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HomeEntertainmentAs local spending mandate looms, Netflix's Ted Sarandos hosts star-studded Toronto Bash

As local spending mandate looms, Netflix’s Ted Sarandos hosts star-studded Toronto Bash


The parade of stars and VIPs partying at Netflix’s Canadian headquarters on April 4 had good reason to show up.

Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos hosted a glitzy bash at his new home base in Toronto, after inviting Hollywood talent — such as Stranger things star Noel Schnapp, To take actor Patrick J. Adams, Never have I ever actress Maitreyi Ramakrishnan and Robbie Amell, star of uploadthe sci-fi afterlife comedy shot in Vancouver — to partner with local Netflix execs like Danielle Woodrow and Tara Woodbury, who drive the streamer’s local content strategy north of the border.

“We are thrilled to have a new home here in Toronto and look forward to all the great work to come from the talented people of this country,” Sarandos said as he toasted his party guests, including Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, US Ambassador to Canada David L. Cohen, US Consul General to Toronto Susan R. Crystal and Canadian Ambassador to the US Kristen Hillman.

The casual passerby on Spadina Avenue would have had no idea that Netflix’s bustling party on the 32nd floor of The Well office tower came just as the Canadian Parliament was about to enact Bill C-11. That much-anticipated review of the country’s media regulatory regime will for the first time impose rules and obligations on US digital giants operating in the Canadian market.

And so are American streamers and social media platforms forced to make mandatory payments to support local Canadian film, TV and music content at the behest of the country’s TV and telecom czar.

The president of Just For Laughs joined Sarandos on Netflix Canada’s guest list to celebrate local projects and relationships Bruce Hills, who this week unveiled a three-year comedy content deal to begin with three French-language stand-up comedy specials, and Feel good comedy star Mae Martin, who just received a Netflix order for the mystery thriller Tall pinesthat they made and in which they will shine.

Was also present at the flagship office in Toronto The last of us star Lamar Johnson, who also appeared in Clement Virgo’s locally recorded brothers drama, and compatriots Jay Baruchel, Elisha Cuthbert, Nina Dobrev, Stephen James, Shamier Anderson and Connor Jessup.

Presenting and toasting Canada’s media and political elite, Netflix provided a rare behind-the-scenes look at the rapidly evolving power dynamics of Canadian entertainment, including culturally significant film and TV producers battling a Hollywood juggernaut in an increasingly globalized world. becoming business.

Bill C-11, or the Online Streaming Act, which will receive royal assent, will amend Canada’s Federal Broadcasting Act to create a new category of “online business” and allow foreign media players such as Netflix, Amazon and Spotify to operate for the first time. regulate in the Canadian market.

With the legislation soon passed into law, there will be another round of lobbying in Ottawa’s power corridors as the CRTC, the country’s media regulator, will be called upon to craft a new framework to ensure that Netflix and other streaming giants subsidize local film and TV. production, and indicate how deep the Americans will dig for it.

Prior to those discussions, Netflix executives were eager to show off their Canadian bona fides to the local industry. This week, the streaming giant announced it had jumped aboard an untitled homegrown comedy to be shot in Canada’s Arctic Circle for local broadcasters CBC and APTN.

That green light follows Netflix with local comedies like Schitt’s Creek, Kim’s Convenience And Working mothers to a global audience and acclaim. The new Canadian law to subject U.S. tech giants and other foreign players to CRTC regulations and local content obligations is a marked change from their rapid and uncontrolled entry into the Canadian market after they moved north to do business.

In previous lobbying efforts in Ottawa prior to the passage of the Online Streaming Act, foreign streamers led by US tech giants convinced politicians to create a bipartisan Canadian industry in which the Americans would be allowed to use fewer local creators such as directors and screenwriters than traditional broadcasters already have to as part of their legal obligations.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Maitreyi Ramakrishnan at Netflix’s Toronto party.

Courtesy of George Pimentel/Netflix

In return, US media players are expected to continue to bring their original movies, TV series and audio products to Canada for production. In 2017, Netflix surprised the Canadian industry by unveiling a deal with the federal Department of Canadian Heritage, which references domestic film and TV production, in which the video streamer pledged to spend $500 million over five years to fund film and TV content in Canada.

After two years, Netflix said it had spent that amount on production north of the border, including early investments in original, Canadian-made and produced content, and now says it has spent $3 billion on movies and TV series that are recorded on soundstages primarily in Toronto and Vancouver since 2017, and aims to double down on the Canadian market with its new headquarters.

That generosity wasn’t lost on Canadian celebrities and creatives as they mingled in the high-design workspaces, meeting rooms, and a Netflix Canada spread featuring a lobby entrance with a lounge, barista bar, and floor-to-ceiling glass walls that command sweeping views on Toronto’s iconic CN Tower.

The Canadian government led by Justin Trudeau has in recent years looked to foreign digital players to fund homegrown content while continuing to dominate local soundstages to produce their own originals while also enjoying an increasing share of the viewers watching TV in the Canadian market.

As the CRTC is about to hold another round of hearings, briefings and consultations on how it will regulate US digital giants — and crucially define what counts and doesn’t count as Canadian, especially as it applies to user-generated content on YouTube, TikTok and Facebook or as part of the streamer’s local spending commitments – the US players will claim they will continue to invest in local indie production.

But they will want to continue to do so on market-driven terms to appeal to the widest possible audience and with few regulatory barriers holding back their quest for local subscribers and ad-supported streaming eyeballs.

The US media players especially want to avoid the CRTC forcing them to manipulate their algorithms to prioritize locally made Canadian content for findability at the expense of popular dishes from the US and around the world.

In upcoming appearances before parliamentary committees, officials from the Canadian Heritage Department and the CRTC, the US players will claim they will continue to invest in local film and TV content, while also producing their own original film and TV content in manufacturing hubs in Toronto and Vancouver.

And the US digital players who send production coins to local Canadian makers will also look to get more of their homegrown product into the global market, as with Canadian music superstars like Drake and The Weeknd rising on Spotify and Apple Music.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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