Canuck content providers are getting killed.
Arnie Gelbart has survived the cyclical waves of the Canadian broadcast industry before. But there is no way to sugarcoat this recession. "It's been a tough year," says the president of Montreal-based Galafilm Productions Inc.
"Canadian broadcasters ordered very little new material compared to other years," says Mr. Gelbart, who admits to laying off some of his staff last year.
Mr. Gelbart's fears-- and the overall production blues of the industry -- were lost in the cacophony around the CRTC hearings last November to determine whether or not cable operators should compensate over-the-air broadcasters for carrying their signals.
As the rhetoric flew in Ottawa, production houses wobbled.
You see, this past year has been a sort of 'wait and see' limbo for most TV and Film creatives and producers and craftspeople in Canada. Wait and see what the old CTF new CMF is going to look like. Wait and see if tax credit rebates in various provinces are going to go up or stay the same or be reduced. And most importantly, wait and see if our broadcasters will or won't receive some sort of value for signal or fee for carriage from the BDU's/cable/satelite providers (aka you the consumer) so everyone can get on the with business of MAKING CONTENT AGAIN!
But even though the CRTC granted broadcasters the right to negotiate value for signal, it still has to clear the Canadian courts and then and only THEN can the Broadcasters and BDU's get on with business of negotiating.
Wait and see.
"The way the issue had been framed, misdirected the discussion entirely," says Michael Prupas, president and chief executive of Muse Entertainment Enterprises. It devolved into a battle over the survival of local television versus a so-called television tax, he says. But it should really have been about the survival of Canadian production and whether or not cable and satellite would lift a hand.
How the industry reshapes itself going forward depends on how the CRTC will handle television licence renewals in 2011 and how much cash there will be for producers within the revamped Canadian Media Fund (CMF) now new media players and broadcasters can dip into it for some in-house production.
Also at stake is whether or not Canadian producers will be able to monetize their shows online, and increase sales in overseas markets. While international sales rose to $2-billion in 2008-09, they have not returned to the heights of 2002-03.
Yep, you read that right. It's the 2011 television licence renewals that are so important apparently, as in next year. And EVERYONE is still trying to figure out how to monetize online programming, not just Canadian content producers.
Wait and see.
Everywhere I look or turn, companies are laying off personnel or even closing down...very little new work is being commissioned...writers and producers are giving up....craftspeople and technicians are packing it in and finding another line of work. It's BRUTAL.
We're dying out here CRTC and Broadcasters and Cable Providers of Canada...you're killing us softly but surely with your song of indecision and indifference.
Do you even care?