Industry supports C-55

A group representing over 50 cultural industry professional associations including many from the film and television industry rallied in Toronto March 15 to pledge support for Heritage Minister Sheila Copps’ controversial Bill C-55.

Designed to curtail Canadian editions of u.s. magazines, Bill C-55 has faced opposition from the u.s. Trade Representatives Office as well as advertising and magazine interests including multimedia powerhouse Time-Warner.

Speaking on behalf of the Writers Union of Canada, June Callwood said that while C-55 specifically targets problems affecting the magazine industry, ‘the bill is also vitally important to everyone engaged in the cultural and communications sectors. If the u.s. succeeds in blocking Bill C-55, which of our activities will be targeted next?’

Among those asked to speak out in support of the bill were Canadian Association of Broadcasters president and ceo Michael McCabe and Serendipity Point Films producer Robert Lantos.

Looking ahead to even larger trade disputes that could erupt over an expected feature film policy overhaul, Lantos argued that ‘Canada is entitled to favor its own. . . so we urge our government to stand tall for what is unassailably ours.’

McCabe, too, was thinking about the future in standing behind C-55. The cab head said that u.s. trade representatives may target broadcasting measures such as Canadian content rules or simultaneous substitution – a regulation which creates yearly revenues in excess of $150 million for Canadian broadcasters.

‘Television could be next,’ said McCabe who has recently been calling for u.s. specialty channels to contribute to funds for Canadian production.

Among the film and tv industry organizations which joined others under the banner Together for Cultural Diversity, Together for Cultural Choice, were ACTRA, the WGC, CAB/ACR, SPTV, TVSP, ACRTF, APFTQ, ARRZ, CAFDE, CFTPA, DGC, IFVA, SARDeC and GCFC.

C-55 passed its third reading in the House of Commons but is expected to be heavily amended before and if it ever becomes law.