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Netflix Dodges Regulatory Bullet in Canada

6 Oct, 2011 By: Erik Gruenwedel

The streaming service receives good news when Canadian agency says over-the-top content providers pose no immediate threat to traditional broadcasters

Netflix Canada is not considered a threat to traditional TV and cable broadcasters and won’t be regulated as one, an oversight agency said.

In an Oct. 5 statement following a fact-finding exercise, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, or CRTC, found that while streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime proliferate, consumer response to them is relatively unknown.

As a result, Netflix and others won’t be subject to the same content restrictions as broadcasters, among other guidelines. The finding does not apply to data capacity limits imposed by cable operators on streamed and downloaded content from the Internet.

“There is no clear evidence that Canadians are reducing or canceling their television subscriptions” due to OTT services, the report said, adding that online and mobile programming appears to be complementary to the content offered by the traditional broadcasting system.

The independent agency said that while services such as Netflix are expanding their presence in Canada, so too are opportunities for domestic upstarts and traditional media distribution operators. Adding additional regulatory measures on OTT services also would hamper similar Canadian ventures, the CRTC said.

The agency said it would continue to monitor the evolving communications environment, and this growing industry would be the main focus of its annual consultation with the broadcasting industry next month in Ottawa.


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