IP Intensive: A Semester at TVOntario

Three months ago, I would have had only a vague notion of what a broadcaster does (or is), what entertainment or IP lawyers do, and how they intersect with producers and creators in the Canadian entertainment industry. Eleven weeks of interning with the Canadian television network, TVOntario, equipped me with a working knowledge of these and a range of subjects flowing from intellectual property in the television industry.  Osgoode’s Intellectual Property Law and Technology Intensive Program provided this opportunity to gain practical experience, supplemented with academic study, in my areas of interest.

 

I began my internship at TVOntario with no idea what was going on in meetings where everyone speaks in acronyms and abbreviations. It took about a hundred questions and google searches before I understood a single conversation. Once I began climbing my way up the learning curve, I gained a fascinating view of the Canadian broadcasting industry, from the vantage points of both legal issues and business interests. Due to the generosity and expertise of the lawyers, contract officers and development team at TVO, I gained a working understanding of:

  • who the players are in the television industry
  • how a Canadian broadcaster interacts with the regulatory scheme and
  • what is involved in the day-to-day of getting Canadian content on the air.

My interest in the Intellectual Property Intensive sprouted from the excitement with which program alumni spoke about their placements. Students poured out recommendations of the program based on fulfilling practical experiences at CBC, Canadian Heritage, The Globe & Mail and others; but for me, the most intriguing partner with IP Osgoode was TVO.  In my application and interview for the IP Intensive, I articulated my desire to work with the broadcaster of children’s television, documentaries and current affairs programming. And the coordinators granted my request.

 

As an intern in TVO’s legal services and business affairs office, I worked directly with the in-house lawyers, contract officers and the development team. Everyone in the office was eager to make my experience an enriching one. They shared files, answered questions and pointed me towards resources to help me gain an understanding of their jobs and the issues they tackle. The Canadian broadcasting industry is governed by a detailed regulatory scheme, and every project that TVO acquires, makes or co-produces has to fit into that regulatory scheme.

 

Running a Canadian television station is a multi-tiered math problem, and the legal counsel works closely with the contract officers and development team to make sure that TVO:

  • meets the minimums of Canadian content imposed by the Canadian Radio-television Commission (CRTC),
  • budgets and produces within the guidelines of its Canadian Media Fund envelope, and
  • creates content that educates and inspires the public, according to its mandate.

By doing assignments to assist not only the in-house lawyers but also the acquisition and co-production team, I was fortunate to try my hand in a wide range of legal areas. Not only did I work with issues of intellectual property, specifically copyright, but I also dealt with corporate/commercial, entertainment, piracy and even property law.

 

As a Crown agency, TVO is subject to further government regulations that do not apply to private broadcasters. That provided an opportunity for me to get involved with areas of law to which I would not otherwise have exposure, for instance corporate governance.

 

In this placement, I was able to capitalize on the research, drafting and negotiation skills that I learned in the classroom. My supervisors placed a level of trust in me that gave a strong sense of the value of my work. Every assignment had a clear, visible application to keeping TVO running, improving its efficiency and producing or acquiring quality content. Moreover, my supervisors accepted my recommendations and communicated them to other departments or industry collaborators. It was a very affirming way to begin a career in IP, entertainment and corporate law.

 

This internship provided a great environment for hands-on learning and a wonderful foray into the legal issues of the Canadian broadcasting industry. I encourage any students considering the IP Intensive to reflect on their professional backgrounds and interests, read up on all the placements and make a clear request in their applications. The better students know themselves, where their interests lie and where they want to go professionally, the more likely they will be able to maximize the opportunities that IP Osgoode provides.

 

Roselyn Kelada-Sedra is a JD Candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School and was enrolled in Osgoode’s Intellectual Property Law and Technology Intensive Program. As part of the program requirements, students were asked to write a reflective blog on their internship experience.

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