The Broadcast and Telecommunications Legislative Review Panel report calls for a massive overhaul of Canadian communications law – leading to increased consumer costs, violations of net neutrality, news regulation, CRTC intervention into discoverability, and USMCA violations – due in large measure to concerns about support for the creation of Canadian content. While the data confirms fears about the Canadian film and television sector have been overblown with record setting production in Canada, the panel insists that measures are needed to preserve Canadian jobs.
Yet what the panel did not disclose – in either its report or subsequent comments – are the results of benchmarking research on the Canadian television production sector it commissioned from Nordicity. That report was made available yesterday to those who asked (all the commissioned research can be requested from panel secretariat) and it reveals that Canada ranks first among peer countries with respect to expenditures on television production per capita, expenditures on domestic television production (ie. Cancon or equivalent domestic production) per capita, hours of television production per capita, and employment in film and television production per per capita. In other words, the panel had data that Canada spends more on television production, produces more hours of television programs, and employs more people per capita in the film and television sector than peer countries yet said nothing about the findings in its report.
The comparison data on expenditures on television production per capita is particularly striking since it shows Canada far ahead of peer countries such as the UK, France, and Australia. Further, the data shows that Canadian content fares very well with more money spent per capita on Cancon than the equivalent per capita spending on domestic content in other peer countries.
The data on the number of hours of fictional television produced tells a similar story with Canada producing far more than any other country surveyed.
Given all the production, Canada also leads in per capita employment in audiovisual production and television broadcasting. The chart shows Australia ahead of Canada, but Nordicity notes that the Australian figure includes employment at broadcast distributors. If Canadian broadcast distributor employment was included in the Canadian figure, it would surpass Australia to rank first in employment per capita.
The Nordicity data notably comes from the 2017 CMPA report. Subsequent reports have shown even greater growth in the sector as the past two years have been the two biggest years for Cancon production over the past decade.
There is other interesting data in the report that indicates Canada fares less well in terms of public funding of broadcasting. Tax credits form a big part of Canadian support (more tax credits than any other peer country). Further, audience share at Canada’s public broadcaster is by far the lowest among peer countries. But rather than suggest reforms to public support for broadcasting, the panel instead recommends a massive regulatory overhaul that seeks to impose Canadian regulation on thousands of sites and services around the world premised on the basis of an emerging crisis for Canadian content. Those recommendations are not supported by the data the panel itself commissioned, which actually shows Canada as a global leader when it comes to production spending on television programming (including certified domestic productions) and employing hundreds of thousands of people.