PM urged not to merge media fund with Telefilm

Toronto Star, 20 Apr 2017, STAR STAFF

A federal government discussion to merge Telefilm Canada with The Canadian Media Fund has come under fire from high-profile Canadian artists.

Aletter signed by a who’s who of the Canadian film and television world — including Denys Arcand, Xavier Dolan, Atom Egoyan, David Cronenberg, Paul Gross, Sarah Polley, Deepa Mehta, Don McKellar and Robert Lantos — urge Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Heritage Minister Melanie Joly against combining the two funding agencies.

“It has come to our attention that there is a proposal in discussion to merge Telefilm with the Canadian Media Fund and other crown corporations to form some sort of ‘super agency,’ ” reads the letter signed by 51 Canadian filmmakers and obtained by the Star, adding that such a merger “would deal a devastating blow to Canadian cinema.”

The broadcaster-driven Canadian Media Fund (CMF) delivers about $350 million in funding for television and digital content. Telefilm Canada is more film-focused, delivering under $100 million in annual funding. The federal government, meanwhile, is looking at a sweeping overhaul of cultural policy that could include the merging of the two agencies. Some broadcasters such as Rogers have said that the two agencies should be merged, along with the Department of Heritage’s Canadian Periodical Fund, into one large entity dubbed the Canadian Content Investment Agency.

Proponents of a Telefilm and CMF merger have said that forming one large agency could save as much as $50 million in administrative and other costs.