Bill C-11: CMF leaders appear before Senate

CMF President and CEO Valerie Creighton and Executive Vice President of Marketing and Public Affairs Mathieu Chantelois appeared before the Senate on Tuesday, October 25th. They discussed the CMF’s Canadian content definition consultations and how Bill C-11 will unlock new possibilities for the fund to support more content creators on all platforms.

Their opening remarks—which you can read below—covered several topics related to Bill C-11, including:

  • The importance of modernizing the broadcasting act to create opportunity for more Canadian stories
  • The steps taken by the CMF to ensure we are ready for regulatory and legislative changes and to support content creators across all platforms
  • How our CanCon consultations provide a platform for voices across the industry
  • Our support for digital-first creators and a call for productive partnerships with foreign production companies

Click the image below to watch Valerie Creighton and Mathieu Chantelois' session at the hearing. 


Opening remarks

Thank you for inviting us to appear today as you study Bill C‐11.

My name is Valerie Creighton. I am President and CEO of the Canada Media Fund. With me is our Executive Vice President of Marketing and Public Affairs, Mathieu Chantelois. The CMF mandate is to foster, promote, and finance content across all audiovisual platforms—from dramas, comedies, documentaries, and kids shows, to mobile games, apps, VR, AR, and web series.

As Canada’s largest content fund, the CMF exists to support Canadian content, and we strongly support the passage of Bill C‐11. The modernization of Canada’s broadcasting system is long overdue. There is an abundance of creativity and innovation in Canada but our sector’s ability to tell those stories is hampered by an outdated system.

The CMF has taken significant steps to adapt. We are transitioning to a more flexible, content‐centric, platform‐agnostic, global content fund to ensure that Canadian content and IP thrive at home and on the world stage. The tools at our disposal are limited by current legislation and our resources are diminishing. As cable revenues to the CMF decline, so does our capacity to invest in the industry we serve.

Bill C‐11 is the key to unlocking new possibilities to strengthen the future of Canadian stories told on all screens in French, English, Indigenous and many diverse languages.

Having an unmatched understanding of the industry, and its long‐held trust, the CMF is well‐positioned to distribute new financial contributions resulting from the implementation of Bill C‐11. Our modernized fund would support Canadian content distributed on all platforms, including foreign streaming services. The CMF invests directly in Canadian content and the Canadian companies that produce it, not the broadcasters, publishers, or streaming services that commission it.

One of the central issues explored here is the definition of Canadian content. This, in addition to ensuring fair play, is the most critical aspect of modernizing the broadcasting system.

In view of this, the CMF recently launched a consultation that facilitates industry‐wide conversations on the future definition of our national content with all voices engaged, including those from sovereignty seeking and underrepresented communities.

These important conversations will spark ideas and on how the definition of Canadian content will support future stories from our country. This will culminate in the publication of a “what we heard report” ahead of the CRTC’s forthcoming policy review.

Given the complexities and the need for robust dialogue in the months ahead, we believe the committee should be wary of amendments that would give the CRTC implicit direction to dilute the definition. Flexibility is required to develop a definition that meets the aspirations of a growing, dynamic, and more inclusive domestic industry.

Another hot button issue is the place of digital-first creators. These individuals are the next generation of Canada’s content makers. They are a part of a robust content creation system.

The CMF invests in these creators through the Experimental Stream and supports incredibly innovative content for digital-first audiences.

Canada’s ability to define its national identity through its content creation is at stake. Foreign production is demonstrating a healthy growth of 212 per cent while domestic production has declined 9 per cent over the last decade.

Foreign production is a critically important aspect of our industry. Foreign companies offer significant resources and worldwide distribution for our content. Canada’s creatives and crews that work for these productions greatly benefit, and the companies themselves access financial support through the tax credit system. This has been a highly beneficial model for the country. But the owners—the ultimate decision makers on how even a Canadian story unfolds—are foreign.

Canadian content production also benefits through support of agencies like the CMF, Telefilm, and the tax credit system—if they can access it. The further the decline in domestic production, the lesser the benefit to domestic production.

We want productive partnerships with foreign companies in Canada through both their service production and their investment in Canadian content.

What we are asking for from C‐11 is a clearly defined intent to support our domestic content industry and a financial rebalancing to ensure Canada’s identity, voice and innovation in story telling continue to impact and reach worldwide audiences.

Thank you for your time. We look forward to answering your questions.