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Changes Coming to Canadian Streaming Service Rules and its Possible Impacts to Disney+

The Canadian government is proposing changes to the federal Broadcasting Act that will clarify that streaming services will fall under a new "online undertaking" section of the Act. This change will bring with it a number of changes that will affect online streaming services.

The changes will require:

  • confirm that online broadcasting is covered under the Act;

  • require online broadcasters to contribute to the creation, production, and distribution of Canadian music and stories;

  • update broadcasting and regulatory policies to better reflect the diversity of Canadian society, including gender equality, LGBTQ+ and racialized communities, persons with disabilities, and Indigenous Peoples;

  • create a more flexible approach to regulation that allows the CRTC to establish rules for all broadcasting services that operate in Canada, including rules that create more sustainable sources of funding for Canadian stories;

  • modernize the CRTC’s enforcement powers; and,

  • update oversight and information-sharing provisions to reinforce the CRTC’s role as a modern and independent regulator.

One thing to note is that, as noted by the government's background information, "The Bill ensures that online broadcasters will only be regulated when doing so would contribute in a material manner to the objectives of the Act. It will be up to the CRTC to determine which services will be regulated.".

Clearly, if the CRTC adds Disney+ to their list of regulated "online undertakings", this could require Disney to support further Canadian content and impose conditions and take enforcement measures for non-compliance with Canadian law and CRTC rules. This may impact the offerings that Disney provides to Canadians and could lead to other jurisdictions imposing rules on Disney as a condition of offering streaming services in those countries.

It will be interesting to see how this story unfolds and whether or not Disney+ will ultimately make it onto the list of "online undertakings", as well as the impact it has on the future of this relatively new streaming service.

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