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Sami Smidi demonstrates an internet capable TV, Jan. 12 in Montreal. With smart TVs consumers can access movie services like Netflix and other online content, and that has broadcasters and Canadian media players concerned. ((Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press))

Broadcast industry groups met Friday in Ottawa to plan strategy for dealing with online content providers such as Netflix.

The industry is struggling to keep up with emerging trends that see consumers gobbling up bandwidth to watch TV and movies online – known as over-the-top content – rather than subscribing to cable companies.

The meeting took place on the sidelines of an industry-organized conference featuring a panel discussion on the impact of unregulated online offerings.

Cable companies, broadcasters and union representatives were all represented, said Norm Bolen, the president of the Canadian Media Production Association, which arranged the meeting.

But the session was all about understanding the impact of online services "competing for content, competing for customers and the effects that might have on the Canadian system," Bolen said.

Bolen said the group didn’t decide on a position on over-the-top content.

One idea, floated by Shaw Communications president Peter Bissonnette at a House of Commons committee in December, is for the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to charge online broadcasters fees like the ones traditional cable companies and broadcasters pay. The money goes to producing Canadian content.

Bolen says the industry isn’t going to try to block access to the online services.

"Nobody wants to do anything to alienate consumers. In terms of over-the-top services, clearly consumers are interested in them, they like them, and nobody’s going to deny them access to that. That would never fly," he said.