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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.


   Suspended Conservative Sen. Mike Duffy got his request to proceed to trial without a preliminary hearing on 31 counts of fraud, breach of trust and bribery.
   A judge has set 41 days for the trial starting next April 7 for the former TV news broadcaster who was arrested in connection with his expense claims.
   Duffy’s lawyer Donald Bayne said he intends to plead not guilty and there’s a possibility he will call Prime Minister Stephen Harper to testify.
   That would concern $90,000 Duffy was given discretely by Nigel Wright, previously Harper’s chief of staff, to reimburse the Senate for challenged expense payments.
   “As we've said from the start, we trust that the evidence will show Sen. Duffy is innocent of these criminal charges,” Bayne said.


    News in brief:
   - Shawn Hennessey, 36, convicted of involvement in the 2005 shooting deaths of four Alberta Mounties has been granted day parole after saying he has turned his life around. He admitted to manslaughter and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Hennessey admitted giving James Roszko a rifle and ride to the man’s farm near Mayerthorpe. Roszko later ambushed the Mounties and then killed himself.
   - New Brunswick’s new premier is Brian Gallant whose Liberals defeated the governing Conservatives. Defeated premier David Alward failed to win a second term and resigned as leader of the party. Gallant, who is 32, is Canada’s youngest premier. Voters elected 27 Liberals, 21 Conservatives and one Green Party member.


   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar has dropped to 89.61 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.1159 in Canadian funds, before bank exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate remains at 1 percent while the prime-lending rate is unchanged at 3 percent.
   Stock markets are lower, with the Toronto exchange index at 14,996 points and the TSX Venture index at 916 points.
   The average price of a liter of gasoline in Canada is higher at $1.2873 (Canadian).
   Lotto 6-49: (Sept. 24) 15, 28, 34, 40, 41 and 43; bonus 5. (Sept. 20) 4, 10, 20, 23, 27 and 45; bonus 48. Lotto Max: (Sept. 19) 4, 7, 8, 10, 16, 20 and 36; bonus 27.


   Regional briefs:
   - Investigators say they believe that speeding and driver distraction were contributing factors in a collision a year ago year between an Ottawa city bus and a Via Rail passenger train. Bus driver Dave Woodard and five passengers were killed. The Transportation Safety Board is continuing its investigation.
   - The restoration of Nova Scotia’s sailing ambassador, the Bluenose II schooner, is still not completed. She was to return to sailing two years ago after an extensive rebuild estimated to cost $14.4 million. Now the latest estimate for the provincial-government initiative is Bluenose sailing next May and a cost of $19 million.
   - Canada Border Services Agency officers say a Toronto man had 51 live turtles stuffed down his pants when he tried to cross the border into Windsor, Ontario from Detroit. Kai Xu and a companion, Lihua Lin, who was arrested at the Detroit airport after 200 North American pond turtles were found in luggage, face charges of reptile smuggling.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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