Have you ever found yourself peacefully watching your local Canadian news, just to have the feed interrupted by armed Netflix employees who insist you cut the cord and switch to their product?
I certainly haven’t.
Rather, I made the choice willingly like most Canadian consumers who would rather not be charged an insane rate for expensive Canadian content on expensive Canadian TV.
That my friends
So imagine me surprised, when I found myself reading a comment by Catherine Tait, President of CBC, comparing Netflix’s expansion to the act of colonialism:
“So I’m going to just go a little off script,” Tait told the audience, “because I was thinking about the British Empire, and how if you were there and you were the Viceroy of India, you would feel that you were doing only good for the people of India.”
“If you were in French Africa,” she continued, “you would think, ’I’m educating them, I’m bringing their resources to the world and I am helping them.’ ”
“Fast forward to what happens after imperialism and the damage that can do to local communities,” Tait said. “So all I would say is, let us be mindful of how it is we as Canadians respond to global companies coming into our country.”Catherine Tait
Her comments were not well-received:
“Fellow panellist Cardin appeared to shake his head as she compared the streaming service to past empires. Members of the audience were heard expressing their disagreement with Tait’s comments.”
The disagreement comes with good reason, Netflix is expanding worldwide and it has grown its revenue by 35% in 2018 alone, but it has done that by focusing on diverse audiences in other countries and by meeting their unique needs.
It has managed to meet those needs by purchasing local content from local producers, writers, and actors. Netflix in effect offers high-quality work, to individuals who can produce high-quality content.
So why is the head of the CBC comparing this to the brutal and destructive forces of colonialism?
Perhaps it is because the CBC is actively producing content which Canadians choose not to consume, for example, the companies flagship show the National continues to fall far behind other mainstream news organizations in terms of viewership.
With Canadians now on the hook to continuously bailout out both the CBC and other legacy news companies, I hope that this mindset of entitlement can change.
No Canadian business has the right to our attention just because they exist here.
If legacy media businesses want to stay relevant, they will have to stop complaining, and instead properly work to adapt to the modern needs of the consumer.
There is no colonialism occurring, just technological change and the CBC might be left behind in the dustbin of history.
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