By James Bradshaw, MEDIA REPORTER, The Globe and Mail
Faced with a challenge to its authority from Netflix Inc. and Google Inc., Canada’s broadcast regulator has reacted by striking the two companies’ evidence from a major public hearing, seeking to reassert its powers over companies that broadcast in the country.
At a major hearing on the future of television earlier this month, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) ordered Neflix and Google to hand over information in confidence about viewership and Canadian activity on their video-streaming sites. The two companies refused and questioned the CRTC’s jurisdiction, setting up a power struggle.
On Monday, the CRTC scolded Netflix and Google in letters from secretary-general John Traversy, which note that declining requests for information at a public hearing “is a serious matter.” Large corporations “cannot unilaterally decide which part of the evidence-gathering proceeding they want to participate in,” the letter says, whether they are based in Canada or not.
To prove its point, the commission will remove the submissions and oral arguments from Netflix and Google from the public record, and the hearing’s panel “will reach its conclusions based on the remaining evidence on the record.”
The decision effectively expels Netflix and Google from Let’s Talk TV, a sweeping hearing that could reshape Canada’s television landscape where some groups argued Netflix and its Canadian content should be regulated. And it gives the CRTC a way to settle its dispute with the online giants without a protracted court battle.
But it also serves as a warning shot across the bow of any other company that might consider testing the CRTC’s authority by refusing to hand over data.
“What we’re saying is anybody who operates in Canada is subjected to our rules. If you don’t comply with our rules, you face the risk of your evidence being removed from the record,” CRTC spokesman Denis Carmel said.
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The CRTC and The Senate are two federal bodies that we can do without. Nothing but a waste of taxpapers money. Get rid of them, then I will vote for that party.