Last year, Stephen Ellis of Ellis Entertainment chaired a task force of nine producers from across the country to develop an improved business model for production. At the Canadian Film and Television Production Association conference on January 30, he discussed the organization’s new strategies for production. Our focus was on coming up with a model that could move our sector from merely surviving to thriving. After all, how can we expect independent producers to generate programming with flourish if there’s no reasonable prospect for them to flourish as businesses? As we surveyed the landscape we began to realize that no matter what new business model the association came up with, getting from here to there would be a matter of swimming upstream against a number of misconceptions and harsh realities. So in order to at least understand our goals, it seemed to us that other stakeholders in the system need to be able to take a producer’s-eye-view of the business environment in which we operate. I’m going to give you a snapshot of the obstacles that we identified and outline the principles that form the groundwork of a new business model – one that would allow our members to set their sights beyond just ‘getting-the-show-finished’ to the goal of ‘growing-the-business.’...But financing each completed work, in a world of fragmenting revenue potential, stretched-out financial contributions from partners and risk averse financiers, has never been more perilous for the producer. It is a myth to think that we don’t take risks. Another element of the risk mythology is that notion that public investment should play a temporary role as the production industry matures – that there will be a natural sunset for government intervention once the industry reaches a critical mass driven by the consumer...But this kind of thinking overlooks the fact that every major country in the world provides significant support for film and TV production – it’s not a uniquely Canadian phenomenon. …Another widespread belief that we question is the idea that Canadian producers are subsidized while other players in the system, such as the broadcasters, are purely creatures of market forces.  …We’ve identified six harsh realities that need to be addressed in order to provide the production industry with improved opportunities for business growth. First, over a 20-year period, since the inception of the original Broadcast Fund at Telefilm Canada, in fact, we’ve seen licence fees for original Canadian independent production decline on an average basis from one-third to one-fifth. This erosion of producers’ primary revenues has exerted pressure to draw from other sources, including public incentives and deferred fees, to fill the gap. Second, CRTC-required overall spending by broadcasters has been discounted by the amount of contributions from the CTF LFP (licence fee program), so that it is no longer as clear as it could be what the true expenditure commitments are.  Third, producers’ primary source of domestic revenue, broadcast licence fees, increasingly capture more rights for longer periods on more channels than ever before. This is a natural outgrowth of CRTC-sanctioned consolidation into ever greater and more powerful broadcast groups, but it comes at the expense of producers’ long-term bottom lines. …The fourth harsh reality we’ve noted is the role played by funding and certification agencies as unofficial mediators between producers, broadcasters and foreign investors in production.  The fifth trend we identified was that the producer – the least capitalized player in the system – has to shoulder the highest financial risk. Producers must deliver the final product while most of the income flows in after they have spent the bulk of the budget. …The sixth trend is the negative scheduling consequences for prime-time Canadian shows that arise with those broadcasters reliant on simultaneous substitution of American network television. …A way needs to be found to place more Canadian prime-time fare in prime slots with consistency.