For immediate release
Waiting For the Other Shoe to Drop
Toronto, March 17th, 2015 - The CRTC’s latest round of Let’s Talk TV announcements are creating confusion and alarm in the documentary community.
“By emphasizing big budget primetime drama over other genres, including documentary, these decisions appear to offer less choice to Canadians than more, which was what the intent of these hearings was supposed to be about,” commented Connie Edwards, Interim Chair of the Documentary Organization of Canada (DOC). “There are ample statistics showing that people want documentaries and the CRTC has an obligation to ensure that Canadians have access to programming that they want. There is also a concern that by suggesting that there should be fewer, larger production companies, that small and medium regional producers will be wiped off the map. We are confused as to why the CRTC would interfere with private businesses and abandon their obligation to support regional programming.”
In its intervention at the Talk TV hearings, DOC had particularly highlighted the need for the regulator to enforce the nature of service with specialty channels. Their submission forewarned that not doing so would result in a significant reduction in diversity of programming when all broadcasters are chasing the same mass audience. This was already a concern given the blurring of lines between long form documentary and lifestyle and reality programming. Abandoning regulation of nature of service spells even further erosion for the documentary genre.
“Another big concern for our community is the Commission’s decision to remove the necessity for Terms of Trade,” Edwards added. “It’s the smaller independent companies that are the losers here. They don’t have the clout of some larger companies and relied on Terms of Trade to balance the broadcasters’ greater bargaining power.”
To some extent DOC questions whether the Commission has over-stepped its bounds by deciding it wants to re-shape the whole industry. What is clear so far is that the Commission is pushing for a consolidation of power into the hands of big production companies and the broadcasters that will sideline or eliminate the smaller, particularly regional, producers. The question that remains to be answered is whether or not the Commission in its future announcements deem documentary to be of public interest and deserving of special consideration. We’ll have to wait for the other shoe to drop.
The Documentary Organization of Canada | Documentaristes du Canada (DOC) is a bilingual national arts service organization of over 650 members dedicated to supporting the art of independent documentary filmmaking in Canada. DOC members believe that documentaries play an essential role in Canadian society by promoting the expression of diverse viewpoints on social, political, and cultural realities, thus fostering reflection and debate. DOC advocates on behalf of its members to foster an environment conducive to documentary production and strives to strengthen the sector within the broader film production industry. DOC offers member services including professional development and networking events. For more information go to: http://www.docorg.ca.
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For a copy of the press release: click here.