Canadian Regulator: Broadcasters Caught 'Flat-Footed' By Netflix

The criticism came as a CRTC commissioner urged the domestic radio industry to avoid napping as automakers design new on-board technologies to capture audio content.

TORONTO – A Canadian TV watchdog has criticized local broadcasters for being asleep on the job as Netflix came north four years ago to compete in their market.

"I don’t want to see a repeat of the Netflix experience, when many, if not most, broadcasting companies were caught flat-footed," Raj Shoan, a regional commissioner for the CRTC (the country's broadcast regulator), said in a May 22 speech to the National Conference of the Broadcast Educators Association.

Shoan also warned the Canadian radio industry against napping as automakers design "an interactive dashboard of the future" to access audio content beyond AM/FM radio.

"…There’s a major curve in the road ahead for radio and I hope industry is paying attention," he added.

Netflix Canada was launched in September 2010 as the first international expansion for the U.S.-based video streaming giant.

Netflix Canada today overshadows the domestic TV market with over two million subscribers, and only Rogers Communications stands out among legacy cable or satellite TV carriers in making plans for a Netflix-like streaming video service.

"Everyone knew the battle for control of the living room was coming. Five years ago, there was an opportunity for Canadian companies to take a leadership role in the online space," Shoan told the Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, conference.

"However, since the launch of Netflix less than four years ago, broadcasters have been playing catch-up," he added.

The CRTC has consistently ruled against regulating Netflix Canada, despite industry calls to do so, as it argues Canadian broadcasters are not disadvantaged while competing against the U.S. streaming giant for viewers.