CRTC’s Jean-Pierre Blais defends tussle with Netflix, Google

"Good decisions cannot be based on anecdotes about how your teenager is using his smartphone or gaming system," the chairman says.
November 6, 2014

CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais on Thursday defended his decision to go head-to-head with Netflix and Google at the recent Let’s Talk TV hearings.

“Informed” regulatory policy cannot be fashioned out of unsubstantiated claims, blogs or tweets, he told the Vancouver Board of Trade in a lunch address.

“Good decisions cannot be based on anecdotes about how your teenager is using his smartphone or gaming system…Nor can we make informed decisions based on one-sided blog arguments or 140 characters in the Twitterverse,” he said.

His comments followed the CRTC chair resolving a challenge from a stone-walling Netflix and Google to its judicial enforcement powers by ignoring the companies’ submissions to recent landmark hearings into the future of Canadian TV.

Despite being compelled by Blais to turn over key corporate data, the U.S. digital giants refused to do so in the absence of guarantees of confidentiality.

Blais stood on principle during his first public comments following his tussle with Neflix and Google, insisting industry players had to bow to the regulator’s requirements for transparency and accountability.

“Such parties cannot refuse to provide evidence without consequences, especially when they appear before an evidence-based decision maker,” he argued.

Blais did not explain what those consequences might be. During the Let’s Talk TV hearings (pictured), he told Netflix director of global policy Corie Wright that withholding business data risked putting the U.S. streaming giant’s exemption to operate in Canada at risk.

“Like other administrative tribunals, we struck out their incomplete evidence,” Blais said to explain his final decision to ignore Netflix and Google’s participation in the Let’s Talk TV hearings.

Taking aim at uninformed think tanks and pundits also looking to influence CRTC proceedings, Blais, ever the dispassionate trained lawyer, said solid and sober evidence was required to forge new TV rules and policies.

“If we were to make decisions based on the latest fad or unveiled assumptions, we would find ourselves on a very short pier, rather than an intelligent bridge towards the ‘change’ destination on the other shore,” he said.

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  • blue said:

    I know what the consequences will be, I will be forced to pay more money to Bell/Rogers when the CRTC blocks Netflix in Canada…. Yay for the Canadian consumer… WINNEeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrsssss!!…???

  • okjo said:

    Blais makes good sense.
    Google and Netflix will take a look at their numbers in Canada and have to decide if they want those profits hacked off their bottom lines. Maybe they’ll realize that compliance with Canada’s rules like everyone else isn’t so bad.

  • Kelley said:

    So they want Netflix’s confidential data but they will not make any guarantees that they will keep it confidential. Doesn’t seem right to me.

  • JanetHudgins said:

    It took all of a day for Telus to grandstand the results of a survey on technical behaviour which says they have the least complaints. But that hardly takes into account the constant complaints about the incredible rates they charge. No one I know would ever say they were even reasonable but so far removed from reality and their real value as to be unprincipled opportunism, a culture we view as obscene and foreign in this country.
    The manipulation of this little item doesn’t bleach Telus white. What its doing to virtually rip off Canadians counts mightily as complaints. As long as we have a government forcing its destructive policies on its own people, Telus, Bell and Rogers are home free to do whatever they please to customers to enrich a few people in the company and shareholders taken directly out my pocket with grossly overpriced services.
    Its nothing to be proud of. One day we will find out just how much they have been overcharging and I hope for once we have a principled government in place to open this field up with fair competition, and regulate and oversee CEOs to put them through severe, public, punitive measures. The reimbursement should be a windfall.

  • SputnikRSS said:

    The fact that he was going to pass that data on to Bell/Roger is reason enough for them to give him the middle finger.

  • youreallyhavenoclue said:

    This moron has no business working for the CRTC. Try taking away their exemption to operate in Canada, I am confident I’ll be able to access Netflix USA the same freaking day. Does this guy have any clue how the internet even works? What a freaking joke this moron is, we need someone in there who is familiar with the internet in the 21st century. I can’t believe the disconnect between this guy and reality.

  • FlatOutFox said:

    A ban on Netflix in Canada would be the death knell for the CRTC and they know it. The eight million voters currently subscribed to the service would insist on that before the next election.

  • Smart Betty said:

    A dispassionate, trained lawyer should know better than to make vague and hollow threats.

  • JD said:

    Sooooo out of touch! CRTC you are here for the Canadian consumer not the giant monopolies we have in our country!

  • TheConsumer said:

    Why make such a fuss….all the CRTC has to do is assure Netflix the information will be kept confidential. BY not doing so they are confirming what Neflix suspected all along – that they are in the pockets of Rogers Bell and Telus.

  • Frank Massa said:

    You tell ’em N E T F L I X !

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