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CBC head warns Netflix poses cultural threat to Canada (theglobeandmail.com)
17 points by pseudolus 81 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 35 comments



I fail to see how Netflix is an example of cultural imperialism. Netflix is just a service that packages up Americana to sell around the world. It goes through the regular marketing channels, and it’s ultimately up to the consumer if they purchase a subscription or not. It’s a choice not a mandate.

I’m confused by the imperialist rhetoric in this article. I would think the more obvious narrative would be “if people buy Netflix they would be less willing to buy Canadian entertainment.” An economic argument, a numbers thing. Why evoke thought of imperialist expansion and the negative aspects therein?

I don’t understand the frame of mind that produces these types of utterances. To me, it seems silly to persuade this way.


Netflix is just a service that packages up Americana to sell around the world.

And in so doing, drowns out local culture. The CBC has the production of Canadian cultural content (CanCon) as part of its mandate. Why must everyone in the world watch American TV? Wouldn't it ultimately be better if every culture produced their own content and then we could maintain some local identity?

The word imperialism is not being used lightly, here. TV has an enormous impact on a society. It influences how people think, which in turn can influence their politics.


I wonder if it would actually be better for the world to keep moving towards a common culture, assuming that culture is open enough to absorb the best parts of other cultures. There's a sense amongst the Canadian cultural elite that Canadian culture needs to be protected from American cultural imperialism, when really they're trying to preserve what's left of Britishness (at least in anglo Canada).


Can't people still choose though? In that sense there’s no “must”. Those who want to watch Canadian cultural content can freely do so, and the same is valid for those who prefer Netflix.

Why shouldn’t everyone in the world have the choice of watching American tv?


The question is not whether people can choose; people can always choose. The issue is what choices you give to people and in what prominence they're placed. Burying a show in the archives is different from featuring it on the front page. Under what criteria should it appear on the front page? If it's only popularity, that'll bias in favour of American shows, since the US has 10x the population of Canada.

If Canadian shows are on the front page, they have a much better chance of getting views and thus surviving, so that people have a choice to keep watching. Canadians can and will find out about the most popular American shows through other media channels, so why do those shows also need to be on the front page?


You say people can always choose and on the next phrase argue for limiting that choice...

I don’t know to which front page you’re referring but honestly the comments from the CBC head quoted in the article sound like those of a bureaucrat who’s seeing her power to influence what Canadians should watch being diminished by Netflix’s presence, and being angry about it.


Yet at the same time the thing my kids love watching the most on Netflix is Paw Patrol, a animated commercial to sell dog toys, produced in: Canada (we live in Europe btw).

So I don't think the problem is Netflix draining out local culture with foreign ones.


A large fraction of Netflix content is not produced in the US. At the core it’s an economic not a cultural argument. The issue is not the American nature of content but rather competing with high quality forein content.


That just makes the cultural argument stronger if now its not just the USA sending holy wood but now the entire world.


If it’s the entire world, then Netflix is just a platform and Canada can easily export content on Netflix. Making the imperialist argument meaningless.

Damn, those imperialist bulk cargo ships...


>Wouldn't it ultimately be better if every culture produced their own content and then we could maintain some local identity?

Many cultures do produce their own content, but it's often less entertaining than American content due to budget constraints, censorship restrictions or other government interference.

I think seeing at this as cultural imperialism is incorrect - it might be so if the US were somehow forcing other countries to watch American content, or if Netflix only served American content, but neither of those are the case. This just a matter of commerce in a global marketplace.

What would be better is people having a choice, not being kept in a government-enforced media cocoon in order to keep foreign influence from affecting their cultural identity.


No one is limiting what you can watch on CBC or any other Canadian content platform, why should I be locked into watching locally produced content I don't resonate with online?

Regulating media consumption online, a traditionally global marketplace, to your national content is just a terrible idea in every sense.


Netflix isn't really "online". Yes, it uses the internet as its transport layer. But it in all other respects is a closed content delivery platform, akin to a cable subscription but with the convenience of on-demand rather than traditionally scheduled broadcast TV.

The CBC has rightly identified this. They know that most people get Netflix by plugging a box into their TV, just as they used to with a cable box. The CBC is not proposing the regulation of the web, it's proposing regulation of a platform that is essentially cable delivered over a different pipe.

Edit: moreover, the content that is on Netflix isn't open like the web, it's closed content protected by regional distribution contracts.


How would you regulate Netflix then? The CRTC mandates that 55% of broadcasted content in Canada through traditional means is Canadian based content, with on demand streaming services I can't possibly see a healthy way to regulate this.

What about YouTube premium? They offer content more akin to traditional television, and it's very much American dominated. Is that "not really 'online'" either? Does it need the same manner of regulation that it seems they're looking to impose on Netflix?


Both Netflix and YouTube have far more content than what is promoted up front to every user. The regulation need not insist that 55% of the content archives be Canadian (that would be absurd). The regulation could focus on what content is featured on the home page.

So nobody need fear their favourite Netflix show being taken away. This would only affect what users see when they first sit down to watch. That would have a powerful effect. I think it would be enough to keep Canadian shows going so that Canadian culture can be maintained in a distinct form.


Not all colonialism is by the sword or gun. For the ancient Romans it was quite common for them to just be luring in people in to their society which would mostly erase traditions within a generation or two.

If you look at these kinds situations through a purely economic lens, you won't be able to even identify cultural imperialism where it's quite obviously occurring.


Netflix is just a service that packages up Americana to sell around the world.

Except it really isn't. Netflix (at least in Europe) has shows and movies from all over the world. Thanks to Netflix I've discovered shows from all over the place and I'd venture that less than 50% of my Netflix viewing is "Americana".


“Netflix is just a service that packages up Americana to sell around the world.”

That just literally is the definition of cultural imperialism. If imperialism involves rule by violence, it’s just imperialism, and doesn’t take much culture.

I have no idea if a McDonalds on every street corner is actually bad. As every single commenter in this thread independently discovered, people are free to make these decisions, and sometimes there is a reason why a local speciality stayed local.

But you should really tackle the actual argument being made.


Well, "cultural imperialism" is the answer to "so what if american companies outcompete native Canadian entertainment?" i.e. it's a response to a response to your more obvious narrative.

Of course, it's not a very good argument for persuading the general public as most people don't know what cultural imperialism means.


Not only that, but Netflix offers content from non-US based producers, it's enabling the sharing of creative content from all over the globe not just American produced content.

The CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) requires that 55% of content broadcasted yearly be of Canadian origin. This just seems like the starting stage of trying to regulate online content in the same manner.


Personally I've loved discovering more and more foreign content on Netflix.

I'm also really tired of this attitude of protecting our culture and worrying it'll be swallowed up by foreign culture. What is Canadian culture? It's always just been a synthesis of foreign culture moulded by our site and situation.

As a Canadian I want us to scoop up as much foreign culture as possible, mix it together, bake it in the oven of our environment, and discover all kinds of new flavours.


Exactly, I never would have thought I would watch so many episodes of Brazilian series and Italian series. Thanks to Netflix, I somehow found them because of recommendations.


> I'm also really tired of this attitude of protecting our culture and worrying it'll be swallowed up by foreign culture. What is Canadian culture? It's always just been a synthesis of foreign culture moulded by our site and situation.

Canadian or any other culture is culture produced domestically. Yes everyone can watch the higher production and marketing budget from netflix. But that leaves domestic artists without an audience because they can not afford the reach netflix has.

This ultimately destroys opportunities for local artists and thus also destroys local culture. It creates social issues because a segment of the population is denied a career option they would otherwise be able to pursue.


Something feels off that we have to forcibly make room for local culture. It should stand on its own merit. It even has an advantage of being locale unique and physically local.


Pains me to see CBC go down this path - from their recent modernization changes that made their website unusable for basic things like news, to seeing comments like this. Makes me wonder why "non-tech" companies just copy tech companies that are able to innovate and move faster without considering their own fate. But then I remember how they work and that every company is now a tech company at the apparent mercy of FAANG. I'm seeing a lot of talk about our neighbours down south but not a lot of action. This piece made it seem like CBC is losing a piece of the pie and they are salty. Makes me feel sad to see this from the top down. We have the same tech available and the similar resources but it seems that we would much rather partner or purchase than take some risk and try something different. I hope I am wrong.


They're not losing a "piece of the pie", though.

They broadcast in HD and SD for free, funded in part by public funding, advertising, merchandising, and licensing.

Netflix buys CBC content, and they're not the only ones.

While I might not appreciate her crassness, I understood it as a caution-call for new content delivery companies from other countries not conforming to Canadian broadcast law. Much like Uber skirted taxi laws. I'm sure most people here could run with the like examples from there.

As for the CBC site, if you're looking for a pared down version, they provide rss feeds and their site works perfectly fine as a news reader with JS disabled.


Echoing what others have said: Netflix is an opportunity to see more independent and even foreign-produced programming than was ever possible under the old broadcast/cable regime.

I would love it if the CBC worked with Netflix to offer some of their superior programming such as international sports including the Olympics here in the states.


CBC also produces a lot of great original content. I echo your sentiment

Is the CBC streaming app available in the US?

Here they offer it all for free* on their own platform and it works great.

*Yes I know we pay for it in taxes and I’m happy to

Edit: Actually the BBC did just what you’ve suggested but rather than sports or news—which they seem to host themselves— they’ve licensed some shows to Netflix like the IT Crowd and Still Game.


Just wanted to add, the CBC did provide content to Netflix last year. I had to look it up, and then also remembered:

Actually that's where my girlfriend and I watched Kim's Convenience for the first time. Funnier than I expected. The parent's really carried the show, though.


Funny, because if you check out Netflix they have all sorts of non US movies. At least in Europe. I'd say a traditional TV network is far more likely to only have US made content.


The issue they’re raising is one that started with the influx of US cable television. Canadian content was getting drowned out by the raw volume of other content. It’s one of the main reasons for the controversial requirements by the CRTC of a certain amount of Canadian-made content aired by Canadian broadcasters.


CBC is so well funded and yet fails miserably to provide good content. This is just an attempt for this horrifically inefficient media company to extract even more money from the Canadian people.


I read this as, “Netflix doesn’t buy CBC shows because people don’t like watching them. CBC publicly complains to government to stifle competition.”


Well, the article claims it was the opposite:

> Ms. Tait’s comparison to the Raj came after she had already expressed frustration with the marketing success of Netflix, noting that “it was very painful” to read a recent Vanity Fair article about Schitt’s Creek that thanked the streaming service, even though the show originated with and was supported for years by CBC.

Not that it makes her argument any better.


Netflix does buy CBC shows.

* Alias Grace

* Anne with an E

* Baroness Von Sketch Show - Seasons 1 & 2

* Degrassi: Next Class - Seasons 1 to 3

* Heartland - Seasons 1 to 10

* Kim’s Convenience - Seasons 1 & 2

* Mr.D - Seasons 1 to 7

* Schitt’s Creek - Seasons 1 to 3

That was current as of July 2018




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