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In the news: Canadian networks count on US programs

Grant Robertson and Gordon Pitts of the Globe and Mail list five things about Canadian television programming:

  • Battle of the Network Executives
    “There is a myth that Canadian TV is all about worthy domestic offerings such as Corner Gas and This Hour Has 22 Minutes. Forget it. The real battleground is in U.S. shows, from hits like House and Desperate Housewives to clunkers such as Smith and Six Degrees.”

From CBC:


In the news: More critics of CRTC decisions

Patricia Bailey of Playback reports on the CBC and Directors Guild of Canada reaction to the elimination of limits on ad time:

  • Critics slam CRTC policy
    “The NDP’s heritage critic Charlie Angus (Timmins-James Bay) believes the CRTC isn’t acting in the interest of Canadian viewers. ‘We’ve already got enough commercials on television. What’s in it for the Canadian viewer if they aren’t watching Canadian shows,’ he says. ‘Airwaves are public. These broadcasters make money because they are operating in a protected environment. Where’s the corresponding obligation to invest in Canadian television?'”

Writers Guild reacts to CRTC policy

From a Writers Guild of Canada media release:

How can we watch Canadian TV if we don’t know when it’s on? CRTC TV policy cuts promos for Canadian television programs

It’s going to be a lot harder to find Canadian television programs thanks to the CRTC’s new television policy.

“All the talk has been about the CRTC’s decision to stop limiting the numbers of commercials on television – but no one has focused on the two minutes per hour that broadcasters devoted to promoting Canadian programs,” said Maureen Parker, Executive Director of the Writers Guild of Canada (WGC).

Prior to the new television policy, broadcasters were only allowed to air 12 minutes of commercials per hour. But since one-hour American programs have 14 minutes or more automatically built in for commercials, Canadian broadcasters that were simulcasting American shows (and earning revenues from inserting Canadian commercials) often used that extra two minutes to promote other Canadian programming. With the removal of advertising limits that will go by the wayside.

“When CTV promotes Corner Gas during American Idol, it creates excitement about the show, and reminds the one million plus Idol viewers when the next episode of Corner Gas is on. Now CTV can simply run another commercial to bring in more revenue, instead of promoting a Canadian show,” said Parker.

In its new policy, the CRTC acknowledged there has been a huge decline in Canadian television drama with expenditures by conventional English-language broadcasters decreasing from $62 million or 4% of revenues in 2001, to $40 million or 2.3% of revenues in 2006. For years the WGC has asked the CRTC to put regulations in place to require broadcasters to spend a minimum of 7% of revenues on original English-language drama.

“But money is only one part of the equation to produce a hit show. It needs to be promoted, and it needs a regular spot on the television schedule,” said Parker. “This policy has created a vicious circle. How can Canadian shows get good audience numbers when no one knows when they are on?”


In the news: Reaction to the recent CRTC decisions

An editorial in the Montreal Gazette:

  • CRTC gets it right on one thing at least
    “Broadcasters will now have to judge how much advertising viewers will tolerate before surfing other channels or turning the television off. And that’s how it should be. Market forces, the interaction between broadcasters and viewers, will play out and will eventually determine the equilibrium between program content and the number of ads that pay for that content.”

From the Canadian Press:

  • Oda not interfering with CRTC over satellite fees
    “Federal Heritage Minister Bev Oda says she has no intention of interfering with a recent decision by Canada’s broadcast regulator to bar television networks from charging viewers additional fees.”

From Brendan Kelly of Variety:

  • Ad rules easing in Canada: CRTC set 2011 digital deadline
    “The CRTC also noted that the proportion of revenues spent by the English-Canadian networks on local programming continues to decrease and the regulator said it will be bringing this issue up with the individual networks at their next license-renewal hearings. But it didn’t propose any immediate changes to the rules governing how much the networks have to spend on local shows.”

From Denis McGrath at Dead Things on Sticks:

  • And now, more words from our sponsor
    “We should stand up before the commission and make very cogent arguments about why ending cable substitution is the jim-dandiest thing we could ever do that will just make Canadian viewers so very happy, and make everything great! Oh sure the private networks will complain and talk about how they need to be protected from the larger U.S. market. But pshsaw! Come on…that’s just standing in the way of the market, right? Maybe if the heat gets too hot, we accept the “crappy compromise” — mandated, fair, and enforceable spending guarantees for indigenous programming to create the next Corner Gas and actually reflect some element of Canadian culture on Canadian TV.”

From Jim Henshaw of the Legion of Decency:

  • You blinked!
    “What will the Canadians who own the airwaves these guys use receive in return for such a financial windfall? Nothing but more commercials. What will the Canadians who make Canadian television programming receive? Nothing that helps us make better programming, or perhaps any programming — and we’ll also get fewer promotional spots, meaning far fewer Canadians will even know our programs exist.”

From Will Dixon of uninflected images juxtaposed:

  • John Doyle, Konrad Finckenstein, and The One Armed Man
    “Look at it this way…there’s this really passionate journalist in [the Globe and Mail’s John] Doyle making a compelling case for increasing funding to try to make some hit TV shows in this country. And there’s some really passionate creatives/blogger-types making solid rationale arguments for if not more funding, at least eliminate simulcasting. But that bunch of us are also feeling kinda like Richard Kimble…accused of an inability to create and sustain a hit indigenous show. We need someone in our court…like the CRTC. Like Konrad Finckenstein.”

In the news: CRTC decisions on ad time, carriage fees

Grant Robertson and Keith McArthur of the Globe and Mail report on recent decisions by the CRTC:

  • CRTC bows out of ad controls
    “The CRTC said broadcasters will be permitted to sell 14 minutes of commercials during prime time – up from 12 – for the start of the 2007-2008 television season. The cap will be eliminated two years later.”