ARCHIVED -  Decision CRTC 85-677

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Ottawa, 22 August 1985
Decision CRTC 85-677
Télé-Métropole Inc.
Montreal, Quebec - 832271100
Following a Public Hearing in Montreal during the week of 13 May 1985, the Commission renews the broadcasting licence for CFTM-TV Montreal from 1 October 1985 to 30 September 1990, subject to the conditions of licence specified in the licence to be issued.
CFTM-TV plays a prominent role in private French-language television because of the volume of its program production and the distribution of this programming in virtually every region of Quebec and beyond its borders. While its first responsibility is to serve its primary coverage area, which consists of the city of Montreal and the surrounding region, CFTM-TV also produces the majority of the Programming broadcast by the TVA network. The station is also the primary supplier of Canadian and foreign programming to stations affiliated with the TVA network, providing, in fact, between 80 and 90% of the programming broadcast by these stations.
In recent years, CFTM-TV has maintained a remarkable Canadian program production effort and its weekly level of local productions remains the highest of any private television station in Canada. During the 1984-85 season CFTM-TV has been producing a total of 561/2 hours of programming per week, 71/2 hours of which are intended for the TVA nework. In its Promise of Performance, the licensee has made a commitment to produce 61 hours of local productions per week, including its contribution to TVA network broadcasts.
The Commission congratulates the licensee for its exemplary performance in producing Canadian programming, particularly in terms of dramatic productions. Each week CFTM-TV broadcasts six drama series developed and produced entirely in its own studios. The Commission would also like to emphasize the notable improvement in the quality of the station's musical entertainment broadcasts, some of which are productions of high calibre to which substantial budgets are dedicated. The large number of programs produced by CFTM-TV represents a major source of employment for Quebec performers and musicians and for those in supporting trades.
The Commission also notes with interest that the licensee has committed a great deal of effort and a significant budget to the improvement of its programming for the 1984-1985 season, resulting in a significant increase in its viewing hours and a stregthening of its competitive position in the Montreal market.
The volume of CFTM-TV's local production is also reflected in its level of Canadian content, which exceeds regulatory requirements, particularly during peak viewing hours. The licensee has undertaken to maintain this level above the regulatory minimum of 50% in prime time, and has budgeted almost $40 million for this purpose in 1985-1986, with subsequent annual increases of 5% over the course of the licence term.
In CRTC Notice of Public Hearing 1985-22, dated 22 March 1985, the Commission indicated that it wished to discuss with the licensee a number of issues respecting the development and direction of its programming policy, its intentions with regard to the acquisition of programs from independent producers, the possibility of co-productions with other broadcasters, as well as the question of the erosion of audience from French-language television stations.
The licensee reported at the bearing that it had established an internal strategic planning committee which has become an instrument for ongoing evaluation of programming and which will eventually be assigned responsibility for formulating television production development plans. However, the licensee pointed out that because of the existence of a number of unpredictable factors and the evolving nature of the broadcasting environment, its strategy for the future is based on flexibility and the ability to react quickly.
The licensee reported that it has invested over $200,000 in audience research and that the findings of this research have enabled it to pursue a number of programming objectives.
In this regard, CFTM-TV will endeavour to identify with the community that it has been licensed to serve, using the slogan "La television de Montréal." It will continue to offer a general interest service, oriented to the tastes and shifting trends of its audience and will offer high-quality entertainment programming, either locally produced or imported. Since, as noted at the beginning of this decision, a large portion of CFTM- TV's programming is broadcast throughout the province, the Commission expects that the licensee's programming will continue to appeal to this larger audience.
In the previous renewal decision, however, the Commission expressed dissatisfaction with CFTM-TV's local news programming, especially on weekends (CRTC 79-260, dated 22 March 1979). The Commission notes that during the present licence term, there has been little improvement in this situation. Moreover, in 1984-85, the two major local weekday newscasts, broadcast at noon and in the early evening, were shortened by half compared with the previous season. The Commission considers that the licensee's efforts in the area of local news fall short of the capabilities of a station of this size. The Commission expects that the licensee will make use of its substantial staff and other resources to improve the content of its local and regional newscasts and that it will continue airing public affairs programs focusing on Montreal and the surrounding area.
The licensee informed the Commission that, in order to stimulate program creativity, it has established a program development department through which, it stated, [translation] "we will increasingly invest in concept and script development and the exploration of new ideas." This department has an annual budget of $250,000. The Commission notes the licensee's plans to participate in feature films or televised mini-series and expects to he kept informed of the licensee's efforts with respect to this new undertaking.
In terms of co-productions with the independent sector and joint undertakings with other broadcasters, the Commission notes that the licensee's contributions to date have been very limited. At the hearing, the licensee explained that it has its own production structure and substantial production facilities, and that it will continue to rely on this production capacity in the years to come. However, the licensee added: [translation]
 We have every reason to believe that we will strengthen our agreements with producers during the coming years, expecially in the areas of drama productons, children's programs and other forms of entertainment programming ... This co-operation will take the form of acquisition rights, cash investments, the provision of various services, or project development assistance.
The Commission encourages the licensee to increase its co-operative efforts in order to benefit, as the licensee itself emphasized at the hearing, from [translation] "the creativity, imagination and fresh ideas that could be provided by independent producers." The Commission requests the licensee to publicize its criteria for accepting co-coproduction agreements, and expects that a report on its activities with respect to the development of programs involving independent program producers will be submitted to the Commission annually, beginning in September 1986. This report should cover the activities for the period from 1 September to 31 August of each year.
The Commission also notes that the licensee has joined la Communauté des télévisions francophones and CFTM-TV's desire to broaden its international contacts in order to find new outlets for its programs, to discover new program sources, and to interest Europeans in its integrated production facilities.
The question of audience erosion from French-language television stations was raised by the licensee in the context of an intervention to another application considered at the 13 May 1985 public hearing. Télé-Métropole considers that the viewing habits of francophone audiences with respect to English-langauge television is, and has been, a normal reaction to the vastly expanded viewing fare to which bilingual francophone and cable audiences have had access. The Commission notes that the share decrease in French-language television viewers, particularly in Montreal in 1983, coincided with the difficult and abnormal situation experienced by CFTM-TV in the sphere of labour relations. The Commission notes with satisfaction that the station's viewing audience, as well as that of French-language television stations in general, showed a remarkable gain soon after the situation was resolved and funds dedicated to program improvement had been invested.
At the hearing, the Commission discussed with the licensee the problem of French-language vocal music, emphasizing the important role of television in the promotion of Quebec French-language performers in face of the increasing use of English-language vocal selections, particularly in French-language music video programming. The licensee stated that although some of its music programs contain songs with English lyrics [translation] "the presentation, interpretation and context are French and the hosts are French-speaking." However, the licensee added that it was aware of the problem of availability of French-language vocal music and was willing to participate in consultations and to consider taking special action to remedy the situation. The Commission encourages the licensee to support the work of its recently established Consultative Committee on French-Language Music and expects that the licensee will undertake particular efforts to encourage the creation, production, promotion and programming of recordings by Quebec Frenchlanguage performers.
The Commission noted a significant decline in the amount of dubbing that is done in Canada of the foreign programming broadcast by CFTM-TV. At the hearing the licensee stated that this situation was due to a number of factors, some of which were beyond its control, and that it was in a position to contribute to an improvement of the situation since it possessed all the necessary facilities for dubbing. Given the substantial resources at its disposal, the Commission urges the licensee to take the initiative in making a careful study of this problem in order to find a solution in co-operation with other concerned parties from the same milieu. The Commission expects the licensee to submit a report within one year of the date of this decision on the results of its research.
The Commission received a written intervention from the Quebec Centre for the Hearing Impaired calling for an increase in the amount of closed-captioned programming broadcast by CFTM-TV. The licensee reported that it had broadcast a drama series last year, using closed-captioning on an experimental basis. At the hearing, the licensee undertook to obtain more accurate data on the number and the needs of the hearing impaired in its viewing area, to establish a committee to co-operate with this interest group, and to submit a report to the Commission on the results of its research. This report should be submitted to the Commission within six months of the date of this decision and should include measures to be taken to improve the situation.
The Commission also notes the joint intervention submitted by the National Federation of Communication Workers, the Association des techniciens de Télé-Métropole and the Syndicat des employés de Télé-Métropole.
Fernand Bélisle Secretary General

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