Report: CTF funds should target potential hits

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TORONTO -- The Canadian Television Fund should invest more in homegrown series that succeed with audiences and remove producers from its boardroom to ensure no perception of self-dealing by its directors.

Those were the main findings of a task force report released Friday on the future of the CTF, the main source of government and industry subsidies for Canadian independent producers.

"There is now an opportunity to create, within the CTF, a more market-oriented, private sector funding stream dedicated to developing and supporting Canadian hits," the report argued.

The task force also recommended that independent producers continue to offer input into the running of the CTF while no longer having actual representation on its board of directors.

"It is unusual for an organization that allocates substantial sums to the independent production sector to have on its board representatives of the recipients of these funds," the report said.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission released the report as part of a planned overhaul of the CTF, which annually invests about CAN$260 million ($243 million) in homegrown primetime series.

The task force was initially struck in March after cable giants Shaw Communications and Groupe Videotron backed down from threats to halt payments to the CTF over how it was run and for investing in homegrown series with little audience appeal.

The attacks by Shaw and Groupe Videotron threatened to undermine the current business model for Canadian producers, which sees domestic cablers and other content carriers cough up 5% of their annual revenue to the CTF.

The money is then spent on film and TV product made by independent producers, who retain ownership of copyright and the right to exploit digital and online spin-offs.

Domestic cable and satellite operators told task force members during recent consultations that they have had little direct representation or influence in the CTF boardroom.

They also were urged to assign "audience success" as the main criteria for CTF investment and that "actual and potential return on investment" should be a factor in weighing investment.

The CRTC will now invite public comment on the task force report as it considers how to implement the reports' recommendations.
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