Buried deep in Canada’s proposed federal budget lies an unprecedented “commitment” to the Canada Media Fund, granting it the coveted “A” status to receive $102m (C$100m) annually for five years.
Norm Bolen, president and CEO Canadian Media Production Association, says such “stability” is a huge coup for Canadian filmmakers if the budget gets approval from the House of Commons (where it was tabled on March 22).
“This [$100 million annually for the CMF] has become part of the ongoing A-base budget. It’s a commitment. I’ve discussed it with the Minister himself,” Bolen told Screen, referring to the Honourable James Moore [pictured], Minister of Canadian Heritage, who oversees Canada’s moving pictures portfolio.
“It removes uncertainty for independent producers and broadcasters and allows them to plan their activities with the knowledge that the CMF will be there to partner with them for years to come,” Bolen added. Broadcaster stability in Canada, or lack thereof, has also been part of the dizzying feature film finance puzzle.
Since the CMF’s incarnation (two brandings ago in 1996), no federal government has ever committed to more than one or two years of funding at a time; nor made it part of the coveted “A-base” in the federal budget, which translates into a five-year commitment.
The CMF, a public-private partnership, distributes approximately $360m annually (including the $100m in question), an additional $35m from the federal government (long story) as well as $225m from the BDUs (cable, phone and satellite companies) such as Bell, Rogers, Cogeco, Quebecor and Shaw — the new distributors.
All CMF funding is administered by Telefilm Canada, which receives an additional $100m annually from Canadian Heritage for the Canada Feature Film Fund. That money was also confirmed yesterday, although TFC has been a Crown Corporation since 1967, so that fund is generally more stable.
All tallied, yesterday the Canadian federal government effectively confirmed a commitment to invest approximately $240m (C$235) million annually ($135m/CMF and $100/TFC) in Canadian moving pictures for a minimum of five years. That cash is the nucleus of a grand total of $460 million, invested through TFC and the CMF, in cinema, television and multiple-platform media, for next fiscal year, beginning April 1.
Many surmise the proposed budget will be “rejected” by the House opposition parties, and trigger a federal election, however insiders note that would not “likely” impact the CMF or TFC allotments.