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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Netflix refuses Canadian broadcast regulator's information demand

   Canada column for Sunday, Sept. 28/14

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Executive of Netflix, the U.S.-based online-video service, have refused to turn over corporate information to Canada’s broadcast regulator.
   As well, domestic satellite and cable companies are asking the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) not to leave them at a competitive disadvantage with services such as Netflix charging just $8.99 a month.
   The CRTC is taking a comprehensive review of how Canadian consumers should receive their TV programming and how they’ll pay for it in the future.
   Media giants Bell and Rogers say there needs to be regulatory reforms encouraging the production of more high-quality Canadian content.
   An issue is forcing TV service providers to offer their customers television channels on a pick-and-pay basis instead of the expense of current bundles that include channels not as popular or lucrative.
   The CRTC is also asking Canadians to consider whether it should cap the cost of basic service at between $20 and $30 a month.
   Netflix and other video services have rejected proposals that would regulate them and force them to pay to prop up Canadian TV production.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Suspended Sentor Mike Duffy wants speedy fraud trial; plans to "tell all"

   Canada column for Sunday, Sept. 21/14

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Disgraced Senator Mike Duffy said he plans to tell all at his upcoming fraud trial that could include calling Prime Minister Stephen Harper to testify.
   Still unknown is whether Harper knew about a secret $90,000 payment made by his former chief of staff Nigel Wright to cover Duffy’s contested expenses.
   The Mounties arrested Duffy, 68, who had been suspended from the Senate, on 31 counts including fraud, breach of trust and bribery.
    His lawyer, Donald Bayne, will ask a judge to waive a preliminary hearing and proceed straight to trial.
   “This will be his first opportunity for a complete airing of all the evidence before an impartial tribunal and his opportunity to clear his name to show that he’s guilty of no wrongdoing,” Bayne said.
   Mentioning the former TV news broadcaster’s poor health after two heart surgeries, Bayne said he wants an early trial – before the federal election in October of next year.


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Bank more upbeat about Canadian economic recovery; interest rates unchanged

   Canada column for Sunday, Sept. 7/14

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canada’s central bank expressed a slightly more upbeat view of the economy as it kept interest rates steady.
   As the key interest rate stayed at 1 percent – where it has been for 4 years – the Bank of Canada suggested the target date for the economy to return to full capacity is still within the next two years.
   “Overall, the risks to the outlook for inflation remain roughly balanced, while the risks associated with household (debt) imbalances have not diminished,” the bank said.
   The economy is performing largely as expected, inflation continues around two percent and activity in the housing market is stronger, the bank report said.
   It noted the United States economy continues regaining strength with stronger business investment while Europe’s recovery seems to be “faltering.”
   The bank said “an increasing number” of export sectors appear to be “turning the corner” toward recovery.
   “This pickup will need to be sustained before it will translate into higher business investment and hiring (in Canada),” it added.
   The next announcement on interest rates will be Oct. 22 when the bank will give an update on its monetary policy.