The Globe and Mail is reporting that a coalition of broadcasters, broadcast distributors (cable and satellite companies), and creators groups have written to the CRTC to ask for a public consultation on over-the-top video providers such as Netflix. The letter states:
The Working Group believes indeed, like the Standing Committee, that foreign over-the-top services are becoming a significant presence in the domestic market. 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. It is buying exclusive rights with studios in the windows of certain linear Canadian programming services. Therefore, the Working Group submits that the Commission should initiate the public consultation recommended by the Standing Committee.
The fight against Netflix is likely to escalate as broadcasters and broadcast distributors wrap themselves up in the Canadian flag and proclaim the future of Canadian content depends on new regulation of online video providers complete with Canadian content requirements and financial contributions (these are the same broadcasters arguing for decreased Canadian content requirements on their own networks).
The battle has been brewing over the past few months (I wrote about Shaw’s about face on regulation in January) and what is particularly striking is how badly Canadian broadcasters and broadcast distributors understood the future impact of the Internet on their businesses. The prospect of the Internet becoming a substitute for conventional broadcast was not exactly a secret at the new media hearing in 2009. In fact, I wrote about the hearing and the Internet streaming of movies in back-to-back columns just before the hearing started. But consider the comments of Canada’s broadcasters and broadcast distributors then and now. Earlier this month, Shaw told the CRTC: