The Nova Scotia government has been embroiled in a high profile controversy for the past week following its decision to slash tax credits available to film and television production in the province. The decision sparked an immediate backlash from the industry, which staged a major protest last Wednesday across from the legislature in Halifax.
While the government’s approach is certainly open to criticism – abruptly cutting the tax credits without warning may force the cancellation of long-planned productions this summer – the larger question of whether it should provide massive tax relief to the film and television industry is an important one. Eliminating or cutting the programs is politically difficult given the star power associated with film and television production, yet a growing number of studies have found that film and television tax credits do not deliver much bang for the buck.
My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes that the widespread use of film and television production tax subsidies dates back more than two decades as states and provinces used them to lure productions with the promise of new jobs and increased economic activity. The proliferation of subsidies and tax credits created a race to the bottom, where ever-increasing incentives were required to distinguish one province or state from the other.
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Rogers Communications unveiled its plan for streaming more than 1,000 National Hockey League games on the Internet last week. Having invested billions of dollars to obtain the Canadian broadcast and Internet rights to NHL hockey, the cable giant pointed to the future of broadcast by embracing consumer demand for making games available online.
As part of the launch, Rogers Media president Keith Pelley responded to questions about the approach by stating “there’s no such thing as too much choice. Let the consumer decide what they want to watch.” Pelley was speaking about hockey streaming, but my weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes his comments should resonate loudly this week in a broader context as the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission opens its much-anticipated public hearing on the future of television in Canada.
The CRTC hearing has already generated thousands of advance comments from major stakeholders and individual Canadians. It has also unleashed considerable angst from established broadcasters, broadcast distributors, and content creators, who fear that the broadcast regulator will overhaul the current system by implementing changes such as mandatory pick-and-pay channel selection for consumers and reforms to longstanding policies such as simultaneous substitution (which allows Canadian broadcasters to substitute Canadian commercials into U.S. licensed programming).
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I appeared on CBC’s On the Coast to discuss the federal government’s plan to require cable companies to offer channels individually.
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Appeared in the Toronto Star on April 3, 2011 as U.S. web-streamed TV could change game for Canadian broadcasters The month of March may be associated with spring, the return of baseball, or a weeklong school holiday in some households. For me it is all about “March Madness”, the annual […]
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The month of March may be associated with spring, the return of baseball, or a weeklong school holiday in some households. For me it is all about “March Madness”, the annual U.S. college basketball tournament that wrapped up last night following nearly a month of shocking finishes and Cinderella stories.
The tournament provides hours of overlapping games with television networks zipping between the closest ones. This year’s tournament has been as exciting as ever, yet the coverage has changed. In Canada, TSN purchased the rights to broadcast the tournament and owing to an already packed schedule, proceeded to shift the games between channels.
Initially out of frustration and later out of convenience, I shifted my tournament viewing to the Internet. The National Collegiate Athletic Association, which runs the tournament, offered a live streaming Internet feed of all the games as well as an iPhone app that provided good quality video. All the games – including the U.S. commercials – were readily available to Canadians without the need for a cable television subscription or a Canadian broadcaster.
My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes that while the use of the Internet to by-pass Canadian broadcasters is still relatively rare – most U.S. programs bundle the broadcast and Internet rights together – the decision to stream the games directly into the Canadian market could soon become the norm.
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