Letter to Pablo Rodriguez Re: C-11


March 10, 2022

Hon. Pablo Rodriguez
Minister of Canadian Heritage
15 Eddy Street, 12th Floor Gatineau, Quebec K1A 0M5
Email: hon.pablo.rodriguez@pch.gc.ca

Dear Mr. Rodriguez,

Re: Black Screen Office and Bill C-11, the Online Streaming Act

The Black Screen Office would like to congratulate you on your re-appointment as Minister of Canadian Heritage. Though the BSO did not exist during your previous tenure as Minister of Canadian Heritage, we welcome the appointment of someone with your depth of experience and clear commitment to the portfolio.

As the BSO is a newer organization, we would welcome the opportunity to meet with you, either virtually or when possible in person, to further acquaint you with our organization, its mandate and goals. Its mission is to make Canada’s screen industries’ practices and policies equitable and free of anti-Black racism; to work collaboratively with decision-makers to develop tools and strategies that enable system-level engagement and accountability; and to empower Black Canadians, French and English, working within the screen industries to thrive and share their stories.

We would also like to share with you some of the research that we are doing, which we hope will help us all to create the change that we need to see. The first study was released on February 10, 2022, the first of six research reports from the “Being Seen” project aimed at creating directives to guide creators and decision makers to support more inclusive and authentic screen-based content. You can find the first report at www.beingseen.ca.

The second study is near completion: “Being Counted: Canadian Race-based Audience Research Study” explores and documents the screen media preferences and consumption habits of Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour – communities of Canadians who are

underrepresented and/or excluded from traditional audience research. This report will be released in April 2022.

“Fade to Black: Black Canadians in the Canadian Screen Industries” addresses the third key variable: who is creating the content we see. This study centres on the experiences of existing and aspiring Black talent (producers, creators, actors, crews) regarding sector participation (who they are, where they are, and what are their experiences), pathways to career development, skills training and paid work; barriers and challenges faced, the supports that have been most helpful, and strategies for remaining working in the sector. This report will be completed in July 2022.

In the meantime, we wish to express our support for Bill C-11, the Online Streaming Act and our hope for a speedy process through the legislature. The Online Streaming Act is a long overdue modernization of the Broadcasting Act and, together with future CRTC hearings, will go far towards ensuring that the Canadian broadcasting system is a healthy and well-funded sector. We particularly appreciate the recognition that the Canadian broadcasting system must serve the needs of all Canadians, including those of racialized and diverse ethnocultural backgrounds. It is hoped that this strengthened commitment to Black and other racialized audiences and the creators who make the content that these audiences are looking for will help us to create the systemic change necessary to ensure that the Canadian broadcasting system truly is reflective of all Canadians.

The BSO is looking forward to the Policy Direction to the CRTC once the Bill is passed and the subsequent public hearing. We would welcome the opportunity to talk about what could go into the Policy Direction to ensure that the needs of Black audiences are met through race-based data collection and incentives to invest in Canadian programming created by Black creators and producers.

Should you wish to discuss any of the BSO’s work, or how C-11 and the Policy Direction can best support Black communities within the Canadian broadcasting system, please do not hesitate to reach out.

Yours sincerely,

Jennifer Holness, Chair of the Board
Maya Annik Bedward, Treasurer of the Board
Joan Jenkinson, Executive Director