Trudeau Moves to Force Netflix, Disney to Promote Canadian Shows
Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, speaks during an Economic Club of New York event in New York, U.S. (Photographer: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg)

Trudeau Moves to Force Netflix, Disney to Promote Canadian Shows

Justin Trudeau’s government is giving itself the power to regulate streaming services like Netflix Inc., including forcing them to contribute financially to Canadian shows.

With a change to broadcasting legislation, the government says it is trying to create a more even playing field between digital giants and traditional domestic television networks, which are already required to pay minimum amounts toward Canadian programming.

Requiring streaming companies such as Walt Disney Co. and Amazon.com Inc. to pay “at a similar rate to traditional broadcasters” would raise as much as C$830 million ($632 million) a year by 2023, the government said.

The changes would also apply to music streaming services run by Apple Inc. and Spotify Technology SA, the content side of services offered by Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s YouTube, as well as Canadian online companies.

Tuesday’s announcement by Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault comes as Trudeau weighs how to adapt laws to a media market that has largely moved online. The government is also considering how to tax global tech giants on income generated in Canada.

The proposed reform would empower the federal broadcast regulator to impose “conditions of service,” which could include orders to make Canadian content easier for users to find. Online broadcasters would have to “make financial contributions to support Canadian music, stories, creators and producers,” according to a briefing note.

The regulator, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, would be able to impose financial penalties on companies that fail to comply with the rules.

Tuesday’s move won’t impact social media users or licensing powers, but the government said it will be moving forward with more reforms to the sector.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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