Issue 108 of POV featured Barri Cohen’s popular Policy Matters column (Shame, Shame, Shame), which referred to the Canada Media Fund (CMF) in regards to Allarco Entertainment Limited Partnership (“Super Channel”). The article drew quite some attention from peers in the industry with concerns to Super Channel’s ongoing implications for the state of documentary funding in Canada. In particular, the article caught the eye of Valerie Creighton, President and CEO of the CMF, who provided to POV a response to Cohen’s article. In the spirit of furthering the conversation, POV is pleased to offer Creighton’s response and clarifications below.
The CMF is proud of the support it provides to documentary production across Canada and recognizes how significant an impact there can be when a major broadcasting partner suffers financial difficulty.
On April 1, 2016, Super Channel was awarded a CMF Performance Envelope allocation for the 2016-2017 program year as they met the same conditions as any other broadcaster. On May 26, 2016, Super Channel filed for protection from its creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA).
CMF was informed of this filing through the Canadian Media Producers Association, then contacted Super Channel and informed them they would now be placed under the CMF “Broadcaster in Financial Difficulty Policy”. In discussion with them beginning in June 2016 and through subsequent discussions, the CMF asked Super Channel to either pay the license fee up front or pay according to industry standard drawdowns in order to continue to have access to their envelope. Super Channel declined both options.
From June 2016 to October 2017, Super Channel filed numerous stay of proceedings extensions in connection with their CCAA protective status. All stay of proceedings extensions were approved by the Court and Super Channel continued to operate. The most recent order was granted by the Court in October 2017 and extended the stay of proceedings until February 28, 2018.
Due to the cancelling of a number of its projects’ license fees, Super Channel incurred penalties laid out in the CMF’s Performance Envelope Business Policy that negated its 2017-2018 Performance Envelope allocation, and significantly reduced its 2018-2019 allocation.
Additionally, the CMF implemented a number of strategies to mitigate against both the negative impacts to current projects with license agreements with Super Channel and the future risk of CMF-funded projects not being completed or paid their broadcast license due to Super Channel’s financial difficulty.
In an effort to ensure as many projects were produced as possible, the CMF allowed projects to remain eligible with replacement license fees that fell below the minimum CMF license fee threshold. Further, the CMF continued to pay its contribution to projects that met the other required eligibility criteria set out in its guidelines.
The CMF took this opportunity to implement more proactive measures in its 2017-2018 Guidelines to ensure that all Broadcasters who participate in CMF Programs are financially healthy. These measures included introducing Broadcaster Financial Reviews and more stringent license fee payment schedules.
We appreciate the author’s point of view expressed in the article and agree that Super Channel is a critical broadcaster for Canadian documentary production, but not at any cost, nor on the back of the documentary producer.