Free Trade Negotiator Joins Producers to Get Fairer Deal from Television Networks



    Independent producers welcome Gordon Ritchie to their negotiating team

    OTTAWA, July 16 /CNW Telbec/ - The Canadian Film and Television
Production Association (CFTPA) announced today that Gordon Ritchie, one of the
principle architects of the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement, has joined its
negotiating team to secure fairer deals for program rights from the major
private over-the-air television networks, as well as CBC.
    "On the eve of commencing historic terms of trade negotiations, we are
very pleased to announce that Gordon Ritchie has joined the CFTPA negotiating
team," said CFTPA Chair Sandra Cunningham. "Gordon's wealth of experience and
sound judgment will be invaluable to us as we sit down with CTV, Canwest
Global, Rogers and CBC to negotiate more equitable trading terms with our
broadcaster partners that reflect the realities facing independent Canadian
producers."
    Ritchie's appointment by the CFTPA signals the increasing importance that
the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has
placed on broadcasters and independent producers reaching agreement on
so-called "terms of trade" - framework agreements aimed at defining and
valuing program rights, including new media rights, for platforms such as
broadband and mobile. These framework agreements would apply to individual
negotiations between broadcasters and producers for program rights - something
that producers hope will alleviate the severe imbalances in negotiating power
caused by broadcaster consolidation.
    "The viability of Canada's independent production sector is under
tremendous strain in the face of unprecedented broadcaster consolidation,"
said Cunningham. "Independent producers regard terms of trade as essential in
ensuring that they can continue to provide high-quality programming to
Canadians and to viewers around the world."
    In his speech at the Banff World Television Festival in June 2008, CRTC
Chairman Konrad von Finckenstein said that a key issue for the CRTC was how
broadcasters and independent producers should split revenues generated by new
media. "Who pays what to whom, and for what rights? There is a lot of
uncertainty about what these rights may be worth on the various platforms."
Chairman von Finckenstein reiterated the Commission's expectation that terms
of trade agreements be filed with the licence renewal applications of the
over-the-air broadcasters, with the deadline expected to be in late 2008 or
early 2009.
    Guy Mayson, President and CEO of the CFTPA, said he welcomed the CRTC's
firm expectation that broadcasters and independent producers reach agreement
on terms of trade.
    "Consolidation has created a lopsided relationship between independent
producers, who are largely small business people, and these mega-conglomerate
media groups," said Mayson. "This concentrated broadcaster decision-making
power is one of the main reasons why we're so thrilled that Gordon has agreed
to join our negotiating team. Anyone familiar with the history of the Free
Trade Agreement knows that Gordon is used to representing the underdog in very
high stakes negotiations. His record demonstrates that if you're
well-prepared, reasonable, practical and principled, you can reach a fair and
meaningful deal to the betterment of both sides."
    Negotiations between the broadcasters and independent producers are
slated to begin next week.

    The CFTPA is a non-profit trade organization that works on behalf of
almost 400 companies engaged in the production and distribution of
English-language television programs, feature films, and interactive media
products in all regions of Canada. The CFTPA promotes the general interests of
members provincially, federally, and internationally; negotiates and manages
labour agreements with guilds and unions; administers copyright collectives;
trains new industry entrants through several national internship programs; and
undertakes a number of other specific initiatives that help increase awareness
and enhance communication within the Canadian and international production
communities. The independent production sector directly or indirectly employs
more than 61,000 people in communities across Canada.




For further information:

For further information: Susan Smith, Bluesky Strategy Group, (613)
371-0624

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CANADIAN FILM AND TELEVISION PRODUCTION ASSOCIATION

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