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TV & Film News – WGC members vote in favour of strike action

Writers Guild of Canada (WGC) members have voted overwhelmingly in favour of authorizing strike action if there is no resolution in its ongoing negotiations with the Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA). WGC and the CMPA have been negotiating renewal of the Independent Production Agreement (IPA) for the past six months, with WGC members working without a  contract since Dec. 31. Among the sticking points are meaningful protections around the use of AI for both live action and animation writers, better compensation for animation writers, and minimum staffing on shows once they are in production. The first strike mandate in the organization’s history, 96.5% voted in favour of job action with more than 70% of eligible voters casting a ballot. Read more here.

Amazon, Rogers Communications, and the NHL have announced a two-year agreement to bring Monday night hockey to Canadian fans on Prime Video. The NHL’s first exclusive national broadcast deal with a digital-only streaming service in Canada, Prime Monday Night Hockey will stream all national regular season Monday night NHL games in English for the 2024/25 and 2025/26 seasons. Produced by Prime Video, it will feature a new broadcast team offering analysis and play-by-play coverage, and stream live exclusively to Prime members in Canada. Read more here.

Sportsnet and the Calgary Flames have a new agreement that sees the network continue as the team’s exclusive regional broadcast partner for eleven more seasons. Since Sportsnet’s inception in 1998, Sportsnet has been the home of the Flames’ regional broadcasts. The new long-term extension ensures Flames regional broadcasts will remain on Sportsnet through to 2035. 

Tubi, Fox Corporation’s ad-supported streaming service, has partnered with sports streamer DAZN on a groundbreaking licensing agreement will see DAZN Ringside and DAZN Women’s Football FAST channels launch in the U.S. and DAZN TV and DAZN Women’s Football launch in Canada. This is the first time the DAZN Women’s Football FAST channel will be available in North America, which the streamers say highlights a shared commitment to spotlight elite soccer, but also women’s sports in general. DAZN Women’s Football will be available 24 hours a day, offering a mix of live and classic soccer matches from the UEFA Women’s Champions League (UWCL); Liga F; and the Saudi Women’s Premier League. DAZN Ringside gives fans the best action across boxing and MMA from partners Matchroom Boxing, Golden Boy, Wasserman and MF & DAZN: X Series, including over 300 hours of archive fights, documentaries, and The DAZN Boxing show. DAZN TV features boxing, MMA, and international soccer. 

Bell Media is moving into the FAST channel space, announcing the launch of 10 English and French-language channels featuring CTV, TSN and Noovo programming, among other content. Spanning entertainment, factual, news, and sports, all 10 channels are now available on LG Channels, and expected to roll out on Samsung TV Plus shortly. Read more here.

Citytv lifestyle program Cityline will conclude with a farewell episode this Friday after a 40-year run as Rogers Sports & Media moves to evolve the show. Beginning in September, it will be featured as a fifth live hour of Breakfast Television. Moore, who is on board to host the new one-hour offering that will air from 10 – 11 a.m., said while difficult, change is necessary to adapt to changing consumer viewing habits. Canada’s longest running daytime show targeted to women, Cityline is taped in front of a live studio audience. The show was originally hosted by Dini Petty when it launched in 1984. Marilyn Denis succeeded her in 1989, helming the show until 2008 when Moore took over. Read more here.

Ontario Creates has released new data indicating the province’s Film and Television industry contributed $1.8 billion to Ontario’s economy in 2023, down from a high of $3.15 billion the previous year. Domestic Television Series production was strong in 2023, with 138 productions contributing over $639 million in expenditures. Live Action production accounted for 371 of a total 404 productions. Broadcaster in-house production is estimated at $669 million. Ontario Creates says while the U.S. labour disruption posed challenges for Ontario’s Film and Television industry, leading to production delays and disruptions, indicators are pointing towards a rebound for 2024. However, it says factors such as shifting content strategies among foreign streaming platforms, budget cuts for independent production by Canadian broadcasters, and increased production costs may affect the rate of return and new normal production levels.

Vice Media Group has announced a new structure for its production business, which will see Vice Studios Canada focus on factual series for streamers like Crave. The renamed Vice Studios Group will encompass five production entities, including Pulse Films, UnTypical, Vice Studios LatAm, and a news documentary unit, in addition to Vice Studios Canada. Vice Studios Group will be led by co-presidents Jamie Hall, based in London, and Danny Gabai in Los Angeles.

(l-r): Denis Villeneuve, Michael MacMillan, Patrick Huard

The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television (the Canadian Academy) has announced its third and final round of Special Award recipients, led by Dune filmmaker Denis Villeneuve, Blue Ant Media CEO Michael MacMillan, and actor, writer and comedian Patrick Huard. Villeneuve is being presented with the Academy Icon Award, presented to a Canadian individual or institution for their exceptional, ongoing contribution to the media industry at home or abroad. MacMillan is being recognized with the Industry Leadership Award, honouring innovation and leadership in Canada’s media industry, while Huard will receive the Earle Grey Award, recognizing a Canadian performer for their exceptional body of acting work in Canadian television and film. Read more here.

Patrick Watson

The Guild of Music Supervisors, Canada (GMSC) and Canadian Music Week (CMW) have announced Patrick Watson as the recipient of its inaugural Impact Award at this year’s Canadian Sync Awards on June 3. The GMSC Impact Award celebrates a lifetime of contributions and influence on music, culture, community, self-expression, and vision, as well as their profound prominence in the sync world. Montreal raised and based, Watson composes, performs, and records his albums with longtime collaborator Mishka Stein. He has made several scores for film and television, including Wim Wenders’ films Perfect Days and Everything Will Be Fine. Other notable projects featuring his ‘syncs’ include: The Rest Of Us, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Grey’s Anatomy, Orange Is The New Black, Ray Donovan, The Good Doctor, and The Blacklist. Submissions for the awards are open until April 26. 

Valerie Creighton

Valerie Creighton, President and CEO, Canada Media Fund, will receive the Glass Ceiling Award at this year’s inaugural Hollywood Reporter Women in Entertainment Canada event in Toronto on May 30. Presented in partnership with Shaftesbury, the Glass Ceiling Award recognizes excellence in leadership in the Canadian entertainment industry from women role models who are setting the agenda and driving the industry forward.

Alison Duke

Hot Docs is honouring Canadian writer-producer-director Alison Duke, co-founder of OYA Media Group, with the Don Haig Award. Duke is the producer behind A Mother Apart, a tale of healing and forgiveness in which Jamaican-American poet and LGBTQ+ activist Staceyann Chin embarks on an international journey to reimagine the art of mothering—having been abandoned by her own mother as a young child. The Don Haig Award is presented to an outstanding Canadian independent producer with a feature length film at the festival, selected by a jury of independent filmmakers. 

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