SCN proposal seeks to spend less on local shows

The proposed owner of Saskatchewan's independent broadcaster SCN is looking for permission to change how much money it spends on local programs.

The proposed owner of Saskatchewan's independent broadcaster SCN is looking for permission to spend less on locally made programs, something the provincial NDP isn't happy about.

Rogers Broadcasting Ltd. has applied to buy SCN from Bluepoint Investments, the company that bought SCN's assets from the province.

In the application to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, Rogers asks to be relieved from SCN's commitment to spend $1.75 million per year on independent Saskatchewan productions, as well as $1 million per year on digital production in the province.

Local filmmakers like Steve Suderman of Regina say they're uneasy with that aspect of the deal.

"Well, it's discouraging to see, for sure," Suderman said. "In general, I don't feel like there is a lot of optimism for us for the future right now in Saskatchewan as far as film production goes."

Rogers says SCN is in financial stress and can't meet its local production committments. In place of the fixed dollar requirements, it says it wants to commit 23 per cent of revenue generated by SCN to independent films.

However, SCN says Rogers bid is more about rearranging money than cutting back.

Bluepoint spokesman Richard Gustin says if the deal goes through, the independent production industry in Saskatchewan will still benefit.

"If this was a sale that would take away all benefits from the Saskatchewan industry to the film and video industry and production industry in the province ... obviously, I would not be supportive at all," he said.

According to the application, Rogers wants to buy SCN for $3 million.

In the legislature on Tuesday, the NDP Opposition noted that the provincial goverment only received $350,000 when it sold SCN's assets two years ago. 

NDP MLA Danielle Chartier said she was worried about the loss of local production and blamed the Saskatchewan Party for allegedly selling SCN at a "fire sale" price.