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Canada/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation  

5.3.7 Mass media

Canada's television quotas are administered by the CRTC based on ownership of the production company, expenditures paid for services to Canadians or incurred in Canada, and predominantly, on the nationality of the producer and key creative personnel. The CRTC certifies programmes as Canadian if the producer is Canadian, key creative personnel are Canadian and at least 75% of service costs and post-production laboratory costs are paid to Canadians. Canadian content quotas in radio, set at 35% of airtime each week, are administered according to the MAPL system (music, artist, production and lyrics), which supports the exposure of Canadian music performers, lyricists and composers to Canadian audiences and a strengthened Canadian music industry. The CRTC also maintains a 65% French-vocal music content requirement each week and at least 55% of the popular vocal music selections broadcast between 6AM and 6PM, Monday through Friday, must be in the French language (see  chapter 4.2.3).

In 2002, the government launched a review of the definition of Canadian content in film and television production. However, regulations refer to the mandated availability of Canadian content, which, for television, is 60% from 18:00 to 24:00. They do not necessarily mean that the programming is in fact viewed at the same levels. For example, in 2003, viewing of English-language Canadian content television during prime-time (19h00 to 23h00) was substantially lower at 23.1% than its availability (36.1%) while the comparable figures for French-language Canadian content television were 78.4% viewing and 65.6% availability.  All day viewing of Canadian content on television was 43.2% in 2003. In 2003, Canadian programs garnered 78% of the total viewership to French-language programmes and 37% of the total viewership to English-language programmes. Viewing by English-language viewers to Canadian drama and comedy programmes was 11.6%. In contrast, the viewing share for Canadian drama and comedy programmes by French-language viewers was 44.5% in 2003. Since then, audience statistics have been switched to the BBM TV meter survey and the CRTC and the Department of Canadian Heritage no longer use the viewing statistics from BBM TV diary surveys. The new meter data system provided by BBM does not allow for the calculation of viewing shares during peak hours along comparable lines with trend line information. The latest television and radio audience figures for all content (not just Canadian content) are contained in  chapter 8.2.1.

Critics argue that Canadian content should be defined according to other considerations than "citizenship" or "residence" such as theme and subject matter, location of production and post-production, copyright and rights ownership, and international and domestic distribution rights. It has also been suggested that private broadcasters could be required to dedicate a percentage of their budget - rather than a percentage of airtime - to Canadian programmers. Currently, with the large levels of spending of Canadian broadcasters (private TV, public (CBC / SRC and educational) TV, and pay and specialty services combined) on telecasting Canadian programmes (CAD 2.2 billion in 2006) and federal subsidies for Canadian television programming, non-Canadian still dominate the top 20 TV programmes watched by English-Canadians whereas almost all of the top 20 programmes viewed in Quebec were Canadian. Viewing of English-language Canadian content on television in Canada is far less compared to other English-language markets such as the UK and Australia where 9 and 8 of the top shows watched are domestically produced, respectively. The realities are different in the Canada's French-language market where language has a buffering effect on foreign (US) competition. Telefilm Canada currently administers funding eligibility requirements for marketing and other audience-building efforts. (Statistics Canada and CRTC 2007)

In June 2003, the Review of Canadian Content in the 21st Century in Film and Television Productions (Francois Macerola) made recommendations to the government, among which are the following: (1) replace the current point / expenditure system by a creative expenditure model; (2) one arm's length organisation be made responsible for the certification of Canadian content: a proposed Canadian Content Commission; (3) the Canadian Film or Video Production tax Credit be scaled upwards; (4) Canada should seek preferential treatment and special association status with the most important multilateral initiatives especially those within the European Union; and (5) the distribution of Canadian feature films in Canada should continue to be reserved for Canadian-owned and -controlled companies. 

Chapter published: 19-01-2011

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