Television Production

What rights would CBC typically expect if you pick up a show?

For projects where CBC is bringing a substantial portion of the financing to the table (either via cash, CMF envelope money and/or a facilities contribution), CBC would consider the program as a “CBC Original” and expect to have the first, exclusive and unlimited right to share the program with Canadian audiences on the platforms of CBC’s choice. In most cases, all of CBC’s rights are limited to Canada, leaving the producer the ability to sell international rights to the partner or partners of their choice.

How long of a term would CBC expect?

Our standard term is the same as CMF: 7 years exclusive for drama/comedy and 6 years exclusive for all other genres. CBC expects to have the world premiere (in any language) but per CMF rules we agree that we’d lose this right if we haven’t exploited the program from 6 months from delivery and acceptance. This rarely becomes an issue.

But CBC is just a broadcaster, right, so why don’t you just take television rights and let the producer keep the other platforms?

Of course television is very important to CBC, but as a modern public broadcaster, the television platform is just one of the many media that we use to offer programming. Today, we are a digital-first organization. We are acutely aware that Canadians don’t just watch programs on television anymore; they watch content on multiple platforms.

These behaviour shifts have disrupted existing media business models and fuelled the success of global technology platforms such as Google, Netflix, YouTube and Facebook – platforms that have also allowed CBC to expand our reach and introduce our content to a broader audience. In the face of these realities, CBC has focused on maintaining, expanding and improving our own strong, successful Canadian-owned and operated multi platform service, with a direct connection to Canadians.

In order to keep all our bases covered, when picking up new shows, it is important that we take rights to sublicense to other partners within Canada, including the right to offer programs across all their platforms, in addition to our owned and operated platforms. We are closely monitoring audience consumption of our shows, and need to be the ones to decide where and when the shows are to be offered to Canadian audiences.

What other rights does CBC take? Does CBC get any international rights? Profit participation?

In most cases, CBC’s rights are limited to Canada and are as outlined above. However, in some cases where there is a gap in the financing and the producer is asking CBC to make an additional contribution, we may, in exchange for such additional contribution negotiate incremental rights such as: international distribution rights, format rights, non-exclusive international streaming rights, participation in merchandising or an extended license term. As of September 2017, in response to industry feedback, CBC stopped taking a backend position in producer’s revenues on any projects.

(see: CBC To Eliminate Profit Participation and Retransmission Royalties From Its Deals With Canadian Independent Producers)

Does CBC get a credit?

Yes. CBC expects to get a “CBC Original” credit prominently placed in the program’s opening and closing credits in all versions of the program (to the extent there are credits) and in all press and publicity. Branding and discoverability is an important part of our business, and we will work with producers to continue to evolve our approach to credits as the industry evolves.

Sample Prime Time Pre-Licence Agreement

Click here for an example of our Sample Prime Time Pre-Licence Agreement