Canada demands 5% of revenue from Netflix, Spotify, and other streamers

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Canada has ordered large online streaming services to pay 5 percent of their Canadian revenue to the government in a program expected to raise $200 million per year to support local news and other home-grown content. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced its decision yesterday after a public comment period.

“Based on the public record, the CRTC is requiring online streaming services to contribute 5 percent of their Canadian revenues to support the Canadian broadcasting system. These obligations will start in the 2024–2025 broadcast year and will provide an estimated $200 million per year in new funding,” the regulator said.

The fees apply to both video and music streaming services. The CRTC imposed the rules despite opposition from Amazon, Apple, Disney, Google, Netflix, Paramount, and Spotify.

The new fees are scheduled to take effect in September and apply to online streaming services that make at least $25 million a year in Canada. The regulations exclude revenue from audiobooks, podcasts, video game services, and user-generated content. The exclusion of revenue from user-generated content is a win for Google’s YouTube.

Streaming companies have recently been raising prices charged to consumers, and the CBC notes that streamers might raise prices again to offset the fees charged in Canada.

Fees to support local news, Indigenous content

The CRTC said it is relying on authority from the Online Streaming Act, which was approved by Canada’s parliament in 2023. The new fees are similar to the ones already imposed on licensed broadcasters.

“The funding will be directed to areas of immediate need in the Canadian broadcasting system, such as local news on radio and television, French-language content, Indigenous content, and content created by and for equity-deserving communities, official language minority communities, and Canadians of diverse backgrounds,” the CRTC said.

CRTC Chairperson Vicky Eatrides said the agency’s “decision will help ensure that online streaming services make meaningful contributions to Canadian and Indigenous content.” The agency also said that streaming companies “will have some flexibility to direct parts of their contributions to support Canadian television content directly.”

Industry groups blast CRTC

The Motion Picture Association-Canada criticized the CRTC yesterday, saying the fee ruling “reinforces a decades-old regulatory approach designed for cable companies” and is “discriminatory.” The fees “will make it harder for global streamers to collaborate directly with Canadian creatives and invest in world-class storytelling made in Canada for audiences here and around the world,” the lobby group said.

The MPA-Canada said the CRTC didn’t fully consider “the significant contributions streamers make in working directly with Canada’s creative communities.” The group represents streamers including Netflix, Disney Plus, HAYU, Sony’s Crunchyroll, Paramount Plus, and PlutoTV.

“Global studios and streaming services have spent over $6.7 billion annually producing quality content in Canada for local and international audiences and invested more in the content made by Canadian production companies last year than the CBC, or the Canada Media Fund and Telefilm combined,” the group said.

The fees were also criticized by the Digital Media Association, which represents streaming music providers including Amazon Music, Apple Music, and Spotify. The “discriminatory tax on music streaming services… is effectively a protectionist subsidy for radio” and may worsen “Canada’s affordability crisis,” the group said.

The Canadian Media Producers Association praised the CRTC decision, saying the decision benefits independent producers and “tilts our industry toward a more level playing field.”

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