Thursday, January 17, 2013
Kevin W. Crull
Re: #Borealis: A Missed Opportunity to Promote Great Canadian Content
Dear Mr. Crull:
I write to you in my personal capacity as a Canadian citizen and an avid supporter of Canadian content in broadcasting.
As President of Bell Media, self-described as “Canada’s premier multimedia company“, Canadians will be intimately familiar with your stable of conventional channels like CTV, Canada’s #1 television network, as well as over 29 specialty channels (including SPACE), 33 radio stations, and over 55 websites, Sympatico.ca and Dome Productions.
Most of your loyal Bell TV subscribers will appreciate that business decisions are primarily driven by ratings and profit.
However, there are other two other factors that impact on whether a particular television show should be renewed or picked up as a series.
The first is whether a show like Borealis, a Canadian production, with a Canadian cast and crew, merits a second look. As I have mentioned before “Borealis features a stellar cast of great Canadian actors, a riveting, fast-paced storyline, and great special effects (including a spectacularly choreographed MMA-style cage match scene).”
Many SPACE Channel fans were deeply disappointed to learn of the unannounced internal decision by Bell Media – (Twitter: @BellMediaPR) to not renew Borealis following its pilot episode which aired on SPACE (Twitter: @SPACEchannel) this past weekend.
However, the show’s lead, the top Canadian actor Ty Olsson (Vic Carbonneau) (IMDB profile; Twitter:@TyOlsson) has undertaken a personal grassroots PR campaign on Twitter (hashtag #Borealis). Olsson is joined in the Borealis campaign by his fellow Borealis cast, including:
If recent Twitter and internet activity is any indication, then fans of Borealis are clamouring for more episodes. Just check the #Borealis Twitter hashtag or this TwitterReach.com report that provides 15-25 minute interval updates. Some very impressive statistics. [UPDATE: Ty Olsson will provide a full report later on this week on Twitter]
Beyond Twitter, there are a significant amount of comments already left on the SPACE website: http://www.spacecast.com/article/As-Seen-on-InnerSPACE-Borealis#disqus _thread and the following are links to recent media interviews of Ty Olsson and reviews of Borealis:
- “Borealis” // A Canadian Show that Must Be Seen (impag.org)
- The Future; Borealis 2045 (immrfabulous.com)
- Exclusive Interview: Supernatural’s Ty Olsson Discusses New Film Borealis (tvequals.com)
- Borealis: Could be a Great Series… (SpoilerTV.com)
- Borealis – A Chat with TY Olsson (DNMMagazine.com)
- UPDATED: #Borealis: Science Fiction Show Puts Arctic Sovereignty In A Submission Hold (trialwarrior.com -my own review)
- Robert-Store.com is working on a little something for @TyOlsson // #Borealis (Robert-Store.com) [Updated link]
- Borealis: The Best Political Science Fiction Movie You’ve Never Heard Of (io9.com) [Updated link]
Given your busy work schedule and other commitments, it is possible that you have not checked your own your email inbox yet, but you should expect to see a groundswell of support for Borealis. The fact that you are on Twitter (@kevincrull) implies that you appreciate the tangible (and intangible) benefits of promoting the Bell Media brand in social media.
The second factor, which is often overlooked, is the intrinsic value of Canadian Content in broadcasting. Many Bell Media subscribers may not know that Canadian Content is mandated under the Broadcasting Act (S.C. 1991, c. 11), which includes a Declaration that reads in part:
3. (1) It is hereby declared as the broadcasting policy for Canada that
(a) the Canadian broadcasting system shall be effectively owned and controlled by Canadians;
(b) the Canadian broadcasting system, operating primarily in the English and French languages and comprising public, private and community elements, makes use of radio frequencies that are public property and provides, through its programming, a public service essential to the maintenance and enhancement of national identity and cultural sovereignty;
(c) English and French language broadcasting, while sharing common aspects, operate under different conditions and may have different requirements;
(d) the Canadian broadcasting system should
(i) serve to safeguard, enrich and strengthen the cultural, political, social and economic fabric of Canada,
(ii) encourage the development of Canadian expression by providing a wide range of programming that reflects Canadian attitudes, opinions, ideas, values and artistic creativity, by displaying Canadian talent in entertainment programming and by offering information and analysis concerning Canada and other countries from a Canadian point of view,
(iii) through its programming and the employment opportunities arising out of its operations, serve the needs and interests, and reflect the circumstances and aspirations, of Canadian men, women and children, including equal rights, the linguistic duality and multicultural and multiracial nature of Canadian society and the special place of aboriginal peoples within that society…
With respect to alternative television programming, the federal Broadcasting Act further states:
(r) the programming provided by alternative television programming services should
(i) be innovative and be complementary to the programming provided for mass audiences,
(ii) cater to tastes and interests not adequately provided for by the programming provided for mass audiences, and include programming devoted to culture and the arts,
(iii) reflect Canada’s regions and multicultural nature,
(iv) as far as possible, be acquired rather than produced by those services, and
(v) be made available throughout Canada by the most cost-efficient means;
Clearly, Borealis addresses many, if not all, of the requirements for Bell Media’s obligations under Canadian broadcasting policy.
Moreover, Canadian television viewers will be encouraged to know that the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has, since September 1, 2000, a statutory and regulatory mandate to ensure the development and promotion of quality Canadian programming. The CRTC Public Notice (CRTC 1999-97, Ottawa, 11 June 1999) entitled “ BUILDING ON SUCCESS – A POLICY FRAMEWORK FOR CANADIAN TELEVISION sets out the key elements of ensuring quality Canadian Content:
A framework for the future: flexibility, diversity, choice a) The principles As indicated in the previous section, Canadian television has been successful in many ways. However, programs in areas other than news and sports still have difficulty in achieving financial success. Improving this picture is a major goal of the new policy. As a result of this review of television policies, the Commission has developed five principles to support a financially strong broadcasting system within an effective new regulatory framework. Such a framework will: . Ensure quality Canadian programs at times when Canadians are watching. . Reflect the diversity of Canada’s regions and peoples. . Support an economically successful broadcasting industry. . Require regulation only where the goals of the Act cannot be met by other means. . Ensure that regulations are clear, efficient and easy to administer. In addressing strategies designed to maintain a strong and successful Canadian broadcasting system, the Commission considered the expectations of Canadian audiences for quality Canadian programming, the demands of the marketplace, the creativity of Canadian artists and producers, the increased consolidation and strengths of the broadcast industry and the public interest obligations set out in the Act. For broadcasters and producers to continue to adapt with success to an increasingly complex and competitive environment, the framework within which they operate must be one that facilitates and enhances flexibility, diversity and choice. These elements will contribute to making the economics work. They will also ensure continued and substantial investment in Canadian programs which are characterized by their variety, quality and distinctiveness. At the core of the Canadian broadcasting system are broadcasters dedicated to diversify and expand Canadian programming by building on the successes they have achieved. Key to this success is their knowledge of, and relationship with, their viewers.
b) The framework With this in mind the Commission has defined a framework which, with the economic realities of a competitive environment as a starting point, maximizes flexibility for broadcasters, opportunities for producers and choice in Canadian programming for viewers. The tenets of the framework are: . Emphasize on the exhibition of Canadian programs in peak time. Broadcasters must provide quality programs to survive in a highly competitive market. Given that Canadians want Canadian programs, quality programs must be available when large numbers of Canadians are watching. . Expand the categories of priority programs. This will encourage broadcasters to provide a greater diversity of Canadian information and entertainment programming. . Provide credits for Canadian drama. This recognizes that drama is more expensive to create, produce and exhibit and competes with expensive foreign programs. . Require local and regional reflection whether through news or non-news programming. . Maintain the existing level of Canadian content. Not less than 60% of the broadcast year and not less than 50% of the 6 p.m. to midnight evening broadcast period must be devoted to Canadian programs. [emphasis added]
In conclusion, Borealis is not only a great science-fiction program, it is a great Canadian science-fiction program that will bolster Bell Media’s Canadian Content compliance.
Please give some sober second thought to your decision and give serious consideration to adding Borealis as a staple of the SPACE and Bell Media brand.
I remain sanguine that after you have watched the pilot (available on spacecast.com website via webast link) you will become a Borealis fan as well.
Thank you in advance for your consideration.
Yours very truly,
Antonin I. Pribetic