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PERFORMERS CALL ON CRTC TO PUT MORE CANADA IN PRIME TIME: “Don’t let the broadcasters’ and cables’ slap-fest hijack the agenda”

November 25, 2009 – Gatineau – Canadian performers appeared before the CRTC today to urge the regulator to focus on getting more Canadian programming in prime time as the regulator re-writes its TV policy. TV stars Wendy Crewson, Nicholas Campbell and ACTRA National President Ferne Downey called on the CRTC to make broadcasters meet their obligations under the Broadcasting Act by forcing them to invest more in Canadian drama and give it a place in their primetime schedules.

“We’re telling the CRTC not to let the slap-fest between the broadcasters and big cable hi-jack the agenda. These hearings are about the broadcasters’ responsibility to give Canadians more of our own programming,” said actor Nicholas Campbell. “We’re not asking for a lot here. I don’t think it’s too much to ask that Canadians can see two hours of our own original, scripted programming in prime time a week.”

“The broadcasters have been getting a free ride for too long, it has to stop. The current minimal CanCon requirements are diminishing our stories and our jobs, unless this turns around we will become a branch plant for American culture,” said Wendy Crewson.

Canadian English-language drama has been a rarity in prime time since 1999 when the CRTC relaxed Canadian content rules. Since then, Canadian private broadcasters have been saturating Canada’s prime time schedules with U.S. shows. Last year they spent $740 million on U.S. and foreign programming and just $54 million on Canadian English-language drama and comedies.

ACTRA’s solution includes making English-language conventional broadcasters commit to spending at least 6% of their gross revenues on scripted drama and comedy and to airing a minimum two hours of original Canadian drama in prime time.

“Our proposal is flexible, balanced and forward thinking. It serves the interests of our industry as a whole, not just one or two powerful players. Most important, it ensures that Canadian audiences have access to our own airwaves,” said Ferne Downey, ACTRA National President. “We’ve been waiting for this chance for 10 years. The CRTC has to seize the opportunity to get this right, fix the rules and get more Canada on TV.”

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.

For more information:
Carol Taverner, Public Relations Officer
(416) 644-1519, , cell: (416) 768-3336

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