One night not long ago I was about to take in my daily dose of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart after work, when I was forced to deal with a new popup window on the CTV website — CTV and other Bell Media websites are the only legal websites you can use to watch this and many other shows.

I felt this popup and question was invasive and unnecessary but I tried answering the truth — “I do not have a TV service provider” — and I also tried selecting several other options.

Each time I received the following popup message and continued to be blocked from watching the Daily Show.

Turns out I’m not the only one who’s had to deal with this. Bell even effectively confessed to this strategy on Facebook, telling this Bell customer to subscribe to Bell TV if she wanted to access CTV content. If this is where Canada’s online services are going the government really needs to get moving on reining in these telecom gatekeepers.

I don’t subscribe to TV. I’d much rather use online services than deal with a prescribed menu of channels on TV. Furthermore, I don’t see any reason why I should subscribe to multiple telecom services when at this point everything (voice, video, text) should be available through one open platform; the Internet.

Telecom companies of course prefer to get people to pay three or four times for these services (phone, cell phone, TV, Internet). Now, it seems at least one of them is willing to block online content as a pressure tactic to corner Canadians.

This is anticompetitive in relation to other providers that don’t have a monopoly licence for popular video content like the Daily Show, and it is also a mechanism to force Internet-only users to subscribe to TV.

In others words this abrasive tactic is another way for Canadian telecom conglomerates to reinforce their command and control vision for digital services. It’s also another way for them to prevent more affordable independent providers from getting a foothold.

The CRTC is currently undergoing a public consultation about digital services. Sadly they decided not to address important issues like this, but Canadians can use OpenMedia.ca’s user’s guide to make sure it gets on the public record.

Steve Anderson

Steve Anderson

Steve Anderson is the founder and executive director of OpenMedia.ca. OpenMedia.ca is an award-winning Canadian nonprofit organization working to advance and support an open and innovative communications...