The new rules announced Thursday are so complex even industry experts are trying to decipher what they mean. Here are six key decisions the CRTC made on Canadian content.
1. Cancon quotas relaxed: Half of prime-time programming on local TV stations will still have to be Canadian, but the daytime quota was dropped from 55 per cent to zero for local networks, and to 35 per cent throughout the day for specialty channels. The number of dollars spent on Canadian programming is required to remain at current levels.
2. Genre protection over: Until now, "genre protection" shielded specialty networks with niche programming such as Food Network or HGTV Canada from direct competition, allowing them time to find an audience. CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais called the policy a relic of the past, but its demise may cause some independent stations to die out.
3. Encourage big-budget shows: To encourage investment in big-budget shows with international appeal, live-action dramas and comedies that either have a budget of at least $2-million per hour-long episode, or that are based on "bestselling novels" written by Canadians, will be labelled Canadian content provided some Canadians lead the project.
4. No "Netflix tax": Though some broadcasters and groups called on the CRTC to force foreign-based streaming services to contribute funding to support Canadian content – a proposal some have dubbed a "Netflix tax" – the CRTC did not directly address the idea on Thursday.
5. Promote Canadian shows: The CRTC is concerned viewers have a hard time finding Canadian-made shows and will hold a "Discoverability Summit" to explore how technology can help audiences find Canadian content, in the same way Amazon and Netflix use sophisticated algorithms to suggest programs their subscribers might like.
6. New video-on-demand rules: The CRTC also proposed new rules that would offer the owners of CraveTV and Shomi the prospect of looser regulation if they make their streaming services available to all Canadians directly online, with no television or Internet subscription required, but still allow them to offer exclusive content. (Read more: CRTC proposes looser regulation if broadcasters offer CraveTV, Shomi to all Canadians)