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Web searches | CRTC chief wants to promote Canadian content

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Tony Vaughn
Tony Vaughn
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(Ottawa) CRTC Chairman Ian Scott could require platforms like YouTube to modify their algorithms to make it easier to find Canadian content, under Bill C-11’s powers over webcasting.

Posted yesterday at 3:11pm.

Mary Wolf
Canadian Press

Scott’s remarks were quickly caught by critics of the bill, who feared they would confirm their warnings.

Matthew Hatfield of OpenMedia said his organization is dedicated to keeping the Internet open. Although it is primarily funded by individuals, it receives funding from Google, whose parent company YouTube also owns.

However, YouTube warned that Canadian digital creators, including influencers and broadcasters, could lose foreign revenue if the government forces digital platforms to promote Canadian content.

Indeed, the algorithms cross the line, and if a Canadian song presented to a YouTube audience in Canada is unpopular or picky, it may indicate that it is not popular. This, in turn, could lead to a lowering of the rankings.

The bill would update Canada’s streaming laws to apply to platforms such as Netflix, YouTube and Spotify, requiring them to take action to make Canadian content more viewable, including music, movies and TV shows.

Michael Guest, Canada Research Chair in Internet Law at the University of Ottawa, believes it has long been clear that these rules require algorithmic manipulation. “This is precisely why so many Canadian digital creators have expressed concern about the bill and the harm it could cause,” he said.

“The CRTC Chairman acknowledged that the law would allow the government to do indirectly what it says it cannot do directly, by putting pressure on platforms to manipulate their algorithms to prioritize certain content over others.”

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But Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez has said publicly that the bill would not result in platforms being required to manipulate their algorithms.

His spokeswoman confirmed, Thursday, that the government’s position has not changed, noting that part of the C-11 bill specifically excludes manipulation of algorithms. There is a provision in the law that prevents the CRTC from issuing an order requiring “the use of a particular computer algorithm or source code”.

“The government will require the CRTC to work with platforms to deliver content so that more Canadians can find, choose and enjoy content from Canadian artists and creators,” said Laura Scavidi, adding that it was “up to” the platforms to determine how best to achieve these goals. »

The internet broadcasting bill passed this week in the House of Commons, but it will now face scrutiny in the Senate.

In his opening speech to the committee, Ian Scott said the CRTC was broadly in favor of the bill, but wanted some amendments, including one that would allow it to continue resolving disputes.

YouTube and Spotify declined to comment.

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