Media gets renewed commitments to funding

Canadian media companies enjoyed a boost in Tuesday’s budget, but mostly in the form of renewed commitments to funding that already existed.

The federal government said it will contribute $200 million over the next two years to the Canadian Television Fund, which supports the creation of domestic television programs.

Community newspapers and magazines got $30 million over the same period.

And the Canada New Media Fund will receive $28.6 million over the next two years, and then $14 million a year thereafter.

Companies that create digital media – content that is produced specifically for the Internet or mobile devices – had expected continued funding from the New Media Fund, but there was growing concern the tap could be turned off at any time.

“The most important thing here is that it provides some stability,” said Mark Bishop, partner/Executive Producer of Toronto-based digital media company marblemedia.

The Canadian Television Fund is a federal government program created 14 years ago to help fund the creation of Canadian television shows.

It has come under fire in recent years from cable and satellite companies who are required to match government contributions. The latter want more control over how the money is spent.

The broadcasting industry’s main lobby group, the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, sent Finance Minister Jim Flaherty a letter in December urging him to “provide stable, predictable, multi-year funding for the CTF.”

It said such investment would “promote investment, growth, and jobs in broadcasting.”

The Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists said in a press release Tuesday that the federal government missed an opportunity “to maximize the potential of the film and TV industry to stimulate the economy.”

The group said that the film and television industry contributes about $5 billion annually to the Canadian economy.

The money allocated to community newspapers and magazines replaces a program that was previously funded by Canada Post. It subsidizes the cost of mailing publications to remote and rural parts of the country.

Community newspapers receive only about 10 per cent of the money, with the remainder going to magazine publishers of all sizes, including some of the most popular titles in the country, like Maclean’s.

“We’re thrilled that they’ve renewed it obviously,” said John Hinds, chief executive of the Canadian Community Newspaper Association. “But really, it’s almost an internal accounting issue.”

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