Canadian TV Producers Told To Fall In Line On Broadcast Deal

Canadian TV producers are publicly told not to compromise or bargain outside of a newly-inked terms of trade agreement with private broadcasters.

TORONTO -- Managing Canadian indie producers is like herding cats.

That maybe one of the reasons why their finger-wagging lobbyist, the Canadian Media Production Association, has publicly called on members producers to stick to a recently-inked terms of trade deal with five private broadcasters that comes into effect on August 1.

“This deal changes everything. …But it isn’t worth the paper it is written on unless all independent producers show solidarity and strictly follow the terms of the agreement in their individual negotiations with broadcasters.” CMPA president and CEO Norm Bolen said in his call for solidarity.

The worry is producers of hit TV shows like Flashpoint, Rookie Blue and Being Erica will compromise or negotiate outside the agreement when they sign upcoming contracts with Canadian broadcasters.

There’s a precedent in the 2007 Canadian actors strike.

As head-scratching Hollywood studios looked on, the Canadian producers association that year went to court to ask for a restraining order against the use of so-called continuation letters that its own member producers had signed with ACTRA.

The controversial documents allowed unionized performers to continue working on local film and TV sets without disruption until a new labor deal between North American producers and ACTRA was finally reached and ratified.

To keep its members in line this time, the CMPA will hold information sessions this summer to teach local producers how to stick to the deal in their own negotiations with broadcasters.

At the same time, Bolen conceded that, while the CMPA can hold broadcasters to a legally-binding agreement they signed onto, it cannot do the same with its own members.

“In the end, there’s no way we can compel them (producers), but we can compel broadcasters,” Bolen said.