The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Decima Reports.Film and television production is feeling an economic pinch, joining the broadcast and distribution sectors, which are saddled with debt, downgraded stock and fragmented audiences and customer churn. Figures released last week at the annual Canadian Film and Television Production Association (CFTPA) conference clearly indicate that the double-digit production growth periods of the past ended in 2001-2002.   There was a sense of unease at the conference, with many producers expecting a reduced government financial commitment to the consistently over-subscribed Canadian Television Fund (CTF) in next week’s federal budget. Some suggested that they would begrudgingly accept less taxpayer money as long as they could be assured of a long-term commitment. But even that is not a guarantee, as many anticipate another one-year renewal to the CTF. There was also talk of the need to change Canada’s tax credit system to reduce paper shuffling and to better compete with countries also vying to attract Hollywood productions to their shores. The focus was on subsidies, tax credits and government interventions. Unfortunately, it’s becoming tough to tell the difference these days between bureaucrats and producers as art gives way to paperwork. Keynote speaker and Hollywood producer/director Ivan Reitman, who got his start in Canada, was a bright light on the horizon. Noting that the production industry here has become too focused on qualifying for Canadian content points and tax credits, and putting forward applications for government financing, he urged that audiences not be ignored. Reitman hit home when he noted that more attention must be devoted to coming up with new ideas, or at least presenting old stories in fresh ways. Without a doubt, the Canadian government has a role in promoting the cultural goals of this country. But the production industry and the rest of the players in the broadcasting sector need to remove the blinders created by too great a focus on quotas and subsidies to concentrate on ideas and audiences, as Reitman suggested. Thinking outside the box will be especially important as the communications world becomes increasingly globalized.