Toronto, March 29, 2019 - The Canada Media Fund (CMF) announced today Program Guidelines for the 2019-2020 fiscal year. The CMF also announced it is committing $353M to invest in Canada’s television and digital media industry in 2019-2020. The breakdown of the 2019-2020 program budget can be accessed here.
“We’re introducing a number of new programs and changes to existing programs, some of which will be among the most impactful since the establishment of the CMF in 2010,” said Valerie Creighton, President and CEO, CMF. “These changes are intended to ensure CMF programs continue being responsive to market developments. They are influenced by the policy direction from the Department of Canadian Heritage through the Creative Canada Policy Framework and feedback received from stakeholders during the CMF’s extensive consultation.”
“The CMF is aware of the impact program changes have on the industry and strives to offer some stability in the system at a time of disruption. Striking a balance between the various and often competing interests of industry stakeholders is always a challenge,” added Creighton. “These updates to our programs are the result of the added flexibility which has been accorded to the CMF by the Government of Canada. As we await the results of the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Legislative Review and the legislation that may stem from that, this is the first step in implementing progressive change with the intent to bridge the current environment until the review of the Acts is concluded.”
“The CMF continues to evolve its programs thanks to ongoing and valuable feedback from our stakeholders and clients, many of whom shared their views through our various consultation initiatives. Thanks to all who participated and thanks to our public and private funders for their invaluable support. We’re especially grateful to the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism, the Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, for delivering on the government’s commitments to support Canada’s screen-based sector through the provision of the stabilization funds,” she concluded.
“I am pleased that in 2019–2020 the Canada Media Fund is adapting its programs even more to the new ways in which Canadians access content,” said the Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism. "This will allow Canadian platforms to launch major productions and, for the first time, let creators receive funding in the preliminary stages of a project. Thanks to these changes and to our additional investment of $172 million over five years, the Fund will continue to act as a catalyst in the digital realm and support the production of high-quality audiovisual and interactive content.”
The CMF program budget is supported by revenue estimates for the coming year based on ongoing funding contributions from the Government of Canada; as well as contributions from Canada’s cable, satellite and IPTV distributors. Tangible benefits, recoupment and repayment revenues from funded productions also support the program budget. This year’s budget reflects a steady contribution from the Government of Canada, and the stabilization funding to help mitigate declining contributions from Broadcast Distribution Undertakings to the CMF.
The following major changes will be implemented to CMF programs. A more detailed summary of changes can be accessed here.
Key Changes to the Convergent Stream
Following a directive from the Department of Canadian Heritage, the CMF will expand its current funding triggers so that online platforms that are owned, operated and controlled by CRTC-licensed broadcasters and Broadcast Distribution Undertakings will be considered eligible and be allowed to trigger projects in the Convergent Stream. These platforms will have predominantly the same requirements of existing conventional broadcasters that are currently able to trigger funding. An Over-the-Top (OTT) Factor will be introduced, which will reward content licensed by and premiered on these online services.
In addition to these platforms, the CMF will introduce new access to the Performance Envelope system to broadcasters and that do not generate a Performance Envelope allocation.
As a result of changes in the way audiences watch content, the industry is now virtually convergent. Discoverability and promotion are increasingly critical for the Canadian screen based sector. Therefore, a greater emphasis will be placed on how digital media components promote and market their accompanying television component. In line with this objective, the distinction between “value-added” and “rich and substantial” Digital Media (DM) Components will be eliminated and all DM components will now form part of the television application and budget. All relevant thresholds and maximum contribution amounts will apply to the entire project. As a result of this shift in emphasis, the CMF will eliminate both the Convergent Digital Media Incentive and the Digital Media Investment Factor. Convergent Digital Media Components will continue to be supported by the CMF through its regular Convergent programs as well as through the Experimental Stream.
While the CMF has provided support for early-stage development for many years though its Pre-development Program, it will now implement a program aimed at early-stage development—to include writers—that does not require a commitment from a CRTC-licensed broadcaster. The Early-Stage Development Program will have two separate access points: a writer access point and a producer-creator collaboration access point.
Broadcast stakeholders have expressed the need for added flexibility for their in-house and broadcaster affiliated production. As such, the CMF will increase the In-house and Broadcaster Affiliated caps to 25 per cent across all genres, which is the maximum amount allowed for in the terms and conditions with government.
In addition to wanting to maximize effectiveness and devote administrative resources to policies which have the most significant impact, the CMF heard from a range of stakeholders that the increase in CMF equity in a number of projects served as a disincentive. As a result, the CMF will eliminate the decrease in licence-fee top-up for returning series.
In the English language market, CMF funded Children and Youth programming has experienced significant decreases in the past three years as content consumption has shifted from conventional broadcasters to online platforms. In addition to the previously announced partnership with the Shaw Rocket Fund, the CMF will continue to provide financing in 2019-2020 for Canadian content creators to produce digital animated series for children and encourage the use of new technology outside of the Convergent Stream.
As a component of the Creative Canada Policy Framework, the CMF will be permitted to provide strategic support for sector development initiatives in order to address key gaps in the media industry ecosystem.
During the 2019-2020 year the CMF will continue to work with the industry to consider further changes to the program for 2020-2021, including the Performance Envelope system, support for small broadcasters, the Development Envelope System, diversity and inclusion, and other relevant initiatives.
Key Changes to the Experimental Stream
The CMF is expanding its definition of “innovation” in order to allow a broader range of projects and provide greater flexibility for applicants.
In the Experimental Stream, the CMF is introducing a Conceptualization Program on a pilot basis. This Program is designed for applicants to create and test a proof of concept, verify design ideas or demonstrate a functionality. This Program is designed for either Commercial Projects Program (C2P) or Innovation Program applicants. With more resources at the preliminary stages of a project, the objective of the Program is to provide less experienced producers and studios with a better chance to succeed for future funding stages in the Experimental Stream.
The CMF has heard from a variety of stakeholders that marketing strategy should play a larger role in a project’s production funding in order to allow early promotion activities during the creation of the project. As such, the CMF will merge the Marketing and Promotion stage into the existing Production stage application process in 2019-2020. Marketing and Promotion support will continue to be offered separately for projects that have received production support prior to 2019-2020. The CMF will also increase the maximum contribution for Production-stage funding in both the Innovation Program and Commercial Projects Program to $1.5M for projects in which significant marketing costs are added. In addition, the CMF will simplify the recoupment policy for the Commercial Projects Program, accessing only 15 per cent of revenues generated by the exploitation of the project before any deductions.
Webcast and comments
The CMF will host webcasts on Tuesday, April 9, 2019 to provide an overview and answer questions related to program changes. The French-language webcast will be at 11 a.m. ET and the English-language webcast will be at 2 p.m. ET. Details on how to join the webcasts were communicated earlier in March and can be accessed by clicking here.
Stakeholders are invited to share comments and questions on CMF programs by writing to [email protected] or through the CMF Twitter feeds @CMF_FMC (English) and @CMF_FMC_FR (French). For questions about the application process, please contact the Canada Media Fund Program Administrator at 1.800.463.4607.
About the Canada Media Fund
The Canada Media Fund (CMF) fosters, develops, finances and promotes the production of Canadian content and applications for all audiovisual media platforms. The CMF guides Canadian content towards a competitive global environment by fostering industry innovation, rewarding success, enabling a diversity of voice and promoting access to content through public and private sector partnerships. The CMF receives financial contributions from the Government of Canada and Canada’s cable, satellite and IPTV distributors. Please visit cmf-fmc.ca.