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  1. #1
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    Astral Media asks CRTC to examine Netflix

    Astral Media asks CRTC to examine Netflix
    ROSS MAROWITS
    The Canadian Press
    Published: April 14, 2011 1:41 p.m.

    MONTREAL - Canadian radio and specialty TV operator Astral Media Inc. has formally asked the country telecommunications regulator to examine the operation of Internet movie provider Netflix Canada.

    Astral chairman Andre Bureau said het asked the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission about two weeks ago to take a look at Netflix, although he wasn't sure when the CRTC might respond.

    "The objective is really that, from an industry point of view, that we maintain a level playing field within the system — a system that is (a) very positive and strong element in terms of our Canadian culture, identity and the Canadian economy," Andre Bureau said in a conference call Thursday.

    Netflix began operating in Canada last fall, offering movies and television episodes instantly over the Internet for a monthly fee.

    The Astral request comes as Corus Entertainment's chief executive said he sees opportunities for his company amid the increasingly competitive marketplace for video content.

    John Cassaday said Thursday he doesn't think Netflix's streaming content will encourage Canadians to cancel subscriptions to specialty TV and pay channels like Movie Central and HBO Canada.

    Both media companies said higher advertising revenues helped to boost their profits in the second quarter.

    Astral's net earnings increased by three per cent, slightly below analyst expectations.

    The operator of pay and specialty television, radio, out-of-home advertising and digital media properties, said net income for the three months ended Feb. 28 increased to $34.8 million from $33.6 million in the year-earlier period.

    The results were equivalent to 61 cents per share, three cents higher than last year but below analyst expectations of 63 cents per share, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters.

    Revenue increased seven per cent to $232.7 million, above expectations of $230.6 million, and above year-ago results of $218.3 million.

    "I'm obviously pleased with Astral's performance in the second quarter and by the fact that once again all our business units contributed to our results," chief executive Ian Greenberg told analysts and reporters.

    He said the results marked the 58th consecutive quarter of profitable growth.

    Greenberg expects Astral will end the fiscal year surpassing $1 billion in revenues for the first time in its 49-year history.

    Astral (TSX:ACM.A) said television revenues grew by seven per cent, radio revenues were up just 3.4 per cent and outdoor revenues increased 17 per cent.

    The television revenues included a 17 per cent growth in advertising and a five per cent increase in subscription revenues as the number of pay TV subscribers increased 4.6 per cent to 1.9 million.

    Drew McReynolds of RBC Capital Markets said the overall results were generally in line with his expectations.

    However, he said the radio segment was weaker than expected and below the five per cent revenue growth reported by Corus Entertainment.

    "We believe (this) mainly reflects tougher comparisons coming given the geographic mix and Astral's relative resilience through the recession," he wrote in a report.

    While television and radio margins dipped slightly, the difference isn't "overly concerning." McReynolds added that the decline in radio margins should subside beginning in the second half the year.

    Astral attributed the margin pressure to higher television programming costs for both pay and specialty TV, and increased interactive investments and radio start-up costs.

    The company is in the midst of wrapping up a cost-reduction plan in its radio division that should boost profits in the second half of the year.

    Jacques Parisien, executive vice-president and chief operating officer, wouldn't exclude that the effort might result staff cuts, but added that it wasn't the point of the exercise."The program is aimed at looking at all our ways of operating but it's too early to talk about job losses," he said.

    With its 21 television services, Astral is Canada's largest pay and specialty TV broadcaster. It is also the largest radio company with 83 radio stations in 50 Canadian markets, and the third-largest outdoor advertising company.

    On the Toronto Stock Exchange, its shares were off 12 cents at $37.08 in afternoon trading Thursday

    Source: http://www.metronews.ca/ottawa/busin...xamine-netflix
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  2. #2
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    Bell /Rogers etc.... More greed!!!!!!!

    Just another attempt by Rogers ,Bell,Astral etc... to maintain the gouging of customers . Finally a reasonably priced service comes along on the web and they wan't to shut them out . Well if these big companies offered customer choice packages and lowered our bills to a fair and reasonable level ,then they would'nt have to worry about Netflix.:mad:

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by steelnikel View Post
    Just another attempt by Rogers ,Bell,Astral etc... to maintain the gouging of customers . Finally a reasonably priced service comes along on the web and they wan't to shut them out . Well if these big companies offered customer choice packages and lowered our bills to a fair and reasonable level ,then they would'nt have to worry about Netflix.:mad:
    Yup, UBB didn't work for them so this is their next avenue to try and maintain their dying business model for as many years as they can. Sadly, the dinosaurs in control at the CRTC will likely agree with them. How successful they'll be is pretty questionable mind you, after all, Netflix is essentially an off-shore company that doesn't really fall under the rulings of the CRTC.

    If the CRTC declares Netflix a "broadcaster" (which we all know they technically are not), then they must also declare YouTube, iTunes, Justin.tv, YouPorn, Playstation Network, and a whole whack of other streaming services as "broadcasters" .. good luck with that.

    If this fails for the Canadian incumbents I've got a suggestion for them, adapt or die.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tripster View Post
    Yup, UBB didn't work for them so this is their next avenue to try and maintain their dying business model for as many years as they can. Sadly, the dinosaurs in control at the CRTC will likely agree with them. How successful they'll be is pretty questionable mind you, after all, Netflix is essentially an off-shore company that doesn't really fall under the rulings of the CRTC.

    If the CRTC declares Netflix a "broadcaster" (which we all know they technically are not), then they must also declare YouTube, iTunes, Justin.tv, YouPorn, Playstation Network, and a whole whack of other streaming services as "broadcasters" .. good luck with that.

    If this fails for the Canadian incumbents I've got a suggestion for them, adapt or die.
    If netflix was a broadcaster would this not mean the big bdus could not block them be it caps or what ever my point is could beeing a broadcaster help netflix etc more then cable bdu.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tripster View Post
    Yup, UBB didn't work for them so this is their next avenue to try and maintain their dying business model for as many years as they can. Sadly, the dinosaurs in control at the CRTC will likely agree with them. How successful they'll be is pretty questionable mind you, after all, Netflix is essentially an off-shore company that doesn't really fall under the rulings of the CRTC.

    If the CRTC declares Netflix a "broadcaster" (which we all know they technically are not), then they must also declare YouTube, iTunes, Justin.tv, YouPorn, Playstation Network, and a whole whack of other streaming services as "broadcasters" .. good luck with that.
    There is some good news; the CRTC has mention during the hearings that they wouldn't be able to determnin if and how to Netflix bring into the Canadian Broadcast formula, in that the current model is based on how many hours of Canadian programming is spent in primetime, and since Netflix doesn't have programming schedules they wouldn't be able to enforce it.

    But if Netflix where to be kicked out of the country, I think the CRTC, Bell, Astral, Rogers, Shaw, etc has fail to realize just how much of the population isn't following the flow anymore like in the past. I would be a majority of people would celebrate if any of these conglomerates went bankrupt.
    "And Now for Something Completely Different..." - John Cleese (Monty Python).

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    Yup, UBB didn't work for them so this is their next avenue to try and maintain their dying business model for as many years as they can.
    Right you are, unfortunately for them this attempt will fail just like the one before it. I think they will face a backlash if they try to regulate or prevent Netflix from broadcasting in Canada. The UBB fiasco will probably pale in comparison to this uprising because here you also have the issue of 'internet freedom' coming into play. Here's a novel suggestion for these greedy conglomerates- offer customers a better, more affordable product and perhaps they will continue to subscribe to your archaic service (well maybe some of them ;)).

    The present model for subscription TV is outdated and needs an overhaul. The Internet has given people more freedom, they can watch literally anything their hearts desire, whenever they feel like it and through various platforms which makes it convenient. Once you get a taste of this you never want to go back to the old cable model of subscribing to various channels that air the same crap over and over.

    Astral better be tread carefully here because they just might unleash a monster. Once you open pandora's box you can't go back and close it. ;)

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mayhem View Post
    There is some good news; the CRTC has mention during the hearings that they wouldn't be able to determnin if and how to Netflix bring into the Canadian Broadcast formula, in that the current model is based on how many hours of Canadian programming is spent in primetime, and since Netflix doesn't have programming schedules they wouldn't be able to enforce it.

    But if Netflix where to be kicked out of the country, I think the CRTC, Bell, Astral, Rogers, Shaw, etc has fail to realize just how much of the population isn't following the flow anymore like in the past. I would be a majority of people would celebrate if any of these conglomerates went bankrupt.
    They can't determine Cancon other than what their subscribers choose to view. It must be noted they do license Canadian content on their own without being forced to do so.

    They won't get kicked out either, how? The have legally licensed the content they offer to Canadians. What can the CRTC do here? Not a lot, short of erecting "the great firewall of Canada", which would put us on par with China when it comes to citizens access to the internet.

    Like I said, it is going to be very hard for the CRTC to even regulate this industry, Netflix isn't a broadcaster, at best they're a narrowcaster but so then is YouTube, etc. and citizens aren't going to stand for the CRTC and government meddling in the access to websites that have legally garnered licensing for Canadian viewers.

    What's next? MuchMusic and AUX asking the CRTC to regulate YouTube and Vivo because Canadian's can access music videos online and stream them on demand? CBC News Network and CTV News Network asking them to regulate Al Jazeera English, NHK World, etc. because Canadians can easily access their live news stations online?

    How far do they want to take this? The BDUs are facing a losing battle here because more and more content is coming online all the time, from full fledged streaming entertainment services to independent productions that are online only.

    It's like how the horse and buggy trade tried to shut down the automobile industry back in the day.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by CDN Viewer View Post
    The present model for subscription TV is outdated and needs an overhaul. The Internet has given people more freedom, they can watch literally anything their hearts desire, whenever they feel like it and through various platforms which makes it convenient. Once you get a taste of this you never want to go back to the old cable model of subscribing to various channels that air the same crap over and over.

    Astral better be tread carefully here because they just might unleash a monster. Once you open pandora's box you can't go back and close it. ;)
    This sums it up. The broadcasters do not like what they see on the horizon. The fact is the younger generation is NOT watching broadcast TV much anymore, on-demand and narrowcasting are the future.

    Now outsiders have an opportunity to license content for the Canadian marketplace and this scares the heck out of the incumbents who have up to this point had a protected marketplace thanks to government controls in the name of "heritage", of course they neglect to mention they don't really give a crap about that aspect of things and find it more of a nuisance in their business model, which is largely rebroadcasting US hit shows.

    The CRTC does NOT need to regulate the internet, nor does it need to foster Canadian content on the internet because the internet makes it trivial for anyone with a camcorder to create and distribute their own content. And that is what happens naturally with such tools at anyones disposal.

    Broadcast television still has likely a decade or two lifetime, some services like news and sports likely have an indefinite lifetime. But movie services? Well not so much, unless they adapt like HBO and SHO have and produce compelling content people find worthy of subscribing to .. but that still doesn't mean Netflix won't cut a deal for the Canadian rights to those series either. Money talks in this game, while HBO has stated they won't put their content on Netflix US they might think differently about the Canadian marketplace considering they just license their material and largely don't have much of a battle going on for that licensing, meaning Astral/Corus are pretty much setting the price their willing to pay.

    So far, Astral and Corus haven't adapted well, their big pull is still HBO and SHO content, they don't really have anything of their own that they can claim as a hit.
    Last edited by Tripster; 04-17-2011 at 09:22 PM.

  9. #9
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    The fact is the younger generation is NOT watching broadcast TV much anymore, on-demand and narrowcasting are the future.
    The younger generation is the key here because they represent the future. Most older folk will continue with the current system (however long it lasts) because that is what they have grown up with and are accustomed to BUT the younger generation has moved away from traditional means of watching television programming and this is what will lead to the eventual downfall of cable and satellite TV IMO.

    Broadcast television still has likely a decade or two lifetime, some services like news and sports likely have an indefinite lifetime.
    I think that is being generous, I can see a massive shift towards the Internet happening in less then a decade, depending on technological advancements. It's a good thing that the conglomerates are involved in other businesses like cell phones & Internet service otherwise their future would be a short one.

    US broadcasters are in a much better position IMO as they actually produce relevant content that people want to watch. The Canadian broadcasters, on the other hand, produce very little of their own stuff and instead import most of it from the US. Bottom line: those that have something to offer (CTV, Global have very little) will survive and adapt their operations from broadcast television to the Internet model, while those who produce nothing of value will cease to exist.

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    A bit off topic but another battle being waged in these so-called 'Internet wars' is Ethnic television. I have noticed that BDU's have begun adding more and more ethnic channels to their lineups as of late and I think this all has to do with the threat posed by IPTV and all the companies springing up on the Internet that offer Ethnic channels to consumers. Like Netflix these services are not regulated and in many instances offer channels direct from country of origin as opposed to 'Canadian versions' of these channels which are what people here are forced to subscribe to, in many instances. Thus far bandwidth caps have kept these services in check but if this were to cease to be an issue (i.e. return of unlimited plans) then I think the flood gates would open and like Netflix fans, viewers of ethnic content would probably leave traditional broadcasters for the Internet and these IPTV services which offer more affordable packages and are not saddled by mandatory subscription to any sort of basic package as is the case with cable & satellite.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by CDN Viewer View Post
    The younger generation is the key here because they represent the future. Most older folk will continue with the current system (however long it lasts) because that is what they have grown up with and are accustomed to BUT the younger generation has moved away from traditional means of watching television programming and this is what will lead to the eventual downfall of cable and satellite TV IMO.

    I think that is being generous, I can see a massive shift towards the Internet happening in less then a decade, depending on technological advancements. It's a good thing that the conglomerates are involved in other businesses like cell phones & Internet service otherwise their future would be a short one.

    US broadcasters are in a much better position IMO as they actually produce relevant content that people want to watch. The Canadian broadcasters, on the other hand, produce very little of their own stuff and instead import most of it from the US. Bottom line: those that have something to offer (CTV, Global have very little) will survive and adapt their operations from broadcast television to the Internet model, while those who produce nothing of value will cease to exist.
    Exactly, technological advancements have come a long way already, I mean now we can stream HD from the internet and at very decent quality. Last night I rented Black Swan via Vudu in 720p, full DD5.1 included and it streamed instantly on my Shaw Extreme line with not a single hiccup, audio dropout or picture glitch. Looked as good as any broadcast HD. I choose their 720p rental option rather than the 1080p option simply because 720p looks just great on the PS3 upscaled to 1080p by the console.

    The reason I chose to rent from Vudu .. a 720p rental is only $4.99 compared to the $7.99 Shaw VOD charges, or $5.99 from iTunes or PSN. Vudu offer 1080p rental for $5.99 though, but I don't really see the need to go that high on a 42" screen, especially with PS3 upscaling working nicely on a 720p source anyway.

    Granted, Vudu isn't exactly accessible to the average Canadian unless they're using usvideo.ca already and have a PS3, but it's still a nice option to have. Same with Amazon VOD, although I don't have a STB that can stream that, but Costco does have the WD Live Plus boxes in store now for $100 that can do Amazon VOD if you're using usvideo :)

    The point is, more of these services are going to creep north sooner or later, and again, the incumbents have a choice .. adapt or die. Regulations aren't going to help them in this arena.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tripster View Post
    They can't determine Cancon other than what their subscribers choose to view. It must be noted they do license Canadian content on their own without being forced to do so.
    They've metion that to the media unions as well. Its in the transcripts somewhere

    Quote Originally Posted by Tripster View Post
    They won't get kicked out either, how? The have legally licensed the content they offer to Canadians. What can the CRTC do here? Not a lot, short of erecting "the great firewall of Canada", which would put us on par with China when it comes to citizens access to the internet.
    Aren't we there already? Geo Filtering is basically "the great firewall" lite edition. They just would give permission to the ISPs to block the IPs to Netflix servers if it came to that point.

    As for licensed content; WIND Mobile is licensed mobile provider and already has customers, but that didn't stop the courts to give an forty-five day notice to become more "Canadian" or be shutdown. The CRTC has the power to remove those rights if the rights holder is an conflict with CRTC directives.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tripster View Post
    Like I said, it is going to be very hard for the CRTC to even regulate this industry, Netflix isn't a broadcaster, at best they're a narrowcaster but so then is YouTube, etc. and citizens aren't going to stand for the CRTC and government meddling in the access to websites that have legally garnered licensing for Canadian viewers.
    I doubt the CRTC is going to impose anything. From reading the transcripts they've learn their lesson on trying to regulate the Internet. I can see them telling broadcasters and media producers that it fall outside the current scope of the Broadcasting Act and they'll have to take it up with Parliament to make amendments to include services like Netfilx, that way they can wash their hands issue and won't have to deal with the fights that will come from this.


    Quote Originally Posted by Tripster View Post
    What's next? MuchMusic and AUX asking the CRTC to regulate YouTube and Vivo because Canadian's can access music videos online and stream them on demand? CBC News Network and CTV News Network asking them to regulate Al Jazeera English, NHK World, etc. because Canadians can easily access their live news stations online?

    "If you give a mouse a cookie...he'll want a glass of milk."
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    If you give the broadcasters Netflix, they'll want YouTube head on the block next. Someone has to stop giving in to the broadcasters demands, no matter what you give them its never enough, their always in some doomed scenario that regulating their competition out of the market will solve.


    Quote Originally Posted by Tripster View Post
    How far do they want to take this? The BDUs are facing a losing battle here because more and more content is coming online all the time, from full fledged streaming entertainment services to independent productions that are online only.
    As far as they can. I agree with you its' a losing battle, but after many years of cozy profits and no competition their world is now threaten, and I'll bet they'll spend millions on lawyers and lobbyist to keep their way of life as it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tripster View Post
    It's like how the horse and buggy trade tried to shut down the automobile industry back in the day.
    Well the automobile industry is trying to shutdown transit industry...again. You can't make money off of people that use trains, streetcars and subways.
    "And Now for Something Completely Different..." - John Cleese (Monty Python).

  13. #13
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    Crtc Has No Control Over Netflix

    The CRTC has little control over Netflix and they are not going to be able to cater to the monopoly companies. Hopefully Rogers ,Bell etc... will be forced to change their current offerings and user choice will become a thing of the future . Adapt to the times or they will be left behind in the market. The poor quality programming and overpriced gouging has gone on for far too long.:(

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    InMontreal , Astral can ask the crtc to examine Netflix ,but it will make no difference. The current sales model and selection that Astral currently provides is what should be investigated. They are losing large numbers of customers to Netflix and are grasping at straws to stop their customers from leaving. Instead they should also get into streaming over the web at a cheaper price and without advertising and more customer choice. People want reasonable prices and they want the convenience of streaming to their Tv's and other devices such as apple tv ,Ipads etc...... Either adapt to the new technology or disappear from the market . I think tv as we know it is already going through a revolutionary change and some of the current providers like Astral,Superchannel ,Rogers ,and Bell better offer a different format soon or they will lose a great deal of customers. Netflix Put Blockbuster out of business and these companies better stop gouging their customers and listen to them for a change . Their survival depends on pleasing the paying customer and not hiding behind the CRTC for years.

 

 

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