Canadian Culture at Risk: The Attack on Canadian Creators

It’s more than a regulatory change; it’s an attack on Canadian creators. The CRTC’s decision in the review of “Certified Independent Production Funds” (CIPFs), released Aug. 25, 2016, had insupportable news: the minimum CAVCO point requirements for CIPFs to fund a production were dropped from eight to six. One stated reason: “[It could] facilitate the hiring by production companies of non-Canadian actors or creators, who may increase a project’s attractiveness and visibility in international markets.”

“This is hugely disappointing,” says WGC Executive Director Maureen Parker. “That the CRTC, a public authority charged with regulating Canadian broadcasting, would effectively denigrate Canadian showrunners and screenwriters and suggest our country’s creators cannot deliver international success is shocking. It’s also verifiably untrue.”

The CRTC decision is not, however, an isolated instance of what the WGC views as an entirely misguided outlook. It’s an increasingly pervasive view that suggests Canadian tax dollars should not be put towards productions created by Canadians. This unfortunate notion — that reducing the presence of Canadian talent is the ticket to more international funding — is taking hold.

Earlier this summer, the Canada Media Producers Association (CMPA) released “An International Comparative Study,” (with funding from the Canada Media Fund, Telefilm Canada, and the Ontario Media Development Corporation), comparing how national content is defined in Canada to “selected” non-English speaking countries. The study leans heavily on the notion that Canada needs more “flexibility” in its funding requirements. “Flexibility” is simply code for “elimination”: the elimination of Canadian creators. The study lays the groundwork for Canadian TV to be all about business affairs — who produces it — not who creates it. But the aim of creating Canadian TV should not be the financial gain of producers.

The “eat our own young” thinking goes back at least as far as the CRTC’s “Let’s Talk TV” decision of 2015. In it the Commission repeatedly emphasized increased international sales and markets as a primary goal. Of course Canadian screenwriters want their shows to be internationally successful — and they are. But this decision is not really about international success, it’s really about money, and more international financing in exchange for scrapping our talent.

The future of Canadian culture cannot lie in eliminating the Canadians who create it. Unless the goal is to have our highly experienced talent (and our young up-and-comers) respond in the way some are now saying they will, by leaving Canada. Our Liberal government needs to uphold the principles of the Broadcasting Act before all of our creative talent goes south. The government needs to wake up: now.

Greg David
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Greg David

Prior to becoming a television critic and partner at TV, Eh?, Greg David was a critic for TV Guide Canada, the country's most trusted source for TV news. He has interviewed television actors, actresses and behind-the-scenes folks from hundreds of television series from Canada, the U.S. and internationally. He is a podcaster, public speaker, weekly radio guest and educator, and past member of the Television Critics Association.
Greg David
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