Everything about Industry News, eh?

Brad Smith new host of Chopped Canada

From a media release:

Shaw Media and Paperny Entertainment announced today that Brad Smith (The Bachelor Canada) will host the new season of Food Network Canada’s high-stakes culinary competition series, Chopped Canada. Brad Smith takes the helm as host for the third season of the wildly popular series, with production underway on 31 episodes jammed with new twists and supreme specials, including a Chopped Canada Teen Tournament, a food truck showdown, and the return of past season favourites aiming to redeem themselves in the kitchen arena. The third season of Chopped Canada will join the Food Network schedule later this year.

A seasoned CFL veteran, Smith made his move to television as the Bachelor for the opening season of The Bachelor Canada in 2012. After the show, Smith became an entertainment reporter, interviewing celebrities and keeping his finger on the fast pulse of Hollywood for viewers. Smith brings a loyal fan base to Chopped Canada with his larger-than-life personality, infectious smile, and a personal penchant for food.

Joining the judges’ table for season three is celebrity chef, author, and television personality Mark McEwan. Long considered one of Canada’s most respected chefs and restaurateurs, McEwan is no stranger to competitive culinary television, having been the Head Judge on Food Network’s Top Chef Canada for four seasons. He and returning Chopped Canada judges Lynn Crawford, John Higgins, Antonio Park, Anne Yarymowich, Eden Grinshpan, Massimo Capra, Michael Smith, Susur Lee, and Roger Mooking will judge 120 competitors from every corner of Canada.

Each episode of Chopped Canada pits four chefs against the clock – and each other – for a chance to win $10,000. Cooking off in head-to-head challenges before a rotating panel of expert judges, the competitors put their skill and ingenuity to the test in an attempt to turn baskets of mystery ingredients into an extraordinary, three-course meal within a limited amount of time. Course by course, the judges chop the chefs from the competition until only one remains.

Chopped Canada Season 3 will launch later this year.

Proper Rights, Boxing Cats ink distribution deal

From a media release:

Proper Rights announced today that they have entered into an exclusive multi-title distribution agreement with Canadian production company Boxing Cats Productions, which will see Proper representing three of Boxing Cats latest series for presales and international distribution.

Boxing Cats Productions (Canada’s Greatest Know It All, Patent Bending, And Go!) is an award winning Toronto based Production Company formed in 2006 by veteran producer/director Brad Brough, who specializes in reality, formats, factual entertainment and specialist factual television – BCP creates original, ambitious and entertaining series for audiences worldwide.

The three series are currently in development with major North American broadcasters, and include a unique character-led paranormal series, an authentic new survival expedition series set in the Yukon, and a fixed rig series that goes behind the scenes inside some of the biggest businesses in the country.

The Movie Network schedules Funny As Hell’s Season 5 return

From a media release:

Uncensored, unfiltered, and unarguably funny: The Movie Network gets down and dirty on Monday nights this summer with the return of the original stand-up/sketch series FUNNY AS HELL, plus acclaimed titles from IFC including the third season of the deprecating comedy series MARON.

Season 5 Premieres Monday, July 6 at 10:30 p.m. ET
In partnership with Just For Laughs Television and hosted by homegrown comic Jon Dore (THE JON DORE TELEVISION SHOW), FUNNY AS HELL returns for a six-episode fifth season. Featuring stand-up comedy, unique sketches, and cutting-edge digital shorts, each half-hour episode brings even more of the edgy, uncensored comedy that has kept audiences laughing year after year.

Comedians featured in Season 5 include: Pete Davidson (GUY CODE); Rachel Feinstein (LAST COMIC STANDING); Pete Holmes (THE PETE HOLMES SHOW); Streeter Seidell (PRANKED); Dan Levy (PREMIUM BLEND); Greg Proops (WHOSE LINE IS IT ANYWAY?); James Davis (REAL HUSBANDS OF HOLLYWOOD); Cameron Esposito (SIDE MULLET NATION); Ari Shaffir (The Skeptic Tank podcast); Brent Morin (UNDATEABLE); Jamie Lee (GIRL CODE); Owen Benjamin (SULLIVAN AND SON); Chris Gethard (THE OFFICE); Brooks Wheelan (ADAM DEVINE’S HOUSE PARTY); Cardinal Burns; Mike Polk Jr. (THE MIKE POLK JR. SHOW); Matteo Lane; and Claudia O’Doherty (PROBLEMS).

Blue Ant orders more Backroad Bounty and Paranormal Survivor

From a media release:

Production has begun on Season 2 of Our House Media’s Paranormal Survivor and Backroad Bounty, Simon Lloyd, CEO of Our House Media, announced today. Docu-series Paranormal Survivor has officially begun production on Season 2 across Ontario and in select U.S. locations. The second season of Backroad Bounty has also gone into production, shooting in Muskoka, Owen Sound, and the Kawarthas, among other locations. Paranormal Survivor and Backroad Bounty are the first two series renewals for Our House Media.

Season 2 of Paranormal Survivor consists of 10, one-hour episodes and focuses on people who have had life-changing encounters with the paranormal. From poltergeists to battlefield ghosts, hotel spirits to ancestors back from the dead, the series follows the survivors every step of the way, as they recount their terrifying and life-changing experiences. Each episode of Paranormal Survivor explores stories of three survivors of paranormal experiences that are linked by a supernatural theme, while professionals in the field give expert testimony. Paranormal Survivor returns to T+E this fall. Season 1 of Paranormal Survivor is currently airing on Destination America in the U.S.

The one-hour, 13-episode season of Backroad Bounty follows Marty and Bam Bam as they travel the backroads of Canada in search of hidden treasures that have potential for resale while uncovering the item’s rich backstory. From antique furniture to time-aged tools, vintage signage, farm equipment, and antique boat parts, the expert duo must determine the current value. Marty and Bam Bam encounter owners who drive a hard bargain, while in other instances, the owners are shocked when the duo unearth inspiring but long overlooked finds. Backroad Bounty is set to air this fall on Cottage Life.

Our House Media recently announced that Million Dollar View has gone into production and is shooting in Miami, Muskoka, downtown Toronto, and New York City, among other locations.

CanCon 101 – Part 2

In the first part in this series, CanCon 101, I wrote about what makes a show Canadian (i.e. point system, spending, ownership etc.). This post takes it to the next step – what are a broadcaster’s obligations when it comes to airing Canadian programming. Not to worry – I won’t lose myself down the rabbit hole of detail on broadcaster CRTC commitments but will try to stick to a top level explanation.

First, there are (still) both expenditure requirements and exhibition requirements. I say still because there are misconceptions out there that we are in a total on demand world and scheduling doesn’t matter (tell that to people trying to avoid “Game of Throne” spoilers on Twitter Sunday evenings) and that exhibition regulation no longer exists. Prior to the 2010 TV Policy there were only exhibition requirements for ‘priority programming’ and an overall day quota for exhibition and the result was a lot of cheaply made Canadian programming. Expenditure requirements were brought in to ensure that not only was there sufficient quantity of Canadian programming but also sufficient quality.  The Talk TV decision limited exhibition requirements to prime time (down from both the prime time and all day quota) as of the next licence renewals in 2016.

Another important concept is that we now have group-based licensing. So Shaw, Bell, Corus and Rogers are licensed as corporate groups. This allows those broadcasters to pool their Canadian Programming Expenditures (CPE) across the group and spend more on one service and less on another. Each service has a CPE that takes into consideration its genre of service (e.g. a higher commitment for children’s services, lower for third language services) but as a group their CPE is 30%.

One caveat is that conventional services can allocate a maximum of 25% of their CPE to specialty services, which is to prevent broadcast groups from moving all of the Canadian programming to the specialty services, where they would get smaller audiences (leaving the mass audience spots for their U.S. programming). The benefit is that broadcasters are free to air a program on a specialty first and then on their conventional service (e.g. “19-2” airing on Bravo and then CTV) or vice-versa (Global’s “Rookie Blue” airs on Showcase) to maximize the audience. The downside is that these programs are broadcast across the entire group for one licence fee, reducing potential revenues to producers and potential new programming for audiences.

The other expenditure requirement is for Programs of National Interest (“PNI”), which are defined as dramas, documentaries and award shows that promote Canadian works. Note that drama is a defined term that includes comedy and feature film. The level of PNI expenditure is based on a group’s historical spending in most cases (Rogers has had to increase their spending as they acquire more channels in their network).

The result of these regulations is a system that provides broadcast groups with flexibility in their spending and exhibition but requires minimum spending on PNI in prime time. So how does Shaw get away with no new Canadian drama in the fall schedule? Exhibition regulations do not require original programming so can be filled with reruns. The prime time exhibition requirement covers 6pm to 11pm so is also fulfilled by news, entertainment magazine shows, reality programming (i.e. “Big Brother Canada”) and sports. Expenditure requirements also do not specify original programming but it is a lot harder to spend PNI dollars on licensing old programming so tends to be spent on new programming. However, expenditure requirements are reported on an annual basis based on when the money is spent (i.e. during the show’s production) and not when it airs.

So the broadcaster is free to decide to air all of their Canadian drama and documentaries in the summer (when fewer people are watching TV but also there is less competition from US shows) or spread them out around the year. They can commission shows one year and not air them until the next year or later. The CRTC has consistently stayed away from ‘micro-regulation’ and insisted that broadcasters know best how to program their schedules.   Shaw can decide how it wants to spend its money, and it tends to spend it on one or two big budget dramas like “Remedy” and “Rookie Blue” rather than a number of smaller budget dramas.

So how is that Bell Media consistently has more Canadian drama than Shaw? Diane Wild alluded to the answer in her assessment of the fall schedules – benefits spending. When a broadcast licence changes ownership, the CRTC requires that a percentage of the purchase price has to be spent on programming (and off screen benefits as well) to benefit the system as a whole and this ‘benefits spending’ has to be incremental to what they are already required to spend.

Bell has acquired more other services (Bell buying CTV twice, CITY specialties and Astral) than Shaw (Global and taking over the obligations from Global buying Alliance Atlantis) or Rogers (the CITY conventional channels and a few smaller specialties). Some notable examples of benefits spending have been on “Corner Gas”, more episodes of “Degrassi” and the development of “Flashpoint”. Over the years the benefits spending has also triggered more Canada Media Fund allocations, which are in part based on historical spend (as well as audience success, regional spending and digital media investment), resulting in more money to spend on Canadian drama, documentaries, children’s and performing arts shows (the four categories supported by the Canada Media Fund).   It will be very interesting to see whether Bell’s level of support of Canadian drama (they do very little documentary work) continues once their benefit spending expires in 2018.