Canada Media Fund unveils key changes for $375 million 2012-13 program

More simplified guidelines and flexibility for foreign content with Canadian contributions have been introduced after industry consultations.

We’ve listened and we’ve made changes.

That’s the message from the Canada Media Fund, as it unveiled new guidelines for its 2012-13 program budget, which is set at $375 million in overall investment, up $4 million from a year-ago levels.

Key changes: all CMF-funded projects will need to report on distribution sales, on top of audience ratings, so the fund can expand its criteria for “success” to be rewarded.

Previously, the CMF required sales and revenue reports only from projects it made an equity investment in, or some other form of recoupable financing.

And in the convergent stream, the CMF is raising its maximum contribution to digital media components, from 50% to 75% of eligible costs.

The CMF is also to invest in foreign format buys by indie producers, as long as they have “ significant Canadian adaptation and creative contribution.”

The fund is showing flexibility in foreign content elsewhere, including allowing a non-Canadian narrator in documentaries who enjoys “significant recognition among Canadian audiences and who is recognized as having an association with the subject of the documentary.”

And dramas with generic or fantasy settings are now eligible for CMF support if the project is “identifiably Canadian where relevant and cannot be identifiably foreign.

”The changes to the program guidelines reflect feedback received during extensive consultations with the industry”, Valerie Creighton, CMF president and CEO, said in a statement.

“In line with our objective to simplify our programs, we have worked to develop multi-year guidelines and have condensed presentation documents for greater clarity,” she added.

Broken down, the $375 million will go mostly to English language programming, or around $242.7 million, followed by $121.3 million for French language programming, $7 million for convergent aboriginal fare and the rest for varied third language requirements.

And the bulk of the English- and French-language programming investment will go to the convergent streams — $218.7 million for English fare and $109.3 million for French programming, with the rest going to the experimental streams.

And while the CMF offers some coin for bonus programs, performance envelopes for individual broadcasters will continue to largely determine how the fund’s investment is doled out.