The Community Radio Fund of Canada (CRFC) is celebrating the passage of Bill C-11, the Online Streaming Act. After 30 years it is time the broadcasting act is amended to reflect today’s reality. The changes to this law will serve all Canadians.
“This is an important step forward for all community radio stations,” said CRFC Executive Director Alex Freedman. “No longer are these stations only recognized as the third pillar of Canadian Broadcasting, these amendments acknowledge the key roles these radio stations play in connecting their local community and promoting the Canadian voice.”
The amendments to the act now commit support for “…community broadcasting that reflects both the diversity of the communities being served, including with respect to the languages in use within those communities and to their ethnocultural and Indigenous composition, and the high engagement and involvement in community broadcasting by members of those communities, including with respect to matters of public concern”.
They acknowledge that community radio provides a voice to “…tastes and interests not adequately provided for by the programming provided for mass audiences and include programs devoted to culture, politics, history, health and public safety, local news and current events, local economy and the arts,” that community radio stations reflect “…Canada’s communities, regions, Indigenous and multicultural nature, including through third-language programming”.
And importantly the new act recognizes the role of community radio stations in fighting disinformation by acknowledging that “…through community participation, (community radio stations) strengthen the democratic process and support local news.”
Until now, the burden of providing support for those who produce Canadian content such as community radio has been borne only by commercial broadcasters. With the passage of C-11, online giants who also profit from Canadian audiences, will now also have to contribute to the development of Canadian broadcasters, musicians, and artists.
“The CRFC looks forward to working with the Department of Canadian Heritage to develop the policy direction and to working closely with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to ensure the funds coming from the internet giants are directed to the broadcasters who align with the priorities as set out in C-11 the Online Streaming Act,” says CRFC Executive Director, Alex Freedman. “This is a critical step in ensuring Canadians have access to our voices and our culture from every corner of this country.”