Encouraging content creation through investment
Performers are embracing all of the opportunities transmedia is opening up. In addition to TV, film and radio, we are now performing in videogames, apps, and webisodes. You name it, we’re in it.
Canadian content is not only critical to our national identity, but it is playing an increasingly important role in our nation’s financial well-being. What we create – ‘content’ is at the heart of the digital economy. Our cultural industries contribute more than $85 billion – or 7.4 % to our GDP – and more than 1.1 million jobs to our economy. Film and television production alone created 117,000 jobs in 2009, and $1.7 billion in exports.
Cultural workers are innovators and entrepreneurs and the foundation of the knowledge-based economy. They also tend to be small business owners and self-employed; the percentage of Canadians working in the culture sector who are self-employed (26%) is more than twice as high as the percentage of self-employed people in the overall economy (12%).
Culture is not a ‘frill’; it is a major industry based on renewable resources. Given the right tools Canada’s content creators and cultural industries will continue to play a leading role in economic innovation and growth, job creation, and the development of new digital technologies.
Investing in cultural content
Public funding is critical to helping our cultural industries attract private investment. To take advantage of the emerging digital economy, the government must invest in Canada’s cultural assets by committing to renewed and increased long-term funding for the Canada Media Fund (CMF), Telefilm Canada, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and the National Film Board (NFB).
- The CMF is a crucial component when it comes to producing Canadian content for all screens. It triggered more than $1 billion in production activity across Canada in 2010/11 alone. We commend the government for making the budgetary commitment to the Canada Media Fund permanent in the last budget and urge you increase your investment.
- Telefilm Canada’s Canadian Feature Film Fund is critical to making sure Canadian films get made and must be renewed. Each dollar invested in a Telefilm production triggers $2 in additional financing for digital media projects and $3 for feature film projects.
- CBC/Radio Canada must – and can be – the leader in bringing original, distinctive Canadian digital content to the world. The annual allocation for the CBC should be increased by $7 to a total of $40 per Canadian to bring it into line with other industrialized nations.
- The National Film Board is recognized the world over as one of the great cultural laboratories for innovation, its productions are accessible to Canadians in both official languages, in every region. NFB is seizing the opportunities of digital media – its online Screening Room features over 2,100 productions and puts the experience of Canadian cinema into the hands of people around the world with apps for portable devices.
These cultural institutions showcase our Canadian culture by maximizing the potential of digital technology to create, innovate, produce, and distribute compelling Canadian content. We must give them the resources they need to flourish, to create jobs and to make Canada a world leader in digital content.
Tax credits: Attracting private investment
Our cultural industry shouldn’t rely on government funding alone; we need to build on incentives to increase private investment in content creation. Tax credits are an efficient, effective way to increase Canada’s competitiveness and attract investment; and reward risk by encouraging producers to spend money without putting government investment upfront.
Expanding and enhancing the existing tax credit menu is another critical piece of a sustainable digital economic plan. We recommend the government broaden the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit (CFVPTC) and the Production Services Tax Credit (PSTC) eligibility criteria to include all costs including post-production costs, not just labour costs involved in production, as both Ontario and Quebec have done. We also recommend that the federal government introduce labour-based tax credits for digital and interactive media similar to those available in a number of provinces.
Further incentives could help drive advertisers to support Canadian websites that feature Canadian content. The Income Tax Act should be amended to allow advertisers tax deductions for advertising on Canadian-owned websites or services only if it gives prominence to Canadian digital media content but not on sites that do not qualify. This provision is based on the existing provisions of Section 19.1 that encourage advertisers to buy time from Canadian broadcasters instead of U.S. border stations. These tax deductions exist in the magazine and newspaper industries as well and should be extended to include all media platforms.