Regulation of digital platforms | The CRTC will have to define what is a Canadian series or film

(Ottawa) Little riddle: which of these two films is Canadian? “Red Alert”, a production by Pixar studios recounting the misadventures of a Chinese-Toronto teenager or “Dune”, the epic science fiction film by Quebec director Denis Villeneuve who has won several Oscars?

Posted at 10:21 a.m.

Mary Woolf
The Canadian Press

According to Canadian regulations: neither.

The decision makers have the formidable task of giving the most exact definition possible of what represents a film or a series from here.

This definition is in the course of the bill to require streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime or Disney+ to feature Canadian content, like traditional media.

Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez says he plans to ask the CRTC to define what will count as a Canadian work after Bill C-11 is passed by Parliament. According to him, the legislation will help increase investment in the creative sectors in Canada. It will allow Canadians to tell their own stories even more fully.

The CRTC has indicated that the public consultations will take place after Mr. Rodriguez presents the direction he expects to follow.

” [Le projet de loi C-11] will create a more level playing field for Canadian creators and businesses while giving listeners greater access to Canadian content,” said Telefilm Canada’s Executive Director and CEO, Christa Dickenson.

Experts want the current definition of Canadian content to be expanded and modernized to reflect the reality of film and television production today. Not changing anything could encourage studios not to invest in talent here, because their work would not be considered Canadian.

Michael Geist, Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-Commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, this could lead to lower investment in co-productions and favor smaller Canadian productions.

He hopes for greater flexibility in the definition of a Canadian film.

“It is the most restrictive definition, the narrowest that exists in the world. It even excludes Canadian authors,” says Professor Geist of the popular series. The Scarlet Waitress adapted from a novel by Margaret Atwood, which does not count as a Canadian production.

“Government policy is already successful in attracting productions to Canada,” he adds. That’s where we have to start, from an economic perspective. »

He points out that the most important streaming broadcasters are already investing large sums in creation in Canada. Their algorithms encourage Canadians and others to watch Canadian productions. These works may not tick all the official boxes, but they still end up in the Netflix search engine.

“The survival of independent production companies depends on their ability to operate in a fairer regulatory environment that involves all the major players in the broadcasting ecosystem,” said the CEO of the Association québécoise de la production maladie. , Hélène Messier, when the bill was tabled in February.

According to the Canadian Media Production Association, it’s important that Canadian producers get the rights to their own stories. “When they own the intellectual property, those stories belong to them. They can reinvest these revenues in our sector,” the organization said.

Some major productions featuring Canadian actors or creators do not count as Canadian works, at least officially.

For example : Deapoola Marvel Studios production. It stars a Canadian actor, Ryan Reynolds. It’s an adaptation of a comic book character who is Canadian. Filming took place in Vancouver. Canadian Paul Wenick co-wrote the screenplay. Despite everything, this feature film is not recognized as a local film, according to the criteria of the Canadian Audiovisual Products Certification Office.

To be recognized, a Canadian production must have a Canadian director, a Canadian screenwriter and one of the two highest-paid Canadian “artists”. Points are also awarded if other important positions such as director of photography, artistic director, composer or editor are held by Canadians.

Some question the need to update the points system. For example, should points be awarded for recognizing the increased prominence of special effects animators or sound?

Peter Grant, a former member of the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Legislative Review Group, believes that Canadian carriers must remain the essential element of a definition.

According to him, the current definition makes it possible to support Canadian creators while giving them the opportunity to explore themes that are not typically Canadian.

And that’s not stopping Canadians from becoming major players in Hollywood, adds Mr. Grant.

“The current rules are based on the premise that the owner of a producer company must be Canadian or that the money is spent on talent here. In defining Canadian content, the intellectual property rights must be owned by a Canadian, but this does not require that the work be a Canadian story or look Canadian. »

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