Canadian Media Guild representatives listened with interest as Lisa de Wilde delivered a speech about TVO’s new focus, which is a campaign seeking ten million dollars of public and corporate donations to support a future that’s based on maximizing the reach of current programs across all media.
This money would go to putting “a book bag into the hands of every Ontario preschooler”, creating literacy camps for young children, commissioning more documentaries, expanding The Agenda on the Road, and opening archival material to the public. There was no mention of producing any more in-house programming with the new money.
“Ultimately, we are a trusted content curator,” de Wilde told her audience at the Economic Club of Canada luncheon where she made her speech.
The Guild at TVO believes that rather than being a simple curator, TVO’s role should be more that of a creator of content. The CMG has been concerned for years about the decline of TV production at TVO. In her speech, de Wilde claimed that TVO produces more than 500 hours a year of in-house programs. Guild research found that the number is closer to 290 hours, not including specials or interstitials. No matter which figure one uses, the fact remains that only ten years ago, the number of hours of TV programs produced in-house by TVO was more than double what it is now.
“The decline in made-at-TVO content is a trend that needs to be reversed. Otherwise the relevance of TVO is lost. Without a coordinated plan for building our own television and digital content streams, we risk becoming TV-Zero,” says David Hawkins, president of the TVO branch of the CMG.
The Guild has submitted a brief to the provincial Finance and Economic Affairs Committee which is doing pre-budget consultations. The brief calls for a status quo budget for TVO, with a special one-time amount of $1 million to fund a pilot project to create a new TV program series, produced in-house, fully utilizing the staff and resources of both TVO and TFO.
“This program would create employment opportunities for Ontario workers ? employment that can be sustained in the future if the program is successful,” the CMG brief says.
The Guild executive is planning a get-together for members within the next few weeks to discuss this and other issues.
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