New federal media fund to promote HD, web programming
Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press
Published Monday, March 9, 2009 3:23PM EDT
TORONTO - Ottawa is revamping the way it funds television and new media in an attempt to boost content for online, mobile and other platforms, Heritage Minister James Moore said Monday as some observers raised concerns over the way money would be distributed.
From the set of the CTV crime show "Flashpoint," Moore announced that the Canadian Television Fund and the Canada New Media Fund will be combined and rebranded as the Canada Media Fund, set to launch in April 2010.
The fund will favour projects produced in high definition and will require applicants to make their projects available on at least two distribution platforms, one of which must be television.
"This is about modernizing government investments to support Canadian content in the new era of consumer choice, emerging technology, and investing in Canada's future," said Moore, noting the government expects to dole out $310 million over the next two years under the programs.
The change will also remove funding for CBC/Radio-Canada, however, the public broadcaster will be allowed to compete for in-house production cash that it was previously excluded from.
Funding decisions will be handled by a smaller, seven-member board made up of two government appointees and five of the largest funders.
The announcement raised concerns among some observers.
Brian Anthony of the Directors Guild of Canada was wary of making multiple platforms a condition of funding. He wondered what that meant for guild members who produce new media, but not conventional programming.
"Does this oblige them therefore to marry up with what we're calling `legacy media'? I don't know," Anthony said. "Does it, in other words, limit the ability of people working in the new media to continue to do so?"
The Canadian actors' union, ACTRA, said it was concerned with the new, smaller board, which it says gives "big cable" control of five of the seven seats.
"It's like putting the fox in charge of the hen house, especially if the board maintains the power to make funding decisions," Stephen Waddell, ACTRA's national executive director, said in a release.
"At the very least, we would hope that one of the remaining seats will be reserved for a representative from the creative community."