Archive for CRTC

CRTC Blinks In The Battle Against Netflix

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on September 30, 2014 by itnerd

When I last talked about Netflix, the CRTC had demanded data on subscribers along with other info from the company. The response of Netflix was to use a Glee reference, “hell to the no.” So the question was, what would the CRTC do to an entity that they technically don’t regulate.

The answer according to The Toronto Star is nothing:

In a letter to the U.S.-based, web-streaming service on Monday, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications’ secretary general John Traversy said the CRTC has “the powers of a superior court . . . to enforce its orders” and oblige Netflix to provide confidential business data. 

But he said the regulator has decided to carry on without the information.

Traversy, however, said the CRTC would expunge on Oct. 2 all public record of Netflix’s participation in public hearings on the broadcasting system if it continues to refuse to relinquish closely held information. The CRTC will base any regulatory outcomes on the data available.

In short, the CRTC wasn’t willing to take on Netflix and potentially lose badly. Thus they basically folded up their tent and went home while acting like they could have done something to force them to comply. And the fact that they’re going to delete any record of the participation of Netflix in the Let’s Talk TV hearings will not bother Netflix at all.

Also, you should recall that Google had a similar demand from the CRTC which Google blew off. Want to place a bet that the CRTC backs off of them too?

Google Thumbs Their Nose At The CRTC

Posted in Commentary with tags , on September 24, 2014 by itnerd

According to Michael Geist, Google has jumped into the fight between Netflix and the CRTC . Faced with demands from the CRTC to turn over confidential data about where content is uploaded from, Google has refused to provide it arguing that it is not part of the Canadian broadcast system and not subject to CRTC regulation.

“The Google position is notable because it is presumably not based on the question of presence within Canada, since Google maintains a significant Canadian presence. Rather, the core challenge will likely focus on whether a service such as Youtube (which once went by the slogan “Broadcast Yourself”) can properly be characterized as broadcasting for the purposes of current Canadian law.”

So, the next move is up to the CRTC. Will they do something about this now that two companies are using that argument or let it slide? We’ll see.

Netflix Blows Off The CRTC

Posted in Commentary with tags , on September 22, 2014 by itnerd

You might recall that Netflix paid a visit to the CRTC last week and get a very nasty reception. Plus, the CRTC demanded that Netflix hand over subscriber data by 5PM today. Netflix responded to that request this way:

In a submission to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission filed Monday, Netflix director of global public policy Corie Wright provided information the regulator had asked for that the company does not consider confidential, such as its privacy policy and some screenshots of its Canadian content.

But it refused to hand over competitively sensitive information like Canadian subscriber numbers. Ms. Wright said Netflix’s position is that the CRTC has no jurisdiction to order the American company to disclose those details.

“Specific information requested by the commission… remains confidential and competitively sensitive, the disclosure of which to third parties would be highly prejudicial to Netflix,” Ms. Wright said in the letter. “Accordingly, Netflix is not in a position to produce this information. Moreover, the orders are not applicable to Netflix under Canadian broadcasting law.”

I think that translates to “take a hike CRTC.” But I could be wrong about that.

Now Netflix operates in Canada under a special exemption. The CRTC could yank that, though it’s questionable if that would have any real effect on the streaming service. Plus, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said the federal government “will not allow any new regulations or taxes on Internet video.” Which suggests to me that the Prime Minister really likes House Of Cards and Orange Is The New Black if the CRTC made any move towards Netflix, it would end badly for the CRTC. After all, it’s happened before.

CRTC Calls Out Netflix [UPDATED]

Posted in Commentary with tags , on September 19, 2014 by itnerd

If you have nothing to do today, you might want to watch the live CRTC hearing that’s going on today. Netflix is in front of the broadcast regulator today and in an interesting twist, it’s become very heated, passive aggressive & telling. The big hint that this hearing is going sideways is that the CRTC is ordering Netflix to disclose Canadian content numbers and project spending by 5 PM Monday. The CRTC clearly doesn’t want them in Canada which doesn’t come as a shock given that the CRTC is made up of ex-Canadian telco execs. The funny thing is, that Netflix doesn’t have a broadcast license from the CRTC, so I am not sure what they will do if Netflix doesn’t comply. Perhaps someone can clarify that for me.

I’m not sure what Netflix did to deserve this, but If I were Netflix I’d be tempted to shut down the Canadian service today just out of spite. They’re clearly not welcome.

UPDATE: The live stream from the hearing is over. Michael Geist has documented what happened here. In short, the CRTC implicitly threatened to regulate the company by taking away Netflix’s ability to rely on the new media exception if it did not cooperate with its orders. This is a perfect example as to why the CRTC needs to disappear.

CRTC Bans Exclusivity Clauses in Roaming Agreements… Rogers Targeted

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on July 31, 2014 by itnerd

The CRTC actually did something that I will praise them for. They just announced that they are going to ban exclusivity agreements between wireless providers when it comes to wholesale domestic roaming rates. What’s more, Rogers for the most part seems to the recipient of the CRTC’s ire as the CRTC accuses them of doing the following:

  • Imposing exclusivity clauses in roaming agreements that prohibited smaller service providers from using networks from any other carrier.
  • Charging some new Canadian service providers significantly higher roaming rates compared to rates for other wireless service providers.

You have to thing that this isn’t going over well over at Rogers HQ right now.

What’s more, the CRTC will be holding a public hearing will be held on September 29, 2014 to investigate the competitive sate of the wireless market. That should be fun.

Here’s why all of this is important. Domestic roaming rates are going to be a key factor in a mythical fourth wireless carrier entering the market. We’ll have to see if this development actually paves the way for that to happen. I’m personally dubious, but I’m prepared to be proven wrong.

Big Three Under CRTC Investigation Over Roaming Charges

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on December 13, 2013 by itnerd

If you’re a customer of Mobilicity, Public Mobile, or Wind Mobile, you have to deal with roaming. In short, if you leave any of their networks, you have to use one of the networks of the big three carriers. And it costs you big. That got the attention of the CRTC and they’ve decided to investigate what the big three charge for roaming and if it provides an “unfair competitive disadvantage”:

Based on information obtained by the CRTC, some of the large providers are charging, or proposing to charge, their smaller Canadian competitors significantly higher wholesale roaming rates than those charged to U.S.-based wireless companies. Wholesale rates are different from, but can impact, the retail rates companies charge to their customers.

“We are concerned that some wireless companies may be making it unfairly difficult for Canadian providers that do not operate a national network to compete in the marketplace,” said Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman of the CRTC. “We have the authority to ensure that companies do not give themselves an unfair competitive advantage. This includes charging wholesale wireless roaming rates that are unjustly discriminatory or by insisting on unduly restrictive terms and conditions. If we find that this is happening in the market, we will act to rectify the situation.”

This is a good thing as I’ve always been concerned that new entrants were always were going to be, for lack of a better description, hosed by the big three as a means of keeping them from being real competition. We’ll see if anything comes of it, but I suspect something might as wireless pricing is a priority of the Canadian Government.

The Big Three Wireless Carriers Say No To CRTC’s Wireless Code Of Conduct

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , on July 3, 2013 by itnerd

From the “why am I not surprised” file comes this story from the CBC where it’s being reported that Rogers, Bell, and Telus have decided to challenge the CRTC’s attempt to create a wireless code of conduct for them. This code was to start to take effect later this year, but this challenge delays that to who knows when. Now I’ve previously said this about what the CRTC was trying to do:

Don’t get me wrong. Creating rules, boundaries, and limitations around how cell phone carriers behave is a start. But I’ve said it many times before and I’ll say it again. What’s needed is competition and competition of the Orange, T-Mobile, or Vodafone sort. If one of those carriers comes into this market and sets up shop, Rogers, Bell and Telus will change how they do business so fast that you’d get whiplash.

I still stand by that. The fact that Verizon is looking at coming into Canada is the way that this problem is going to solved once and for all. The CRTC creating rules for the big three carriers to follow isn’t going to get the job done. Still, it wouldn’t hurt if Canadians who don’t like this sent a e-mail or two towards their local MP to express their displeasure with the way things are with the wireless industry in Canada.



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