Film & TV News – TVA Group eliminates 68 positions

TVA Group has eliminated 68 positions, saying deep budget cuts are necessary in order to reduce operating expenses. The Quebecor-owned French-language network said in a release that “numerous unfair practices that have been undermining the television industry for years” are to blame for its financial position. President and CEO France Lauzière is calling for a rebalancing of subscription fees for specialty channels on the basis of quantifiable, measurable criteria, rather than historical rates – the argument at the crux of the network’s carriage dispute with Bell Media. Lauzière also says CBC/Radio-Canada’s mandate should be refocused to make its programming complementary to that of the private broadcasters. “In tapping multiple new revenue streams such as TOU.TV EXTRA, and forming distribution partnerships with other broadcasters, the public broadcaster is competing directly with private companies, without even contributing to the Canada Media Fund, thereby bypassing current regulations,” says Lauziere in a release. Among other measures called for are regulation and taxation of online giants such as Google, Facebook, and Netflix.

The Banff World Media Festival kicked off with a major federal funding announcement aimed at empowering women in business, and in particular female entrepreneurs in the screen industries. The Women Entrepreneurship Strategy is a $2-billion investment that aims to double the number of women-owned businesses by 2025. The announcement includes an investment of nearly $2 million in the Banff Television Festival Foundation to deliver the Banff Accelerator for Women in the Business of Media. The accelerator helps women entrepreneurs build and grow their own business within the screen-based industries. The program is expected to connect 200 women with networking, matchmaking, or mentorship opportunities and help at least 50 participants grow their businesses. It will support 16 women as they start a business.

CBC/Radio-Canada has pledged to ensure by 2025 that at least one of the key creative positions (producer, director, writer, showrunner or lead performer) on its English and French-language commissioned programs is held by a person from a diverse background, including visible minorities, Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ2+ community. The public broadcaster announced the commitment at the Banff World Media Festival in the context of its new strategic plan “Your Stories Taken to Heart” which prioritizes giving underrepresented Canadians greater opportunity to build their skills, experience and relationships in the film and television industry. In areas where the diverse talent pool may be lacking, CBC says it will expect a commitment from independent producers to mentor or train a diverse person in one of the key creative roles of a greenlit production. CBC surpassed its goal of gender parity across its commissioned programs this year, with 62% of its original English and French shows female-led with a woman in a key creative role. Read more here.

CBC and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) have  announced a creative and commercial collaboration that will enhance the reach and impact of their content across both countries. The two national public broadcasters have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to co-develop English-language drama, comedy, factual, children’s and podcast content to maximize the value of their public funding. The three-year MOU will also provide further opportunities for co-financing and format sales of drama and children’s content. This builds on an existing relationship that includes CBC’s acquisition of the broadcast rights to ABC programs Ronny Chieng: International Student, Mustangs FC, Hannah Gadsby’s Nakedy Nudes, Hannah Gadsby’s Oz and the format rights to ABC original series You Can’t Ask That. CBC’s Canadian version of the award-winning format launches on CBC Gem in June. The broadcasters also have a history of sharing audio content such as CBC Podcasts’ Alone: A Love Story and Someone Knows Something and ABC podcasts Trace and Ladies, We Need To Talk, and ABC RN programs All in the Mind and Off Track and CBC Radio’s Ideas and Out In The Open.

Netflix and the Alliance des producteurs francophones du Canada (APFC) are partnering with Telefilm Canada and the Canada Media Fund to launch the first-ever Professional Development Program in Film and Television for francophone producers and creators in minority communities across Canada. The internship program will allow Canadian francophone scriptwriters, directors, and producers to benefit from support to develop original work representative of the country’s diversity. Netflix and Telefilm will invest $150,000 in the first year, with the Canada Media Fund allocating $50,000 in the same period. More than 50 feature film and series scripts with international potential will be available for submission to the production stage by 2022.

Netflix has announced partnership programs with imagineNATIVE, the Indigenous Screen Office (ISO) and Wapikoni Mobile to develop the next generation of Indigenous creators. The programs range from screenwriting intensives to apprenticeship programs, joining 11 existing partnership programs Netflix has funded to nurture Canadian creators from underrepresented communities. The Netflix-imagineNATIVE partnership will support Indigenous filmmakers with professional development through its Indigenous Screenwriting Intensive; ‘imagineNATIVE Originals’ Mentorship Commissions; and Original Storytellers Series Incubator, among other programming. The ISO-Netflix Production Mentorship and Apprenticeship Program will provide second phase support for Indigenous projects that may have received development support through other programs. It will include Key Creative Apprenticeships and Cultural Mentorships for directors, producers, screenwriters and showrunners. The Wapikoni Mobile development experience will help structure a program of continuing education and professional coaching.

The Banff World Media Festival has handed out its annual Rockie Awards with Baroness von Sketch Show picking up two awards in the International Program Competition. The Frantic Films-produced sketch comedy show won the $25,000 Rogers Prize for Excellence in Canadian Content, in addition to Best Comedy or Variety Program. At Tuesday’s Gala, Lifetime doc Surviving R. Kelly was awarded Program of the Year, while HBO miniseries Sharp Objects was the winner of the Grand Jury Prize. Previously-announced honourees included Paul Feig, creator of the hit series Freaks and Geeks and director of Bridesmaids; British screenwriter Jed Mercurio (Bodyguard, Line of Duty) was named Showrunner of the Year, while Kristin Kreuk (Burden of Truth, EuroTrip, Smallville) was given the Canadian Award of Distinction. Drew and Jonathan Scott (Property Brothers) were awarded the Innovative Producer Award.

Rogers has announced that its cloud-based IPTV service Ignite TV is now available across Newfoundland, following its initial rollout in Ontario last June. Featuring a Voice Remote that allows customers to search for shows or channels using voice recognition technology, Ignite TV brings together content across Live TV, On Demand, recordings and Netflix. It also includes a personalized SportsApp that allows users to watch live games while tracking scores from another game at the same time, and an interactive and PIN-protected KidsZone.

CTV says its suite of rebranded specialty channels – CTV Comedy Channel, CTV Sci-Fi Channel, CTV Drama Channel, and CTV Life Channel – will debut on Sept.12. As previously announced, the new brands are the next evolution of The Comedy Network, Space, Bravo, and Gusto, respectively. CTV Comedy Channel’s new slate of series includes Kevin Hart’s sports interview series Cold As Balls and the revival of Mad About You with Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt. CTV Sci-Fi has acquired Resident Alien, based on the comic book series, starring Alan Tudyk (DOOM PATROL, Rogue One); STAR TREK: PICARD, starring Sir Patrick Stewart; and anthology series Castle Rock. CTV Drama has landed thriller Gold Digger, starring Julia Ormond and Ben Barnes; and mystery crime drama The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair, starring Patrick Dempsey. CTV Life Channel will feature new Jamie Oliver series Jamie’s Ultimate Veg, Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party, Bonacini’s Italy and Where To I Do.  

CTV and NBCUniversal International Studios, together with Montréal-based producer Sphère Média Plus, have announced that production is underway on Transplant. The new drama tells the story of an ER doctor who fled his native Syria to come to Canada, where he must overcome numerous obstacles to resume a career in emergency medicine. The first 13 one-hour episodes will continue to shoot through November. As announced last week as part of #CTVUpfront, the new series stars Hamza Haq (Quantico); Laurence Leboeuf (19-2); and John Hannah (Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.). Transplant was developed at CTV and is set to premiere during the 2019/20 broadcast season. It will also air on VRAK in a translated French version.

Nelvana has a new partnership with the Line Friends brand, originally created as stickers for mobile messenger application Line. The partnership will see the development and co-production of a kids animated television series (52 x 11-minutes), to be globally distributed by Nelvana (excluding Korea, Taiwan, Russia and CIS). Nelvana will also be the Canadian partner of Line Friends’ Brown & Friends brand for millennials.

Mike Holmes Jr. and Mike Holmes

Mike Holmes has a development and production deal with Bell Media that will see new original television series Holmes Family Rescue debut in Summer 2020. Described as “inspirational”, the series sees Holmes team up with his children Mike Jr. and Sherry to help transform the lives of homeowners.

CTV has struck a brand and content agreement with Harlequin Studios, the newly-established production shingle owned by Harlequin. The deal will see CTV commission more than 20 made-for-TV films, drawing on content from the Harlequin romance catalogue, for the newly-rebranded CTV Drama Channel. The initial commitment represents more than 40 hours of new Canadian content with the movies set to debut in a Harlequin-branded program block. The first film has a planned Canadian premiere in Q4 2019 on CTV Drama as well as Bell Media’s VRAK French-language specialty channel.

TSN’s summer soccer schedule includes 150 games across competitions that include the FIFA Women’s World Cup of France 2019, MLS ON TSN, the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup, the 2019 COPA America, and the UEFA EURO 2020 qualifiers. Find full broadcast schedules here.

Lisa Haley

APTN has brought back youth hockey series Hit The Ice back for a seventh season. The 13-episode series, which returned to the network this week, features female Indigenous hockey hopefuls from communities across the country as they are put through the paces of a real NHL style training camp, led by Sochi Gold Medal winning coach Lisa Haley. Hit The Ice is also broadcast in Cree.

APTN will air National Idigenous Day celebrations live and on location from Winnipeg, Whitehorse and Calgary on June 22. Terri Clark, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Randy Bachman, Blue Rodeo, Crystal Shawanda, Julian Taylor Band, Diyet & the Love Soldiers, The Jerry Cans and Leela Gilday are just some of the artists in this year’s lineup. The four-and-a-half hour concert will be broadcast live from 8 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. ET on APTN, with the livestream online at indigenousdaylive.ca and partnering Indigenous radio stations. A special emerging artist pre-show from each host city will also be live-streamed online ahead of the live broadcast.

AMI-tv eight-part docuseries You Can’t Ask That debuts June 20. The series, from Pixcom Productions, confronts prejudices and breaks down societal taboos with Canadians with disabilities – from wheelchair users to those with neurological conditions – reading and candidly answering questions from the public. The English-language version of You Can’t Ask That follows the French-language Ça ne se demande pas, which premiered on AMI-télé this past winter. The series can be watched post-broadcast on demand at AMI.ca or the AMI-tv App.

Thunderbird Entertainment Group is launching a new International Division to be based in the UK. The new division aims to establish partnerships with production companies to develop Thunderbird’s intellectual property (IP) and grow in key international territories. Ed Sayer, who most recently served as head of Original Commissioning at Discovery International, will lead the new division. As part of its official launch, Thunderbird has announced its first UK factual partnership with Endemol Shine Group’s Workerbee. Under the terms of the deal, Workerbee will be a co-producer on the ground in the UK, pitching and producing Thunderbird projects for UK platforms.

DHX Media has received an unsolicited merger proposal from Indian company Sakthi Global Holdings. Indian news reports indicate DHX shareholders are being offered $5.32 per share upon completion of the proposed merger, comprised of $1.32 per share in cash and $4 in common stock. Sakthi Global would emerge as the majority owner. The merger is contingent on 80 per cent of DHX Media shareholders voting to accept the offer.

Shaftesbury’s technology and VR division is currently working in collaboration with Canadian pediatric healthcare professionals and researchers to investigate the use of immersive media to relieve stress experienced by children undergoing medical procedures and surgery. Holland Bloorview’s research institute and Scarborough Health Network (SHN) are currently testing the benefits of augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR) using a unique game engine, featuring Shaftesbury’s original content, to lower stress in kids ages 8 – 15 in clinical settings. SHN’s trial is focused on Positive Distraction Therapy for perioperative stress relief with a test group of 120 children. Holland Bloorview has conducted a research study (under review for publication) to examine the usability and safety of VR technologies for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Susan Hay

Global News anchor/producer Susan Hay is celebrating 30 years with the network. Hay began her career at MCTV in Sudbury as a weather anchor, host and producer, eventually moving over to CBC as a weather anchor and entertainment reporter. In May 1989, she joined Global TV, anchoring daily regional and national forecasts on Global’s evening and late-night newscasts. During her tenure, Hay has covered everything from weather, news, and special events and currently produces and hosts the Making a Difference segment profiling inspirational people and organizations throughout the GTA. Hailing from North Bay, Hay is a member of the Canadore College Alumni Hall of Fame, as well as a member of the North Bay Kiwanis Walk of Fame.


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