Thursday, September 25, 2014
The CRTC will be making some decisions about the digital airwaves very soon about what they will do with online video broadcasting and cable tv pricing models. The current market structure is an industry cartel model where supply economics are used by corporations to corner the market to ensure high profits. This page out of the corporate playbook, is not good for consumers, just look at how this is done in oil and gas markets, diamonds and the 407 toll roads in Toronto.
I have empathy for the CRTC as an instrument of public policy to ensure Canadian content and consumer protection is caught in middle of these market forces. The latest noise from the CRTC hearings, is in my opinion a witch hunt to get Neflix out of the Canadian market based on the Canadian content rules for broadcasters. When the cartel says Canadian jobs are at risk, the CRTC should ask them how much of their staff has been out sourced in the call centre, IT and accounting departments.

But is Netflix a broadcaster or a digital video entertainment subscription service that has no advertising or programming schedule, just on demand video downloads. So if Netflix is banned in Canada what will happen? The cartel will launch their own service, just like they did when they banned TIVO, a TV recording hardware device that was popular in the USA, but was packaged as a hardware upgrade for cable subscribers in Canada.

Now what are the implications for publishers that produce video channels of their content online will they be included in this new definition of broadcaster. Will these publishers be banned too or better yet regulated? If you have a YouTube channel will that be included too?  How about the CRTC try and ban Adult content digital channels instead, it will be a losing battle. Whatever happen to FREE TRADE, I guess this does not apply if the cartel’s profits are threatened.

I was one of the early cable chord cutters and I now get 20+ stations through an antennae as I did not want to pay $100 a month for cable TV anymore. I got a customer friendly internet service from TekSavvy for $40/mo for 300 GB and then got Netflix for $10/mo. I use a free Chrome browser plug-in that hids my identity (Hola Unblocker) on the internet and now I can now stream the USA version to my computer TV plus other stations like CBS, ABC, Fox and Hulu. Who needs to watch conventional cable TV anymore, except for live sports programming. I would like to buy a subscription to a sports channel, but I have to buy stations that I do not want, so I do not buy it. So I hope you will allow me to buy such a subscription when you make your final decision.

I believe that the Newton Law of physics applies here as for every action there is a corresponding opposite action and in this case the choices in underground economy of the internet will flourish instead. If you ban Netflix, there is already a service that is for free called Popcorn Time an open source project that looks and feels like Netflix that people can go to based in Europe. If the CRTC believes in freedom as a core value you will not succumb to the lobby efforts of the cartel in Canada, who btw are all saying the same thing in a concerted effort to control markets. Be aware that when somebody tries to control the internet the open source software community will step in and help out with some new code to share to circumvent that.

Now, if the CRTC can  look at the interesting pricing models for smartphones that are inflated in telco contracts, instead of being distracted with Netflix who provides great value to the 4 million+ Canadian households that use the service. I still can’t figure out how you can get a Apple iTouch for $200 but an iPhone costs $650 and all you get extra is the phone, now if you can stop this practice I will be impressed. The internet is a place where freedom and democracy flourishes as consumers can vote with their wallet as the internet has no geographic boundaries that can be controlled.

Yours Sincerely,

About Me
Martin Seto

Martin Seto is the producer of the Canadian Online Publishing Awards (COPAS) with 30 years of life expereince in technology, advertising, media and creative exploration. He can be reached at marty(dot)seto(at) or 416-907-6562, and on LinkedIn.

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Lorene Shyba says:
Full of terrific information, Thanks!...
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