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Feds pledge support for culture in budget

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Ottawa - While the military, tax cuts, low income seniors and cities were the major highlights in this year's federal budget culture was not left behind. Finance Minister Ralph Goodale delivered on the rumours leaked earlier this week by boosting the CBC budget by $60-million for 2005-2006. The financial blueprint also further secures Canadian Heritage's Tomorrow Starts Today initiative with $172-million of new funding per year for five years. While Canadian Heritage took a $2-million cut during the government's edict to cut costs across all departments, it did not affect the funding available to producers.

"Producers are pleased to see that many of the key cultural and funding agencies like the CTF, Telefilm and NFB were not subject to some of the cuts that were going on in Ottawa. We believe the government has listened to us. We believe this signals Ottawa is now on side with the reality that investment in cultural industries is worthwhile and beneficial," said Guy Mayson, Canadian Film and Television Production Association president and CEO.

The Tomorrow Starts Today initiative includes the Canada New Media Fund, and the Trade Routes program for international market expansion. Budget details in reference to the CBC boost stipulate that the new money will "ensure that Canada's stories, reflecting the ever-increasing diversity of Canadian society, find their way into Canadian homes in the form of high-quality programming."

"Producers are no doubt counting on this extra money going in to high quality Canadian programming on our air waves," said Laszlo Barna, CFTPA chair and executive producer, Barna-Alper productions.

The government's awareness of the film and television industry is important. While the industry experienced a 2% decline in production volume, which is now at $4.92 billion, there is hope for it to grow, particularly after recent provincial tax credit hikes in Ontario, BC and Quebec.

The CFTPA is a non-profit, trade association representing almost 400 companies in the Canadian production industry. The association promotes the general interests of Canadian producers by lobbying government on policy matters, negotiating labour agreements, and offering mentorship programs and copyright initiatives.

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