Canadian film, TV production reach new high

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TORONTO -- Despite a sharp drop-off in the number of studio TV and film shoots in Canada, a spike in homegrown sports and news and current affairs programing has pushed Canadian film and TV production numbers to a new high.

The Canadian Film and Television Production Assn. on Monday said it will tell its members later this month that total production volume in Canada, including indigenous and U.S. productions, rose 3% to just under $5 billion from March 2006 to April 2007, the latest period surveyed.

The CFTPA numbers, to be unveiled at the association's Prime Time conference in Ottawa, were helped by increased TV coverage of domestic sports and news and current affairs.

Total sports coverage on Canadian TV rose 17% to $2.1 billion in production dollars in the year through April 2007, while domestic news coverage rose 11% to $1.1 billion in value.

Canadian broadcasters traditionally rely on supplying coverage of homegrown news and sports to fulfill regulatory spending obligations, while they depend on airing U.S. network series to drive their primetime lineups.

While sports and news did the heavy lifting, Canadian TV drama production rose 5% to $904 million. Locally produced series that air in the U.S. include "Degrassi: The Next Generation" on the N and "Corner Gas" on Superstation WGN.

On the feature film front, the CFTPA will report during its annual conference in Ottawa on Feb. 21 that domestic film production fell 14% to $282 million, while the value of U.S. major studio and indie movie shoots in Canada dropped 19% to $1.4 billion for the year to April 2007.

The sinking value of the U.S. dollar and competition from rival locales like the U.S. southern states, meant fewer major studio movies have been shot in Canada in recent years.

Since April 2007, U.S. film and TV production in Canada has collapsed still further as fallout from the WGA strike and a surging Canadian dollar at the end of 2007 was felt throughout the Canadian production sector.
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