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Canadian performers demand action on Canadian TV drama
by Mike Zettel

OTTAWA - The union and lobby group of Canadian performers held a press conference Tuesday morning to help raise awareness of the plight of Canadian-made drama and to pressure the federal government to help.

Familiar faces from the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) were present, begging for Ottawa to provide more funding and create more regulations to ensure the survival of Canadian-made programming.

"We are surrendering the most powerful medium we have," said Rick Mercer. "If we don't change course right now, Canadians will be listening to and watching Americans 24 hours a day, seven days a week, on every channel they can click to."

Afterwards, Canadian actor Paul Gross planned to lead a star ensemble from ACTRA - including Mercer, Sonja Smits and Wendy Crewson - in meetings with Ministers and Finance and Culture Critics to press these points. Performers will make a formal pre-budget presentation to the Standing Committee on Finance and meet with CRTC commissioners and staff.

ACTRA is asking the government to restore its funding to the Canadian Television Fund (CTF), of which $25 million was cut in the last budget in February. They are also asking for the CRTC to update and renew its regulations by next spring's production season.

We need a new set of broadcast regulations - in time for next season's production - that clearly spells out that there is more - much more - to a Canadian broadcast license than a free pass to rebroadcast American shows," said Gross.

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