XN QUEBEC’S REACTION TO THE CMF’S GUIDELINE CHANGESApril 3, 2019
On March 29, 2019, the Canada Media Fund (CMF) announced changes to its guidelines for 2019-2020.
Xn Quebec took part in the consultation process conducted by the CMF in autumn 2018 and is pleased that some of the changes reflect its recommendations.
Experimental Stream: Innovation Program and Commercial Projects Program (C2P)
Among the new measures of particular interest to us are the new Conceptualization Program, the increase in the maximum contribution, and the merging of the Marketing and Promotion stage with Production-stage funding in C2P and the Innovation Program.
The Conceptualization Program is designed for eligible applicants to create and test a proof of concept, verify design ideas or conceptual hypothesis or demonstrate a functionality prior to the prototyping phase and later stages. Funding requests are accepted on a first-come-first-served basis, and eligible projects include web applications, mobile applications, and software applications relating to the Canadian cultural sector as well as video games and interactive projects featuring audiovisual content.
The CMF’s maximum contribution for this new Conceptualization Program is $1.5 million. The CMF will also increase the maximum contribution for Production-stage funding in both the Innovation Program and C2P to $1.5 million.
In addition, the Marketing and Promotion stage is merging with Production-stage funding to create a single application process. Applicants are required to devote a baseline percentage of eligible expenses to marketing and promotion activities.
The CMF puts forward a new definition of innovation as it applies to Innovation Program eligibility. This new definition  aims to diversify project eligibility and provide applicants with greater flexibility.
It is our understanding, based on the information made available, that the budget for the Experimental Stream will rise by $5.7 million (from $42.6 million to $48.4 million). While this is positive news, the increase is not as significant as Xn Quebec had hoped for during the consultation process.
Convergent Stream: addition of Canadian online platforms as triggers and emphasis on promotion, marketing, and discoverability for the television component
From now on, all platforms that meet the CMF’s definition for “Canadian broadcaster” may trigger funding. In addition to CRTC-authorized television broadcasters and VOD services, online services held, controlled, and operated by Canadian programming services or broadcasting distribution services pay trigger funding.
Another interesting change is that the digital media component in the Convergent Stream may be an audio project, for example, podcasts, audiobooks, and applications for smart speakers.
Also, the CMF has added the notion of promotional interactive project to the aforementioned definition , which it characterizes as follows: “Promotion, marketing, and discoverability activities and applications using digital and social media aimed at locating, leveraging or building audiences.”
Xn Quebec is in agreement with the assertion that in the current context discoverability and promotion are increasingly key success factors for linear content. We hope, however, that projects in the digital media component associated with these activities will not become prevalent, thereby limiting funding for “value-added” and “rich and substantial” projects, which was the factor the CMF previously used to evaluate projects (and which has been replaced by the over-the-top television (OTT) first-run licences factor).
The CMF will host an English-language webcast at 2:00 PM (ET) on Tuesday, April 9, 2019 to provide an overview and answer questions relating to program changes. To find out more about changes to the CMF’s guidelines, click here.
 “Eligible projects must be innovative. Innovation may be expressed in terms of innovative content or innovative technology.” While it is careful not to define or circumscribe the notion of innovation, the CMF “recognizes that innovation can include both breakthrough, novel and revolutionary content/technology and the intelligent re-imagination, reworking or extension of existing content/technology” (for example, sequels to existing products and advancing technology or content).
 Audiovisual, multimedia or interactive project