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Heritage ministry to review Canada’s Broadcasting Act

Source: Vito Pilieci, Otawa Citizen
Date: February 1, 2018.

The Canadian heritage minister said the federal government is still considering how to best deal with international streaming services, like Netflix, as part of a broader overhaul of Canada’s Broadcasting Act.

Speaking at the Prime Time in Ottawa Conference held at the Westin Hotel in downtown Ottawa on Thursday, Mélanie Joly said there has been a lot of confusion about the government’s stance pertaining to online streaming services such as Netflix.

International streaming services, such as Netflix and YouTube, do not collect and remit sales taxes on their services. Traditional broadcasters, who are competing with these services, have long argued the failure to collect those taxes gives streaming services an unfair advantage.

 Last year, the Canadian heritage committee, a parliamentary committee tasked with studying ways to aid Canada’s slumping media production companies, proposed a tax on individual internet subscriptions. The tax, which would have amounted to a five per cent increase in monthly bills, would have been used to fund Canadian content creation.

The idea was immediately dismissed by the Liberal government as it was seen as an increased financial burden to middle-class Canadians.

That doesn’t mean streaming services were given a tax exemption, Joly said.

“There is no tax exemption that has been negotiated. As a government, we’d never do that,” Joly told the room of around 500 people on Thursday. “There’s also been no discussion regarding the fact that we will never change our laws or regulate. That was never part of the conversation either.”

A spokesperson for Joly said a review of the Broadcasting Act is being led by Canadian Heritage.

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