Pablo Rodriguez promises to review criteria for “Canadian content” in audiovisual

Mary Woolf, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA – Federal Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez said Tuesday he will review the definition of “Canadian content” for film and television as part of modernizing broadcast laws in the country.

The definition of “Canadian content” is at the center of Bill C-11 before parliament, which would allow streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+ to show multiple “Canadian shows” and invest in “Canadian stories”. As should traditional broadcasters.

However, some argue that the existing rules need updating. So shows that let’s talk about Canada, like an Amazon documentary series about the Toronto Maple Leafs, don’t tick small enough boxes to fall into the “Canadian content” category.

Similarly, Disney’s “Red Alert” animated film, which tells the story of a Sino-Canadian teenager in Toronto, with the English voice of Sandra Oh, an actress born in Ottawa who attended the National Theater School of Canada in Montreal. is not considered “Canadian” under today’s criteria.

Nothing more than the TV series “The Scarlet Handmaid”, an acclaimed adaptation of the novel by Margaret Atwood, a determined Canadian author.

But according to the Canadian Media Producers Association, the new rules will have to ensure that Canadians continue to own the intellectual property rights to their work. The body also wants the streaming platform to be forced to pay a substantial portion of profits to Canadian producers if their work pays off.

Association President and CEO Reynolds Mastin said, “Our Broadcasting Act should ensure that independent producers in Canada have the right to negotiate with content buyers, including broadcasters, to own, control and monetize the intellectual property they develop and produce. Have a fair chance.”

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Minister says he is “open”

In an interview on the sidelines of the National Culture Summit that began Monday evening in Ottawa, Minister Rodriguez acknowledged that the definition of “Canadian material” needed to “modernise”, and said he was “open to suggestions of all kinds”. and” idea.

Mr Rodriguez said he was discussing with art and culture ministers from other countries “to see what they are up to” and then “definitely adapt it to our country”.

“I will be meeting with the German culture minister on Thursday and that is one of the things that I will discuss with him and I will do the same with other counterparts,” Rodriguez said.

For example, in Britain there is a broader definition of “British film”, which includes works dealing with very “British” subjects – the life of William Shakespeare.

Some experts argue that studios may be hesitant to invest in Canadian talent if the material contributed by these artists is not officially recognized as Canadian.

Michael Geist, Canada Research Chair in Digital Law at the University of Ottawa, believes that “current regulations are too old” and do little to actually promote “Canadian stories”.

Professor Geist recalls that the current system is “slightly more complex than the practice of ticking small boxes”: thus, works by Canadian authors may have escaped classification, while other productions have little to do with Canada, admitting. are done.

Marvel’s Deadpool was filmed in Vancouver, with Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds and Canadian Paul Wernicke co-writing the screenplay based on a Canadian comic book character. Yet the film was not considered “Canadian” under the rules of the Canadian Audio-Visual Certification Office.

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These rules require a Canadian producer and a Canadian director or screenwriter to appear in the credits. Points are also awarded for the number of Canadians in leadership roles or other key creative positions. Canadians should also come to prominence in production and post-production.

The National Culture Summit continues in virtual form as well as at the National Arts Center in Ottawa until May 4.

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