Everything about Industry News, eh?

Bell Media signs content deal with Highway Entertainment and Mark Burnett

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From a media release:

Bell Media, Canada’s premier multimedia company, announced today from MIPCOM a multi-faceted partnership with United Artists Media Group (a newly formed joint venture among MGM, Mark Burnett, Roma Downey, and Hearst Entertainment) and Omnicom Canada Corp.’s Highway Entertainment to create new television formats for Canadian and international audiences. As a result of the partnership, pilots for several new formats are currently in development and pre-production at Bell Media, parent company of conventional broadcaster CTV, the leading adapter of formats for the Canadian market. Terms of the deal were not released.

“We are thrilled to partner with Mark Burnett, a pioneer in format television, and United Artists Media Group, along with Canada’s Highway Entertainment,” said Phil King, President – CTV, Sports, and Entertainment Programming, Bell Media. “With enormous pedigree and an incredible track record for hit format creation, we look forward to not only developing content for our own market, but internationally as well.”

“CTV and Omnicom are important strategic partners for United Artists Media Group. CTV’s desire to produce more original content and Highway Entertainment’s ability to come in with funding is something we are really excited about,” said C. Scot Cru, Executive Vice President, International Strategy and Business Development, United Artists Media Group. “Phil and his team are the great collaborators, we’re looking forward to bringing these new shows not only to Canada but distributing them worldwide through our partnership with MGM.”

“Highway Entertainment is in the business of funding great programming,” said Adam Ivers, President and CEO, Highway Entertainment. “Doing so with creative forces like Mark Burnett and Bell Media reinforces the strength of our model and the true spirit of partnership at a time when our industry is looking to innovate.”

CTV has developed and broadcast some of the most successful format adaptations in Canadian history, including THE AMAZING RACE CANADA, the most-watched Canadian television program on record, as well as MASTERCHEF CANADA, the #1 new competition series in 2014, and CANADIAN IDOL, SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE CANADA, and WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE, among others.

Cineflix starts production on Home Factory

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From a media release:

Cineflix announced today that it has kicked off production on another new series. Commissioned by HGTV Canada and slated to air on the network in Spring 2015, Home Factory takes viewers into the mega factories to marvel at the machines and meet the unsung heroes who produce the creature comforts people just can’t live without.

Produced by Cineflix, the 14×30 series will take viewers on a whirlwind behind-the-scenes tour through some of the most incredible industrial production facilities in North America. Each episode will feature four everyday household items, giving viewers a look at the materials, technology, and manpower that go into creating these products. Infused with fascinating facts and anecdotes from the men and women on the factory floor, Home Factory reveals that the objects often considered ordinary are in fact anything but.

Home Factory is a Cineflix (Home Factory) Inc. production, in association with Shaw Media. Philip Whelan is one of the Executive Producers for Cineflix. Home Factory builds on the successful Food Factory franchise—a format created by Shaw Media for Food Network Canada—and is distributed internationally by Cineflix Rights.

Shaw Media Appoints Christine Shipton to Senior Vice President, Content

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From a media release:

Shaw Media today announced that it has appointed Christine Shipton to the position of Senior Vice President, Content, Shaw Media.

In this role, Ms. Shipton will be responsible for the company’s content strategy across all platforms, as well as overseeing the creation of Canadian original productions, acquisition deals for U.S. and international series, and scheduling for the company’s conventional and specialty channels.  A key focus of the position will be to ensure that Shaw is strategically evolving its content platforms and windowing rights amidst the ever-evolving media landscape, as well as forging key strategic partnerships to support the company’s growing roster of large, international co-productions.

“Christine is a luminary in the Canadian broadcasting industry and we are so pleased that she will be leading our Content team moving forward,” said Barbara Williams, Executive Vice President, Broadcasting and President, Shaw Media. “She has been involved in the vast majority of every major Canadian production over the past 25 years and brings with her enormous credibility in the content sector in Canada and the U.S.”

Prior to this position, Ms. Shipton was Vice President of Original Content for Shaw Media, responsible for the development and commissioning of all genres of Canadian original programming for the company’s 19 specialty channels as well as Global Television. During this time, she brought a major focus to Canadian productions for both Global and the company’s specialty networks, commissioning over 700 hours of Canadian content last year alone. Under her watch, 8 of the top 10 HGTV shows were Canadian and over 70 per cent of its Canadian shows were sold into the US. In this position, Ms. Shipton also spearheaded a number of complex, international co-productions including smash hits Vikings, Rookie Blue, Haven, Copper and Beauty and the Beast.

WonkReport

Talk TV Hearing Post-Mortem – Now What

If you’ve been following along with the two week CRTC hearing then like me you’ve probably hit your broadband data cap (12 hours of hearing on Sept 10th just killed me) and you’re wondering if it was worth it. What happens now? What did we get out of it?

First, it’s not really over yet. A number of stakeholders had very specific undertakings to deliver more information by 5pm PST September 19th. Some of it will be on the public record while other information will be held to be confidential (if requested and if the CRTC agrees). We will see what Google decides to do about their undertakings as like Netflix, they may not want to acknowledge the CRTC’s jurisdiction. What data is delivered will trickle out over the next few days.

By now you’ve heard about the fireworks between Netflix and the CRTC and you are on one side or another of the debate [If you haven’t heard – Netflix was asked to provide lots of information and wanted a better confidentiality guarantee than other stakeholders get and the Chair of the CRTC got really angry at the request for special treatment]. Netflix has until 5pm Monday to deliver their copious orders (they would not take undertakings so were given orders) to produce information. If they give the data they will be confirming CRTC jurisdiction (at least in some eyes). If they do not they will be escalating the conflict and we have no idea what the CRTC will do next.

The next stage is that intervenors can submit Replies to the CRTC by October 3rd. Replies can be responses to things that other intervenors said or clarifications of what was said by an intervenor but should not be new evidence.

Then the record will be complete and the CRTC will deliberate. As the Chair said in his final address, the Commission will make its decision based on the evidence presented, in accordance with the CRTC’s governing statute. Why is this important? Three times during the hearing members of the government made statements about what they would not allow to happen coming out of this hearing. The public, including some journalists, seem to think that the government can interfere with an ongoing hearing in that way. The Chair was trying to remind everyone that is not the case. The government may take steps after the decision is rendered but not before.  Without a doubt this could influence their decision-making but the process must be respected.

I doubt that there is any willingness to extend a financial contribution to foreign OTT but the Commission seemed very interested in what Netflix could do to promote Canadian programming within the general recommendations (and not just as a separate genre), which it apparently is doing in France and Netherlands.  Even that however, would be exercising their jurisdiction to regulate Netflix, which the Commission has stated they have had all along by issuing the Exemption Order.  Netflix may see it otherwise.

However, I will not make any predictions about what the decision will look like or even when we will see it. Big policy hearings can take months to process the decision on all of the issues. Going into the hearing I will admit that it seemed like the Commission was likely to stick pretty close to its proposed framework but aspects of it were consistently called into question. For example, the proposal to eliminate simsub from events like the Superbowl was almost universally rejected by broadcasters and producers, given the importance of both revenue and the promotion slot to Canadian programming.   I think the record will show no agreement on what would happen with a pick and pay world or how much it will cost consumers so I could not guess which option we will end up with.

A few conversations surprised me. The Commission spent more time than in any hearing that I can recall talking about children’s programming. Unfortunately the focus was too often on how you define ‘children’ and not enough on ensuring that all Canadian children have access to Canadian programming. If there will be some kind of skinny basic then either conventional channels have to air children’s, the skinny basic has to include at least one children’s service or the CRTC has to decide to limit support to the preschool educational content on CBC and educational broadcasters. I hope the decision is not the last one but we’ll see.

The other one that surprised me was the idea that removing daytime exhibition requirements would free up money to be spent in prime time. Broadcasters like their daytime programming and were loathe to give it up. That will not be the solution. I was not surprised by the very loud objection to getting rid of local transmitters as a way to pay for local television. OTA advocates tend to be very passionate about their cause.

Blais was very interested in a proposal from E One to encourage big budget co-ventures with the U.S. with looser Canadian content regulations but higher rate of return.  This fit right into what appears to be Blais’ personal interest in a greater use of the CRTC co-venture rules.  It was unfortunate that E One was on the last day so that the creative community could not explain how shows with U.S. studio partners may make more money but do use less Canadian talent and tell fewer Canadian stories. Those kinds of shows can be made today within the rules but it appears that E One would like the financial support that is currently limited to more Canadian productions.

A public hearing like this by its nature is an opportunity for a wide variety of stakeholders to put forward their positions and it is the Commission’s job to assess the often competing evidence and make a decision.   A lot of effort was put into this hearing so while some are hoping for the status quo, many are hoping it was worth it and we will get significant regulatory change that will help the Canadian broadcasting system survive the coming shifts in the media landscape.

Super Channel Development Fund Call for Submissions

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From a media release:

Super Channel, Canada’s only national English pay-television network, is pleased to announce that submissions are now being accepted for the next round of funding through the Super Channel Development Fund.

Less than a year after its launch, the new development fund is an unqualified success. Since its November, 2013 start date, the Super Channel Development Fund has invested $1.5 million in 54 Canadian feature films, documentaries and TV series. To date, the selection process has involved 179 applications from coast to coast and three separate funding deadlines, each of which took an average of just six weeks to complete.

“We are frankly delighted to have supported such a diverse range of new and exciting film and television projects from all across Canada,” said Melissa Kajpust, Head of Creative Development for Super Channel. “We look forward to supporting many more and can’t wait to see what this next round of development funding brings.”

Super Channel’s next funding deadline is October 10, 2014, followed by a spring deadline ofMarch 27, 2015. For more information on criteria, eligibility and the selection process, please go to: http://superchannel.ca/producers.

In addition to Melissa Kajpust, the development team at Super Channel includes Julie Di Cresce, Director of Canadian Programming, Maureen Levitt, Creative Development Executive, Western Canada and the Territories, Richard Paradis, Creative Development Representative, Quebec, Carole Henson, National Liaison, in Edmonton and Development Assistant, Jane Clarke.