Bell Unplugs MuchFact Program

The headline

With the blessing of the CRTC, Bell Media has unplugged grant-based funding of music videos and EPKs long after its primary channels aired either. From Bell's perspective, it was time to stop underwriting content destined for YouTube. For the creative community, it is one more government-sanctioned kick to the head.

The facts

After 33 years and an estimated $100 million in grants, MuchFact has reached its end.

The official announcement follows approval by the CRTC in May of this year allowing Bell Media to opt out of previous requirement that its brands, Much and Gusto (formerly M3), contribute to MuchFact.

In the same decision, the regulator approved the deletion of a number of other requirements that Bell Media requested. Among them:

  • for all television stations and discretionary services, to delete the condition of licence requiring adherence to a terms of trade agreement with the Canadian Media Producers Association;

  • for Book Television, Fashion Television Channel and MTV2 to delete the condition of licence requiring that no less than 25% of all Canadian programs broadcast by the licensee, other than news, sports and current affairs programming, be produced by independent production companies;

  • for Bravo! to delete the condition of licence requiring the licensee to contribute to BravoFACT;

  • for TMN Encore, to delete the condition of licence requiring the licensee, as part of its expenditures on Canadian programming, to devote a maximum of $500,000 to the preservation and restoration of Canadian films;

  • for The Comedy Network (TCN), to delete the expectation that the licensee direct 75% of expenditures on original Canadian production to independent production companies;

  • for Space, to delete the expectation that the licensee acquires a minimum of 75% of all original, first-run Canadian programming other than news and current affairs broadcast on the service from independent production companies; and

  • for MTV, to delete the expectation that the licensee acquires programming from independent production companies and that it allocates $50,000, in each broadcast year, to independent production companies for concept and script development.

Quote

"We don't owe anyone an explanation for this after giving $131 million. I think after making hundreds, thousands of music videos and paying for them … I think we're pretty good guys." — Bell Media President Randy Lennox

Backgrounder

MuchFact has granted over $1M to the Canadian music community through funding and promotion of music videos and related music content for all media platforms this year, and reportedly over $100M over the program's 33 years.

The initiative grew out of A Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent, created in 1984 concurrent with the launch of MuchMusic (now known as Much), which committed a percentage of its gross annual revenues to stimulate the production of new Canadian music videos. The fun was driven by music industry executive Bernie Finkelstein's desire to see more Canadian production on the on the once influential and leading-edge music channel that was pioneered by media impresario Moses Znaimer and maverick TV producer John Martin.

Then known as VideoFACT, the venture was co-founded by MuchMusic founder Moses Znaimer and music industry veteran Bernie Finkelstein, who served as its Chairman until 2011.

Two years later, when MusiquePlus went on air, it also became a sponsor, as did MuchMoreMusic when it launched in 1998. The launch of MuchMoreMusic (now known as M3) also marked the creation of PromoFACT, an Electronic Press Kit and website production fund for Canadian artists, independent record labels and artist management companies.

MuchFact has been entirely funded by Much and M3, divisions of Bell Media Inc. following the media company’s acquisition of the brand in 2007.

The company changed its name to MuchFact from VideoFACT in September 2009. Along with the name change, MuchFact expanded its program to include viral videos, defined as small-budget music videos, and other innovative music-related content intended for online distribution.

Related reading

Bell Media axes MuchFact, leaving a gap in how Canadian music videos get funded – Haydn Watters, CBC News

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