Monday, June 13, 2005

More public money for Canadian TV

The Canadian Press reports that Canada's television industry is to receive C$100 million (about US$80 million) in new funding to create homegrown Canadian programming. The report (published in the Globe & Mail) notes that "the money was announced Sunday by Heritage Minister Liza Frulla to producers and executives at the Banff World Television Festival" in Banff, Alberta (and not Banff in Northeast Scotland) (Click here for the festival site.) The funding will go to the Canadian Television Fund.

This is the latest in a series of infusions of public money to the Canadian Television Fund, described as a "private-public partnership, which supports creation of programming in French, English and aboriginal languages." The funding mechanism is separate from that of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Canada's national public service broadcaster, though apparently CBC can also benefit from the cash. The CBC notes that "the new funding is good news for major networks – such as the CBC, CTV and Global – as well as a tremendous boost for smaller Canadian TV producers." CBC News cites the following endorsement from a private Canadian producer:
    "Development funding is very important," Ihor Procak, a producer for Winnipeg's Lightning Films, told CBC News. Procak is in Banff trying to find a broadcaster for his new TV series entitled Brothers in Crime: the Bad Samaritans, which he describes as The Sopranos meet the Trailer Park Boys.

    "It's very difficult to do anything without [funding], because then you're putting your money on the line, your credit cards on the line, and your home on the line and that's a hard way to function," he said.

The report claims that the C$800 million (US$640 million) pumped into the fund since its 1996 inception "has helped create $5.7 billion in Canadian programming," and, according to Ms. Frulla, "has helped bring more than 18,000 hours of original Canadian programming to the screen."

The Canadian Government's Canadian Heritage site seems to be a little behind the times, since it claims only "13,700 hours of new Canadian television programming in the essential categories of drama, variety, children's shows, documentaries, and performing arts in English, French and Aboriginal languages." But it does claim credit for funding programs such as "An American in Canada, Cold Squad, Infoman, [and] Annie et ses hommes" The site describes the fund as playing a "pivotal role in the creation of high quality, distinctively Canadian programming for television." The site also notes that the fund has an annual budget of some C$250 million -- presumably the C$100 million menntioned above is on top of that figure, though its's not absolutely clear.

The CBC report also notes that "more than 100 programmers and decision-makers are in Banff for the 26th annual event to represent broadcasters from around the world, including the CBC, the BBC, National Geographic Television, the Disney Channel, the Comedy Network, Germany's ZDF and Japan's NHK."


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