Canada’s television networks are pressuring the CRTC to regulate Netflix, the emerging online subscription-based video service. Netflix is cheap, easy to use, and lets Canadians watch the content they want, regardless of where it was made. Clearly this cannot be tolerated in Canada.
If our legacy broadcasters are successful, Netflix will have to stock a set percentage of Canadian videos and kick back a chunk of their profits to the Canadian Television Fund and the Canadian Media Fund, who will use the money to produce Canadian Content, or CanCon.
But Netflix is only one web service among millions. Once the CRTC starts regulating the Internet, they’ll have much more work to do. Here’s what should come next:
CanCon regulations for YouTube:
If one commercial U.S. video service is to be regulated in Canada, why not another? Why not go for the big one?
From now on, if YouTube wants to compete with our own beloved television networks, distracting Canadian viewers from their own cultural heritage (i.e. MuchMusic’s Pants Off Dance Off), then surely YouTube must give something back and pay into the CanCon funding regime. But what should we make with the money we tax from YouTube? It doesn’t seem appropriate to fund TV shows with web video money. If Canadian creators are to thrive in this new space, then our production community must evolve with the times.
I suggest the establishment of a Canadian Viral Video Fund. A percentage of every dollar YouTube makes in Canada by streaming videos of cats on skateboards will be used to produce our own YouTube videos of cats on skateboards. But the cats will be ACTRA members, the skateboards snowboards, the videos shot by unionized crews, and the resulting product enriching to our sense of place and heritage (suggestion: narration by Donald Sutherland).
CanCon Internet Memes:
If the CRTC doesn’t act now to regulate Canadian Content in Internet jokes, fads and memes, we will soon be awash in slick American memes with no hope of establishing our own national identity of animated gifs and ridiculous 4chan pics. Why should Canadians be ‘RickRolled’ when they could be ‘HartHoled‘?
Why must it always be a Nigerian prince who needs $100,000 to untangle his vast petroleum fortune? Why not a Canadian prince, say Ben Mulroney, in need of $736 to get his SUV out of the shop?