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BROADCASTERS’ HOLLYWOOD SPENDING SPREES UNABATED: U.S. spending sprees leave little room for Canadian drama

June 3, 2009 — Toronto – Canadian performers are disappointed to see that Canada’s major private TV broadcasters have chosen to fill their fall 2009 schedules with U.S. product rather than make a commitment to Canadian drama.

“Despite the so-called TV financial crisis, Canadian broadcasters’ credit cards are working just fine in Hollywood,” said Ferne Downey, ACTRA National President. “They’ve packed their schedules so tight with U.S. simulcasts that there’s little room left for our own Canadian programming.”

A review of the fall 2009 schedules released this week by the TV networks show weak commitments to new Canadian drama from a low of 1 hour per week on A Channel to a high of 2 hours each on CTV and Global. Out of a possible 112 prime time hours in a week, CTV, Global, CITY and A Channel are making room for just 6 ½ hours of new Canadian drama in their fall schedules – a 17 to 1 ratio.

“This week’s release of the fall TV schedules demonstrates yet again the private networks have no intention of increasing Canadian programming – unless forced to do so by the CRTC,” said Stephen Waddell, ACTRA National Executive Director. “We hope the CRTC will do just that this fall when it considers minimum expenditures for Canadian programming.”

Since the CRTC relaxed Canadian spending and content requirements in 1999, Canadian drama has all but disappeared as private broadcasters steadily increased their consumption of U.S. series. In 2000, English-language private conventional broadcasters spent $422.3 million on foreign/U.S. programming. By 2008 they were spending 61% more on foreign programming than on Canadian – a record $739.7 million on American shows.

“The CRTC has been sending strong signals that the broadcasters’ Hollywood spending sprees are no longer acceptable, but it’s obvious they didn’t hear the message. The CRTC needs to be crystal clear – tell broadcasters enough is enough impose spending requirements for Canadian drama,” said Downey.

ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists) is the national organization of professional performers working in the English-language recorded media in Canada. ACTRA represents the interests of 21,000 members across Canada – the foundation of Canada’s highly acclaimed professional performing community.

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For more information: Carol Taverner, Public Relations Officer, (416) 644-1519, ctaverner@actra.ca


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