The Absolutely Canadian Program (formerly RPDF)


Do you have an idea for a TV program? Are you an independent filmmaker or content creator with an original, regional story to tell that is relevant to a provincial or national audience?

Your local CBC station can provide expert business mentoring and resources, as well as funds. Funds support the production of new documentaries, music and comedy via the Absolutely Canadian Program (formerly called Regional Programming Development Fund or RPDF).

The purpose of the program is to support the creation of non-news, regional/local programming that is entertaining and innovative.

How Absolutely Canadian funding works:

Each Regional Centre is always open to program pitches (detailed in the FAQ below).

March through September are best for pitches because they coincide with additional funding deadlines. Out of these pitches, we create six programs annually for each centre. Most of these programs are local and independently produced while some are co-productions and some are CBC produced.

Content produced through the Absolutely Canadian Program premieres on local CBC stations in July through September, and are also offered on demand through A 'best of' selection of this content airs nationally on Absolutely Canadian on Saturday afternoons during the Fall and Winter.

While the focus is on creating content for the above slots, Absolutely Canadian funds may also be used for script development, training, and pilots. Absolutely Canadian functions as a ‘trigger’ for additional funding from other sources.

CBC supports independent producers via mentorship, expert business support and resources in the pursuit of additional funding opportunities and throughout the stages of production.

What’s Eligible?

Absolutely Canadian funding is intended for the pre-licence or acquisition of one-off programs for CBC TV and CBC Gem.  Network series, scripted long form programs and web-based series are currently not eligible for support with the Absolutely Canadian funding, but check under the tab Genres for information on who to contact at CBC for these ideas.

Absolutely Canadian documentaries run one broadcast hour, however shorter length films can be compiled into a one-hour program.  Programs are intended primarily for television and CBC Gem on-demand streaming, however multi-platform extensions for projects are encouraged.

Absolutely Canadian favours stories that are:

  • Regional, Local Connections – Originate in the province of production, created by filmmakers in the province, relevant to local and national audiences.
  • Diverse – Diverse voices and points of view are a priority in front of, and behind, the camera.  Our goal is to make sure all Canadians see themselves reflected in our programming, and connecting them with the many communities and voices that make our country special.
  • Original – Profiling people and stories that have not been highly covered by news and current affairs. Stories that offer unique angles and perspectives on topics of current interest.  Reflect stories in our local communities.
  • Contemporary – Reflective of Canadian communities looking toward a vision of Canada for the future.
  • Engage young audiences – Bringing the best content to our children and youth with the goal of enriching their lives and engaging them with their country.
  • Suitable for ‘Family Primetime’ – Most Absolutely Canadian programs air in the ‘family primetime’ timeslot (7pm) as well as daytime morning/afternoon.  Content must be suitable for a general audience.
  • Multi-Platform – Multi-platform extensions of the film are highly encouraged.
  • Funding CBC license fees vary per film.  We encourage you to access other sources to help fund your film.

FAQ (Required Reading!)

Do you have a question about the Absolutely Canadian program? We've answered the most common queries in our list of Frequently Asked Questions below. If you still can't find the answer you're looking for, please use the Contact section of this website.

What program genres can access the Absolutely Canadian program?
Absolutely Canadian supports the development and production of documentary and music programs. While the Program does not support online projects exclusively, online components of the above genres will bolster a project's chances of being funded.

What aspects of development are supported by the Absolutely Canadian program?
Absolutely Canadian supports proposal and script development, talent development, story editing and developmental shooting for documentaries. Producers are expected and encouraged to seek production funds from various sources, including provincial tax credits.

Can independent producers based in Toronto apply to the Absolutely Canadian for development funding? Yes. Each of the CBC regions has access to the Program. Ontario is divided into two regions: inside the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), and outside the GTA.

Where do I send my proposal?
Proposals should be submitted to your regional program development office, along with this release form. Your regional programmers work closely with network department heads to ensure projects put into development meet CBC's standards and priorities.

What should I include in my proposal?
Your initial development proposal should include:

  • A clear and concise overview outlining your project. This overview should specify the program genre, format and target demographic. Who is the audience for this?
  • A clear overview of the creative approach you would bring to the project. Be sure to address not just what the show is about, but what it would look like and what makes it unique in terms of approach, format, tone and POV. This overview should be between 2-5 pages.
  • A development plan. What will be accomplished during the development period?
  • A development budget and financing scenario, along with bios of the key creative team. Full resumes are not needed at this stage but we do need to see what kind of creative team is being assembled around this project and what kind of experience and expertise they bring to the table.
  • This release form.

Before submitting your proposal, it is strongly recommended that you familiarize yourself with the CBC schedule.

Programs that are innovative, contemporary and relevant with a clear narrative and storyline along with a strong appeal to audiences will have the greatest chance of success. Be sure to consult the genres eligible for Absolutely Canadian in the Genres section of this website.

How are proposals evaluated?
Proposals are evaluated on the basis of their originality of subject or treatment, clarity of approach and focus, audience appeal, credentials of the production team and financial viability. Projects that cannot be supported by this program may be forwarded to network departments with recommendations from local program staff.

What if I've never produced anything for television before?
If you and your team don't have a television track record, then your first step is to partner with a production company that does.

What is the program deadline this year?
The fund is available for submission on a year-round basis, but March through September are best for pitches because they coincide with additional funding deadlines.

When will I know if my proposal is successful?
It generally takes 8-10 weeks to review and respond to your proposal, but staff will respond sooner if possible. If you are planning to apply to other funding agencies with a commitment from CBC, please apply to CBC at least three months in advance of that deadline. Keep in mind that CBC receives hundreds of television proposals from across the country and the Absolutely Canadian process is very competitive.


To find out more, please get in touch with the appropriate contact:

Regional Contacts:

Alberta & British Columbia
Sheila Peacock
Producer, Specials, New Program & Talent Development
Tel: (604) 662-6095

Manitoba & Saskatchewan
Doug Holmes
Senior Producer, CBC Manitoba
Tel: (204) 788-3715

Nova Scotia / New Brunswick / P.E.I.
Stewart Young
Executive Producer, CBC Nova Scotia
Tel: (902) 420-4127

Newfoundland & Labrador
Angela Antle
CBC Producer, Newfoundland & Labrador
Tel: (709) 685-3037

Nunavut, Northwest Territories & Yukon
Janice Stein
Managing Director
Tel: (867) 920-5444

Adele Cardamone-Martel
Executive Producer, Non-News & New Program Development
Tel: (613) 288-6403

Carrie Haber
Producer, Television
Tel: (514) 597-4742

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