Canadian Broadcasters Want Netflix Regulated Like TV‎

6:58 AM PST 04/15/2011 by Etan Vlessing
Jin Lee/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Canuck broadcasters tell regulators that Netflix is acting more like a premium broadcaster with upcoming 'House of Cards' drama, and should be regulated as such.

TORONTO – Canadian broadcasters believe they have an opening in Netflix’s upcoming House of Cards drama series to convince the CRTC to finally regulate the U.S. video streaming giant’s Canadian operation.

“It is now public knowledge that a foreign over-the-top service operating in Canada has commissioned new exclusive dramatic content, including for the Canadian market,” the Canuck broadcasters wrote to the CRTC in an April 1 letter, without naming Netflix directly.

Netflix has secured the exclusive rights to 26 episodes of the drama House of Cards, the Kevin Spacey-starring political thriller to be directed by David Fincher. Netflix Canada has also signed a distribution deal with Paramount Pictures to debut new releases in Canada.

Arguing Netflix Canada is financing its own dramas, and acting as an online broadcaster, the Canadian broadcasters in the April 1 letter urged the Canadian regulator to launch a public process “to determine whether and how such non-Canadian companies should support Canadian cultural programming."

Netflix spokesman Steve Swasey, responding to the Canadian broadcasters' formal overture to the CRTC, repeated opposition to Netflix Canada coming under local regulation. “Whether it's Netflix, Skype, YouTube or other Internet video providers, an unregulated approach to the Internet is effective for consumers,” he said.

The CRTC has until now resisted calls to regulate Netflix Canada, arguing it aggregates content, and that legislative changes are required before Netflix or other U.S. digital platforms spilling into the Canadian market could be considered online broadcasters.

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