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Nirmala Naidoo to the annual conference of the Western Association of Broadcasters

Press Release

From: Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission

June 6, 2024

Before I begin, I would like to acknowledge that we are meeting on traditional Treaty 7 territory. I acknowledge the many Indigenous communities located in Western Canada, and pay respect to these Nations and their Elders who have lived in and cared for these lands for generations.

I’m delighted to participate once again in your annual conference. It’s nice to see so many familiar faces from last year’s event.

As you know, the CRTC is an independent, quasi-judicial tribunal that regulates the Canadian communications sector in the public interest. We hold public hearings on telecommunications and broadcasting matters, and make decisions based on the public record.

In telecommunications, our work focuses mainly on Internet and cellphone services. We promote choice and affordability for Canadians, encourage investment in reliable and high-quality networks, and work to improve access to services in Indigenous, rural and remote communities.

But today, we are here to discuss the other side of our house: broadcasting. I know several of you heard from me a month ago in Richmond. You will be happy to hear I have a few new updates to share with you, despite the short time since we have seen each other. As our Chairperson said a couple days ago in Toronto, at the CRTC we are moving fast and taking action.

But before we get to that, I want to take a moment to address the changes in the broadcasting system today. We know many of you are facing challenges.

Streaming services and online news have changed the way broadcasting and journalism are done. Advertising revenues have shifted and business models along with it. Creators, journalists, and news stations are finding it harder to meet Canadians’ needs with their valuable work.

That’s something we are seeing across the country, both nationally and in local markets.

At the same time, we know the important role broadcasting continues to play. Local radio, for example, brings the world to Canadian communities and gives a platform to local voices. It promotes local programming and elevates Canadian and Indigenous artists. Simply put, it brings us together.

That’s something that matters to me personally. I am passionate about broadcasting and journalism. Before I joined the Commission, I worked as a television journalist and anchor in Canada and around the world. I’ve seen firsthand how broadcasting connects people and how trusted sources of news can help inform public debate.

Access to a fair and equitable communications system that disseminates crucial information, no matter who you are or where you are, is the cornerstone of democracy. Conversely, as someone of colour who was born in apartheid South Africa, I’ve seen how unfair and inequitable access to communications systems, and specifically broadcasting and news, can do the opposite.

It’s with these experiences in mind, and a desire to give back and serve the greater good, that I joined the CRTC. My fellow Commissioners and I, and the staff at the CRTC, are moving quickly to modernize Canada’s broadcasting framework.

Key to that process is ensuring that Canadians have access to regional news and local information, and that Canada maintains a vibrant and diverse broadcasting landscape.

Online Streaming Act and contributions decision

Much of our work in that regard concerns the implementation of the amended Broadcasting Act. This time last year, we had just published our regulatory plan setting out our approach. We had also launched our initial consultations.

A year later, I can say that we are making progress on our goal of building a regulatory framework that is flexible and adaptable. Just two days ago we made our decision on base financial contributions to the system by streaming services.

Let me share with you some of the details.

We decided that online streaming services should be required to make a base financial contribution to the Canadian broadcasting system. Traditional broadcasters have obligations, including being required to spend certain amounts on Canadian content. It is only fair that online streamers should contribute as well.

Larger online streaming services will have to pay a base contribution of 5% of their applicable revenues. We expect this to generate approximately $200 million in new funding each year for Canada’s broadcasting system. That obligation for streaming services will start in the 2024-25 broadcast year, which starts on September 1, 2024.

This funding will help address the most immediate challenges the broadcasting system is facing now and will allow us to implement our plan for the future. These funds will help support a range of programming that is important to Canadians.

We are proposing that some of the contributions go to FACTOR, Musicaction and The Canadian Starmaker Fund to support music from Indigenous creators and equity-deserving groups. The Community Radio Fund of Canada would also receive funds to support creators from these communities, as well as French-language content, and local and community radio news. Further, some of the contributions would be set aside for a new fund offered through the Indigenous Music Office.

We will also be establishing a local news fund for radio stations outside major urban areas. We know how important local news is, and we know it needs support now.

More decisions on contributions to the broadcasting system will follow. We will continue to adapt as needed, from adding more funding to implementing new measures later on. We know we need to move quickly, but we must balance that with the need to consult broadly with Canadians.

You can find more details about the process in our regulatory plan. We have an ambitious agenda that aligns with the direction the government provided us last fall. We updated the plan just a few weeks ago on our website. It lays out our upcoming public proceedings. They will play an important role in determining how each radio station, television service and online streaming service will contribute to the Canadian broadcasting system.

In recent weeks, we have heard some frustration from folks tired of waiting for meaningful decisions. I can understand that feeling.

But as you know, overhauling a regulatory system that has been evolving for decades is a tall order. I can assure you we are acting quickly and consulting meaningfully at every step of the way.  We have prioritized definitions of Canadian content and engagement with Indigenous peoples, equity-deserving, and official language minority communities. And we are making sure that our modernized broadcasting framework takes into account the shifting landscape in which you all live and work.

And we will continue to balance moving quickly with consult broadly as we implement the legislation Parliament has given us. Because gathering the views of all Canadians is how we make decisions that have the public interest at heart. In fact, the public record upon which we based our recent decision included input from many of you, and we thank you all.

I encourage you all to remain just as involved as we continue this process. So, let me share with you some of the upcoming consultations in which you can get involved.

Upcoming consultations

Later this year, we are moving forward with a consultation that will explore new ways to fund the participation of groups that represent the public interest in our processes.

That consultation will be followed by a series of other activities during the winter and spring of next year. We will be examining structural relationships between small, medium and large players. Among other elements, we’re going to look at what’s in our toolbox. Right now we have tools such as mandatory carriage on television, mediation and final offer arbitration. We want to see if these tools still work, and whether they apply in a digital age.

We want to make sure we are regulating not for regulation’s sake, but for outcomes that are in the interest of Canadians.

At the same time, we will continue our work on other consultations, all of which will also be supported by public proceedings.

One will study all aspects of radio and audio streaming services in Canada. We will examine issues including how to support the industry and Canadian music, how to define audio content, and what regulatory obligations should exist.

Another will examine possible changes to the definition of Canadian content for television and online programming.

The third will study how to ensure everyone has access to high-quality and diverse local and national news programming on TV and radio, as well as online.

Another series of consultations will look at how the broadcasting system can better reflect the experiences of all people in Canada and foster access to diverse voices and perspectives.

I want to bring special attention to our Indigenous Broadcasting Policy co-development process. We launched its second phase in March of this year and issued a notice of consultation—in English, French, and seven Indigenous languages. The questions in the consultation invited views on how the modernized policy can meet the needs and interests of Indigenous audiences, broadcasters, and content creators.

The comment period is now very much open and will remain so until July 22nd. Anyone who is interested can participate through our usual channels or through the CRTC Conversations platform. As another option, those who are interested can hold a community-led engagement session and submit a summary of the discussions. To take part, contact us by email at or by phone at 1-877-249-2782.

I know this sounds like a lot and, to be frank, it is.  But we firmly believe that these processes are the important next steps to setting up the broadcasting, production and creative sectors for longer-term success.

This is how we are developing a broadcasting framework that makes sense for everyone—for businesses, for creators, and for Canadians at large.

Online News Act

In the time I have left, I want to give you a quick update on the Online News Act. Our consultation on the regulatory framework for the Act closed in April. We have been developing a framework that will support fair commercial agreements between news organizations in Canada and major online platforms that distribute their content.

All online platforms have until June 16th to notify the CRTC if the Online News Act applies to them. We expect some may ask for an exemption from bargaining. We will examine any such requests thoroughly to understand the rationale and implications.

Finally, later this year, we will issue a call for proposals for an independent auditor, who will prepare an annual report on the impact of the Act on Canada’s digital news marketplace.

We expect to start publishing decisions that set out this important framework later this year.


I’ll wrap up my remarks today by reiterating our commitment, at the CRTC, to a healthy Canadian broadcasting system. We know that as the broadcasting system changes, so too must the regulatory framework we oversee.

We know that continuing to deliver high-quality services to your audiences in the face of a shifting landscape is not easy.

We absolutely understand and appreciate the vital role you all play within your communities – the information you provide, the fundraising you support and the linkages you create – that cannot be found elsewhere.

We’re building a broadcasting framework that supports our shared goals. One that allows you to continue to provide Canadians with the news and content they need.

All the work that I’ve detailed today, the work that is ongoing now, and the work that is to come, supports this ambitious goal. But this work needs to be supported by public records that are as complete as possible.

That’s where you come in. Participate in our processes. Talk to us.

If you have questions about our processes, or about our work, please reach out. We have a call line dedicated to broadcasters. You can call us any time at 866-893-0932 on any issue. We are here to help. I can’t say that often enough.

Our doors are always open, and we understand the challenges you face.

Thank you.

Media Relations

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