Big TV wants the CRTC to force Netflix to act like a broadcaster
Because everyone needs another reason to hate Bell: the telecom giant and new owner of CTV Globemedia is among the legacy broadcasters that are lobbying the CRTC to start regulating Netflix Canada as if it were a broadcaster. That’s right, Big TV thinks Netflix should be forced to do the pricey things broadcasters have had to do for decades, like produce Canadian content.
Cable and satellite companies worry that the availability of cheap alternative TV services could lead customers to cut the cord on their subscriptions. That could erode the subscriber revenues and advertisement dollars the industry depends on.
Those concerns led to the formation, in February, of the “Over the Top Services Working Group,” which has grown to include more than 35 executives from the telecommunications, broadcasting, and TV production sectors, as well as union leaders. On April 1, the group sent a letter to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission asking for a “public consultation” to consider changing its approach to new media.
There are several reasons this won’t happen, but two stand out:
1. The CRTC has several policy statements in place that say it shouldn’t regulate Internet services, period. (Both in 1999 and in 2009 the CRTC adopted a “hands off” approach.)
2. No politician of any persuasion is going to let the government break people’s TV. Sure, the Conservatives are favoured to form the next government and their target demographic is more likely to see a blinking “12:00” on their screens than the latest season of Mad Men, but Tony Clement has already tweeted that he thinks the CRTC should give this a pass.
If the CRTC wants to go up against enraged Internet users and the industry minister—and lose, again—it’s welcome to. We reckon, however, that even the CRTC isn’t that much of a masochist.