Madam Speaker, I am happy to speak to the bill and I will be sharing my time with the member for Milton.
The bill is about building sustainability back into the Canadian broadcasting system and putting Canadian broadcasters on equal footing with their online competitors. The objective of the bill is to ensure that online broadcasting services that operate in Canada contribute to the creation of Canadian content and support the Canadian audio and audiovisual creative ecosystems, just as licensed Canadian radio and television broadcasters have been doing for decades.
Up until the web giants came along, the broadcasting system was managed by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, CRTC, as a Canadian regulated sector. To operate a broadcasting service in Canada's protected market, one had to get a licence from the CRTC. As a condition of that licence, these broadcasters had to contribute to the overall broadcasting system. They had to support the creation and promotion of Canadian stories and music. This was the framework of the Canadian regulatory bargain.
This regime worked well for decades as our broadcasting system grew and matured. Over time, Canadians went from receiving two or three TV channels, I actually remember having that clicker on my TV for those, to the hundreds that are available now. As a result of the globalized ecosystem, the CRTC established new rules and regulations to allow some foreign channels such CNN to be distributed on cable and satellite systems in Canada, while ensuring that Canadian operators would remain competitive.
Even as it expanded, the closed licence broadcasting system was maintained. TV stations, radio stations and cable and satellite distributors were largely profitable and film and video creators and musicians benefited from sustained and stable support from the broadcasting system. However, the emergence of multinational web giants has changed the game. Early on, the CRTC chose to exempt those services from licensing in order to encourage the development of innovative technologies and business models. As a result of this, foreign online broadcasters are now able to sell their services to Canadians while avoiding the regulatory obligations placed on traditional broadcasters, including the requirement to support Canadian creators.
However, these online broadcasters do not get a free ride any longer. The revenues of online video services have grown some 90% each year over the last two years, while the situation for Canadian traditional broadcasters has worsened. They have seen a steady decline in revenues of 1.8% per year over the last five years. Not to put too fine of a point on it, the legislation as it stands has been putting our own Canadian companies at a disadvantage. We need to help the home team. For too long, we have been helping the away team.
Traditional Canadian broadcasters are forced to compete against online platforms that are playing by different rules. This needs to change. Bill C-10 would restore competitive balance to the system. It would provide the CRTC with the tools it needs to establish a modern regulatory framework for broadcasting that is appropriate for the digital, online and on-demand era that we live in today.
Importantly, this new regulatory regime would encompass both traditional broadcasters as well as online services. Our approach is a balanced one, which includes strong guardrails. We would be excluding user-generated content, news content and video games from any regulation.
Additionally, while these amendments would apply to online broadcasters, obligations would only be imposed on those that have a material impact on Canada. In practice, this means it would only impact common household name streamers. The very first broadcasting policy objective that would appear in the amended Broadcasting Act would state that all broadcasting undertakings shall contribute in a manner that furthers the implementation of the broadcasting policy for Canada. This would help level the playing field and restore equity and fairness to the system. Online broadcasting services would be required to support the creation and promotion of Canadian stories and music. This would help stabilize funding for Canadian film, video and music creators and establish sustainable support for a new generation of Canadian artists.
Canadians have benefited from the flexibility and choice that online platforms have to offer. Canadian creators, stories and music have achieved international success and reached new audiences through global streaming platforms. When I think about it, I think of people like Alessia Cara or programs like Anne with an E, the TV show that many people have loved.
However, I need to emphasize for hon. members that the intent of this bill is not to restrict the ability of Canadians to access online broadcasting services or to subject foreign online platforms to rules that do not also apply to Canadian broadcasters. The intent is equally not to subject Canadian online broadcasting services to rules that do not apply to foreign ones.
The CRTC, as the expert regulator, would be expected to put in place a regime that does not discriminate and treats similar services in a similar manner. No online broadcaster, Canadian or foreign, would require a licence from the CRTC. The message is that they are welcome to come in and join the game, but must play by the same rules as the other players on the field.
The Minister of Canadian Heritage has indicated that the bill before us is just the first step in a broader approach that the government plans to implement to position Canadian broadcasting for the on-demand online environment. He has indicated that he intends to direct the CRTC to act quickly to ensure that online broadcasters contribute appropriately to the Canadian broadcasting system. The CRTC would be asked to address existing regulatory asymmetries. Regulatory requirements should be flexible, yet predictable, recognizing the amazing diversity of creators Canada has to offer, as well as business models and technologies in the Canadian broadcasting system today.
We need to restore a measure of fairness in the broadcasting system. A lot has changed from the time I mentioned when we had TV sets with a turn dial, and we had maybe six channels. This bill maps a way forward toward a more equitable regulatory framework that would allow traditional broadcasters to compete on a more level playing field. It would have direct impact toward increasing stable and sustained income to Canadian creators.
Bill C-10 would put the online broadcasters on fair footing with traditional Canadian broadcasters, and it is up to us, as members of this House, to pass this bill quickly in order to restore competitive balance to the broadcasting system and give our Canadian broadcasters a fair shot at getting back into the game.