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The CRTC says stakeholders did not submit evidence that online video services were causing harm to the traditional broadcast system. (iStock)

Canada's telecommunications regulator has rebuffed calls from broadcasters to regulate online video services such as Netflix.

The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications released a report Wednesday detailing the results of fact-finding launched in May about mobile and internet media services, also known as "over-the-top" (OTT) services.

"Stakeholders calling for the imposition of regulatory obligations on OTT providers demonstrated that consumer adoption of OTT services is real and growing," the CRTC said.

The report noted that Netflix, which streams movies and TV episodes over the internet to TVs and other devices for a monthly fee, had reached 800,000 Canadian subscribers in less than a year and was projected to have a million subscribers by the third quarter of 2011.

However, the CRTC said stakeholders "did not submit evidence of harm to the traditional broadcast system" and there is no clear evidence that Canadians are reducing or cancelling their television subscriptions.

"Online and mobile programming appears to be complementary to the content offered by the traditional broadcasting system," the commission said.

The regulator added that licensing online services could lead to unintended consequences, such as discouraging innovation or impairing the ability of Canadian media companies to compete globally.

The CRTC said it will keep an eye on over-the-top services, and will conduct another fact-finding exercise in May 2012.

Some of the other findings of the report were that:

  • The tools are not yet available to accurately measure consumer consumption of online and mobile programming.
  • Canadian creators are producing innovative content for online and mobile platforms and Canadian broadcasters and distributors are launching online and mobile programming services.
  • Some services such as Netflix have established viable business models and are competing in the marketplace for programming rights and viewers.
  • Internet and wireless networks may have trouble expanding their capacity to support increasing consumption of media content. Some submissions also noted that internet bandwidth caps could limit adoption of over-the-top services.

(This survey is not scientific. Results are based on readers' responses.)