Netflix agrees C$500m originals deal with Canada

Muriel Hammond
September 30, 2017

"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 advocacy group OpenMedia's Katy Anderson.

Ottawa's five-year, $500-million Canadian content deal with Netflix drew swift reaction from the nation's incumbent television content creators for the relatively low financial commitment. Over the past few years, Netflix has been rubbing Canadian cable companies the wrong way as it isn't considered a broadcaster and as a result doesn't have to follow the same rules.

As part of a speech today (September 28) to unveil the new "Creative Canada" policy, Joly reinforced the theme that foreign platforms like Netflix and Facebook are key to the promotion and protection of Canadian stories.

Canadian producers have been struggling to compete against Netflix, YouTube and other online rivals.

Some people within the industry as well as the political sphere would have preferred to see Canada impose a "Netflix tax", as France and Australia are doing, to inject development funds into the Canadian industry.

Government officials want to encourage, promote and showcase content that's ideated and produced in Canada while broadcasting it to the world. Netflix Canada will collaborate with other Canadian production firms, broadcasters, and local talent to develop content in both English and French.

The deal is the centrepiece of Canadian heritage minister Mélanie Joly's new cultural policy plan.

"It looks like Netflix's submission [to Canada's cultural policy consultation] was swallowed whole and presented as something new, when it isn't", argued television critic John Doyle in a piece for Canadian news site The Globe and Mail.

"The Government of Canada is committed to growing our creative industries with new investments that create opportunities for creators and producers across the country to make great content that stands out", added Joly.

"In announcing the pact, the Canadian government called out "Alias Grace", a co-production of CBC, Netflix and Halfire Entertainment".

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