Too bad there are no penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct at CRTC Hearings

At a CRTC hearing earlier this week, Corus, one of Canada’s leading broadcasters, implied that Canadian TV producers aren’t doing enough to market and promote themselves overseas to increase international sales. To feel insulted to hear that spin presented to our regulator is to understate our anger. To suggest that spin is misleading is to suggest Rob Ford tells little white lies.

Simply put, Canada’s film and TV producers cannot survive without international sales. They would not be successful without attending all major international markets en masse to promote and sell their shows and seek fruitful partnerships. Every year in Cannes, Berlin, New York and Los Angeles and other locales around the globe, scores of Canadian producers pitch their wares, on their dime, and if their pitches and the projects they develop fail, they eat the losses not the broadcasters.

Producers and their distribution partners, not broadcasters, are the Canadian ambassadors for promoting their shows. So it’s beyond insulting when one of them implies we have missed the boat on international markets to promote and sell Canadian shows.

Right now I am on a plane to Vancouver on the first leg of a journey to Australia where we will bring a formal trade delegation of 17 producers to Australia funded jointly by DFAIT, the CMPA and the individual producers’ companies. We are there to increase trade with Australia.

Last year the CMPA helped fund a group of producers to go to Rio to crack the Brazilian market, while CMPA-BC, with the support of Western Economic Diversification, went on a trade mission to the United Kingdom. We also took a formal delegation to Argentina last year under one of the other 53 co-production treaties Canada has signed.

These missions and markets pay off in sales and co-productions, which is why we punch way above our weight when it comes to generating exports. To be fair, some broadcasters punch above their weight when it comes to imports of U.S. programs.

International is our business and we take it very seriously. We also take great umbrage when one of our broadcast partners demeans our efforts abroad before the CRTC. It is patently unfair and paints a picture of what we have been doing that is as misleading as it is wrong.

So, if I sound angry, I am. But next time you hear about the efforts to brand Canadian Content at home and abroad through Red Carpet events or joint promotional activities, just remember that it is producers standing beside Telefilm, CMF and our government representatives. And take note that the CMPA and the Canadian producers we represent are very seriously engaged in the business of international sales and promotion and we back that work up with both our money and our resources.

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