Tait said she regretted her choice of words, but stood by the sentiment. “The idea that we are dealing with an empire that could in some ways compromise our own true cultural sovereignty? I do not stand down on those remarks,” she said.
“I think what you’re going to start to see… is that we believe that anybody profiting from the Canadian system should contribute to the system.”
Tait’s comments raise questions over the future of CBC/Netflix coproduction Anne with an E, the Lucy Maud Montgomery adaptation that won seven Canadian Screen Awards earlier this year, including the prize for Best Canadian Drama.
The show is produced by Northwood Entertainment, which has just completed filming the show’s third season. It is currently being broadcast by the CBC and will air globally on Netflix in 2020. “Both Netflix and CBC have been incredibly generous and supportive partners,” said Northwood founder Miranda de Pencier, adding she wasn’t sure whether there will be a fourth season.
In addition to funding and hosting Canadian co-productions on its platform, Netflix also provides a second window and a crucial international launchpad for many independently made CBC shows, such as Kim’s Convenience and Workin’ Moms.
According to Kaan Yigit, an analyst for Toronto-based Solutions Research Group (SRG), 55 per cent of all online households in Canada stream Netflix — a figure that rises to nearly 70 per cent with younger audiences aged 18 to 49.
By contrast, SRG found that 65 per cent of online Canadians had not even heard of the CBC’s streaming service, Gem. Yigit said Netflix plays an important role in promoting Canadian content throughout the world, citing the CBC comedy Schitt’s Creek as an example.
The show has reached a global audience on Netflix and landed four Emmy nominations in July, thanks to the U.S. streamer’s awards campaign. “So to say that Netflix is not contributing to Canadian creators or the domestic business is a narrow interpretation of what is going on,” Yigit said.
“To my mind, the CBC should be looking for ways to work with Netflix to benefit from its reach and influence, and to benefit creators in Canada.”
Ultimately, the CBC boss stopped short of definitively ruling out any future collaboration with Netflix. “It’s nothing as a black and white as that,” Tait said. But she suggested such collaborations are unlikely as long as it continues to be unbound by Canadian content and tax requirements.
“We’re looking very carefully at what is good for the ecosystem,” she said. “Their priority is maximizing their revenues across a global audience. Our priority is maximizing Canadian creators’ health and well-being in this market.”
© Financial Post