BCE to take on Netflix with new service

September 10, 2012  |  Canadian Press  |  Comments

BCE will launch a made-in-Canada competitor to Netflix, available in English and French, CEO George Cope said Monday.

The service will be available on demand and on any device, and will use content from Astral Media – which BCE is acquiring – and Bell Media.

“(It’s) a made-in-Canada service – available in English and French everywhere we have rights – to all Canadians through the cable, satellite or IPTV provider of their choice,” Cope told a hearing into Bell’s $3.4-billion acquisition of Astral Media.

“Combining the unique pay TV strengths of Astral with Bell Media’s broad range of programming will create a Canadian service that truly stands apart from those of international providers.”

Cope noted that more than 10% of Canadians subscribe to Netflix, but the service doesn’t pay taxes in Canada and doesn’t contribute to Canadian content.

“The Canadian system needs companies with the scale to compete against foreign content companies like Netflix, Apple, Google and Amazon.”

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission hearing, which got under way today, is focused on how much of the English-language TV market the telecom giant will corner if the Astral deal were to go through.

The commission will examine the multibillion-dollar transaction and hear from multimedia, telecom and radio companies, and producers as well as film groups and consumer advocates – many of them against the deal.

Cope told the hearing that with the acquisition of Astral, Bell will own 33.5% of the English language market – that’s under the 35% threshold set by the CRTC for approval. However, rival media organizations have taken issue with that calculation.

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