Playback’s most popular stories of 2016

By all accounts it was a crazy year: major acquisitions, government consultations and regulatory changes. Take a look at our top-10 stories from the past year.
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It was a year of big changes for the Canadian film and TV industry (but certainly not just for the industry). This year saw the merger of Corus and Shaw, the kick-off of Melanie Joly’s Cancon consultations and regulatory hurdles and hearings galore. Playback‘s most-clicked stories of the year touched on many of the big news stories of the year – with a few surprises sprinkled throughout.

Our top story of 2016 dove into one of the most buzzed about shows of the upcoming season (and was certainly propelled to the top of the list by fans who were eager to spread the word on social media). “How Global and eOne are setting ‘Mary’ up to kill it,” originally published in Playback‘s Summer 2016 issue, explores how Tara Armstrong, then a new grad from UBC, paired up with Rookie Blue creator Tassie Cameron to bring Mary Kills People from script to screen.

Number two on the list came as a bit of a surprise to the industry: the news that Boat Rocker subsidiary Jam Filled Entertainment was looking to acquire Toronto animation studio Arc Productions (it would complete that transaction at the end of August). Arc Productions closed its doors on July 29 before entering into receivership. Boat Rocker acquired Jam Filled in early August and a few days later announced it had entered an agreement to acquire “substantially all” of Arc’s business.

In a bit of good news this year, and taking our number three spot on the list, was the Directors’ Guild of Canada and Women in View’s launch of an initiative to double the number of women directing scripted TV in Canada within two years. The 2xMore program aims to increase the percentage of scripted TV directed by women to 35%, from 17%, by 2018. Countdown is on!

On the “people moves” front, one of the most-read stories of the year was the announcement of Maria Hale’s new role at Corus. Taking the number four spot on the list was the news that Hale, the former VP, television – head of digital, content distribution and pay TV at Corus Entertainment, would move to the SVP Global Entertainment and Acquisitions role. Hale’s move was one of the first major company reorganizations following Corus’ acquisition of Shaw Media. (Other Shaw/Corus stories made the list at #7 and #9).

Include the words “CBC” and “commissioning” in a story in 2016 and it was bound to be read. That was certainly true for our fifth most-popular story of the year about about a web series the pubcaster ordered for its digital comedy portal, then-called Punchline (now CBC Comedy). In April, the CBC ordered 10 episodes of My 90-Year-Old Roommate, produced by Slow Clap and Lauren Corber of LoCo Motion Pictures in association with Hawkeye Pictures.

In other”people moves” news, our sixth most popular story was the news that Toronto literary agency Meridian Artists had launched a talent division, headed up by agents Derek Carkner and Tovah Small.

The second, but not the last, Shaw/Corus story to make the list was the April announcement that Shaw Media’s chief content officer, Christine Shipton, would leave the company, following the merger of Corus and Shaw. Among other things, Shipton was responsible for overseeing all original Canadian productions at Shaw.

One of the most talked about stories of the year, and our eighth most-popular, was the CRTC’s decision to overhaul its Certified Independent Production Funds (CIPF) policies. In August, the regulator announced it would eliminate the requirement of a licensed-broadcaster trigger for CIPF funding and, most controversially, reduce the number of Canadian certification points required to access CIPF funding. It remains a hot topic within the industry.

By October, a full nine months after the acquisition was announced, Corus finalized its original content team, with the news taking the ninth spot on our list.

Rounding out the top 10 list, is a CRTC story from the beginning of the year. A January report co-authored by Nordicity and Peter H. Miller forecast that regulatory changes following Let’s Talk TV could lead to the loss of 7,000 broadcasting and production jobs. The report looked at the potential impact of a number of Let’s Talk TV decisions including the elimination of simsub on the Super Bowl (still a controversial decision in the industry) and access rules for specialty services. The report’s conclusions did not paint a rosy picture.