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November 23rd, 2014

Broadcasters Try to get CRTC To Regulate Netflix

Broadcasters Try to get CRTC To Regulate NetflixIn a not too distant past the telecom companies went after Netflix via the CRTC and very much at the expense of Canadians. Yes I try not to preach about Canadian issues since you readers are an international audience but I really can’t let this issue die.  To quickly recap in the first assault on Netflix Canada the CRTC approved for Telecom companies namely Bell / Rogers and Shaw to charge extra for bandwith so that those of us who were giving up on regular cable for NetFlix for a fraction of the price of their satellite/cable service would still end up giving money back to the telecom companies. Really fair huh?

The latest in the Netflix fiasco is the Canadian Broadcasters are asking why the CRTC does not regulate Netflix since they are broadcasting into Canada. If the CRTC was to regulate Netflix it means that the content would change and be restricted to meet CRTC guidelines which in my simple understanding says a certain percentage of the content must by law be Canadian. Netflix would also be made to financially support Canadian groups that in turn are involved in producing Canadian content. CRTC head Konrad von Finkenstein says Netflix is not a broadcaster and frankly it’s the smartest thing I have heard him say since the CRTC allowed telecom companies to reach into my pocket and remove money from me for not using their cable/satellite service.

In my view you can no more call Netflix a broadcaster then you can Youtube. Youtube streams millions of videos into Canada every year I don’t see the CRTC, Broadcasters or Telecom companies making a moan over them. The reason that Broadcasters and Telecom companies are scared of Netflix is because it can hurt their bottom line.

The CRTC and the Canadian Broadcasting rules say that a certain percentage of time must be given to Canadian shows but further more a certain percentage of revenue must go to organizations that support Canadian producers and television. Netflix will stomp all over the Canadian competition because they are not governed by these rules and that means they offer viewers what they want, not what the CRTC or any other organization mandated.

I frankly as a Canadian think that everyone and everything should stand on their own merits. Just as my job is based off my skill and ability… or lack their of in many cases I think the CRTC and the rules on Canadian broadcasting are protectionist and frankly just wrong. If an organization was formed to protect Canadian baby swing manufacturers and they made an inferior product to the Americans or Australians would you feel right in being forced to buy them and support them? I am using a drastic example but it should make my point.

My next loaded question is why should broadcasters much less Netflix be forced to support Canadian TV shows? Broadcasters in my view should be allowed to put their money into programming Canadians want to watch whether it’s made in India, England or the United States. I for one believe that Canadians are talented enough that we don’t need to be propped up by an organization that makes it law to buy and support Canadian actors/directors/filmmakers/producers. If you can’t cut it then perhaps rather than having organizations forcing broadcasters to subsidize you, you should ask yourself why?

I watch Netflix and I do not watch them because the films are American / Canadian or other. I watch it because it is convenient, has a fantastic selection and is priced at a price that I can afford. I see no reason why Netflix should be forced to support Canadian content anymore then Broadcasters should be. So I guess what I am saying is the Broadcasters are wrong in asking why Netflix doesn’t have to pay into the Canadian game and would be better to ask ‘why do we?’.

You tell me do you agree with the rules on Canadian content? Does it seem like protectionism? Am I completely wrong in my thinking or do you agree? Lets discuss it!




22 Comments


  1. Prof Hubertf

    There are two main reasons for the protection of Canadian content. First, production and distribution are dominated by american firms. American firms don’t really care about producing canadian content because they think it won’t sell in the US. Generally, they are correct. The consequence is that it is virtually impossible for canadians and especially media about canadians to break into the American system. The idea behind forcing Canadian content is to give Canadian artists access to a Canadian audience, if things go well, the artists can try break into the larger US market.

    This is a similar strategy to the one used by India to grow its industrial companies (like tata).

    The second reason is that the Canadian market is much smaller than the us market. No one in their right mind would produce anything for the canadian market unless there was funding for it.

    Without these Canadian content rules, we would not be able to choose Canadian content because it would not exist in the first place.

    in music and movies, distribution and production are dominated by ameraican companies.


    • Anonymous

      i still question why the CRTC regulates what I am allowed to see but I agree with your solid points. I suppose I am ok with production support for canadian projects but forcing me to watch them and not allowing me to watch American broadcasts is wrong.


    • neo

      Prof you’ve obviously never seen most of the crap that passes for Canadian content. Local cable stations produce the Canadian content that people actually watch!
      If you think “Kenny vs Spenny” is entertaining you’re in grade school.
      All the canadian content laws do is force tax dollars into the pockets of bad performers that should get real jobs. Ask Micheal Buble if Canadian production has hurt him. Any talented entertainer has no trouble being noticed south of the border. If Justin Beiber is on CSI is he suddenly NOT Canadian?
      The CRTC had a purpose 70 years ago when radio reception was a problem in sparsly populated regions of the country. Today it’s a bunch of old guys trying to look busy.


    • neo

      Prof you’ve obviously never seen most of the crap that passes for Canadian content. Local cable stations produce the Canadian content that people actually watch!
      If you think “Kenny vs Spenny” is entertaining you’re in grade school.
      All the canadian content laws do is force tax dollars into the pockets of bad performers that should get real jobs. Ask Micheal Buble if Canadian production has hurt him. Any talented entertainer has no trouble being noticed south of the border. If Justin Beiber is on CSI is he suddenly NOT Canadian?
      The CRTC had a purpose 70 years ago when radio reception was a problem in sparsly populated regions of the country. Today it’s a bunch of old guys trying to look busy.


    • neo

      Prof you’ve obviously never seen most of the crap that passes for Canadian content. Local cable stations produce the Canadian content that people actually watch!
      If you think “Kenny vs Spenny” is entertaining you’re in grade school.
      All the canadian content laws do is force tax dollars into the pockets of bad performers that should get real jobs. Ask Micheal Buble if Canadian production has hurt him. Any talented entertainer has no trouble being noticed south of the border. If Justin Beiber is on CSI is he suddenly NOT Canadian?
      The CRTC had a purpose 70 years ago when radio reception was a problem in sparsly populated regions of the country. Today it’s a bunch of old guys trying to look busy.


    • Kromtarsmash

      That argument works with the old system but when the viewers can watch anything, anytime, anywhere, on any platform of their choosing ( Ipads, cell phones, blackberry’s, laptops, computers, consoles, ect.) and when someone can make a production without a middle man distributer and market it through social media sites and then put it on either a subscriber site like youtube or a pay site like netflix, you no longer need mass audience to make your money back, you only need a niche audience.


    • ERG

      Prof, Canada’s video game industry has managed to do everything you said our television industry cannot. Canada is home to several world-class video game studios (e.g. Ubisoft). They have no problem “breaking into the American system”, Canadian-made games are sold side-by-side with American games around the world. They don’t need protection in order to exist, because they produce multi-million dollar games that are on-par with American games. If our video game industry can do it, why can’t our television industry?


    • Rob McKay

      I respectfully disagree… Maybe our southern friends give enough to Canada. I know Vancouver, Toronto and the rest enjoy millions and millions of filming dollars… I watch a lot of US content and see CN tower, BC Place, etc… I also see plenty William Schatner, Jim Carey and hundreds of other Canadian actors in these “US” films. Come on CRTC enough Protectionism already and Shaw, Rogers, Bell and Telus – Piss off and stop with the temper tantrums. Monopoly time is over


  2. Rishi_marcz

    CRTC = Created to Ripp off The Canadians


  3. Fillinform25

    hmmm…how about sports? Should we root for Canadians? Should we support Olympic athletes?

    how about food? Should we support Canadian farmers?

    how about movie sites? Should we support Canadian ones? Nah, we’ll do fine getting everything we need from someone else…..


    • Anonymous

      there are no rules i am aware of that control media saying that you must read a certain amount of canadian content before you can read american content. I read Macleans not because its canadian but because its great writing.

      As for the supporting canadian farmers I have no clue what the rules are on agriculture. Is there a rule on that? I guess I am asking is do we do what we do for canadian broadcasters for farmers, manufacturers, etc? ( Its a serious question not being snarky )


  4. Angry Montrealer

    The CRTC gets away with this crap because typical Gordie-Canadian just sits there, politely shrugs, and is too nice to make a fuss. We’d rather have our pants around our ankles and bend over than take the time and effort to say the loonie stops here! If you are sick and tired of having the most crippling and outdated regualtions (not to mention billing practices) on cell phones, internet resources and now potential extra “service fees” for a service like Netflix, then for crying out loud stand up and phone your MP! Write a letter, make an unholy FUSS to the powers that be that say you are furious and your refuse to take it anymore! I’m well sick and tired of paying 20-30% more for virtually EVERYTHING just because I am Canadian. Cars, books, the joke of a postal system… the list goes on and on…


    • Anonymous

      i am up in arms over this but i hate to say it i just dont feel I can make a difference. What am i to do to get the CRTC and or broadcasters to treat me fairly. I dont want to pay fees to a telecom company because i like netflix. I also dont want to be forced to have my selection of shows limited because they have to be a certain % canadian.

      i realize that might not sound very patriotic and I am sorry for that. I am happy to support Canada and our products but I think I should have the choice to also use foreign products


  5. Raj - Toronto Canada

    Hooray for Netflix. I love the service. Rogers is pissed because it uses their bandwidth.

    Plus I am tired at these lame government media regulations…like substituting Canadian channels over the U-S channels if the same show is on. No one would watch the Canadian channels if that were lifted because the American coverage-commentary etc is superior. The govt is just supporting a pouty industry.

    Let us watch what we want! Broadcasters who can’t or won’t compete will not survive. It’s called free enterprise!


  6. J. White

    Netflix, Youtube, etc. are no more broadcasters than a movie theater or video store. Broadcasters show all viewers a predetermined, limited set of show at set times. Netflix, movie theaters, etc. allow each individual viewer to choose what to watch and when.

    The CRTC has no mandate in this area, and the broadcasters are simply trying to kill competition in other areas to increase their own profits. How is this helping Canadians?


  7. Guest

    The CRTC needs to die, and with it our broadcasters need to either become competitive or die as well. We are moving into a new era of globalism, its only a matter of time before archaic protectionist measures fall. Canadian Telecoms have had it too easy, too long.


  8. Guest

    The CRTC needs to die, and with it our broadcasters need to either become competitive or die as well. We are moving into a new era of globalism, its only a matter of time before archaic protectionist measures fall. Canadian Telecoms have had it too easy, too long.


  9. wcdixon

    “i still question why the CRTC regulates what I am allowed to see but I agree with your solid points. I suppose I am ok with production support for canadian projects but forcing me to watch them and not allowing me to watch American broadcasts is wrong. ”

    Don’t quite understand you saying that you are forced to watch Canadian projects while not being allowed to watch American broadcasts…the entire Canadian broadcasting system is set up on practice of simulcasting American shows on “Canadian” channels so our broadcasters can ad substitute (replace U.S. commercials with Canadian ads) and reap the profit benefits paid by Canadian advertisers. And for this ‘priviledge’ Canadian broadcasters must produce/air a minimum amount of Canadian content and contribute a small portion of their profits to production funds set up to assist in the financing and making of Canadian productions – it’s part of our broadcasters ‘conditions of license’. But you can still ‘see’ the vast majority of American shows anyway…whether in simulcast on Cdn channel or if one of our networks doesn’t purchase a show on the numerous American channels we do get up here – purchasing by our private broadcasters that has exceeded 800 million a year on American shows of late vs. spending less than half that spent on original Canadian programs….and a tenth of that on Canadian drama. We ‘barely’ have a culture and identity as it is, so overshadowed by the U.S. we are….those numbers don’t help cause.

    And as for publishing, farmers, automotive manufacturers, food production, music, sports (amateur AND professional), etc. etc….we DO protect and support and subsidize them all and more so that ‘Made in Canada’ can stay competitive and survive in the world market – for many of the reasons outlined above by Prof Hubertf….also and including the publishing/writing biz and the music/recording biz. Many of the same CRTC rules about Canadian content apply to radio stations. And Canadian magazines and publishers get subsidized up the wazoo in an effort to try to keep them competitive and on the shelves even. It’s everywhere and not unique to ‘broadcasting’ in Canada.

    But back to the point of your article – in its current form Netflix = a mediocre video store. They are a distributor of content, and I can’t see them being considered a ‘broadcaster’ and thus need to be regulated and have Cancon conditions of license) until they start commissioning and/or producing original material specifically for Netflix and its subscribers…resulting in them becoming a version of Canada’s premium pay movie networks like Super Channel and Movie Network/Movie Central.


  10. Guest

    The problem of bandwidth usage or over-usage is coming from video. Canadian are using internet more and more because: a) cable or satellite is more expensive than in the US, b) the CRTC prevent them from accessing unauthorized foreign channels (AL Jazeera or Univision). This is in contradiction with the charter of rights which gives us FREE access to medium of communications INCLUDING electronic ones. A common sense interpretation of the charter would have interpreted FREE as unregulated. However using a Supreme Court Challenge, up to now the CRTC has interpreted FREE as not paying so we cannot access Dish Network or Direct TV, it keeps artificially high our monthly cable billings and is used as a censorship tool, limiting our choices. Internet was a work around this censorship technique. With UBB they now want it both ways regulated and paying. CRTC commissioners have a dual goal: helping big companies to make money in order to get a cozy job after their CRTC tenure and maintaining censorship to thank the government which nominated them.
    Customer right is not an issue here. In a way it makes sense economically to accept UBB but it should come with foreign competition and unregulated access to TV. All CRTC’s decisions have the same goal: restricting access, creating scarcity to justify regulation and conversely (remember throttling?). CRTC, Government Liberal or Conservative and Big Companies all infringe on our charter rights. This is not the Left against the Right, it is the Top against the Bottom, Canadian oligarchy against poor people.
    BTW, CRTC probably means Censorship Regulator for Television in Canada!


  11. Jackjia

    CTRC: Why dnt u fuck ur self
    Canada normal Intrnet usege:60-80GB per family
    Amercia : 120GB per family


  12. AGUSTUS

    The CRTC stands for COMMUNIST RADIO TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION. Its a joke they try to force feed me muslim propaganda like little mosque on the prairie.


  13. Hawkeye

    The CRTC is the same organization that does nothing about Bell and other companies collecting an “extra” month of subscription fees upon cancellation. Somehow with all of their technology, it takes them a whole month to unplug your service and expects you to pay for it even though you have moved.

    It’s about time, Canadians were allowed to pay for what they want. A perfect example is the packaging of crap channels with ones that you really want when purchasing a television service. The only reason most of those channels exist is because we are forced to buy them with the channels we actually want.

    I would like to see downloads or on-demand service for everything offered at non-extortion prices. Renting a streaming video for $4.99 or buying a digital copy for $14.99 is akin to theft since there is no transportation, shelf space, packaging, or materials costs. No wonder so many people use torrents to download video.

    Asking the CRTC to regulate Netflix by the same companies who have been holding content for ransom is like a drug dealer asking the police to arrest his customers.



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