Report recommends overhaul of CanCon rules
OTTAWA (CP) — Canadian content rules in film and television need a dramatic overhaul and should be centralized under one federal organization, says a report commissioned by the Heritage Department.
The convoluted points system to determine Canadian content has remained relatively unchanged for 30 years and is frequently working at cross-purposes, says the report by Francois Macerola.
“The federal government’s film and television policy infrastructure is fragmented and, as a result, it lacks coherence, synergy and transparency,” says the report released Tuesday.
Macerola recommends replacing the points system with one based more heavily upon creative expenditures, including weighted categories for money spent on authors, creative collaborators, performers and technicians.
Productions should be elegible for greater tax and direct government support as their Canadian content increases.
Canadian ownship rules should remain and new rules be enacted requiring that the top three creative positions of any production — writer, director and lead performer — be Canadian, subject to a series of options “providing the necessary flexibility for producers.”
Subject matter should be left solely to the creators of a production, Macerola recommends.
He also would like an exemption on the rule limiting TV advertising to 12 minutes per hour that would permit extra ads promoting Canadian feature films.
This is the fourth report released this year on the state of the Canadian television industry and even industry players appear swamped by the deluge.
Halifax-based producer Wayne Grigsby says he’s not sure how all the studies fit together, although clearly the common thread is that the current “chaotic” funding system needs to be fixed.
“Whether laying in another level of bureaucrats to make decisions is going to help, I don’t know,” he said from the set of his new series for W, A Guy and a Girl.
“Cleaner and simpler and more co-ordinated would be a definite blessing and make life easier for everyone involved. Surely to God we can find a simpler way to do this.”
That’s precisely the failure of the Macerola report, said Brian Topp, executive director of ACTRA Toronto Performers, the actors’ union.
Canadian content rules need to be simpler, tighter and clearer, he said.
“This report takes us in exactly the opposite direction. The proposed new rules are more complex, more permissive and would dilute, not strengthen, Canadian content.”
Topp contends that the Macerola proposal would allow productions with lead foreign actors, writers and directors to be defined as Cancon and suggests the report be shelved as a deserving addition to the government’s collection of unhelpful studies.
Three reports had previously been released this spring:
* In March, a coalition representing TV actors, directors, writers and technicians unions declared a state of crisis in prime time and urged the federal government, private broadcasters and regulators to do better.
The Coalition of Canadian Audio-visual Unions called for more spending on dramatic series and for a tightening of the rules that define drama content.
* Last month, broadcaster Trina McQueen submitted her long-awaited report to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, calling on Ottawa to invest more money in homegrown television to halt the erosion of English-language drama. She proposed the expenditure of $30 million annually over five years.
* Last week, a massive, 872-page report prepared by the Commons heritage committee under the chairmanship of Liberal MP Clifford Lincoln recommended increased funding — and parliamentary accountability — for the CBC, a hold on further foreign ownership in Canadian media and a moratorium on media convergence, all to improve Canadian broadcasting.
OTTAWA (CP) — Recommendations from a report released Tuesday entitled Canadian Content in the 21st Century in Film and Television Productions: A Matter of Cultural Identity:
* Create a single arms-length organization called the Canadian Content Commission responsible for certifying Canadian content in television and film productions.
* Replace the current points system for determining Canadian content with a weighted system based on creative expenditures.
* Distribution of Canadian feature films should continue to be reserved for Canadian-owned and controlled companies.
* Provide government financial support to help Canadian distributors establish regional services.
* Allow broadcasters to promote Canadian feature films with ads that exceed the 12-minutes per hour advertising limit on TV.
* Continue to recognize co-productions with foreign producers as Canadian content, develop minimum requirements for such co-productions and seek preferential treatment deals with European Union partners.
* Help aboriginal producers in Canada find creative and financial partnerships with aboriginal producers abroad.
Report recommends overhaul of CanCon rules