Canadian Subsidues a Real Problem for U.S. Productions

by Paul William Tenny

I'm not going to argue this in depth, but I'd like to address a post on The Movie Blog about Canadian subsidies for American productions, and how they effect American jobs. The issue originated on Cinemablend, and completely misses the point. The truth is that Canada has legal policies in place that require Canadians to be actively employed by foreign productions in order to qualify for subsidies. Canada is not the only country that offers subsidies, but they up until recently have been the most convenient.

These subsides do hurt the American economy, and despite claims by John Campea that "legal analysts have already dismissed" accusations that these subsidies violate trade agreements, he commits the vital sin he accuses Warner Brothers and the MPAA of committing while they were accusing Canada of being the primary source of illegal theater recordings of Warner Brothers films. I never saw anything from WB to prove their case, nor do I see anything from Campea to prove his, making his own debunking equally pointless.
Additionally, Campea misrepresents Warner Brother's claim that Canada is the largest source of piracy for all films, where I believe they were actually talking about their own films, and only illegal recordings of early screenings, not in general. You cannot expect to be taken seriously trying to debunk claims when you can't get your facts straight either.

It doesn't take a genius to figure that American productions flying North only to be forced to employ Canadians at penalty of law does in fact cost Americans jobs. Because of the lower valuation between American and Canadian currency, it has always been cheaper to shoot there. With the value of the dollar plummeting ever since President Bush took office, that advantage has slowly evaporated, giving individual states within the US the opportunity to lure production away from Canada, as well as other territories like Australia.

Do these amount to unfair labor practices? I suppose it depends on how you look at what Canada is trying to do. They want our money but don't really care to have our people, and that's a problem. The Canadian government isn't currently interested in dumping that money into home-grown productions, either, which I believe does make it an interesting trade dispute - one well worth having run through a legal process to determine who is right.

To dismiss the claim as dishonest and without merit without so much as a single hearing outside pundit speculation is both unfair and irresponsible, to say the least.

It hurts both the American and California economies, that is unquestionable, but the real point to be made here isn't that FTAC doesn't have a claim, but that there isn't currently a solution for the problem.

I don't know why, but a lot of people seem intent on blaming piracy on the studios themselves, even when evidence indications others are clearly responsible. Illegal recordings in theaters from early screenings is seriously damaging to the business, because they are often what end up being sold on the streets of Intellectual Property-primitive countries such as China and Russia.

Something to be considered here is understanding the difference between PR, and real talk. When Warner Brothers accused Canada of being the source of most of its early piracy losses, it pulled the country off its list and stopped doing early openings there. Does that sound like the action of a company looking for a scape goat, or a strategic response to a real problem that Canada refuses to do anything about?

Given what it is costing WB in exposure for their films, it is clearly the latter.


Related posts:

Leave a comment

View more stories by visiting the archives.

Media Pundit categories