Entertainment

Additional new media funding needed, groups urge CRTC

More Canadian content was the frequent refrain at the latest instalment of the CRTC's new media hearings, but groups appearing on Tuesday didn't necessarily share the same views about everything in the online realm.

Groups favour more Cancon, disagree on CRTC's 1999 exemption order

More Canadian content was the frequent refrain at the latest instalment of the CRTC's new media hearings, but groups appearing on Tuesday didn't necessarily share the same views about everything in the online realm.

Both the Writers Guild of Canada and the Canadian Film and Television Producers Association (CFTPA) said they want to see more Canadian content online and support charging a levy on internet service providers to fund the creation of more domestic content.

"We embrace the idea of a [three per cent ISP] levy because we think it's a fair way to contribute to the Canadian broadcasting system," said WGC executive director Maureen Parker.

Considering that the sector's overall revenue reached $5.8 billion, a three per cent levy is reasonable, Parker added.

"We're not asking they pass it on to consumers. We're asking that the ISPs absorb this as a cost of doing business."

Both groups also stated emphatically that the current funding streams for new media producers — including from Bell, CTF and Telefilm — are overstretched and oversubscribed.

Representatives from the Documentary Organization of Canada (DOC) also backed introducing a new funding source to help spark new productions, increased promotion and wider accessibility online.

However, the group proposed that the fund could be financed by either an ISP levy, money from the federal government, a percentage of funds redirected from the wireless spectrum auction or a combination of the three.

DOC also pitched a point system for determining whether an online video, game, movie, show or display can be considered Canadian content and the development of a system for tracking new media Canadian content online (likened to a digital watermark).

1999 exemption

The various parties diverged in their views towards the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission's 1999 exemption order for new media, which excluded programming broadcast over the internet from the same regulations that apply to conventional broadcasters.

While WGC called for the broadcast regulator to rescind its previous decision, CFTPA and DOC support continuing the exemption.

A strong believer in net neutrality, DOC supports "unfettered access to the internet," said co-chair John Christou.

"We fully believe that the internet should be a neutral setting for all content," added Danijel Margetic, chair of DOC's policy and advocacy committee.

"Demand for long form video content [is] not diminishing," Christou said.

"Our belief is that when people migrate from TV to the internet … if the Canadian content is already there when they migrate, it's better than trying to catch up later."

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