The Canadian Media Producers Association has just released the latest data on film and television production in Canada which confirms that foreign sources are now by far the biggest contributor to Canadian English language television production. Despite warnings of cultural imperialism and repeated calls from some in the industry for Netflix taxes to fund production, the data suggests that it already does since foreign investment in Cancon now larger than the primary Canadian sources. In fact, when it comes to Canadian English-language fictional programming, foreign financing is now larger than private broadcaster licence fees, public broadcaster licence fees, and Canada Media Fund contributions combined.
According Profile 2018, foreign sources spent $274 million on fictional English-language Canadian television production, compared with only $46 million from private broadcasters, $114 million from public broadcasters, and $100 million from the CMF. While there are concerns about children’s and youth programming, the data tells a similar story: $80 million from foreign sources compared to $26 million from private broadcasters, $18 million from public broadcasters, and $21 million from the CMF. In other words, the unregulated, market-based approach is delivering far more investment into Canadian production than the regulated sector.
It is difficult to overstate the shift in funding in Canada. Five years ago, the breakdown of financing of Canadian English language fictional programming involved roughly even split among private, public, and foreign financing with CMF the largest of the four sources.
Since that time, foreign financing has grown from $131 million to $274 million, public broadcaster funding has remained largely unchanged ($116 million to $114 million) while the other two have declined significantly: private broadcaster from $115 million to $46 million and CMF from $167 million to $100 million. Foreign financing has actually made up for the entire decline in funding from all three other sources, making it difficult to understand the basis for blaming Netflix for Canadian production spending.