Former Canal+ CEO Rodolphe Belmer has joined the board of Netflix, bringing the total number of directors to 10, the global streaming giant announced on Monday (Jan 22).
Belmer is currently CEO of Eutelsat, the leading satellite operator in Europe, Middle East and Africa – a position he has held since March 2016.
Prior to that, he had a long career at France’s Canal+ Group, which he joined in 2001 and rose steadily through the ranks to become CEO from 2012 to 2105.
Belmer was among a number of top Canal+ executives to be axed unceremoniously between 2015 to 2016 by chairman Vincent Bolloré, shortly after the billionaire became a majority shareholder of its parent company Vivendi in a move that gave him control of the media and entertainment group.
When Belmer was ousted from his role of CEO in July 2015 and replaced by Maxime Saada it sent shockwaves through the French TV and film world.
Netflix said in an earnings call on Monday that the arrival of Belmer on its board expanded the breadth of its global and entertainment experience.
“We look forward to benefiting from Rodolphe’s wisdom, experience and global perspective as we continue to grow Netflix all over the world,” Netflix co-founder and chief executive Reed Hastings said.
The French executive’s decision to join the board is likely to raise eyebrows back home, where the local film and TV industry has been vocal about Netflix’s disruption of the production and distribution business.
Pascal Rogard, head of the Society of Authors and Composers of Dramatic Works, France’s equivalent to the Writers Guild of America, was one of the first French industry figures to comment.
“Recruited to the heart of Netflix by Reed Hastings, a real head-butting for Vincent Bolloré,” Rogard tweeted after the news broke.
Belmer is one of only two board members not to hail from the US, alongside UK-born executive and former Pixar CFO Ann Mather, who worked in Europe before heading to the US.
The other board members are: Hastings; former Microsoft executive and Expedia founder Richard Barton; independent investor A. George (Skip) Battle; Timothy Haley, managing director of venture capital firm Redpoint Ventures; Jay Hoag, a founding general partner at venture capital company Technology Crossover Ventures; Netflix’s former chief marketing officer Leslie Kilgore; Microsoft president and chief legal officer Brad Smith; and former Disney executive Anne Sweeney.