Canada’s main film and TV biz unions are locked in a battle to force Internet service providers to contribute to local production.
The guilds lost the first round in this battle in July when the Federal Court of Appeals ruled that ISPs are not akin to broadcasters and cannot be forced to follow rules set by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission.
But now those unions are taking their fight to the Supreme Court, which will rule on the issue.
Unions involved are actors union ACTRA, the Canadian Media Production Assn., the Directors Guild of Canada and the Writers Guild of Canada.
“Our concern is, as consumers move away from the traditional broadcasting environment into this online environment, revenues drop and then there’s a snowball effect,” said Directors Guild of Canada spokesman Peter Murphy.
“Contributions to Canadian programming drop. Canadian production drops. Jobs are lost. The industry suffers. They’re profiting off of video online so they should be contributing to the system.”
All broadcasters have to contribute money to local production and adhere to Canadian-content quotas. The unions want ISPs to contribute 2.5% of their revenues in local production.
The ISPs are fighting against this. Bell Canada said in a statement, “Bell continues to believe that the CRTC and the Federal Court were correct in concluding that ISPs are not acting as broadcasters when, acting in their Internet access provider role, consumers use their ISP to access content over the Internet. ISPs play no role in determining the content their customers access, when, or over what viewing technology. We look forward to the Supreme Court upholding the Federal Court decision.”