State Of Canadian Broadcasting: New Media’s Significant Impact 10 Years Away?


The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission has come out with a long, 181-page report on the state of Canadian media industry, specifically radio and television, and has come back with some surprisingly conservative picture on the adoption and impact of digital media on the business health of the incumbents. Among the biggest of those, it estimates it will be another 10 years before a significant number of Canadians want “on-demand” media, such as video downloads and podcasting. Of course, it is a quasi-regulated market, so that might have something to do with it as well.
The CRTC pointed to the financial health of private TV companies and said they did not appear to have been hurt by new media. It also notes that Canadians in general have been slow in adoption of digital media, despite similar socio-economic conditions to U.S. For example, the Canadian online music market is currently tracking at $18 million annually, which is much less than the $636 million US market… Canada’s lack of penetration of legitimate digital services is underscored by the fact that countries such as the UK, Germany, France and Italy, all of whom have significantly lower broadband penetration than Canada, are capturing considerably more revenues from the authorized download market.
Lots of other stuff. Dive in here in the PDF report, or the HTML version of it.


Julian Darcy

Canuck of the North doesn't know what he/she is talking about.

Yes, producers require a licence *fee* from broadcasters before they can access state production funding. That's not the same thing as a regulated *broadcasting licence* of the sort given out by the CRTC.

A licence fee is simply an upfront investment by a broadcaster in an indepedently produced film or TV show. A broadcasting licence is a legal contract between a broadcaster and the government of Canada. Licence fees are not regulated. Broadcasting licences are.

Moreover, broadcasters are not allowed to access government production funding. They receive no direct funding from government.

Canuck of the North

Canadian entertainment (in nearly all respects) is a dismal failure.

Canadian Content (old television) by last year's CBC reports loses $140K per hour. Canadian Content sold into International, including US markets, is worth next to zero (rev share, not purchasing).

This is all institutional in nature: In order to get a $200K "new media" fund opened up, a Producer must FIRST have a broadcast license; which are the regulated licenses by the Government. To get funding of any sort, you must pass the Gatekeepers at the broadcast level — the SAME PEOPLE who acquire and produce content that loses money each hour.

Great system. At least the Health Care works.

The problem is that a Producer can live quite comfortably if they play in the Broadcast system. They just can't make a profit.

And, all of the Funds that could be used for new, profitable, next generation entertainment content distribution (i.e. VOD, internet video, etc.), in a country with the 2nd or 3rd highest broadband penetration in the world…won't open up the coffers unless you have a Broadcast license in hand.

Basically, the only "legitimate" distribution platform is a medium advertisers are moving away from.

That, coupled with the fact that indigenous production had a 10-year lag to really develop independent voices (as the major "Canadian Studios" such as Alliance Atlantis put their money behind US product, such as CSI, which they lucked into), well, you are just now getting Writers and Producers and Directors who have strong voices (and, who aren't flocking to the US as their colleages in the 90's did).

Recommendation? Stop funding the Broadcasters, they lose money and create content no one watches. Shut down Telefilm. Create a lottery of 100K Production Loan grants to produce exclusively for Online, with Ad Support and International Rights distribution. Ummm, you could probably have 1000 new production go online next year…Some would make money…on average, they couldn't do worse than they are today.

Vera Bass

I'd say that quasi regulated is an understatement. As to private TV companies, the stock in them might be privately owned but evaluating them as private when the market they operate in is not a true free market is, imo, misleading.

One of Canada's penetration problems, including as compared to European countries, is attributable to the sheer physical size of this underpopulated place.

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