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Canadian producers, broadcasters agree to terms

Deal follows eight years of haggling

MONTREAL — Canuck producers have reached a new terms-of-trade deal with the country’s main broadcasters after eight years of haggling.

It gives producers more power when negotiating license deals with the likes of Shaw Media, CTV, Rogers, Astral and Corus.

The deal stipulates, for example, that broadcasters can’t negotiate license deals that last more than five years and if broadcasters are selling shows directly to consumers they have to split revenues 50-50 with the producers.

Among other benefits, producers will be allowed to plough 25% of the government tax credits they receive into their companies, rather than putting it all into production, which is what broadcasters want them to do.

Negotiations between the producers and broadcasters began in 2003 and it looked as if the two sides would never reach agreement.

But federal broadcast regulator the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission said either they make a deal or it would impose one on them. The deadline was this past Monday, the start of license-renewal hearings for the broadcasters.

“It’s not a panacea, it doesn’t solve all our problems, but it’s a breakthrough,” said Norm Bolen, CEO of the Canadian Media Production Assn. “It’s going to streamline our relationship because a lot of the business terms in the industry will be standard and straight forward.”

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