Without the fundamental safeguards to protect Canadian producers, will they survive?

“Independent producers stand to lose a lot” – Michael Hennessy, CMPA

Golden Age of Television

In his opening address at the Canadian Media Producers Association’s annual Prime Time conference in Ottawa on March 4, CMPA President and CEO Michael Hennessy said we may be living in the golden age of TV, but in Canada we are living in the golden age of uncertainty.

Over 600 delegates — producers, big media execs, marketing and other professionals – converged at the annual conference earlier this month. I was there as a guest of the CMPA along with 19 other emerging producers. It was my first experience attending Prime Time, which I found to have a friendly professional tone, however you could also feel people’s anxiety about the new realities facing TV.

Let Talk TV Primetime panel

(Photo: Panelists for the Prime Time “Let’s Talk TV” session on March 6. You can watch the full video here)

In his speech where he spoke about the “uncertainty” and challenges ahead, Michael Hennessy was referring to the popularity of streaming on-demand as well as the coming CRTC decisions regarding their Let’s Talk TV consultations with Canadians. This remained a hot topic the rest of the conference, along with exploring (and maximizing) the digital space and international collaborations.

Well, the results are coming in and indeed, there will be a lot of change when it comes to how television is regulated in Canada. In an interview with The Globe and Mail regarding the CRTC decisions (March 20), the President of the CMPA was asked who the winners and losers are so far. Hennessy said without hesitation that the losers are independent producers.

“Last week, the CRTC removed the safeguards independent producers have to bargain with the vertically-integrated broadcasters. That to us is incredibly perplexing because if you want to, as the commission say, emphasize creation, it seems to me that jeopardizing the ability of independent producers to negotiate with large vertically integrated companies is a very bad way to start.”

While we await more policy decisions to come down we can be sure that throwing out terms of trade will have immediate negative impacts for Canadian independent producers. For those of us who stand to lose the most, let’s continue to stay attentive, responsive and in communication at this time.

Cheryl Gudz is the digital marketing manager for Kensington Communications and a recipient of the CMPA’s Telefilm Canada Marketing Mentorship.