Following the news last week that the Senate passed Bill C-11, the Online Streaming Act, the Documentary Organization of Canada (DOC) is encouraging documentary filmmakers, fans, and advocates to write to Members of Parliament. The amendments to Bill C-11 could radically alter the landscape for Canadian documentary. The amended Bill removes the only mention of specific genres, including documentary, which had previously been protected under the broadcasting act. The vast majority of documentaries in Canada rely upon broadcast deals to secure financing, and to reach Canadians through television and online platforms.
Please see DOC’s statement in full below and consider sending a letter to your MP:
“While DOC has been advocating that our politicians pass Bill C-11 and modernize the Broadcasting Act, we have also been working to ensure that the language within the Bill supports Canadian documentary creators.
In December, an Amendment to the Bill removed the Bill’s ONLY mention of specific genres that require unique protections: clause 9.1(1)(d).
Maintaining a specific protection for genres that are key to Canadian storytelling, such as documentary film, is critical to the survival of Canada’s independent documentary creators. Please consider writing to your Member of Parliament using the template below, to encourage them to support reversing the Senate’s amendment and maintaining clause 9.1(1)(d) within Bill C-11.
Bill C-11 is back before the House of Commons and could become Law in the coming weeks.
This is a key opportunity to get protections for documentary into the new Broadcasting Act!
Please take a few minutes to write to your MP today.”
Dear [Member of Parliament]
I live in [riding] that has elected you to represent my interests in Parliament.
I am a Canadian documentary filmmaker, which means I create essential content with a uniquely Canadian point of view.
You will soon have the opportunity to review Bill C-11, an important update to the Broadcasting Act. Bill C-11 has the potential to ensure the sustainable growth of Canadian stories, including the important genre of documentary film.
I am writing to you today regarding an Amendment to Bill C-11 that was passed by the Senate Standing Committee for Transport and Communications on December 6th, that removed the Bill’s ONLY mention of specific genres that require unique protections: clause 9.1(1)(d).
Clause 9.1 (1) states that “The Commission may, in furtherance of its objects, make orders imposing conditions on the carrying on of broadcasting undertakings that the Commission considers appropriate for the implementation of the broadcasting policy set out in subsection 3(1), including conditions respecting:
(d) the proportion of programs to be broadcast that shall be devoted to specific genres, in order to ensure the diversity of programming
Maintaining a specific protection for genres that are key to Canadian storytelling, such as documentary film, is critical to the survival of Canada’s independent documentary creators and the future of our cultural autonomy.
A thriving documentary sector connects Canadians coast to coast with shared stories and values and brings our perspective to the world. Documentarians are an incredibly diverse community and many filmmakers’ first films are personal documentaries about their families and community that share a uniquely Canadian point of view. Our highly successful, award-winning content reaches far beyond our borders and continues to educate and entertain new audiences years after release.
This amendment removing 9.1(1)(d) risks squeezing the documentary genre out of the sector, especially as funding for documentary films has been decreasing for years, even while audiences for our films have never been greater.
Please support reversing the Senate’s amendment and maintaining clause 9.1(1)(d) within Bill C-11 so I can continue to tell the in-depth stories that help us all better understand our history, our country and the world around us.