Netflix Canada debate shifts to Banff

The OTT service, and whether or not it should be regulated, is set to be top of mind next week at the Banff World Media Festival.

With Netflix set to dominate the Banff World Media Festival agenda next week, Quebecor Media CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau has fired an opening salvo: Rather than regulate the US video streaming giant, the CRTC should deregulate Canadian content carriers.

“How can the CRTC regulate all these services that deliver content over the internet? We think the other way around, that it should all be deregulated so there is a level field,” Péladeau told reporters after his annual general meeting in Montreal on Thursday, according to the Montreal Gazette newspaper.

A consortium of Canadian broadcasters have called on the CRTC to open an industry consultation on Netflix, with an eye to eventually regulating the over-the-top digital platform.

The regulator has since launched a “fact-finding exercise” to assess the impact of platforms like Netflix, iTunes and Apple TV on the Canadian broadcast system.

As Canadian producers like Lionsgate and Cookie Jar Entertainment begin licensing their product to Netflix, the so-called Over-the-Top Services Working Group, led by Alain Gourd, has urged the CRTC to deem Netflix Canada an online broadcaster that must support Canadian production.

For its part, Netflix is claiming it already supports the Canadian industry by carrying its programming on its Netflix Canada service. The US video streaming giant has also started to subsidize the Canadian broadcast system, however modestly.

Netflix is to sponsor in part the closing barbecue at the Banff festival, which gets under way Sunday. And six Netflix representatives will attend Banff, including members of its Ottawa lobbyist team, according to festival organizers.

They will be there in part to witness Netflix receiving a digital award for innovation in Banff, to be accepted by chief content officer Ted Sarandos, who oversees Netflix in Los Angeles, managing relationships with studios, networks, filmmakers and producers.

From Playback Daily