Roundup: All abuzz about Netflix

It’s probably not a big surprise that the story for which the most ink (physical or digital, take your pick) was spilled yesterday were the culture policy changes that Mélanie Joly announced, punctuated by the grand announcement that Netflix had committed to spending half a billion dollars over five years on Canadian productions. But in there was also news that there would be no big bailout for the news media in this country, and there would be some funding boosts for the Canada Media Fund, the Canada Music Fund and the Canada Book Fund, and a creative export strategy, along with previously announced reforms of the Copyright Board.

Suffice to say, there’s a fair amount of grumbling from traditional broadcasters that Neflix is essentially getting away with murder, not bound by the same CanCon obligations of traditional broadcasters, nor are other Internet giants like Google and Facebook being asked to contribute to the same content creation funds that traditional media are. And there is some pretty legitimate concerns about this announced Netflix deal because it’s pretty opaque – Netflix will continue to be able to operate as a black box when it comes to their subscriber data, and while Sean Casey went on Power & Politics to insist that the $500 million was new money (given that Netflix had previously told Parliament that they were already spending “hundreds of millions of dollars” in Canada), it really doesn’t seem like that’s anything new given that previous statement. Netflix also says that the money isn’t coming from the recent rate-hike in Canada, but that’s not washing with a number of people. The Financial Post has a fairly comprehensive look at the announcement here, including the fact that the announcement seems to leave a lot of the heavy lifting into the future, which probably shouldn’t be a surprise.

I do think it should be incumbent upon us to remember that Netflix has not been a net benefit to the cultural sector in Canada. The late Denis McGrath used to refer to them as a “parasite” on the Canadian broadcast sector because they put no money into the production of shows that they streamed, encouraging the cord-cutting that starved the very platforms who produced those shows that they later streamed of funding. It’s a complex problem, and a handful of Netflix originals aren’t going to be the panacea for the Canadian film and television industry. If anything, it may hasten the decline.

Good reads:

  • Not unsurprisingly, marijuana legalization tops the agenda for the First Ministers meeting next week. Premiers also want to talk about the proposed tax changes.
  • The Information Commissioner says that the Access to Information reform bill will roll back access rights; the government sounds like they’ll entertain amendments.
  • Here’s a deeper look into the Boeing-Bombardier dispute, and a look at the trade war that the Americans are trying to stoke as part of it.
  • It has also been noted that the government hasn’t categorially ruled out buying Super Hornets just yet, despite the Boeing dispute.
  • Here’s a look at the lopsided argument that the American wine industry is trying to make in Canada as part of NAFTA talks.
  • John Geddes writes about how Bill Morneau’s temper is starting to fray a bit at the barrage of accusations of dubious merit around the proposed tax changes.
  • The PBO released a report for the Commons health committee on the cost of a national pharmacare programme.
  • The government plans to amend the citizenship oath with references to Indigenous treaties, per the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations.
  • So far we’ve seen 32,000 asylum seekers crossing the border in this country, but it turns out that’s not inconsistent with historic norms.
  • Long-term stays in immigration detention has dropped by almost a third over the past year.
  • The Parliamentary Budget Officer is now a full-blown Officer of Parliament, so now they’re going to start looking for a bigger budget.
  • If you’re confused about the whole Status of Women committee chair nomination fight, then Kady O’Malley has you covered.
  • Changes to impaired driving legislation will mean that you can no longer have your driver’s licence suspended for drunk canoeing. No, seriously.
  • A Senate bill to ban junk food advertising aimed at children is on its way to the Commons. Expect this to be challenged in court, especially by trademark lawyers.
  • Robert Hiltz takes on the rank hypocrisy of the M-4 Unit – err, I mean Julian Fantino – getting into the marijuana business.

Odds and ends:

Chatelaine talks to Celina Caesar-Chavannes about her speech on body-shaming.

Liberal MP Judy Foote gave her farewell speech in the Commons yesterday.

A farewell ceremony for Governor General David Johnston was held in Centre Block yesterday.

One thought on “Roundup: All abuzz about Netflix

  1. Don’t get this talking point that Netflix was already going to spend $500,000,000 on CanCan (don’t believe workers at Netflix or Heritage Canada needs people like Paul Wells to explain online the difference between CanCon and Canadian production). Yes there was a throwaway line about it, but still seems comes across as that journalism basis (particularly within the national political press) of confusing negativity with objectivity.

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