Friday, April 13, 2018

Netflix vs. Cannes

I've mentioned a lot that I listen to international broadcasters. One of my morning news listens is Radio France International, which has a 10-minute news bulletin. The other day, one of the stories they mentioned was that Netflix is quitting the Cannes Film Festival.

Apparently, the festival now has a rule that films that want to be eligible for the Palme d'Or and other prizes have to, well, play in a theater like a movie does. I can understand why a film festival, or the movie awards people like the Academy, would have a rule like this. Back in the day when Hollywood really ruled the roost and when TV was much younger, there was a bigger difference between film and TV, especially when TV shows were recorded on videotape. Nowadays, though, with everything going to digital, I think the line between TV and the movies is getting blurred.

However, it turns out that there's a second line, and this is the line that Netflix is really worried about, which is the line between showing a digital movie in a theater, showing it over broadcast or cable, and streaming it. The French came up with a law that apparently says that, if you show a movie in a French theater, you can't stream it digitally for three years. The CNN article I linked to above has a link to the French law, although my French isn't good enough to read the whole thing and digest it for a blog post. I did find the section that I think mentions the delays between theater showing and showings elsewhere, but I can't figure which one -- and there are several -- would apply to Netflix. I think it's section 1.6 of the "Annexe".

It's easy to figure why Netflix wouldn't like this. Frankly, I'd think the French people wouldn't like it either, as I can't imagine anybody wanting to be forced to wait three years to see something that never played in their town. But it's easy to see why the French film industry would want it, and there's that old political adage about the hundred million people each with $1 in the game versus the thousand people whose livelihoods it means. The smaller group is going to be more motivated and get the ears of the legislators. There's some pretty blatant protectionism going on here.

I say all this as somebody who can't do very much streaming either since, as I've mentioned a lot, I have data limits and satellite latency.

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