Canada: ‘We want level playing field for Netflix’

Canadian pay-TV producer Astral Media says foreign Internet competitors such as movie provider Netflix should be subject to the same rules as Canadian broadcasters, noting digital competitors don’t contribute to local programming or pay taxes.

“They come here and don’t spend a penny,” chief executive Ian Greenberg said. “They don’t have any rules whatsoever. Taxes are another issue. All that money is leaving the country. It doesn’t help the economy. It doesn’t employ people.”

Astral provides pay TV services such as The Movie Network, which has almost two million subscribers.

Astral and most other Canadian broadcasters have pressed the federal broadcast regulator for stiffer rules on Netflix operations in Canada so all movie providers face a level playing field — no matter whether they broadcast over the airwaves, on cable or via the Internet.

The CRTC exempted new media services delivered over the Internet and mobile devices from regulation in 2008, but Astral is part of a 40-member group that has asked the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to hold public hearings on the matter.

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