Canadian TV Czar Finds Hollywood Smug Over Netflix

Anthony Freda

CRTC topper Konrad von Finckenstein insists Hollywood studio execs he met with recently on Los Angeles studio lots are surprisingly upbeat about selling product to Netflix and coming out the winners.

BANFF, ALBERTA -- Canadian TV czar Konrad von Finckenstein recently did a tour of studio lots and found surprising Hollywood smugness and condescension, especially when it comes to Netflix.

"I was told 'we have the content everyone wants. We will sell it to the highest bidder. We will still be the winner,' von Finckenstein, chairman of the CRTC, Canada's broadcast regulator, said after meeting a host of studio executives.

"The system does very well by them. They know how to play it,' he added with respect.

The CRTC is currently consulting with Canadian broadcasters and other content carriers on how to deal with Netflix Canada and other U.S. online video portals reaching into the Canadian market.

"They (Netflix) tell me they're using Canada as a test market. What's their growth model? Where are they going? No one knows,'von Finckenstein said after meeting with Netflix representatives and Canadian industry opponents looking for the CRTC to regulate Netflix Canada.

The CRTC topper was also surprised to find Hollywood studio execs were especially knowledgeable about the Canadian TV industry.

"They knew a lot about our rules. They all knew everything. Usually when you deal with Americans, Canada's an afterthought," von Finckenstein said during an appearance before the Banff World Media Festival.

On Netflix, the CRTC chair concluded studio execs see the U.S. video streaming giant as another digital platform on which to sell their product.

"We talked a lot about Netflix. They said uniformly Netflix is a digital platform," 'he was told. 

What's more, Hollywood studios see Netflix Canada distributing Hollywood product in Canada, a major market astride the U.S. border.

Another Hollywood surprise for the Canadian regulator: studio execs are as much at a loss to explain the Los Angeles Screenings, where Canadian TV networks buy the bulk of their primetime schedules, as are domestic broadcasters.

"Neither do we understand it (Screenings). It's complete mayhem. It's a bunch of TV calls and last minute deals and somehow it gets done,"von Finckenstein reports being told by Los Angeles studio execs.

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