Monthly Archives: June 2015

Heritage Committee Report on the Canadian Feature Film Industry

The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage recently released its report on its study on the Canadian Feature Film Industry. Over the spring a number of feature film stakeholders had appeared before the Committee or sent in submissions and this report is the result.
First a little context. Standing Committee reviews can be useful to study a sector within their jurisdiction, raise issues and make recommendations to the government. There is no obligation for the government to act on these recommendations or to even comment on them. These are the dying days of this Parliament and it is unlikely that the government will even notice this Report. However, it can also educate and inform Department of Canadian Heritage staff and help them to develop policies that could be implemented in the future.   As well, given that we are leading up to an election, this kind of a study could inform party platforms or future government proposals.

I recommend reading this report for a couple of reasons. If you are new to Canadian feature film policy it is a fairly accurate (not always the case) overview of the current state of the industry.   A wide selection of stakeholders appeared before the Committee and many topical issues and proposed solutions were presented. If this is your field then it is also interesting to see which issues the Committee as a whole, and the Opposition parties in supplementary proposals, felt worth recommending.

I found a couple of the recommendations of particular interest. A few of their recommendations went beyond government to other bodies, which technically speaking are outside the Committee and the government’s jurisdiction. In Recommendation 5 and 6 the Committee recommended that the CRTC include feature films as a separate category within PNI and that it review its PNI policy to specifically support feature film. As the CRTC is an arm’s length body this recommendation is like the Canadian government making a recommendation to the U.S. State Department on foreign policy. Further, there is a policy development process at the CRTC that is a great deal more rigorous than a Parliamentary Committee review. We might not like the current result of the process but the government cannot step in and make specific changes (there is a policy direction process but that’s more general).

Recommendation 10 is a recommendation asking the CBC to enhance its support of Canadian feature films, including on digital platforms but without a recommendation to increase the CBC’s budget to enable it to do so (which is in the government’s jurisdiction). The NDP expressed in their supplement the belief that the CBC should have sufficient resources to fulfill its mandate without a specific recommendation about what was needed to do that.

There were a couple of very specific recommendations related to the tax credits which could make a huge difference to feature film producers. For years the CMPA has been lobbying to eliminate the ‘grind’, where tax credits are reduced by the amount of assistance received from other levels of government (e.g. provincial tax credits). The Committee did not go so far as to recommend its elimination but that the problem should be studied. The Liberals in their supplement also supported the recommendation from witnesses that 75 – 85% of tax credit payments should be moved up to reduce the interim financing costs. This would be a great measure that would not cost the government anything but would create significant budget savings. I would only add that it should not be limited to feature film tax credits.

The final recommendation that interests me comes from both the NDP and Liberal supplements and was ignored by the main recommendations. Both parties recommended that OTT services should provide data to Heritage (or Heritage and the CRTC in the case of the Liberals) on consumer habits, Canadian films available, revenues and costs in order to assist policy development.  So this is a recommendation that the government MAKE Netflix and Google do what the CRTC was unable to make them do during the CRTC hearing. Nice thought but given that they deny that the CRTC has jurisdiction, I doubt that they would agree that the Canadian government has jurisdiction. I think it’s a lovely idea and yes it is data that the policy makers absolutely need to have for accurate policy development but it isn’t terribly realistic.

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Where Are They Now (wonk version)?

[As originally posted to TV, Eh?]

So a few weeks ago I tweeted that I had gotten lost on Google for a couple of hours because it had been suggested to me that ‘someone’ should report on where former CRTC Commissioners are now.   It’s like a wonky version of Zap2It’s ‘Degrassi: TNG Season 1 Cast – Where Are They Now?’ post. So here’s my Zap2It/Buzzfeed style update on more recent former CRTC Commissioners. As you can see, some leveraged their CRTC experience to move on to interesting new positions, some went back to what they had been doing before and many are consultants (a very honourable profession in my opinion). Some are consulting more than others. The further back you get the harder it is to find info online so I called it quits at Charles Dalfen. [Note – if anyone, including a former Commissioner, would like to update their listing, please feel free to contact me and I will edit.]

UPDATE:

Tom Pentefountas (2011 – 2015)

Pentefountas left five months before the end of his term to join Stingray Digital as Senior Vice-President of Sales, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia, working out of their London, UK office.  

Louise Poirier (2008 – 2013)

Poirier continues as Chair of the Gatineau Sport Development Board (Conseil de Dévelopment du Sport de Gatineau) http://www.sportgatineau.ca She had been a Gatineau city councilor before the Commission.

Suzanne Lamarre (2008 – 2013)

Prior to the Commission Lamarre had a long career at the CBC as an engineer and a lawyer. She has now shifted to the consulting world as a Strategy and Regulatory Affairs Advisor. According to her LinkedIn page she is keeping very busy advising and teaching telecommunications and broadcasting regulation.

Timothy Denton (2008 – 2013)

Prior to his stint at the Commission, Denton was a consultant and executive focused on all things Internet and he has returned to that focus as Chair of the Internet Society of Canada and Principal of The Windermere Group (telecomm, broadcasting and internet law and policy consulting practice). He is also blogging at www.tmdenton.com

Marc Patrone (2008 – 2013)

Prior to the Commission, Patrone had a long career as a reporter at CTV Atlantic. He returned to the news first at Sun News Network as director of news for Western Operations until it folded and now freelance, writing articles and posting videos for Ezra Levant’s Rebel Media blog and YouTube channel.

Len Katz (2007 – 2012)

Katz appears to be fully retired after he left the Commission due to health issues after a short term as interim Chair of the Commission and four years as Vice-Chair of Telecommunications.

Michel Morin (2007- 2012)

Morin was a journalist and news executive with Radio-Canada prior to the Commission. He has returned to the news as a Journalist for TVA Nouvelles.

Konrad von Finckenstein (2007 – 2012)

After a distinguished career as a Federal Court Judge and before that Chair of the Competition Bureau, von Finckenstein spent a term as the Chair of the Commission. He is now an independent arbitrator for commercial disputes at JAMS, a global provider of commercial arbitrators and a Senior Fellow at the independent think tank C.D. Howe Institute.

Helen Ray Del Val (2005 – 2008)

Ray Del Val was a commercial and telecommunications lawyer prior to her three year term as the BC Regional Commissioner. She is now Chair of BC’s Financial Institutions Commission and of the Community Care and Assisted Living Appeal Board.

Michel Arpin (2005 – 2010)

After a lengthy career primarily in radio broadcasting, Arpin was the Commission’s Vice-Chair Broadcasting for five years. After his term he spent one year as a lecturer at Université de Montréal and is now consulting.

Elizabeth Duncan (2005 – 2014)

Duncan served two terms as Commissioner after a career in regional cable. She appears to now be retired.

Rita Cugini (2005 – 2012)

Cugini also served two terms on the Commission. She currently is active as a strategic planning and media consultant with clients like APTN, Blue Ant, the Competition Bureau and the Ontario Ministry of Culture and Tourism. In 2013, along with Trina McQueen, Cugini conducted an independent review of the game Pipe Trouble commissioned by TVO, to see if it complied with TVO’s Programming Standards.

Richard French (2005 – 2007)

After two years as Vice-Chair Telecommunications, French left the CRTC and now holds the CN Paul M. Tellier Chair on Business and Public Policy at University of Ottawa.

Joan Pennefather (1998 – 2007)

After two terms with the CRTC, Pennefather is now a mediator with the Mediation Centre of Southern Ontario and a senior associate with the Institute on Governance.   She also sits on a number of boards.

Stuart Langford (1998-2007)

Langford spent two terms at the CRTC but seems to have fallen off the map at least as far as Google is concerned. Prior to the CRTC he practiced law, worked as a political staffer and wrote crime novels.

Andrée Noel (1998-2007)

Prior to her nine years with the CRTC, Noel was an executive with a telecommunications company and a publishing company. Noel is now a broadcast and telecommunications consultant and the National Chair of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council.

Charles Dalfen (2002-2006)

After his term as Chair of the CRTC, Dalfen was counsel at Tory’s, the firm he practiced with prior to his term at the CRTC. Dalfen died May 26, 2009 from a heart attack.

Thank you to Bram Abramson for being way better than a hive mind and directing me to the Privy Council Office page that aggregates Commissioner appointments.