English-language Canadian TV documentary, and variety and performing arts programs were more successful than drama with Canadian audiences, with the former two groups claiming at least half of all tuning, according to statistics contained in the annual report of the Canadian Television Fund (CTF) that was released this month. About 56% of viewing of all documentary watching was to Canadian productions, with 44% going to foreign-produced docs. In the variety and performing arts category, 51% was to homegrown fare, and 49% to foreign productions. In contrast, only 22% of drama tuning was to Canadian shows, and 75% to foreign TV drama. Children’s programs also did better in terms of audiences than drama, with Canadian children’s and youth programs accounting for 39% of viewing to that genre. In the fall and winter of 2003-04, 40% of total viewing hours for English-language programming were devoted to Canadian shows, with 60% going to non-Canadian programs, the annual report notes. In French Canada, 95% of the total variety and performing arts hours tuned was to Canadian shows in the genre, and Canadian documentaries represented over 70% of all tuning to documentaries. In the children’s and youth category, 52% of viewing in French-Canada was to Canadian productions. French-language Canadian TV drama, excluding films, represented 45% of viewing to that genre. In 2003-04, Canadian programming made up over two-thirds of all viewing of French-language programming in Canada. It is the first year that the CTF has included audience viewing figures – a move that was made, according to CTF president and CEO Sandra Macdonald, to meet Canadian Heritage requirements. "Our financing comes to us via a contribution agreement with Canadian Heritage, and that agreement was written in 2001. What it said as a condition of financing was that within a five-year period, we had to begin doing regular reporting on the audience success of programs," she says. "It’s interesting to us anyways – it’s important information – but part of it, too, is that it’s simply that it’s one of our conditions for funding." Macdonald says that the report doesn’t break down the audience figures by specific show title due to agreements with BBM Canada and Nielsens, from which it purchased the numbers. She also admits that the CTF is in the early stages of pinning down exactly what figures are most relevant. "We’ll have certain things that we would be interested in analyzing and reporting on. But at this point, we’re just at the entry level for ourselves in terms of audience measurement, at taking a first look at what we’ve got, and we haven’t yet gotten our own minds around exactly what we want to use the information to specifically drill down on," she adds. "Our first step is to get that far (to do audience measurement on TV)." Macdonald says she wasn’t surprised by the audience numbers. In the drama category – one that has been the focus of much lobbying by producers, writers and others – 2003-04 marked the first year that specialty and pay broadcasters provided more funding in English Canada than either the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. or private conventional broadcasters. The specialty TV networks provided almost as much funding for TV drama as both the public and private over-the-air broadcasters combined. The CBC and the private conventional broadcasters contributed a total of $35.5 million to English-language TV drama, while the specialty and pay industry quadrupled its support from last year to $32.6 million. Conventional private broadcasters’ participation in French-language TV drama declined 20% to $15.2 million. The French arm of the CBC provided $15.8 million in funding due to the large number of productions it supported that received CTF support. One of the reasons for this trend could be that specialty and pay TV channels continue to have regulated spending requirements on domestic TV programming. The spending requirements for the conventional networks were eliminated with the adoption of the 1999 TV policy. While the government is requiring the CTF to look at audience numbers, Macdonald tells CCR that there are no targets to reach. In the film industry, the government has spelled out a goal of Canadian movies taking in at least 5% of the box office receipts by next year. "Obviously, we want to increase the viewing to Canadian programming in general and over the years, in fact, if you look at everything that has indeed happened," notes Macdonald. "The licensing of specialty services while it created fragmentation in the marketplace, it also increased the choices available to Canadians of Canadian programs to watch. From the mid-90s forward, there has been an increase in the viewing to Canadian programming overall. But we don’t have a specific target we’re aiming for."