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ACTRA to ask for more drama money
by Mike Zettel

TORONTO - Canada's television and film performers are once again urging the federal government to address what it calls a crisis in Canadian television drama.

The Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) will be appearing Tuesday before the Standing Committee on Finance to ask that the Canadian Television Fund (CTF) be restored in the next budget.

In the most recent federal budget, which Finance Minister John Manley delivered last February, the CTF lost $25 million. Half of that - $12.5 million - was since restored, although the money was taken out of next year's budget. The performers are asking the government to provide more reliable and long term funding.

There are precious few Canadian-made dramas airing right now, the reason being that this type of programming is quite expensive and those that do air often suffer from poor ratings. It's rare for an English drama to draw more than one million viewers.

Last week, the CRTC issued a general call for comments into the state of television drama in Canada. The agency would like to know how to ensure that there is enough Canadian-made drama and an audience to go along with it. It is also looking into what requirements or incentives would be most effective in achieving this goal.

ACTRA will be holding a news conference tomorrow morning in Ottawa to announce their concerns and will attend various meetings with government officials after that. The appearance before the standing committee will take place in the afternoon.

Glenn O'Farrell, president and CEO of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, will then make his members' feelings known to the same committee by appearing before them on Wednesday afternoon.

Surf back to for more on his remarks later this week.

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