Canada Policymaking in the Age of Netflix

Canada Policymaking in the Age of Netflix

Dissecting the upcoming review of broadcast and telecom legislation

An interview with:
Michael Geist
Canada Research Chair, Internet and Ecommerce Law
University of Ottawa

Video streaming services are challenging the traditional broadcasting model in Canada, and it has policymakers' full attention. This year, the government of Canada will review its Broadcasting and Telecommunication Acts to decide if all streaming services that reach domestic audiences need to be regulated. Internet academic Michael Geist spoke with eMarketer's Paul Briggs about these potential regulations and what they could mean for the global video streaming industry. Geist was interviewed as part of eMarketer's August report, "Canada Streaming Video 2018: As Consumers Adopt OTT, 'Netflix Tax' Proposed to Ease Pressures on Local Players."


In June, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) released “Harnessing Change: The Future of Programming Distribution in Canada,” a report that provides policy direction for the upcoming review of broadcast and telecommunication legislation. What's your impression of the report and the policy direction it outlined?

Michael Geist:

I think it's enormously problematic. It upends two decades’ worth of CRTC policy. It envisions financial contributions or new taxes on almost any participant in the internet system if they somehow touch Canada.


What led to the regulator’s policy direction? A lack of understanding of how the internet is different than broadcast systems, or is the government reacting to a big media lobby in this country?

Interview conducted on June 12, 2018

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