The American streaming giants will invest $125 billion in films, series and dramas this year.
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This is 100 times more than what all public and private networks in Canada invest. Obviously, the Americans are launched at full speed to attack Western televisions. The story repeats itself. In the middle of the last century, American cinema had stormed cinemas in all Western countries. In a few decades, it succeeded in dislodging local cinema, Canada being no exception. Even if its share of the box office is only 35%, French cinema is the only one that has been able to resist this invasion somehow. Its survival was made possible at the cost of massive investments by the French State and thanks to the support of sophisticated legislation, introduced even before the American invasion and constantly adapted thereafter. How can we hope that our television can resist the giants of “streaming” with state aid and tax credits of barely half a billion dollars a year? Not to mention that lengthy legislation that must puncture the income that American streamers earn here. There is little hope that we will be able to force Netflix and company to contribute to the creation of Canadian content before 2024, perhaps even 2025. If we ever get there, which is far from being done.
LET’S STOP DREAMING IN COLOR
During this time, American streamers will have succeeded in building such a repertoire of films, shows and series that no television in the world and no other service like Crave, illico or tou.tv will be able to compete with them. We must therefore urgently stop dreaming in color. Our producers, artists and artisans must no longer imagine that their ultimate salvation depends on the obligations, financial or otherwise, that Ottawa may end up imposing on Netflix and its ilk.
The survival of our television depends first of all on its excellence, but also on the financial commitment of our governments. These, the federal government in particular, since it has always made it its responsibility, must be ready to disburse in the form of subsidies and tax credits two, three and four times more money than they are currently doing. We must focus on drama programs and series, documentaries and children’s programs, genres that streamers love.
As for our creators, let them continue to do what they do best, which is to say original series that Canadians can identify with. In this, Quebec television should serve as an example. It’s with pure wool Quebec series like District 31, Helping Beatrice Where Plan B that she succeeds in bringing together audiences that some think are miraculous.
AN INCREDIBLE COLONIALISM
If English-language television is less popular than ours despite the excellence of series like Schitt’s Creek, Kim’s Convenience Where Orphan Black, it is also because the daily newspapers of English Canada, their columnists and the television networks themselves do not stop promoting American programs and stars. This incredible “television colonialism” is unprecedented in the world. Not only should we denounce it, but it should be the subject of a sociological thesis.
The indifference of English Canada makes more generous financial support from our governments for television problematic. Without this support, it will eventually succumb to the onslaught of American “streamers”. Their means will always be out of proportion to ours.
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