In August 2016 the CRTC released a new framework for Certified Independent Production Funds (CIPFs) (CRTC 2016-343), implementing changes effective September 1, 2016. The Commission stated it would ‘maintain a 10% limit on funding that can be allocated to non-programming digital content’. Previously that 10% cap (which is 10% of the revenues that a fund receives from cable and satellite companies) was only for standalone digital media and there was no cap on digital media affiliated with television programming.
Digital-first linear video could still be funded as CIPFs are no longer required to demand a broadcast licence for eligibility but any media that incorporates interaction would have to fit within the 10% cap. Given that this new rule would devastate the mandate of the Bell Fund, Telus Fund and Quebecor Fund and prevent the Shaw Rocket Fund from having its digital fund, the Bell Fund made two requests to the CRTC, which the CRTC posted for comment. It requested a one-year transition period to give companies time to fully understand the ramifications of these changes, and the Bell Fund time to adjust its funding programs and guidelines. It also requested an increase in the 10% cap to a more reasonable level.
Interactive Ontario met with the CRTC to discuss the potential impact of these CIPF changes on Canada’s digital media industry and contributed to the CIAIC’s submission in support of the Bell Fund’s letter.
Despite the efforts of IO, the Canadian Interactive Alliance, our member companies and other industry stakeholders such as the CMPA (whose interventions are noted here and here), on July 17, 2017 the CRTC denied the request by the Bell Fund for an increase to the 10% cap that CIPFs may spend on funding for non-programming digital content. The decision summary reads:
The Commission approves a request by the Bell Fund for a transition period to adapt its guidelines to the Commission’s new policy framework for Certified Independent Production Funds. The Bell Fund will have until 17 July 2018 to make the necessary changes.
The Commission denies a request by the Bell Fund for an increase to the 10% cap on funding for non-programming digital content.
Interactive Ontario has submitted a letter to the CRTC expressing our disappointment with this decision, which can be read here.
We will provide updates on guideline changes to the Bell Fund as they are available.