TFO, NFB partner to promote French programming

Canadian TV station TFO and the National Film Board of Canada's three-year agreement will see the two public organizations pool their resources in digital markets to produce and distribute content. (Pictured: The NFB's Tom Perlmutter)
October 25, 2012

Canadian TV station TFO and the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) have formed a three-year partnership, with the aim of promoting, producing and distributing French language and culture programming in emerging digital markets.

“The goal is for two public sector organizations to do things that aren’t being done in the private sector, particularly around French language and culture outside of Quebec,” NFB president Tom Perlmutter tells realscreen‘s sister publication Playback. “This [partnership] is a part of the [NFB's] strategy to serve Francophone communities outside of Quebec,” he adds.

The two organizations, which have worked together in the past to help emerging filmmakers, will pool their resources to reach common goals and serve their interests.

Glenn O’Farrell, CEO and president of TFO, plans to use the NFB’s expertise in digital production as a guide to help TFO “convert from more of a television-centric educational media enterprise into a multi-platform and digital educational media and content provider.”

Glenn O'Farrell

Both organizations say they¬†will continue to focus on producing non-fiction and educational programming, due to the higher costs of producing fictional properties. And, though it is early days, O’Farrell says the two public content creators already have a project in mind.

“One of the things that animated much of our discussion… is that in 2015, Ontario will celebrate 400 years of Francophone community in the province with the arrival of Samuel de Champlain and the Champlain travels,” he explains.

“It would be a multi-platform project that will reach beyond just the traditional approach to documentary. How that works, and what we’ve done in the past is bring creative teams together from the NFB and the TFO that will be able to start from the ground up and build something interesting,” adds Perlmutter.

The partnership will also help both organizations serve the educational community, which is a shared target for much of their work. “One of our pioneering online efforts has been Campus, which is dedicated to schools,” says Perlmutter.

“It allows teachers to work with our films online, and there are all sorts of functionalities and tools for them. We’re looking with TFO to see if we can partner in some areas in terms of that as well,” he adds.

Both Perlmutter and O’Farrell agree that working in digital markets is the only way for the NFB and TFO to stay ahead of the curve and serve their communities. “For us it’s opportunity. It’s a way of fundamentally connecting to our audience,” says Perlmutter.

“It sort of levels the playing field from the traditional power structure, where the networks hold all the cards. Suddenly we’ve got much greater access to audience and we can do it in different ways,” he adds.

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