Government of Canada / Gouvernement du Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Search

Broadcasting Act (S.C. 1991, c. 11)

Full Document:  

Act current to 2024-02-06 and last amended on 2023-06-22. Previous Versions

Broadcasting Act

S.C. 1991, c. 11

Assented to 1991-02-01

An Act respecting broadcasting and to amend certain Acts in relation thereto and in relation to radiocommunication

Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:

Short Title

Marginal note:Short title

 This Act may be cited as the Broadcasting Act.

PART IGeneral

Interpretation

Marginal note:Definitions

  •  (1) In this Act,

    affiliate

    affiliate, in relation to any person, means any other person who controls that first person, or who is controlled by that first person or by a third person who also controls the first person; (affilié)

    barrier

    barrier has the same meaning as in section 2 of the Accessible Canada Act; (obstacle)

    broadcasting

    broadcasting means any transmission of programs — regardless of whether the transmission is scheduled or on demand or whether the programs are encrypted or not — by radio waves or other means of telecommunication for reception by the public by means of broadcasting receiving apparatus, but does not include any such transmission of programs that is made solely for performance or display in a public place; (radiodiffusion)

    broadcasting receiving apparatus

    broadcasting receiving apparatus means a device, or combination of devices, intended for or capable of being used for the reception of broadcasting; (récepteur)

    broadcasting undertaking

    broadcasting undertaking includes a distribution undertaking, an online undertaking, a programming undertaking and a network; (entreprise de radiodiffusion)

    Commission

    Commission means the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission established by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission Act; (Conseil)

    community element

    community element includes the element of the Canadian broadcasting system as part of which members of a community participate in the production of programs that are in a language used in the community including a not-for-profit broadcasting undertaking that is managed by a board of directors elected by the community; (élément communautaire)

    control

    control, in the definition affiliate, in paragraph 9.1(1)(m) and in subparagraph 9.1(1)(n)(i), includes control in fact, whether or not through one or more persons; (contrôle)

    Corporation

    Corporation means the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation continued by section 36; (Société)

    decision

    decision includes a determination made by the Commission in any form; (décision)

    distribution undertaking

    distribution undertaking means an undertaking for the reception of broadcasting and its retransmission by radio waves or other means of telecommunication to more than one permanent or temporary residence or dwelling unit or to another such undertaking, but does not include such an undertaking that is an online undertaking; (entreprise de distribution)

    encrypted

    encrypted means treated electronically or otherwise for the purpose of preventing intelligible reception; (encodage)

    Indigenous peoples

    Indigenous peoples has the meaning assigned by the definition aboriginal peoples of Canada in subsection 35(2) of the Constitution Act, 1982; (peuples autochtones)

    licence

    licence means a licence to carry on a broadcasting undertaking issued by the Commission under this Act; (licence)

    Minister

    Minister means such member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada as is designated by the Governor in Council as the Minister for the purposes of this Act; (ministre)

    network

    network includes any operation where control over all or any part of the programs or program schedules of one or more broadcasting undertakings is delegated to another undertaking or person, but does not include such an operation that is an online undertaking; (réseau)

    official language minority community

    official language minority community means English-speaking communities in Quebec and French-speaking communities outside Quebec; (communauté de langue officielle en situation minoritaire)

    online undertaking

    online undertaking means an undertaking for the transmission or retransmission of programs over the Internet for reception by the public by means of broadcasting receiving apparatus; (entreprise en ligne)

    program

    program means sounds or visual images, or a combination of sounds and visual images, that are intended to inform, enlighten or entertain, but does not include visual images, whether or not combined with sounds, that consist predominantly of alphanumeric text; (émission)

    programming control

    programming control means control over the selection of programs for transmission, but does not include control over the selection of a programming service for retransmission; (contrôle de la programmation)

    programming undertaking

    programming undertaking means an undertaking for the transmission of programs, either directly by radio waves or other means of telecommunication or indirectly through a distribution undertaking, for reception by the public by means of broadcasting receiving apparatus, but does not include such an undertaking that is an online undertaking; (entreprise de programmation)

    radio waves

    radio waves means electromagnetic waves of frequencies lower than 3 000 GHz that are propagated in space without artificial guide; (ondes radioélectriques)

    temporary network operation

    temporary network operation means a network operation with respect to a particular program or a series of programs that extends over a period not exceeding sixty days. (exploitation temporaire d’un réseau)

  • Marginal note:Meaning of other means of telecommunication

    (2) For the purposes of this Act, other means of telecommunication means any wire, cable, radio, optical or other electromagnetic system, or any similar technical system.

  • Marginal note:Exclusion — carrying on broadcasting undertaking

    (2.1) A person who uses a social media service to upload programs for transmission over the Internet and reception by other users of the service — and who is not the provider of the service or the provider’s affiliate, or the agent or mandatary of either of them — does not, by the fact of that use, carry on a broadcasting undertaking for the purposes of this Act.

  • Marginal note:Exclusion — social media service and programming control

    (2.2) An online undertaking that provides a social media service does not, for the purposes of this Act, exercise programming control over programs uploaded by a user of the service who is not the provider of the service or the provider’s affiliate, or the agent or mandatary of either of them.

  • Marginal note:Exclusion — certain transmissions over the Internet

    (2.3) A person does not carry on an online undertaking for the purposes of this Act in respect of a transmission of programs over the Internet

    • (a) that is ancillary to a business not primarily engaged in the transmission of programs to the public and that is intended to provide clients with information or services directly related to that business;

    • (b) that is part of the operations of a primary or secondary school, a college, university or other institution of higher learning, a public library or a museum; or

    • (c) that is part of the operations of a theatre, concert hall or other venue for the presentation of live performing arts.

  • Marginal note:Interpretation

    (3) This Act shall be construed and applied in a manner that is consistent with

    • (a) the freedom of expression and journalistic, creative and programming independence enjoyed by broadcasting undertakings and creators;

    • (b) the commitment of the Government of Canada to enhance the vitality of English and French linguistic minority communities in Canada and to support and assist their development, taking into account their uniqueness, diversity and historical and cultural contributions to Canadian society, as well as to foster the full recognition and use of both English and French in Canadian society;

    • (c) the commitment of the Government of Canada to enhance the vitality of official language minority communities and to support and assist their development, as well as to foster the full recognition and use of both English and French in Canadian society.

Broadcasting Policy for Canada

Marginal note:Declaration

  •  (1) It is hereby declared as the broadcasting policy for Canada that

    • (a) the Canadian broadcasting system shall be effectively owned and controlled by Canadians, and it is recognized that it includes foreign broadcasting undertakings that provide programming to Canadians;

    • (a.1) each broadcasting undertaking shall contribute to the implementation of the objectives of the broadcasting policy set out in this subsection in a manner that is appropriate in consideration of the nature of the services provided by the undertaking;

    • (b) the Canadian broadcasting system, operating primarily in the English and French languages and comprising public, private and community elements, makes use of radio frequencies that are public property and provides, through its programming, a public service essential to the maintenance and enhancement of national identity and cultural sovereignty;

    • (c) while sharing common aspects, English and French language broadcasting operate under different conditions — in particular, the minority context of French in North America — and may have different requirements;

    • (d) the Canadian broadcasting system should

      • (i) serve to safeguard, enrich and strengthen the cultural, political, social and economic fabric of Canada,

      • (ii) encourage the development of Canadian expression by providing a wide range of programming that reflects Canadian attitudes, opinions, ideas, values and artistic creativity, by displaying Canadian talent in entertainment programming and by offering information and analysis concerning Canada and other countries from a Canadian point of view, and foster an environment that encourages the development and export of Canadian programs globally,

      • (iii) through its programming and the employment opportunities arising out of its operations, serve the needs and interests of all Canadians — including Canadians from Black or other racialized communities and Canadians of diverse ethnocultural backgrounds, socio-economic statuses, abilities and disabilities, sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions, and ages — and reflect their circumstances and aspirations, including equal rights, the linguistic duality and multicultural and multiracial nature of Canadian society and the special place of Indigenous peoples and languages within that society,

      • (iii.1) provide opportunities to Indigenous persons to produce programming in Indigenous languages, English or French, or in any combination of them, and to carry on broadcasting undertakings,

      • (iii.11) provide opportunities to Black and other racialized persons in Canada by taking into account their specific needs and interests, namely, by supporting the production and broadcasting of original programs by and for Black and other racialized communities,

      • (iii.2) support the production and broadcasting of original French language programs,

      • (iii.3) enhance the vitality of official language minority communities in Canada and support and assist their development by taking into account their specific needs and interests, including through supporting the production and broadcasting of original programs by and for those communities,

      • (iii.4) support community broadcasting that reflects both the diversity of the communities being served, including with respect to the languages in use within those communities and to their ethnocultural and Indigenous composition, and the high engagement and involvement in community broadcasting by members of those communities, including with respect to matters of public concern,

      • (iii.5) ensure that Canadian independent broadcasting undertakings continue to be able to play a vital role within that system,

      • (iii.6) support the production and broadcasting of programs in a diversity of languages that reflect Black and other racialized communities and the diversity of the ethnocultural composition of Canadian society, including through broadcasting undertakings that are carried on by Canadians from Black or other racialized communities and diverse ethnocultural backgrounds,

      • (iii.7) provide opportunities to Canadians from Black or other racialized communities and diverse ethnocultural backgrounds to produce and broadcast programs by and for those communities,

      • (iv) promote innovation and be readily adaptable to scientific and technological change,

      • (v) reflect and be responsive to the preferences and interests of various audiences, and

      • (vi) ensure freedom of expression and journalistic independence;

    • (e) each element of the Canadian broadcasting system shall contribute in an appropriate manner to the creation and presentation of Canadian programming;

    • (f) each Canadian broadcasting undertaking shall employ and make maximum use, and in no case less than predominant use, of Canadian creative and other human resources in the creation, production and presentation of programming, unless the nature of the service provided by the undertaking, such as specialized content or format or the use of languages other than French and English, renders that use impracticable, in which case the undertaking shall make the greatest practicable use of those resources;

    • (f.1) each foreign online undertaking shall make the greatest practicable use of Canadian creative and other human resources, and shall contribute in an equitable manner to strongly support the creation, production and presentation of Canadian programming, taking into account the linguistic duality of the market they serve;

    • (g) the programming over which a person who carries on a broadcasting undertaking has programming control should be of high standard;

    • (h) all persons who carry on broadcasting undertakings have a responsibility for the programs that they broadcast and over which they have programming control;

    • (i) the programming provided by the Canadian broadcasting system should

      • (i) be varied and comprehensive, providing a balance of information, enlightenment and entertainment for people of all ages, interests and tastes,

      • (i.1) reflect and support Canada’s linguistic duality by placing significant importance on the creation, production and broadcasting of original French language programs, including those from French linguistic minority communities,

      • (ii) be drawn from local, regional, national and international sources, including, at the local level, from community broadcasters who, through collaboration with local organizations and community members, are in the unique position of being able to provide varied programming to meet the needs of specific audiences,

      • (ii.1) include programs produced by Canadians that cover news and current events — from the local and regional to the national and international — and that reflect the viewpoints of Canadians, including the viewpoints of Indigenous persons and of Canadians from Black or other racialized communities and diverse ethnocultural backgrounds,

      • (ii.2) reflect the importance of Indigenous language revitalization by supporting the production and broadcasting of Indigenous language programming, in accordance with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action,

      • (iii) include educational and community programs,

      • (iv) provide a reasonable opportunity for the public to be exposed to the expression of differing views on matters of public concern and to directly participate in public dialogue on those matters including through the community element, and

      • (v) include a significant contribution from the Canadian independent production sector;

    • (j) educational programming, particularly where provided through the facilities of an independent educational authority, is an integral part of the Canadian broadcasting system;

    • (k) a range of broadcasting services in English and in French shall be extended to all Canadians;

    • (l) the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, as the national public broadcaster, should provide broadcasting services incorporating a wide range of programming that informs, enlightens and entertains;

    • (m) the programming provided by the Corporation should

      • (i) be predominantly and distinctively Canadian,

      • (ii) reflect Canada and its regions to national and regional audiences, while serving the special needs of those regions,

      • (iii) actively contribute to the flow and exchange of cultural expression,

      • (iv) be in English and in French, reflecting the different needs and circumstances of each official language community, including the specific needs and interests of official language minority communities,

      • (v) strive to be of equivalent quality in English and in French,

      • (vi) contribute to shared national consciousness and identity,

      • (vii) be made available throughout Canada by the most appropriate and efficient means and as resources become available for the purpose, and

      • (viii) reflect the multicultural and multiracial nature of Canada;

    • (n) where any conflict arises between the objectives of the Corporation set out in paragraphs (l) and (m) and the interests of any other broadcasting undertaking of the Canadian broadcasting system, it shall be resolved in the public interest, and where the public interest would be equally served by resolving the conflict in favour of either, it shall be resolved in favour of the objectives set out in paragraphs (l) and (m);

    • (o) programming that reflects the Indigenous cultures of Canada and programming that is in Indigenous languages should be provided — including through broadcasting undertakings that are carried on by Indigenous persons — within community elements, which are positioned to serve smaller and remote communities, and other elements of the Canadian broadcasting system in order to serve Indigenous peoples where they live;

    • (p) programming that is accessible without barriers to persons with disabilities should be provided within the Canadian broadcasting system, including through community broadcasting, as well as the opportunity for them to develop their own content and voices;

    • (p.1) programming that is accessible without barriers to persons with disabilities should be provided within the Canadian broadcasting system, including without limitation, closed captioning services and described video services available to assist persons living with a visual or auditory impairment;

    • (q) online undertakings that provide the programming services of other broadcasting undertakings should

      • (i) ensure the discoverability of Canadian programming services and original Canadian programs, including original French language programs, in an equitable proportion,

      • (ii) when programming services are supplied to them by other broadcasting undertakings under contractual arrangements, provide reasonable terms for the carriage, packaging and retailing of those programming services, and

      • (iii) ensure the delivery of programming at affordable rates;

    • (r) online undertakings shall clearly promote and recommend Canadian programming, in both official languages as well as in Indigenous languages, and ensure that any means of control of the programming generates results allowing its discovery;

    • (s) the programming provided by the community element should

      • (i) be innovative and complementary to the programming provided for mass audiences,

      • (ii) cater to tastes and interests not adequately provided for by the programming provided for mass audiences and include programs devoted to culture, politics, history, health and public safety, local news and current events, local economy and the arts,

      • (iii) reflect Canada’s communities, regions, Indigenous and multicultural nature, including through third-language programming,

      • (iv) support new and emerging Canadian creative talent, as a cost-effective venue for learning new skills, taking risks and exchanging ideas,

      • (v) through community participation, strengthen the democratic process and support local journalism, and

      • (vi) be available throughout Canada so that all Canadians can engage in dialogue on matters of public concern; and

    • (t) distribution undertakings

      • (i) should give priority to the carriage of Canadian programming services and, in particular, to the carriage of local Canadian stations,

      • (ii) should provide efficient delivery of programming at affordable rates, using the most effective technologies available at reasonable cost,

      • (iii) should, where programming services are supplied to them by broadcasting undertakings pursuant to contractual arrangements, provide reasonable terms for the carriage, packaging and retailing of those programming services, and

      • (iv) may, where the Commission considers it appropriate, originate programming, including local programming, on such terms as are conducive to the achievement of the objectives of the broadcasting policy set out in this subsection, and in particular provide access for underserved linguistic and cultural minority communities.

  • Marginal note:Further declaration

    (2) It is further declared that the Canadian broadcasting system constitutes a single system and that the objectives of the broadcasting policy set out in subsection (1) can best be achieved by providing for the regulation and supervision of the Canadian broadcasting system by a single independent public authority.

 

Date modified: