Bell and Rogers Tell the CRTC Netflix Should Fund Canadian Content [u]


The Canadian broadcast industry is struggling with the rising numbers of ‘cord cutters’, as people continue to change their viewing habits to streaming online, with services such as Netflix. According to recent Netflix data, 70 per cent of viewers watch the service on their televisions.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has been asked by the Trudeau government to release a report on how to sustain a business model that supports Canadian content, and has until June 1 to do so.

Leading up to the CRTC report, Canadian broadcast companies have submitted their comments to the CRTC, and The Financial Post has reported a summary of the positions held by companies such as Rogers, Telus, Bell, Shaw, Corus and Quebecor, which all have different ideas on what should be done.

Bell and Rogers want the CRTC to have companies such as Netflix to fund investments in Canadian programming, but both differ in their proposals.

Rogers wants all content providers to adhere to a revised framework and Canadian content rules, while also pay 30 per cent of revenue to fund Canadian programming.

“This is a pivotal moment for the Canadian broadcasting system. If foreign and domestic over-the-top services are not required to contribute to the country’s cultural objectives, the volume and quality of Canadian content will inevitably decline,” according to the Rogers submission.

As for Bell, it explained to the CRTC if any streaming service generates over $100 million in revenue per year, it should pay 20 per cent of revenue to fund Canadian programming, and have this in place by 2022.

“The regulatory model must urgently recognize that a two-tier system, one regulated and one not, is unsustainable,” Bell said.

Bell also cited data from Numeris to claim Netflix beat CTV in 2016, when it came to the largest primetime viewership in the coveted 25-54 demographic.

As for Telus, Shaw and Corus, these companies told the CRTC in their submissions the broadcast industry should be deregulated instead.

Telus said foreign and Canadian services should be on a level playing field, saying “Left unchecked, this regulatory imbalance poses a threat to the survival of the domestic broadcasting sector,” said the company.

Corus said Canadian broadcasters are at a disadvantage versus foreign streaming services, pegging the number at 25-30 per cent, since companies like Netflix don’t have to follow traditional broadcaster rules and also pay sales taxes.

Shaw wants the CRTC to eliminate financial contributions required by broadcasters and TV providers, saying these regulatory and financial strains “artificially accelerate the growth in foreign online providers and the decline of licensed players.”

Quebecor proposed sales taxes on digital streaming services and also called for relaxed regulations, while also questioned if it would be even be possible to enforce regulations on foreign video services.

Netflix is estimated to have 6 million Canadian subscribers and did not produce a submission for the second round of consultation to the CRTC. Previously, the company told the Commission “importing broadcast-era rules to internet media will not achieve intended policy goals and will limit growth, competition, and creative freedom for new media models and creators.”

Last fall, Netflix and the Canadian government signed a landmark $500 million CAD deal, for Canadian productions, with money to be spent in Canada (updated to clarify Netflix’s Canadian investment).

Netflix currently has 117 million subscribers worldwide and generated $11 billion USD in revenue for 2017. CEO Reed Hastings recently predicted the company is set to hit $15 billion USD in revenue for 2018, during a media tour of Netflix’s new Hollywood facility at the Sunset Bronson Studios.

A recent report by the CBC claimed numerous Canadians continue to sign up for illegal pirated live TV services, priced at a fraction of the cost of a cable TV subscription.

What do you think the CRTC should do with foreign streaming services like Netflix?


  • Joe

    Never thought I’d say this, but I agree with Bell and Rogers for once. De-regulating the industry would result in loss of Canadian jobs and Canadian content. Canadian content is important for our national identity, and despite any qualms we may have about it, it’s important.

    If you’re going to de-regulate the content industry, you may as well just get rid of the national anthem and we can become the 51st state. I’m very annoyed that Telus and Shaw would support something like that. I guess they think it will give them an advantage against Bell and Rogers.

  • Lemontwist

    They should. This way there will be Canadian content people actually watch!

  • FragilityG4

    The problem is Canada, as of right now, is not producing anything worth watching. It can’t be a lack of funding… the CBC gets over $600m per year of public money.

  • Joe

    $600m is a drop in the bucket. CBC has to rent buildings all over Canada, they run both a TV and radio network, they operate in French, English and Punjabi (and possibly more?) languages. They employ tons of people. A single Marvel movie costs $200m to make.

    I’m personally not a hockey fan, but you can’t say that Hockey Night in Canada isn’t worth watching. That’s still a CBC property, even though Rogers is trying their best to ruin it.

    The bottom line though, is that Canada needs Canadian content even if it sucks. Personally I only watch HBO stuff and the occasional movie, but preserving Canadian content is important even for those of us who don’t watch it.

  • Joe

    I do agree with you, however, in the sense that it would be nice if the content was better. But we need to improve it, which is what Bell and Rogers are proposing, not de-regulate it like Telus/Shaw want.

  • FragilityG4

    That $600m is pure tax paying dollars. Rogers and Bell don’t get anything like that. “Only a drop in the bucket” liberalism at its finest—well that and the “budget will balance itself.”
    If we want more Canadian content and we want it to survive, produce something more tangible than Anne of Green Gables.

  • Brenda

    You can’t regulate quality.

    Deregulate and fund the CBC/Radio-Canada from taxes or a license like it’s done in some European countries.

    I saw a list of the countries, like the U.K., that fund a public broadcaster through licensing, and noticed that the content in these countries was higher quality and public broadcasting was ad-free. Quality programs can be sold worldwide and help to fund more content.

  • Brenda

    What Canadian content? I cancelled my cable years ago because I was only watching CBC and Masterpiece Theatre on PBS. On the former, I was getting mostly a series of repeating ads for walk-in tubs and life insurance. I can still watch The National and a few other news shows online, but rarely bother because CBC can’t even do quality news anymore.

  • Brenda

    Canada isn’t the only country worryied about the influence of American culture. It has penetrated the majority of countries. But I would argue that globalisation and immigration is changing this. I’ve seen major changes in Canadian culture throughout my lifetime and think these changes have been positive overall. We’re not as much like the U.S. anymore. And since Trump took office a few people are actually starting to notice. These days, I think Canadian culture (which is always changing anyway) is strong enough to counter any perceived threat.

  • Shameer Mulji

    People will only watch Canadian content if it’s any good. If not, they won’t.

  • Shameer Mulji

    If it sucks, it shouldn’t be produced in the first place.

  • Shameer Mulji

    “What do you think the CRTC should do with foreign streaming services like Netflix?”

    Leave it alone. If Canadian content producers want Netflix to fund their content, they should have to prove their content is worth funding in the first place.

  • Dave Currie

    It is time that Canadian Talent and Canadian Audio and Video production operations stood on their own. The government should limit their involvement in the licensing and regulating of “over the Air” broadcasters from a strictly technical position. The government should immediately cease dictating the percentage of Canadian Programming, Canadian Music and the like. There is no longer any need for Simultaneous Substitution of Canadian Television Channels on Cable TV and Satellite. Broadcasters should be free to program what the listeners want – not what the Government wants. The CRTC MUST continue to ensure that ethics, equal opportunity, and decency on the air continues. The Government has no business dictating what, and how, programming is delivered over the internet! There needs to be regulation over the airwaves – they belong to all Canadians. But the government should not prohibit US, or other non Canadian Satellite service providers from offering their services to Canadians. Let us make the decisions – we are adults – we deserve the right to make these decisions – not the Government.

  • raslucas

    How about giving rewards for promoting Canadian content? Like right now it’s BS that Netflix is cheaper than CraveTV because Netflix doesn’t charge sales tax… maybe a company like Netflix or crave doesn’t need to charge sales tax, or charge a lesser sales tax IF they choose to follow certain Canadian content rules?

  • raslucas

    I think Netflix is still techinically more expensive, but there’s a tax difference which impacts.

  • Joe

    You’re the one who said you want something worth watching. I’m saying if you want something worth watching, it’s going to cost a lot more than $600m. You can’t complain that $600m is too much, and then also cry because the content sucks.

    How much did season 1 of Westworld cost? Game of Thrones? Insert your favourite show here, and then look up how much it cost to make.

    And for every piece of “good” content, don’t forget there’s also probably 5-10 shows that suck. Even HBO makes mistakes, and those are often expensive mistakes.

  • Joe

    What about Hockey Night in Canada? That’s Canadian content.

    I know everyone likes to make fun of them, but the CBC has done a lot for our country. Anyone who’s ever watched the Olympics on TV (or streamed it for free on their phone) should know that.

  • FragilityG4

    And HBO does it without public money.

  • Joe

    So you want to live in a fantasy world where private Canadian media companies make great content just for you. And I’m the liberal…

  • FragilityG4

    So the only way to make original content is through exorbitant public subsidies?