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Bell Canada ExpressVu Satellite Dish by Tony Webster https://flic.kr/p/BRyfnp (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Sending a Different Message: After Bell Website Blocking Coalition Warns About Cord Cutting, Bell CEO Says It Isn’t Accelerating

The Bell coalition website blocking proposal places considerable emphasis on the impact of cord cutting, a reference to television subscribers canceling their service. Earlier this week, I blogged about CMPA data that called into question claims of negative impacts on the industry, with the actual data confirming record investment in Canadian television and film production and more than a billion dollars being spent annually by consumers on authorized video services such as Netflix, CraveTV, and Club illico.

While the Bell coalition wants the CRTC to believe that there is urgent problem requiring a radical regulatory solution (it acknowledges the CRTC can only authorize blocking in exceptional circumstances that further the objectives of the Telecommunications Act), Bell’s own commentary to financial analysts strike a much different tone. During yesterday’s quarterly earnings conference call with analysts, Bell executives said absolutely nothing about piracy or website blocking, instead emphasizing the success of both its TV and online streaming services. For example, CEO George Cope stated:

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February 9, 2018 7 comments News
Pay No Tax Ever sign, duty free, sign, Pearson Airport T3, Toronto, ON, Canada by Cory Doctorow (CC BY-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/nuuRgK

Trudeau Puts An End to the Netflix and ISP Tax Debate: “Consumers…Pay Enough for Their Internet”

For the past two years, the prospect of creating a Netflix tax or Internet tax has been the digital policy issue that would not die in Canada. The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage called for an Internet tax last June, the province of Quebec remains anxious to pay digital sales taxes (there is nothing stopping them from doing so now), and many creator groups continue to the call for mandated contributions on Netflix to “level the playing the field” (the level playing field argument is misleading). The uncertainty surrounding Netflix and ISP taxes has not been helped by the reopening of the issue at the CRTC after the release of the government’s digital Cancon strategy and Canadian Heritage Minister Melanie Joly’s occasionally leaving the door open to the possibility.

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February 8, 2018 9 comments News
Diplomacy by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images http://alphastockimages.com/

Canadian Copyright Diplomacy: My Appearance before the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs

Last week, I appeared before the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs as part of its study on the impact and utilization of culture and arts in foreign policy and diplomacy. I was asked to consider the impact of Canadian copyright in foreign diplomacy, leading to an interesting and engaging discussion that touched on everything from the changes to the IP provisions in the TPP to the legality of streaming services. My opening remarks, which emphasized the potential for Canada to engage in copyright diplomacy by serving as model for other countries, is posted below.

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February 7, 2018 0 comments News
WORLD MARKETS LOSE 3%? by marc falardeau (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/8erVqK

No Panic: Canadian TV and Film Production Posts Biggest Year Ever Raising Doubts About the Need for Site Blocking and Netflix Regulation

This year in digital and broadcast policy is likely to be dominated by two lobbying efforts: the radical website blocking plan proposed by the Bell coalition and the ongoing efforts from Canadian culture groups to impose new regulations on online video services such as Netflix. At the heart of both lobbying efforts are similar claims that seek to paint the Canadian cultural sector at risk of collapse without new regulations in the form of blocking or mandated contributions. Last week, the Canadian Media Production Association released Profile 2017, its annual report on the state of the industry. The latest report tells a remarkable success story. Far from the doom and gloom, the Canadian industry is achieving record growth, suggesting that website blocking and new Internet regulations are ill-advised solutions in search a problem.

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February 6, 2018 21 comments News
Speak up, make your voice heard by Howard Lake (CC BY-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/9rAjRN

Thousands Slam Bell Coalition’s Website Blocking Proposal in Submissions to the CRTC

If the Bell coalition’s website blocking proposal was designed to garner attention, it achieved its goal as the proposal attracted thousands of individual submissions to the CRTC within days of it being posted online. The massive response is overwhelmingly negative, however, with thousands of Canadians registering their objections to the proposal. I wrote about the site blocking plan in a Globe and Mail op-ed and discussed it in an interview with CBC’s As It Happens. I will have many more posts on why the radical proposal should be rejected in the days ahead.

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February 5, 2018 13 comments News