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Sep 28, 2017

The Launch of ‘Creative Canada’: Some Brief Thoughts Following the Minister’s Speech

By Stephen Zolf

Following our earlier post, Minister Joly delivered her ‘Creative Canada’ speech at a noon-hour speech today. The speech included several noteworthy statements:

  • “We pay some of the highest [Internet access] rates in the world. Our government won’t increase the cost of these services to Canadians by imposing a new tax [on Netflix]. We’ve lowered taxes for the middle class, and we will continue to do that.”
  • In view of the serious concerns among writers, producers and directors “about whether there will be a domestic market for their work, especially in the face of declining private-sector cable and satellite subscription revenues that contribute to the Canada Media Fund … starting in 2018, the Government will increase the federal contribution to maintain the level of funding in the Canada Media Fund to counter these declines.”
  • “we will reform the Copyright Board to ensure that we support cultural content, pay our artists faster and reduce costs for all parties.”

It is likely that the above announcements will be eclipsed by the “consent agreement” with Netflix, under which the Minister announced a “first of these agreements on behalf of the Government of Canada and Netflix.” Netflix will create Netflix Canada – a permanent film and television production presence in Canada – and will invest a minimum of $500 million in original productions in Canada (in French and English) over the next five years. Netflix will also work to promote Canadian films and programs on its platform so that they are discovered by Canadian audiences and millions of viewers around the world.

It appears that the “original productions” will not be “Canadian content” in the “regulatory sense,” in that programming produced by Netflix, as a non-Canadian entity, cannot qualify as Canadian content under current CAVCO/CRTC requirements for Canadian content.

Many more questions remain to be resolved. We will “Spotlight” these in the near future. 

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