Global Streaming Giants Call On Canadian Court To Shelve Streaming Levy

The global streaming giants have called on a Canadian court to stop plans to introduce laws requiring them to pay for local news.

The Motion Picture Association-Canada (MPA-Canada), which represents the likes of Netflix, Paramount and Disney, has claimed in a court filing the requirement “is a discriminatory measure that goes far beyond what Parliament intended.” It claims this “exceeds” regulator CRTC’s authority and fails to recognize billions of dollars of annual spend in Canada.

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We understand MPA-Canada’s issue to not with the levy in its entirety, but specifically with the clause requiring streamers to pay for local news. Requirements to contribute to production funds such as the Indigenous Screen Office (ISO), Black Screen Office (BSO), and Canada Media Fund (CMF) are not part of the appeal process.

Notably, the MPA-Canada claims the global studios and streaming services spend more than C$6.7B producing content in Canada for local and international audiences and invested more content from Canadian production companies last year than pubcaster the CBC, or the CMF and Telefilm combined.

“Our members’ streaming services do not produce local news nor are they granted the significant legal privileges and protections enjoyed by Canadian broadcasters in exchange for the responsibility to provide local news,” said Wendy Noss, President of the MPA–Canada.

The CRTC has previously said the levy, which is part of the controversial C-11 Bill, would come into effect in September, enforcing on streamers the need to invest 5% of their local revenues into a fund that would pay for local news.

The regulator expects the fund to contribute around C$200M to the local broadcasting system each year, and has previously said: “The funding will be directed to areas of immediate need in the Canadian broadcasting system, such as local news on radio and television, French-language content, Indigenous content, and content created by and for equity-deserving communities, official language minority communities, and Canadians of diverse backgrounds,” the CRTC said at the time.

The CRTC also said that streamers would have “some flexibility to direct parts of their contributions to support Canadian television content directly.” The regulator couldn’t be contacted before press time today.

The streamers have consistently questioned why they should pay for local programs or news and always point to the spend they make in the local Canadian market.

The same argument is happening in many countries around the world, but Canada has become a flashpoint and a potential canary in the coal mine should the regulation lead to streamers pulling back on investment.

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