Federal government review of Broadcast Act welcome


A planned review of the Broadcast Act be the federal government is welcomed, if it is done right, Unifor National President Jerry Dias says.

“The goal of this evaluation must be to encourage the development of home-grown content that not only tells Canadian stories to capture the Canadian audience, but also intrigues the rest of the world to get to know us,” Dias said in his regular column in the Huffington Post recently.

“It is no easy task, but surely it can be done.”

Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly has said that “everything is on the table” in this review, which starts with an online questionnaire at canada.pch.gc.ca, and will continue with public discussions next fall.

This is the first such review of the industry since the Mulroney government overhauled the Broadcast Act 25 years ago – long before anyone had heard of digital streaming or online services such as Netflix.

While Dias said Joly ought to be commended for tackling the laws around Canadian broadcasting, which originated in a simpler era before the digital age. He warned that just as no one could have imagined Netflix or YouTube 25 years ago, no one today can imagine what advancements might come next – or how to write laws that might remain relevant.

“Finding ways to balance the digital era with supporting local programming is key if Canada is going to continue to foster local democracy in communities,” Dias said.

“Fixing this balance must become an urgent priority for the CRTC and any revisions to the Broadcasting Act.”

Dias said any attempt to use the review to shed Canadian content rules or restrictions on foreign ownership are wrong-headed and dangerous.

“The digital explosion has not diminished the overwhelming influence of American culture in Canada, or the importance of Canadian artists being able to tell Canadian stories. If anything, it has made the need more urgent – even as the solutions are less obvious,” he said.