Netflix ignores CRTC demands to hand over confidential subscriber data

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Netflix has denied a request from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to submit its confidential Canadian subscriber information by Monday evening.

On Friday during a tense public hearing, the regulator ordered Netflix to provide its number of Canadian subscribers and other sensitive business data or risk having its exemption from the federal agency’s Canadian Content (CanCon) requirements.

CanCon rules mandate broadcasters to air a certain percentage of Canadian-made content, however, the current policy does not encompass web-based media services like Netflix.

“While Netflix has responded to a number of the CRTC’s requests, we are not in a position to produce the confidential and competitively sensitive information ordered by the commission due to ongoing confidentiality concerns,” Netflix director of corporate communications Anne Marie Squeo said in a statement issued today.

“While the orders by the CRTC are not applicable to us under Canadian broadcasting law, we are always prepared to work constructively with the commission.”

CRTC chair Jean-Pierre Blais promised that data shared with the regular would be kept confidential, but the agency was unable to provide a guarantee that it could withhold information to other parties if Access to Information (ATIP) requests are made to open public records.

There have been calls from both the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and the CRTC to require ‘over-the-top’ online streaming services like Netflix and YouTube to pay a federal tax that will go towards subsidizing the production of domestic programming. Opponents to such a policy argue that it would restrict competition and innovation and limit consumer choice.

Netflix’s testimony concluded two weeks of hearings on the future of regulating broadcast television in the country in advent of new and changing technologies that have made the industry financially challenging. It also addressed the proposal of permitting Canadian consumers to create their own cable packages – to be able to pick and pay their own channels instead of being forced to purchase bundled packages.

In August, Rogers Communications and Shaw Communications announced that they are working together to create Shomi, a new video streaming service that will be available to their broadband and cable subscribers beginning later this fall. Upon launch, it will have 340 television series equivalent to 11,000 hours of television and 1,200 movie titles.

 

Feature Image: Netflix via Shutterstock

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