CRTC licence renewals threaten Canadian programs, say critics – Entertainment

Saving Hope, Rookie Blue and Orphan Black are just three recent Canadian TV hits — but film and TV creators are worried we’ll see fewer shows like these amid new broadcast licencing renewals approved by the CTRC this week.

At issue is funding for “programs of national interest” (PNI), part of the Canadian programming broadcasters are required to fund.

The PNI designation covers drama, scripted series, documentaries and awards shows honouring Canadian culture — areas that have traditionally been difficult to finance, but which the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission had deemed worthy of specific support.

On Monday, as part of the five-year licence renewals of broadcasters Bell, Corus and Rogers, the CRTC set the trio’s minimum PNI expenditure requirement at five per cent of revenue. Currently the broadcasters spend from nine to 10 per cent on PNI.

Unions representing Canadian actors, screenwriters, directors and producers have blasted the decision as a devastating roll back that will lead to dramatically reduced investment in Canadian production.

“The CRTC got it right when they said that, in the digital world, broadcasters need to invest in innovative content that stands out in a global marketplace. So why let broadcasters slash their investments in distinctive, original content by $200 million over five years?” Directors Guild of Canada national president Tim Southam said in a statement.

That $200 million figure comes from an independent analysis of the broadcasters’ annual reports, their licence renewal applications and how they’ve met their PNI and other Canadian programming obligations.

It was commissioned by the DGC, the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA), the Writers Guild of Canada (WGC) and the Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA).

Broadcasters can spend more — but will they?

According to Canadian media policy consultant Kelly Lynne Ashton, there’s been a boon…

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