Minutes of the 14th meeting of the OLMC-CRTC Discussion Group

Date: March 23, 2016

1) Welcome

Frédéric Janelle, Acting National Coordinator, section 41 of the Official Languages Act (OLA) and Acting Senior Manager, French-Language Television, TV Policy and Applications, welcomed all the participants and asked them to introduce themselves.

2) Round Table

Each of the participants in the meeting room and those attending via teleconference introduced themselves in turn. A complete list of participants was in the Appendix.

3) Approval of the minutes of the 13th meeting, held on November 13, 2015

The minutes of the November 13, 2015, meeting of the OLMC-CRTC were approved.

4) OLMC-CRTC subcommittee action items

Kirwan Cox, Quebec English Production Committee (QEPC), informed the group that the data subcommittee had met on February 19, 2016, with representatives of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). Following that meeting, sample blank forms to be completed annually by licensees were supplied to the subcommittee to help them with their thinking process on financial data collection.

The subcommittee is in the process of identifying questions that could be added to the Commission’s data forms in order to send them to Commission personnel.

5) Upcoming CRTC processes

Lynda Roy (CRTC) presented to the group the Commission’s next relevant processes for Official Language Minority Communities (OLMCs).

Review of basic telecommunications services

The Commission would examine the telecommunications services Canadians require to participate meaningfully in the digital economy and the Commission’s role in ensuring affordable basic telecommunications services for all Canadians.

That public hearingFootnote 1 would start on April 11, 2016.

Competitive applications for radio licences

A hearing would be held in Vancouver, British Columbia, in May 2016 (CRTC 2016-64) to study applications for licences to operate an ethnic radio station serving the Vancouver area.

Also, in fall 2016, a hearing would be held in Edmonton, Alberta, to study applications for licences to operate an ethnic radio station serving the Edmonton area.

Renewal of television licences held by large English and French ownership groups

The Commission would hold a public hearing in fall 2016 to renew the television licences of the following large English and French ownership groups (Large Groups):

French language

Bell Media Inc. (Bell)
Corus Entertainment Inc. (Corus)
Groupe TVA Inc. (Groupe TVA)
V Interactions Inc. (Remstar)

English language

Bell Media Inc. (Bell)
Corus Entertainment Inc. (Corus)
Rogers Media Inc. (Rogers)
Shaw Media Inc. (Shaw)

The Commission would implement certain policy decisions previously set out in the Broadcasting Regulatory Policy 2015-86 (Let’s Talk TV). The date of that hearing would be published soon.

6) Suggestions for the next meeting

The next discussion group meeting was scheduled for fall 2016. Frédéric Janelle was looking for ideas for presentation themes and/or the names of organizations to invite to the meeting.

7) Discussion on the Canadian Monitoring Report on Regional Production

Kirwan Cox presented the QEPC Monitoring Report on Regional Television 1996–1997 to 2013–2014. The study tracked Canadian linguistic regional production trends since 1996. Mr. Cox explained that 1996 was the first year for which there were reliable data on the federal tax credit.

Mr. Cox explained that currently, Canadian production was also decreasing and that this decrease may be due to competition from unregulated programming companies such as Netflix. Canadian production would not increase if nothing were done to solve the problem of unfair competition; it would just continue to decrease. Mr. Cox referred to the funding crisis as a “production fund crisis.” He stated that it was a problem that affected the entire country and did not concern only OLMCs.

8) Round Table

Benoît Henry (ANIM) shared an interesting article with the group. It was a copy of Éric Dubeau’s article entitled, “Le CRTC d’aujourd’hui, ou comment démanteler les fondements du contenu canadien,” from the latest edition of Liaison (Liaison : La revue des arts Acadie / Ontario / Ouest, No. 171, Spring 2016, pp.  20-21).

Chantal Nadeau (APFC) offered to help the data subcommittee obtain the required financial information for fall 2016, when the public consultation on the television licence renewal process for large groups would be held.

Serge Quinté (FCFA) informed the group that he had met with the directors of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), Patricia Pleszczynska, Louis Lalonde and Michel Cormier, on March 1, 2016. They discussed what they planned to do with the extra funding that was announced when Federal Budget 2016 was delivered. The amounts had regional programming conditions attached to them. The CBC added that some of its regions had trouble meeting their quotas. The CBC had a condition of licence stipulating that each region was to create at least five hours of programming per week. The FCFA was still concerned with the way the CBC would fulfill this condition of licence.

Frédéric Janelle explained that a quantitative analysis of a condition of licence was easier to evaluate than a qualitative analysis, which allowed room for interpretation. For example, local programming was calculated on an annual basis (broadcast year) using logs received from television stations (licensees). The results provided a weekly “average” for the broadcast year, which was calculated from September to August.

Carole-Anne Pilon stated that she had the same concerns about the CBC as Serge Quinty. She explained that she and Chantal Nadeau had examined the CBC report together and pointed out that it was an arduous, complex analysis.

She would send their questions and recommendations to all members of the OLMC-CRTC committee.

Kirwin Cox mentioned that he had three questions for the Commission:

Question 1: What is a broadcasting auditor?

Mike Bergeron, the auditor of the CRTC’s annual reports, explained that a broadcasting auditor checks the annual reports containing data provided by broadcasters to ensure that they meet the financial requirements set out in a regulation or a condition of licence specific to a licensee.

Additional information on the Commission’s financial audits of licensees is available at Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2013-585.

Question 2: What is the definition of an expectation?

Me Eric Bowles, legal advisor, explained that an expectation or an encouragement is not enforceable, unlike a regulation or a condition of licence. It is a prescriptive expression of a line of conduct that the Commission would like to see. The Commission can nevertheless re-examine an expectation or an encouragement at the time of renewal of a licence and evaluate whether or not an expectation has been met. The Commission can then decide to change the expectation into a legally binding instrument that clearly sets out a condition of licence, where applicable.

Question 3: Did the CRTC agree that there had been a decrease in the funding of productions? Did the CRTC have any data contradicting that statement?

Frédéric Janelle explained that the Canada Media Fund (CMF) is completely independent of the CRTC and that the CRTC neither regulates nor sets out the CMF’s mandate.

Frédéric added that financial information on the broadcasting industry was available in the Communications Monitoring Report 2015 (CMR), which would be updated and published in September 2016.

Caroline Bédard reiterated that the CRTC does not publish forecasts, but reports on past data it received from licensees.

Michael Craig explained that the Commission’s viewpoint on independent production was included in the “Let’s Talk TV” decision CRTC2015-86. He reiterated clearly that all the information was available online and invited Mr. Cox to visit the CRTC website.

Serge Quinty wanted to know whether the group could invite an individual or organization that was an applicant or stakeholder in the Commission’s ongoing processes to give a presentation, in this case, in the licence renewal process for major groups.

Me Eric Bowles indicated that it would not be appropriate to invite individuals or organizations while they were participants (applicants or stakeholders) in a public hearing of the Commission.

9) Other business and closing remarks

Frédéric Janelle closed the meeting and thanked everyone for attending. The meeting was adjourned at 2:40 pm.

List of Participants

In person

Serge Quinty, Director of Communications, Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada (FCFA)

Chantal Nadeau, Director General, Association des producteurs francophones du Canada (APFC)

Kirwan Cox, Representative of the Quebec English-Language Production Council (QEPC)

Carol Ann Pilon, Director General, Fédération culturelle canadienne-française (FCCF)

Via teleconference

René Savoie, Association des producteurs du Nouveau-Brunswick (APNB)

Simon Forgues, Development and Communications Officer, and François Côté, Secretary General, Alliance des radios communautaires (ARC du Canada)

Guy Rogers, President, English-language Arts Network (ELAN)

Stéphanie Lepêtre, Project Officer, Assemblée de la francophonie de l’Ontario (AFO), replacing Peter Hominuk, Director General, AFO.

Benoît Henry, Director General, Alliance nationale de l’industrie musicale (ANIM)

Isabelle Laurin, Director General, Association canadienne-française de l’Alberta (ACFA)

CRTC staff

Fréderic Janelle, Acting National Coordinator, section 41 of the Official Languages Act (OLA), and Acting Senior Manager, French-Language Television, TV Policy and Applications

Lynda Roy, Analyst, French Language Television, TV Policy and Applications

Eric Bowles, Legal Counsel

Caroline Bédard, Analyst, Industry & Policy Monitoring

Lynn Asselin, Broadcasting Analyst

Cherie Johnston, Senior Communications Officer

Claude Brault, Senior Analyst, Television Policy and Applications

Michael Craig, Acting Senior Manager, English and Third-Language TV Policy and Applications

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