Ask a Lawyer: The Way Forward in Canadian TV/Film Production

On March 12, 2015, the CRTC (Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission) released The Way Forward — the first Broadcasting Regulatory Policy to come out of “Let’s Talk TV: A Conversation with Canadians” launched by the CRTC in October 2013. The CRTC’s stated intent is to make policies to facilitate and to lead Canadian programming into an increasingly on-demand environment. So, according to the CRTC, what is The Way Forward you ask? Well, let’s talk TV!

From the seventy-page report, here are five CRTC recommendations or policy changes to watch:The CRTC recommended that the Canadian Media Fund and the government remove the requirement that a producer have a broadcast

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1. The CRTC recommended that the Canadian Media Fund and the government remove the requirement that a producer have a broadcast licence agreement with a traditional Canadian broadcaster in order to access funding for Canadian productions. The recommendation does not name specific sources of funding but, for example, both the provincial and federal content tax credits require an agreement with a broadcaster. As well, the following CMF programs require a broadcast licence agreement: Performance Envelope Program, English Regional Production Bonus, Anglophone Minority Incentive, Northern Production Incentive, Aboriginal Program, Diverse Language Program, English POV Program, and Francophone Minority Program.

2. The CRTC introduced two pilot projects relating to changes in the criteria for a production to qualify as Canadian Content (“CanCon”) for the purposes of tax credits, private and public funding, or to be counted towards a broadcaster’s expenditure and exhibition requirements. Pilot Project One recognizes a live-action drama/comedy as CanCon where the production is based on the adaption of a best-selling, Canadian-authored novel. Pilot Project Two recognizes live-action drama/comedy productions with a budget of at least $2 million/hour as CanCon. In addition, under both Pilot Projects, for productions to qualify as CanCon, the Screenwriter, one lead performer, and the production company must be Canadian, which requires that at least 75% of the service costs are paid to Canadians and at least 75% of the post-production costs are paid to Canadians.

3. Starting April 29, 2016, programming services can apply to be released from adhering to a Terms of Trade Agreement. A Terms of Trade Agreement is essentially a code of conduct for broadcasters and producers, providing the basic framework for the key elements of the relationship, covering the entire life cycle of a show, such as the minimum commercial terms for development and broadcast license agreements.

4. The CRTC simplified the licensing process, reducing the number of categories to three: basic services (including over-the-air conventional and community television stations and provincial educational services); discretionary services (all pay and specialty services); and on-demand (PPV and VOD services). Each type of licence will have its own standard conditions of licence to be established by the CRTC at a future proceeding.

5. The CRTC eliminated “genre protection”, which gave channels with a certain licence guaranteed carriage and protection from direct competition, with the exception of certain conditions and limitations for national news services and mainstream sports services. The CRTC stated that new or existing services that want to offer programming in a genre that was previously protected may do so immediately.

It’s not yet clear how these changes will affect the landscape of Canadian productions but once governmental, regulatory bodies start talking about the time to change, you know, change is probably already here.

Edwards PC, Creative Law is a boutique law firm provides legal services to Music, Film, Animation, TV, Digital Media, Game, Software and Publishing industry clients. For more information and blogs, please visit

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* This blog is for general informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Please contact Edwards PC, Creative Law or another lawyer, if you wish to apply these concepts to your specific circumstances.


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