The Canada Media Fund (CMF) has announced Program Guidelines for 2019-2020, as well as its commitment to invest C$353 million ($264 million) in Canada’s television and digital media industry for the fiscal year.
The CMF, following a directive from the Department of Canadian Heritage, will now enable online platforms that are owned, operated and controlled by CRTC-licensed broadcasters and Broadcast Distribution Undertakings to be considered eligible and allowed to trigger projects in the Convergent Stream program. Further changes to the Convergent Stream program include the introduction of an OTT Factor that will reward content licensed by and that has premiered on such services.
For the Experimental Stream, the CMF, in addition to expanding its definition of innovation, is introducing a Conceptualization Program on a pilot basis. Designed for Commercial Projects Program or Innovation Program applicants, the program will enable them to create and test a proof of concept, verify design ideas or demonstrate a functionality. Its objective is to provide the less experienced with a better chance of advancing to future funding stages in the Experimental Stream.
The C$350 million ($264,291,100) investment for 2019-2020 will be allocated across the following categories: Aboriginal (C$8,700,000), Accelerator Partnership Program (C$510,000), International Matching Fund Program (C$3,000,000), Diverse Languages (C$3,200,000), Export Incentives including versioning (C$4,600,000) and Corus (C$834,000).
Two-thirds of the committed investment (C$221,430,000) will go towards English-language projects, with the remaining third (C$110,883,000) going towards French-language projects. The funding will be divided among the Experimental Stream programs (Innovation Program, Commercial Projects Program, Web Series and Kids’ Digital Series) and the Convergent Stream (development and production programs).
Valerie Creighton, CMF’s president and CEO, said: “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. 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,” Creighton continued. “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.”
Creighton added: “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 Honorable Pablo Rodriguez, for delivering on the government’s commitments to support Canada’s screen-based sector through the provision of the stabilization funds.”
Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism Pablo Rodriguez said: “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. 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.”