The Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) says the federal government’s exclusion of broadcast media from journalism support tax credits in Budget 2019 is unfair.
Tuesday’s budget detailed a $595 million, five-year plan to support for Canadian journalism that includes a labour tax credit for qualifying media outlets, a non-refundable tax credit for subscriptions to Canadian digital news, and access to charitable tax incentives for not-for-profit journalism.
Broadcast media is ineligible for both tax credits, which Lenore Gibson, chair of the CAB board of directors, says flies in the face of numerous studies on how Canadians are consuming news content.
“Canadians want to be informed and they want a diversity of trusted, quality news sources from which to choose,” said Gibson. “The federal government’s exclusion of broadcasters — the preferred source for news among Canadians — is arbitrary and unfair policy.”
The CAB touts the Reuters Institute’s 2018 Digital News Report, which indicates more than 75 per cent of Canadians are getting their news from television and radio, while just 31 per cent cite newspapers as their primary source. Reuters found the majority of Canadians are regularly (three days or more per week) turning to CTV (27 per cent), Global (21 per cent) and CBC (20 per cent) for their news. Just 13 per cent are regularly reading a community or local newspaper. Eight per cent indicated they regularly read the Toronto Star, while six per cent indicated they were regular Globe and Mail readers.
“If the government is truly committed to recognizing the vital role media plays in helping citizens make informed decisions, it must find a way to include radio and television news outlets in this tax credit regime,” said Gibson.
The association says it will be consulting its member broadcasters to explore next steps. CAB vice-president of Finance and Administration and CFO Sylvie Bissonnette told Broadcast Dialogue, CAB hopes to go back to government with potential solutions, generated by its membership.
Lack of investment in screen industries: ACTRA
ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists), which represents 25,000 professional performers working in English-language recorded media in Canada, has also expressed disappointment that Canada’s screen-based industries were overlooked in the budget.
“Despite citing our cultural industries as a key contributor to our economy, there was no new investment in our screen industries,” said ACTRA National President David Sparrow. “Budget 2019 was an important opportunity to continue the investment in our screen-based industry, specifically Canadian content production, to ensure it will continue to grow, and bring more jobs, wealth, prosperity and investment to Canadians.”
“Canada’s funding programs need to evolve in response to the technological changes in the content industry. This is essential if Canadians are to receive the maximum benefit from these investments,” said Stephen Waddell, ACTRA National Executive Director. “While previous federal budgets took steps to stabilize funding for the Canada Media Fund, Telefilm Canada still requires additional budgetary support to better position the agency to effectively carry out its mandate and reinforce strategic priorities related to gender parity, diversity and Indigenous filmmaking.”
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