CanCon and beyond: Share your visions for the future of the industry

The Canada Media Fund is on a mission to explore the multifaceted nature of Canadian content (CanCon) by consulting as wide a range of stakeholders as possible to comment and reflect on its redefinition and future. 

Launching the initiative #CanConDef on Feb. 27, an exploratory consultation process is rolling out in three phases — via a national inquiry, co-creation workshops, and a report to give findings back to the community. 

The national funder is seizing an opportunity to contribute by broadening the conversation and inviting reflection on the concept of CanCon in a way that builds momentum among industry stakeholders and Canadian audiences.

“We want to democratize this [and] hear from as many people as possible,” says Kyle O’Byrne, CMF Director of Public Affairs. 

“The Canadian content policy we know today stems from a report published over 70 years ago. That was a very different time. As we modernize our broadcasting system, it would benefit us to ask — as an industry and as a country — if the definition has kept pace. For us to find that answer, we need to ask the right questions.”

“Getting people that were perhaps outside of the tent in the tent to have these conversations is really, really important.”

Rather than set out to establish the definition itself, the #CanConDef initiative will culminate ahead of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)’s policy review of Bill C-11, known as the Online Streaming Act

An additive resource, the ideas, feedback and final report from #CanConDef consultations aim to inform, complement, and benefit the regulator’s work. “The CMF initiative is a conduit through which to produce a report that encompasses diverse views and perspectives,” O’Byrne explains. 

In building relationships of trust and spaces for meaningful conversations around Canadian content, the CMF hopes to discover (and share!) what dimensions could be considered in the legal redefinition. 

“As an industry, we need to really force ourselves to think outside the box, outside of our ingrained perspectives and talking points, in search of different ways to approach this [question].” 

As the nation’s largest funder of Canadian Content, by far, it is an attempt by the CMF to provide insights and assist an industry ecosystem through that exercise. 

How #CanConDef is different 

The first phase of the process, running until March 31, will consist of ethnographic interviews and a nation-wide online survey to understand participants’ varied perspectives, personal and professional experiences, and barriers within the audiovisual industry and its bureaucratic systems. 

  • Ethnographic interviews: Collected through close relationships with social actors, interest groups and local communities that are affected by the modernization and rethinking of CanCon, in-depth consultations will collect data via semi-structured, one-hour interviews with 28 industry representatives and 14 non-experts. 

Soliciting a variety of ways to think about this definition (via identity, regionally, generationally and/or economically), the CMF and research partners, La Société des Demains and HUMAIN HUMAIN will reflect and solicit feedback on an intentionally wide range of ideas and perspectives. 

  • A national survey: Launching on Feb. 27, an online survey will consult 2,000 audiovisual industry experts aged 18 and older, both in French and English across the country. 

“Whether you are a student, a future member of this industry, or someone who’s working hard within this industry, you are a part of the community and should feel empowered to be part of this conversation,” encourages Catalina Briceño, a scholar, strategic foresight consultant and co-founder of La Société des Demains, who is working closely with the CMF on this initiative. 

“There’s a true exploratory component,” she adds. “It is a true conversation since there’s this willingness to let the door open to new ideas or unheard perspectives.”

“The initiative is also particularly committed to providing a space to consider the upcoming generation of decision-makers and practitioners who will form the Canadian audiovisual industry of tomorrow.”

Briceño is also excited to see the media business call upon experts in social sciences — namely ethnographers, academics and community members — for social and cultural development.  “We need to become broader thinkers,” she says.

“At this moment, when there’s a lot of uncertainty, it would be a perfect time to be really prudent and risk averse [but] the CMF initiative is demonstrating an approach and an openness that is totally the contrary, which is exciting and innovative.”

Creating a forum that sparks ideas and discussions, the findings and preliminary insights acquired in phase one will also directly inform phase two — a series of foresight workshops that will run this spring. 

Stay tuned for more on this iterative process and join us in April and May.

Finally, in phase three, a “What You Said” report will record and account the entire #CanConDef process, including data, insights and conversations that came up throughout the national initiative. 

What’s in it for you 

Providing an opportunity for deep listening, idea generation and reflection, this is your official invitation to join the #CanConDef conversation — the CMF wants to hear from anyone in the sector affected by changes to the meaning and scope of Canadian content

The CMF is calling on those working within the audiovisual industry, expert audiences, equity- and sovereignty-seeking communities, underrepresented communities and non-expert audiences to feel welcome to participate in this initiative. 

Add your voice to the online industry survey starting Feb. 27, which closes on March 31, or submit a written comment through the CMF website

#CanConDef is at a crossroads and your ideas, wisdom, vision, scrutiny and experiences can help the CMF inform the CRTC to make the best definition of Canadian content possible. 

Will you join? 

Laura Beeston
Laura Beeston is a writer, editor and content strategist from Winnipeg. In 10+ years of media making, she's worked on a variety of projects but was notably a breaking news reporter for The Winnipeg Free Press, The Montreal Gazette and The Toronto Star, and an arts reporter for The Globe and Mail. Since 2017, she's worked as multimedia content producer and is a media advisor and mentor at The Link.
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