Canada Strikes a Deal with Netflix
Canada has struck a deal with Netflix, which would invest C$500 million in the creation of programs in the country. After outlining its cultural and entertainment industries vision, Canada has also pledged to give more funds in order to foster contents from Canadian services at home and abroad.
Melanie Joly, who is Canada’s Heritage Minister, said in a speech that the deal “signals a meaningful partnership in supporting Canadian creators, producers and Canadian creative work, and in bringing that work to millions of views around the world.”
Netflix will reportedly create TV shows and movies for the Canadians, and this is considered the very first time the streaming service has launched a permanent production presence outside the US.
The announcement was a part of a review, which included modernization plans for funding programs. It also included the review of copyright, broadcasting and telecommunications legislation. Although some have suggested that taxes should be imposed on Netflix Canada, the government did not do so and it seems not to be planning to impose taxes in the future.
“We know that access and affordability of the internet and wireless are real issues for many,” said Joly. “We pay some of the highest rates in the world.”
However, a number of people in the cultural sector had wanted to subject new broadcasting players like Netflix and YouTube to the formal regulatory landscapes for Canadian companies. If that happened, companies would be required to air certain levels of Canadian content and financially contribute to a fund its development.
Bell Media opposed this and said that the Netflix investment would just be “a fraction” of what it would have to pay. It also asked for a “level playing field for all participants.”
“Our approach will not be to bail out industry models that are no longer viable,” Joly said, adding that she would support innovation and experimentation at these outlets, and that includes the pivot to digital.
“If we get this right, we will be a leader in the world,” she said.
In 2018, the government will start boosting its contributions to the funds that support television and digital media. The C$500 million will be spent in the course of five years for Canadian television film and content.
“With Canadians increasingly turning to the internet to consume content, it’s a smart move for the federal government to embrace a digital future for Canadian culture,” said Katy Anderson, a member of advocacy group OpenMedia.
As for Netflix, if it fails to commit to the agreed investment in the required timeline, the government can impose fines on the company.
“We look forward to continuing our work with Canadian talent, producers, broadcasters, and other local partners to create Netflix originals in Canada for many years to come,” said Ted Sarandos, who is the company’s chief content officer.
The firm has already worked with Canadian content creators before. It has developed an Anne of Green Gables Series with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Its second season is already in the works. It has also created a miniseries with Canadian filmmakers Sarah Polley and Mary Harron.
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