Canadian biz mulls TV fund change

Government merges TV, New Media sectors

MONTREAL — Canuck reaction was mixed to today’s announcement that the government is merging the Television Fund — the main financing motor of the local TV biz — and the much smaller New Media Fund to create the C$310 million ($239 million) Canada Media Fund.

Conservative Heritage Minister James Moore unveiled the news on a visit to the Toronto set of the CBS and CTV hit crime series “Flashpoint.”

The new fund will dole out the cash to TV producers over the next two years to fund programming for distribution on the TV and at least one new-media platform, such as the Internet.

But many industryites are unhappy that the government has given the giant cable operators majority control of the new fund’s board.

“It’s like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse,” said Stephen Waddell, national executive director of ACTRA, the country’s main actors union.

Others are unhappy that the automatic funding that pubcaster CBC used to receive from the old Canadian Television Fund has been eliminated.

“We have a number of concerns about the fund — the loss of the CBC’s guaranteed envelope, a board structure that does not include creators or broadcasters,” said Maureen Parker, executive director of the Writers Guild of Canada.

Political opposition, the New Demoratic Party, also objected to the fund.

“‘The big winners are cable giants like Shaw and Videotron,” said the NDP’s Charlie Angus. “‘This plan removes dissenting voices from the board, allowing the cable giants to set the terms of, and make final decisions on, who will or won’t have access to these funds.”

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