to accomplish as a country and how we can best do that in a world where the largest players are not Canadian.
After so many years, we are finally coming to terms with the realities of the digital environment and how we can capitalize on the opportunities it makes possible.
My final message for you today is that it will be important to prepare for our public consultations and to participate once they are launched. With the input of all interested parties, including yours, I am confident we can continue to build our national identity and reflect Canada’s culture to Canadians and the world in ways in which we can all take pride.
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