The Canadian media company that brought you “Little Mosque on the Prairie” and a migraine from looking a Don Cherry’s suit is standing up to the American streaming website that brought you an excuse to stay in on a Saturday night.
CBC is ranting Rick Mercer-style that Netflix, its young, hip, internet age, American neighbour, isn’t paying its dues. The CBC took a break from advertising its own shows to submit a Canadian Radio and Television Commission (CRTC) review stipulating that “over the top” streaming companies like Netflix Canada, with revenue of $650 million dollars a year, should pay into the Canada Media Fund.
The Canada Media Fund is used to support Canadian programming (i.e., the CBC). In true American spirit, Netflix has called this a tax, and they are unwilling to accept taxation without representation. Before we ask how Orange is the New Black could reflect the Canadian prison system, the company explained that it would be unfair to pay into a media fund which it couldn’t use to finance its own programming. This would raise costs for consumers without additional benefits from Netflix. This could even cause some subscribers to go back to illegally downloading content. But lets face it, that’s how they get “Game of Thrones” anyway.
When it comes to keeping up with the many Canadians streaming from Netflix, the CRTC has a case (or boxed set?) of arrested development. The CRTC’s job is to promote Canadian content and uphold The Broadcasting Act. 25 percent of Radio broadcasting, and 55 percent of TV must have Canadian Content. This explains why “One Week” by the Barenaked Ladies every 20 minutes on mainstream radio, providing every Canadian the unique ability to sing every word by heart .
For the CRTC, Netflix pose a challenge similar to the plot of Pulp Fiction (also available). They both are post-modern, complicated and messy, but wildly popular, especially with those who don’t understand their nuances. More and more, it seems as though Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Will Arnett might not be enough to keep the CRTC satisfied that we are getting enough Canadian content. This is serious: symptoms of not getting enough Canadian content include: not apologising after an armed robbery, talking like Forest Gump, and sub-consciously desiring an apartment in New York with five or six close friends you hang out with at coffee shops.
Times change, and CBC should watch out, because Netflix has risen to the top of the media hierarchy with the cunning ruthlessness of Frank Underwood, and we all know what Frank Underwood does with journalists who get in the way. Trends change, and if the CRTC and CBC take the wrong turn there are many ways for them to die.
Actually there are 1000.