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CRTC orders Netflix to hand over confidential data

QMI Agency

The Netflix logo is is shown on an ipad in Encinitas, California in this April 19, 2013 file photo. (REUTERS/Mike Blake/Files)

The Netflix logo is is shown on an ipad in Encinitas, California in this April 19, 2013 file photo. (REUTERS/Mike Blake/Files)

On the final day of its television hearings, the CRTC demanded online giant Netflix release subscriber information, Canadian content numbers and project spending and set a strict Monday deadline to hand it over.

Corie Wright, Netflix's director of global public policy, sparred with those chairing the hearings in Gatineau, Que., Friday over whether the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) would keep such information confidential.

Wright said Netflix is concerned data would be submitted to the commission, but could later be released publicly, which would put the streaming service at a business disadvantage.

Tom Pentefountas, the CRTC's vice-chairman who headed the hearings, said Netflix makes millions of dollars off Canadian consumers and shouldn't have to be ordered to disclose the data.

CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais ordered Netflix to hand over data by 5 p.m. Monday.

"We need the evidence," Blais said, noting the CRTC goes through hundreds of proceedings each year and confidentiality hasn't been an issue.

Wright said she would try to get the information to the CRTC.

"Given the nature of this information, we're just trying to be very careful," Wright responded. "It's really just the confidential treatment. I'm sorry if there's any appearance we're unwilling to do it."

Wright said Netflix has no physical presence here in Canada and has no Canadian employees.

But she noted some of the shows it offers subscribers are Canadian, such as Trailer Park Boys, so are some comedy specials and movies. She also pointed out the Netflix original series Hemlock Grove is largely shot in Canada.

The hearings were the third phase of the CRTC's Let's Talk TV: A Conversation with Canadians project.

The project has three main objectives: creating a television system that allows for choice and flexibility when Canadians pick programming services, encouraging the creation of compelling and diverse Canadian programming and providing a way for Canadians to solve disputes.

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