Canadian creators risk having their content and visibility diminished by the passage of the Online Streaming Act, says YouTuber JJ McCullough, who recently opposed Bill C-11 in Parliament.
On Tuesday, Bill C-11, a law that will regulate online media from services like YouTube or Netflix, passed the Senate, leaving YouTube users and other content creators in Canada increasingly concerned that the bill threatens the way content creators make a living. by affecting visibility and potentially limiting video views.
Known as the Online Streaming Act, Bill C-11is intended to highlight and promote Canadian content—CanCon in the world of streaming—and would place online content under the jurisdiction of the Canadian Radio, Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). This would require streaming platforms to show Canadian content more than they currently do.
That means platforms like Netflix would have to recommend more Canadian shows like Schitt’s Cove or other content created in Canada before non-Canadian content.
This is a concern for content creators on YouTube in particular, where its algorithm selects and recommends videos based on user feedback based on everything from how long a video is watched to how quickly it is skipped.
Canadian YouTuber JJ McCullough has 782,000 subscribers to his channel. He spoke at a parliamentary hearing earlier this month to oppose the Streaming Act and its introduction into Canadian law and shares his thoughts on the experience and the potential impact of Bill C-11:
The hearing was revealing. I had never been on a parliamentary committee before, so I put a lot of effort into trying to come up with a powerful opening statement, and people responded very favorably. I took the process seriously.
I worked in television for a few years as an expert on television politics and was comfortable being on camera. I worked for Sun News in its later years and when it closed in 2015, I was abruptly out of a job. That’s when I started my YouTube channel and I’ve been doing it for over six years, but only professionally for the last two, in terms of it being my main source of income.
It can be exhausting. You write the scripts, you shoot the videos, you edit them, and you add all the sound effects and graphics and all that stuff. But I like creative projects. It is very gratifying to see the reactions my content receives, especially from young people. As I get older, I feel like there’s a patronizing side to me that’s coming out more and I like to know that I’m helping and that’s very rewarding and very validating for me because ultimately that’s what I got into this business for. do.
I am grateful to have the opportunity to do this full time, but now my new career seems to be at risk with the C-11 bill; it’s crushing that so much hard work and passion can now disappear because of it.
The way YouTube works today is that the content that audiences discover is determined by a control algorithm that recommends videos based on what YouTube perceives the user is interested in. For example, if my YouTube habit suggests that I am interested in cooking videos, then naturally YouTube will recommend a lot of cooking videos.
We know from the text of the bill that the CRTC will be given a mandate to promote the “discoverability” of Canadian content, specifically, and that websites under the jurisdiction of the CRTC, such as YouTube, will be required to comply. with this discoverability. mandate.
What this means is that the CRTC will have to come up with some sort of criteria to determine what is good Canadian content and then YouTube will have to meet its legal obligations to promote and recommend that content.
Overnight, creators will wake up to find that the type of content that was previously successful on unregulated YouTube is no longer successful on regulated YouTube. As a result, they will have to change the nature of the content they create to make it more overtly Canadian, whatever that means, or they will possibly be at a disadvantage. That could mean your audience, and therefore revenue, takes a hit. That’s something that I think is quite concerning for a lot of YouTubers.
What really stood out to me about the parliamentary hearings, and this is just a personal perception, was that when witnesses testify, you would think they were the center of attention. But when you’re there in person, hardly any of the politicians seem to be listening. Everyone is on their phone. It was incredibly annoying and disrespectful.
It felt like whistling in the wind.
— As told to Nicholas Seles