Overhaul coming for Cancon laws

May 02, 2016

We all love The Tragically Hip, right? I mean, who can resist that sublime opening bass line to “Grace, Too” or the delicious, unnerving tension that runs through the guitar “Little Bones”? We’ve probably all nodded our heads along to Neil Young’s “Southern Man” and maybe even danced to Feist’s unbelievably catchy “1234.” I’ve even heard that some (okay, a lot) of people enjoy some Nickelback now and then. But because of the country’s ancient Cancon laws, which pre-date the Internet—the thing that makes this blog possible!—there’s a chance you may have heard one or two or all of those songs way too many times to like them anymore.

Well, those laws will be changing over the next couple years, according to Minister of Canadian Heritage Mélanie Joly. Cancon laws haven’t changed since 1991 when Brian Mulroney was Prime Minister, and the Broadcasting Act was revised. What this all means is that in the years since, as the music industry has undergone a staggering amount of changes—including a template for consumer experience that is now almost completely digital—the technology has been left uncovered by the current Cancon laws. “I’m a Heritage Minister who thinks about digital technology first and foremost, that’s how I consume information and music. I’m a product of my generation,” Joly told the Globe & Mail this past week.

Suffice it to say this is long overdue. The music industry that existed 25 years ago is unrecognizable to the music industry today. To update the current regulations, Joly will be conducting consultations with the public. The first part of that involves a survey (open until May 20) that asks Canadians about their relationships and consumption habits with media, and what part the government should play regarding Canadian content going forward. A second phase—called “Strengthening Canadian Content, Discovery and Export in a Digital World”—will follow, with changes being rolled out in 2017.


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About the Author

Matt Williams

Matt Williams is a writer and photographer. Born and raised on the Prairies in Winnipeg, he’s slowly made his way farther and farther east, spending a few years covering music in Toronto before running clear out of country and ending up on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. In between, he’s made numerous detours, interviewing and photographing countless artists across North America and beyond. He heads up Amplify’s Instrumental series, where he talks with musicians about the relationships they’ve formed with their most important tools.

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