Good afternoon, Mr. Chair.
Honourable members of the committee, my name is Michel Roy and I am the Chairman of the Board of Telefilm Canada. Joining me here today is Wayne Clarkson, Executive Director of Telefilm Canada.
First, let me thank the committee for the opportunity to appear before you to share our views with respect to your study on the evolution of the future of television.
This is an important process that you have embarked on. The viability of local television largely contributes to the stability and health of the entire broadcasting system to the benefit of all industry stakeholders and communities across the country.
As an investor on behalf of the Canadian government in independently produced Canadian content creation, Telefilm Canada has a vested interest in the maintenance of a healthy broadcast system. Telefilm Canada's role, as you know, is to foster the creation of Canadian content regardless of platform. As the administrator of cultural development programs worth approximately $400 million annually, Telefilm is the privileged financial instrument of the government to encourage and provide support to private sector producers, distributors, writers, directors and other creative talent of the Canadian audiovisual industry. Telefilm manages the Canada Feature Film Fund, the Canada New Media Fund and the Canadian Television Fund. We manage the New Media Fund through an agreement with Canadian Heritage, and we also have an agreement with the Canadian Television Fund to manage that fund on behalf of the board of the CTF. As you know, it has been announced that those two funds would eventually be amalgamated into a single one as of next April, and the new fund would be called the Canada Media Fund. The scope of our responsibilities demands exemplary governance, and I have made it my personal mission, during the first year of my tenure as chairman of the board of Telefilm Canada, to strengthen and stabilize the corporation's governance. We now have a solid and seasoned board of directors that ensures the public and private funds we administer are managed with optimal efficiency and effectiveness.
Just a few weeks ago, Mr. Clarkson and I, along with the members of the board, met with the industry in Montreal and across the country via live webcast, and we renewed our commitment to working with all our partners to continue to bring high-quality Canadian content to audiences on the platforms of their choosing.
In our view, the elements that have contributed thus far to a thriving audiovisual industry and the creation of award-winning works, stem from fruitful partnerships among talented Canadians, independent producers, broadcasters and government funding agencies. These partnerships help Canadian content producers secure the necessary financing to produce the works that audiences appreciate. As you know, the financing of Canadian content continues to be one of the greatest challenges faced by the industry. Now, broadcasters are essential among the many players contributing to the financing of Canadian content.
Television affords more working opportunities for talented creators and provides related sectors such as feature films with a highly skilled creative workforce. Producers, writers and directors successfully navigate the porous border between film and television all the time. Over the course of their careers, popular stars like Paul Gross, Patrick Huard and Sarah Polley have appeared on both big and small screens, accumulating star value with different audiences.
Numerous screenwriters and directors cut their teeth in television. Nitro's writer Benoît Guichard got his start in music videos. Before making Borderline, Lyne Charlebois directed numerous TV shows, including the hit series Nos étés.
Canadian television, including conventional television like CBC/Radio-Canada, pay television and video on demand, has been a key platform to support our domestic film industry, largely as a result of regulated Canadian content requirements.
There is no doubt that there are challenges facing conventional television. The evolution of audiovisual technologies has profoundly changed how Canadians communicate, express themselves, and interact with various media. One observer described the changes taking place as “everything is coming out of its containers”.
The business case for conventional television has changed significantly through the expansion of viewing choices, and this fragmentation of viewing is causing ongoing erosion in advertising revenue and profitability of broadcasters. The central challenge now is that new business models are required to move those containers around.
Ironically, while this is a time of great upheaval in Canadian television, it is also a time of great opportunity for Canadian content producers, as evidenced by the popularity of Canadian drama such as Flashpoint, co-produced by Anne-Marie Latraverse and Bill Mustos with the U.S. More recently, long-time film producer Roger Frappier of Maxfilms, together with Karine Martin of MediaBiz, concluded a 12-show deal with German producer Eva for the production of action-thriller telepics.
To ensure that we have the capacity going forward to produce high-quality Canadian programming that Canadians want to watch, Canadian producers need access to international financing. One of the highest priorities of the board of Telefilm Canada now is precisely to help Canadian producers attract greater international financing and assure the continued growth of the Canadian audiovisual sector.
The Canadian broadcasting system and its use of various audiovisual technologies must remain relevant in a global digital environment. Previous innovations in new technologies provoked fundamental changes in the way content was consumed. The shift today, occurring as a result of the exploitation of digital platforms, will be even more profound.
In this regard, in creating the Canada Media Fund, Minister Moore made the decision that it should support the production of Canadian content for all platforms, including interactive digital media. There is no doubt that traditional media and new media form a continuum; supporting both means adapting to the new environment.
Telefilm is hopeful that this dialogue, which the committee has initiated through this review, will not lose sight of the importance of maintaining strong Canadian content in the audiovisual industry. A healthy environment will ensure that talented young Canadians can continue to find work and production opportunities in their respective communities. Time and time again, we are reminded that compelling stories that originate from diverse communities make the most memorable entertainment.
In summary, Mr. Chairman, we understand that television broadcasting creates revenues for a certain number of players, each of which plays a role within the system and each of which wants to receive its fair share of these revenues. Regardless of that situation, and because of the huge cultural impact that television has on the Canadian population, Telefilm believes that everything must be undertaken to maintain a substantial share of Canadian content within the Canadian broadcasting system.
Thank you for your attention. We would now be happy to answer your questions.