Dollars for ‘Doyle’

Daniel MacEachern
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Taxpayer money goes in — what comes out?

Allan Hawco and Krystin Pellerin in a scene from “Republic of Doyle.” — Photo courtesy of CBC

“The Republic of Doyle” earned an average 1.2 million viewers for the 13 episodes of Season 3, but for the show, 65 is a magic number.

That’s how many episodes, says Chris Bonnell, the executive director of the Newfoundland and Labrador Film Development Corp., a show typically needs before it can be sold into syndication, opening the door for more networks — especially in the U.S. — to buy the rights and, hopefully, more profit.

“By getting to Season 5, they’d get there,” Bonnell told the Telegram.

With funding from the Newfoundland and Labrador government for CBC’s show about a

St. John’s private eye announced in each of the last two provincial budgets — $3 million over two years in this year’s budget announced for Season 4, which starts shooting July 4, following a similar amount last year — the program has come under fire from critics who ask why a show seemingly as successful as “Doyle” needs government largesse at all.

The reason, explained Bonnell, is that without specific funds set aside for “Doyle,” the show would soak up the entire fund set aside for all television and film productions in the province.

“This is the biggest production we’ve ever had in this province,” he said. “Our annual equity investment program is only $2 million per year, so that’s why this $3 million that was announced comes from government and is administered through our office. Because if it wasn’t, then no other productions would be happening in the province other than ‘Doyle.’”

Bonnell cites “Hold Fast,” a film based on St. John’s author Kevin Major’s debut novel that is currently in production, as a project that would have difficulty getting funding with Republic.

“The problem when these things are announced and people see $3 million, it’s not just throwing $3 million at Republic of Doyle,” said Bonnell. “This is an equity investment from the province, so at a certain point, when production revenue comes back — hopefully after they get to five seasons and there’s syndication and money coming back, the investment gets paid back. So it’s not money getting thrown away.”

The government’s investment is one of several sources that make up the show’s $22-million annual budget, touched off by the CBC’s broadcast licence and including funding from the Canadian Media Fund equity and the broadcast licence top-up fee. Three-quarters of the show’s budget is money funded from outside the province spent on the show’s salaries and production, pointed out Bonnell. About $16 million of that is spent directly in Newfoundland, he said, and some of the rest spent indirectly, to say nothing of intangible spinoffs for, primarily, tourism, which benefits from a weekly hour-long St. John’s postcard airing on CBC every week during the broadcast season.

“This is money that would not be here otherwise,” he said. “It would be spent in another jurisdiction, so this money leverages that money coming into the province.”

Some of the money does come from private investment, but Bonnell acknowledges that the bulk of it is provincial and federal government funding — a necessity, he said, to produce works to compete with the culture-exporting juggernaut that is our neighbour to the south.

“Every successful show in Canada has the same situation,” he said. “Succeeding on its own merits is really misleading, because all successful programs — like Heartland, in Alberta, same thing — have very similar financial structures. That’s how the financial structure comes together for productions.”

About 50 to 60 per cent of the show’s budget is spent on labour — employment in the province that wouldn’t be here, said Bonnell. “The full-time jobs, just on Doyle alone, are about 110,” he said. “And if you spin those off into indirect and induced, you’re talking about 200 jobs. And these are high-paying jobs, on average, almost $59,000 a year.”

The show is also building a knowledge and talent base, paying off as fewer workers from outside the province — mainly from Ontario — need to be brought in with each successive season, and as Doyle vets parlay their experience into better jobs with different productions such as “Hold Fast.”

Co-creator and star Allan Hawco, who is also the show’s executive producer, says building that local talent base is important — as is the economic benefit that the government funding helps trigger — not just for his show, but for the provincial industry as a whole.

“Investing in the film and television industry, investing in the cultural community, is not just good business — because the economic impact is scrutinized and the payoff is obvious — but outside of business, you’re contributing to the cultural identity of the place, which ultimately leads to spinoffs to other countries, other cultures, other people wanting to come to this place, other people wanting to know more about this place,” he said, laughing when the Telegram points out that this is despite the St. John’s on the show having a homicide rate far higher than it does in reality.

“Our show is on in 97 countries right now. And the investment that the province makes, with equity, the benefit is not only right now as it airs in, say, January,” he said. “The show will be on for 20 years in Bosnia. The show will be on for 30 years in France. When I’m in London, England — a friend of mine just tweeted me over Twitter, saying our commercials are on all over London, England.”

Cultural investment isn’t always done — nor should it be — with an eye on the bottom line, said Hawco, but it’s great when it works out that way.

“I believe that it’s not always about dollars and cents, that a lot of time it has to do with what message you’re sending to the rest of the world about who you are,” he said. But luckily for Republic of Doyle, he said, it can also coincide with making money.

Twitter: TelegramDaniel

Organizations: CBC, Newfoundland and Labrador Film Development, Season 4 Canadian Media Fund

Geographic location: Republic of Doyle, Newfoundland and Labrador, U.S. Canada Alberta London England Ontario Bosnia France

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page



Recent comments

  • Liz
    June 13, 2012 - 13:19

    Omg – I can’t believe you guys down there. I’m a Toronto Producer/Writer. I love Republic and so do most of my Toronto friends. Your endless questions about financing, and why the show needs money, and why don’t they use the money they make on foreign sales etc, are driving me crazy! THE PROFIT from foreign sales in the 98 countries DOES go into making these shows! How do you think it’s paid for!? It’s a 23 million dollar production made in NFLD! Do you think it comes from the air, or that cbc gives them all of the money?? That Hawko’s abs pay the bill?? NO. In order to raise the money to make a show like this you need a NUMBER of financial partners (Ontario money, Federal Money, Foreign investment, CBC, Telefilm, etc.) Which all amounts to 20 million dollars more than what Nfld kicks in. Don’t you get it? Would you like that money to just be spent in Ontario? And the Republic is no different than any other show, on any other network in every country that makes TV and Film. AND if they didn’t make Republic in NL, they’d make another show, somewhere else, accessing all of that OTHER money from OTHER sources, and it would be spent, somewhere else. Like on ontario jobs, on an Ontario show in Ontario or Vancouver or Halifax. Simple. You would save your 3 mil but loose the 23 million in NL jobs! Do the MATH. Geesh. Also, anyone from Ontario who work on Republic … guess who foots the bill for ‘his or her’ salary? … wait for it… the province of ONTARIO! They pay for Ontario labour working IN Newfoundland. So anyone crying about “Ontario workers stealing the poor Newfoundlander’s jobs”, rest assured YOU are NOT paying for our salaries when we work in NL on shows like Republic. ONTARIO is. And they are paid in NL. And they are likely training Newfoundland workers. That includes crew, actors and everyone. Honest to heavens. Listening to the comments here it’s like the federal conservative Internet cronies are typing the hate comments. I’m surprised at you. My husband and I love Newfoundland. It has some of the richest culture this country has to offer. I naively thought you would all love the idea of support for arts funding in your province. I mean look at what shows like Republic, Rick Mercer and all the rest of it has done for your image. Shame on you for not supporting something that Ontario and every country who makes film and Tv has already figured out: It’s good for them!!

  • citizen
    June 13, 2012 - 07:10

    why enjoy the reality of st. john's when you can stay home, and watch it on your idiot box? just as long as we keep going to our real jobs and keep subsidizing these great pretenders.. actually that is wrong- these pretenders are not that great- don't know if it's the writing or the acting, but lets tell the truth- the show is very bad and embarrassing..

  • Marty
    June 11, 2012 - 22:11

    Here we go again the provincial govt wasting our tax dollars. If this is such a great tourism lure, why don't the businesses getting exposure from the show kick in. I don't understand why govt continues doing this. Maybe one year to help them get started but it shouldn't continue. Also,, the acting and the story lines for the most part is sub par.

  • SteveG
    June 11, 2012 - 19:12

    The whining and moaning expressed here over a successful show that makes money, promotes the city, provides work, and all for a measly funding of $6 per person in the province is exactly the type of attitude that I don't miss about home. Go outside, turn off the open line, and smell the flowers.

    • STEVEG
      June 13, 2012 - 07:14

      you are absolutely right, "turn off the crap and go outside"..

  • Joseph McGrath
    June 11, 2012 - 19:07

    My kids in N.S. say they love it.I prefer to tape the House of Assembly proceedings and watch that.It is unreherersed BS at its very best.An elected clown in every seat with the vocab of a well heeled chicken catcher with no offence meant to the chicken catcher..

  • MARC
    June 11, 2012 - 18:34


  • Michelle
    June 11, 2012 - 18:23

    As I'm reading this article I am watching an episode of Doyle on Irish TV in Dublin where I have lived for the past 12 years! So many Irish people have told me about this amazing show that is filmed in Canada! Republic of Doyle is a great advertisement for our beautiful province of Newfoundland! We as Newfoundlanders should be proud of the hard work that goes into making Republic of Doyle! I was in a small village outside of Cork last weekend and was speaking to an elderly local, when he found out I was from Newfoundland he told me that he looks forward to watching Republic of Doyle every week, and that he would love to visit someday as it seems so similar to Ireland. Well done to the Republic of Doyle cast and crew, thanks for showing the world another side of our beautiful province!

  • Emile
    June 11, 2012 - 18:07

    "OH YEAH"

  • Pam
    June 11, 2012 - 15:49

    If the government invested in a technology firm or equally complex endeavor, which the general public couldn't wrap their heads around, would it be newsworthy? Heck no. Because it's television, it's considered a hot topic that everybody can say something about it. So some individuals think they can bash it without any proper facts or arguments. To readers leaving comments like, "Well now, I know some actors from Toronto who got a part on it so that's bull," or "That show sucks. It's a waste of money for the province", etc, etc - get your head out from between your legs. You bring absolutely no relevance to this debate. It's foolish. Canadian provinces and many areas of Europe have a very similar financing model between large productions and government. Now, whether their tax payers complain as much as we do, I'm not sure. But the model seems to be working out very well for provinces like Ontario and Vancouver. Why would the NL government not follow in the footsteps of success? It works. Like the show or not, there is value in it. All of sudden, naysayers are strategic finance gurus; asking to prove the ROI (return on investment), prove that the tourism numbers are high because of Hawco's abs, prove the spinoff spending, etc. Well, it's business and there are types of value that are hard to quantitatively measure - it's a catch 22 of integrated marketing. For example, NL Tourism has so many different marketing tactics going on, it would be nearly impossible to pinpoint exactly why this province has become such a tourist destination. But are you going to pass that up and look at it as a negative? Heck no! Many successful organizations deal with this type of intangible value and it's something to strive for. Good on NL for getting there. I think there are a whole lot of people out there that hate to see others in the same field succeed so well - particularly a community as insular as the arts in the capital city. Give these naysayers a chance to sound off and your ears will bleed. I know people who's pockets are lined with the money they make while working on Doyle, yet they vehemently criticize it from a distance by way of the web. Very cowardly if you ask me. So yeah, we can ever so slightly hear your rally cry, but it's more of a lame whimper. I'm considering becoming a window repair person; so I can rake in cash from all the people living in glass houses and throwing stones. Hey, is that considered Doyle ROI?! I think I'm onto to something here...

  • Bill
    June 11, 2012 - 15:32

    first off I love the show, but can someone tell me why there even needs to be an investment of 3 mil by the government? This show is in 97 countries right now and it isn't making a profit? I knew television was harsh but isn't that a bit much? Seems to me that someone somewhere is gonna pocket this cash and there won't be much else to show for it. Someone else is gonna get rich or the money is going to be split up somewhere. It just seems strange to me is all. I know that things could always be better and any investment is welcome and that the govt of nl has a stake in a successful show showcasing newfoundland and labrador. there are 110 to 200 people, most of them newfoundlanders (I hope), making money from all of this and I say more power to them, but by this investment is there going to be more jobs? I doubt it. Are the people who have jobs going to get any richer? I doubt it. So just who is going to pocket this cash? If this were any ordinary show I wouldn't care one whit, but when the government starts investing in television and with taxpayer money, I for one want to know why? Where it is going? And what the benefits are?

  • Shirley
    June 11, 2012 - 14:45

    DUGGAN: I think you overlooked the fact that Mr. Bonnell said "Especially in the U.S", though Republic IS shown in over 97 countries, it has not been picked up by the States yet.

    • Brenda
      June 11, 2012 - 21:00

      Taxpayers should not be wasting their money on TV shows. Shame on the Government!

    • Duggan
      June 12, 2012 - 12:35

      A show is broadcast in 97 countries and cannot be financially successful without getting into the USA??? Madame, your logic is very flawed indeed. This show is very successful and is making money, don't kid yourself.

  • Ed Samson
    June 11, 2012 - 14:41

    Absolute waste of taxpayers money, right in line with subdizing Timmie's coffee at the HSC.

  • barbie
    June 11, 2012 - 13:08

    I personally like the show...It's nice to sit back & relax and watch an hour of "Doyle". Keep up the great work!!!

  • Duggan
    June 11, 2012 - 12:58

    Chris Bonnell says in the article that public funding is necessary tto ensure the show gets to 65 episodes which will make it easier to get into other markets internationally. But then Allan Hawco says the show is seen in 97 countries already??? Inconsistent. And no one can give measureable evidence that people visit Newfoundland specifically because of the show. Let's be honest here: gov't funds the show so it can be associated with Allan Hawco,

  • David
    June 11, 2012 - 12:24

    Wow, When are you leaving or are you staying to keep collecting your welfare check

  • Tom
    June 11, 2012 - 11:41

    Don ll: Allan and his writing crew write the show. The provincial government has nothing to do with and no say in the show at all. KQ: There is actually 166 full time jobs when the show is in production, and most are from here, also ACTRA is the union that dictates the salary for people on the show, plus trade unions. The pay is pretty much the same everywhere. Bob's Your Uncle: The show is shot Monday to Friday, from July to December. Of course the will have nice days, and the days that aren't so nice, they use canopy's and lots of lights to make it nice. The budget for the show has increased each season as the ratings grew and the show sold into more countries. The show makes money and most of it is spent locally. I work on the show and make great money.

  • love it love it love it
    June 11, 2012 - 11:37

    I think the money is will spent, if that is what it takes to have this show on the air then go for it, we can't wait to see what is going to happen next season. I know some of the acting isn't great, but if you watch some of the shows from the US the acting isn't so great eighter. Keep us the good work Allan and crew, like some other people said, the rest of the world is excited to see NL

  • Concern Citizen
    June 11, 2012 - 11:35

    You don't watch much TV do you Mernie???? That show is a TOTAL WASTE of tax payers money when there are more pressing issues out there to deal with such as health care. Maybe that 2 or 3 million they wasted in that show could of been used in health care crisis they rae having right now but then again what do you expect from a bunch of idiot sthat are called the LEADERS of this province. REPUBLIC OF "BOYLE" SUCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • steve
    June 11, 2012 - 11:34

    this show is just terrible. Theres better acting in films from the 1920's. Also do they film the whole season in one day because its always sunny on the show. Make it realistic and film during the rain and fog.

  • MudderL
    June 11, 2012 - 11:04

    "A friend of mine tweeted that it was all over London" Hello? Anyone in the Twitterverse knows that friend was Russel Crowe who commented that he was all over the place during the Diamond Jubilee! Talk about great advertising! If someone with caliber as Russell Crowe backs the show and takes time to appear on it, I think we have a first class product, made right here at home!

  • NIK
    June 11, 2012 - 10:56


  • saelcove
    June 11, 2012 - 10:27

    Yep tax payers money keeps the show going O ya

  • holly
    June 11, 2012 - 09:59

    will the goverment can find money to throw away but can never find money to help people who need it everytime i have to go see a doctor or get a test done i have to fight the welfare for a cap but garabage like doyle gets a pat on the back its time to get rid of the one who calls herself the leader of newfoundland shes up steven you know what so far she will be flushed down the drain when eletion comes again .

  • Don II
    June 11, 2012 - 09:19

    It appears that the Government of Newfoundland has its hooks into the Republic of Doyle. Everyone with a brain knows that as soon as the Government and its Tourism Department gets involved in any kind of show it tries to run the whole thing. It appears that the Republic of Doyle has become just a tourism propaganda machine for the Government of Newfoundland. It appears the show will continue showcase the computer enhanced colorized versions of tourism hotspots around St. John's and perhaps other locations in the Province. If the show is going to have its scripts written for approval by the Government of Newfoundland Tourism Department it will soon degenerate in content and quality. I have decided that I am no longer a fan of the show and will turn elsewhere for my TV viewing entertainment. Perhaps I will watch more episodes of Big Bang Theory but I dare say the Government of Newfoundland Department of Tourism would try to hijack that excellent show too if it could!

  • KQ
    June 11, 2012 - 09:16

    What the reporter of this piece should have asked is how many of those 110 jobs are for people from NL and what the pay is comapred to a show like Heartland. You don't need much research to ask the local acting community why most of the actors are flown in from Toronto which is what this show is really funding. Furthermore, why does a show like this pay locals so much less to film on their property than they do on shows in larger cities. If they are in 97 countries they should fund their own show so that this money can be spent on better programs that benefit many people other then a few producers.

  • just wondering....
    June 11, 2012 - 08:57

    ... how many Newfoundlanders would think this was such an amazing show if it was filmed in... say, Hamilton.

  • Whose republic?
    June 11, 2012 - 08:52

    What are the terms of our equity investment? What percentage of the show belongs to government? And where will this revenue stream be seen in the books? How much money does the Alberta government "invest" in the show Heartland to which comparison is made? Why do we consider federal tax dollars as coming from "outside" the orovince? Last I checked, we pay federal taxes here too. And if I have a show to pitch for similar "investment" is there a process to follow, or do i just suck up to the premier and ask for a few million? I love the arts, I love the show, but I also appreciate transparency, too. This piece left me with more questions than answers.

  • Mr.Mom
    June 11, 2012 - 08:41

    @Jeff- I think you are misreading Moe's comment and owe him an apology. He said " all the money in the world can't make the show un-terrible." That means he thinks the show is very well put together. (UN) Terrible means (NOT) Terrible...C'mon 'by !!!!!!

  • John
    June 11, 2012 - 08:40

    Seems like a lot of the hate for this show comes from working class folks who are more than a little bit jealous of the 'artsy' crowd getting money to play make believe. If anything else came up that created 110 well paying jobs for Newfoundlanders, people would be quick to say what a great thing it is, even if they didn't like the product, not everyone likes fish, some hate it, but no one would say that 110 jobs created in the fishery would be a bad thing. Doyle certainly shouldn't be immune to criticism, but until people start saying what it is they hate so much about the show, a more detailed explanation than "it sucks", then it just comes off like sour grapes. I think a lot of the plot lines are needlessly convoluted, I thought the first season was much more grounded story wise, there's an over the top element to the show that I don't really care for, but that's just me. I do think it has some great acting at times, makes St. John's look gorgeous, they could incorporate the crummy weather into the show a bit to make it more realistic, but grey days don't look as nice on screen. That said, I think the Doyle crew are doing something right, they seem like down to earth, hard working people, and they're bringing a lot of positive attention to the city and the province.

  • justme
    June 11, 2012 - 08:32

    @JEFF, LMA, no just no,one of the top 5 shows on any station? ROFL, dilusional much?

  • RP
    June 11, 2012 - 08:15

    Just think of all the millions in tourist dollars this small government investment will bring to the province. Bravo Premier.

  • Bob's your uncle
    June 11, 2012 - 08:07

    It's amazing that they can get 13 days of sunny weather to do 13 episodes in St. John's. There is a higher power at work here folks!

  • mainlander
    June 11, 2012 - 08:05

    I always wonder what the critics of this show watch. They post that they think it's terrible but don't post what they consider to be good tv. Don't leave us in suspense. Tell us next time. BTW, I love the show & can't wait for this past season's DVD to come out. A lot of people who know I am from NL tell me how much they love it and a few have visited St. John's, primarily because of watching Doyle & seeing how beautiful the city is.

    • justme
      June 11, 2012 - 08:31

      @MAINLANDER, LMAO please, Game of Thrones, Mad men, Sons of Anarchy, Breaking bad etc,.,.. are just some of the great shows on TV that make doyle look amateurish.

    • Justin
      June 11, 2012 - 09:06

      Justme: there's a HUGE difference in the budgets for shows like Game of Thrones and Mad Men than there is for Republic of Doyle. That makes a SIGNIFICANT difference. ROD is not the most groundbreaking show on television, no one's saying that--but it's one of the best shows CBC has had to offer in a long time, and one of the best Canadian productions that there are. You think it's amateurish, apply for a grant and film something better.

    • justme
      June 11, 2012 - 09:33

      I realize the budget is different, but my post was in response to the clown who said ROD was as good as any of the top 5 shows on any channel ROFL, yeah, that's a hoot. It's not even close , it's average at best.

  • carrie
    June 11, 2012 - 08:00

    Great article by the Telegram explaining exactly what this is money well spent. Everywhere you go in Canada people talk about Doyle. It showcases our province and the rest of Canada is finally seeing how great our province really is. I for one appreciate the province giving this money - you don't build an economy just by building roads and schools. And I thank Alan Hawco and his group for making NLers proud.

  • Wow..
    June 11, 2012 - 07:36

    Bad advertisement of makes us look like idiots..and with the way this province is going financially people are gonna start moving away..This is so sad that they waste government funds on this..when the CB mill and Search and rescue and alot of other people are losing their jobs..Shameful Government we have..

    • craig
      June 11, 2012 - 09:48

      Buddy, the reason we have budgets is to spend our money around...not just lump it all in one area. If we wanted to we could spend 100% of our budget on Health Care and it still would not fix the problems with it. Investments like this are worth while, you think the province hasn't given CB Pulp and Paper money and other incentives over the years? What about search and rescue, that is a Federal Responsibility. Seems to me you are one of those popular Telegram commenters who criticize everything the government does,

  • Kate
    June 11, 2012 - 07:14

    Thanks for great TV with local tallent! So proud to be a Newfoundlander everytime the show is on - you capture the true beauty of our Province and the people who live here. It is so great to hear comments from relatives across Canada who in turn talk about the show to others. Best Wishes for the next season. THANK YOU FOR DOING US PROUD!!!!!!

  • Moe St. Cool
    June 11, 2012 - 07:06

    all the money in the world can't make the show un-terrible.

    • Watcher
      June 11, 2012 - 07:25

      It's a sitcom and the mainlanders love it. Hopefully it will lead to bigger and better things for Newfoundland film and television. Personally, I rarely watch it but enjoy it when I do.

    • Jeff
      June 11, 2012 - 07:40

      Moe, you are alone in that thought there buddy. I would rate that as one of the top five shows playing on any station anywhere. It is absolutely excellent, extremely well done. Based on your above comment I shudder to think about what crap you might be watching??? Way to go Doyle team!!! You are doing yourself and all Newfoundlanders very proud!!! :)

    • Mernie
      June 11, 2012 - 07:48

      love the show!