01/13/2016 04:47 EST | Updated 01/13/2016 04:59 EST

Regulate Netflix In Canada? Cogeco CEO Says That Would Risk 'Censorship'


MONTREAL — Although he shares the frustrations about video on demand services like Netflix, Cogeco's chief executive says he's opposed to government intervention that could open the door to tighter supervision of the Internet.

Several cable companies have accused the U.S. company of reaping significant revenues in Canada without paying taxes and investing in telecommunications infrastructure.

"Our fear is that if governments intervene in what is allowed or not on the Internet, at some point we risk ending up with censorship,'' Louis Audet said Wednesday prior to Cogeco's annual meeting in Montreal.

He likened the problem to the Quebec government's requirement for companies to block access to online gaming sites other than those of its state-owned gaming agency Loto-Quebec.

At peak times, between 30 and 40 per cent of all network broadband traffic is generated by Netflix, yet the company pays no compensation, Audet told reporters.

However, he said that because of the "public interest'' it is preferable that governments refrain from regulating the Internet, which he said is a "source of innovation and knowledge transfer.''

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Meanwhile, Cogeco unveiled a new logo and a string of changes to its divisions at the annual meeting, including the renaming of its main subsidiary, Cogeco Cable, to Cogeco Communications.

After reporting improved first-quarter results, Audet said the company was counting on its three-year presence in the United States since the acquisition of Atlantic Broadband to consolidate growth.

The company added to its U.S. holdings last summer by buying MetroCast of Connecticut for US$200 million and says it is looking for further acquisitions.

"The climate is right. We have already demonstrated our ability to acquire under-exploited assets and to turn them into growth machines,'' Audet said.

With the acquisition of Wind Mobile by Shaw Communications, Cogeco now is thee largest cable company in Canada not to offer wireless telephone service.

But Audet said it has no intention of doing so.

However, he wouldn't rule out the possibility of acquiring radio stations to add to the 13 it already operates in Quebec.