Netflix hires lobbyists to combat usage-based billing

Netflix hires lobbyists to combat usage-based billing

It was recently reported that Netflix has now hired lobbyists to ensure that things such as usage-based billing don’t become a reality in Canada.

The CRTC’s decision to force independent ISP’s to charge for bandwidth overages caused an uproar across Canada. Many opponents of the new legislation used Netflix as a prime example of a service that would be too expensive to use if the decision was not overturned. And this must have seriously grabbed Netflix attention.

While the government has since agreed to overturn the CRTC’s decision, Netflix still decided to get pro-active and protect the future of its Canadian expansion by bringing on lobbyists to fight on their behalf, according to the federal registry of Canadian lobbyists.

Netflix hired Subrata Bhattacharjee of Heenan Blaikie, a legal firm now slated to meet with the CRTC chair Konrad von Finckenstien and Jean-Pierre Blais, the assistant deputy minister of Ottawa’s heritage department.  The Internet media giant additionally hired Lynne Hamilton of GCI Group Inc (lobbyist), and appointed Michael Drobac to director of government relations, along with a few advisers that are former director generals with Canada’s federal department; Leonard St-Aubin and Jan Skora. Two individuals that are specifically former telecom regulators.

It’s an evolving market and Netflix is new in Canada.. We want to have the right people on the ground in the discussions.” Steve Swasey, a Netflix spokesman.

Rogers and Bell, the major players in the ISP market in Canada, are the same two companies that operate and control the media and the pipes in which the content is delivered. If Rogers and Bell could have stopped Netflix from coming to Canada I’m sure they would have, but instead the players will continuously attempt to destroy Netflix through restrictions on the net.

After all, if Canadian consumers are given a choice, they’d likely choose the Netflix $7.99/month model rather than being subject to satellite and cable price gouging. We should also note that as it stands today, the lack of content within the Canadian version of Netflix has a long way to go before Bell and Rogers need to be worried.

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