Disney wants the Canadian government to change the Broadcasting Act to redefine “Canadian” content

Disney has approached the Canadian federal government in an effort to change the current broadcasting law.

Last week, David Fares, vice president of global public policy at Walt Disney, ran for the Senate hoping to change the definition of “Canadian” content.

Fares argues that Disney productions such as the recent turn red should meet current Canadian content criteria. Pixar’s animated film tells the story of a Chinese-Canadian teenager growing up in Toronto. The film also stars Sandra Oh from Ottawa. Additionally, National Geographic Barks was filmed in Quebec. Washington Black, a television adaptation of Canadian author Esi Edugyan’s work was also produced. However, none of the productions are described as Canadian because Disney is an American company.

The current Broadcasting Act contains strict guidelines that dictate what is defined as “Canadian” content. The Online Streaming Act (Bill C-11) is intended to provide companies producing and promoting Canadian content with certain standards of financial incentives, tax breaks and other benefits. Fares hopes Bill C-11 could update Canada’s broadcasting laws. This could give the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) regulatory authority over companies and streaming platforms like Disney, Netflix, etc.

During last week’s hearing, Fares claimed that Disney has a “special relationship with Canada.” He says the company has spent and invested about $3 billion in Canada. Over the past few years, Disney has invested in the country on 18 television series. “We hope to invest more in Canada, and a flexible regulatory regime will allow us to maximize these future investments,” adds Fares.

Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez confirms that he will ask the CRTC to change the definition of Canadian content.

Although the wheels are apparently in motion, there may be some recoil. Canadian Media Producers Association CEO Reynolds Mastin said “people sometimes forget that Canadian content rules exist to determine access to financial incentives from the federal government.”

Recently, Spotify made a similar call. Representatives from the company have argued for similar flexibility in how a Canadian song should fall under Bill C-11. Due to the guidelines, even a song made by a Canadian artist like Justin Bieber or Drake may not be considered “Canadian”.

Image credit: Disney

Source: The Globe and Mail