Canada Media Fund sets 2015-16 budget at $375.2M

The industry fund, unveiling its latest program guidelines, has also bumped up top investment in experimental stream content from $1 million to $1.2 million.
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The Canada Media Fund is to hand out more coin for experimental stream content.

The industry fund, releasing its program guidelines for 2015-16, said it will raise the combined maximum contribution available to an interactive project at the development, production and marketing stages from $1 million to $1.2 million.

And the definition of interactivity for eligible experimental stream projects has been streamlined to “meaningful participatory experience” on the part of users where their senses need to be stimulated and engaged by the content.

That includes digital media like games, interactive web content, on-demand content, podcasts, webisodes and “mobisodes” (an episode of content meant to be viewed on a mobile device).

Projects that only use the internet to distribute content and information – such as your average widget-making business – will now be excluded.

And experimental stream projects will be evaluated beyond their business and financial viability to include a producer’s “historical success” working with the CMF, including keeping to timelines and budgets.

The CMF in its latest program budget for 2015-16 has made $375.2 million available for investment in Canadian convergent and experimental stream projects. That’s up from the year previous, set at $368 million.

On the convergent programming side, the CMF got granular when it comes to funding eligibility. Non-eligible marketing expenses in addition to crew gifts and the wrap party, for example, now extend to “gifts to the public,” including t-shirts and mugs.

The fund is also more specific on galas and award shows it will help underwrite, indicating “non-cultural” award shows will remain ineligible, while those that meet the variety and performing arts definition can not tap subsidies.

And redefinitions of Canadian broadcast rights sees video-on-demand now included as an example of an “other right” only when the Canadian VOD right is not part of an eligible broadcast licence fee.

That’s significant as upstart SVODs like CraveTV and Shomi increasingly look to stream homegrown content outside of their traditional TV platforms.

In addition to unveiling its 2015-2016 budget and changes to guidelines, the CMF and Corus Entertainment also announced the launch of a new funding program. The Page to Pitch Program was created as part of the CRTC’s tangible benefits policy following Corus’ acquisition of  Historia, Séries+ and Teletoon. The program is focused on funding the development of live-action and animated TV projects, and will support costs related to script development or landing pre-sale financing. The program budget is set at $1,163,750, with successful applicants eligible to receive up to $25,000 in funding. The deadline to apply to the new Page to Pitch program is May 5, 2015

- Image courtesy of Shutterstock

- with files from Julianna Cummins