Jump Cuts

B.C. Film budget slashed

B.C. Film budget slashed

The B.C. Liberal government will carve a cool million from funder British Columbia Film’s annual allowance as part of its dramatic, cost-cutting budget for fiscal 2003 announced Feb. 19.

That 31% drop leaves only $2.26 million to contribute to B.C.-based production and training.

‘B.C. Film will consider how to best use its limited funds to meet the industry’s needs,’ says Rob Egan, president and CEO. ‘In the coming weeks, we will review our roster of programs. Changes will be made, but no decisions have been made yet. With a budget reduction of this magnitude, and given previous reductions, we have to refocus and be clear about our priorities. We’re up to the challenge.’

The province’s domestic production tax credits were preserved in the budget-cutting and may be expanded to include animation and new media.

The B.C. Film Commission, meanwhile, was cut 16% in the new budget, which is now $1.18 million. Lindsay Allen, acting commissioner, says operations will be trimmed, including the regional commissions, but there will be no layoffs.

Multivan wins licence

Third time was no charm for Rogers Broadcasting, which lost on Valentine’s Day its latest bid to license LMTV, a West Coast clone of Toronto multicultural station CFMT.

Instead, Multivan Broadcast Corp. will launch a free, over-the-air station that will broadcast in 22 languages throughout Vancouver’s Lower Mainland as early as this fall.

The Multivan station – backed by real estate magnates Geoffrey Lau, Robert Lee and Joe Segal, multilingual radio broadcaster James Ho and former WIC Western International Communications CEO Doug Holtby – will employ 135 people and spend $54 million over the seven-year licence term.

Among the other highlights, Multivan will be at least 60% ethnic, with entirely ethnic programs in primetime, and will feature at least 55.5 hours per week of local programming, including 28 hours of local news and 10 hours commissioned from local independent producers.

The CRTC’s commissioners were split three to two in favor of the Multivan bid. Ultimately, Multivan’s local ownership was the deciding factor.

Federal Heritage Minister Sheila Copps ordered the latest licence race after community activists in Vancouver complained when Rogers’ previous application for LMTV was denied in 2000.

CTV donates $1M to CFC

CTV has donated $1 million to the Canadian Film Centre’s Prime Time Television Resident Programme, which trains new television writers and develops new dramatic programming.

The donation was officially made at the CFC’s annual Mardi Gras Gala ‘A Night in Provence’ on Feb. 21 and accepted by Norman Jewison.

The program, hereafter endorsed with the CTV name, is a full-time, three-month course that emulates a real story department, delivering a team-based approach to series development for up to 15 writers

Award-winning exec producer Heather Conkie (Bob & Margaret), John Mays and Suzanne Bolch (Screech Owls) are currently leading the program.

Rogers launches VOD

Rogers Communications is attempting to give direct-to-home satellite providers a run for their money with the first commercial launch video-on-demand in Canada. The difference is, VOD subscribers must pay for a set-top box to receive the service while DTH customers do not.

Roughly 90% of Rogers’ 2.3 million subscribers in Ontario and the Maritimes will have access to the new service by the end of 2003. Over the next four months, the service will be available to about 1,000 subscribers in Toronto.

Initially, content for the service will be provided through an agreement with Alliance Atlantis Motion Picture Distribution, which reps U.S. studios Miramax, New Line and Artisan Films.

Banff salutes U.K., Cleese

In honor of Britain’s outstanding contribution to the world television industry, the 23rd annual Banff Television Festival, running June 9-14, is presenting a special tribute to the U.K.

Likewise, British actor, director and producer John Cleese is this year’s recipient of the Sir Peter Ustinov/Comedy Network Award for outstanding achievement in a body of work.

Cleese, celebrated for his role as a creator and star of Monty Python’s Flying Circus and Fawlty Towers, will accept the award at the festival’s Rockie Awards gala, June 20.

Boycott threatens Gemeaux

Quebec’s two major private television networks, Television Quatre Saisons and Reseau TVA, have decided not to participate in the 2002 Prix Gemeaux competition.

At press time, Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television – Quebec president Suzanne D’Amours along with the board and executive committee were planning a series of emergency meetings with producers and broadcasters.

Both TQS and TVA are demanding the ACCT undertake a major review of Gemeaux policies. The Academy replies it has already made several important concessions to the private broadcasters, including changing nomination rules and jury composition and adding 15 new categories.

The development could put the Gemeaux program at risk if more independent producers join producers associated with TQS and TVA who have also decided to boycott the competition.

Radio-Canada broadcasts the Gemeaux, but TVA has its own people’s choice style awards program, called MetroStar. It’s the second time in recent years that TVA has decided to boycott the Gemeaux.

Cogeco Fund invests $2M

The Cogeco Program Development Fund advanced $258,400 in development support to 36 Canadian TV series, miniseries and MOW development projects and made equity investments of $1.7 million in nine Canadian productions, two French, seven English, and an additional $105,000 in feature film development, according to the fund’s recently published 2001 annual report.

Cogeco Cable has invested more than $7.5 million in the BDU fund, which is approaching its 10th anniversary.

The Cogeco fund is managed through the Independent Production Fund (www.ipf.ca). Its executive director and associate director are Andra Sheffer and Claire Dion, respectively.