Canada TV changes risk C$1.4bn loss, 15,000 jobs

An in-depth independent report on the changes sweeping the Canadian TV industry claims the new regulatory regime could result in 15,000 job losses and a C$1.4 billion (US$1 billion) reduction in the media sector’s contribution to the wider economy.

The 104-page report was written by analysts at Nordicity and examines the likely impact of the regulatory changes that resulted from communications regulator the CRTC’s Let’s Talk TV initiative last year and come into effect in March.

The headline projections are that there will be a C$400 million reduction in spending on Canada-originated content by 2020 as the quota and channel bundling systems are relaxed.


Nordicity projections – click to enlarge

By 2020 there will be 6,830 job losses from the TV sector itself and a further 8,300 in related ‘spin-off’ sectors. Within the TV sector, cumulative revenues will reduce by C$802.5 million and spin-off revenues by C$608.6 million, according to Nordicity.

Nordicity was contracted by advocacy groups ACTRA, Canadian Media Guild, Directors Guild of Canada, Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, and Unifor to compile the study: Canadian Television 2020: Technological and Regulatory Impacts.

Industry professionals such as Sophie Ferron, boss of indie prodco Media Ranch, have already voiced concerns about the LTTV changes. The industry groups that commissioned the research were also quick to highlight its key findings.

“Under pressure from the former government, the Commission placed so-called consumer protection ahead of the cultural and democratic interests of citizens and creators in its decisions,” said Ian Morrison, spokesperson for the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting.

“This study offers an indictment of the CRTC’s current leadership, based on solid economic analysis,” he added.

Stephen Waddell, ACTRA national executive director said: “This study shows that recent broadcast policy decisions are likely to create job loses and generate economic damage. The loss of high quality Canadian scripted programming will also result.”

“Implementing the CRTC’s policy proposals could mean thousands of hours of Canadian stories will never be produced. The tremors will be felt throughout the Canadian system from television to film to digital platforms.”

Nordicity predicts a deep and widespread impact on the Canadian content sector in the wake of the LTTV changes. It adds that the current system is ‘under attack’ from new OTT and digital technologies and players, with Netflix, for example, now in over a third of Canadian homes.

“The most likely scenario over the short to mid-term is a material but not fatal erosion of traditional television,” Nordicity concluded in its study. “Our modelling of the next five years shows that specialty services lose subscribers and less popular specialty channels are closed down.”

Nordicity noted that the regulatory changes and wider challenge from OTT “will ultimately reduce spending on Canadian programming, an effect unfortunately exacerbated by the CRTC LTTV decisions”.