Nets must spend on Canuck drama

CRTC force b'casters to increase coin for local fare

Broadcast regulator the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission will force Canadian broadcasters to significantly increase their spending on home-grown drama and to increase the audiences for Canadian drama.

Move comes after years of complaints from various industry groups in the Great White North that English-language drama here is in a state of crisis and that the private networks are not doing enough to support and finance local drama.

More drama

The CRTC ruled Friday that the private Canadian broadcasters — including Bell Globemedia-owned CTV, CanWest Global-owned Global Network and Chum Television — will have to increase their expenditures on Canadian drama to represent 6% of total revenues. Transition is to be achieved over a five-year period.

The current industry average for spending on Canadian drama is 3.3%, down from some 4% three years ago.

The Canadian Film and Television Prodn. Assn. had recommended to the CRTC that the 6% target be reached within three years, while the Canadian Assn. of Broadcasters argued the expenditure increase should be half of what the regulator was proposing.

Net increase

The CRTC also ruled that the nets will have to increase their viewing for Canadian drama to 16.5% of viewing for all drama on the networks. (Most of the drama on the private Canadian nets is imported U.S. fare.) The producers association supports this move, while the broadcasters association again argued that the increase should be brought in more gradually.

In reacting to the networks’ concerns, the CRTC noted that, per a previous CRTC decision, if the nets increase their home-grown drama expenditures and viewing, they will be allowed to sell additional minutes of advertising each hour. The CRTC also decided that the Canadian specialty channels will be allowed to increase viewing numbers for local drama at a slower pace than the main broadcasters. The specialty services will be expected to increase viewing for Canadian drama by 7.5% over a five-year period.

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