Canadian Telco Claims Netflix & Google TV Should Be Regulated As Broadcasters

from the ah,-protectionism dept

A few years back, you may recall, we covered how some content creators in Canada were looking to expand broadcast regulations to the internet. If you're not aware, Canadian law requires that broadcasters fund and promote a certain amount of Canadian-based content. The reason for it on television is so that Canadian television isn't dominated by American programming -- and the idea here was that there was a similar "threat" online. Of course, unlike television, there is no limit to how much content is available, and artificially trying to force ISPs to fund and promote Canadian content just doesn't make any sense.

However, now, it appears that at least one company, Shaw -- who is both a broadcaster and an internet provider in Canada -- is trying to bring this issue back in a way, claiming that Netflix and Google TV should be subject to similar regulations. Of course, both of these aren't really broadcasters. They're service providers. But that issue seems lost on Shaw. It's especially bizarre in the case of Google, which isn't offering up its own content at all, but merely an interface to access other content online. If anything, this shows the rather obvious and hamfisted manner by which Shaw seeks to burden new technologies that might compete with it for attention.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    MBraedley (profile), Dec 7th, 2010 @ 5:02am

    I can kind of understand Netflix...

    Forcing Google makes no sense to me, though.

    As Mike said, the regulations were introduced primarily to combat American programming (which is still prevalent, btw) and to promote Canadian talent. Before, this meant cut rate local programming and lots of children's content, but luckily, that's starting to change. Three TV series come to mind: Rookie Blue, The Bridge, and Flashpoint, all of which have been successful in Canada, and even have seen some success south of the boarder. (Hmm, three cop dramas set in Toronto. So when is Toronto getting a CSI and Law and Order franchise?)

    Netflix is already (partially) following the regulations, and voluntarily I might add. Although their current selection of Canadian movies is limited, they have vowed to increase it, specifically in the area of French Canadian content.

    Also, not only is Shaw a broadcaster and ISP, they are also the incumbent cable provider in parts of Canada. They are "old money" in the Canadian broadcasting world. We already know what happens to those guys if they don't innovate and just try to squeeze out their new competition.

     

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  2.  
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    Michael, Dec 7th, 2010 @ 5:45am

    Won't matter unless...

    Rogers or Bell hop on this bandwagon, then the CRTC will bend over for them. Rogers and Bell are the two big boys up here, and both are equally bent on controlling the markets. They both lowered their caps to coincide with the launch of netflix in Canada, so they can make some more money on overage charges from people who are streaming it. I pay near $300 a month for my services through Rogers, same package through Comcast? $124 taxes included.

     

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  3.  
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    hegemon13, Dec 7th, 2010 @ 5:56am

    Huh?

    "It's especially bizarre in the case of Google, which isn't offering up its own content at all..."

    Uh, Youtube?

    Otherwise, spot-on article. This is incredibly stupid and short-sighted.

     

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  4.  
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    Michael, Dec 7th, 2010 @ 6:11am

    Re: Huh?

    Pretty sure youtube is user submitted content...

     

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  5.  
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    Dunlop, Dec 7th, 2010 @ 6:31am

    Turned out excellent reportage. Keep it up.

     

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  6.  
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    Overcast (profile), Dec 7th, 2010 @ 6:32am

    In BOTH cases, you have to REQUEST data from them. Be it electronic or in the form of a DVD or other disc. That's not broadcasting.

    "Broadcast" the word is defined as:

    –verb (used with object)
    1. to transmit (programs) from a radio or television station.
    2. to speak, perform, sponsor, or present on a radio or television program: The President will broadcast his message on all stations tonight.
    3. to cast or scatter abroad over an area, as seed in sowing.
    4. to spread widely; disseminate: She broadcast the good news all over town.
    5. to indicate unwittingly to another (one's next action); telegraph: He broadcast his punch and the other man was able to parry it.

    In all cases *Broadcast* heavily implies that something is 'spread around' from the source, there's no need to request anything.

    In the case of Google, you must FIRST send a DNS REQUEST to find one of their servers, then you REQUEST an HTTP page, it then REPLIES with the content YOU HAVE REQUESTED, that is NOT broadcasting, plan and simple.

    NetFLix is the same, you must REQUEST a DVD or Movie from them, they do not 'Broadcast'.

    Plus, if this were to apply to Google, it would have to apply to ALL web pages, including those of other Governments, Charitable Organizations, and anyone with a Web Page - that is not practical or feasible.

    You can also buy DVD's from Amazon - are they subject too?

    How many other sites sell or rent DVD's?

     

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  7.  
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    Chris Ball (profile), Dec 7th, 2010 @ 6:36am

    Push vs. Pull

    It makes a certain amount of sense (but only a certain amount) to regulate content in push content like television: people don't have a choice about what they get, so you regulate it to make sure they get "enough of what's good for them." It makes absolutely no sense to regulate pull content like YouTube or Netflix, where the user chooses what she gets. While you're at it, why not regulate what movies people rent from the video store too?

    Still, if this ever does make it into regulation, I think there's a serious ground to challenge it based on freedom of expression.

     

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  8.  
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    Darryl, Dec 7th, 2010 @ 6:43am

    Re: Re: Huh?

    I guess you mean creator submitted content..

    Thats right just like TV,

    Users are the ones who watch it, creators are the ones one create, and submit it.. is it really that hard ?

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 7th, 2010 @ 6:48am

    American?

    I don't get why Canada has to continue with this type of protectionism. From what I have been seeing lately a majority of American television is being produced in places like Vancouver because of the lower cost of labor and lack of unions. They need to throw this type of thing out and embrace Ameriduh aye.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 7th, 2010 @ 6:52am

    If you need to have a box to receive the feed, it is a broadcast. You have to clarify the difference between a Stream (Broadcast) and an Archive. In Internet Radio, which operates like an on-air digital broadcast. You cannot listen to the beginning or end of the Stream whenever you want. The Archive way is to click on a link and listen or watch from beginning to end and is called On-Demand by ComCast but is basically considered an Archive. This is not broadcasting. It is an archive which you are allowed to access in some way. It doesn't matter how you click to access it, TV Remote, Mouse, Touch Screen, it's all a click. There is a huge difference. Archives can be controlled whereas live Streams cannot be controlled as easily. With the internet available Pirate Radio lives and so will Pirate TV when all the kinks are worked out. Screw the Regulators trying to censor us all the time.

     

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  11.  
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    Darryl, Dec 7th, 2010 @ 6:53am

    Re:

    In BOTH cases, you have to REQUEST data from them,

    Yes thats right, just like in radio and TV broadcasting, you have to "request" the data from them. by selecting a particular channel, and time to see what you want to see.

    Or you can get pay per view, where you again, have to request the information.

    The fact that you have to ask for it, does not mean it is not broadcasting, as you stated the definition of broadcasting, and it is the same as what those two groups are doing...

    broadcasting in today world means making information available when requested, or when desired..

    It's not about how many you broadcast too, if its just one person who requested that information or a million people who did not request the information but will "tune in" because they also desire to view that data/content..

     

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  12.  
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    Darryl, Dec 7th, 2010 @ 7:00am

    service providers ???

    So Mike how are netflix or Google 'service providers' ??

    A service provider in the internet sense is a company that will take your money and provide you with internet services.

    They are ISP's that stands for "Internet Service Providers", the service they provide is a connection to the internet.

    So if that is the case, how is Google a "service provide"?

    Can you explain the logic behind that ?

    And if you can class google as a service provider, by providing search I guess, why then would a TV station providing a service or TV shows, be a 'service provider' as well ?

    But I find it hard to understand why you mix and match words, and terms that are in common usage, and assign them a different meaning ?

    Do you think we wont notice ? or is it true that you really do not understand the differences yourself ?

    (thats a nice way of putting "are you stupid or lying".)..

     

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  13.  
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    Punmaster (profile), Dec 7th, 2010 @ 7:04am

    Re: Re:

    ummm - no, it's not the same - broadcast is going out and is available to *everyone* whether anyone is watching or not. Streaming is an on-demand service - one to one.

    Nit-picky, I know - but they ARE different.

     

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  14.  
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    Darryl, Dec 7th, 2010 @ 7:08am

    Re: thats right,,

    OK if I need a box to receive the feed, its a broadcast, then I have to say, if I go to google, or netflix, I most certainly "need a box" to receive the feed..

    I probably need several boxes, one being the computer itself, the other being the modem.

    So ofcourse if you need a box to receive the feed, its a broadcast.. thankyou..

    and you need a box to receive netflix's feed, so its a broadcast.. !!!! ipso fatso..

    There is zero difference to clicking on a link to view content, or clicking on a link from your TV company, or satellite TV to view the content..

    Also the content you view may have allready been sent to your location (in the cast of satellite), and you view it as an archive.. just like netflix..

    And many other broadcasters.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 7th, 2010 @ 7:25am

    Re: service providers ???

    I guess none of the services they sell are considered services in your book?

     

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  16.  
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    hegemon13, Dec 7th, 2010 @ 7:39am

    Re: Re: Huh?

    Actually, there are all kinds of content on Youtube, including officially uploaded TV shows, movies, etc, all hosted by Google. So, yeah, they offer up content the same way Netflix offers up content.

     

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  17.  
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    hegemon13, Dec 7th, 2010 @ 7:43am

    Re: Re:

    These arguments are pretty pointless, anyway. The reason that the government regulates broadcasts to start with is that they use a section of the spectrum, which is a limited resource. The Internet is effectively unlimited, so it is senseless to argue over the definition of "broadcast" when the entire point of the regulations has been rendered moot. Not to mention that the Internet is global, so one country trying to impose their content this way is doomed to fail.

     

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  18.  
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    PaulT (profile), Dec 7th, 2010 @ 8:03am

    Re: Re: Re: Huh?

    Apparently.

    - Viewers watch the content.

    - Users of YouTube are people who use the site, either for uploading or viewing content.

    - Uploaders upload content, which they may or may not have created. They are also a subset of users.

    - Creators create the original copy of the file being uploaded, and may never have used YouTube in their lives.

    Simple semantics, often difficult for you, I realise.

     

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  19.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Dec 7th, 2010 @ 8:16am

    What they need is ....

    Thanks mike .... You gave me a great idea on how to get by the broadband caps that

     

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  20.  
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    JimShahsha, Dec 7th, 2010 @ 8:20am

    Shaw & competion

    Shaw together with Rogers, Telus and Bell are the big fat cats sucking our money. They hate competition, that may lower the fat arround their collar. Competion is good for the faible Canadian consumer and will improve the cats agility to survive.

     

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  21.  
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    Doug D (profile), Dec 7th, 2010 @ 8:23am

    Re: Re: thats right,,

    It I go onto my local TV provider (Cox) and tell them I want to watch Episode 3, Season 3 of Family Guy at 6:37PM on Wednesday, December 8th, am I going to see it? Probably not, no matter what channel I turn into because it's being Broadcast. On the other hand, if I go to NetFlix and pick that same episode at the same time, I get to watch it because I'm requesting the specific content.

    I'm curious Darryl, why are you so adamant that there can't possibly be any distinction made between the technologies? What's your pony in this race to try and convince everyone that Canada is 100% correct?

     

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  22.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Dec 7th, 2010 @ 8:25am

    Re: service providers ???

    How about the DMCA definition of "service providers":

    These categories are (listed by kind of services provided):

    1. Transitory communications (meaning that the provider merely transmits, routs or provides connections for material coming through a system);
    2. System caching (meaning that the provider provides temporary storage of such material);
    3. Storage of materials at the direction of a user (meaning that the provider is one who hosts sites or runs mailing lists, news groups, chat and the like); and
    4. Information location tools (meaning that the provider is a search engine facility).

    This is a nice way of putting "are you stupid or lying".

     

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  23.  
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    interval (profile), Dec 7th, 2010 @ 8:28am

    Re: I can kind of understand Netflix...

    "As Mike said, the regulations were introduced primarily to combat American programming (which is still prevalent, btw)"

    The only reason its a problem is because Canadian actors, production people, etc, once they get known, come down south to start making some real money. THAT's what has Canadians gnashing their teeth over the Canadian television situation. If its a real problem the the real solution is to bar those actors from moving south.

     

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  24.  
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    interval (profile), Dec 7th, 2010 @ 8:31am

    Re: American?

    This is the same country that addresses piracy and "illegal" content copying by adding a VAT to retail recordable media and supposedly giving that money to the "artists". I'm curious to know just how much of that money goes to Celine Dion.

     

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  25.  
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    interval (profile), Dec 7th, 2010 @ 8:36am

    Re:

    "If you need to have a box to receive the feed, it is a broadcast. You have to clarify the difference between a Stream (Broadcast) and an Archive."

    That's not really a very important distinction. How does THAT make any difference? Most "streams" are archived, if you want to listen to a live broadcast at another time you just locate the archive. Its actually not a huge difference. It certainly doesn't seem to make much of a difference to web sites that offer both archives of pod casts and streams at particular times that I've seen.

    Why does anyone need to be so cogently aware of this difference? You seem to be bringing up a pointless point here.

     

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  26.  
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    JEDIDIAH, Dec 7th, 2010 @ 11:01am

    Re: Re: Re: Huh?

    >> I guess you mean creator submitted content..
    >
    > Thats right just like TV,

    Not even close.

    Studio execs get to decide what is carried on a "broadcast" station. No such executive decision making is going on at YouTube in this regard. If anything is visible, it's because the masses "voted with their feet". There is really no other filtering of "Google's content".

    You might as well try to make them responsible for the content of the web at large.

     

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  27.  
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    BigKeithO (profile), Dec 7th, 2010 @ 3:38pm

    Re: Re: thats right,,

    Darryl why are you so stuck on the entertainment industry's teat that you can't see when something is stupid?

    What are you really trying to say here? That the internet is just like TV? So if I am watching Netflix (I am Canadian after all) and I select a show I want to watch, Netflix should be bound by law to show me some Canadian show first?

    "You haven't been watching enough Canadian TV, you will have to sit through 30 minutes of something totally unrelated to what you have selected before you can watch your show."

    Seriously?? You can honestly say this is how you think things should work? Just because a telco company said so? I assume you have a brain, try using it!

     

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  28.  
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    Craig (profile), Dec 7th, 2010 @ 3:53pm

    S-H-A-W spells MONOPOLY

    Just like JimShahsha said, it's all about control. Shaw, Rogers, Telus, Bell...they want to own everything: internet access, phone/data, cable, satellite et cetera.

    We are gouged and gouged and gouged and we have yet to elect a government with any balls to stand up to these companies and enforce real competition. But, as we Canadians are apt to do, we bitch a lot about it, but we still buy the services. We don't have any real choices.

     

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  29.  
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    Darryl, Dec 7th, 2010 @ 8:51pm

    Re: Re: service providers ???

    Types of service providers Application service provider (ASP)


    Network service provider (NSP)
    Internet service provider (ISP)
    Managed service provider (MSP)
    Master managed service provider (MMSP)
    Managed Internet service provider (MISP)
    Telecommunications service provider (TSP)

    So by any definition, netflix or google, are no more or less service providers as are TV broadcasters, and radio stations, or the entertainment industry, they all provide some form of service.

    But the term service provider on the internet, is a clear definition, and that definition does not include the likes of google, or netflix..

    Its really funny, that you resort to DCMA for factual information LOL..

     

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  30.  
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    Darryl, Dec 7th, 2010 @ 9:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: thats right,,

    Nice whine, I can see you easily get upset when you dont agree with what is said, that is your choice, if you are that shallow..

    And yes, for streaming and popular content, it is just the same as TV, just like there is limitations on what you can watch on TV, there are the same limitations from the internet.

    If you think google, and netflix will have EVERY content that has ever been created, available to you, unless that is the case, it is just like TV, you get to see what they make available for you to see.

    Regardless of the method that content gets to your TV screen, the content is the same, and that content belongs to someone, someone invested lots of money to own that content, and the right to copy and distribute that content..

    Just because that content is on the web does not make it any different to content you get off the TV, the same conditions apply, you cannot see what you want when you want off the internet or off TV, and you choose what you want to watch by either selecting a channel and a time, or clicking on a link..

    The end result is content, displayed on your entertainment system.. you cannot tell the different between an internet broadcast, or a TV broadcast, by looking at the content.

    Its a movie, no matter where it came from, it is a broadcast, if one thing is sending something to many people.

    Its what the TV does, and its what the internet does, its one source, broadcasting to many people, and you can choose to accept that broadcast, or not too..

     

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  31.  
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    Darryl, Dec 7th, 2010 @ 9:12pm

    Again, how are they not broadcasters ?

    You want to watch free to air TV, you open a menu, you have a list of available content.

    You go to a web page that does video, you open a menu, you have a list of available content.

    You select from that list what you want to watch, at some time in the future that content will be available on your compter/TV/Recorder for you to watch at your leasure.

    The mechanism is exactly the same, there is a list of what is available, there is a larger list of what will be availe at specific times (in the future), and you can choose from the list to receive and watch that content..

    This mechanism is no different, between the internet and TV.

    the FCC and the canadian equivalent are COMMUNICATIONS authorities, not 'bandwidth' police, they regulate communications, that includes communication by radio, telephone, internet, mobile phones, you know, things that communicate..

    To say they have no duristiction over the internet, is clearly wrong. they do, and they exercise that authority..

    As they should, you may not agree with what they do, but you cannot really argue that they do not have the authority or legal right to do what they have done..

    Because its not 'radio' makes no difference..

    It would be called the Federal Radio commision in that case,, but its Communications, not radio..

    Its a simple, but important distinction.

     

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  32.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Dec 8th, 2010 @ 9:54am

    Re: Re: Re: service providers ???

    I gave the DMCA's definition of service providers that are granted "safe harbor" on the internet (although this article is about Canada I know) because that is what I think the article was referring to. An ISP would be considered a service provider as would Google (and I assume Netflix - but not sure) under the DMCA.

    Its really funny, that you resort to Wikipedia for factual information LOL..

     

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  33.  
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    BigKeithO (profile), Dec 9th, 2010 @ 8:16am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: thats right,,

    Amazing.

     

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