An imaginary conversation about Netflix

News that the Chairman of the CRTC had ordered Netflix to tell him by Monday afternoon how many subscribers it had in Canada, sparked this imagined interchange.

The phone rings at the Chairman’s house. It is today, Saturday morning, September 20th, 2014. The caller ID reads “PCO”.

-Bonjour? Hello?

-<a woman’s voice> Good morning Mr. Blais, it is the Clerk calling. Can you hold while I put him on?

-Certainly {Jean-Pierre Blais straightens his dressing gown and stands up from the breakfast table. His heartbeat accelerates}

-JP! it’s Wayne. Thank you for taking the call. How are you?

-Surprised to get your call Mr. Wouters. To what do I owe the honour?

-JP I won’t beat around the bush. The PM is apoplectic about your move on Friday.

– You mean telling Netflix they owe us a statement of how many subscribers they have in Canada?

-Exactly. The PM is very concerned. You recall the storm that the Commission created when it imposed usage fees on the Internet?

-How could I forget?

-Yeah, well I know that wasn’t under your charmanship but the PM believes that any attempt to regulate the Net will provoke a shit storm of opposition.

-But the Internet is within our jurisdiction.

-Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t. The PM is heading into an election in 2015. Do you think he wants the CRTC to be raising cable rates to feed the Canadian television industry? He does not want an immense court case to get in the way of his agenda.

-Mr.Wouters, I am not sure this call is entirely proper. Is this intended as a direction from government the decisions of an independent regulatory tribunal?

-Not at all Mr Chairman. This is a friendly encouragement to lower the heat on this issue. We cannot afford another earthquake like the usage based billing thing.

-I will pretend this conversation never happened.

-Do as you please, JP, but the PM will not back you if you raise this issue again.

-Thank you Mr Wouters.

-Good day, JP.


The second call goes from the Clerk of Privy Council to the PM.

Wouters <Prime Minister, I just spoke to JP. It is done>

Prime Minister Harper <Did he get the message?>

Wouters < I gave it loud and clear, Prime Minister. He is a clever man. I think he can respond to a clear statement of your concern.>

PM Harper < Will he raise a stink about regulatory independence?>

Wouters <He will pretend it never happened>

PM Harper <Thank you, Mr Wouters. Well done>

Wouters <Your’e welcome, Prime Minister>

PM Harper <Let’s talk Monday. It’s time to revisit dismantling that place>

Wouters < Yes, Prime Minister