Canada Targets Online-Streaming Services With Cultural Levy

Laveta Brigham

Canada proposes to compel online streaming services to set aside part of their revenue to fund domestic television and music production as the government looks to force global digital players to make a bigger contribution to the local economy. The move, unveiled Tuesday by Canadian officials, would also order streaming […]

Canada proposes to compel online streaming services to set aside part of their revenue to fund domestic television and music production as the government looks to force global digital players to make a bigger contribution to the local economy.

The move, unveiled Tuesday by Canadian officials, would also order streaming services such as Netflix Inc., Amazon.com Inc.’s Prime Video, Walt Disney Co. ’s Disney+, and Spotify Technology SA to meet certain Canadian-content requirements, such as more programming to serve the country’s francophone and indigenous populations.

Canada’s broadcast regulator estimates, according to its most recent financial data, that streaming services record annual revenue of roughly 5 billion Canadian dollars, or the equivalent of $3.77 billion. Canada is eyeing nearly C$1 billion a year to finance the making of Canadian television shows, films and music.

Canada’s regulatory reach is the latest example of how countries are trying to ensure a level playing field between domestic industries and large global technology companies, which aren’t necessarily subjected to local laws when it comes to providing their wares, such as entertainment, and paying taxes.

“This is about our cultural sovereignty. It’s about investment and jobs. It’s about equity,” said Steven Guilbeault, Canada heritage minister. “We are asking these large and wealthy companies to invest in Canadian artists, in the same way Canadian broadcasters already have regulatory obligations.”

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