Federal Election 2006

Screenwriters urge Conservatives to tighten Canadian content regs


Toronto, Tuesday, January 24 – Canadian screenwriters congratulate Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party on forming Canada’s next minority government, but urge them to strengthen Canadian content regulations on private broadcasters.

 “During the election campaign the Conservatives told us that they believe private sector broadcasters are first and foremost businesses, and Canadian content regulations must be more flexible in order for these broadcasters to compete in the fragmented global market,” said Maureen Parker, Executive Director, Writers Guild of Canada (WGC).

“If private broadcasters want to be looked on strictly as businesses they shouldn’t receive public money or regulatory protection.”

Right now private broadcasters such as CTV and Global operate in a protected market with U.S. simulcast privileges, tax credits and direct subsidies. But their investment in original drama written by Canadian screenwriters has hit a seven-year low despite recent successes such as Corner Gas, which gets higher audience numbers than hit shows like Desperate Housewives or CSI.

“We will push the Conservatives to put minimum Canadian drama spending requirements in place when broadcast licences come up for renewal over the next two years,” says Parker.

The WGC is also concerned that the Conservatives have not been clear about the CBC’s role as our national public broadcaster. “If they make the CBC an all-Canadian station does that mean the other broadcasters will be under no obligation to show any Canadian programming?” asks Rebecca Schechter, WGC President. “We believe there must be a choice to view Canadian shows on all channels.”

The WGC represents more than 1,800 professional screenwriters working in television, film, radio and new media. The WGC helps further the professional, creative and economic rights of its members by negotiating and enforcing collective agreements, and works with government agencies to increase Canadian content on our movie and television screens.

For more information please contact:

Barb Farwell, WGC Director of Communications
Telephone: 416-979-7907, ext. 5234
Email: b.farwell@wgc.ca

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