Ottawa (AFP)

The Canadian government wants to force subscription video platforms to contribute financially to Canadian cultural production as part of a project to modernize the "broadcasting law" presented on Tuesday.

If passed by parliament, the bill will allow the sector regulator, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, to apply the same rules to companies such as Netflix, Amazon Prime or Spotify as traditional radio broadcasters.

The inclusion of these platforms in the regulatory framework would raise up to an additional 830 million Canadian dollars (539 million euros) by 2023 to support the creation and distribution of Canadian music or television content, the Minister of Canadian Heritage (Culture), Steven Guilbeault.

"Having one set of rules for broadcasters and another for online broadcasters is not fair," Guilbeault said at a press conference.

"All those who benefit from the system should contribute equitably to it," he insisted.

This bill "is very disappointing", judged a spokesperson for the New Democratic Party (NDP, left), Alexandre Boulerice, deploring on Twitter that it does not target "the advertising revenues of Facebook and Google".

"This is a first concrete step towards re-establishing equity between Canadian artists, producers and broadcasters and digital platforms," ​​praised the Coalition for Culture and Media (CCM), which brings together some forty 'organizations in the cultural and media sector.

"The bill, however, seems to provide a broad exemption for online businesses and exclude certain social networks," she said.

The Canadian "broadcasting" law has not undergone any changes since 1991, that is, since the advent of the Internet.

According to the government, 62% of Canadian households now subscribe to Netflix, which raised $ 1 billion in revenue in Canada in 2019.

In addition, revenues from online video services have increased annually by around 90% over the past two years, while those of traditional broadcasting companies have experienced an annual decline of 1.8% over the past five years.

However, this decrease in revenues for the traditional audiovisual sector is leading to a correlated decrease in financial support for the production of Canadian content, according to the government.

Some of the streaming platforms, like Netflix, are already investing in Canadian productions, but they are doing so on a strictly voluntary basis, said Guilbeault.

The project foresees that it would be up to the sector regulator to determine the funding requirements that will be applied to the platforms in the coming year.

© 2020 AFP