With funding from the federal government and private partners such as Bell, Telus, and Shaw, the Canada Media Fund was created to not only finance Canadian screen-based projects but also to foster innovation in the industry to ensure Canadian content can compete in a global market.

Most of the programs they offer fall under one of two streams: the Convergent Stream or the Experimental Stream. The Convergent Stream supports the development of television and digital media content while the Experimental Stream encourages the creation of innovative, interactive digital media content and software applications.

They also have a program aimed at developing international partnerships and another designed to help fund Canadian broadcasters, so check it out if you’re interested in bringing your content to a larger market.

But first, read through all the funding programs the Canada Media Fund has to offer, and see how many could work for your business.

While the Convergent Stream (below) is for more mainstream television and digital media projects, the Experimental Stream was designed to encourage the development of innovative, interactive digital media content and software applications.


This stream includes 7 subprograms that cover a range of purposes, and you can apply for them all online. They’re all opening for applications soon, so read through all their associated guidelines and gather all your required documents quickly. You can find all the specific guidelines and lists of required documents easily by clicking on the appropriate program below:

  • Accelerator Partnership Program – This one is designed to offer producers of digital media projects better access to mentorship, market, and capital by connecting businesses with renowned Canadian and foreign accelerators.
  • Development Packaging Program: Short Form Scripted Series - Independent producers can better create high quality, original scripted short-form series with this program that allows the opportunity for intensive creative and business development and packaging so your business can attract partners, financing, and distribution and move into production.
  • Commercial Projects Program – Only those projects that have a greater probability of commercial success than others based on their potential to attain stated commercial objectives, demonstrate business opportunity, and achieve profitability will be able to benefit from this program.
  • Conceptualization Program – This program gives funding in the initial stages of a project’s creative process to give it a better shot at future stages of financing, allowing you to create and test a proof of concept and verify either the design idea or concept assumption or demonstrate its function in preparation for the prototyping phase and beyond.
  • Digital Linear Series Program – Funding from this program offers to support digital linear series in their second (or subsequent) season, which were created initially for online platforms and in specific categories.
  • Innovation & Experimentation Program – You can only access this funding program if your Canadian interactive digital media content and/or software application is innovative and leading-edge.
  • Prototyping Program – Use this funding if your project is at the point where you’re experimenting, testing, and validating different concepts and hypotheses to arrive at a first functional prototype.

For those businesses in the television and digital media sphere, this funding stream is the one for you. It’s made up of 9 subprograms, all designed with different purposes, so let’s go into each one into a little more detail.

This incentive was created to encourage the development of English-language projects both located and completed in Quebec. It’s much the same as Francophone incentives available in the rest of Canada.


If you’re interested in this one, know that those with control and decision-making powers must also be located in Quebec, and if you have an international partner, you must have 51% ownership.


You’ll also have to make sure your project will be fully funded by the time you apply, including this incentive, and that you don’t have more than 100% funding, with no more than 84% of your funding coming from the Canada Media Fund.


Those who qualify, however, could get up to 15%, or $900,000, of their English-language project costs covered.


To apply, start by reading through the Guidelines and References. Then gather together all your required documents, some of which are your budget, cashflow statement, and a Directors and Shareholders form, and apply online. Before you do, it’s a great idea to read through their tips for a stronger application.


Get your documents and application together now because applications for this one open on May 14, 2020, and close on August 27, 2020, though there is an additional opening on September 03, 2020, and closing on December 04, 2020.

Despite its super long moniker, the bottom line is this incentive is to help cover the costs of French-language projects by Quebec-based producers aimed at an international market.


This program is run by the Quebecor Fund in conjunction with the Canada Media Fund, so all guidelines, eligibility criteria, application processes, and contacts go through the Quebecor Fund.


A few of the basic eligibility criteria are that you must be a legal entity registered in Canada or Quebec and that you have a head office in Quebec or Canada. You’ll also have to own all rights of development, production, broadcasting, and distribution of the production and have a permanent financial interest in the project.


For more in-depth detail about their eligibility criteria, head to the Quebecor Fund.


They accept applications via email, so once you’ve downloaded the application form, send it in by April 1 or October 1 of each year (though in 2020 that’s been extended to May 1 to accommodate those affected by COVID-19).


To learn more about this program or its other funding programs, you can shoot them an email.

This funding program is in partnership with Creative BC to offer British Columbia-owned and operated businesses predevelopment funding and resources to ensure they’re better able to compete in a global marketplace.


Though the call for applications for this closes every year in March, that just means you have plenty of time to tighten your application and gather your required documents.


Be aware that right now though, the only projects that qualify are those in either drama or children’s and youth programming and you’ll have to have a confirmed letter of interest from either a Canadian broadcaster or eligible Canadian distributor within 3 months of applying.


If those are applicable to your business and project however, you could get $30,000 or 75% of your project costs, whichever is less.


For more details on eligibility criteria, eligible projects, required documents, and program definitions and rules, read through their program guidelines before you apply.


Once you’ve done that and you’re ready to apply, all you have to do is apply online.

Just as its name states, this one offers development funding for television and digital media projects, whether in English or French. The funds are distributed through the Envelope Administration Program to Canadian broadcasters who then choose which projects to fund.


Should a broadcaster choose your project, you could find yourself with 50% (or 75% for an English or French Regional Development project) of your eligible development costs covered, up to $200,000.


You could qualify to receive this funding if you’re a Canadian corporation with a head office in Canada and you remain in good standing with all Canadian talent and industry associations. You could also qualify if you’re not yet incorporated if you’ve never applied before, but you’ll have to incorporate before signing an agreement with the program.


The project itself must be a new project, and it must be made in Canada by a majority of Canadians. Read through their guidelines, however, to learn even more of the details and fine print.


Just apply online, but know you’ll need to upload some required documents such as a budget and Directors and Shareholders Form. The call for applications opens on April 20, 2020 (April 30, 2020, for Quebec French Regional Development), and closes on December 4, 2020 (January 16, 2021, for Quebec French Regional Development).


A sister program to the Development Program is the Performance Program. Both belong to the Envelope Administration Program. This offers funding for producers through broadcasters to encourage partnerships between broadcasters and producers to create content that will appeal to Canadian viewers.


Get up to a maximum of 20% of your project’s eligible costs when you qualify. To determine if you do, check out their program guidelines. There, you’ll also find a list of eligible projects and activities, process guidelines, and the required documents you’ll need to submit with your application when you apply online.

If you need funding in the creative phase rather than the development phase of your project, this program is for you. The application process is the same as for the development program, but they haven’t made their guidelines, requirements, and eligibility criteria available yet, so keep checking back if this one interests you.


In the meantime, you can use the guidelines for the development program as a reference to gather together your possible required documents for your application because the call for applications closes on October 15, 2020.

Take advantage of this funding program if your project is to be created in a language other than English, French, or Aboriginal languages and will be distributed on at least 2 platforms, of which TV must be one.


The closing date for this program is September 17, 2020, and again, you’ll need to include certain documents in your application such as a budget, cashflow statement, and a recoupment structure. Read through their guide for their whole list of required documents before you apply.


This program offers to fund 49% of your eligible costs or $200,000, whichever is less, if you qualify. So do you qualify? You do if you have a project that fits the purpose of this program, you’re a for-profit Canadian-controlled corporation located in Canada, and you’re in good standing with Canadian talent and industry organizations.


Before you apply, read through their whole guide of in-depth guidelines, requirements, and criteria. When you’ve done that and you feel ready, you can easily apply online, but do so before September 17, 2020, when applications close.

Here’s a funding program designed to encourage one-off English point-of-view documentaries to be distributed on at least 2 platforms, including television.


With the same required documents to include in your application submission as for the Diverse Languages program, this one also offers to fund 49% of eligible project costs, but up to $400,000 (whichever is less) rather than the $200,000 of the Diverse Languages program.


Even the qualifying applicant criteria are the same for this one, so if your business and project qualify, simply apply online before the June 04, 2020, closing date. Make sure you read through the detailed guidelines first to make sure you have all your ducks in a row!

If you’re located in Quebec or the territories, this one just isn’t for you. But if you’re operating anywhere else in Canada and working on a regional production, then go ahead and look into this one.


For the purposes of this funding program, the definition of “region” is anywhere more than 150 km away from Toronto. Get yourself a bonus of 15% of your eligible costs or $1 million, whichever is less, if this description fits your business and project.

However, your project must be an English-language project, you can’t have received funding from the program before, and your project will have to be fully funded, including this program, by the time you apply.


You can find a few more details about the program here, and you can apply online, but make sure you’ve made note of and included all the required documents.

If you’re located in Quebec or the territories, this one just isn’t for you. But if you’re operating anywhere else in Canada and working on a regional production, then go ahead and look into this one.


For the purposes of this funding program, the definition of “region” is anywhere more than 150 km away from Toronto. Get yourself a bonus of 15% of your eligible costs or $1 million, whichever is less, if this description fits your business and project.

However, your project must be an English-language project, you can’t have received funding from the program before, and your project will have to be fully funded, including this program, by the time you apply.


You can find a few more details about the program here, and you can apply online, but make sure you’ve made note of and included all the required documents.

Use one of their 3 export programs to bring your screen-based project to an international market.


The CMF-Quebecor Fund Export Assistance Program Partnership is aligned with the Quebecor fund to help Quebec-based businesses gain access to global markets they wouldn’t be able to otherwise access. Funding amounts of up to $400,000 could be yours if you qualify, with $300,000 from Quebecor and $100,000 from the Canada Media Fund.


Learn more about the details of the program and the eligibility criteria in the guidelines, and then you can simply apply online.


The Export Program applies solely to development activities for television projects intended for a global market, with a focus on acquiring pre-sale financing from foreign broadcasters, online streaming services, distributors, and sales agents.


Nab yourself funding of 75% of your project’s eligible costs or $75,000, whichever is less, when you qualify. To determine if you qualify and learn more about the rules, policies, eligible project criteria, and more, take a look at the program’s guidelines. The you can go ahead and apply online on September 3, 2020, but it’s a first come, first-served program, so get your application in first!


Finally, the Versioning Program offers funds for language versioning projects so you can increase your revenue with both national and international sales.


If a project like this could help your business, apply online for this one on June 18, 2020, as it too is first come, first served. The program guidelines lay out detailed information about eligibility criteria and more, but the funding you could receive is the lesser of either 75% of project costs or $418/minute for drama, children and youth, or animation programming or $180/minute for documentaries or variety/performing arts shows.


There’s a few required documents you can download and fill out before submitting them with your application too, such as the budget template.

The funding programs offered by the Canada Media Fund are nearly endless. In that vein, here’s a list of the remaining programs in the Convergent Stream:

  • Francophone Minority Program – These projects should reflect the realities of living in French-language communities outside of Quebec. Funding is available for Canadian companies located outside of Quebec who produce content primarily in French.
  • Indigenous Program – This funding supports the growth of Indigenous production given the unique circumstances of the Indigenous production community.
  • Northern Incentive – Only companies located in and producing content in Nunavut, Nunavik, the Yukon, or the Northwest Territories can take advantage of this funding.
  • Predevelopment Program – Just as the name states, this program allocates funding to eligible projects at the beginning of a project’s creative process.

The Canada Media Fund partners with international funding organizations to offer matching funds to invest in the creation of innovative projects that have at least one Canadian and one international producer. This encourages international coproduction, fosters insightful new audiovisual content creation, and allows producers to share resources and talent to tap into new markets.


International producers must find a Canadian partner to access Canadian funding, so Canadian producers are encouraged to create a public profile with the Canada Media Fund so they’re visible to global producers. Here’s the list of international agreements available this year:

  • Argentina
  • Berlin-Brandenburg (Germany)
  • Denmark
  • Ireland
  •  Luxembourg
  •  Northern Ireland
  •  Scotland
  •  South Africa

Wrapping Up

All that funding information may be making your head spin right now, but once it settles, write down a list of all the applicable programs for your situation, business, and project, and then compile all the required documents.


Many of the documents are the same for each program, and they have templates available for you to download for almost each document. Applying is as simple as answering questions online and submitting those required documents, and applications are opening for every program shortly.


Each funding program has thorough program guidelines for you to follow, and they include eligibility criteria, purpose, a description of the evaluation process, and more. If you still have questions you want answered before applying though, take a look at their overarching FAQs page.


Should you feel the need to get in touch with the program, head to their contact page and choose the category of your inquiry to determine the appropriate contact person and method.


About the author 

Maurice

Maurice (Moe) Muise learned the ins-and-outs of government while an employee of the Government of Canada in Ottawa for 10 years. His current focus is helping small businesses in Ontario to identify and maximize government grants to grow their business.
Click here to learn more about Moe's background and how he can help your business.

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