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BC taxpayers paying for television exposure

The British Columbia government's ministry of jobs, tourism and skills training is spending an estimated $50,000 to help television networks produce "positive media stories" in the province.

"We think this is a good return on investment when you consider the equivalent advertising value of national U.S. and Canadian broadcasts for similar time slots is over $9 million," a spokesperson for the ministry headed by Pat Bell said in an emailed statement.

The "Born to Explore" travel series with host Richard Wiese on ABC filmed two episodes in B.C.. An episode shown Nov. 17 featured Bella Coola and a later episode will feature Haida Gwai.

The ministry helped with paying for flights within the province to get the crew to Bella Coola and Sandspit, a tour or location guide, accommodation, van rental and a boat charter, the ministry's statement said.

The federal government's Canadian Tourism Commission paid for flights to get the crew to B.C. and regional tourism associations and businesses covered the costs of activities and part of the accommodation bill.

ABC is owned by the Walt Disney Company, a corporation that in 2011 had record revenues of $40.9 billion US, according to its annual report.

Another show, Global Television Network's ET Canada is broadcasting from Vancouver this week, with a co-host making visits to Victoria, Squamish and Whistler. The province helped with paying to fly the crew from Toronto, for ground transportation and for a tour or location guide.

Tourism organizations for Vancouver, Whistler and Victoria also helped with costs for accommodation and activities, some of which were provided for free by businesses, the ministry's statement said.

Global is owned by Shaw Communications, a company that last year had revenue of $4.7 billion (Cdn).

A B.C. government press release said the "high-profile television shows" would air "positive media stories" set in the province. Born to Explore averages 1.3 million viewers a week while ET Canada gets 500,000 per daily show.

It quoted Bell saying he was confident the shows would attract more tourists and help reach the goal of increasing tourism revenue to $18 billion by 2016.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Find him on Twitter or reach him here.

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