Docs

Canadian net puts docs in primetime

Canada's regulatory body approved BCE's acquisition of CTV in December 2000 in a transaction valued at CDN$2.3 billion, but it required over $100 million be directed at indies. How much money is going to docs?...
June 1, 2001

Canada’s regulatory body approved BCE’s acquisition of CTV in December 2000 in a transaction valued at CDN$2.3 billion, but it required over $100 million be directed at indies. How much money is going to docs?

We’re committing $18 million over seven years to CTV documentary events [at least two blue-chip docs with budgets up to $1 million annually] and movie of the week companion documentaries [singles investigating a similar theme as the mow, with CTV contributing up to 70% of a $500,000 budget up-front]. When we consulted independent producers, one of the messages we heard loud and clear was that it would be good if they could be involved in projects where the time frame was driven by the story and not by funding requirements.

How many slots will be dedicated to docs each season?

There will be a minimum of 14 primetime documentary slots per season. We’ll put a very strong emphasis on those projects produced by Canadian independents, telling Canadian or Canadian-based stories. We’ll also do stories on issues that are not strictly Canadian, but feature Canadian characters and would be of interest to CTV’s primetime audience.

Are all CTV docs commissioned?

We seldom acquire documentaries. We do lots of coproductions, but usually we commission documentaries and then look to coproduce with other partners – Canadian partners who want a second window or non-Canadian partners . . . We will put up 60% of the budget, but if the budget is very large, we will welcome off-shore partners.

How will you define the CTV documentary brand?

We want to prove docs can work in a conventional primetime schedule. That’s the challenge. We’ll promote these programs aggressively to bring them the audiences they deserve.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for HMV.com. As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.

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