You might have to pay more for internet just keep old media around in Canada. Liberal MP’s are planning to push for a 5 percent tax on internet service providers (ISP) in order to help fund more Canadian content. Since you rely on ISP’s to keep their service going, you’re probably going to be paying more for it if this tax proposal pushes through.
The money from this tax will go towards the Canada Media Fund (CMF) which funds Canadian applicants looking to finance new projects. CMF commits money to these projects in hopes of them becoming a success and being a part of Canada’s global media circles.
Ad revenue has sadly been on decline for Canadian media, and experts mostly agree it’s due to our inability to keep up with how consumer wants and needs are changing. Most of it goes to huge international businesses like Facebook and Netflix but, some of the loss is because ordinary people have found the backdoor into becoming regular and successful creators. That backdoor being the internet.
A similar tax already exists for cable and satellite providers. From what we know right now, none of the ISP tax is going towards creating online Canadian content. In that case we would have people, like myself, who only use internet and who now need to pay more for it and get nothing in return. And yes, with Netflix originals, YouTube series and news shows, and the variety of online news media out there, more and more people are giving up on cable and satellite providers.
The tax would be a potential source of hundreds of millions of dollars but, that funding would be coming from the very people who pay for the internet just to get themselves out there in the first place. Classic Canadian media is having their territory taken from them. But instead of fighting back with improvement and innovation on their part, they’ve decided to bank on handouts from the very people putting them out of business.
The thing about free markets is if you can’t keep up you will fall behind and fizzle out. Staying in place primarily because of public funding instead of earning it through embracing the change keeps new people from joining in on the fun. Sure we will see more Canadian content, and that’s awesome, but if precedent has shown us anything then that content is going to remain the same stagnant pool of media it’s been for the past decade – only changing at a snail’s pace.
If legacy media gets to keep doing what they’re doing because of handouts then they aren’t making any room for the inventive and creative newcomers. They remain a stubborn and expensive rock to keep around. While that rock remains we will continue to see fresh Canadian creators leave the country and find success elsewhere.
The money they’re raising from the cable and satellite providers’ tax has stopped being enough – that’s why they need this new one. What happens when the ISP tax stops being enough? Maybe then we’ll realize we need to cut the dead weight and maybe without their safety net they’ll be encouraged to keep up.
Now, let’s say the federal government didn’t include this tax. Legacy media might be more likely to adapt to the way media is shaping itself – because they’ll be forced to if they want to stay operational. But if they can’t manage it then it wasn’t meant to be, it wasn’t what the people wanted and so the people didn’t pay for it. This means consumer’s money is going towards Canadian media they want to see, not towards Canadian media the government wants to keep around despite their expiry date. We would still be getting more Canadian content and it would be there because Canadians want it there.
Sure, it lends to the possibility of a more chaotic media landscape but that is one price we should be willing to pay for the betterment of free flowing information and knowledge.