Broadcasting - Letter from Jean-Pierre Blais addressed to ACTRA

Ottawa, 31 August 2016

Ferne Downey
ACTRA National President
625 Church Street, 3rd floor
Toront, Ontario
M4Y 2G1
By E-mail: national@actra.ca; jmcgibbon@actra.ca

Re: Certified independent production funds

Ms. Downey,

Recently, your organization made public statements with respect to the CRTC’s decision concerning the certification of independent production funds. You mention that Canadians deserve open hearings on important decisions. I agree. This is why we held the Let’s Talk TV conversation that garnered more than 13 000 comments from Canadians.  This is why I am very disappointed in how you and your organization has characterized our process.

The CRTC clearly indicated, as a part of the Let’s Talk TV decision, following this extensive process, that it would examine its policies for independent Canadian production funds and clearly repeated this intention in its widely distributed 2015-2018 Three Year Plan. Moreover, the CRTC published a call for comments in October of 2015 on “the Commission’s policies relating to Certified Independent Production Funds”(CIPF).  Anyone, including ACTRA and its members, could submit comments from October 20, 2015 until December 18, 2015 and then reply to others’ comments until January 22, 2016.  As such, this Commission decision was taken following an open and accessible public consultation process during which your organisation did not participate. The CRTC’s decision making process relies strongly on public consultation, with all Canadians, including representatives of various industry sectors, unions, think-tanks and individuals.  The CRTC has traditionally been and remains one of the most open and transparent of all Federal tribunals.  We encourage participation and help ensure that Canadians can participate by a variety of means.  We use traditional methods as well as new digital platforms to ensure Canadians from across the country can have their say.

I am proud to say that the CRTC’s Commissioners are supported by an experienced and professional staff whose expertise leads to the very evidence-based decision-making that I have espoused throughout my tenure as Chairman and CEO of this organization, and earlier in my public service career. 

When it launches a proceeding, the CRTC also provides notice to Canadians about the issues it will discuss.   What appears to be your chief concern was in fact directly addressed in our questions 11 and 13 of the Notice.  Participating publicly in our processes ensures that diverse views are placed on the public record which allows others, in turn, to reply to those views.

The CRTC issued its regulatory policy on August 25, 2016, after fully considering the public record.  The resulting policy framework builds on the determinations made following our extensive Let’s Talk TV process. It ensures that CIPFs contribute to the development of a robust Canadian cultural sector and that they have the flexibility necessary to operate in an increasingly multi-platform environment. In this digital age, the old ways just won’t cut it anymore.

Firstly, the CRTC preserved the integrity of the certification of Canadian productions and decided that all productions meeting the existing standard minimum threshold of 6 points can now be considered for funding. That is and continues to be the standard used by CAVCO and the CRTC’s own Canadian Recognition rules. There is nothing new here. Independent funds can now provide support to all Canadian programming that is recognized to meet the long standing 6 point minimum.  The Canadian cultural sector needs to be forward looking to offer compelling high-quality content to Canadians and to global audiences, in ever more digitally connected, borderless world.

The CRTC must also look beyond our national borders to the world market. There are important audiences that Canadian creators have and must continue to reach. It is essential to the continued financing of Canadian made productions. We, as well as other federal and provincial funding partners, have always recognized the importance of international partnerships and collaboration to help ensure that productions made by Canadians with Canadian resources and the support of over $4 Billion in contributions by tax payers, and subscribers, reaches not only a national, but also an international audience. 

There should never be a ceiling for the international success of our creative industries and it is only through reaching for any and all opportunities that they will succeed.  Our policy on independent productions funds seeks to strengthen these opportunities for writers, directors and actors by expanding the number and type of productions that can be funded, encouraging efforts in the promotion and discoverability of Canadian productions, encouraging risk-taking through the funding of script and concept development and making sure that funded productions are available to Canadians and a world audience on the platform of their choice. 

Sincerely,

Jean-Pierre Blais

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