Canada aims to end censorship flap

Fri Apr 4, 2008 3:49am EDT
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By Norma Reveler

OTTAWA (Hollywood Reporter) - The Canadian government has extended an olive branch to local filmmakers who furiously oppose its plan to deny subsidies to projects it deems offensive.

The controversial legislation aims to curb indecent material, hate propaganda or child pornography in homegrown films or TV shows. The government argues that taxpayers should not be expected to foot the bill for such content.

But federal heritage minister Josee Verner has come under attack from local producers, because she has refused to outline the criteria by which domestic film and TV projects will be judged for indecency until the legislation passes.

To break a current impasse, Verner on Wednesday invited the industry to take a lead in the development of censorship guidelines along the lines of existing self-regulating industry standards that Canadian private TV networks follow as part of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council.

But appearing before the Standing Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce hearing late Wednesday, she admitted that the Canadian production industry is "hesitant" to get involved because it opposes the whole concept.

Verner also drew flak from opposition politicians for exempting foreign producers from the guidelines.

Liberal senator Pierrette Ringuette argued American producers will have less onerous standards when they shoot in Canada and receive tax credits if the bill passes into law.

"There will be a double standard," Ringuette told the hearing.

In response, deputy minister of cultural affairs Jean-Pierre Blais said tax credits for foreign location shoots aim to draw investment into Canada and are based on expenditures in Canada, not on content.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

<p>Josee Verner (L) arrives to be sworn-in as Canada's Heritage Minister at Rideau Hall in Ottawa August 14, 2007. REUTERS/Patrick Doyle</p>