Ottawa, Ontario – The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is flexing its muscle against both Google and Netflix for refusing to acquiesce to their authority in regulating online streaming as part of their broadcasting and telecommunications jurisdiction. At issue is the fact that the CRTC wants subscriber information from the companies, but would not guarantee in writing that the information would remain confidential. In particular, Netflix argued that should information regarding their subscribers, now estimated to be at roughly 4 million, were to be made part of the public record, it would harm their business model.
The CRTC was adamant that it had the authority to make the demand. Both Netflix and Google countered that the CRTC lacks authority over them, and their prior cooperation amounted to goodwill gestures. In response, the CRTC has removed the evidence both companies submitted to the “Let’s Talk TV” hearing which will help create a way to resolve disputes without protracted legal battles. By removing the evidence from consideration, the CRTC effectively bars Google and Netflix from participation. It also prevents other companies from knowing about the merits of potential legal challenges to the CRTC.
“By refusing to provide any supporting evidence, the Commission cannot fully test and evaluate the strengths of Netflix’s argument which, if supported by evidence, may otherwise be very compelling,” CRTC Secretary General John Traversy wrote in a letter to Netflix. In a letter to Google, the CRTC also said it wasn’t able to “fully test and evaluate the strengths of Google’s argument.”
In one sense, the CRTC did blink in their battle with Google and Netflix. Previously, they had threatened to revoke their licenses for failure to turn over the requested data which threat they did not make good on.