Canadian independent TV production fell 9.8 per cent in 2012-13, to $2.32-billion, as broadcasters moved away from buying shows from outside producers and spent more money producing their own shows.
The drop in independent production comes amid an overall slump in film and TV work in Canada, according to an industry report issued Wednesday. The total volume of production, which includes work on foreign TV series and films as well as domestic in-house production, dipped 0.8 per cent to $5.82-billion.
There were a couple of bright spots: After a 10-per-cent drop in 2011-12, U.S. TV and film producers spent 3.1-per-cent more on production in Canada, for a total of $1.74-billion. That sector, known as "foreign location and service," comprises 30 per cent of the industry's total revenue.
And more domestic news, current-affairs and sports programming helped drive spending on in-house productions up 11.3 per cent to a record $1.4-billion.
In total, there were 629 Canadian TV series produced last year, at a cost of $2.32-billion. That's down from $2.57-billion spent on 693 series in 2011-12.
There were 93 Canadian feature films produced, at a cost of $351-million.
"In total, the numbers support the continuing quality and success of the Canadian production industry at home and internationally over the past 10 years," Michael Hennessy, the president and CEO of the Canadian Media Production Association (CMPA), said in a statement. "However, because there was such a sharp decline last year in independent television production we need to determine the causes and find remedies for the decline."
The report, published by the CMPA, an industry trade group, in association with the Association québécoise de la production médiatique, the federal Department of Canadian Heritage and the consulting firm Nordicity Group Ltd., drew numbers from the last TV season, which concluded in March, 2013.
It could add fuel to the simmering debate over whether the industry is sustainable at its current size. At a panel discussion last March, Keith Pelley, the president of Rogers Media, said, "I do believe there might be too many [producers]."