The Aboriginal Program is designed to support Aboriginal-language independent production in Canada. This program is part of the Canada Media Fund’s (CMF) Convergent Stream; thus, projects funded through this program must include content to be produced for distribution on at least two platforms, one of which must be television and the other, digital media. Funding from this program was allocated according to a selective process, using an evaluation grid.
The 2017-2018 fiscal year saw commitments totaling $9.7M to development and production, a $1.7M increase from the previous year. A total of 17 convergent production projects were funded. Aboriginal-language production projects received $798K in additional CMF funding from the Performance Envelope and regional incentive programs, resulting in $9.7M in total for Aboriginal-language productions, leveraging $20.5M in production budgets, a 5-year high.
Aboriginal projects came from British Columbia (with 5 projects this year compared to zero last year, including two new series and a feature film), Manitoba, Nunavut, Ontario, and Québec. Funding support was predominantly for Documentary, at 55.9% for ten convergent projects. Children’s & Youth funding received a 13.6% share for three projects. Three Drama projects received 23.5% of funding. 12 television components had an accompanying Rich and Substantial digital media component, which received $1.0M in funding out of the Aboriginal program in 2017-2018. 15 development projects were supported in 2016-2017 with $800K in funding.
In 2017-2018, APTN licensed 10 projects, Nunavut Independent Television Network (NITV) licensed two, APTN and CBC co-licensed two, APTN and Radio-Canada co-licensed one, CBC and Radio-Canada co-licensed one, and Canal D licensed one. A total of 88 television hours were funded, a five-year high. The average television production budget per hour was $232K, compared to $222K per hour in 2016-2017. Nine out of 17 television projects had production budgets at or over $1M.
CMF funding provided 45.4% of television production budgets and 74.5% of Rich and Substantial digital media budgets in 2017-2018. CMF’s share of television production financing dropped compared to the previous year (48.6%). Broadcasters provided 18.4% of television budgets. Budgets were supported by increased provincial, federal, and private fund financing. Broadcasters contributed 23.3% of digital media component financing with CMF providing almost all of the rest.