There was a big announcement by heritage minister James Moore this week about “streamlining the Canadian Television Fund and Canadian New Media Fund into a new “super-fund” in 2010.
I haven’t posted on it, as I haven’t had a lot of time to dig into the details, but my “snap judgement” is that the move is problematic (to say the least) on a number of fronts.
At it’s core, I think the concept of streamlining and consolodating Canada’s media and entertainment sector funding is not necesarrily a bad idea, but I think this move opens a number of really troubling areas:
1) The jury is out on how exactly the “smaller independant” board will be constituted, but it seems safe at this time that broadcasters will have a much larger voice in that board, which is almost entirely the opposite of what those lobbying for an “independant” board wanted, for obvious reasons.
2) Opening the fund up to broadcaster-owned producers is a really sticky wicket. I don’t mean this to be rude, or a muckraker, or impugn the excellent work done by many of my friends and co-workers – but the goal of a large segment of broadcaster owned production is to fill as many content hours as cheaply as possible. Developing programming from that goal is almost diametrically at odds with what the fund was created to do, which was foster high quality content with large economic impact, high visibility, and export potential. Just the increase in volume alone is troubling givin the vast oversubscription to the old CTF.
and the big one
3) From the article: “The fund will favour projects produced in high-definition and require applicants to design their projects across a minimum of two distribution platforms, including television.”
I will get into this at length another day but the increase in popularity of “new media”, and the rise of “digital convergence” does not mean that you re-purpose material across several platforms. If we have learned anything about the changing media landscape in the past decade it’s that consumers consume different types of material in different ways across platforms. The material I watch on my iPod (and how and when I watch it) is not the same as the material I watch on my tv, nor in a movie theatre, nor on my computer. When you require producers to attempt to leverage their productions across multiple platforms, you are nearly guaranteeing that they will fail in one (and possibly both) of them. Requiring that applicants to a new media fund also be working their project in film or television, makes about as much sense as requiring applicants to a book publishing fund to have recorded a hit single, or applicants to an arts grant being able to run a 4-minute mile. Tying everything together does not foster excellence anywhere – it makes it more likely that projects will fail, and it mandates mediocrity (and underperformance) across the board.