Shaw Supports More Broadcast Competition, Rejects Netflix Cancon Tax Says Filing

During the federal government’s public consultation into its broadcast and telecommunications review, various submissions from Canadian telcos were kept private, such as those from Bell.

Ottawa Law Professor, Dr. Michael Geist, filed an Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) and obtained Bell’s submissions, which outlined the company’s self-serving interests, and now Geist has shared Shaw’s submission to the government, similarly accessed via an ATIP request.

In Shaw’s submission to the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Legislative Review Panel (BTLRP), the company’s perspectives are different than Bell.

Shaw wants the government to axe the mandatory 5% contribution by cable or satellite providers to towards Canadian content, noting it already contributes through distribution through its networks. The company also rejects an Internet Service Provider (ISP) tax, citing it would reduce the company’s capital investments into networks and also deter innovation.

As for streaming services such as Netflix paying a Cancon (Canadian content) tax, Shaw rejects this idea, saying it would not be in the best interest of consumers, citing issues with enforcement and questionable results of such a tax.

Shaw says the Broadcasting Act would benefit from a “more flexible, market-driven approach”. Consumers would be better served through a requirement put onto all over-the-top (OTT) providers such as Netflix to focus on the discoverability of Canadian content, an approach which would not be subject to any trade agreement conflicts. Shaw does support sales taxes on Netflix

Whereas Bell wants to protect its Canadian interests, Geist summarizes Shaw supports opening up to foreign investment in its submission:

Shaw maintains that the Canadian market would be better served by opening up to foreign investment. It argues that for Canadian broadcasters and BDUs to compete, they need access to capital, expertise, and technology, all of which would be facilitated by access to foreign investment. Given the role that foreign providers (such as Netflix) already play in the creation of content in Canada, opening the market would help preserve the strength of the Canadian broadcasting system.

When it comes to net neutrality, Shaw believes it is already protected under Canadian law. When it comes to website blocking, the company says reform of the Copyright Act should allow it.

“While the Bell submission adopted an extreme self-interest approach, Shaw’s vision is consistent in favouring a lightweight regulatory model premised on more competition, better pricing, and a shift away from mandated payments,” concludes Geist on the Shaw submission.

Shaw’s submission also notes its effect against the Big 3 when it comes to wireless, noting Freedom Mobile’s $60/10GB promo which countered incumbents charging $100/GB data overages. Shaw also says its free Shaw Go Wi-Fi saves customers on average 6GB of cellular data per month.