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Reaction to CRTC’s Policy framework for Certified Independent Production Funds

By Anonymous 

Canadian Television is about to become slightly less full of Canadians, thanks to a major CRTC decision released quietly yesterday.

The CRTC is allowing the independent production funds (including the Shaw Rocket Fund, Rogers Fund, Cogeco Program Development Fund, Telefilm Canada, and the Harold Greenberg Fund) to reduce their “point system” for what determines Canadian-ness of a project from 8 to 6. The general effect of this will be to allow for the hiring of non-Canadians in key creation and starring roles (ie: Americans will be able to create and star in “Canadian” TV series).

This, in fact, by the CRTC’s own admission, was one of the points of the decision:

“The current criterion requiring eight out of 10 Canadian content certification points to qualify for CIPF funding is restrictive and excludes many productions that could otherwise be of high quality and qualify as Canadian. Moreover, a reduced requirement could help smaller and perhaps more innovative projects to qualify for funding. A reduced requirement of at least six points could also facilitate the hiring by production companies of non-Canadian actors or creators, who may increase a project’s attractiveness and visibility in international markets.”

Reaction from the Canadian creative community was swift, and critical.

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What’s particularly unusual about this decision is that something with far-reaching implications was done as a “paper hearing,” ie: the CRTC did not hold any public consultations.

The last time something like this was proposed, the Writers Guild of Canada brought a group of screenwriters to Hull to appear before the commission. They made a convincing case as to why this “flexibility” wouldn’t lead to better quality Canadian programming. It seems that current chairman J.P. Blais was determined to not repeat this exercise.

Of concern to fans of actual Canadian TV shows, of course, is the fact that once again in no way was the audience consulted. The CRTC didn’t bother to seek out or try to understand the feelings of fans who celebrate unique Canadian points-of-view and creative directions on display in Canadian-created shows such as Orphan Black, Flashpoint, X Company, Letterkenny, Wynonna Earp, Lost Girl, Rookie Blue, Saving Hope, Motive, or many more.

As Peter Mitchell, executive producer and showrunner of Murdoch Mysteries explained on Facebook, even the premise of the CRTC’s decision is faulty:

Mitchell

The problem with the CRTC’s decision is that it really doesn’t advance any new idea. Many Canadian producers have been doing their level best to copy “American-style” shows for years, watering down the Canadian creative role as much as possible. They never seem to do as well as the original work such as Orphan Black or Murdoch Mysteries. That’s why you’re not seeing Season 4 of the forgettable XIII, and why Houdini & Doyle, which debuted to so much fanfare, died a quiet death.

The idea that Canadian producers will be able to attract top American talent is dubious at best. Because if you’re American, and you’re working in the American industry where there’s more money, and more prestige, why would you take a massive pay cut to work in Canada? Instead of top American talent, you’re likelier to get the people who can’t get hired anymore, who might have had credits in the 1980s or 1990s. And now the CRTC has blessed the idea that these marginal players are more valuable than the top homegrown talent who are responsible for the industry’s top successes.

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There are other ways to approach the idea of creating hits, rather than this failed road. But the CRTC seems to be enamored with the fantasy that “flexibility” fixes all, rather than actually supporting talent.

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And the best part? A government that ran at least partially on a platform of promoting culture is signalling to the next generation of storytellers not to bother—that it’s time to leave:

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So there’s nothing good here if you’re a Canadian writer or actor hoping to star in or create a Canadian show. Or if you’re someone who likes the unique point of view you see from Canadian TV shows. But the producer’s association loves it. I’m sure you’ll be getting something great from that writer who did one episode of Simon & Simon any day now.

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Great news, isn’t it?

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CRTC: Policy framework for Certified Independent Production Funds

The Commission has reviewed its policy framework for Certified Independent Production Funds (CIPFs) to ensure that CIPFs contribute to the development of a robust Canadian production sector and that they have the flexibility necessary to operate in an increasingly multi-platform environment. A robust and forward-looking Canadian production sector will be better able to offer compelling high-quality content to Canadians and to global audiences. 

The Commission is making the following changes to its policy framework:

  • Eliminating the requirement that producers obtain a broadcast licence or development agreement to receive CIPF funding.
    This will foster innovation and provide flexibility to both the CIPFs and producers to fund and create a wide variety of productions, destined for all platforms. 
  • Redefining “new media content” to include only “non-programming digital content” and maintaining the 10% cap on funding for such content. No limits will be placed on the funding of programming regardless of the platform on which it may be broadcast.
    This will ensure CIPF funding is focused on programming content that will enhance and benefit the Canadian broadcasting system. 
  • Allowing CIPFs to fund productions achieving at least six Canadian certification points, and include the pilot projects recognized by the Commission.
    A reduction in the minimum Canadian certification points requirement will allow more productions to be eligible for CIPF funding. Canadian production companies will be able to benefit from expertise from abroad. 
  • Including co-ventures in productions eligible to receive CIPF funding.
    Permitting CIPFs to fund productions that are created in collaboration with non-treaty international partners will give Canadian producers involved in co-ventures access to a new funding stream and will assist in the discoverability of these projects and of the Canadian talent involved. 
  • Allowing and encouraging CIPFs to allocate funding for script and concept development.
    This type of funding will give producers the ability to produce higher quality and “exportable” productions by allowing them to better develop their project or concept at an earlier stage of production.
  • Allowing and encouraging CIPFs to allocate funding for promotion and discoverability.
    Funding promotion and discoverability is an important element in the success of a project.
  • Requiring all CIPFs to introduce a system to measure success.
    Instituting evaluative measures that examine the success of the projects funded will enable the Commission and the public to understand the manner in which public funds are expended and how they have benefited the Canadian broadcasting system.
  • Requiring that all programming supported by CIPFs, regardless of the platform on which it is distributed, be closed captioned and provided with described video.
    Making accessibility a consideration early in the creative process—not only in post-production—will help create a cultural shift that will result in accessibility becoming just another consideration in the regular course of doing business. 
  • Requiring that at least one member of a CIPF’s project selection committee is responsible for ensuring that official language minority communities’ (OLMCs’) reflection and issues are taken into account.
    This is to ensure that the needs of OLMCs are considered when projects are selected. 
  • Amending the governance rules relative to the composition of the board as well as to the funding decision criteria.
    The updates emphasize the importance of the board’s independence from all private funding entities, including broadcasting distribution undertakings, broadcasters and their affiliates, and the notion that CIPF funding should not be self-serving. 
  • Requiring all CIPFs to report annually on their activities to ensure transparency and accountability.
    This policy replaces the policy entitled Contributions to Canadian programming by broadcasting distribution undertakings. The revised policy will be effective 1 September 2016. 

Continue reading.

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Rio 2016 on CBC/Radio Canada most-watched Summer Olympic Games in Canadian history

From a media release:

CBC/Radio-Canada’s coverage  of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games offered Canadians more hours of live coverage than any other Olympic Games before, and audiences responded by watching in record numbers. From the Opening Ceremony on August 5 to the Closing Ceremony on August 21, CBC/Radio-Canada’s coverage of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games reached 32.1 million Canadians – more viewers than have watched any previous Summer Games in Canada.

Team Canada matched the national record for the most medals won at a single non-boycotted summer Olympic Games with 22 total medals. This successful performance by Canada’s athletes and extensive live coverage helped keep CBC audiences engaged from the first week of coverage through to the end of the Olympic Games. CBC’s main network Rio 2016 coverage was the top-ranked programming in morning, daytime, primetime and Pacific primetime among 2+ and key A18-49 and A25-54 demographics.

The 2+ average full day audience for CBC’s Rio 2016 English-language television broadcasts (1.271M, main network only) increased by 11 percent over  London 2012 (1.146M, main network only). In primetime, the 2+ average audience (2.315M, main network only) increased by 23 percent over London (1.879M, main network only). In addition, CBC’s average audience for Pacific primetime coverage (1.055M, main network only, 11 p.m.–1 a.m. ET) saw an average audience (2+) increase of 189 percent over late night coverage during London 2012 (365,000, main network only, 12–2 a.m. ET). Mutual viewing accounted for 60 percent of all viewing (2+), indicating that Canadians enjoyed watching the Summer Games together. This number increases to 65 percent for primetime viewing.

In terms of digital audiences, CBC/Radio-Canada’s English- and French-language websites and apps generated more than 229 million total page views and nearly 37 million video views over the course of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. These video views alone account for more than 626 million minutes of video watched by Canadians over the course of the Games.

The following are the most-watched moments from each day of Rio 2016 on CBC:

  • Day 0 (Aug. 5): 3.1 million viewers – Team Canada enters the stadium during the Opening Ceremony
  • Day 1 (Aug. 6): 2.7 million viewers – Canada wins bronze in the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay
  • Day 2 (Aug. 7): 3.4 million viewers – Penny Oleksiak wins the silver medal in the women’s 100m butterfly
  • Day 3 (Aug. 8): 3.4 million viewers – Women’s 100m breaststroke final
  • Day 4 (Aug. 9): 3.7 million viewers – Michael Phelps wins gold in the men’s 200m butterfly
  • Day 5 (Aug. 10): 3.6 million viewers – Santo Condorelli swims in the 100m freestyle final
  • Day 6 (Aug. 11): 4.3 million viewers – Penny Oleksiak wins gold in the women’s 200m freestyle
  • Day 7 (Aug. 12): 3.8 million viewers – Women’s 800m freestyle final
  • Day 8 (Aug. 13): 4.8 million viewers – Canada competes in the women’s 4x100m medley relay
  • Day 9 (Aug. 14): 6.9 million viewers – Usain Bolt wins gold and Andre De Grasse wins bronze in the men’s 100m
  • Day 10 (Aug. 15): 3.5 million viewers – Men’s pole vault final
  • Day 11 (Aug. 16): 3.6 million viewers – Derek Drouin wins gold in men’s high jump
  • Day 12 (Aug. 17): 4.5 million viewers – De Grasse challenges Bolt in the men’s 200m semifinals
  • Day 13 (Aug. 18): 7.2 million viewers – Bolt wins gold and De Grasse wins silver in the men’s 200m
  • Day 14 (Aug. 19): 5.3 million viewers – Bolt completes the “triple-triple” by winning gold with Jamaica’s men’s 4 x 100m relay team
  • Day 15 (Aug. 20): 3.3 million viewers – Melissa Bishop finishes just off the podium in the women’s 800m
  • Day 16 (Aug. 21): 4.0 million viewers – Tokyo 2020 offers a preview during the Rio 2016 Closing Ceremony

Over the course of Rio 2016, CBC/Radio-Canada and primary broadcast partners TSN and RDS, as well as Sportsnet, provided Canadians with 1275 hours of television coverage and more than 4000 hours of live streaming sport coverage.

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Link: CRTC orders U.S. ads during Super Bowl despite appeal by Bell and NFL, could start in 2017

From Emily Jackson of the Financial Post:

Link: CRTC orders U.S. ads during Super Bowl despite appeal by Bell and NFL, could start in 2017
Canada’s broadcast regulator has officially changed its rules to prevent broadcasters from swapping out U.S. commercials for local ads during the Super Bowl despite an ongoing legal dispute over its right to block Canadian advertising during the country’s most-watched television event. Continue reading. 

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One-third of all Canadians tune in to The Tragically Hip: A National Celebration

From a media release:

Last night, millions in Canada and around the world gathered around screens and radios and at hundreds of public viewing events worldwide to celebrate Canada’s unofficial poet laureates, The Tragically Hip, as they brought down the house in an emotional and historic performance.

According to Numeris*, the live, commercial-free broadcast of The Tragically Hip: A National Celebration reached 11.7 million (2+) Canadians across all CBC television, radio and digital platforms as Gord Downie, Paul Langlois, Rob Baker, Gord Sinclair and Johnny Fay played the final date of their Man Machine Poem tour at Kingston’s K-Rock Centre. The concert special was also streamed 900,000 times in Canada and around the world. The nearly three-hour Saturday evening broadcast attracted an average minute audience of 4.04 million.

The Tragically Hip: A National Celebration was broadcast nationally and streamed globally live and commercial free from 8:35 pm to 11:17 pm ET on Saturday, August 20 on CBC, CBC Radio One, CBC Radio One on SiriusXM Channel 169, CBC Radio 2, CBCMusic.ca/thehip, ICIMusique.ca, CBC Music’s YouTube channel and Facebook page, and the CBC Music app on iPhone, iPad and Android devices and the new Apple TV.

The broadcast event was the result of a partnership between CBC, The Tragically Hip and Insight Productions to celebrate the band’s hometown stop on their 15-date sold-out cross-Canada Man Machine Poem tour, making it available to all Canadians and audiences around the world in a live, commercial-free, all-platform broadcast.

Formed in Kingston in the mid-80s, The Tragically Hip have sold millions of records worldwide, managing to enjoy both mass popularity and critical acclaim. The group released their first album in 1987, and have since released 14 studio albums, earning two diamond certifications and 20 #1 hits. The Hip has won 14 Juno Awards and was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2005. They have also received the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award, as well as honorary degrees from the Royal Conservatory of Music and most recently Queen’s University.

The Tragically Hip: A National Celebration was produced by Insight Productions in association with CBC and Man Machine Poem Touring Inc.

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