Photo: Valérian Mazataud Archives Le Devoir The Minister of Culture of Quebec, Mathieu Lacombe, in an interview in the newsroom of “Devoir”
The Minister of Culture, Mathieu Lacombe, wants to see and hear more content from here on online platforms like Netflix and Spotify. With the green light from an independent group of experts, he committed Wednesday to tabling a bill to enhance the presence of Quebec audiovisual products on the Web.
“We are going to go all out, because we have the means to achieve our ambitions,” said the CAQ representative, visibly satisfied with the recommendations contained in a report on “Quebec’s cultural sovereignty in the digital age.” , made public earlier this morning.
In this document, four experts, including former PQ minister Louise Beaudoin, concluded that Quebec does indeed have the power to regulate French-speaking content on the platforms of digital giants. They also argue that “the establishment of quotas for original French-language content could possibly be considered.”
Mr. Lacombe did not want to specify a timetable for the submission of his bill on Wednesday, but he assured that he was preparing to “take a strong action”. “As for the details of the bill that we are going to table, I will not give them to you today. We are working on that,” said the CAQ elected official.
“We have this skill”
In interview with Le Devoir, almost a year ago, he had already made known his intentions to legislate in this direction. At the time, the Quebec government had just suffered a refusal from the federal government after proposing to include in Bill C-11 on digital platforms a “mandatory and official consultation mechanism of the Quebec government.”
“Nothing has been decided yet, but if we choose to move forward with a law, it would not contradict C-11 anyway. Whatever action we decide to take, it would be complementary,” he said.
Culture is a shared jurisdiction, but broadcasting and telecommunications have traditionally been federally regulated. “Experts today tell us that there are strong means that exist,” underlined Mr. Lacombe on Wednesday.
In its report, the advisory committee mandated by the Minister of Culture proposes that we include in the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms “the fundamental right of Quebecers to access and discoverability cultural content of original French language expression in the digital environment.”
If the Minister of Culture excludes the creation of a possible French-speaking distribution platform, he opens the door to imposing quotas for Quebec products within large online platforms. “We must have more Quebec content on the major platforms. We're talking about Netflix, we can say Disney, let's talk about Spotify too, let's talk about Apple Music, where listening to French-speaking, Quebec music is in free fall,” he said.
In a press release on Wednesday, the Quebec Association of the Record, Show and Video Industry (ADISQ) said it shared “the concerns of the members” of the advisory committee that produced the report broadcast in the morning. “Promoting access and discoverability of cultural content of original expression in French […] is essential in a context where they represent only 5% of tracks consumed online,” she declared.