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Loss of TVO’s Gisele’s Big Backyard a blow to original children’s programming in Ontario

TVO management announced this week that it will cease production for beloved pre-school show Gisele’s Big Backyard, a program that was a hit with children, parents and educators for more than 10 years thanks to its fun and colourful host, Gisele Corinthios, who always made kids feel she was speaking directly to them, not at them.

Gisele helped the youngest citizens of the province start their learning journey and parents trusted her to deliver quality, age appropriate programming. TVO tells CMG it plans to continue broadcasting past episodes of Gisele’s Big Backyard from its archives, but it did not announce investment in any new children’s programming on any platform.

The cut will save TVO an estimated  $300, 000 a year, money CMG is urging the provincial public broadcaster to reinvest in programming.

This latest cut is a significant loss for original children’s TV production in Ontario, and is part of a disturbing trend to slash quality audio-visual production. Between 2011 and 2015, the proportion of funding TVO dedicated to producing original content has dropped from about 60 % to 45%, an issue CMG recently raised as a concern in a meeting with  Premier Kathleen Wynne.

The Premier agreed with CMG that TVO is an important part of the media, cultural and production ecosystem in the province, and she was receptive to our contention that TVO’s commitment to original programming must be strengthened, not weakened.

So far, TVO has not revealed what plans it has for the funds. CMG will meet with management to press for reinvestment in programming consistent with its educational mandate, and we will continue to make the case for better support for TVO.

Gregg Thurlbeck, CMG President at TVO
Terri Monture, CMG Staff Representative

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