This afternoon, the Ontario government appeared before the CRTC as part of its future of television hearing. The Ontario government issued a clear call for new regulation of so-called new media companies such as Netflix and Google. The government states:
In order to create a more level playing field, the ministry recommends decreasing this regulatory imbalance. The ministry believes the best way to accomplish this is to expand the regulation of new media TV, rather than by lightening the current regulation of traditional TV.
What does the expansion of regulation involve?
For the Ontario government, it includes regulating foreign online video services. The Ontario government wants the CRTC to impose Canadian content obligations on the foreign providers, though interestingly it recommends exempting Canadian online video providers. The recommended regulations would include reporting requirements on all revenues and financial contributions to Cancon production once the services reach a certain size.
In fact, the Ontario government says that if foreign operators do not face new regulations, the CRTC should consider “non-regulatory incentives” for financial contributions (it cites elimination of data caps for some online video providers as an example, though acknowledges that such an approach may violate net neutrality rules).