Netflix says it will not turn over subscriber data to CRTC

A viewer watches a live stream of Netflix global public policy director Corie Wright testifying before the CRTC on Friday September 19, 2014.
(Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS)


By James Bradshaw

September 22nd, 2014

Netflix Inc. is refusing to provide the national broadcast regulator with a range of sensitive data about its online streaming operations in Canada, citing concerns the data might not be kept confidential.

On Friday, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) repeatedly sparred with a representative of Netflix, demanding that the company produce data about its revenue and viewership here or risk jeopardizing the status that exempts the popular online video site from the country’s broadcast regulations.
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  1. The core question here is content on the internet considered “broadcasting” under the Broadcasting Act. Netflix at its heart is just a provider of content on the internet. They enter into licensing agreements with Canadian and US TV/Movie distributors for rights to show the product over the internet. If the CRTC has jurisdiction over this type of content, what is the difference for other subscription services that provide content on the internet. Does the CRTC have the right to know the Canadians that subscribe to another content service, say The New York Times?

    I think Netflix is right in telling the CRTC to screw off, but the reasons they gave are silly. If they went with “Sure, we’ll provide the data as soon as you prove that the CRTC has jurisdiction over a content provider that operations exclusively over the internet under the Broadcasting Act and you ask the same of ALL content providers on the internet that have Canadian paid subscribers, no matter their size”.


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