updated 04:05 pm EDT, Wed March 11, 2009
Rogers Hulu-like web video
Canadian cable, telephone, Internet and wireless provider Rogers has proposed a Hulu-like web video system on Tuesday at a Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) hearing as an alternative to government-imposed levies on Internet Service Providers to support online Canadian content. Rogers, along with another Canadian ISP, Shaw, expressed strong disapproval to the CRTC's levies. Under Rogers' plan, users wouldn't need to have service from the company in order to access broadband video content.
Rogers' proposed service for broadband video wouldn't require that users have Rogers as an ISP but would need them to be a Rogers cable subscriber. The company's head of regulatory affairs, Ken Engelhart, did say the company would be open to partnering with other cable providers on the service, however.
"This would solve many of the problems addressed during these hearings," said Rogers vice-chairman Philip Lind.
The CRTC questioned whether the service would be legal under Canadian laws designed to keep services that require another service to be purchased first illegal.
Shaw also didn't agree with the idea of levying or otherwise taxing customers to fund a plan that would force Canadian content providers to give preference to Canadian content. "The internet is about the World Wide Web, not the Canadian Wide Web," said Jim Shaw, the company's president.
The two cable companies, as well as Cogeco Cable, said the CRTC-proposed measures are impractical. Rogers said the extra costs imposed on the ISPs would be passed along to the consumer. Furthermore, the companies argued that an ISP levy breaks the Broadcasting Act and that are not broadcasters but simply telecommunications providers.
Deciding which content is Canadian poses another challenge. Websites with the .ca top-level domain can and are often purchased by US companies, while many Canadian companies own and operate .com domains. Rogers' content for Canadians, such as the CBC, can come in through servers located in the US.
Canadians have been relatively deprived of full, streaming TV shows compared to Americans. Although they regularly receive American broadcasting over Canadian TV services, websites like ABC.com and Hulu are often blocked to non-US residents.