Committee on Official Languages has the honour to present its
TELEVISION PRODUCTION IN MINORITY ENVIRONMENTS
Francophone television production in minority environments: a
Through their work, a dozen or so francophone producers living in
minority environments relate the stories and life experiences of their
community. Their impact is
twofold. In cultural terms, they
reinforce the socio-cultural identity of their community by giving it visibility
and expression. In economic terms, they
are synonymous with the creation of jobs for writers, actors, screenwriters and
technicians in the audiovisual industry.
In 1999, these producers formed an association, the Alliance des
producteurs francophones du Canada (APFC), which set itself the mission of working [translation] " to develop the
francophone film, television and multi-media industry across Canada".() Four years later, the results speak for
themselves. Between 1999 and 2002, the
total value of licences accorded by broadcasters grew from $1.6 million to $4
million. The number of hours of
programming produced on Canadian television also grew in this period [Figure
Source: APFC, La production en français à l'extérieur du
Québec : considérations relatives à la diffusion (document submitted to the
Department of Canadian Heritage, December 2001) and APFC, brief to the Standing
Committee on Official Languages, June 3, 2003.
Despite real progress, francophone television production outside Quebec
continues to be vulnerable. The recent
announced changes to the Canadian Television Fund and cuts in its budget
threaten this progress.
Cuts to the Canadian Television Fund budget and the revision of
the rules of allocation of the Licence Fee Program (LFP)
On February 18, 2003, the Government of Canada announced that it was contributing $150 million over two years to
the Canadian Television Fund—a reduction of $50 million ($25 million annually) from
previous years. This cut was doubly
painful as the $40 million reserve had been completely used up in 2002-2003 and
as the $4.6 million contribution by class 1()
cable companies, which are now permitted to allocate their 5% contribution to
local programming rather than to the Canadian Television Fund, as the result of
a decision by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).
In all, the Canadian Television Fund
was faced with a loss of nearly $70 million for 2003-2004 from the previous
In the fall of 2002, the Canadian Television Fund reviewed the
rules for allocating funds from the Licence Fee Program. The LFP's guidelines now give broadcasters
the overriding voice in the evaluation of projects submitted to the Fund. Broadcasters in Canada whose programs had
received financial support from the LFP in the past three years were entitled
to qualify a number of productions as "priority".
According to the updated LFP classification results for the spring
round of submissions, proposals submitted by francophone producers in minority
environments were hard hit by the criteria changes announced previously. While the overall rate of refusal was
approximately 60% and 50% for the two rounds of submissions, the rates of
refusal of projects of francophone producers in minority environments were 72%
and 78% respectively. In 2001-2002 and
2002-2003, over 20 projects received annual funding, as compared with the 4 out
of 17 that were proposed in 2003-2004.
In the area of documentaries, a slot in which the members of the Alliance
des producteurs francophones du Canada excel, only 2 projects out of 46 in the
francophone envelope were funded for francophone productions outside Quebec.
Every year, the two CTF
programs (the Licence Fee Program and the Equity Program) are both broken down
into linguistic envelopes: two thirds of the funding committed annually goes to
English productions, and the other third goes to fund French-language projects.
It should be pointed out here that
francophones in minority environments represent 15% of Canada's francophones.() We note that, in the past six years,
funding given to francophone producers in minority environments did not reach 15%
of the francophone envelope, despite a
substantial increase in the past two years. [See Figure 2]
Source: Canadian Television Fund activity reports for
1997-1998, 1998-1999, 1999-2000, 2000-2001, 2001-2002. For 2002-2003, the figures are taken from the
Fund's data base.
Accordingly, the Committee believes the funding given francophone
producers in minority environments must be stabilized in the coming years. The Committee therefore makes the following
The Standing Committee
on Official Languages calls on the Government of Canada to re-establish, indeed
even increase, its contribution to Canadian television production and confirm it for the next five
Committee on Official Languages recommends that the Government of Canada set
aside immediately a minimum of 15% of the francophone envelope of the Canadian
Television Fund, or of the funding of any new structure that might replace the
Fund, for television productions of francophones in minority environments, a
figure that represents the relative weight of the francophone minority communities
in the Canadian francophone population.
Support from broadcasters for francophone minority environment television
We noted that some francophone broadcasters still give francophone
producers in minority situations little opportunity. TFO, the only francophone broadcaster outside Quebec, is still the
principal partner/broadcaster of francophone productions outside Quebec with
60% of the licences granted. In recent
years, however, up to 2002-2003, support from the Société Radio-Canada for
regional francophone television productions increased. The increase was due in part to the SRC's
establishment of a career development program, which remains in effect, aimed
at training francophone writers and producers from minority language
communities. The project was funded in
part by the Interdepartmental Partnership with Official Language Communities (IPOLC)(),
in co-operation with partners, such as Telefilm Canada and the Institut
national de l'image et du son (INIS).
Another IPOLC agreement between Telefilm Canada and the Department of
Canadian Heritage was also ratified to promote the growth of independent francophone
production in minority environments.()
Clearly, help provided by Canadian
Heritage under the IPOLC has contributed to the growth of television production
in francophone minority communities.
However, the progress is fragile. In the last round of LPF submissions
(2003-2004), the Société accorded only 13 points of the 420 available to it to
projects from outside Quebec. The
Committee expects the Société to do better at the next round of application
submissions, to take place in the fall of 2003. It should give higher priority to francophone productions in
minority communities. We would remind
the Société that the CRTC stated clearly in its Decision 2000-2 of January 2000
that "CBC French-language television should maintain and even increase
regional production."() The Decision also states that the SRC
committed to invest $7 million in independent regional production over the
course of its licence.
The Committee would remind the other francophone national
broadcaster, TVA, that it has obligations with respect to francophone content
in minority situation. In 1998, the CRTC
approved national distribution of the French-language television service of
TVA. Decision 2001-385, in effect from
September 1, 2001 to August 31, 2008, carried
three conditions of licence over from 1998:
The licensee must broadcast a minimum of six special
events per year reflecting the Francophone reality and experience outside
The licensee must include, as part of the TVA network
programming, a weekly 30‑minute program on Francophone life outside
The licensee must reinvest at least 43% of the excess
of its revenues over expenses related to the expanded distribution of its
service outside Quebec in the improvement of programming focusing on
Francophones outside Quebec.()
With TVA half way through the term of its licence, we do not rule
out the possibility of inviting it, and other francophone broadcasters, to
appear in the coming months to explain to Committee members how they are meeting
Finally, the Committee would like to mention that it held only two
meetings on the various problems relating to the Canadian Television Fund and francophone
minority environment television production.
We were unable to consider the situation of English-language television production
in Quebec in depth. It faces different
but real challenges. For example,
anglophone productions from Quebec have to penetrate an anglophone market,
where American productions are highly competitive. In addition, anglophone producers in Quebec often have difficulty
gaining access to anglophone broadcasters, which are located primarily in
Toronto. The Committee may well
consider this question in the near future.
In conclusion, some witnesses indicated a real problem existed
between the management of Telefilm Canada and the Canadian Television Fund. The field of television finds itself with two
funds, two administrative programs and two administrative boards.
recommends that the Government of Canada thoroughly review both the
administration and the structure of the Canadian Television Fund and of Telefilm
This percentage is based on the population whose
mother tongue is French, established on the 2000 census by Statistics Canada.
FOR GOVERNMENT RESPONSE
Pursuant to Standing Order 109, your
committee requests the government to table a comprehensive response to this
A copy of the relevant Minutes of
Nos 25, 26 and 29) is tabled.
Mauril Bélanger, M.P.
of the Bloc Québécois
on Francophone Television Production in Minority Environments
Committee on Official Languages
The Bloc Québécois cannot support the Standing
Committee on Official Language’s Report on Francophone Television Production
in Minority Environments. Although the Bloc Québécois concurs with the
Committee that the funding given francophone producers in minority environments
must be stabilized, it cannot accept that this stabilization occur to the
detriment of Quebec.
Specifically, the Bloc Québécois cannot support
Recommendation 2, which recommends that “the Department of Canadian
Heritage set aside 15% of the francophone envelope of the Canadian Television
Fund for francophone minority environment television programming” because
this does not guarantee respect for Quebec’s share of the budget envelope for
Quebec represents the largest pool of francophones in
North America. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that its
television-production potential is not compromised by funding that fluctuates
in relation to cuts and increases to the Canadian Television Fund.
The Bloc Québécois recommends that the francophone
envelope of the Canadian Television Fund for francophones outside Quebec be
increased until it represents 15% of the total envelope for francophones in
Canada. This would ensure that the budget for Quebec is not cut. The problem is
not the distribution of budget envelopes among francophones across Canada but,
rather, an overall shortage of funds for Canadian francophones as a group.