By: Steve de Eyre, Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs, TikTok Canada
TikTok Canada recently submitted a written testimony sharing our thoughts on Bill C-11 to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. You can read our full testimony here.
Canadian policymakers are currently debating a proposed law known as Bill C-11, The Online Streaming Act. The bill would subject online platforms like TikTok to Canada's Broadcasting Act, which for decades has set the rules for what you see and hear on TV and radio stations, in particular through rules around Canadian Content (CanCon) that must be shown.
The Government's stated intention for Bill C-11 is to require digital streaming services like Netflix or Spotify (which curate and control the content available on their platforms) to promote and produce more CanCon. Unfortunately, the legislation is currently written in a way that would also give the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) the authority to regulate what you are shown on TikTok and other platforms—something that a number of entrenched legacy media and cultural interests are advocating for.
What would this mean for Canadians who use TikTok? If TikTok were required to promote content that is certified as CanCon by the CRTC, it would give an unfair advantage on our platform to well-resourced and established media voices, at the expense of independent and emerging digital creators. As a viewer, the content you see might be less personalized to your interests; as an independent creator, the CRTC could regulate how audiences discover your content, impacting your reach in Canada and beyond.
We don't know yet what would qualify as CanCon, and whether popular TikTok content verticals like gaming, vlogs, DIY home improvement, unboxing videos, product reviews, or makeup tutorials would be given the same treatment as more traditional artistic forms. How will the "Canadian-ness" of a Duet or Stitch be determined when it is co-created by people from around the world? Would the CanCon certification process be easily accessible to Canadians without the resources to navigate the CRTC, including young people and historically underrepresented communities? Or would it create a barrier to entry, stifling creators' ability to break through?
TikTok supports C-11's overall goal of supporting Canadian artists and creators, and we believe that with two small updates, the government could meet its objectives without creating obstacles to success for digital creators. First, the bill's application to user-generated content should be narrowed, especially to distinguish between posting full-length artistic works, as opposed to partial clips of songs or videos, or amateur performances. Second, the bill should expressly exclude user-generated content from discoverability obligations imposed on platforms.
To best support Canadian creators, all of us—platforms, industry, and government—must work together to ensure that Canadian creators, traditional or digital, have the training and resources they need to compete and succeed in today's global content marketplace. At TikTok, we're already doing this through programs like our Accelerator for Indigenous Creators and our Creator Class program.
Canadians create some of the best content in the world. Rather than imposing an outdated broadcasting framework on new platforms that prescribes domestic demand for CanCon, let's work together to foster the creation of an abundant supply of high-quality, globally consumable, and authentically Canadian content.
If you are interested in learning more about or getting engaged on Bill C-11, you can visit Digital First Canada, an independent advocacy group for digital-first creators that is supported in part by TikTok Canada.