IBC wants a say
I am writing in connection with the article published under the headline “Southern Managers Bleeding IBC Dry,” which appeared in your October 24 edition.
Although the story appeared under the byline of Annette Bourgeois, your readers should be aware that in fact the article was simply a reprint of a news release issued by Igloolik Isuma Productions Inc., a private production company.
No one from either IBC or TVNC was contacted prior to publication of Isuma’s press release. Since your standards of journalism apparently do not require that facts be checked prior to publication to ensure fair and balanced reporting, let me set the record straight:
1. IBC is not run by “southern managers.” Two of IBC’s managers are located in Ottawa; the remaining eight are located in the North. The IBC board of directors is comprised of Inuit living in the North representing all regions of Nunavut.
2. Similarly, TVNC has two managers in the North and one manager in Ottawa. It too has a board of directors comprised of northern residents.
3. The Department of Heritage does not and never has hired contractors to manage IBC and TVNC.
4. Contrary to the assertion in the press release and reproduced in the article that the Ottawa office of IBC “takes up half the budget,” in fact IBC’s Ottawa office takes up only 13 per cent of IBC’s total budget.
5. Contrary to the assertion in your headline that “the quality of native broadcasting slips to an all time low,” the facts are that IBC has a new youth series; we are involved in several international co-productions; we have won several awards in the last year including the Prix Jeunesse; and we are nominated for a Special Recognition Award by the Alliance for Children and Television.
Even the most cursory inquiries prior to publication would have revealed that Isuma is a private producer with its own agenda and is made up of disgruntled ex-employees of IBC. Isuma is, of course, entitled to pursue any agenda it wishes.
However, in the absence of any checking on the part of Nunatsiaq News, the article which appeared in your October 24th edition should have appeared as an unpaid advertisement and not as journalism.
President, Inuit Broadcasting Corporation
TVNC wants a say, too
I am writing this letter on behalf of Television Northern Canada after reading the biased, inaccurate and irresponsible article in Nunatsiaq News on October 23, 1997. I would like to clarify several issues and respond to the serious allegations made in the article.
First of all, at no time did a reporter from Nunatsiaq News contact either IBC or TVNC to comment or respond to allegations make by Igloolik Isuma Productions. I wonder why we were not asked to comment to provide readers with a balanced perspective on this issue.
As TVNC has not been given the opportunity to review the “bold new plan” put forward by Zacharias Kunuk, Paul Apak and Norman Cohn, we cannot comment upon it, but there are many misconceptions about TVNC in the article that we would like to address.
TVNC has an administration office in Ottawa. This decision was made in 1994 by the TVNC board of directors, who are all northern organizations and the majority of whom are aboriginal.
It was thought that, as the TVNC board of directors agreed to look into the feasibility of expanding the network into southern Canada, and for greater and easier access to funding sources and government agencies, an office in Ottawa would be beneficial.
The costs for the salaries, rent and expenses at the Ottawa office constitute less than 10 per cent of TVNC’s entire budget. And the Ottawa office has been instrumental in making TVNC members aware of important government and industry initiatives, and following up on them, which can often be difficult working in the North.
TVNC’s Ottawa office has also been instrumental in the establishment of a significant amount of funds being made available to aboriginal producers.
Regarding independent producers and their lack of access to TVNC, we would like to point out the initiatives undertaken by TVNC to include and support aboriginal producers.
1. In 1996, TVNC teamed with Telefilm Canada to offer two $10,000 awards to independent aboriginal producers. One was for an aboriginal language award and one for an English or French language award. We were able to give the winners much deserved international recognition for their work. As a result of the success of this award, we hope to continue this award for years to come. Isuma Igloolik Productions was made aware of the availability of this award but did not apply.
2. TVNC was instrumental in re-establishing and setting criteria, with Cancom, for the Ross Charles Award, an annual internship for northern aboriginal broadcasters to gain experience and a greater understanding of the regulatory and industry environment.
3. For three years, TVNC extensively lobbied the government to ensure aboriginal broadcasters were able to access public production funds. Partly due to TVNC intervention, the new Canada Television and Cable Production Fund has an aboriginal language section worth in excess of $1 million to ensure aboriginal producers, such as Igloolik Isuma Productions, can apply.
We hope that Isuma Productions has taken advantage of this opportunity that we have worked hard to provide. TVNC is still working diligently to ensure this valuable fund is renewed.
4. This month, TVNC announced funds from the Northwestel Cable Inc./ Arctic Cooperatives aboriginal production fund. TVNC will be administering this annual fund, worth nearly $12,000 this year. This positive information was sent to Nunatisiaq News on October 20 but not published. Igloolik Isuma Productions asked for an application form for this fund.
5. TVNC has also been working with CTV News 1 to provide training opportunities and internships for northern producers.
The statement “raw footage and endless stale reruns constitute much of TVNC fare these days” is made, but not attributed to anyone. Is this the reporters’ opinion? The opinion of Zacharias Kunuk and Paul Apak?
TVNC has worked diligently with its members to continue broadcasting quality productions with drastically diminishing funds. TVNC has acquired nearly a dozen new documentaries and series and wrote letters of interest to producers for a dozen more.
TVNC is the only network that broadcasts aboriginal programming on a consistent basis. We provide a valuable service and are working hard to improve.
TVNC would also take issue with the statement by Zacharias Kunuk that he hopes the ownership structure of a new specialty channel will be “more representative of aboriginal producers than TVNC is now.”
TVNC is an aboriginal network, owned and operated by a majority of aboriginal producers. The majority aboriginal members of the TVNC board of directors would take issue with the insinuation that they are not representative of the interests of their aboriginal organizations and communities.
TVNC has also formed partnerships with a number of independent aboriginal producers to ensure variety on TVNC. Further, TVNC has never received a request from Igloolik Isuma Productions to broadcast their programs or provide them with a time slot.
Igloolik Isuma mentions the need for a specialty channel. TVNC would contend that aboriginal language programming not only meets the needs of a marginalized group but deserves a place along English and French programming in Canada.
In fact, TVNC members worked diligently to ensure that the Broadcast Act of 1991 includes aboriginal language broadcasting in section 34.
I trust this will clarify the issues raised. To ensure fairness, it is essential that our version of this story be published. TVNC expects to read this complete response in the next issue of Nunatsiaq News. Qujannamiik.
Chair, Television Northern Canada