Author and Director of Programming for the 365 media company Jón Gnarr has expressed concerns about Netflix opening access in Iceland, as he is worried it will be difficult for Icelandic-language material to compete.
The American online television service recently opened direct access to Icelandic users, many of whom have already been using Netflix through proxy servers. While the wait has been a long time coming, Jón Gnarr has reservations about the service being made available.
In a Facebook post made yesterday, he shared his thoughts on the matter, saying, “I don’t know how much of a cause for celebration [Netflix in Iceland] is for consumers”, citing the work that he has been doing as Director of Programming at 365, including production of a new television series with famed director Baltasar Kormákur (seen above).
“I want to find a way to continue creating television for Icelanders in Icelandic,” he wrote. “And I find it especially important in light of how television is changing around the world. If companies like 365 and others stop being able to participate in producing Icelandic television, it is plainly not cause for celebration.”
Jón Gnarr’s recent remarks on Netflix in Iceland show a change of point of view over the past couple years. In October 2013, Jón Gnarr and Sigurjón Kjartansson – who comprised the famed comedy duo Tvíhöfði – criticised then-CEO of 365 Ari Edwald for his concerns about Netflix coming to Iceland.
In an article Ari wrote for Fréttablaðið, he claimed that “Icelandic language and culture is at stake” with the possible arrival of Netflix. Tvíhöfði responded, on radio station Rás 2, by saying that Ari was not following that laws of the free market, like a true liberal capitalist would, and that Netflix in Iceland would be “a natural part of the market which would benefit consumers”.
In a follow-up post written today, Jón Gnarr clarified his position further, saying that he was not expressing himself yesterday as a member of a particular company, but just providing his point of view on the future of Icelandic television.
“I am afraid that this trend will make it more difficult to produce Icelandic material, especially plays,” he writes. “This is mostly because these large, foreign parties are so well funded and powerful that it is difficult to compete with them. And this is not for selfish reasons or because I have working for a particular company … Television stations today are at a similar crossroads that video rental stores were a few years ago. I am not desperate. I am not whining, just bringing attention to this.”