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Minister’s Message

James Moore The organizations in the Canadian Heritage portfolio work closely with partners all across the country to fulfill their mandate and achieve the Government of Canada’s objectives regarding arts, culture, heritage, and citizen participation. I am pleased to present the 2011–2012 Report on Plans and Priorities prepared by the National Film Board (NFB).

In an era in which digital technology is changing the way that we create and consume cultural content, the NFB’s unique role as public producer and distributor is essential. The NFB has gained worldwide recognition for the exceptional quality and relevance of its productions, and it is increasingly admired for the way that it takes advantage of the unparalleled possibilities offered by the digital revolution. As a key player in the digital economy’s audiovisual sector, the NFB produces bold Canadian works that enrich all distribution platforms, making excellent use of their creative potential and unprecedented audience reach.

While maintaining a reliable and constant presence in conventional distribution and broadcasting, the NFB is investing in the Internet and mobile platforms to distribute its works and create forums for dialogue and discussion. These enable the NFB to reach out to Canadians in innovative and constructive ways, and encourage them to participate fully in society. Through collective experiences like these, the NFB contributes to the vibrancy of life in Canada, while helping make this country a world leader in creativity and innovation.

I am proud that the NFB is committed to pursuing its efforts to improve Canadians’ quality of life and increase our country’s cultural, social, and economic vitality. I invite everyone who wishes to have a better understanding of the responsibilities and activities of the NFB to get to know this report.

The Honourable James Moore


Commissioner’s Message

Over the last three years the NFB has transformed itself into a global leader in the volatile world of digital media. As Canada’s public producer and distributor we have pioneered new ways of making a unique heritage collection available to Canadians; we have established new modes of creation which are setting the standards for the art and entertainment forms of the future; and we have developed new systems and ways of working in the digital era that greatly increases productivity and are attracting the attention of the world.

The next phase will involve solidifying our leadership as the prime laboratory for the digital future in creation, distribution, organizational structure and economic modeling. We will be adding another 300 full-length productions to the 1,600 already available. We will also see the development of more functionalities and user engagement in our on line Screening Room. We will build on the success of iPhone and iPad apps with applications for other mobile platforms including the Android and Blackberry.

We will develop and launch a dedicated educational Screening Room with an additional 450 titles as well as extensive pedagogic aids. For example, we have been working with teachers to map available works against curriculum province by province. Teachers will be able to bookmark works to move directly to that part of the work relevant to their lesson plan. And we will be making available teacher’s guides on-line. Other features will allow teachers to unleash the full teaching potential of the digital world.

We will negotiate new online distribution partnerships and expand the number of NFB channels to broaden the reach of our work. Current partners include such high-traffic sites as YouTube, Hulu and MSN. For example, we are currently negotiating with one of China’s major on-line video sites for a Chinese-versioned NFB site. Deals like this present Canada to the world and have the possibility of generating new revenues based on favourable revenue-share arrangements.

We will also be adding transactional capabilities to This work will allow us to offer, for the first time, a download-to-own option for consumers (as often demanded by our viewers) as well as the potential to offer subscription and VOD services. The collection will continue to remain free by streaming. We are convinced that the “free-premium pay” model will work to help generate the revenues we need to sustain the work we are doing. Every penny earned is reinvested to provide Canadians with the important programming that cannot be done elsewhere.

Transactional capability will be the centre piece of a completely new business strategy that will see the NFB explore new business models and new partnerships in ways that the private sector cannot. The experience gained and the lessons learned will be shared with the private sector.

On the production side 2011 will see the “coming out party” for major new forms of interactive creation. Already our works have begun to be acclaimed as heralding the future of audio-visual production and are being crowned with significant national and international awards. For example, recently France’s largest mass market media-related publication, Telerama, wrote of five interactive “pearls”, two from the NFB. This year, a whole slate of productions will be launched that will dazzle by their intensity, their form, their content. We will explore subjects as diverse as nuclear proliferation, mental health, environmental concerns in ways that integrate the creative potential of interactivity, social networks and geo-location.

Some of Canada’s greatest creators are turning to the NFB to have the freedom to do work that can’t be done elsewhere. Sarah Polley will be launching her first feature documentary. Paule Baillargeon experiments with animation and documentary to tell her most personal story ever. Lea Pool moves into the world of social documentary for a sharp-eyed look at corporate cancer charities. Work by Inuit and First Nations filmmakers from across the country will explode on multiple screens.

Our distinctive approach to digitizing our collection has caught the attention of major corporations like the BBC, Turner and Disney. We will begin implementing a bold new conservation plan to ensure that the NFB’s audio-visual legacy remains secure for future generations whether the traditional or interactive forms.

Serving Canadians remains paramount. I will continue my tour to connect with Canadians across the country; to hear from them their concerns and issues and to discuss ways in which public cultural institutions can better serve them.

We have set ourselves an ambitious agenda that will connect Canadians and the world to our audio-visual culture in unexpected and exciting new ways and that will make the NFB a pivot point for the success of the whole Canadian audio-visual ecosystem.

Tom Perlmutter
Government Film Commissioner and Chairperson of the National Film Board



Raison d’être and Responsibilities

The National Film Board is a federal agency within the Canadian Heritage portfolio, established in 1939 and mandated to produce and distribute original, innovative and bold audiovisual works that add to our understanding of the issues facing Canadians and raise awareness of Canadian values and viewpoints across the country and around the world.

Since its founding, it has offered valuable insights into Canada's richness and diversity through the exploration of contemporary social issues, with an emphasis on diverse, point-of-view documentaries; auteur, animation and now, new media. The NFB has also played an important role in marking the major changes and events taking place in Canadian society.

By supporting emerging filmmakers, members of diverse cultural and linguistic communities, Aboriginal communities and people with disabilities, the NFB ensures that its audiovisual works reflect the country's diversity and illustrates the changing cultural and social realities of Canada.

The NFB has opened new avenues for point-of-view documentaries, auteur animation and new media content and continues its creative thrust by exploring new horizons in the digital age. As a creative laboratory for innovation, it develops new formats and approaches to the storytelling of the future, ranging from digital creation and distribution to explorations in stereoscopic productions.

Canadian and world audiences now have access to the NFB’s remarkable Canadian audiovisual heritage at, where viewers have unparalleled opportunities to view the rich collection of works that reflect Canada’s culture and values. Access is immediate and on the platform of the viewer’s choice. Moreover, by offering quality content to educational institutions in both official languages, the NFB contributes to conveying Canadian values to Canadian youth.

Through its production and distribution activities, the NFB strives to remain a dynamic, necessary and relevant cultural institution vital to all Canadians, in promoting Canadian content that encourages participation in cultural and community life and fosters active citizenship, helping support and strength the ties that connect Canadians.

For more information on the NFB, visit:


Strategic Outcome and Program Activity Architecture (PAA)

In pursuing its mandate, the National Film Board aims to achieve the following strategic outcome:

Canadian stories and perspectives are reflected in audiovisual media and accessible to Canadians and the world.

Program Activity Architecture

The chart below illustrates the NFB's program activities and sub-activities that contribute to its Strategic Outcome.

Program Activity Architecture



PAA Crosswalk

Program activity ($ thousands) 2010-2011
2011-2012 NEW PAA
Audiovisual Production Accessibility and audience engagement Internal services Total
Audiovisual Production 46,714 -3,699     43,015
Distribution, Accessibility and Outreach 12,733   3,170   15,903
Internal services 7,770     529 8,299
Total 67,217 -3,699 3,170 529 67,217

The New Program Activity Architecture is effective as of April 1, 2011. It comprises three program activities: Audiovisual Production, Accessibility and audience engagement, and Internal Services. The former program activity Production of Audiovisual works was renamed Audiovisual Production, while the second, Accessibility and audience engagement replaces the former program activity Distribution, Accessibility and Outreach. This second program activity has evolved to reflect the priorities of the Strategic plan and the changes in the global cultural industry. It includes new sub-activities fostering access and engagement for a wide variety of audiences and channels. It should be noted that all marketing activities related to audiovisual works and activities related to the national and international industry outreach formerly included in the Production of audiovisual works activity are now part of Accessibility and audience engagement. Internal services and its activities remain unchanged.


Planning Summary

Financial resources ($ thousands)
2011­2012 2012-2013 2013-2014
$66,782 $66,782 $66,782


Human resources (Full-time equivalent – FTE)
2011­2012 2012-2013 2013-2014
452 445 445


Strategic outcome: Canadian stories and perspectives are reflected in audiovisual media and accessible to Canadians and the world.
Performance indicators Targets1 By
Percentage of NFB audience indicating that NFB productions reflect Canadian stories and perspectives. 75% by March 31, 2012 for Canadian public survey
Benchmark set by March 31, 2012 for NFB client survey
Percentage of audiovisual works exploring Canadian diversity. 80%
Percentage of completed productions exploring socially relevant issues. 75%
Trends in the availability of NFB works by platform. (new indicator) Framework and benchmark set by March 31, 2011
Targets to be met by March 31, 2012


Planning summary (cont’d)

Program Activity ($ thousands) Forecast Spending
Planned Spending Alignment to Government of Canada Outcomes
2011-2012 2012-2013 2013-2014
Audiovisual Production $43,015 $42,753 $42,753 $42,753 A vibrant Canadian culture and heritage.
Accessibility and audience engagement $15,903 $15,778 $15,778 $15,778
Total planned spending $58,918 $58,531 $58,531 $58,531
Internal services ($ thousands) Forecast Spending
Planned Spending
2011-2012 2012-2013 2013-2014
  8,299 8,251 8,251 8,251


Contribution of Priorities to Strategic Outcome

The NFB will channel its activities in accordance with the operational and management priorities in its 2008-2012 Strategic Plan. This Report on Plans and Priorities establishes the targets the organization plans to achieve during the planning period.

*Overall strategic outcome: Canadian stories and perspectives are reflected in audiovisual media and accessible to Canadians and the world.

Operational Priorities Type Links to Strategic Outcome Description
Creative leadership and excellence in programming
The NFB will exercise its leadership as a world reference point for innovation and creation of documentaries, and auteur animation, digital/new media content and other emerging forms for and across all platforms.
Ongoing * See Overall Strategic Outcome Why is this a priority?
NFB works offer a Canadian point of view.
Makes it possible for Canada to remain at the forefront of the cultural industry.
Plans for meeting the priority
Programming focusing on digital, multiplatform productions.
Continue development of new formats and new types of narrative in the making and distribution of digital works.
Continue and consolidate the identification, development and nurturing of filmmaking talent and skills among filmmakers from all parts of Canada and from a variety of ethno-cultural, Aboriginal and linguistic communities, as emerging filmmakers.
The NFB will continue seeking out new partnerships with public and private sector organizations and leverage existing ones.
Wide accessibility and democratic engagement
The NFB will make its work and the work of its partners readily and widely accessible to Canadian and international audiences on all relevant platforms.
Ongoing * See Overall Strategic Outcome Why is this a priority?
Audiences rely on the NFB for access to high-quality Canadian content on all relevant platforms.
Fosters social cohesion and citizen engagement, while broadening outreach.
Important vehicle for conveying Canadian values to Canadian youth.
Plans for meeting the priority
Increase the offerings available at
Enrich the NFB’s online presence with content syndication partners.
Develop online products for the educational sector.
Take a more effectively structured approach to marketing, with a greater focus on priorities.
Digital Transformation
By continuing to implement its digital strategy, the NFB will ensure that it can deliver on its mandate into the future: in programming, distribution, accessibility, business development and conservation of its audiovisual heritage.
Ongoing * See Overall Strategic Outcome Why is this a priority?
Extraordinary opportunity to produce innovative, interactive and relevant works.
Makes it possible to digitize NFB works, thus facilitating accessibility in the diverse formats and supports chosen by Canadians.
Digitization makes it possible to preserve the NFB collection for future generations.
Plans for meeting the priority
Continue providing technological support for interactive productions.
Complete implementation of the digitization and digital archiving plan.
Implement a fully digital production and distribution environment.


Management Priorities Type Links to Strategic Outcome Description
Organizational renewal
The NFB will become a model for the creative organization of the 21st century: a flexible, efficient and effective organization that is a crucible for creative innovation, values its employees, works in a timely and transparent manner with its stakeholders, delivers value to Canadians and takes initiative in implementing environmentally sustainable practices.
Ongoing * See Overall Strategic Outcome Why is this a priority?
At the NFB creativity, innovation and efficiency are a priority, and are reflected in its management approach.
To help the NFB and its industry partners be more competitive in today’s ever-changing environment.
Plans for meeting the priority
Implementation of horizontal integration mechanisms across all NFB divisions.
The Operations Committee will continue its coordination activities within the NFB.
Provide NFB employees with opportunities for career development and advancement by providing technological training.
Implementation of recommendations in the Management Accountability Framework for 2011-12.
Continued efforts to reallocate resources with increasing efficiency for the digital shift.
Firm Financing
The NFB continues to implement financial planning and control mechanisms to maximize internal efficiency; these include the measures of 2010 Budget on cost reduction as well as implementation of TBS’s Directive on the Management of Expenditures on Travel, Hospitality and Conferences. It will seek new revenue-generating sectors, optimize its partnerships in such areas as marketing, and give new impetus to its conventional distribution activities.
Ongoing * See Overall Strategic Outcome Why is this a priority?
To deliver on its mandate in the digital age, the NFB must have ongoing and stable funding.
The new technologies that will make it possible for the organization to move to a fully digital production and accessibility environment require significant investment.
Plans for meeting the priority
The Institution will inform its employees on new cost reduction measures and changes to TBS’s Directive on the Management of Expenditures on Travel, Hospitality and Conferences.
The NFB will develop new business partnerships.
The new transactional functionalities in the will make it possible to generate additional revenue.
The NFB will implement a better-structured and more efficient marketing and distribution strategy.


Risk Analysis

The audiovisual industry is undergoing tremendous changes which, while stimulating, also require cultural industry stakeholders to make adjustments. Market fragmentation, increased supply, and democratization of access and participation are all new realities requiring adaptation, research, exploration and the search for solutions.

Film and television industry

The Canadian film and television industry is increasingly fragile, and both the NFB and its partners are experiencing the repercussions. The collapse of traditional broadcast models and the evolution and fragmentation of markets, leave fewer avenues available for broadcast and a tightening of licensing budgets.

Conventional television revenues dropped by 7.4% in 20092. According to the Canadian Media Production Association’s publication Profile 2010, “the total volume of Canadian documentary production dropped 14.1% to $293 million in 2009/10. This decline was the third year in succession, and dropped documentary production levels to the lowest level since 2001/02.3” Moreover, foreign investment in Canadian productions has dropped considerably, decreasing from $407 million in 2001 to $196 million in 20084, while co-production activities with foreign partners declined by over 50% in the same period.5

Though the NFB saw a 7% increase in overall revenues (all markets considered) for 2009-2010 compared to the preceding year, it still witnessed an 11% decrease in its revenues from public and private broadcasters. NFB forecasts anticipate another decrease for revenues in 2011-2012. In the coming year, the NFB will develop and implement new online sales platforms to mitigate the decline in its television revenues.

Distribution platforms

Content distribution is increasingly migrating towards mobile platforms and the Internet in audiovisual production. Canadians are watching more content – including made-for-television shows – on the Internet. Over 96% of Canadian households now have broadband Internet, and the demand for diverse content is increasing as fast as the use of multifunction devices spreads.6 In addition to allowing Canadians to watch what they want when they want, broadband access gives them a greater variety of choices as to form, content and manner of consumption.

Digital technologies offer easier reach, and a much more efficient and effective delivery of cultural products to Canadians and to the world. There is an urgent need to provide Canadian content in a globalized digitized space that is increasingly dominated by foreign content. In this shifting environment, the NFB is enriching its presence on a wide range of platforms, and plans to adopt a more effective approach to accessibility so that it can reach audiences wherever they are.

In today’s environment, it is essential that existing content, generated by the public and private sectors, be digitized and made readily accessible to Canadians. As the steward of a vast audiovisual heritage that has tremendous cultural value for Canadians, the NFB must continue digitizing its collection of over 13,000 titles so that the works can be preserved and remain accessible.

However, the cost of digitization, technological upgrades and rights management remain a challenge. The NFB must therefore continually examine its activities so that it can allocate its resources where technological needs dictate. In addition to a drop in its broadcasting revenues, the NFB is also experiencing an ongoing decline in its purchasing power as program costs rise. To put its financial resources on a sounder footing, the NFB will continue to implement financial planning and control mechanisms to maximize internal efficiency. It will seek new revenue-generating sectors, optimise its partnerships in such areas as marketing, and give new impetus to its conventional distribution activities.


Expenditure Profile

($ thousands)

Expenditure Profile


Estimates by Vote

Estimates by Vote are presented in the 2011–12 Main Estimates which are available here: