Bell Media: U.S. Networks Should Be Kicked Off Canadian Airwaves

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On Friday, the President of Bell Media Kevin Crull suggested that U.S. networks, like NBC, FOX, and CBS, should be taken off Canadian airwaves.

In a speech to a TV industry audience in Ottawa, Crull said that the business model for broadcasters is broken and unsustainable, blaming Hollywood’s direct intrusion on Canadian TV. Crull argued that the program rights bought by Canadian broadcasters are not protected well enough. He said:

“If we believe the Canadian broadcasting industry is important, and if we want private investment, we must have a supportive regulatory and public policy framework – enabling rather than undermining content creators. Unfortunately, I don’t believe we have that right now.”

Crull says that the main root of the problem lies in a decades-old practice that allows American over-the-air networks to be broadcast in Canada for free.

“Canada is the only country in the world that allows American networks to be retransmitted without restriction despite valid and exclusive copyrights held by domestic broadcasters.”

The policy has been in place since 1971 and with it the CTRC has allowed Canadian broadcasters to swap in their own signals and advertising on American channels. This allows Canadian broadcasters to maximize revenue from the rights that it paid for. However, Crull says that this is an inefficient solutions that restricts Canadian broadcasters to the schedule of American networks.

This draws complaints from viewers who want to see American ads. Canadian networks normally buy rights to all the most popular American shows because they draw big ratings. From this point of view Crull wonders why we are keeping the U.S. channels when Canadian stations are already rebroadcasting most of this content.

He claims that viewers will not be missing out on many of their favourite programs. In this scenario specialty networks like CNN and AMC would not be affected, however Bell would change the way it negotiated the costs of carrying those channels.

In his speech, Crull also called for measures to crack down on Canadians using different types of technology to watch the U.S. version of Netflix. For example, he says that we should overcome those rights that limits shows to a particular streaming service.

[via The Globe and Mail]

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  • Z S

    Do you want to lose all your customers? Cuz this is how you lose all your customers.

    Removing all American TV from Canada would be the catalyst for a MAJOR move to cable-cutting.

  • GH

    A better idea would be removing advertising and charging for content only.

  • Parksy

    A better solution would be to shut down the Canadian networks altogether.

  • gabriel

    Why would anybody pay in that case for Bell package (or Rogers cable), if they would only broadcast channels mostly available OTA in Canada? Or did I miss his point?

    To Netflix part – I believe that is their sick application of old rights on new technology. There should not by any “streaming rights for particular country” in place at all.

    There is big difference – in the technology then and now – then cable companies had to invest into hardware and the technology to rebroadcast. Otherwise the signal from US, UK or any country you wish did not get to my TV.

    Right now showmi, or cravetv don’t need my money to get “house of card” into my TV. Right now if they would get the exclusive rights for the tv show, and I pay them, they would use the money to block the ip pockets coming from netflix. It is like in old days we would try to catch the air-wave coming to Canada from US.

    Lower the price, cut the dependency on your other services and people will try use your service. – that is how competition works.

  • Mrmleduc

    There would still be ota in border areas that would drive programming decisions. The win column on this is a more representative Canadian presentation of media. Not everyone wants the US channels anyway. I know my mom would appreciate this change but that is because my dad would hate it. Cord cutting is irrelevant now anyway. After a little reflection, I think he is right!

    Oh no, I agree with Bell Media? The world is changing

  • Ari

    Kevin Crull needs to be kicked out of the country for being a lying thief. His company as well as the other cronies have been robbing people blind with their lack of competition in the wireless space and outrageous roaming fees.

    If you want me to watch Canadian television then make it interesting. If I am paying for cable service, I expect to have freedom of choice and a selection that includes American channels.

  • Ari

    Be sure to log onto their website and let them know how you feel about their executive and his ideas.

  • xxxJDxxx

    What he means is that rather than create original content to compete they want to use their fortune to buy the rights to American television shows then be able to hold the Canadian market hostage with exclusive control over someone else’s content.

  • Al

    I’m feeling violent tendencies at the moment.

  • Larry Taylor

    Do people still watch TV? I gave it up ten years ago. Also stopped reading newspapers. Paying $100+ a month to have ads blasted at me. How dumb is that? It’s all mega-marketing to convince us to buy crap we don’t need with a bit of news or entertainment thrown in to make it feel like we’re getting something for our money.

  • MleB1

    He should be careful what he wishes for – the logical next step would be for the U.S. network providers of content charging a lot more for the rights in Canada and / or the CRTC banning outright the purchase of foreign content for broadcast in prime time. The latter is long due – Canadian networks have traditionally ignored Canadian stories produced, written, directed and performed for the home market. Because we have a shared border with a country that (more or less) speaks the same language, the networks have grown wealthy sponging off another. Quality national television exists where that opportunity has not traditionally been there.

  • Al

    I have 3 letters for you… P – V – R
    (or DVR, depending on your preferred terminology).

  • Al

    That’s it… I don’t want anything more to do with corporations who want to control me like Bell (and others). I’m so done with this communist-like control bullshit. Bye-bye Bell Satellite… I no longer need you and your greedy self-serving agenda. Bye-bye Bell home phone… I finally have a good cell signal in my area. Bye-bye Bell Internet, my local cable company now has faster service than yours.

  • runner

    Bell and Rogers need to learn to THINK before speaking!

  • MleB1

    Well, the people who own the cable companies should not be the owners of the networks. And the print media. Forget consolidation, that’s conflict of interest.

  • Ryne

    I agree. Absolutely nothing Canada produces is good. The only reason why any of them have viewers is because of American shows and programming. Think about it, any talented Canadian goes to America and thrives in the business. these networks especially the CBC suck money out of the system with no return or profit.

  • winnertakesteve

    so he wants american content to be restricted from being a free, over-the-air broadcast, so the ONLY way to get it is through bell’s or roger’s outrageously expensive cable/satellite packages? keep dreaming buddy, you’re already riding a dinosaur industry into its tar pit grave.

  • Jim

    What an a$$hole. If he feels that strongly about the Canadian entertainment industry stop buying American programming altogether and only show Canadian content.

    What he wants is the exclusive right to distribute another counties programs. That argument seems inconsistent to me.

  • jamie

    WA WA WA I’m bell and want more money

  • Samy

    Am I the only one who noticed that ABC is not mentioned by Bell’s CEO? Or is it because they use their programming such as ‘how to get away with murder’ and ‘the bachelor’ ???

  • iverge

    So Bell wants American networks off the air but they want to broadcast American shows produced by the American networks. Shows you that DUMB starts at the top at Bell!

  • Diffsurly

    She he is suggesting to get rid of all my favourite tv programs which happen to be on all those American networks. Can someone please kick this guy out of Canada.

  • Diffsurly

    Damn autocorrect. “So” should be the first word.

  • QLT

    Hey Mister Bell leave alone the U.S.Networks ! You sir take all your efforts right now and put it towards in producing Canadian content and if its good we will watch, with all your Canadian advertisement.

  • Prashanna

    Crave TV and the Shomi alternative are late attempts to compete with Netflix. They’re 3-5 years too late

  • Prashanna

    if ABC, CBS, FOX NEWS and NBC had local News station in Toronto they would Crush CTV +CP24, CITY TV, GLOBAL, & CBC,
    and ESPN will Crush TSN & Rogers Sportnet

  • jayme

    It would be very hard and might not be legal for the Crtc to ban non Canadian program.

  • Better late than never. Do you want a monopoly? I’m a Netflix customer, and there’s always something to be gained out of competition.

  • Al

    Those communist bastards have effectively been doing it for years.

  • Bell media and big telecom battles aside, I thank our lucky maple syrup stars everyday that we can pick and choose what we watch from the US and that we have a good mix of Canadian and US media on our channels. I think we can do more and should do more to support and grow more Canadian based content creators. We have some good shows, and more that can be made better, so let’s do that. It makes me cringe sometimes watching only US content channels and shows when I’m down in the US on travel.

  • Prashanna

    That’s not the point I’m talking about Canadians anchors and reporters were to cover same story and work for American news networks in local news affiliate in Toronto hire Canadians not American one it will still be better than Canadian news network. They will do a much better job if they had the office they would know more. Knowledge local news if they hired Canadian local

  • Prashanna

    Rogers and Bell are crooks buying up all the rights to the Movies and TV shows. So Netflix Canada can’t have them that why Netflix Canada is lagging how that competition.
    but there listing are getting better.

    either way the BIG 3 will lose as Netflix launching there Global rights program in 2016 meaning they buy 3- 4 Movie & TV Shows from Studio and Network. And will be available all the territorise instead going region to region

    so bye bye BELL & ROGERS

    there motto is attached us forever with cable and satellite that’s not going to happened.

  • Paul

    Not to poke a bear but in what economic model are the monopolistic practices of a large corporate entity considered communism?

  • Al

    I was referring to the decades-long practice of the CRTC of restricting the amount of foreign content that we are allowed to watch, and how Bell is now promoting that same practice.

    But you’re right. The CRTC does it in the name of national heritage. But the corporations that originally lobbied for it (Bell, Can-West, MacLeans, etc.) did it strictly to control advertising. Either way, they are not allowing us complete access to the media available in the rest of the world.

  • flyer

    Bite me, Bell!

  • SAKERA JON

    ………………….

  • Tony

    Exactly. Broken and unsustainable. And I don’t want to subsidize it anymore. Just take my money for the dumb pipe and get out of the way.

  • skippingrock

    TV? What’s that?
    Since pulling the plug on Shaw I’ve had almost zero desire to watch it; the times that I do see it I realize that it is mostly crap now anyhow and not worth my and my family’s time.