The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission rejected Shaw’s and Videotron’s request that they be allowed to opt out of contributions to the general fund and use the money to develop their own programs.
But the regulator agreed that there should be separate finding [sic] streams – one to concentrate on commercial appeal for private broadcasters and another for the CBC, educational broadcasters and other not-for-profit broadcasters.
The Writers’ Guild of Canada immediately issued a press release with its take on the decision:
The Writers Guild of Canada (WGC) is disappointed that the Commission felt it necessary to split the Fund into two streams with no clear distinction between them other than the source of the money.
“There was no evidence presented in the CRTC’s Task Force Report or the hearings in February that the CTF was not working,” says Maureen Parker, Executive Director, Writers Guild of Canada. “Now they’ve broken the Fund in two with no clear rationale. This introduces new layers of complication, duplication and bureaucracy into the Canadian TV production financing process – and all because cable companies like Shaw didn’t want to contribute to a system that has made them wealthy.”
The WGC is relieved that both streams of the Fund will continue to support only 10-point Canadian productions, but questions the “increased emphasis” on “audience success” of the so-called “private-sector fund.” Audience success was already a key criterion in the CTF model. And evidence indicates that those shows most distinctly Canadian – shows like Little Mosque on the Prairie, The Rick Mercer Report and Corner Gas – had the best success with Canadian audiences.
As for my own comments, I’ll have some later; right now I just thought that it was worth linking to the news. This does seem like a good opportunity for a questionnaire of some sort, like:
Canadian Mountie Drug-Buster does an episode about Murray the Mountie infiltrating a high school disguised as a cowboy, to bust a cocaine ring. Discovering that the principal is stashing the coke in the otherwise harmless candy and potato-chip machine, Murray decapitates him with his hat and then delivers a solemn lecture, with illustrations, about the dangers of drug use. For purposes of the funding, does this count as:
a) Educational programming. It teaches the dangers of drugs and the importance of hats.
b) Entertainment/commercial programming, like everything else involving high schools and/or vending machines.
c) Too entertaining to be Canadian programming, so it forfeits funding either way.