The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage concluded a study on the Canadian film industry this week, releasing a report that lists 11 recommendations that generally call for continued industry support. The NDP and Liberals both issued supplementary opinions in which they called for requirements that online video providers (such as Netflix) disclose revenues, Cancon availability, and subscriber numbers to Canadian officials. The NDP recommendation:
the NDP fully supports the recommendation made by Carolle Brabant of Telefilm Canada, who argued that it is vital for over-the-top services to be able to do what traditional platforms and media do, namely, provide government authorities with detailed information about their services, such as consumers’ habits, the Canadian films available, the revenues generated and the costs associated with such services.
The Liberals issued a similar recommendation:
It is recommended that the Department of Canadian Heritage and the (CRTC) gather data on over-the-top services, with particular focus on consumer habits, availability of Canadian films, and revenues and expenses associated with these services.
The issue of data disclosure has been a contentious one, with companies such as Netflix and Google refusing to provide the CRTC with confidential information during the TalkTV hearings, leading to a high-profile showdown on the issue. Better information is obviously important, but the challenge is how to gather that information. Voluntary disclosure would address the issue, but if providers are unable or unwilling to comply, gathering such information brings up the thorny world of regulating online video providers with rules that mandate disclosure to the CRTC and/or the government.