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Broadcasters Must Step Up

January 29, 2018

Last summer WGC members fought alongside the Guild to have a flawed CRTC decision re: private broadcasters' minimum spending on Canadian programs sent back to the Commission for reconsideration — and met with success. And during the current CRTC license reconsideration the WGC argues that broadcasters must step up, not step away, from PNI.
The background: The CRTC, under former Chair Jean-Pierre Blais, had cut Bell, Corus and Rogers' spending requirements for "programs of national interest" (PNI) — the drama, animation, and documentary programming that WGC members primarily work in — down to “lowest common denominator” levels of 5% of broadcasters’ revenues. This was a massive cut for Bell and Corus, and put approximately $200 million in broadcaster PNI spending at risk over the five-year licence term. 
The WGC petitioned the federal Cabinet (as did other industry groups) to send the decision back to the CRTC, and the government agreed. Now the CRTC is now re-examining the matter. Broadcasters have made their views known and, unfortunately, they are still proposing PNI minimums at well below what they have historically spent — 6%, when Bell and Corus had been at 8% and 9% respectively. Not only that, but they’re asking for even more reductions in their obligations in exchange for their “offer,” like lower spending requirements on Canadian programming overall and lower minimums for independent production.
The WGC has submitted its comments to the CRTC, which you can read here, strenuously opposing the above proposals. The Guild argues that broadcasters must spend on PNI at their historical levels at least, and frankly should do more than that. Given the history of the PNI policy, as well as the broadcasting environment going forward, we’ve proposed that PNI minimums be increased from historical levels by 1% for each broadcast group. This would put Bell at 9%, Corus at 10%, and Rogers at 6%. 
The WGC's position is supported by detailed research, and rejects broadcasters’ attempts to gain “concessions” elsewhere in the policy framework, which are completely contrary to the spirit and intent of both the Minister’s vision for the sector, and the Cabinet order sending back the PNI issue to the CRTC for reconsideration. Canadian broadcasters must do more Canadian programming, not less, if they are to remain relevant in a digital world. The WGC is advocating that they do. 


Canadian Screenwriter spring 2018 is on newsstands now. View excerpts, and subscribe here.

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