New calls for TV/VOD from the Audiovisual Sectorial Fund have hits and misses
BY VANESSA SOUZA* AND JULIO WORCMAN**
As a partner and executive producer at Lascene Produções, a young company with 6 projects already shown on Brazilian channels such as GNT, PrimeBox, CineBrasilTV and Canal Curta!, I provoked Julio Worcman, director of the latter, to debate, with different views, the new rules presented in the three FSA 2022 TV production promotion notices. The result is in this four-handed text that we share through Tela Viva/Pay TV News.
BRL 190 million will be invested in the independent production of Brazilian audiovisual works of fiction, animation, documentary, variety and reality show, for TV/VOD, through three public notices with very similar rules: TV/VOD production (general); TV/VOD Production New Directors; and TV/VOD Production – Via Programadora.
There is a great deal of movement among Brazilian programmers and producers qualified to participate. The public notices arouse expectations: in the coming years, will we be able to watch, on TV screens and on VOD platforms, unpublished and independent content with the face of Brazil? After facing a pandemic and a government not very committed to helping the recovery of the sector, companies in the audiovisual sector, of different sizes, finally see business opportunities – and to generate jobs again.
All this in itself is quite positive. We also welcome the continuity of the regionalization policy, which establishes quotas for companies headquartered outside the Rio-São Paulo axis.
And we highlight three good news offered by the 2022 calls:
1. the creation of a TV line exclusively for new filmmakers, with an investment of R$ 20 million. The competition will be great, as we currently have many companies in Brazil classified with levels 1 and 2 in Ancine (up to two registered works produced with proof of commercial public exhibition);
two. the establishment of a small number of projects that can be contemplated by the same producer or economic group in the same public notice. This avoids the concentration of resources for the same bidder; and finally,
3. the possibility of “video on demand” (VOD) being the premiere segment of the works, a first correction in relation to the ordering of the sales windows.
As not everything is perfect, we also bring some criticisms and questions, from the point of view of an independent producer, and of an independent Brazilian channel, aiming to perhaps give rise to corrections in the published notices or improvements in future public calls to support production for TV/ VOD:
The. The notices were published in the form of a “tender” and no longer a “continuous flow” – such as the so-called “Continuous Flow for TV Prodav 01/2013” (whose rules lasted until 2017) -, despite the reality of the inflow of resources from the Condecine by replenishing in continuous flow, annually, the FSA. The “competition” option, with a closed deadline for entries, brings with it the prospect of interruptions in the policy of promoting independent national production. The “continuous flow” form is possible – due to the annual contributions to the FSA – and suggests the necessary continuity and fluidity of the promotion of audiovisual production provided for in Law, which worked reasonably well from 2013 to 2017.
B. Another apparent setback is the return of an “Investment Committee”, a commission of people that will judge and score hundreds of projects for television, after the pre-selection of those enrolled by the objective criteria of documentation, scoring of the producer-programmer binomial and inductions has ended. of regionality and others foreseen. The “Committee”, in addition to possible subjectivities, (re)introduces unequivocally the length of time in the project analysis process by Ancine, so criticized by all agents in the sector between 2013 and 2017. After all, who should decide on the interest or not of an audiovisual project for TV, it is ultimately the programmer who pre-licens it, obliging herself to pay the license for the work and to show it during prime time. Perhaps a scoring system for the producer-programmer binomial with more decimal places is an efficient and objective way of accommodating the queue of projects that would receive investment before others, following the launch of new public notices. In the long term, we believe that maintaining the availability of FSA resources, (re)supplying the same public notices annually in a continuous flow, would be enough to meet the demand for the grid of enabled TV channels, putting an end to the rush and the sieved by a committee whose essential function is to exclude projects, in place of programmers. Perhaps a “Committee” would be suitable to select projects only from the call for proposals for New Directors, for that matter.
ç. The public notice for programmers is the only one that stipulates an investment limit for the set of projects licensed by the same channel, and it also limits only one project per producer participating in the public notice. It is clear that channels should have the freedom to freely choose their partners – as in Prodav 02 “Programming Projects”, between 2013 and 2016 – without having to stick to the classification criteria of the producers or the volume of CRTs generated by them until then. .
d. In the case of TV calls for New Filmmakers and General, we question the lack of a maximum budget limit per programmer, per channel and/or by number of pre-licensed projects by the same TV channel for registration in the same public notice. I believe that this lack of limits could generate important distortions in the market and/or compromise the final selection process by Ancine:
1) The first is the possibility of a channel having too many projects contemplated, to the detriment of others, and having its financial or grid planning compromised;
two) The second is the opposite, that is, a channel investing in the curation and contracting of a set of projects developed by the producers and not being contemplated with the resources of the public notice;
3) The third is that with Ancine’s leading role in the selection, which will take on a series of public notices, including cinema lines, the process will certainly become slower and more costly.
and. Although the new calls are for the production of films and series, the three public notices suppressed the lower basic value for pre-licensing of telefilms, 5% of the budget, according to the RGP. The basic cost of licensing telefilms was equal to that of serials (15% of budgets). The previous rule seemed to understand that programmers are interested in the cost per minute of programming and the price of series (with many more minutes) is not amortized over the duration of a telefilm. It would be interesting for Ancine to clarify to the market the motivation for the suppression, or to reconsider. Documentary telefilms are a format that travels and circulates well, a pity not to encourage them. As a result of previous notices, we have seen several documentaries that premiered on Brazilian SeAC channels being later licensed by major VOD platforms such as Netflix and Globoplay.
f. Still on the cost per minute of content on the channels, always considered by the programmers, the three public notices raised the minimum pre-license for projects to R$ 15,000. In the case of licenses contracted without exclusivity, this minimum value raises the budget that can be financed from R$ 1 million, possibly creating some lack of coherence for programmers to contract projects with smaller budgets, such as simpler documentary telefilms or longer series. short.
g. The three public notices introduced a strong inducement to contract non-exclusive licenses, now for a third of the value of exclusive licenses (and no longer for 20% cheaper, according to the General Regulation of Prodav). From an economic point of view, it seems to be a great stimulus to the greater circulation of works, however it seems contrary to the logic of television, where the word “exclusive” reigns, and above all against SeAC itself (which currently finances 90% of the FSA) and its subscribers, for whom it is negative for the same content to be on more than one channel at the same time in its package (which includes open TV). There are few pay TV programmers who contract without exclusivity, as it is normal for channels, following the subscriber’s logic, not to license content that will be available on other channels in the same period. In any case, it might be interesting that the public notices allow the contracting of a non-exclusive pre-license, but with an option for the programmers to complement the minimum value of the exclusivity when the work is presented, that is, even before the issuance of the CPB .
H. Another point that draws attention is that the 2022 notices for TV/VOD continue not to differentiate the various types of VOD rights – FreeVOD (free) and TVOD, SVOD or AVOD -, establishing the same additional value for any “VOD” license , disregarding whether the pre-licence is “fixed price” or an advance on future income to the producer. Evidently, the initial cost should be lower if the license provides for bringing royalties to the producer (and the FSA) upon successful exploitation of the segment. Or that, at the other end, the analysis of the commercial potential of a work considers the potential for royalties on DVDs. In the same way as suggested in the item above, it would be a desirable flexibility to assure the programmer the option of complementing the pre-license for VOD until the time of presentation of the work, even before the issuance of the CPB.
i. Finally, at least one important question remained unanswered, about the rules of public notices for TV. Resolution 180/2018 of the FSA Management Committee, signed by the then-president of Ancine, Alex Braga, brought relief to the “super-Brazilian” channels – those forced to show 12 hours of independent national content daily and, consequently, the main pre-licensers in volume of content financed by the FSA, for debut on TVs: the resolution guaranteed, exceptionally for those channels, the validity and exclusivity of the contracts for up to 30 months. Is the exceptionality introduced by Resolution 180/2018 still in force, or will it be revoked?
Despite the issues raised above, we believe that the return of the activities of the Audiovisual Sectorial Fund to the promotion of audiovisual production should be celebrated, as we have no doubt that it will bring great productions to the Brazilian audience on TV and that will be socially amortized in the long term through of permanent availability on VODs.