Rally for Our TV June 1 in Toronto!

Fresh back from their annual cross-border American programming shopping spree, Canadian broadcasters are set to unveil their fall TV schedules this week. Canadian actors plan to deliver them this homecoming message: BUY CANADIAN!

What:    ACTRA rally, outside Global TV’s “upfronts” press conference

Date:    Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Time:    2:00 – 3:00pm EST

Where:  Outside the Hazelton Hotel, 118 Yorkville Ave., Toronto

Canadian broadcasters are annually spending hundreds of millions of dollars on Hollywood programs that can already be seen on American networks, while squeezing Canadian TV off their schedules. The CRTC’s new March numbers show that their spending on foreign programming has soared to a record high: $846.3 million, and a 3.3% spending decrease on Canadian programs.

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31

05 2010

U.S. SPENDING BY CANADIAN BROADCASTERS SOARS TO RECORD HIGH

May 21, 2010 – Toronto – The CRTC just reported another record-breaking year for foreign program spending by Canadian broadcasters, and a 3.3% spending decrease on Canadian programs. Figures show that despite declining revenues, private broadcasters spent a record amount on U.S. and foreign shows in 2009 – 59% of all their programming expenses or $846.3 million.

“Our Canadian broadcasters are in Hollywood this week, on their habitual cross-border shopping spree. We’re fed up with their previous performances which have pushed our Canadian programming further off the dial.” said Ferne Downey, ACTRA National President. “They’ve been packing their schedules tight with U.S. programming and ready-to-go promotion packages while enjoying the benefit of protection from foreign competition. Let’s hope they surprise us with lots of Canadian programs at their upfronts.”

The new CRTC policy gives Canadian broadcasters free rein on their exhibition of TV drama and doesn’t require that they air any of those programs, so the L.A. shopping sprees continue. ACTRA will continue to press for higher spending requirements and the imposition of exhibition requirements for Canadian programing during the 2011 licence renewal hearings.

“We are sick and tired of our private broadcasters whining about their financial situations while spending hundreds of millions of dollars on Hollywood productions. They are ignoring our Canadian economy and culture, while make millions off Canada’s public airwaves without giving anything back.” said Stephen Waddell, ACTRA’s National Executive Director.

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31

05 2010

This just in: CRTC Blows it!

March 22, 2010 – Gatineau – The CRTC has blown its chance to put Canada back in prime time; instead it has given broadcasters a free pass. While ACTRA welcomes the return of Canadian spending requirements on conventional broadcasters, the new policy represents a ’status quo’ on spending and a reduced commitment to overall Canadian programming. Most concerning is the lack of any requirements to air Canadian drama.

“We’ve been fighting for 10 years to get Canadian scripted programming back into prime time, we’re completely gobsmacked that there’s nothing in this policy to ensure that,” said Ferne Downey, ACTRA National President. “It’s the same old story – broadcasters get a free ride while Canadian culture gets put on a back burner. None of the front burner dazzle that requires drama to be aired on the conventional stations. What a disappointment.”

“It’s great that broadcasters are being told to spend money on Canadian drama, but they’re not being told they have to air it. Instead they’ve been given free-reign to dump all of their drama on their specialty channels while feeding Canadians a steady diet of made-in-the U.S. programs in prime time,” said Canadian TV star Nicholas Campbell.

The CRTC’s new group-based licensing framework announced today will require corporate broadcasting groups to spend at least 30% of their gross revenues on Canadian programming. In addition, conventional TV services will need to spend a minimum of 5% of their revenues on programs of ‘national interest’ – scripted drama, comedy and awards shows. However, the policy doesn’t require broadcasters to air any of those programs. Instead they can offer it up to their affiliated specialty channels.

“In order for our culture to survive we must be able to see our own stories on TV where all Canadians can see it – and that’s on conventional television in prime time,” said Stephen Waddell, ACTRA’s National Executive Director. “I’m sure big cable is delighted with this decision since the only way Canadians will be guaranteed to see their own scripted programming is to shell out more even more money to cable companies to get access to specialty channels.”

While the lack of any exhibition requirements for conventional broadcasters is concerning, ACTRA is pleased to see a number of the other requests it made of the CRTC included such as the elimination of ‘priority programming’. “We’re looking at today’s policy as a floor, not a ceiling. We’ll be pressing for higher spending requirements and the imposition of exhibition requirements during the 2011 licence renewal hearings,” said Downey.

ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists) is the national organization of professional performers working in the English-language recorded media in Canada. ACTRA represents the interests of 21,000 members across Canada – the foundation of Canada’s highly acclaimed professional performing community.

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22

03 2010

NEW NUMBERS PROVE BROADCASTERS NEED MORE RULES

Nice of the CRTC to release the broadcasters’ and cable co’s financials on the eve of announcing their TV policy since the numbers show YET AGAIN why we need to end the free ride for both of them!

NEW NUMBERS PROVE BROADCASTERS NEED MORE RULES
Performers anxiously await CRTC’s new Television Policy on March 22

March 18, 2010 – Toronto – On the eve of new rules for Canadian broadcasting, figures released today prove the regulator needs to take steps to ensure that Canadians can see our own stories. The CRTC is set to release a new television policy this Monday, March 22 and performers are hopeful that the regulator will focus on getting more Canadian programming in primetime.

“Today’s numbers tell the same story we’ve seen for the past 10 years. Canadian drama is dying while broadcasters feed their addiction to U.S. programming and cable companies are making obscene profits while ripping-off Canadians,” said Stephen Waddell, National Executive Director, ACTRA. “The CRTC has to seize the opportunity on Monday and get this right, our industry and our culture won’t survive another ten years of letting broadcasters and big cable off the hook.”

Figures released by the CRTC today show that despite declining revenues, private broadcasters spent a record amount on U.S. and foreign shows in 2009 – 59% of all programming expenses or $846.3 million. At the same time, their spending on Canadian programming decreased by 3.3%. In addition, cable companies’ revenues grew by another $1 billion, yet they continue to refuse to pay broadcasters for their signals and keep passing the costs of their own regulatory obligations down to Canadians.

Canadian performers have urged the CRTC to take a bold and creative approach as they re-write the rules for Canadian broadcasting:

  • making over-the-air broadcasters spend a percentage of their revenues on Canadian programming, with at least 6% of their revenues dedicated to drama;
  • telling corporate broadcast groups that they too must spend a set percentage of their gross revenues on Canadian drama;
  • requiring over-the-air broadcasters to air a minimum of two hours per week of original Canadian drama in prime time, 8-11 pm Sunday to Friday; and
  • ending the free-ride for cable companies by making them pay conventional broadcasters fairly for their signal and making sure they don’t pass the bill along to consumers.

ACTRA will be on the ground at the CRTC in Gatineau on Monday, March 22, at 4 pm ET when the decision is released and will be available for comment.

WATCH: Mark McKinney explain how the CRTC’s 1999 Television Policy has decimated Canadian TV in prime time – http://tinyurl.com/ydxrjc3

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19

03 2010

TV Policy coming March 22!

The CRTC has confirmed rumours that their new TV policy will be released this Monday, March 22 at 4 pm ET.  This is the BIG DAY we’ve been waiting for – when we learn if we’ve won the fight for Our TV and more Canada on Our TV.

ACTRA will be on the ground at CRTC HQ to get the decision as it rolls off the press – stay tuned for our reports!

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16

03 2010

Keep the community in Our TV!

You may have noticed that there are there are virtually no true community channels left since the cable companies started to “professionalize” them more than 10 years ago. The federal broadcast regulator (CRTC) is about to review the community television sector. This presents an historic opportunity to take back control of this important community resource and to create independent media that reflect our diversity of voices.

Speak out! Send a letter tot he CRTC and tell them to make sure you have a voice in your community TV.

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08

01 2010

STRONG AUSTRALIAN REGS MEANS STRONG AUSTRALIAN TV

Australian performers working in Canada are surprised to see so little Canadian TV programs on Canadian TV broadcasters.

“Looking at Canada’s prime time TV schedules, I’m shocked at the dearth of Canadian TV programs. In Australia, government regulations – including a floor for drama – means most of the Top 20 TV programs are in fact Australian,” said Simon Burke, President of Australia’s Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA). Burke is currently in Toronto performing the role of Captain von Trapp in the Mirvish production of The Sound of Music at the Princess of Wales Theatre.

According to the Australian television audience measurement company OzTAM, the majority of the Top 20 most popular TV programs in Australia are Australian produced. In contrast, of the Top 20 TV programs in Canada for the week of November 30th, just four were Canadian produced, none of which were in the Top 10.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority requires strong Australian content on all Australian broadcasters, including a minimum of Australian drama. These rules have led to an average of 631 hours of Australian drama on Australian screens every year (Source: Screen Australia, National Survey of Feature Film and TV Drama Production, 2008/09). With the Australian Government also committing an additional $137 million to its public broadcaster for increased drama output – this will lead to even higher levels in the future.

In 1999, Canada’s broadcast regulator, the CRTC, relaxed CanCon rules for private broadcasters, eliminating drama requirements altogether. Since, Canadian English-language drama has been a rarity on prime time Canadian TV.

“It’s time the CRTC looked to countries like Australia to see what strong content regulations can do for Canadian TV,” said Ferne Downey, ACTRA National President, in advance of ACTRA’s appearance today at CRTC hearings on the future of Canadian TV.

“It’s a real shame that while working here in Canada, most of what I see on TV is American. Although we’d love to see more Australian drama, because Australian broadcasters must air Australian TV programs, our own TV shows are a hit,” said Burke.

The Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) is the Australian union and professional organization for 22,000 members working in the media, entertainment, sports and arts industries in Australia.

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14

12 2009

PERFORMERS CALL ON CRTC TO PUT MORE CANADA IN PRIME TIME

“Don’t let the broadcasters’ and cables’ slap-fest hijack the agenda”

Canadian performers appeared before the CRTC today to urge the regulator to focus on getting more Canadian programming in prime time as the regulator re-writes its TV policy. TV stars Wendy Crewson, Nicholas Campbell and ACTRA National President Ferne Downey called on the CRTC to make broadcasters meet their obligations under the Broadcasting Act by forcing them to invest more in Canadian drama and give it a place in their primetime schedules.

“We’re telling the CRTC not to let the slap-fest between the broadcasters and big cable hi-jack the agenda. These hearings are about the broadcasters’ responsibility to give Canadians more of our own programming,” said actor Nicholas Campbell. “We’re not asking for a lot here. I don’t think it’s too much to ask that Canadians can see two hours of our own original, scripted programming in prime time a week.”

“The broadcasters have been getting a free ride for too long, it has to stop. The current minimal CanCon requirements are diminishing our stories and our jobs, unless this turns around we will become a branch plant for American culture,” said Wendy Crewson.

Canadian English-language drama has been a rarity in prime time since 1999 when the CRTC relaxed Canadian content rules. Since then, Canadian private broadcasters have been saturating Canada’s prime time schedules with U.S. shows. Last year they spent $740 million on U.S. and foreign programming and just $54 million on Canadian English-language drama and comedies.

ACTRA’s solution includes making English-language conventional broadcasters commit to spending at least 6% of their gross revenues on scripted drama and comedy and to airing a minimum two hours of original Canadian drama in prime time.

“Our proposal is flexible, balanced and forward thinking. It serves the interests of our industry as a whole, not just one or two powerful players. Most important, it ensures that Canadian audiences have access to our own airwaves,” said Ferne Downey, ACTRA National President. “We’ve been waiting for this chance for 10 years. The CRTC has to seize the opportunity to get this right, fix the rules and get more Canada on TV.”

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02

12 2009

ACTRA HOLDS DAY OF ACTION FOR CANADIAN PROGRAMMING “If the CRTC gets it wrong again our industry will be crushed”

Some of Canada’s top TV stars marched en masse to Parliament Hill today to demand more Canada on Canadian TV. As the CRTC launches hearings on the future of TV broadcasting, performers across the country are calling on the regulator to put Canadian programming first by ending the free-ride for big cable and private broadcasters.

“Today is about reminding Ottawa and the CRTC that big cable and broadcasters don’t own the airwaves, we do. It’s about taking back our TV and making sure there is space on our airwaves for Canadian stories,” said Nicholas Campbell.

“We’ve been waiting 10 years to get the rules fixed. If the CRTC gets it wrong again our airwaves will continue to be dominated by U.S. programming, our industry will be crushed and we will lose yet another generation of actors and writers to L.A.,” said Mark McKinney. “We need to seize this moment of opportunity so our talent will stay to serve and create shows for a Canadian TV industry that is poised to explode in ambition, reach and profitability.”

Stars at the Ottawa rally included: Dalmar Abuzeid (Degrassi), Charlotte Arnold (Degrassi) Nicholas Campbell (Da Vinci’s Inquest/ZOS), Jackson Davies (Beachcombers), James McGowan (The Border) Mark McKinney (Kids in the Hall/Slings & Arrows), Carlo Rota (Little Mosque/24), Zaib Shaikh (Little Mosque/Metropia), R.H. Thomson (October 1970) and Tonya Lee Williams (The Border/The Young and the Restless). Award-winning recording artist Gordie Sampson also made a special musical appearance.

Canadian English-language drama has been a rarity in prime time since 1999 when the CRTC relaxed Canadian content rules. Since then, private broadcasters have been saturating Canada’s prime time schedules with U.S. shows. Last year they spent $740 million on U.S. and foreign programming and just $54 million on Canadian English-language drama.

“The CRTC must take the public’s interest to heart and stop giving both private broadcasters and big cable the wide breadth they have enjoyed for so long. We’re the ones that end up paying for this with higher cable bills and less Canadian programming on our airwaves,” said Tonya Lee Williams. “The fact is both sides need to be doing more.”

ACTRA is asking the CRTC to direct conventional TV broadcasters to invest at least 6% of their gross revenues in Canadian drama and air a minimum of two hours a week of original scripted Canadian drama and comedy in prime time.

“How do we know what it is to be Canadian if we can’t see and share our experiences, our own lives, our communities, our heroes and our history on TV, the most popular and pervasive cultural medium in history? If Canadian broadcasters don’t give us space to tell our stories, no one else will,” said Ferne Downey, ACTRA National President.

“AFM Canada is pleased to support today’s action by securing the participation of one of our many celebrated members, Gordie Sampson,” says Bill Skolnik, the AFM Vice President from Canada. “We believe that Canadian airwaves belong to the people of this country. It is both our duty and responsibility as citizens to ensure a place for Canadian content on all our broadcast stations.”

ACTRA also held a press conference at the CRTC hearings in Gatineau, launched a lobbying campaign on Parliament Hill and organized local activities in Halifax, Edmonton, Regina and Winnipeg.

ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists) is the national organization of professional performers working in the English-language recorded media in Canada. ACTRA represents the interests of 21,000 members across Canada – the foundation of Canada’s highly acclaimed professional performing community.

The position and views in this statement are supported and endorsed by the American Federation of Musicians, Canada representing over 17,000 professional musicians.

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18

11 2009

Watch and see why it’s so important to have Canadian TV drama

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05

11 2009