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Tags: netflix | streaming | dave chappelle | free speech

Netflix Touts Free Speech in Company Memo, Says 'Offended' Employees Can Leave

Netflix Touts Free Speech in Company Memo, Says 'Offended' Employees Can Leave
A sign posted in front of Netflix headquarters in Los Gatos, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

By    |   Friday, 13 May 2022 04:14 PM

Netflix has struck back against the apparent culture war taking place inside the company.

In a new "culture memo" made public Friday, the streaming service giant outlined a handful of directives to its employees, explaining that Netflix would not "censor specific artists or voices" in future projects, even if certain employees found that particular content "harmful."

And if the employees don't like the revamped company stance, they're free to leave at any time.

The controversy could have something to do with comedian Dave Chappelle.

Anti-free speech activists recently tried to "cancel" the world-renowned Chappelle for jokes about transgender people, among other supposedly taboo topics; and that venom went up a notch after Netflix signed Chappelle to a megadeal, reportedly worth $60 million.

But Netflix chose not to surrender its position of supporting free expression. Hence, the doubling down on the memo section entitled, "Artistic Expression."

The language reportedly reads: "Entertaining the world is an amazing opportunity and also a challenge because viewers have very different tastes and points of view. So we offer a wide variety of TV shows and movies, some of which can be provocative. To help members make informed choices about what to watch, we offer ratings, content warnings and easy to use parental controls. Not everyone will like — or agree with — everything on our service.

"While every title is different, we approach them based on the same set of principles: we support the artistic expression of the creators we choose to work with; we program for a diversity of audiences and tastes; and we let viewers decide what's appropriate for them, versus having Netflix censor specific artists or voices."

The memo also contains a section aimed at curbing staff spending, under the "Valued Behaviors" heading.

That section reads: "You spend our members' money wisely."

It continues: "There are virtually no spending controls and few contract signing controls. Each employee is expected to seek advice and perspective as appropriate. 'Use good judgment' is our core precept."

According to The Daily Mail, there's even a subsection entitled, "Ethical Expectations," which apparently derives from a former employee being fired in October, after admitting they "downloaded internal data" and shared it with a third party. 

Netflix's seismic philosophical shift also coincides with deflating first-quarter results. The streaming service reportedly lost 200,000 subscribers in the first quarter of 2022, and could potentially lose 2 million more soon.

The company also lost subscribers for the first time in more than a decade, and revenue reportedly grew at its slowest pace in years — with shares plunging 35%, and Netflix's market value dropped by $54 billion.

"Well, it's a b***h," said Reed Hastings, Netflix chair and co-chief executive, of the results during a meeting with employees last month, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Netflix's programming-based revenue problems likely cover multiple levels.

The company reportedly churned out 500 original programs last year, which might be great for discerning consumers, but extremely costly on the business end.

There were reports of a single episode of "Stranger Things" from the fourth season drawing a staggering production price tag of $30 million. 

And "The Irishman" movie, a 209-minute opus starring Leonard DiCaprio and Robert De Niro, reportedly cost $225 million to make.

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Netflix has struck back against the apparent culture war taking place inside the company.
netflix, streaming, dave chappelle, free speech
Friday, 13 May 2022 04:14 PM
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