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https://pixabay.com/en/netflix-remote-control-electronic-2705725/ (CC0 Creative Commons)

Joly’s Digital Cancon Plan: Netflix May Be The Star, But No New Regulations, Taxes or Bailouts is the Story

Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly presented her vision for digital Cancon earlier today, delivering a wide ranging plan that included previously leaked information about a commitment from Netflix to spend $500 million over five years on production in Canada. The Netflix commitment is the headline of the day, though earlier reports inaccurately claimed that the funding would be for Canadian content rather than productions in Canada (the two are not the same given the restrictive approach to Cancon definitions).

The agreement represents a major long-term commitment to the Canadian market which should go some way to appeasing critics who feared that the company might abandon Canadian production in the future. However, since Canada was already one of the company’s top three countries for production, it may not result in a significant increase in funding.

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September 28, 2017 5 comments News
The CRTC listened intently to the CFRO presentation by Robin Puga (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/8XhHm1

Not Just Netflix: Government Asks the CRTC To Conduct a Review of Changing Broadcast Models

Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly will formally unveil her digital Cancon strategy on Thursday, but aspects of the plan are already coming to light. There have been several reports about an agreement with Netflix to commit $500 million to production in Canada over the next five years. Assuming this is accurate, it may not necessarily mean a big increase in spending (Canada was already one of the top three markets for Netflix production) but it will provide certainty about the company’s commitment to Canada.

It would also appear that the government envisions asking the CRTC to become involved in developing policy, particularly with respect to upcoming review of the Broadcasting Act and Telecommunications Act. An Order-in-Council has just been posted online that requests that the CRTC conduct a study on programming distribution models and their impact on the maintaining a “vibrant domestic market.” The report will examine:

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September 27, 2017 3 comments News
Broadband chart, European Commission, Fixed Broadband Prices in Europe 2016, p. 40 https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/news/fixed-broadband-prices-europe-2016

European Commission Backed Study Confirms Canada Among the Most Expensive for Broadband Internet Access

The European Commission has released a new study it commissioned on broadband pricing in Europe and several other leading countries. It confirms yet again what Canadian consumers have long suspected: Canada is among the most expensive countries in the developed economy world for broadband Internet services. The study, which provides data on the 2016 retail pricing for consumers throughout the EU, Canada, the U.S., Japan, South Korea, Norway, and Iceland, found Canadians consistently face some of the most expensive pricing regardless of speed or whether the packages include local telephone and television services. The survey was conducted over a two-week period in October 2016 and included retail pricing for five major Canadian ISPs: Bell, Shaw, Rogers, Videotron, and Telus. The data includes procedures to account for one-off fees and other discounts.

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September 26, 2017 5 comments News
Bell Media - Ottawa by Obert Madondo (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/qJYGtC

An Industry Divided: How Bell Broke With the Telecom Sector on Copyright

The news that Bell has called on the Canadian government to support radical copyright reform in NAFTA that includes North America-wide mandatory website blocking (to be overseen in Canada by the CRTC) and the full criminalization of copyright represents only the latest step in the transformation of the company into one of Canada’s most aggressive copyright lobbyists and litigators. The Bell proposals go beyond what even the CACN, Canada’s anti-counterfeiting lobby group, has recommended. While copyright lobbying has been led for years by the movie and music industries, Bell has now broken with most other communications companies on copyright policy with policies barely distinguishable from the RIAA or MPAA. In recent years, it has argued against VPN use, used the courts to target a wide range of sites and services, lobbied for copyright reform in trade deals, and become the only telecom company in the world to join the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment.

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September 25, 2017 12 comments News
internet down :( by Kirk Lau (CC BY-NC 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/3uMSYS

Bell Calls for CRTC-Backed Website Blocking System and Complete Criminalization of Copyright in NAFTA

Bell, Canada’s largest telecom company, has called on the government to support radical copyright and broadcast distribution reforms as part of the NAFTA renegotiation. Their proposals include the creation of a mandated website blocking system without judicial review overseen by the CRTC and the complete criminalization of copyright with criminal provisions attached to all commercial infringement. Bell also supports an overhaul of the current retransmission system for broadcasters, supporting a “consent model” that would either keep U.S. channels out of the Canadian market or dramatically increase their cost of access while maintaining simultaneous substitution.

The Bell positions were articulated at hearing this week of the Standing Committee on International Trade on NAFTA (I appeared earlier in the week before the same committee).

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September 22, 2017 64 comments News