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CRTC chair says online streaming bill won’t police user-generated content, algorithms



OTTAWA — The chair of Canada’s broadcasting regulator says a controversial online streaming bill will not result in the policing of user-generated content or the mandating of specific algorithms on platforms.

Ian Scott told the Senate committee studying the bill on Wednesday that his previous comments about the federal Liberals’ controversial online streaming legislation, Bill C-11, were “taken out of context.”

The bill is an attempt to bring Canada’s broadcasting rules into the 21st century by creating a policy framework that would apply for the first time to giants such as YouTube, TikTok and Spotify.

Scott had previously suggested at a meeting of the same committee that the CRTC could require platforms to “manipulate” their algorithms to produce certain results — a statement that all three companies raised as a serious concern in their own parliamentary testimony.


“Unfortunately, my previous remarks have been taken out of context by some witnesses that have appeared before you,” Scott told senators.

“The CRTC’s objective is to ensure that Canadians are made aware of Canadian content and that they can find it. It is not about manipulating algorithms,” he said. “What the bill will not do is allow the CRTC to mandate the use of specific algorithms or source code to achieve the objective of promotion and discoverability. And we have no issue with that limitation.”

Scott added that any regulatory obligations put on online platforms would be subject to public consultations first. That would include the definition of “Canadian content,” which he said should evolve over time.

Asked whether the bill’s Canadian content rules mean that the regulator will be looking to push the content on Canadian users, he said: “The CRTC is not, has not, and will not be trying to direct what consumers watch.”

He said it’s not about making Canadians eat — it’s about making sure that there are Canadian dishes in front of them.

Scott acknowledged during a question-and-answer period with senators that a platform could choose to change its algorithm as one way to meet their new obligations.

But he said there are other ways to achieve the legislation’s goals, and these could include internal or external ad campaigns, curated lists or promotional reels, he said.

Amid concerns that the bill leaves room for the CRTC to regulate user-generated content, Scott said there is no intention to do so.

“The CRTC is not being given the power to regulate individual users in relation to the content they create,” he said. “And I wish to assure you and Canadians more broadly that the CRTC has no intention of regulating individual TikTokers, YouTubers or other digital content creators.”

But some senators pushed back, saying that a lack of clarity in the bill could leave room for future CRTC officials to interpret the act differently. As the bill is written, there is no explicit prohibition on the regulation of such content.

Scott repeated that the CRTC is “not interested” in conducting such regulation and “it makes no sense,” even if there is jurisdiction.

As senators suggested various amendments to the bill that would address concerns, Scott made it clear that he was “not trying to defend the legislation.”

“That’s the job of the minister and the department,” he said. “It is for you as lawmakers to decide on the ultimate content, not me.”

Asked whether it’s important for legislation to be clear so that the affected stakeholder community has clarity, Scott answered: “Yes.”

Several senators asked about a provision in the bill that some critics are concerned would give the government extraordinary new powers to influence how the bill is applied.

Scott insisted that the CRTC is independent and he doesn’t think that the government discretion would apply to its individual rulings. “There is a very bright line. I have never and I will never discuss a matter in front of us with a minister or anyone else,” he said.

But Scott said provisions in the bill do move the balance point “slightly closer to lessening the independence” of the regulator, and it’s up to senators whether they think amendments are a good idea.

“This commission is arm’s length. I guess you can put it as ‘how long are the arms.’ And I’d prefer as a regulator to have them as long as possible.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 16, 2022.


Marie-Danielle Smith, The Canadian Press


Douglas Todd: Ethnic media reveals tough realities in migrant communities – Vancouver Sun




Opinion: Hundreds of multi-lingual media outlets are the “canary in the coal mine,” offering warnings about everything from foreign interference to psychological stresses on newcomers

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Canada could head off foreign influence and intimidation by monitoring the country’s proliferating ethnic media, according to a new report.

Hundreds of foreign-language newspapers, radio shows and TV stations in Canada offer revealing insights into the hopes and tensions experienced by more than eight million migrants and their offspring, says a study titled Diaspora Dynamics: Ethnic Media and Foreign Conflict in Multicultural Canada.

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Canada’s ethnic media is “the canary in the coal mine,” offering warnings about everything from foreign interference to psychological stresses on newcomers, whether from Iran, China, Russia, India, South Korea, the Middle East or beyond, says Andrés Machalski, president of Multilingual International Media Research (MIREMS).

But governments aren’t taking advantage of the fertile resource. Their lack of understanding of the powerful role played by ethnic media has “enabled Chinese and Indian agents to (impact) public opinion … and provided an open door to homeland subversion of Canadian democracy,” says Machalski.

MIREMS’ 54-page report maintains the media outlets are invaluable for understanding what is going on in scores of diaspora communities.

The report goes so far as to suggest many newcomers suffer from anxiety and depression associated with “complex PTSD” as they try to navigate news and views from their homelands with their new lives in Canada.

Although many of the views expressed in ethnic media are predictable, there is some range of opinion, says the report by MIREMS, which tracks more than 800 media outlets in 30 languages in Canada and worldwide.

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The discussion paper includes special sections on what the ethnic media says about China, the Russian-Ukraine war, the murder of a Sikh militant in B.C., and the Israel-Hamas war.

Here are some highlights:

Beijing’s infiltration of Chinese-language media in Canada

Jonathan Manthorpe, author of Claws Of The Panda: Beijing’s Campaign of Influence and Intimidation in Canada, wrote last week in The Vancouver Sun that one of the most “venomous” activities of the Chinese Communist Party is the way it controls “almost all Chinese-language media” in Canada.

“The result of this is most contemptible among new Canadians from Mainland China. This stranglehold blocks their exposure to Canadian society and values, and sustains CCP control over their lives,” Manthorpe wrote.

The MIREMS report does not go so far. But it does capture how Chinese-language newspaper and broadcast outlets, aimed at 1.7 million Chinese-Canadians, more often than not toe the Communist Party line on human rights abuses in Xinjiang, Hong Kong pro-democracy protests, the detention of Huawei CEO Meng Wanzhou, and China’s interference in Canadian elections.

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Since many ethnic Chinese writers and editors in Canada fear they are being spied on by agents from Mainland China, the report says they often “shy away from controversial topics to protect their interests.” Still, MIREMS suggests a degree of independent reporting can be found.

Russian-Canadian media silent on the war against Ukraine

While the government-controlled media in Russia stridently promotes the devastating invasion of Ukraine, Machalski says that is not the case in the Russian-language media in Canada. “It is largely silent.”

Russian-Canadian media are significantly more “balanced” than those in the homeland — and are occasionally even sympathetic to Ukraine, says the report.

Russian, Ukrainian, Latvian and Polish media outlets in Canada serve a potential audience of more than two million people. If Ottawa had been learning from them, Machalski said, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would likely have avoided the embarrassment of inviting a Ukrainian veteran who had fought for the Nazis to be honoured by Ukraine’s visiting prime minister, Volodymyr Zelensky.

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Less emphasis on “World War III” in Jewish and Arab media in Canada

The mainstream media in Canada is generally more fair and nuanced than the diaspora media in covering most issues, including the Israel-Hamas war, says the report. But there can be surprises.

While Jewish-Canadian and Arab-Canadian outlets mostly contribute to polarization over the war in Gaza, Machalski, who is from Argentina, says there is at least not much talk about “how this is the start of World War III” — a theme that can emerge when mainstream outlets cover angry street protests.

The MIREMS report concludes it is psychologically disturbing for many members of Canada’s diaspora populations to be buffeted by drastically contrasting messages from media outlets. (Illustration: Cover of Diaspora Dynamics: Ethnic Media and Foreign Conflict in Multicultural Canada.) sun

South Asian media more open, and feisty

There has long been a range of opinions expressed in the various multi-language outlets serving South Asian-Canadians, a potential audience of almost two million.

Whether serving the country’s large Sikh or Hindu populations, media outlets are now fixated on how Canada’s diplomatic relations with India have been impacted by last year’s murder in B.C. of Khalistani separatist Hardip Singh Nijjar.

Sikh-oriented media outlets largely condemn India’s government, supporting Trudeau’s allegation that Indian agents could have been involved. On the other hand, Hindu-oriented outlets tend to accuse Trudeau of pandering to Sikh militants.

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All in all, the MIREMS report concludes with the perceptive theory that it is psychologically disturbing for members of Canada’s sizeable diaspora populations, many of whom experience dual identities, to be buffeted by drastically contrasting messages from different media outlets.

“The constant exposure to homeland conflicts through ethnic media on one hand, and the mainstream media on the other, can be traumatic for immigrants, who find themselves caught between their past and present lives,” says the report.

“The coverage of ongoing conflicts such as those in Ukraine, India and the Middle East might trigger symptoms akin to Complex PTSD, where the stress is prolonged and repetitive.

“This form of psychological stress is complicated by immigrants’ efforts to integrate into Canadian society while maintaining ties to their country of origin, leading to a unique set of mental health challenges.”

[email protected]

Recommended from Editorial

  1. Despite images of Canadian Sikh protesters outraged at India, observers say the Sikh population is “not monolithic” on Khalistan or other issues. (Photo: Surrey mourners carry the casket of slain Khalistani activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar on June 25, 2023.)

    Douglas Todd: Trudeau’s defiance of India ‘killing two birds with one stone’

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  3. Blythe Irwin, who monitors the ethnic language media across Canada, with a selection of papers.

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Ontario wants meeting with social media execs to battle classroom distractions




Ontario’s education minister says he wants to sit down with social media executives to work out how to reduce distractions and enforce bans on certain apps in the classroom.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce will table legislation on Monday designed to give the government powers aimed at cracking down on privacy issues, cyberbullying and age-appropriate internet use.


As part of the legislation, the government is planning to meet with executives at major apps like Snapchat, Facebook and TikTok to work out how to cut distractions.

The province wants help from the companies themselves with issues like students sneaking through age verification or getting around blocks on the apps in places like school WiFi networks.

“I look forward to that conversation and I believe that they’re willing to have that conversation in good faith, recognizing we have powers through the legislation, or we will have should the legislation pass, possible authorities to further protect children,” Lecce told reporters.

Those powers, if voted through, would allow the minister to implement regulations related to social media, although details have not been made public.

Ontario recently announced it would be banning access to all social media on school WiFi networks and school-owned devices. That news came alongside a strict reduction on when phones can be used by students.

Lecce’s plan to sit down with social media companies comes as several school boards in the province are taking companies behind Facebook, Snapchat and TikTok to court.

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School boards, including Toronto District School Board and Ottawa-Carleton, are seeking $4 billion in damages, alleging some app products have rewired how children think, behave and learn and that educators and schools have been left to “manage the fallout.”

The lawsuit has not been publicly supported by the Ford government and Lecce said he is taking a “different approach” from the school boards in dealing with social media distraction.

“We believe social media companies have a role too, working with the government to get this right so that we focus our classrooms on academics,” Lecce said. “We get the distractions out of class.”

Other regulations the government said it is planning could include “age-appropriate standards for software standards” for devices students use at school like laptops and rules to ensure student data isn’t sold.

“The evolving online world provides many opportunities for children’s education and growth but there are risks to their privacy and the collection and use of their personal information,” Todd McCarthy, Minister of Public and Business Service Delivery, said Thursday.

“Our government wants our children to have a healthy, safe and age-appropriate digital experience when engaging with public sector organizations like schools which is why we are safeguarding their best interests by putting guardrails in place to better protect them.”

Along with meeting social media executives, the government said it plans to consult school boards, parent groups and law enforcement as it creates the regulations.


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Media speculation about shooting at Drake’s mansion ‘irresponsible,’ writer says





A security guard at Drake’s mansion in Toronto was badly injured in a drive-by shooting on Tuesday, police say. The shooting happened amid an ongoing musical beef between Drake and Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar. But David Dennis Jr., a senior writer at Andscape, says there’s no indication Lamar had anything to do with the shooting and that there’s a racial component to speculation that it’s linked to the feud.




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