Bill C-10 passes second reading, referred to Senate committee for further study

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With the Senate breaking for its summer adjournment last night, the bill's fate continues to hinge largely on whether or not an election is called this fall.

Bill C-10 has passed a second reading and will now be referred to the Senate committee for Transport and Communications (TRCM) for further study. However, with the Senate breaking for its summer adjournment at midnight on Tuesday (June 29), the bill’s fate continues to hinge largely on whether or not an election is called this fall.

If an election is called, as many have speculated, all legislation that is before the Senate (including Bill C-10) will die with the dissolution of parliament. If there is no election in the fall, however, there could be some hope for the bill as the Senate committee’s study would likely resume its study in the fall.

After the the bill was passed in the House of Commons last week by 196 votes to 112 – following a lengthy period in committee debate – Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault had been hopeful the legislation would move swiftly through the senate and be adopted prior to the end of the current parliamentary session.

Once it arrived at the Senate, however, it became clear that the overriding sentiment was that more time was required to examine the bill, especially in light of the controversy that has surrounded it since April.

During debate on Monday, senators largely agreed that the bill required more “sober second thought” and that further work needs to be done to understand the implications of modernizing the broadcasting framework for the first time in three decades.

“[Thirty] meetings and over four months at committee stage might be unheard of, but I stand here today to say that this legislation still needs further study,” said Senator Donna Dasko.

While Bill C-10 has long been considered as a fundamental key to the future prosperity of the Canadian content ecosystem, the proposed legislation has drawn criticism from those who argue that it overreaches and opens the door for the CRTC to regulate user-generated content.

The Liberals have denied this, insisting there are provisions in the bill which specifically safeguard against the Commission ever regulating content posted by Canadian individuals to social media platforms. In the event that the Senate’s study does resume in the fall, the debate around how to protect ensure Canadian citizen’s freedom of expression is not infringed upon will resume.

In a tweet posted Tuesday evening, Guilbeault said he was “Happy to see that Bill C-10 will soon make its way to #TRCM Committee. Thank you Senator @dennis dawson for your hard work and advocacy on this important bill, and most importantly, for standing with our Canadian artists.”

Across the world, local governments have been grappling with how to regulate streaming services, which on one hand bring significant economic benefits to local production industries, but also leave little scope for local producers and creators to retain intellectual property.

Earlier today, the French government said that streaming services operating in France will have to invest between 20% and 25% of their French revenues in French content (across both acquired and original content). The requirement is part of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMS), which was introduced by the European Commission as a way of harmonizing upcoming regulation across the continent.