CMF offers stability with its 2020/21 program budget

The funding body will invest $353 million in TV and digital projects in the upcoming fiscal year, with minimal changes to its programs in light of the COVID-19 crisis. (Unlocked)

As the industry combats a wellspring of uncertainty due to COVID-19, the Canada Media Fund (CMF) has assured its steadiness with the 2020/21 program budget.

Released Wednesday (April 1), the budget is set at $353 million – the same budget as 2019/20 – with no major program changes compared to last year’s guidelines unveiling.

“Among all the challenges our industry has overcome, none has been as destabilizing as the one we currently face,” said CMF president and CEO Valerie Creighton, in a statement. “We hope this will provide our clients and their businesses with much-needed stability and predictability. However, as the effects of the COVID-19 virus unfold, further flexibility to the guidelines may be required.”

According to the CMF, more than 1,500 projects supported by the non-profit in 2019-2020 have been impacted by the pandemic.

One of the biggest changes to its Program Guidelines is the Early-Stage Development Program, which was introduced in the 2019-20 program budget as a way for writers to trigger funding, as well as producer-creator collaborations. The Early-Stage Development Program is now for writers only, while the funding trigger for producers has been divided into the newly created Predevelopment Program for Producers.

The Early-Stage Development Program will now be on a selective basis, rather than first-come, first-served, with a 15% allocation for “diversity of voices” applicants. The Predevelopment Program will be first-come, first-served, along with the requirement that producers have a writer attached and a letter of interest from a triggering entity.

Another change is the updated definition of an eligible applicant for its Indigenous Program, including ownership and control requirements of a project. The changes are based on a consultation with the Indigenous Screen Office (ISO), based on ISO’s own community consultation. The CMF has also asked applicants to follow the best practices and guiding principles of the On Screen Protocols & Pathways document, published by imagineNATIVE as a framework for collaboration between Indigenous and non-Indigenous individuals and organizations.

The CMF has also maintained its commitment to gender parity, increasing the gender balance requirement in the Performance Envelope program from 35% to 50%.

Educational Canadian broadcasters in both English and French markets can now provide a maximum CMF contribution of 60% to a given project’s eligible costs, while the CMF has introduced a 40% regional carve-out for the Conceptualization program in its Experimental Stream. The program provides funding at the very start of a project’s creative process so it has the best chance for future stages of financing.

Finally, the Innovation & Experimentation Program will be revised to distinguish it from the Commercial Projects Program, providing two separate programs to accommodate various interactive projects from digital producers. Both programs will have equal budgets, the same amount of funding rounds and the same recoupment policy.

Keep up with Playback‘s ongoing coverage of COVID-19 here.

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