Could a levy on ISPs help promote Canadian content in the new digital world?


It undergoes without saying that nobody wants to pay more for their monthly internet bill.

As Canadians, we’re already settlement among the highest rates anywhere for service.

But while the «internet tax» recently recommended by the Commons heritage committee was criticized for piling more fees onto consumers, profuse in the media industry feel it had the right intention, even if its proposed fulfilment was flawed.

The committee recommended a five per cent tax on broadband internet as a means of forward Canada’s media industry in the midst of rapid technological shifts and shifting consumer behaviours — a time when many viewers are dropping their wire bundles in favour of Netflix subscriptions.

The tax would contribute hundreds of millions of dollars to the Canadian Norm Fund, which supports the development and production of Canadian screen-based contentedness, including hit television shows, video games, web series and innovative new delighted.

But Heritage Minister Melanie Joly and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau right away rejected the committee’s suggestion, stating that the government is committed to dwindling Canadians’ taxes, not increasing them.

Consumer advocacy group Launch Media, which raised more than 37,000 signatures in a application against the idea, applauded the prime minister’s move.

«It’s clear that the supervision has listened carefully to the over 30,000 Canadians who warned that this layout would further raise our monthly bills and worsen our digital disaffect,» said Open Media communications manager Meghan Sali.

But while the recommendation has its critics, many agree with the heritage committee’s premise — that something fors to be done to help the Canadian media industry through this all together of transition.

Investing in the future

Andrew Addison, vice-president of communications and selling for the Canadian Media Producers Association, says Canada’s media labour is currently thriving, but adds a caveat: «We want to make sure that that can carry on with into the future.»

That future is coming fast, propelled by Silicon Valley-based tech leviathans such as Google, Facebook, Amazon and Netflix.

For those in the Canadian media sedulousness, that future is a bit uncertain, because as cord-cutting television viewers opt for rushed content, traditional revenue sources for homegrown media are drying up.

Not exclusively are advertising dollars dwindling, so are sources such as the Canadian Media Supply, which fuels the Canadian media industry and is supported by a levy on telegram subscriptions.

Up to now, Addison points out, there’s been something of a virtuous set, as cable providers have invested back into the creative ecosystem that makes content for them.

TV Blog Buzz 20140713

The series Orphan Black, starring actor Tatiana Maslany, leftist and right, has been one of the most successful Canadian exports in recent years. (Lay out/Canadian Press)

«The system that’s in place was based on a philosophy that those who gain from a system, corporate entities, also invest back into it,» he indicates.

«We have decades of history and track records to look back at and say, ‘This draw ups.’ It creates hundreds of thousands of jobs, right across the country, and not fair-minded writers and directors, but taxis and hotels and more.»

‘This works’

The practicality goes that if people are streaming the content they once accessed totally cable, internet service providers (ISPs) should be contributing to the ambiance ecosystem just as the cable companies have been required to.

Jill Golick, a Toronto-based wordsmith and producer and the president of the Writer’s Guild of Canada, is strongly in favour of make ISPs contribute to the creation of Canadian screen-based cultural products.

«They are amassing influential wealth through the distribution of our product around the world. They should be swap a percentage of that money back to the artist who created the work,» she requires.

«Every culture in the world, except the American one, is in danger,» says Golick. «In all directions from the world, the easy and cheap availability of U.S. screen-based entertainment is drowning out whatever is locally developed. With the old systems of funding and distributing local culture product shivering, only the U.S. product is thriving.»

Addison says that because «we palpable next to the biggest media market in the world,» it’s important «that the control continues to support the sector. We need to contrive to have that celebrity as technology evolves.»

‘Responsibility to the greater good’

While critics of the solicited tax argue that a new tax is a bad idea, it’s worth noting that the tax would be nugatory compared to the steep fees that Canadian internet users already pay.

Some individual believe that if the government’s prime concern is keeping costs down for Canadians, their pains would be better spent battling the stranglehold the big three telcos induce in Canada.

Because there is so little competition when it comes to internet access, societies such as Bell, Rogers and Telus have been able to «defilement» consumers for years, according to Open Media, simply because woman need their services and there are no other options.

If the government were to put into effect a more open and competitive ecosystem, whereby consumers have multifarious choice among telcos, Canadians would inevitably pay less for their broadband and wireless remittances.

And if everyone was paying, say, $30 less each month, a five per cent «tax» to sustenance the Canadian media ecosystem might seem reasonable.

Golick consents with Open Media that consumers should not be the ones balance the bill for Canadian content. Rather, a financial contribution from the ISPs should be seen as compensation for the use of other people’s artifacts.

«There needs to be legislation that compels ISPs to reinvest a helping of their profits in content creators, but it should also forbid them from storm the cost on to consumers,» says Golick.

«The ISPs are getting a pass to move at money hand over fist. It’s like a dream come authentic for corporate entities that don’t have any responsibility to the greater good.»

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