Meeting of the CRTC-OLMC Discussion Group

November 16, 2018, 9:45 a.m. (EST)

SRT and Room 708, 7th floor, CRTC, 1 Promenade du Portage, Gatineau

1. Welcome

Frédéric Janelle, National Coordinator for section 41 of the Official Languages Act (OLA), welcomed all the participants and asked them to introduce themselves.

Ian Scott, Chairperson and CEO of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and Caroline Simard, Vice-Chairperson, Broadcasting, explained their roles and the CRTC’s mandate. They invited participants to talk, during the round table, about any significant challenges facing their communities or organizations.

Ian Scott told to the discussion group that Christiane Laizner, Vice-Chair, Telecommunications, was not able to attend the meeting because of personal reasons.

 2. Round table

The attendees present in the room and on the teleconference introduced themselves and talked about key issues in their communities.

A complete list of attendees is appended.

During the round table, Serge Quinty, Director of Communications, Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada (FCFA), explained that he would not be able to attend the entire meeting because of the Government of Ontario decision regarding cuts to the Franco-Ontarian funding budget (announced the night before the discussion group meeting), requiring him to return to the office and prepare an answer on behalf of the Francophone community outside Quebec.

3. Decisions and reports published since the March 2018 meeting affecting OLMCs

Review of certain CRTC decisions

Peter Foster, Director General, Broadcasting, summarized the review of the Commission’s decisions concerning the licence renewals of television services of large English- and French-language private ownershipFootnote 1 groupsFootnote 2.

Mr. Foster’s presentation started a discussion about the effect of these decisions on the communities:

Kirwan Cox, a representative from the Quebec English-Language Production Council (QEPC), was of the view that the 25% credit for Canadian programming expenditures granted to broadcasters that use independent official language minority community (OLMC) production services is not very helpful.

Carole Ann Pilon, Director General, Alliances des producteurs francophones du Canada (APFC), said that, if the Commission was able to measure the effect of this initiative on large private groups, it would be beneficial. She said that OLMC producers would find it helpful to have access to broadcasters’ data to fully understand the effect of this initiative of the Commission’s.

Nicole Matiation, Director General, On Screen Manitoba (OSM), supported what had just been said by her colleagues and added that it was difficult for her to know whether the Commission’s incentives actually benefited the regions.

Renewing certain licences for television services with mandatory distribution

Guillaume Castonguay, Manager, French-language television, reviewed the recent renewals of services granted a mandatory distribution order under paragraph 9(1)(h) of the Broadcasting Act (the Act). More specifically, he described the conditions of licence for the TV5/Unis, APTNFootnote 3 and Météomédia/The Weather Network television services, since they are of particular relevance to OLMCs.

Mr. Castonguay’s presentation started a conversation, which touched on the following main points.

Serge Quinty, said that he thought it was unfortunate that one of UNIS TV’s leading programs, Couleurs Locales, had not been renewed, and that they had heard about this by chance. He added that they are happy that the Commission increased the percentage to be allocated to productions made by producers outside of Quebec; however, they were concerned by decreased subscription forecasts and thought that the Commission should monitor this closely.

Carol Ann Pilon, explained that the Couleurs Locales program had been presented to the Canada Media Fund (CMF) but that there had been many applications to the Canadian French-language envelope, and the program had not been accepted. She added that it would be important for the new broadcasting act to require that OLMCs be registered, so the new funding mechanisms would be able to account for independent producers outside of Quebec.

Regarding TV5/Unis, Carol Ann Pilon suggested that the Commission verify in Licensees’ reports that the CPE overspend expectation is met. She informed the group that, after the Commission encouraged TV5/Unis to meet with OLMCs, the Alliance des Producteurs Francophones du Canada (APFC) had its first meeting with the licensee. This meeting took place during the APFC Congress in Montreal.

Nicole Matiation added that TV5/Unis could use pre-established meetings like All AccessFootnote 4, organized by OSM, to apply the Commission’s encouragement. She says that perhaps TV5/Unis could cover a portion of producers’ travel expenses. She explained that, for example, OSM almost always covers the expenses for All Access.

Renewal of independent groups’ television licences

Frédéric Janelle summarized the recent renewal of approximately 60 television licences owned by independent groups.Footnote 5 He said that the 25% CPE credit, which had been granted to large ownership groups, had also been granted to each independent service in the renewal. He concluded his presentation by reiterating the importance of participation in the Commission’s public proceedings to ensuring that all voices are heard.

To follow up on the last comment from Frédéric Janelle, Carol Ann Pilon explained that their organization’s resources are often limited and that they cannot always participate in the Commission’s proceedings. She wondered to what extent the responsibility lies with them to participate in the Commission’s public proceedings in order to communicate OLMCs’ views, as opposed to the Commission’s obligation to respect section 41 of the Official Languages Act.

Barbara Cuber, Legal Counsel to the CRTC, said that as an administrative tribunal, the Commission can only reach decisions regarding the files before it.

Scott Hutton, Executive Director, Broadcasting, and Official Languages Champion, added that, in the case of renewing independent television service licences, the Commission had granted the 25% credit to all the licensees, even though only one or two licensees had requested it, since it is a measure that cannot harm licensees, and they can use it at their discretion.

Nicole Matiation emphasized how important an intervention can be in an OLMC file, as it was the case for their intervention in the licence renewal of the large ownership groups.

Sylvie Julien, Senior Analyst, Distribution, summarized the renewal of certain broadcasting distribution undertakings (BDUs, also known as television service providers). She explained that the Commission authorized one of Roger’s BDUs to keep its two English- and French-language community channels in Ottawa and Moncton. She said that the Commission was in the process of working on the next renewals, including those of Bell Fibe, Telus and Shaw Direct. The related notices of consultation would be released shortly.

In response to Sylvie Julien, Kirwan Cox spoke of the importance of the community channel MaTV to Montreal’s Anglophone community. He wondered if, following the Commission’s decision regarding Rogers, Videotron should submit a new application to the Commission to also be able to offer an English-language community television service, to which it should be allowed, like Rogers, to allocate 1.5% of its revenue.

Jean-Pierre Lefebvre, Manager, Distribution Compliance, Broadcasting, explained that the Commission no longer allows a single BDU to operate two community stations. For Rogers, the service had already been authorized, and the Commission had accepted its renewal.

Serge Quinty emphasized the importance of Roger’s two community services. He used the example of when, during the electoral campaign, Radio-Canada had announced to the community that it was unable to organize a French-language leaders’ debate for the provincial elections. He explained that Rogers’ community station had organized the debate. Without that service, the Francophone community would not have had access to the democratic debate in their language.

Fair-Play Canada

Barbara Cuber explained the Commission’s decision regarding Fair-Play’s application concerning online piracy. The application had been denied.Footnote 6

Historia and Série+

To follow up on the last discussion group meeting, Frédéric Janelle explained that Bell Media had withdrawn its application to acquire Historia and Série+ after the Competition Bureau (the Bureau) rejected Bell Media’s purchase of the services. There would therefore be no tangible benefits,Footnote 7 since the transaction had been cancelled.

Carol Ann Pilon asked if it would be possible to review the processes, since a large amount of time and money had been invested in that file. In response to this concern, Scott Hutton explained that the Bureau and the Commission are two separate entities who cannot communicate during the process. He added that had the two not been carried out at the same time, the processes would have been further drawn out, which would have contributed to greater uncertainty in the broadcasting industry.

Harnessing Change: The Future of Programming Distribution in Canada

Mark Allen, Senior Advisory, Broadcasting, presented the Harnessing Change: The Future of Programming Distribution in Canada report.

Mark Allen’s presentation started a conversation, which touched on the following main topics.

Serge Quinty asked whether the CRTC was expecting to oversee and negotiate the agreements of such a model. Scott Hutton explained that the Commission could do so, since it had the necessary expertise.

Carol Ann Pilon said that these agreements would have to be transparent. In response, Scott Hutton explained that if the Commission were to assume responsibility, the process would be similar to those being used currently, but that the Commission would need more tools. He asked members to provide comments throughout the legislation development process.

Simon Forgues, Development and Communications Officer, Alliance des radios communautaires (ARC), asked for a status update on the hybrid digital radio transition. Scott Hutton explained that the Commission was in charge of licensing, but not spectrum distribution. The Commission had given the reporting responsibility to the industries using that technology, which does not seem to be widely used.

Nicole Matiation wondered how it would be possible to keep up with the ever-changing broadcasting industry, with the arrival of such large foreign companies as Netflix. She said that, should the Commission explore this, sharing its findings would be beneficial.

4. Current and upcoming processes

Peter Foster reminded the group that the CBC had appointed a new director and that the Commission was of the view that the new management should be given time to get established before the licensee’s licences are renewed.  

Tina-Louise Latourelle and Tracy Speigel, senior analysts, English-Language Television, summarized the current process regarding licensing applications for a national multi-ethnic multilingual television service that could be granted mandatory distribution under paragraph 9(1)(h) of the Act.

Sébastien Robillard, Senior Analyst, Radio Group, explained that, in 2019, the Commission would renew 150 radio licences, 10 of which operate in OLMC markets. He said that the Commission was starting to review the Native Broadcasting Policy. In spring 2019, the Commission would start the first step, collecting information. It would organize meetings with the members of various Indigenous communities across Canada to understand their needs and concerns. The Commission would then hold an online consultation. The Commission expects the new policy to be published in 18 months; however, this is only an estimate.

Michel Murray, Director, Dispute Resolution and Regulatory Implementation, Telecommunications Sector, gave an update on the Commission’s objective that all Canadians—in rural areas as well as in urban centres—have access to universal services. He explained that one of the Commission’s considerations, when allocating funds, could be whether the application would affect an OLMC or and Indigenous municipality.Footnote 8 The Commission had published maps showing regions without Internet or cellular service.Footnote 9

Simon Forgues asked whether, for example, radio stations wanting to apply for access to a broadband should be associated with a company with experience in that area. Michel Murray explained that there would be specific eligibility criteria and that, pending the Commission’s upcoming publication of a call for applications, he would try to answer any questions group members may have.

Carol Ann Pilon asked if telecommunication companies are required to have licences, like broadcasting companies. Michel Murray answered that they are not, but that the Commission has all sorts of mechanisms in place to deal with complaints, disagreements, and such. The Commission also regularly updates its policies and regulation so that they always reflect the realities of the industry.

Lunch break

5. Financial information

Noah Moser, Director, Consumer Affairs and Strategic Policy, summarized the financial data that the Commission collects about the broadcasting industry. He explained that Treasury Board had created a web site where data, including those from the CRTC, are published.

Kirwan Cox asked when the Commission would meet OLMC groups to discuss what the reports should cover. Noah Moser explained that the Commission would publish a Notice of Consultation shortlyFootnote 10. Caroline Bédard added that the Commission had asked the broadcasting industry to provide additional information regarding OLMCs in the reports to be submitted this year (2018).

Barry Rooke, Executive Director, National Campus and Community Radio Association, said that they are happy to provide the information requested, but that it would be helpful to be notified by the Commission when amendments are made to the forms, since that would decrease the amount of work and research required. Noah Moser said that this was a great point and that he would take note of it.

6. Presentations

Musicaction

Louise Chenail, Director General, Musicaction, gave a presentation.

Her presentation started a conversation, which touched on the following main points.

Simon Forgues said that Musicaction had positively influenced community radio stations’ libraries. Benoit Henry, Director General, Alliance Nationale de l’Industrie Musicale (ANIM), said that Musicaction plays an important role in Francophone and Acadian communities. 

Barry Rooke asked whether the content generated by Musicaction is primarily distributed by record labels, or whether there is a general distribution centre. Louise Chenail explained that since Musicaction is a commercial company, they ask that artists have a recognized distributor. They do not require artists to work with a record company as many artists also act as producers and promoters. However, to be eligible for the funds, artists must work with a recognized physical or digital distributor.  

Barry Rooke asked whether a project can be approved by both Musicaction, for the Francophone market, and Factor, for the Anglophone market. Louise Chenail said that a project cannot receive funds from both Factor and Musicaction simultaneously. She added that the two programs differ slightly but were starting to work more closely together.

Canada Media Fund

Suzanne Keppler, Manager, Program Reporting, Canada Media Fund (CMF), gave a presentation.

The presentation started a conversation between Nicole Matiation and Carole-Anne Pilon about a specific CMF fund.

TFO

Ulrich Dessouassi, Director, Digital Products, TFO, gave a presentation on blockchain technology.

Mr. Dessouassi’s presentation started a conversation, which touched on the following main topics.

Carol Anne Pilon and Simon Forgues asked whether the TFO’s technology, built on the principles of blockchain, could be used by SOCAN. Ulrich Dessouassi answered that this was not the goal and that the market would eventually ensure that there is only one system.

Peggy Nebout, Analyst, French-Language Television, asked whether this would happen voluntarily or whether, eventually, this system would have to be regulated, since it was clear that if this could be of interest to producers, such would probably not be the case for broadcasters. Ulrich Dessouassi explained that if all producers decide to use the same system, the other players would have to follow.

Guillaume Castonguay asked how to automate the system to pay producers. Ulrich Dessouassi answered that on an individual consumption basis, when a consumer orders a product, the producer would get paid.

Certified Independent Production Funds

Frédéric Janelle gave an overview of the Certified Independent Production Funds (CIPS).Footnote 11 He said that those managing the funds must still submit to the Commission an annual report with information regarding their use of OLMC producers. These reports are available on the Commission’s web site.

7. Other business and closing remarks

Frédéric Janelle brought the meeting to a close and thanked all the participants. He announced that the next meeting would take place in March, the date to be determined.

List of Participants

In person

Louise Chenail, Director General,Musicaction

Ulrich Dessouassi, Director, Digital Products, TFO
Simon Forgues, Development and Communications officer, Alliance des radios communautaires (ARC du Canada)

Suzanne Keppler, Manager, Program Reporting, Canada Media Fund (CMF)

Nicole Matiation, Director General, On Screen Manitoba (OSM)

Carol-Ann Pilon, Director General, Alliances des producteurs francophones du Canada (APFC)

Dorota Ptaszynski, Senior Analyst, Canadian Heritage

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

Barry Rooke, Executive Director, National Campus and Community Radio Association (NCCRA)

Teleconference

Catherine Bergeron, Policy Analyst, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages

Manon Henrie-Cadieux, Special Advisor, Strategic Communications and Strategies, Fédération culturelle canadienne- française (FCCF)

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

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

Marc Masson, Assemblée communautaire fransaskoise

Brian Michaud, Policy Analyst, Assemblée de la francophonie de l’Ontario

Guy Rodgers, Executive Director, English-Language Arts Network (ELAN)

CRTC staff

William Abbott, Legal Counsel

Mark Allen, Senior Advisor

Caroline Bédard, Senior Advisor, Finance

Guillaume Castonguay, Manager, French-Language Television

Barbara Cuber, Legal Counsel

Peter Foster, Director General, Broadcasting

Scott Hutton, Executive Director, Broadcasting, and Official Languages Champion

Frédéric Janelle, National Coordinator for section 41 of the Official Languages Act (OLA), French-Language Television

Sylvie Julien, Senior Analyst, Distribution

Tina-Louise Latourelle, Senior Analyst, English-Language Television

Jean-Pierre Lefebvre ,Manager, Distribution Compliance, Broadcasting

Noah Moser, Director, Consumer Affairs and Strategic Policy

Michel Murray, Director, Dispute Resolution and Regulatory Implementation Telecommunications Sector

Peggy Nebout, Analyst, French-Language Television

Sébastien Robillard, Senior Analyst, Radio Group

Caroline Simard, Vice-Chairperson, Broadcasting

Ian Scott, Chairperson and CEO

Tracy Speigel, Senior Analyst, English-Language Television

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