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CMF Annual Report Update

September 7, 2017

The Canada Media Fund (CMF) released its annual report recently, which covers the CMF’s fiscal year from April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017. The report includes information on the revenues received by the CMF from broadcasting distribution undertakings, or “BDUs” — the cable and satellite television services that contribute a portion of their revenues to the creation of Canadian programming, pursuant to CRTC regulation.
BDU contributions are a crucial component of the CMF’s revenues, currently making up almost 60% of the funder’s approximately $370 million in revenues. The CMF reported that BDU contributions decreased 5.8% or $13.4 million in the fiscal year, from $229.9 million in 2015-2016 to $216.5 million in 2016-2017.
While arguably a modest decline, it has been widely attributed to “cord cutting” and “cord shaving,” as Canadian television subscribers cancel or pare back their subscriptions in favour of Internet-based entertainment options, include “over-the-top” (OTT) services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, or CraveTV. Unfortunately, while BDUs are required to contribute a portion of their revenues to the CMF, neither Internet Service Providers (ISPs) nor OTT services themselves have to do the same. At the same time, cord cutting and shaving are expected to continue, and to accelerate. This most recent decline is yet another worrying instance of digital and Internet-based platforms eroding traditional ones, while essential policy supports for Canadian programming fail to keep pace.
The WGC discussed this phenomenon at length in its submission to the “Canadian Content in a Digital World” consultations, launched by the Minister of Canadian Heritage Mélanie Joly last fall, which you can read here. We look forward to the results of these consultations, expected to start rolling out this month with a “Vision Statement” from Minister Joly, and hope to see tangible solutions to the question of how to support Canadian content in the digital age.

Canadian Screenwriter summer 2017 is on newsstands now. View excerpts, and subscribe here.

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