September 16, 2013
The Bell Fund continues to innovate in cross-media with a new funding program to prepare digital media projects for adaptation to broadcast television and new audiences. OnLine to OnTV will fund the early stage development of existing, successful digital media projects such as web series, games and e-books, to create materials that demonstrate the viability of the project for traditional broadcast. Digital media producers who have not had previous television production experience will partner with proven television production companies and collaborate in pitching to broadcasters.
“Digital media is a fertile source for television content and optioning,” said Bell Fund board communications chair Catherine Warren. “But packaging and pitching to broadcasters, securing development deals and the rest of the heavy-lifting needed to transition to ‘television-readiness’ requires dedicated effort, which our new grant aims to support,” said Warren, who is also president of FanTrust Entertainment Strategies.
The TV Development Digital Pilot Program, launched last year by the Bell Fund on a one-year trial basis, will now be extended through 2014. Enthusiastically received by the industry, this grant allows producers and broadcasters to test potential new television concepts online and on mobile devices, providing creative opportunities for audience feedback and measurement. “With this renewed Bell Fund support, media companies can use today’s digital media platforms and original formats as a proving ground for tomorrow’s television hits,” said Warren. Fifteen projects have been funded since October 2012 from 14 broadcasters.
Recognizing the need to facilitate international co-productions in digital media, the Bell Fund has partnered with the Canada Media Fund, the Independent Production Fund, the Shaw Rocket Fund and the Québecor Fund to create shared eligibility guidelines. The revised Framework for International Digital Media Co-Productions updates and simplifies the guidelines originally designed by the Bell Fund for the industry in 2005 in the absence of official co-production treaties. Partner countries with a minimum of 20% contribution to the project financing are eligible and the Canadian production company must spend at least 75% of the Canadian portion of the budget on Canadian expenditures. Applicants who meet the guidelines and the general eligibility criteria of each Fund will now be able to access funding from one or more of the five funding partners who have endorsed this new Framework. The participating funding organizations will monitor results and continue working together to address other industry challenges to international digital media co-productions.
The Bell Fund provides grants to Canadian independent producers who develop and produce television content complemented and enhanced by excellent interactive content designed for digital platforms. It has invested more than $125M in the production of over 1000 cross-platform projects in the past 15 years.
The Bell Fund receives annual contributions of approximately $14 M from Bell TV as part of its broadcast distribution undertaking (BDU) contributions to the industry.
In addition, Bell Fund revenues include the interest generated by a $10M endowment resulting from BCE-CTV benefits, and contributions from Aliant. The Bell Fund is incorporated as a not-for-profit organization, governed by an independent Board of Directors representing various sectors of the television and digital media industry. The Fund is administered by the Independent Production Fund.