Netflix‘s American domination of online streaming is at a level its counterpart north of the border attempts to match, and while for the most part it succeeds, there are sometimes obstacles to face on account of not being native and not being ‘traditional television’.
Canadian broadcasting regulator CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) claimed that Netflix must hand over their viewer data to them otherwise be hit with rulings subjecting them to abide by the rules of ‘traditional Canadian television‘.
Setting the instruction at a hearing in Gatineu, CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais announced the decision following two weeks of heated debate with Netflix representative Corie Wright over ‘the future of television’, requesting that Netflix provide statistics regarding the total number of Canadian subscribers, as well as how popular Canadian-made content is on the site, although Netflix have naturally been cautious after citing a lack of confidentiality guarantee from the body.
Blais said to Netflix of the request: “You operate under an exemption order that requires you to provide the information. Failure to provide the information puts at risk your exemption order. The commission is ordering you to provide the number of subscribers that you have currently in Canada by 5 p.m., Ottawa time, Monday [22 September].”
Likely to be hit with having to follow the Broadcasting Act should they not comply, there is plenty of incentive for Netflix to do so with broadcasting taxes amongst the issues they would face by becoming an official broadcaster (an ironic byproduct of the situation considering Netflix’s long-held desire to prove they can compete with traditional TV networks).
Wright, however, seemed to argue that while aiding CRTC in ‘any way they can’ is a goal of the hearing, Netflix were there on a voluntary basis (as well as ‘supporting Canadian content’ of their own accord) and do not consider themselves Canadian or a broadcaster subject to full CRTC governance. She stated: “We are not a licensed broadcaster. We are a foreign entity.”
Set to spark plenty of discussion anyway over whether or not an incoming content broadcaster such as Netflix should be bound by regulations of a local governing body, will the case be made more controversial this evening with no viewer data arriving on CRTC’s doorstep?