|by:||Feb 5, 2007|
For once, there are no major policy changes this year at the Canadian Television Fund, which will enact new guidelines for 2007/08 on Feb. 1.
The tweaks - which arrive just weeks after Shaw Communications and Quebecor-owned cabler Videotron pulled their support from the TV funder - are mostly cosmetic, and affect CTF documents. The CTF has repackaged the numerous application materials in a new streamlined format aimed at making them more user-friendly. The guidelines are now organized into five funding streams - the Broadcaster Performance Envelopes, French-language productions outside Quebec, aboriginal-language productions, development financing ,and versioning. Each stream has its own distinct CTF guideline package.
"The documents have been reorganized to make them clearer and more accessible," says CTF policy analyst Neal McDougall. "So while the documents may look different, there are no big policy changes."
There are, however, some key tweaks meant to alleviate some of the problems faced during last year's application process. Deadlines have been aligned in each of the five funding streams. In the BPE stream, for example, the English drama deadline has been pushed back two months from October in 2006 to Dec. 7, 2007, which is also the closing date for children's and youth, documentary, and variety and performing arts.
This should help alleviate the problem that arose in 2006 when many drama projects did not have all their financing confirmed by the October closing date, because many funds make their commitments later in the year. Likewise, CTF will now accept applications to the BPE stream without 100% confirmed financing.
"Projects only need 60% of the total Canadian financing at time of application, but have to confirm 100% financing by the final closing date," McDougall explains. "This gives producers extra time to finalize project financing and deal with the deadlines of other funds."
Also new for 2007/08: pilots, which previously fell in the one-off English-language drama category, now have their own separate designation with distinct contribution levels.
For half-hour pilots budgeted at more than $700,000, the licence fee threshold is $250,000, and the CTF maximum contribution is $350,000. For hour-longs budgeted at more than $1.75 million, the licence fee threshold is $525,000, with a CTF maximum contribution of $850,000.
The maximum licence fee top-up is 20% of budget, and equity investment is capped at 49% of budget for both half-hour and hour-long pilots.
During last year's cross-country CTF stakeholder meetings, a common complaint was that the English market development guidelines did not include a formula for including third-party funders.
The new guidelines state that when financiers other than Canadian broadcasters (such as provincial agencies, independent funds or foreign broadcasters) participate in development financing of a project, their contribution will proportionately reduce the CTF and Canadian broadcaster contributions, which remain set at a 50/50 split, or 75/25 in the cases of regional development.
Vancouver Island will now be defined as a region for purposes of development. Previously, the island was ineligible because of the definition of a region as more than 150 kilometers from Vancouver, Montreal or Toronto.
Also, up to two broadcasters (or an unlimited number of educasters) can now contribute to meet development fee thresholds. Producers, however, are no longer permitted to participate in development financing.
There have also been changes to the development payment schedule. Broadcasters only have to make an initial payment of 30% (instead of 50%) of the total development fee before the CTF releases its first 50% contribution.
Most of the other policy changes are minor and meant to make the guidelines more flexible and reactive to the needs of specific projects. For example, principal photography - which previously had to commence prior to the end of March 31 - can now begin within three months after the end of the fiscal year in which the project is funded.
Special consideration is still available for documentaries. Producer fees and corporate overhead remain set at 20% of shoot and post-production costs (and 30% for low-budget productions), but now there is some leeway for a project that cannot meet this stipulation.
"We generally still want producer fees and overhead at that amount - the goal is to provide safeguards to ensure producers are appropriately compensated in production budgets," explains McDougall. "But if a particular project can't meet that requirement for legitimate reasons, we won't render it ineligible."