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December 9, 2009 – Toronto – Australian performers working in Canada are surprised to see so little Canadian TV programs on Canadian TV broadcasters.

“Looking at Canada’s prime time TV schedules, I’m shocked at the dearth of Canadian TV programs. In Australia, government regulations – including a floor for drama – means most of the Top 20 TV programs are in fact Australian,” said Simon Burke, President of Australia’s Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA). Burke is currently in Toronto performing the role of Captain von Trapp in the Mirvish production of The Sound of Music at the Princess of Wales Theatre.

According to the Australian television audience measurement company OzTAM, the majority of the Top 20 most popular TV programs in Australia are Australian produced. In contrast, of the Top 20 TV programs in Canada for the week of November 30th, just four were Canadian produced, none of which were in the Top 10.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority requires strong Australian content on all Australian broadcasters, including a minimum of Australian drama. These rules have led to an average of 631 hours of Australian drama on Australian screens every year (Source: Screen Australia, National Survey of Feature Film and TV Drama Production, 2008/09). With the Australian Government also committing an additional $137 million to its public broadcaster for increased drama output – this will lead to even higher levels in the future.

In 1999, Canada’s broadcast regulator, the CRTC, relaxed CanCon rules for private broadcasters, eliminating drama requirements altogether. Since, Canadian English-language drama has been a rarity on prime time Canadian TV.

“It’s time the CRTC looked to countries like Australia to see what strong content regulations can do for Canadian TV,” said Ferne Downey, ACTRA National President, in advance of ACTRA’s appearance today at CRTC hearings on the future of Canadian TV.

“It’s a real shame that while working here in Canada, most of what I see on TV is American. Although we’d love to see more Australian drama, because Australian broadcasters must air Australian TV programs, our own TV shows are a hit,” said Burke.

The Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) is the Australian union and professional organization for 22,000 members working in the media, entertainment, sports and arts industries in Australia.

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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