Monday, October 31, 2016

Canadian Subsidies to HBO's Game of Thrones #DigiCanCon

Despite Bell Canada's desire for me to not watch Game of Thrones unless I was a cable subscriber or willing to infringe copyright, I completed watching the 2016 season this weekend via Google Play Video and TV.

One part of the closing credits has always peaked my interest, and that was the fact that a few provinces and the Canadian Federal government provided assistance in the form of media funds and/or tax credits.

A quick search returned a related article that discussed some of the basis for additional contributions this year: Season premiere of ‘Game of Thrones’ was very Canadian.

I expect some of the most active participants in the Canadian Content in a Digital World Consultations suggesting they represent the "artist" position will find this offensive as they appear to only want their sector (most often writers and actors) to receive subsidies.  They don't appear to see the value to Canada when our technical talent including visual effects crews contribute, or possibly when the actor happens to be a wolf. Complex cinema and television includes far more than a few writers and actors, with sets and locations often in a variety of countries. I believe it is quite appropriate to recognize and nurture Canadian artistic talent beyond writers and human actors.

Personally I'm proud that Canadians are involved with artists of other citizenship in such an internationally known series like Game of Thrones.  I've not been proud of what I've felt is quite xenophobic ideas expressed during the consultations and in the #DigiCanCon twitter feed, including what appears to be a misplaced dislike for Netflix Canada.

This should be a reminder of the fact that we have a wide variety of funding assistance for creators at all levels of government.  I have been concerned that so much energy is being expended in the DigiCanCon discussions focused on whether one company (Netflix Canada) pays into one fund (Canada Media Fund) managed by what should be an arms-length regulatory body (CRTC). This is the wrong basket to be putting any eggs in considering many believe that the CRTC requires massive reform given how it mismanaged communications convergence. Some believe the CRTC should be abolished entirely. At the very least the conflict of interest created by a regulatory body also trying to be a funding body, falling under regulatory capture, needs to be solved by removing any tax or spending capabilities from the CRTC.

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