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CRTC to Force Bell and Rogers to Offer CraveTV, Shomi to All Canadians

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Today CRTC Chairman Jean-Pierre Blais announced new measures as part of efforts to “support the creation of content by Canadians for Canadian and global audiences”.

While some suspected a Netflix tax on Internet streaming video was being considered, nothing materialized as expected. But there was a crucial decision made on how video-on-demand services will be offered, which looks to affect Bell and Rogers.

Back in February consumer groups complained how Bell’s CraveTV and the joint project shomi by Rogers and Shaw should not be tied to TV or Internet services, citing discrimination against customers.

The CRTC’s decision today says any exclusive streaming video content by broadcasters can be offered, only if it’s available to all Canadians over the Internet without a required TV subscription:

Finally, the CRTC is allowing video-on-demand services to offer exclusive content to cable and satellite subscribers, as long as they are available to all Canadians over the Internet without a television subscription. This will enable Canadian services to compete on a more equal footing with online video services.

This suggests the CRTC would impose Bell and Rogers to make changes to their streaming requirements, satisfying consumer groups (via The Globe and Mail).

Bell at the time told CBC News it disagreed with the PIAC-CAC complaint over CraveTV’s availability, noting “It’s unfortunate that PIAC and CAC are complaining about Canadian creativity and investment with an innovative product that is offered at a very competitive price.”

There’s no word on when the CRTC would try to enforce these changes on Bell and Rogers, but the decisions announced today does imply CraveTV and shomi could soon be available to everyone, regardless whether you have a TV subscription or not.

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