Last year, Netflix executives said they anticipated that the streaming service would increase its original programming lineup to more than 1,000 hours in 2017. That’s a lot of TV content that costs an awful lot of money. It just got a helping hand from the Canadian taxpayer.
That promise that Netflix will spend a minimum of $500-million (Canadian) over five years on the production and distribution of Canadian movies and TV shows is the attention-grabbing ploy to attract support and positive attention for Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly’s long-promised, much-talked-about new game plan for backing Canadian creative content in this digital age.
It’s peachy that some creatives involved in Canadian TV and movies will have their work seen around the world via Netflix but that is nether new nor is it the rescue of Canadian TV that the federal government wants you to believe.
This is only a sweet deal for Netflix. Its estimated content budget for this year alone is $6-billion (U.S.). Investing $100-million (Canadian) a year to help out the production of TV and movies in Canada is the kind of figure Netflix shrugs off as the cost of doing business.
There is nothing in Minister Joly’s proposals to suggest there will be less subsidy for the making of Canadian TV drama and comedy, whether by CBC or commercial broadcasters. In fact, there will be more money to nurture Canadian talent and the development of shows. But what it all means is Canadian taxpayers, through direct government support, tax breaks or fees accrued from their cable or satellite-service bills, will continue to fund Canadian TV content and Netflix, kicking in some money, gets to stream that content around the world.
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Same old. Same old. The CRTC has to stop worrying and mandating Canadian content on Canadian media. Or now, foreign media (Netflix) as well. Let the market set it’s own level. If there is a large demand for Canadian material, producers will answer the call. The money Canada will give to Netflix is a very small drop in their overall production budget. I can only hope that any production Netflix undertakes with Canadian funding will have the look and feel of the much-awarded The Handmaiden’s Tale. I have my doubts.
There is no change in the formula for money given to Netflix in the form of Canadian tax credits. Really, what this is, is a commitment from Netflix to continue doing what it is already doing in Canada, in exchange for a commitment that there will not be a tax slapped on Netflix subscriptions. Besides, such a tax would be political suicide.
Don’t worry, Terry Bell. Eventually, when internet radio takes over and more people listen to internet than terrestrial, the CRTC will have nothing to supervise but its own navel. That day is coming , soon enough.