Netflix Butts Heads With Canada’s CRTC


Canada is currently undertaking a hearing into the future of the television industry in that country dubbed “Let’s Talk TV.” Major players have been asked to comment and participate in the hearings, and Netflix has flat out refused to answer some of the questions posed by the  Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

The information that Netflix refused to hand over concerned the number of Canadian subscribers they have, as well as their earnings from that subscriber base. Netflix refused to hand over the information stating they had concerns over the confidentiality of the information. The real issue that surfaces from Netflix’s refusal to provide these details to the CRTC raises questions about what jurisdiction the CRTC really has – or doesn’t have – over Internet based video services.

“The more specific question here is, does [Canada’s] Broadcasting Act apply to these Internet-based services?” said Michael Geist, a law professor at the University of Ottawa, in an interview.

The CRTC governs traditional media in Canada, and in the past online media was exempt from regulations that the CRTC imposes on traditional broadcasters. In 2012, this exemption was amended and the CRTC requires new media companies (as they call them) to submit information regarding their

“activities in broadcasting in digital media, and such other information that is required by the Commission in order to monitor the development of broadcasting in digital media, at such time and in such form, as requested by the Commission from time to time.”

One of the main issues that has surfaced recently is that traditional TV broadcasters are finding themselves competing even more with online services and feel the new media outlets should be subject to the same content and programming rules as traditional programming providers are. A key component of the rules consists of programmers requiring a specific amount of Canadian programming content. As part of the hearings, the CRTC is trying to decide how online video services should be regulated, and state they require the information to understand the Canadian operations of these companies.

Regardless, Netflix’s refusal to hand over information to the CRTC could be setting a precedent for other companies as well. Do you think the CRTC has a right to demand subscriber information from Netflix and other companies? Let us know in the comments below, or on Google+, Facebook, or Twitter.

  Source: Globe and Mail
To Top