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CBC broadcasts of Toronto opera on hold after fee dispute

10/03/2012 04:25 EDT | Updated 12/03/2012 05:12 EST
CBC Radio broadcasts of Canadian Opera Company performances will cease for the 2012-13 season after the Toronto opera company failed to reach an agreement over rights fees with its singers and musicians.

A COC statement released Wednesday said its offer to the membership of Canadian Actors’ Equity Association and the Toronto Musicians Association has been rejected.

The company had sought to reduce rights fees paid to artists for the season broadcasting rights from a total of $200,000 to $150,000.

CBC Radio 2 and Radio-Canada’s Espace Musique had carried COC performances since 2009, enabling people across Canada to hear the Toronto-based company. The broadcasts also were available internationally over the internet.

“It's an unfortunate turn of events. We hope the COC and their musicians can find a way to reach an agreement soon,” a CBC spokesman said in response to a request for comment.

'Challenging' economy cited for not offering more fees

The COC produced the past three seasons in partnership with the CBC, but claims it is a non-revenue-generating initiative, valuable mainly for showcasing the company’s vitality.

“The broadcasts were extremely important to the future of opera in this country, and the COC has tried very hard to broker this arrangement because we felt so strongly about it,” COC general director Alexander Neef said in a statement.

Neef said it was impossible for the COC or CBC to offer more in rights fees under “an extremely challenging economic environment right now that has affected both our companies.”

“We are disappointed on so many levels, and we can only hope that there will be an opportunity to bring these broadcasts back at some point in the future,” he added.

Twenty-one COC productions have been heard over Canadian airwaves since the 2009/2010 season, including the world premiere of The Nightingaleand Other Short Fables (2009); the Canadian premieres of Maria Stuarda (2010), Love from Afar (2012) and A Florentine Tragedy (2012).

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