The world of television is changing rapidly and the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission is attempting to catch up. It set forth new rules today and while the new rules do not mention animation specifically, they will undoubtedly affect animation production.
Where in the past, specialty channels (which include channels like YTV and Teletoon) had individual requirements for the amount of Canadian content they ran, now all specialty channels will have the same requirement to run Canadian content 35% of the time. I can't find YTV's former requirement, but Teletoon's was 60%. They can now run considerably less Canadian programming.
While the CRTC has mandated that broadcasters must spend the same dollar amount as before, reducing the requirements for Canadian shows means fewer shows with higher budgets. This may be a problem for studios that don't own broadcast outlets. Nelvana and DHX are well positioned, as they will undoubtedly favour themselves with higher budgets rather than have their channels purchasing more expensive shows from other Canadian studios. If Nelvana subcontracts, will their subcontractors see any of the increased budgets or will the the subcontract budgets remain the same with any increase staying with Nelvana?
I'm afraid that these new rules will put the squeeze on smaller studios that rely on broadcasters and cable channels for their sales. Can Netflix or Amazon take up the slack? If not, there's a chance that we're going to see less production in the near future.
The Canadian TV animation industry is presently as large as it has ever been. At Sheridan, we are being approached by studios that are trying to get a jump on Industry Day and hire students before they graduate. Those of us who have been around for awhile have wondered how long the industry expansion can continue. It's possible that these new rules, put in place to improve quality and give broadcasters more flexibility, may not be good for Canadian animation.