Canada Media Fund: Rules currently fall short of meeting objectives

March 26, 2010

The rules governing the new Canada Media Fund announced today are a source of considerable concern for CBC/Radio-Canada.

When the Fund was created a year ago, we had responded favourably to the announced changes, even though they eliminated the 37 per cent envelope that was formerly dedicated to the Corporation under the now defunct Canadian Television Fund. We were enthusiastic about the Minister’s desire to focus on injecting money in the production of original prime-time programming. This philosophy was going to reward those who took risks by making regular and substantial investments in original Canadian programming, with the aim of increasing the success and impact of these programs with English-Canadian audiences. It was also going to preserve the conditions that have led to the long-standing success of Canadian programming in the French-language market.

As CBC/Radio-Canada President Hubert T. Lacroix stated at the time: “If it’s done right, the new model will be a success. If it isn’t, CBC/Radio-Canada is concerned that the elimination of our 37 per cent envelope will lead to a reduction in viewing of Canadian programming in prime time.”

We have a hard time understanding how, in the span of a year, the Canada Media Fund has not been able to establish clear rules for achieving the Minister’s stated objectives. We now understand that these rules will not be in place until next year.

“For the second time in a less than a week, CBC/Radio-Canada is being asked to wait. As the broadcaster that contributes the most to creating high-quality original programs, we’re surprised at this approach,” said Hubert T. Lacroix.

Under the rules announced today, it appears that less money will be invested in television production this year and that many independent producers will not have access to funding for their projects.

Once we know how the envelopes will be assigned to broadcasters next week, we will be in a better position to judge the implications of the announced changes.

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