Saturday, April 11, 2009

CRTC Canada rejects cutback on U.S. series buys

Okay folks, here we go again. It's really hard to tell if Harper just hates Canadian Production and Independent Producers or is just best friends with Shaw Cable's JR Shaw & Videotron's Pierre Péladeau. Shaw and Péladeau have just been granted two seats out of five on the Canadian Media Fund set to replace the current Canadian Television Fund - April 1, 2010. A third seat on that board is designated for a broadcaster and the other two for affected arts/production organizations. Ultimately there is a request on the table by broadcasters to allow a reduction of Canadian Content requirements in Prime Time "because nobody wants to watch Canadian programming!" They feel that they can only sell ad time for American generated product. Truth is there has always been a slant against Canadian programming unless it was simulcast from an American network. A Canadian show that is getting good ratings stateside can be sandbagged by Global or CTV by airing the Canadian showing in a different time slot. Most recently this happened to "Falcon Beach" a Canadian show that was supported by ABC Family and was supposedly a proud product from Global but because they chose to sabotage the Canadian time slot it got so-so ratings in Canada. Canada's "Flashpoint" currently enjoys the coveted simulcast privilege and is doing really good in the ratings on both sides of the border. I dare them to split the broadcast and to put the Canadian showing on in a different slot. Its ratings would plummet in Canada. Broadcasters can stack the deck either way for whatever purpose they have in mind. Right now they are looking for direct control over production. I suspect that we will soon see a return to in-house production companies - reminiscent of the days of CTV's Glen Warren Productions or the more recent Fireworks that was virtually an in-house entity for Global. Will this be good for Canadian production? Hard to say right now - it could destroy any hopes for independent production. Everybody becomes an employee of the same network geniuses that believed they could better succeed by buying up all of the competing Specialty Networks and putting themselves in financial jeopardy through over extension. I suspect a lot of labour trouble in the future if this becomes the model.

Here is an article from the Hollywood Reporter that sort of covers the items in question.

Canada rejects cutback on U.S. series buys by Etan Vlessing
Mar 9, 2009
CRTC looking at homegrown TV expenditures
Source: Hollywood Reporter

TORONTO -- The Canadian government has rejected a proposal by the country's TV regulator to curb domestic broadcasters' spending on U.S. series.

Federal Heritage Minister James Moore said Monday that Ottawa should not impose conditions or quotas on how Canadian broadcasters buy U.S. programming.

"(Canadian) broadcasters have their own business model," Moore said. "They keep their business models going forward as best they can. Far be it for me to second-guess how to run a broadcast network and programming."

His comments follow a CRTC proposal to use upcoming license renewal hearings to consider whether expenditures on homegrown TV shows should match those for American fare.

Domestic broadcasters contend that they require the profits generated by airing U.S. series to subsidize the production of expensive homegrown dramas. Canadian indie producers, unions and guilds favor the CRTC's proposal for a so-called 1:1 ratio on Canadian and non-Canadian program expenditures as a welcome measure to promote homegrown series production.

Moore said his job is to encourage the production of homegrown programming, a role that on Monday saw him move to merge the Canadian Television Fund and the Canadian New Media Fund into a rebranded CAN$310 million ($241 million) Canada Media Fund.

The CTF, the main source of government subsidies for Canadian indie producers of primetime TV shows, will be reformed to create more homegrown content available to Canadians over more digital platforms and to be sold internationally.

Ottawa also will allow Canadian broadcasters to make their own TV series in-house as well as commission series from indie producers.

The federal minister made his announcement on the Toronto set of the CBS and CTV police drama "Flashpoint," a Canadian-U.S. network partnership Moore wants to see more of.

"Flashpoint" is an example of a Canadian success story. It debuted at No. 1 in the U.S. and in Canada. It's a TV show on CBS and CTV and it streams on line," he said.

As Canadian and U.S. networks reduce their programming budgets to deal with falling ad revenue, they have increasingly partnered on new drama production that is shot in Canada and taps into local and federal government money like CTF subsidies and tax credits.

In addition to "Flashpoint," CBS also will co-produce "The Bridge," another CTV police drama, while NBC picked up "The Listener," a police-medical drama from Canadian producer Shaftesbury Films.

© Hollywood Reporter

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