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Canucks open vaults to TV folk

Telefilm Canada funds can go to b'cast producers

TORONTO — Government funding agency Telefilm Canada bowed to pressure Thursday to open up its C$100 million ($65.5 million) feature film fund to broadcaster-affiliated production companies.

Under the old rules, half the fund was doled out based on past box office performance and the other half was awarded at the agency’s discretion — but not to production companies working in TV.

Earlier this year, Chum Television, which owns 25 broadcast and feature channels, complained the guidelines blocked it from branching into the feature film biz, while rival broadcaster Alliance Atlantis qualified for the B.O. performance portion of the fund because of its long history in features.

2-year window

Broadcaster-affiliated producers will now be eligible to apply for funding for two years, after which time Telefilm will decide whether to continue with the plan.

“The objective of the fund is to reach a 5% box office in Canada,” Richard Stursberg, executive director of Telefilm, said in a statement. “This is a great challenge and will require that all players within the industry work together.”

Critics such as CAFDE, Canada’s principal film distributors association, have complained that the 5% goal set for 2005 “fringes on the unrealistic.”

Canadian film picks up just 2% of B.O. in the Great White North, the majority of it French-lingo for filmgoers in the province of Quebec. Just a handful of Canuck features — English or French — garners C$1 million ($655,000) at the B.O. each year.

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