Bill C-11’s Foundational Faults, Part Four: Why the Discoverability Rules Will Harm Canadian Creators and Risk Millions in Revenues

  • March 25, 2022
  • Michael Geist

My post on why Bill C-11’s discoverability rules are a flawed solution in search of a problem demonstrated that there is little incentive for Internet platforms to make it difficult for Canadians to find Canadian content. Indeed, experience with both Netflix and Youtube suggest that there is every reason to ensure the availability of such content and to recommend it where users show an interest. Yet proponents of discoverability regulations may still argue that even if they are unlikely to accomplish much, what is the harm in trying? The simple answer is that the regulated discoverability requirements are likely to harm Canadian creators, resulting in lost audiences and potentially millions in lost revenues.

How could establishing CRTC mandated discoverability requirements for platforms such as Youtube, TikTok or Twitch harm Canadian creators?

First, it is important to reconfirm that Bill C-11 does apply to many digital first creators, notwithstanding Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez claims to the contrary. Rodriguez insists that he has met digital first creators, repeatedly and somewhat oddly referencing their ages (“I did meet with digital first creators and those were honestly fascinating conversations. Some of them were 18, 19, 20, 21 years old. They are all over the world. They do incredible things. I love it.” or  “They’re great. I have met with them. They’re amazing. They’re so creative. Some of them are 19, 20, 21.“) and trying to provide assurance that the law is not intended to cover their work. However, Bill C-11 treats all audio-visual content as a “program” under the law and the language easily covers this form of commercial content on Internet platforms.