Television Development

If a project goes into “development” with CBC, what does that mean?

CBC funds the development of materials that will be used to evaluate if the show is right for CBC, like scripts, series bible, and sometimes in the case of unscripted shows, a demo or concept document.

Who would I be dealing with?

If your show is put into development, a production executive will be assigned to your project, and will be your main point of contact. They will be responsible for deciding what materials make the most sense to develop, approving your creative team (including writers and weighing in on their appropriate pay “scale”, etc.) and reviewing materials as they come in to provide feedback and approvals on CBC’s behalf.

Each production executive usually handles about 10-20 projects at a time (both in development and production) and sometimes they are offsite supporting shows in production.  In some cases, they may need a few weeks to get to your script, and may also need to consult with the programming team before giving feedback. In general, you should expect to get any notes or approvals within 3 weeks.

How much can I get?

Development budgets are negotiated by CBC’s Business & Rights team in consultation with your production executive, based on the materials being developed. For scripted projects, CBC relates to industry standards including the rates negotiated by the Canadian Media Producers’ Association with the Writers’ Guild of Canada (known as the “IPA”) and the Telefilm budget standard.

In many cases, development costs are shared by CBC and Canada Media Fund (CMF), with CBC assigning funds from CBC’s CMF envelope (a pot of money that is administered by CMF on projects identified by CBC). In some cases, there may be another partner at the table such as a foreign broadcaster or provincial funding agency. Funds are generally treated as an “advance” against any future license fees.

What does CBC expect in exchange?

In exchange for CBC’s contribution, CBC gets to give you feedback on your submitted materials to make sure that they fit with CBC’s programming strategy, as well as an exclusive option (usually for a year) to make an offer to license the  program based on the materials. The specifics of the option may sometimes be modified if another party is co-financing development (besides CBC and CMF). CBC also expects to receive a “developed in association with CBC” credit in the show and credit for any funds that we have paid out, if and when it gets made - even if CBC does not license it.

Why does CBC need a year to decide if they want my show?

CBC has a fixed annual programming budget, as well as a limited amount of CMF funds available to greenlight new programs. With this in mind, and a fiscal year that starts in April, CBC’s programming team usually reviews and compares the creative materials for network shows under consideration in January-March. If a project comes in earlier than this, a decision would likely be deferred; similarly, if a project isn’t ready for consideration in this timeline, it may have to be held over into the next fiscal. If it’s clear to your production executive that the show is not the right fit for CBC, they will tell you sooner so that you can see if you can find another home for the program.

What happens if CBC passes on my show?

If CBC elects not to make an offer to license your show, you will get a release from CBC that will allow you to offer the project to another licensor. If the project gets made without CBC’s participation, CBC usually expects to have our development costs refunded on the first day of principal photography, as well as a “developed in association with CBC” credit to let people know that we helped get the show off the ground.

Sample Development Agreement:

Click here for an example of our Sample Development Agreement.