Equity program cuts back as producers howl

MONTREAL — The Canuck TV funding crisis is deepening: The Canadian Television Fund has nixed just over half of the applications for coin from its Equity Investment Program as government cuts continue to bite.

News comes three weeks after the fund rejected 64% of applicants for its annual TV funding.

The Equity Investment Program doled out C$67 million ($46 million) for 70 projects, well down from last year, when it had more state money plus cash reserves of $25 million.

Many in the industry are calling the situation a full-blown crisis, as drama production was already in steep decline.

There is increasing criticism of the fund and of heritage minister Sheila Copps, the federal minister responsible for the program.

Last week, Copps said there were plans to replace the $17 million that had been cut from the government’s $68 million annual contribution. But the new money never appeared.

‘Slap-dash approach’

“This year’s funding has been nothing short of a fiasco,” said Maureen Parker, executive director of the Writers Guild of Canada. “This slap-dash approach is inefficient, ineffective and unfair to creators who deserve to work within a coherent system.”

Canuck actors union Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television & Radio Artists was just as unequivocal in its condemnation. “The federal government needs to properly finance Canada’s television fund and fix its dysfunctional rules this year and in the years to come,” said Stephen Waddell, ACTRA’s national exec director.

The one silver lining in the Canadian Television Fund announcement was that some prominent projects shut out of the earlier round of funding will receive cash. These include “The Eleventh Hour,” “The Red Green Show,” “Da Vinci’s Inquest” and “An American in Canada.”

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