The game’s over. Hands off my Netflix


By Margaret Wente

Thursday, Oct. 02 2014

The other night, my husband and I settled down to watch a terrific new drama series, The Honourable Woman, on the CBC. After an excruciatingly painful hour, we gave up. I haven’t watched a broadcast network in a while, and I was astonished by the gigantic number of commercials. Whenever the suspense began to mount, they broke away to ads for gigantic trucks and mini pads.

“I can’t take it any more,” I moaned. “Let’s buy it from Amazon. Or wait for it on Netflix.”

My husband agreed. The only reason we watch broadcast TV any more is for live sports. Even the news is dispensable. Who needs a 10 o’clock appointment with Peter Mansbridge (sorry, Peter) when it’s all online?

In the past two years, our television habits have changed completely. We watch Netflix, drama series on DVD and Rogers On Demand, plus video streamed from YouTube. Right now, we’re on Season 5 of Breaking Bad. (No spoilers, please.) Next, we’ll catch up on Homeland, and by then there’ll be another season of House of Cards.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, our beloved regulator, wants to regulate Netflix as if it were a broadcaster. A lot of other people want to tax Netflix so we can have more Cancon. The trouble is, we don’t watch the Cancon we’re paying for now – it simply can’t compete. As someone commented online, it’s the Golden Age of television – but Canadian broadcasters didn’t get the memo.
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