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Independent panel report calls for more Canadian streaming content and an ad-free CBC

Independent panel report calls for more Canadian streaming content and an ad-free CBCA sweeping new report on Canada's broadcasting and telecommunications sector is calling for widespread regulatory reform — including mandated Canadian content on streaming services and an ad-free CBC.The report, commissioned by the federal government and released today, was drafted by a seven-member panel led by Janet Yale, a broadcasting and telecommunications industry veteran.In 2018, the panel was tasked with reviewing federal legislation dealing with broadcasting and telecommunications, along with the CBC and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). The panel gathered submissions from more than 2,000 stakeholders, public and private broadcasters, and tech giants such as Google and Netflix.The panel's task was to suggest updates to regulations drafted before the age of dial-up. Its report recommends, among other things: * Working toward the goal of universal broadband access for all Canadians. * Requiring "media curators" (such as Netflix) to invest in Canadian programming. * Making the CBC into a publicly funded service, free of advertising. * Combining the Canada Media Fund and Telefilm Canada in a new, publicly funded entity. * Strengthening and re-imaging the role of the CRTC, to make all media providers, from conventional broadcasters to online curators, subject to its jurisdiction.Not a Netflix tax, but ...One of the most contentious questions facing the panel was whether to bring foreign streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime under the Canadian regulatory umbrella.While streaming services such as Netflix are increasingly popular with Canadians, they don't have to obey the regulatory requirements imposed on traditional Canadian broadcasters — such as meeting Canadian content quotas and paying into the Canada Media Fund, which finances and supports the creation of Canadian media content.The panel report calls on the federal government to require streaming services "to devote a portion of their program budgets to Canadian programs."Past federal governments have resisted calls to apply consumption taxes to foreign streaming services. The report insists it is "not recommending that Canadian content be supported by the so-called Netflix Tax."Instead, it suggests forcing streaming services themselves to "invest in Canadian programming that they believe will attract and appeal to Canadians."The goal, according to the panel, would be to support Canadian cultural policy objectives without causing subscription rates to rise.The report also calls for applying GST/HST to foreign online services. Netflix currently pays provincial tax only in Saskatchewan and Quebec.CBC News asked Canadians: Would you pay Netflix more each month to boost Canadian content?Enforcing Cancon in the age of the algorithmThe report also addresses the issue of "discoverability" — the challenge of regulating Canadian content in a media market where streaming customers' viewing choices are guided by algorithms. In its submission to the panel, Netflix argued that since streaming consumers "choose what they want to watch and simply bypass content that doesn't interest them," Cancon quotas imposed on streaming services "would merely encourage spending on quantity over quality to meet an arbitrary number."The report recommends enforcing discoverability obligations to ensure Canadian streaming content is visible and easy to find. It also wants to compel streaming services to open their algorithms to audits.But enforcing the display of Canadian content on streaming home pages or in search results could be seen as interfering with the company's relationship with consumers.Netflix has argued that such an approach would be "anti-consumer" and counterproductive — that if algorithms were changed to push Canadian content "that members won't watch," viewer feedback would hurt those products.An ad-free CBC?Beyond major structural changes, such as combining the Canada Media Fund and Telefilm Canada into a new entity, the panel also envisions a new role for the CBC.This new "public media institution" would have a renewed focus on reflecting national, regional, local and Indigenous communities to audiences. To do so, the report recommends the federal government enter into five-year funding commitments with CBC while eliminating all advertising from the service, beginning with news content.Tight timeline for major changesFrom remaking the Broadcasting Act (last assented to by Parliament in 1991) to rebranding the CRTC as the Canadian Communications Commission, the report proposes some major changes to the media regulatory landscape.But according to Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault, the minority government wants to table a bill within the first year of its mandate."We probably have months to reform the CRTC [in a process] that would normally [take] years," Guilbeault told the telecom and media news site Cartt earlier this month. "So our hope is to table a bill in the coming months based on the Yale report."Read the full report here


Iqaluit's French school looking at $15M expansion

Iqaluit's French school looking at $15M expansionNunavut's only French school is looking at adding a 1,500 square metre expansion. The expansion will make space to house students from kindergarten to Grade 12. Right now, students in the french program have to transfer to Inuksuk High School after Grade 9. École des Trois-Soleils is currently planning what this expansion would look like. However, the expansion will likely include a gymnasium, four classrooms and student support spaces. At a city council meeting on Tuesday, Barry Cornthwaite, manager of capital planning for the government of Nunavut's Department of Education, spoke to the council about the plans.He was accompanied by Justin Leclair from Parkin Architect and Daniel Nenadov from Accutech Engineering who are working on the expansion for École des Trois-Soleils. "We want to be very transparent on the topic we are talking about, the expansion of École des Trois-Soleils," said Cornthwaite. He hopes to bring design options back to council in the next three months. The estimated cost of the expansion is $15 million. Iqaluit could benefit from new gymCity Councillor Romeyn Stevenson stressed to the delegates that additional space should also consider how the community could use it as well. Such as if the new gym would have a viewing area for events, or could be used to host a future Arctic Winter Games. Cornthwaite says the department has applied to Heritage Canada for funding for the expansion. If the school received funding from Heritage Canada, it would only cover the costs of renovating spaces, like the gym or common areas, that could be used by the public. At this point, it's unclear if or how much Heritage Canada will chip in. "What's the planning process for other schools in Iqaluit?" said Councillor Kyle Sheppard. "Nakasuk is quite old, the community is growing. Once we solve our water issue it is going to be growing a lot more rapidly."  Cornthwaite says the Department of Education prioritizes projects by community need. He says Iqaluit has the advantage of having more than one school and kids can be spread out when schools become crowded. "They are prioritized I think in a very fair way that doesn't make everyone happy in every community in Nunavut,  but we do make sure we are addressing issues all across Nunavut," said Cornthwaite. Cornthwaite says improvements to Nakasuk school are in the "pre-planning" phase. The delegates say they have held consultations on the design of the expansion with the French district education authority — la commission scolaire francophone du Nunavut — as well as students and staff at École des Trois-Soleils. A public consultation on the expansion will be held Wednesday at 6 p.m. at École des Trois-Soleils.The meeting will address what the expansion will look like, not whether or not it will happen. The expansion is expected to go ahead.


'I’ll still fly economy': $50 million Lotto Max winner plans to be selective with spending

'I’ll still fly economy': $50 million Lotto Max winner plans to be selective with spendingA woman from Maple, Ont., is celebrating her luck after winning a $50 million Lotto Max jackpot from the draw on Jan. 17.


City of St. John's joins feds in giving businesses a break

City of St. John's joins feds in giving businesses a breakThe City of St. John's is extending the deadline for the commercial business tax and vacancy allowance claims, in the wake of the massive storm that prompted officials to shut down the city for days. Business owners now have until Feb. 28, specifically by 4:30 p.m. on that day, to pay the commercial business tax, instead of the previous deadline of Jan. 31. Payments made during the month of February will be applied to the previous month's deadline, which will mean businesses have an extra 28 days to avoid any interest that would have accumulated. This extension doesn't apply to tipping fees at the Robin Hood Bay Waste Management Facility.There is another extension, albeit a shorter one, for filing vacancy allowance claims. Those for the third and fourth quarters of 2019, normally due Jan. 31, will be accepted up to and including Feb. 14.One day before, the federal government announcing that affected businesses in St. John's will get an extension on their HST remittance. That deadline is Feb. 10.Employees feeling the financial crunch, tooThe measures are designed to help alleviate the pressure some businesses say they're facing after the state of emergency, which shuttered most stores during January, a month that is typically a challenge for businesses coming off Christmas and dealing with winter weather.But it isn't just people who run businesses feeling the pinch, and so far, no specific recourse has been provided. Many businesses have said on social media they would be paying employees for lost wages, but others said they simply couldn't afford it. And there is no legal requirement for employers to pay their workers during a state of emergency."It's stressful on them and it's stressful on us," Dave Hopley, co-owner of Rocket Bakery, told The St. John's Morning Show. "We just don't have the cash reserves. We're not sitting on a pile of cash."While politicians, including Premier Dwight Ball and Federal Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair, said they would look for ways to help affected workers, neither has yet offered firm commitments. Blair said Ottawa is "going to do our very best to be there for them."He said there are criteria and a program in place, and discussions are underway.Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador


UBC, First Nations, City of Vancouver join forces to push for SkyTrain extension to university

UBC, First Nations, City of Vancouver join forces to push for SkyTrain extension to universityThe City of Vancouver, UBC and the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Development Corporation are joining forces to advocate for the completion of a SkyTrain line all the way to the university's Point Grey campus as soon as possible.The three parties, including Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart and UBC president Santa Ono, are holding a media conference at 10:15 a.m. PT to announce details of their plan.Last February, the Metro Vancouver Mayors' Council on Regional Transportation voted in favour of extending SkyTrain service to the Point Grey campus.UBC is currently served by the 99 B-Line, which is the busiest bus route in Canada and the United States, according to a report submitted to the Mayors' Council, moving 60,000 transit customers a day.The report said SkyTrain is the only transportation option that can provide sufficient capacity to meet demand on the route beyond 2045.A line to UBC would extend the planned Broadway Subway Line, which will connect VCC-Clark station to Arbutus Street and is expected to open in 2025.The UBC extension comes with an estimated price tag of $3.8 billion in 2018 dollars, with completion expected by 2030.


Wednesday 29th of January 2020 05:25:59

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