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Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez’s plan to update media funds that support musicians and the film and television industry is the government’s next phase in modernizing the broadcast system, after the passing of Bill C-11.Justin Tang/The Canadian Press

The federal government plans to update its media funds that support musicians and the film and television industry, as well as create new funds – the next step after its online streaming act was passed.

The Canadian Heritage department says the plan is to improve funds for the TV, music and film sectors to better support the way the modern entertainment industry operates, including helping young musicians promote their songs on social media.

One official said funding could be made available to help young artists who start their careers posting videos on YouTube and TikTok. Funding could also help Canadian musicians, such as French-speaking artists who may struggle to have their work projected by platforms, the official said.

Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez’s plan to update funds is the government’s next phase in modernizing the broadcast system, after the passing of Bill C-11.

“The Online Streaming Act is just one part of the larger process to update our broadcasting system and support for the audiovisual industry,” said Laura Scaffidi, spokeswoman for Mr. Rodriguez.

“Now that we have updated our laws and are starting the process to update our regulations, we need to look at how our institutions and programs can also contribute to the continued success of our artists and creators.”

That means, she added, having a system that includes creators of all languages, ethnicities, ages, geographic regions and platforms.

One of the largest funds, the Canada Media Fund (CMF), receives money from both the government and broadcasting distributors, contributing almost $366-million to the television and digital media industries this year.

In this year’s budget, government earmarked an additional $40-million over two years for the CMF to “make funding more open to traditionally under-represented voices” and for French-language TV and film.

The CMF is among the funds that require updating, two officials said. The Globe and Mail is not identifying the officials because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the issue.

Bill C-11, the online streaming act, requires that streaming platforms, such as Netflix and Disney+, will also have to pay into funds to support the Canadian creative industries, as well as investing in Canadian productions, alongside broadcasters.

Among the funds the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) makes the broadcasting industry contribute revenue to are the Canada Media Fund, the Canada Music Fund, the Independent Local News Fund, FACTOR (which supports English-language music), and Musicaction, which supports the production and marketing of French-language music.

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The CRTC, which is in charge of the new regulatory regime, said in a consultation document published on Friday that it thinks “funds financed through the regulatory framework need to reflect the updated elements of the broadcasting policy.”

“In particular, there is a need for funds that would better support programs that serve the needs and interests of Indigenous Peoples, OLMCs [official language minority communities], Canadians from racialized communities, and Canadians of diverse ethnocultural backgrounds, socio-economic statuses, abilities and disabilities, sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions, and ages.”

The regulator asked for input on ways to improve existing funds and if new ones should be created.

It asks whether a portion of the money from platforms such as Netflix, Spotify and YouTube should be directed toward funds dedicated to supporting diversity and inclusion, and earmarked for a fund backing Indigenous productions.

The consultation also asks for views on whether streaming platforms should contribute to existing funds or newly created funds and if those platforms should be allowed to “create their own independent production funds” to which their contributions would flow.

Kevin Desjardins, president of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, said he would like to see a new fund set up to support broadcast news in Canada, into which streaming platforms would have to pay.

Michael Macmillan, CEO of Blue Ant Media, whose shows include Canada’s Drag Race, the nature documentary series Orangutan Jungle School, and the adult animation series Doomlands, said: Modernizing our industry requires long-term investments and planning. We must create supports that all players contribute to, that will stand the test of time in an industry that rapidly changes every year, versus short-term strategies that merely provide a one-year jolt in production.”

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