Bruno Légaré, a senior multimedia analyst with Telefilm Canada, has told Canadian NEW MEDIA that there has been no major change to the Multimedia Fund’s guidelines that would prompt opposition to greater broadcaster participation. In an interview this morning, Légaré said that while there is a new emphasis in the fund’s guidelines on partnerships, actual eligibility requirements remain the same as those in place since the fund was created in 1998. The Canadian Film and Television Production Association (CFTPA) is upset that new rules appear to make it easier for broadcast entities to apply directly to the fund. Without publicly available guidelines, however, that claim is difficult to ascertain. Previous iterations of the rules seem to provide some flexibility in the matter, with wording that indicates small- and medium-sized enterprises can count only on "priority" in obtaining funding (CNM, Nov. 2/01). The outcry is in response to copies of draft guidelines circulated to the fund’s industry advisory committee prior to the Baddeck International New Media Festival. While Telefilm’s web site states that new funding guidelines will be available in mid-November, Légaré says consultations are still ongoing. In that light, it’s unlikely a final draft will be available publicly in that time frame.
The situation is sensitive. An Ernst & Young auditor’s report on the Telefilm fund, obtained under the Access to Information Act by Canadian NEW MEDIA, indicates there has been a high default rate for the loan-based, taxpayer-funded program to date. "Of the production and marketing loans due on March 31, 2000, 63% (by value) were in default at May 2000. For fiscal 2000, $4.4 million, or 77.1% of the $5.7 million of non-impaired loans are considered long-term," the report states. In December 2000, Telefilm received permission to extend loan repayments by 12 months to up to three years to help stem at least some of the defaulted loans. If the agency has broadened the eligibility requirements for fund recipients, that could be at odds with an E&Y recommendation to be wary of concentration. Its report indicates that 31 companies had received funding approval for more than one title or component. Those 31 of 113 companies shared 63% of the total $14.55 million given out to date. The 82 remaining companies, or 72%, shared the remaining 37% of that total.
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