Sunday, November 29, 2009

WGC to CRTC: Please look at the man behind the curtain...

Noting that money spent by broadcasters, both in total and as a percentage of Advertising revenue, on Canadian programming has decreased on a fairly regular basis (from $75M to $54M), since the CRTC decision in 1999 to remove expenditure requirements while money spent on US shows has nearly doubled (from $285M to $490M), The Writers Guild of Canada joins me in pointing out the obvious:
Should the current trend continue high-quality Canadian dramas will disappear from the air. CTV, Global, Rogers and the smaller conventional broadcasters would cease to be distinguishable from U.S. broadcasters and hence would no longer have a reason to exist.
So, they've provided their own set of guidelines they'd like the CRTC to enforce (from the document above), the baseline being:
A Canadian programming CPE for all conventional services owned by a corporate group, to be set at possibly 35% of gross revenues.
which would then be divided amongst Drama, Docs, and Children's Programming and include any "new" sources of revenue in a effort to prevent the sudden development of things like Internet distribution from stepping in and being abused because they're not specifically stated in the agreement. The immediate question raised by this suggestion is: how easy is it for accountants to cook gross revenues on the books when one considers the tendency for things in the entertainment industry to never show profit?*

The other main suggestion is:
Mandatory exhibition of all drama and documentaries produced under the framework at least once on conventional stations in the group between 8pm and 11pm, Sunday to Friday, within two years of availability. Mandatory exhibition of all children‟s programming produced under the framework at least once on conventional stations in the group at an age appropriate time within two years of availability.
to prevent the current practice of broadcasters purchasing shows just to prevent other networks from showing them.

More detail, including a rather detailed history of the networks whining and the CRTC behaving like all good committees and simply continuing to ask for input, at the link.

* One of the better examples of this from recent history is Peter Jackson's fight with New Line over his share of the "profits" from the Lord Of the Rings trilogy of films - a series of films which are estimated to have cost ~$300M to make and grossed over $1B at US theatres before DVD, ancillary, and foreign revenue was added in.

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