CMF unveils ‘impactful’ changes to 2019/20 programs

Val Creighton says the changes, which include expanded triggers for digital projects and development funding, are among the most significant in CMF history.

Val Creighton pictureThe CMF has unveiled a number of significant alterations to its programs for 2019/20, including expanded funding triggers for digital-first projects and new points of access for development funding.

Among the biggest changes is the introduction of a new funding trigger that will allow Canadian-owned digital platforms to trigger funding through the Convergent Stream for the first time. Now, online platforms such as Crave, CBC Gem and Club Illico will have access to funding that was previously restricted to conventional broadcasters. Under the previous requirements, projects needed to be licensed by a conventional broadcaster and have a digital-media component in order to trigger the funding. In addition, an “Over-the-Top (OTT) Factor” will be introduced that provides incentives for content licensed by and premiered on Canadian digital services.

The CMF first announced that the expanded funding trigger for digital platforms was in the works during last year’s Banff World Media Festival.

The funding body said the changes were based on policy direction from the Department of Canadian Heritage through its Creative Canada Policy Framework, as well as input gathered from stakeholders during the CMF’s cross-country consultation tour last year.

President and CEO Val Creighton (pictured) emphasized the changes are among the most “significant and impactful” since the CMF was established in 2010. She added that this is “the first step in implementing progressive change” as the industry awaits the conclusion of the ongoing reviews of the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Acts.

There were also important changes to the way development funding is allocated through the Convergent Stream. Under the incoming guidelines, in-development projects that do not have a broadcaster commitment will be able to access funding for the first time. The CMF said that its new Early-Stage Development Program will have two separate access points for funding: one for writers and one for producer-creator collaborations.

Elsewhere, the CMF unveiled a significant change to the way broadcasters can allocate CMF funding to their in-house and broadcaster-affiliated production projects. Under the previous rules, Canadian broadcasters were limited to commit 7.5% of their Documentary Performance Envelope allocation and 15% of their combined Drama, Children’s & Youth and Variety and Performing Arts performance envelope allocation to in-house and/or broadcaster-affiliated programming. CMF has now increased that cap to 25% across all genres. A press release noted this is the maximum amount allowed for in the terms and conditions with government.

Meanwhile, in the Experimental Stream, CMF is introducing the Conceptualization Program, designed for applicants to create and test design concepts. The new program is designed for applicants to both the Commercial Projects Program and the Innovation Program, with the objective of giving less experienced producers and studios a better chance to succeed.

The funder also confirmed that its program budget for 2019/20 will be $353 million, up very slightly from $352 million last year. In February 2018 the federal government committed $172 million over five years to maintain the CMF’s yearly budget and help offset declining contributions from BDUs.

The CMF will host a webcast next week to give an overview of the 2019/20 programs and answer questions related to the changes. All changes for 2019/20 come into effect on April 1, 2019.