The upcoming change to tax laws proposed in Bill C-10 and the uproar it’s causing in the film and television industry here in Canada is big news this week.
In discussion the other day an idea came up about a subtle or resonant influence on this issue. This goes back to a while ago when Shaw was putting out very large newspaper ads asking Canadians to write to the CRTC to complain about where Canadian tax dollars were being spent. This surely came into the purview of evangelicals and others who complained to the government about content that is “unsuitable”, and had an influence in this new Tax Credit revision proposal. Letters of complaint from citizens regarding tax dollars going toward unsuitable programming has found an ear in Ottawa and now we have the current hue and cry that every news source is resonating this week.
Now the influence of the cable operators that could be seen to be at play here may have to do with a perceived reluctance to pay into the Canadian Television Fund. Jointly funded by the Canadian Government and Canadian cable operators, the CTF is the major funder of many productions. The cable delivery business is not about entertainment, or even about television, but it is about cash, and is a business pure and simple. Could it be that they would rather just bring in HBO, Showtime, etc. direct from the US pipe, just bring us the channels and not be bothered with this Canadian production stuff? Surely they aren’t happy that a portion of their subscription fees are required to be put into Canadian productions. Wouldn’t they rather keep the money that would have been put into Canadian productions, and pass along the profits to their shareholders – especially in this time as the industry is changing so rapidly?
The current Bill C-10 may have some of this stirring up of public opinion in back of it. But it goes further, for now the issue is censorship, in another form, and it is an insidious one. What producer would back a project only to find that upon viewing the finished product the government withholds a tax credit for the production? – well no wonder our Minister of Culture didn’t go to the Junos. Writers more eloquent than I am have spoken out across the country on this watershed issue, google Bill C-10 to find out more.