Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2022-55
Ottawa, 28 February 2022
Attraction Images Inc.
Attraction Images Inc. – Program categorization of Big Rig Warriors
The Commission, by majority decision, approves the request filed by Attraction Images Inc. to classify the series Big Rig Warriors as program category 2(b) Long-form documentary.
- As set out in the Television Broadcasting Regulations, 1987,Footnote 1 the Discretionary Services Regulations,Footnote 2 as well as in various other Commission policies, conventional television and discretionary service licensees must adhere to certain expenditure and exhibition requirements pertaining to Canadian content.
- A television program is considered Canadian if it has been certified by the Canadian Audio-Visual Certification Office or if it qualifies in accordance with the criteria established in a variety of regulatory policies developed and applied by the Commission. As part of the Commission’s Canadian program certification process, a television program category is also assigned to the production.
- This categorization is particularly relevant in determining whether television programming undertakings have met certain regulatory requirements, including making the required expenditures for programs of national interest (PNI), which consist of content categorized as 2(b) Long-form documentary, 7 Drama and comedy as well as award shows of national or regional scope that celebrate Canadian creative talent and/or cultural diversity and achievements in Canadian arts and culture.Footnote 3
- The definitions of the different television program categories established by the Commission are set out in the Appendix to Definitions for television program categories, Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2010-808, 1 November 2010. Category 2(b) Long-form documentary is defined as follows:
- Original works of non-fiction, primarily designed to inform but may also educate and entertain, providing an in-depth critical analysis of a specific subject or point of view over the course of at least 22 minutes. These programs shall not be used as commercial vehicles. Further, programs that fall under the category 11(b) Reality television do not qualify as 2(b) programming.
- On 22 January 2020, Attraction Images Inc. (Attraction Images) submitted an application for Canadian program certification for its production Big Rig Warriors, a series of 10, 22-minute long episodes that showcase the sub-culture of big-rig racing. As part of its application, Attraction Images requested that the production be classified as a category 2(b) Long-form documentary program. Along with its application, Attraction Images also submitted two episodes of Big Rig Warriors for viewing.
- On 4 June 2020, Commission staff sent a letter to Attraction Images approving the Canadian program certification application for the series Big Rig Warriors and categorizing the production under program category 11(a) General entertainment and human interest.Footnote 4
- Subsequently, Attraction Images submitted a request to review this categorization and re-classify the production as a category 2(b) Long-form documentary program, as was initially requested in its application.
- Following a request from Commission staff for supporting rationale as to why the production should be considered under program category 2(b) Long-form documentary, Attraction Images submitted the following arguments:
- Big Rig Warriors is a traditional documentary series created by personnel who are experienced documentary artisans and who ensured that the production met the necessary requirements to be considered a documentary. The production aims to inform its audience by allowing for a realistic and immersive view into the lives of long-distance truckers and enabling viewers to understand how truck racing fulfills these drivers in some capacity.
- Big Rig Warriors is a non-fiction series produced in a manner that is absent of any influence or guidance on the part of the production company in order to provide an uncontrived view of the existing experiences of these long-distance truck drivers. Accordingly, the production is no different than other documentary series previously submitted for Canadian certification by Attraction Images.
- The Canada Media Fund (CMF) determined, following a thorough analysis, that the production met the requirements to obtain funding and be categorized as a documentary.
- The production was considered as a documentary by the Société de développement des entreprises culturelles (SODEC), a Quebec government agency that reports to the Quebec Minister of Culture and Communications.
- The Commission categorization has significant financial implications for Attraction Images as the series was intended to be considered as PNI programming.
Commission’s analysis and decision
- Program category 2(b) Long-form documentary is primarily designed to inform, but may also educate and entertain. It is defined by the provision of a thorough in-depth analysis of a particular subject or point of view, in which the information provides additional details that are linked to a certain expertise about the subject, such as facts, statistics, testimonies or interviews.
- While the Commission strives for a consistent approach to classification, it must consider each classification request on a case-by-case basis, having regard to relevant program category definitions and the character of the production. Given the unique nature of each production, there may be a subjective element to this exercise.
- With respect to the present application, the Commission acknowledges that this production contains a substantial entertainment portion and that it may, in the minds of some viewers, resemble more a program from another program category than a documentary. However, the Commission also recognizes that the documentary genre has evolved over the years, making the Commission’s classification exercise more complex.
- The Commission considers that this program contains a significant amount of in-depth critical analysis and should be classified under program category 2(b) Long-form documentary. The Commission finds that the primary purpose of the production is to inform viewers and provide an analysis of the motivations and efforts of big-rig drivers to compete in racing events. In particular, the testimonies of drivers and their supporters provide an in-depth portrayal of the everyday lives of the subjects of the series, which lends itself to be considered as a documentary series. The production also contains archival footage and images of big-rig racing. Given these elements, the Commission is satisfied that this particular production contains a sufficient amount of analysis and finds that this production meets the definition of a long-form documentary.
- In light of the above, the Commission, by majority decision, approves Attraction Images Inc.’s request to classify Big Rig Warriors as program category 2(b) Long-form documentary.
- It should be noted that while the CMF and the SODEC both considered this production to be a documentary series, the Commission is an independent tribunal and is not bound by the determinations of other organizations. Accordingly, the Commission analyzes and decides on Canadian program certification applications (including program categories) by applying its own regulatory policies and criteria.
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