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Musicians, directors worried key funding for music videos will soon dry up

TORONTO - When the Darcys unveil their music video "Arizona Hwy" next week the Toronto pop-rock band hopes viewers realize it wouldn't have happened without MuchFact.

Even though the Canadian foundation's logo appears tacked at the end of some of their music videos, band member Wes Marskell doesn't think most fans understand how significant MuchFact funding is to burgeoning acts.

"We rely heavily on that," Marskell says.

That's why the band is feeling anxious on the heels of a decision this week that puts MuchFact's future into question. On Monday, the CRTC gave Bell Media approval to no longer pay into the fund, a change it requested from the regulator.

The move frees Bell Media to effectively kill MuchFact, leaving a financial void of about $2 million each year that artists use for their music videos.

Marskell says the Darcys would certainly suffer the impact, alongside countless other Canadian artists, directors and crew.

"In our world, there won't be a massive budget ... so it'll reduce the scope of the videos," he says. "I can also imagine not even doing one."

In a statement, Bell Media played down conclusions from music industry insiders that MuchFact is on its last legs, saying it's currently reviewing the program.

"No decisions have been made regarding (its) future at this time," the company said.

MuchFact has been a key component in Canada's music industry since its launch as VideoFact in 1984. The organization grants artists and their record labels chunks of money for their projects.

The funding can range from a couple of thousand dollars to a maximum of $50,000 for a "content package" that includes a music video and digital elements like websites, trailers and mobile apps.

In its early days, the program was a boon for rising talent like Celine Dion and k.d. lang who used the money to create flashy music videos that could compete with the likes of Madonna and Michael Jackson on MuchMusic and MTV.

In the 1990s, Bran Van 3000 tapped into the fund for its "Drinking in L.A." music video, while the Barenaked Ladies used it for "Lovers In A Dangerous Time," their popular cover of Bruce Cockburn's song.

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