TV and Music Online

In Canada, services that broadcast over the Internet don't need a licence from the CRTC. We do not intervene on content on the Internet.

Why can’t I watch all TV programs or listen to all music subscription sites I want on the Internet?

This most commonly occurs when a Canadian broadcaster has paid a fee to air a program or musical selection in Canada (known as purchasing distribution rights) and the website has not purchased the same rights.

What are distribution rights?

TV producers can sell the rights to air a program with limitations on where, when and for how long it can be viewed. Record companies sell the rights to musical selections in much the same way. These contracts, which have a specific duration, typically spell out where a broadcaster has the right to air a given show or musical selection and how many times it may be aired. By selling a show or musical selection multiple times to different entities around the world, producers are better able to make a return on their investment.

Does the CRTC make rules about how distribution rights are sold?

The CRTC does not have any rules that dictate how TV producers and record companies can sell their programs and musical selections, nor does any other Canadian government body. Producers can sell the broadcast rights to their property in any manner they wish.

For example, a producer may sell the TV-viewing program rights to a Canadian TV station, but may decide to sell the Internet-viewing program rights to someone else. The producer can decide whether to allow non-Canadian TV websites to show programs only in the U.S., across North America or any other way.

Does the CRTC block access to certain websites?

No, websites often purchase the right to show programs or play musical selections only to viewers who visit from a specific territory (stipulated by the producer). These websites determine where a visitor is located based on the IP address (the location where they connect to the Internet).

When the website determines that the visitor is located in a region or country where it doesn’t have the right to show the program, it usually displays a message to that effect.

Can I do anything about offensive content on the Internet?

For content generated in Canada, there are Canadian laws, industry developed guidelines and content filtering software to deal with content that may be offensive. You can look at your Internet service provider's "Acceptable Use Policy" or the Canadian Association of Internet Providers "Code of Conduct" for more information about their respective standards. You can contact either your Internet service provider or your local police department to report illegal content.

The Government of Canada has set up a national tip line for reporting the online sexual exploitation of children. It also provides other resources to help Canadians keep their children safe while on the Internet. Visit or call toll-free at 1-866-658-9022.

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