The WGC has submitted its response to the CRTC's call for comments on the government body's current policy on Canadian Programming Expenditures (CPE). The CRTC is looking to update its policy on CPE. The central question for the CRTC is whether or not expenditures made for digital media programming should count towards the CPE requirements of licensed television services. (And, if so, how would it work?)
We contend that digital expenditures should count, and argued that as audiences and associated revenues migrate to digital platforms, CPE obligations must migrate with them. The WGC also stressed that given the formula to calculate CPE requirements is based on broadcasting revenues, if broadcasters count CPE expenditures on digital platforms, they must also include the revenues generated by those platforms as part of their overall broadcasting revenues.
The WGC further recommended that: The CRTC be guided by a “Do No Harm” principle to maintain or grow CPE levels; responded to the Commission’s thoughts on incenting innovation; argued that the definition of CPE itself must remain focused on programming; and proposed that CPE on broadcaster’s digital platforms should be mandatory. You can read whole submission here. There will also be a reply phase, which the WGC will comment on as well.
This proceeding focused on CPE on digital platforms of licensed television services — e.g. Bell Media, Corus Entertainment and Rogers Media. It did not deal with currently unlicensed OTT services like Netflix. We definitely have an opinion on it, but we'll have to see what the the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Legislative Review Panel recommends when it files its report in January 2020.