Television producers outside Toronto and Montreal are worried that proposed changes to the Canadian Television Fund (CTF) will cut off the special funding and regional bonuses they receive. The CTF is the largest source of public funding for TV production in the country, particularly for companies based in British Columbia and the Maritimes. A recommendation for the cutting of regional bonuses and special allocations is contained in a KPMG consultant’s report that is now in the hands of the federal bureaucrats at Canadian Heritage who commissioned it (CCR, April 27/00). The fund’s existing policy ensures that a portion of its $218 million will be allocated to producers in the regions, which by definition must be more than 150 km from either Toronto or Montreal. Regional funding allocations were put into place to help maintain a balance with central Canadian producers who have broadcaster, financial, fund and distribution headquarters in their backyard. "The unfortunate reality is that any independent producer supplying television programming to a major Canadian broadcaster or specialty channel is dependent on assistance from it," said Rob Egan, president and CEO of British Columbia Film. "Without a contribution from this fund, it’s highly unlikely most of these programs will even get made." Some Eastern Canadian producers say, however, that British Columbia and Halifax need little extra incentive. Because of its proximity, scenery and infrastructure, Vancouver has become a favourite of Hollywood producers. It’s also home to Canadian companies that sell to CTV, Global and CBC. Halifax-based producers like Salter Street Films are very successful selling their shows to CBC and CHUMCity. But Egan stresses there is an important philosophical issue at stake. "The idea behind the regional bonus was that we were trying to establish regional voices and provide opportunities for filmmakers in other regions of Canada to tell their own stories and have creative and financial control over those productions in the regions in which they live," he told CCR. The KPMG study recommends that the regional bonus system of the CTF’s licence fee program be replaced by a different system. The regional bonus would no longer be based on the location of the production company, but on the regional content depicted in the story. The CTF objective would then be to emphasize "regional expression" rather than regional production and job creation. Egan says Vancouver’s success as a production centre should be reflected in shows that are about Canada, not in U.S. productions that disguise Vancouver as a U.S. city. "We are seeing increasing success for our indigenous producers, but the fact of the matter is that this domestic production sector is still far smaller than Toronto’s and that’s because Toronto is still the decision-making centre for the film business nationally," he explains. "Now is definitely not the time to be pulling the rug out from those policy initiatives that are helping to contribute to this growth." Along with the proposed elimination of the regional bonus and allocation, both the KPMG study – and the Silcox-Colbert study commissioned by the CTF– recommend that the administration of the CTF be removed from Telefilm Canada. The studies support the view that, to improve the efficiency and accountability of the CTF, the Equity and Licence Fee Programs should be rolled into a single administration under the supervision of the CTF board. Heritage ministry officials say they haven’t decided how to restructure the CTF.