Backyard satellite dishes used to be the biggest symbol of sedition in Canada. Sticking it to The Man, by receiving HBO and MTV signals blocked at the border, was a pricey proposition. But also a status symbol.
Since that time, the dishes got smaller, to the point of being disposable. Canadian companies eventually caught up to offering their own and the grey market ones smuggled across the border became illegal.
The fact that both copyright ownership and Canadian Content regulations stand in the way of program options being mirrored on both sides of the border, though, continues to grate on the same level that led someone who owned a parabolic antenna to be seen as a freedom fighter.
Subscription packages in Canada might now include brand names like HBO and MTV, but the offerings aren't identical, and the regulations that require popular channels to be offered in packages with less popular ones have contributed to a consumer backlash.
Netflix Canada drew immediate criticism upon its launch last year, because its menu was largely tantamount to a dusty VHS bargain bin, rather than the dream of having unlimited access to every motion picture ever made for a couple bucks a week.
The launch of short-term virtual movie rentals on YouTube throughout Canada might allow for broader choice, but they are priced at the same level as videos from the bankrupt Blockbuster, albeit with a viewing time limit rather than a late charge. And asking $4.99 for an online look isn't going to lead to much spontaneous selection. Reports of the death of the video store ritual are probably exaggerated.
Just like the underground market that emerged for dishes, though, all these geo-targeted tactics has created more incentive to find an IP address-spoofing plug-in.