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Minister of Canadian Heritage Launches Cultural Policy Review

In a major federal announcement, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, the Honourable Mélanie Joly, will lead public, stakeholder and online consultations beginning in summer 2016 that could result in comprehensive structural reforms to Canada’s cultural policies. The scope of the review is ambitious—a legal, policy and regulatory framework that predates the internet and which has remained unchanged since 1991, when Brian Mulroney’s government revised the Broadcasting Act.

The stated objectives of the consultations are to foster the creation of Canadian content and Canadian digital content, and to increase the international audience for Canadian creators. The consultations will involve all stakeholder groups that are part of the federal cultural policy framework: television, radio, film, digital media and platforms, video games, music, books, newspapers, and magazines.

The federal government’s “Cultural Policy Toolkit” consists of four interrelated sections:

Legislative Framework, including the Broadcasting Act, the Copyright Act, the Income Tax Act, the Foreign Publishers Advertising Services Act, the Investment Canada Act, theTelecommunications Act, the Radiocommunication Act, and the CRTC Act;

Financial Support, including the Canada Book Fund, the Canada Periodical Fund, the Canada Music Fund, the Canada Media Fund, the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit, the Film or Video Production Services Tax Credit, and Export promotion funding;

Policy and Regulatory Framework, including the Foreign Investment Policy in Book Publishing and Distribution, the Foreign Investment Policy in the Periodical Publishing Sector, the Foreign Investment Policy in Film Distribution, the Policy on Audiovisual Treaty Coproduction, and Canadian content rules for TV and radio;

National Institutions, including CBC/Radio-Canada, the National Film Board, the Canada Council for the Arts, and Telefilm Canada.

The Department of Canadian Heritage has published a pre-consultation paper, titled Strengthening Canadian content creation, discovery and export in a digital world, linking a robust creative and cultural sector to innovation, economic growth and prosperity, job creation, global competitiveness and improved quality of life in Canada.

In 2010, the creative and cultural sector accounted for more than 600,000 jobs and $47.7 billion, or 3.0 percent of Canada’s gross domestic product. At the same time, technological change—what the pre-consultation paper refers to as a “digital shift”—is challenging the effectiveness of the federal government’s support for the sector.

Amidst this period of unprecedented technological change that includes striking shifts in consumer/readership behaviour, recent magazine readership data shows magazine readers are diversifying how they engage with Canadian magazines across multiple platforms. But equally striking is the fact that print remains a critical part of the reading experience for 92% of the measured audience, including the younger demographics. Regardless of the platform, Magazines Canada’s members continue to demonstrate a commitment and passion for sharing truly Canadian stories and perspectives with Canadian and global audiences.

The Department of Canadian Heritage’s pre-consultation survey can be accessed here. The deadline to complete the survey is May 20, 2016. The cultural policy review will culminate in a report with recommendations by the end of 2016. Magazines Canada has already met with Department officials and will continue to champion our sector’s needs throughout this review process. We highly encourage our members to take part in this pre-consultation process now, and will send further information once the next phase begins.

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