Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Assignment 1: Review Your Canadian TV Policy...Review

“We’ve played by the rules and waited for this moment to address the decline in Canadian drama and the broadcasters’ overspending in Hollywood. The monetary issue of fee-for-carriage is a fight between the broadcasters and the cable companies, with Canadian artists and Canadian audiences being held hostage.”
Maureen Parker, Executive Director WGC

Maybe we need to stop playing by the rules, hmmm?

There's a big Canadian TV policy review scheduled for this fall, but you might not have heard about it with all the headlines this summer dominated by the broadcasters warring with the BDU's (cable providers) re: local programming and fee-for-carriage.. And now that the CRTC has decided to include fee-for-carriage in the November TV policy hearings, there's big concern that the key issue of Canadian content and specifically drama will be pushed to the sidelines. Nevertheless, the Writers Guild of Canada filed its TV policy submission today to the CRTC.

The short strokes from the WGC press release:

The Writers Guild of Canada filed with the CRTC its position on TV policy in Canada and its ideas for a revised regulatory framework that will apply to the conventional and specialty broadcasters. This much needed policy review was supposed to take place in 2007, and we have been waiting patiently to redress the failures of previous TV policy adopted in 1999. The WGC has come together with ACTRA, the CFTPA and the DGC in proposing a plan to help the CRTC achieve its stated goal of “ensuring that the Canadian broadcasting system is distinctly Canadian in its content.”

To ensure that high-quality Canadian programming will be produced and in the volume necessary to provide audiences with real Canadian choice, the WGC is proposing a three-point plan. First, the WGC recommends a specific Canadian programming expenditure requirement for all conventional services. Second, it recommends the continuation of existing expenditure and exhibition requirements for specialty services. And finally, in order to address the serious decline in drama, true documentaries and children’s programming, the WGC recommends that the CRTC set ownership-group-based expenditure and exhibition requirements for drama, documentary and children’s programming.

“This three-point plan gets to the root of the problem,” says Maureen Parker, Executive Director, WGC, “by ensuring an overall Canadian programming spend for the conventional broadcasters and creating a minimum group-based expenditure requirement for drama. The plan expands on the Canadian Programming Expenditure (CPE) in use for specialty channels by adapting the model to the entire ownership group – this model has proven itself effective in generating high-quality, high-cost programs. The plan also recommends an exhibition requirement to ensure those shows are aired at least once on conventional broadcasters, where there is an opportunity to garner a mass audience. The history of Canadian broadcasting tells the tale: only with both expenditure and exhibition requirements do we get both volume and quality. This proposal gives broadcasters additional flexibility while ensuring they meet their obligations under the Broadcasting Act.”

Nice. And go HERE and read the long version submission to get the bigger picture. It includes a very informative 'history' of Canadian TV and specifically the path traveled by drama production to this point in time. It's a somewhat daunting document, but I strongly suggest all newbies and students and up-and-comers make this their homework for the day and go read now.

Other worthwhile reads....

The Story So Far: a review of past CRTC measures

A Survey of Priority Programming Trends

Analysis of Canadian Television Programming Economics

Proposed Framework for Greater Support for Canadian Programming through a Group based Approach to Television Licensing

Stakeholder Submissions for the Rebooted Canadian Media Fund

I know....ugh. But like it or not this is the system we are burdened with to try to make television in this country. So you gots to understand how it all works, and help fight for change...otherwise Cancon drama will just continue to slowly slip away like it has for the past ten years. Seriously. Read. With attention. There will be a test.

H/T Kelly Lynne Ashton and the WGC for putting together the majority of this invaluable info


DMc said...

So good I stole the whole thing and directed anybody who wanted to comment to come on over here.

We have to arm people if we're going to counteract the money and the lawyers who want to make it about the same old corporate infighting.

There's a catalog of damning stuff in the docs you've collected here, Will. If you write or work in the creative industries in Canada and you read this and aren't angered enough to do something, then maybe our industry does deserve to die from apathy.

Thanks for this.

wcdixon said...

Thanks Denis, and wish I could take credit but most if not all should go to Kelly Lynne Ashton and the WGC for the bulk of the hunting and gathering.

Brandon Laraby said...

This is great stuff guys - thanks to Denis for pointing me here and thanks to Will for bringing it all together in one place. I've started reading and will be taking notes (man, I hate tests... lol).

Thanks again guys!

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