The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is launching a major review of the rules that govern Canada’s television industry for the first time since 1993.
Both consumers and broadcasters are itching for reforms. Quoth The Globe and Mail:
There are several flashpoints that are likely to arise. One is the way television providers require consumers to pay for channels they don’t want in order to get the ones they do. The commission could also revisit the rules that dictate which channels are included in basic television packages. Broadcasters also want to see reforms. They say newer online competitors such as Netflix are allowed to operate with more regulatory freedom in this country than incumbents, who must meet minimum targets for Canadian programming. They argue that the playing field should be levelled.
“It’s time to ask if the assumptions that lie beneath our current regulatory policies still hold true,” CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais told the newspaper. “Broadcasting as we once knew it is no longer and will never again be the same.”
Unlike traditional broadcasters, Netflix and similar services are not burdened by licenses which require them to fund Canadian content.
Netflix users stream a combined one million hours of video per month, according to the company. Netflix’s content streaming accounts for up to one-third of all internet traffic in Canada during peak hours and saw subscriptions climb 50% in 2012, according to a report from the Media Technology Monitor.