ARCHIVED -  Public Notice CRTC 1985-274

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Public Notice

Ottawa, 19 December 1985
Public Notice CRTC 1985-274
Northern Native Broadcasting
Related documents: "The 1980s: A Decade of Diversity" (Report of the Committee on Extension of Service to Northern and Remote Communities, July 1980) and Public Announcement dated 16 October 1980; "The Costs of Choice" (Report of the Task Force on Access to Television in Underserved Communities, 25 February 1985) and Public Notice 1985-60 dated 22 March 1985; "Northern Native Broadcasting" Public Notice CRTC 1984-310 dated 14 December 1984; "Call for Comments Respecting Northern Native Broadcasting" Public Notice CRTC 1985-67 dated 27 March 1985; and CRTC - Notice of Public Hearing 1985-72 dated 2 August 1985.
Broadcasting was first introduced in the Canadian North to serve the communications needs of transient southern residents posted to northern military bases and administrative centres. The creation in 1958 of the CBC Northern Service gradually made radio programming available to many native communities.
Native languages found a presence on the CBC's Northern Service. In particular, the Inuit languages became an important aspect of the CBC's shortwave service originating from Montreal.
As radio became a common feature of life in the North, the native population began to demand more programming of relevance to themselves. As early as 1961 the federal Department of Indian Affairs was supporting the development of community broadcasting in such remote locations as Fort Simpson and Pond Inlet, N.W.T., and Great Whale River/Kuujjuarapik, Quebec. Other local communication initiatives followed, and beginning in 1970, the CRTC licensed community radio stations in Tuktoyaktuk, Rankin Inlet, Longlac and Baker Lake.
Currently, the CBC's Northern Service radio operations provide a valuable and appreciated selection of information, entertainment and regional news and public affairs in several native languages and dialects, reaching most communities in the Yukon, Labrador, the Northwest Territories, and Northern Quebec.
There are now more than 250 radio stations serving the North, with a substantial number operated by local native communications societies. In twenty-two native communities the CBC provides local access to its radio transmitters.
Television was first introduced to the North by way of the CBC's Frontier Coverage Package program which, from 1967 to the early seventies, provided videotapes of southern network programming to residents of twenty-one northern communities.
In late 1972 the ANIK A-1 satellite was launched, and in early 1973 the CBC began delivering its complete southern television service to the North. Some native communities originally refused the introduction of television, expressing concern about irreversible damage to their traditional languages, cultures and lifestyles.
In order to make full use of the inherent advantages of satellite distribution, the federal Cabinet in 1974 approved a special $50 million appropriation for the CBC's Accelerated Coverage Plan (ACP), to extend the over-the-air transmission of CBC English and French radio and television services to all communities with a population of 500 or more. The funds for this extension of the national broadcasting services have now been depleted.
Beginning in the late 1970s, the governments of the Yukon and Northwest Territories supplemented the CBC's ACP by installing satellite-receiving equipment in even smaller communities, including some with as few as sixty households.
The Commission has noted and commends TVOntario's initiative in extending its educational television service to the smallest communities in Northern Ontario. The signal is delivered by means of a satellite different from the one used by the CBC, necessitating additional receiving equipment.
Satellite technology represented the best means of overcoming the vast distances between settlements in the North and led to a number of short-term experiments in local and regional native broadcasting. Special federal funds helped support satellite radio experiments by Wawatay, the native communications society based in Northern Ontario, and NAALAKVIK I, organized by Taqramiut Nipingat Inc. (TNI), the Inuit communications society of Northern Quebec. At the time of this latter experiment, these communities had neither CBC television nor basic telephone service. A later project, NAALAKVIK II, introduced the first Inuit television service to Northern Quebec in 1978, while the INUKSHUK project, coordinated by the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada, introduced Inuit-produced television to the Eastern and Central Arctic.
The Comission commends Canada's native people who have harnessed sophisticated communications technology to link vast regions of the north that are united by bonds of common language with valued and relevant programming. Beginning with community radio experiments utilizing the most rudimentary equipment and production capabilities, in just a few years native peoples across Canada's north had demonstrated their capabilities as broadcasters, communicators and guardians of their cultural heritage.
The Commission has been supportive of native broadcasting endeavors for many years, and has actively encouraged the evolution of this important aspect of the Canadian broadcasting system.
Furthermore, the Commission recognizes that the continued development of native broadcasting will play an integral role in reinforcing the unique cultural and linguistic distinctions of Canada's native people.
In late 1979, the CRTC established the Committee on Extension of Services to Northern and Remote Communities, which was chaired by CRTC Vice-chairman Réal Therrien, and which included representatives from the provinces, native communications societies and the Commission. The Committee held public meetings in several northern communities, received over 400 representations, and provided a public forum in which the broadcasting needs of numerous interest groups could be examined and debated.
In July 1980 the Committee filed its report ("The Therrien Report"), which placed considerable emphasis on the concerns and needs of the native people of Canada's North. Their concerns focused primarily on the impact of southern television services on indigenous languages and cultures. Identified as the greatest need was the provision of native-produced broadcasting services to offset the intrusion of southern values and languages.
The Report made a number of recommendations in support of native broadcasting, some of which addressed the aspects of funding, consultation, the role of the private sector, and the roles of various levels of government. These aspects of "The Therrien Report" were supported and endorsed by the CRTC in a Public Announcement dated 16 October 1980.
The fourth recommendation of this Report provided for the acceptance of native broadcasting as an essential component of the Canadian broadcasting system:
Canada must fulfill its obligation to provide opportunity for its native peoples to preserve the use of their languages and foster the maintenance and development of their own cultures through broadcasting and other communications.
Subsequent to the release of "The Therrien Report", the Commission called for applications for the extension of service to remote and underserved communities. On 14 April 1981 the Commission awarded a network licence to Canadian Satellite Communications Inc. (CANCOM), for a multi-channel radio and television network operation to deliver a broad range of southern programming services to remote and underserved locations. Concurrently, the Commission awarded licenses to the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation and to the Council of Yukon Indians and Dene Nation to serve the particular programming needs of their communities (Decisions CRTC 81-255 and 81-256).
In 1982 the federal Department of Communications undertook an extensive study on northern native broadcasting, consulting with native communications societies and various government departments and agencies. The government announced the establishment of its Northern Broadcasting Policy on 10 March 1983. It enunciated five policy principles consistent with priorities identified in "The Therrien Report", and provided for a funding mechanism to facilitate the production of indigenous programming in Northern Canada. The five policy principles are as follows:
1. Northern residents should be offered access to an increasing range of programming choices through the exploitation of technological opportunities;
2. Northern native people should have the opportunity to participate actively in the determination by the CRTC of the character, quantity and priority of programming broadcast in predominantly native communities;
3. Northern native people should have fair access to Northern broadcasting distribution systems to maintain and develop their cultures and languages;
4. Programming relevant to native concerns, including content originated by native people, should be produced for distribution on northern broadcasting services wherever native people form a significant proportion of the population in the service area;
5. Northern native representatives should be consulted regularly by government agencies engaged in establishing broadcasting policies which would affect their cultures.
The government also requested the CBC to present a plan for an enhanced radio and television programming service in the North, and called on the Commission to implement these policy principles.
The Northern Native Broadcast Access Program (NNBAP) was established on 1 April 1983 with federal funding of nearly $40 million over four years to assist northern native communications societies to produce up to 5 hours per week of television and up to 20 hours per week of radio programming. The 5 and 20 benchmark is based on a model developed in Europe as the minimum requirement for maintaining language and culture.
Administered by the Native Citizens Directorate of the Department of the Secretary of State, the program was designed, primarily, to provide financial assistance to northern native communications societies to enable them to create radio and television programming relevant to the needs of native people. In order to qualify for NNBAP funding, native communication groups were required to obtain a prior distribution agreement with an existing Northern broadcaster, causing some groups to have to accept unsuitable time-slots.
For the purpose of the NNBAP, the North was divided into thirteen regions, primarily on the basis of common languages, culture, and traditional administrative boundaries. Native communications societies representing each region have received funding. Twelve of the societies are now operational and the thirteenth will begin programming in April 1986. Although some regions contain a linguistic mix, each funded group is required to meet specific identified linguistic needs.
A) Phase One - Northern Native Broadcasting Committee
In late 1984 representations were made to the Commission that many of the native communications societies were experiencing difficulty in gain ing access to northern distribution systems. A number of concerns were raised: how to determine which broadcasters should distribute the programming funded under the NNBAP; what constitutes "fair access"; and what methods should be used in implementing the objectives of the Northern Broadcasting Policy.
On 14 December 1984 the Commission announced the formation of a Northern Native Broadcasting Committee composed of CRTC Vice-Chairman Réal Therrien and Commissioner Paul McRae, under the chairmanship of the latter, for the purpose of identifying broadcasting-related problems experienced by the native communications societies funded through the NNBAP (Public Notice CRTC 1984-310).
Subsequently, the Commission held meetings with representatives of most of the thirteen native communications societies, with the CBC and with the Native Citizens Directorate of the Department of the Secretary of State.
On 27 March 1985 the Commission issued a Call for Comments Respecting Northern Native Broadcasting (Public Notice CRTC 1985-67) and posed ten questions in order to solicit the views of all interested parties on a number of issues that had been identified during the earlier consultation process.
Twenty-two submissions were received in response to this call. Notwithstanding the divergent views and opinions expressed in these submissions, there was a general consensus that the Commission should fully explore the issues, concerns and potential solutions through the public hearing process.
B) Phase Two - 1985 Public Hearings
On 2 August 1985, the Commission announced that it would conduct a series of public hearings to establish a policy framework for Northern Native Broadcasting. Hearings commenced in Whitehorse, Yukon (23 September), Thompson, Manitoba (27 September), Kuujjuaq/Fort Chimo, Quebec (1 October), and in the National Capital Region (8 October 1985).
In the course of these hearings, the Commission heard representations from all thirteen native communications societies funded through the NNBAP, the CBC, private broadcasters including CANCOM, the Governments of Ontario and Manitoba, and other interested parties. The Commission acknowledges the contribution made by all parties to these proceedings. The sharing of divergent views and experiences has been of great assistance in the Commission's understanding and appreciation of the role of native broadcasting.
The Commission has benefitted extensively from the in-depth discussions with the native broadcasters and from visits to several studios and production centres, and was impressed with the quality of programming being produced. It is evident that their audiences are well served by the relevance of these programs, which address specific linguistic, regional and cultural needs through information, current affairs and entertainment programs. Testimony was given to the fact that culture and language are intrinsically bound, and that the younger native population was gaining renewed interest in, and use of, their languages and a greater appreciation of native traditions and values.
Also of significance is the economic benefit brought about by the creation of nearly two hundred direct jobs, primarily in Northern areas with traditionally high unemployment. Other related benefits include employment opportunities for artists, musicians and technicians; teachers and health care professionals are offered a means of making their knowledge more widely available; and a forum is created for public discussion of the evolving role of native people in Canadian society.
Most submissions noted the irrelevance of Southern programming, particularly in areas such as the Far North where the native population is often unilingual. Many representations stated that their native audiences were often offended by the violence and depiction of sex on Southern television services. They stated that these influences and the often stereotyped portrayal of natives had contributed to the break down of family life.
Lack of adequate funding was often mentioned as a major concern primarily because of the absence of long-term commitments by the various funding agencies. While they acknowledged that some of the provincial and territorial governments are strongly supportive, they argued that others, thus far, have not provided sufficient assistance to the native communications groups. In most cases, advertising was not seen as a feasible option due to the scarcity of commercial enterprises in the North.
Training was another issue which the groups considered essential to achieve professional standards of journalism, management and production expertise. Since NNBAP funds are not available for training purposes, the groups must compete among themselves for the funds available through the Canada Employment and Immigration Commission.
Native broadcasters expressed the opinion that basic legislative changes, including amendments to the Broadcasting Act, are necessary if native broadcasters are to attain their rightful position as a vital component of the broadcasting system.
Rosemarie Kuptana of the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation summed up the IBC's fundamental position:
 We believe the retention of our language is the key to our survival as a distinctive people. We must be able to communicate in our own language. It is our position that, as aboriginal people of Canada, we have a right to fundamental public services in our language, among them education, justice and broadcasting. We believe Canada has a moral and legal obligation to give due recognition to our special status in federal legislation. In light of this IBC proposes that Section 3(e) of the Act be [amended to include] representative aboriginal languages.
The CBC also called for a review of the Broadcasting Act, to determine whether specific mention should be made of native languages.
Most groups suggested that a native should be appointed as a CRTC Commissioner to ensure that native concerns are given adequate consideration.
A) Fair Access
The government's Northern Broadcasting Policy states that "Northern native people should have fair access to northern broadcasting distribution systems to maintain and develop their cultures and languages".
"The Therrien Report" recognized two distinct aspects to access:
 There is an important point to be made about access. The word is used in a passive sense, that of giving people access to broadcasting services and in an active sense, in demands for access to transmitting and cable facilities so as to be able to deliver community and native-language programming. It is not enough to give access, in the latter sense, alone; it is of little practical value without the assistance of trained staff and technicians, and funds to produce the programs.
The NNBAP has provided funding for native program production but does not, to date, have adequate funds to guarantee access to distribution facilities.
In its Call for Comments and through out the public hearings, the Commission solicited opinions on the criteria for determining "fair access". Most groups felt that access should be granted wherever native people form a significant proportion of the population. La Société de communication Atikamekw-Montagnais (SoCAM) said that access to public or private stations should occur wherever more than 200 native people speak the same dialect.
Most groups felt that the benchmark production levels specified by the NNBAP (that is, 5 hours per week for television and 20 hours per week for radio) were appropriate guidelines for determining the amount of access time. Others, like Taqramiut Nipingat Incorporated, felt that access should be guaranteed for as much programming as can be produced. The CBC suggested that three criteria should be applied: audience demographics, existing services, and the flexibility of the distribution system.
The Commission notes the difficulties in defining the word "fair" as it relates to the term "fair access". Both the CBC and the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation recognized that the term was subjective and open to interpretation.
Marion Telep of Northern Native Broadcasting, Yukon, suggested that:
 There is one continuing obstacle that jeopardizes our success. That is "guaranteed access" by aboriginal broadcasters to existing public and private distribution systems in Northern Canada. The new policies assumed native groups would have access to the nation's distribution systems ... We have learned a very hard lesson. What "should be" does not necessarily mean what "shall be". Notwithstanding our best efforts, our success depends on the goodwill of existing broadcasters to grant fair access.
Most submissions recognized that a wide range of factors, including demographics, technological options and the varying production capabilities of the native communications societies, would influence both the requirements of the groups and the possible solutions which could be employed. Many of the groups have determined that, in addition to radio programming, television will become an increasingly important communications medium, further compounding the distribution problems.
As to how the principle of access should be implemented, the government of Ontario recommended that:
 To determine the specific terms and conditions of access, such as total number of hours to be provided, and scheduling of native access periods, it is our view that a flexible regulatory approach is essential. A flexible, case-by-case approach to the fair access issue would be far more appropriate than blanket regulation.
A corollary issue with respect to access is the quality of access time. Most groups stated they were not satisfied with the scheduling of their programs, or feared that when they advanced to television production, appropriate access time would be difficult to negotiate. The four Inuit groups that currently distribute their programs over the CBC's Northern Service are subject to frequent pre-emptions. In addition, many of their programs are relegated to late night time-slots, which they consider unsuitable.
The Commission is concerned about the quality of access time, and stresses that it is not enough to gain access the airwaves if programs are not accessible to their intended audiences at times that are convenient for them.
The Commission agrees with these observations and, as indicated later in this document, will establish a committee to implement the principles of fair access. It also intends to adopt a flexible implementation process relying, in the first instance on consultation and goodwill rather than the imposition of conditions of licence or generally applicable regulations. The Commission would be prepared, however, to impose a more stringent approach if this proves necessary.
A related matter is that of fundamental access to basic television and radio services. The governments of Manitoba and Ontario, Taqramiut Nipingat Incorporated, the Makivik Corporation, Wawatay, the OKalaKatiget Society, and others, presented forceful arguments that dozens of small native settlements still do not have access to either CBC radio or television. These localities also lack the financial resources to purchase the required equipment to receive broadcast signals distributed via satellite. The Commission remains deeply concerned that many of these small communities receive no broadcast services. These communities are amongst those for which the federally-funded native programming is being produced.
As indicated in Recommendation 25 of the Report of the CRTC Task Force on Access to Television in Underserved Communities ("The Costs of Choice"), the Commission recognizes that a number of federal, provincial and municipal assistance programs are now in place to aid the further development of broadcasting. Such programs should be reviewed if small communities and rural areas are to benefit from these services.
B) The Role of Private Broadcasters
In its 1980 report, the Therrien Committee stated that private broadcasters must assume their share of responsibility for the delivery of programming for native audiences, "even if they represent only a small proportion of the population of the area served".
The Report went on to recommend that
Consideration should be given to the possibility of assistance from the private sector of the broadcasting industry to native organizations undertaking broadcasting activities.
There are 65 commercial radio and television stations in the Canadian North, including 7 television stations, and 48 AM and 10 FM radio stations. Few originate any native programming, even though many serve large segments of the native population.
There was considerable discussion at the public hearings as to the role these stations should play in the delivery of native-produced programs. All parties that addressed the subject were in agreement that broadcasters utilizing public frequencies have an obligation to serve the needs of the communities for which they have been licensed. Most native broadcasters argued that they should be granted a minimum of free air-time, up to the benchmark levels of 5 and 20 hours. For several years some native broadcasters have had to purchase air-time from commercial radiobroadcasters in order to make their programs available to large portions of the native audiences.
The government of Manitoba, which provides funds to Native Communications Inc. (NCI), of Thompson, had a particular concern regarding paid access:
 The Government of Manitoba believes that, where a non-profit native organization is producing programming for a native population which represents a significant portion of the audience of a commercial radio station, they should have suitable time for the distribution of their programming if the commercial station is not producing an equivalent level of native programming of sits own accord. We are concerned that a substantial part of the funds which we are providing to NCI is being spent on purchasing air-time from radio stations which have a responsibility to serve the entire audience in this area.
While the Government of Ontario recommends that broadcasters serving native communities be required, by condition of licence, to provide access, it also recognizes that many of these broadcasters operate with very small margins of profit and therefore, cannot be expected to provide all of the required air-time free of charge.
Other submissions, including that of Ontario, have raised the possibility of brokerage as a means of gaining access to the airwaves. Under this proposal, native producers would purchase blocks of air-time from radio or television stations, and sell advertising to offset the costs.
Several native broadcasters suggested that private stations be required to purchase native programming, and noted that such an initiative would both assist the broadcaster to fulfill its mandate and offset a portion of the production cost.
The Commission recognizes that there is no single solution to accommodate all the diverse circumstances of the various regions. In some instances, as with the Native Broadcasting Network of British Columbia, a combination of public and private stations will be required to reach all targeted communities. In many other cases, community-owned stations will have to be called upon to provide access.
The Commission concurs with the principles enunciated by "The Therrien Report" with respect to the role of the private sector. Moreover it considers that, in line with their responsibility to serve the diverse needs of their licensed service area, private broadcasters should provide free access-time for the broadcast of native programming where audiences warrant it, and to the extent that they are unable to provide the programming themselves.
The Commission will, where necessary, take appropriate measures to ensure that native programs are given the opportunity of reaching their intended audiences. The suggested benchmarks of 5 hours per week for television and 20 hours per week for radio of free air-time will provide the Commission, the native producers and the private stations with a working guideline for the near future. As native broadcasting is rapidly evolving in terms of expertise and quantity of production, the Commission will monitor closely the effectiveness of these guidelines.
Access air-time above that specified by the NNBAP could be achieved through brokerage or other mutually satisfactory arrangements.
Licensees are reminded, however, that in accordance with Section 3(c) of the Broadcasting Act, each licensee is fully responsible for any programming provided on its undertaking, whatever its source.
Should licensees be concerned that providing access to native producers for programs in English, French or native languages might reduce their control over program content, the Commission suggests that appropriate measures, such as contracts, adequate insurance coverage or network licences be examined as safeguards to protect their interests.
In Decision CRTC 81-252, approving the issuance of a network licence to CANCOM for the extension of broadcasting services to northern and remote communities, the Commission noted that "the extension of southern-originated broadcasting services to the North, and to native communities in particular, carries with it a concomitant responsibility to facilitate the development of northern and native-originated broadcasting services". In this regard, CANCOM made several commitments to provide one video and two audio uplinks in suitable northern locations for native-produced programming; to substitute at appropriate times up to ten hours per week of native-produced television programs; to appoint a native vice-president for the co-ordination and scheduling of native programming; and to consult with and provide assistance to native communications societies. The Commission also required CANCOM, as a condition of licence, to permit deletion of any of its signals in predominantly native communities.
CANCOM currently serves slightly more than 200 communities in the North, 47 of which are described as predominantly native.
CANCOM has provided audio uplinks and sub-carriers for the distribution of the radio signals of Northern Native Broadcasting, Yukon, and of the Native Communications Society of the Western Northwest Territories, in Yellowknife in February and September of this year. In addition, CANCOM's vice-president of Native Relations, Ross Charles, has consulted extensively with native broadcasters throughout the country.
The Commission also notes that CANCOM was instrumental in organizing a southern-originated native series entitled "Native Express", and that CANCOM intends to continue this initiative with another series entitled "Pi-wapic-II" during the coming months.
The Commission, however, remains concerned that the commitments for the provision of the video uplink and for the substitution of ten hours of native-produced programming have not yet been implemented. These matters were discussed with the licensee at its licence renewal hearing on 28 April 1985.
At the 9 October 1985 public hearing CANCOM suggested that while this native-produced programming could have a native-language component, it felt that English would be necessary "to bridge the thoughts and program segments". The Commission notes that these program elements could be in English, French or native languages. The Commission wishes at this time to reiterate that it expects CANCOM to implement the commitments with respect to native communications that it made when it was originally licensed.
In its Call for Comments, the Commission raised the question of the best means of utilizing these ten hours of substitution. Most submissions noted that CANCOM represents but one of several distribution options. Some groups, such as Wawatay in Northern Ontario, and the James Bay Cree Communications Society and TNI of Northern Quebec, noted that the CANCOM service was generally unavailable in their particular regions, and, due to the high cost of the service, would likely remain so for the foreseeable future. Most groups felt that the ten hours should be made available to them and that those wishing to participate should form a consortium to negotiate scheduling and program delivery.
Due to the characteristics of its scrambling technology, CANCOM indicated that it would be difficult to de-scramble the native television programming component in order to make it available to any community with the appropriate receiving equipment. Consequently, the native programming that it would distribute could only be received in those communities with which it has affiliation agreements.
With respect to the implementation of the video uplink, CANCOM noted the lack of significant amounts of Northern native television, and indicated that, when there was sufficient demand, the uplink would be installed at a suitable northern location in consultation with native broadcasters.
The Commission considers that, as a first step, CANCOM should immediately agree to substitute whatever amount of native-produced programming is currently available even if this is less than the agreed-upon ten hours.
D) Role of the CBC
The CBC is widely recognized as a producer of native-language radio and television programming, and a major supporter of the NNBAP. Due to financial constraints the CBC has had to abandon its immediate plans for enhanced northern radio and television services, as requested in the government's Northern Broadcasting Policy.
The CBC's Northern Radio and Television Services are, for the most part, distributed by satellite. Northern Service radio currently provides a significant amount of native programming in eight indigenous languages and has a well-deserved reputation for providing programming of quality and diversity.
The CBC considers its Northern Service to be regional, serving Northern Quebec, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories. Native people constitute 55% of the population.
Except for Quebec, the northern portions of the other provinces do not have access to Northern Service television feeds. Instead, they receive services originating from southern-based regional headquarters.
The small amount of CBC-produced northern television programming and some native access programs are fed during regional time slots. Because its Northern Television Service lacks dedicated satellite facilities, the CBC cannot increase the amount of native access programming without seriously disrupting the schedules of its southern stations. Hence, access programming is relegated to third place, following national and regional programs, and is often pre-empted when sports or special events programs run over schedule.
The Northern Television Service does not have its own newscast. The Eastern and Central Arctic communities, such as Baker Lake, receive news from St. John's, Newfoundland, while the Western Arctic receives newscasts from Vancouver.
As a matter of policy, the CBC does not permit key network and regional television programming, including foreign programs, to be substituted with native-access programming. However, given the absence of alternative distribution options in many areas, the CBC will, for some time, remain a major vehicle for the distribution of native programming.
Notwithstanding the limitations of the CBC's distribution facilities, it has concluded agreements with ten native communications societies. Of the remaining three, two are distributed by CANCOM and the other by TVOntario. Most of the groups are dissatisfied with the quality of their allocated air-time, and have raised concerns regarding the capability of the CBC to accommodate increased amounts of production.
The CBC has suggested that "substantial increases in access time will require alternative solutions such as greater participation by the private broadcasters ... or the utilization of additional distribution facilities".
Throughout the public hearings, the native broadcasters stressed the importance of the CBC's role in the delivery of native-produced programs. Some suggested that the CBC should relinquish its role in producing native-language television programs, and act exclusively as a distributor privately-produced programs. Others disagreed, arguing that the CBC should maintain or increase its involvement in northern native programming, while at the same time, providing additional access opportunities for native broadcasters.
At the hearing the CBC stated that, in view of the conflicting expectations regarding its mandate for the North, the Corporation could benefit from a clarification of its mandate.
In its submission to the Commission, the CBC observed that its television service "has been unable to provide sufficient programming relevant to native concerns". The CBC attributes this to insufficient production funds and a lack of available satellite.
The Corporation considers that the schedule of its Northern Television Service, in accordance with the mandate set out in the Broadcasting Act "should be a balanced service of information, entertainment and enlightenment for all residents of the North, covering different ages, interests and tastes in fair proportion to their percentage in the population". The Commission agrees fully with this statement and expects the CBC to take all possible measures to ensure that its program schedule meets these objectives.
To date, there is no evidence to indicate that non-native audiences object to native access programming. Some native broadcasters have indicated that they had received positive feedback from non-native listeners and viewers.
There were also strong representations in favour of making more Northern programming available to all Canadians, especially documentaries, news and information. The Commission notes that Canada's North is an integral facet of Canadian cultural and political identity and feels strongly that this fact should be better reflected in the programs made available to Canadians in all parts of the country.
Several submissions raised concerns respecting the cancellation of the radio program "Our Native Land". The Commission notes these concerns and will discuss this matter with the CBC at its next licence renewal hearing.
The Commission encourages the CBC to undertake the necessary studies to formulate a long-range plan that would allow increased integration of quality native-produced programming in its schedules.
The CBC currently leases nine transponders on ANIK D. Two are used for the distribution of the House of Commons proceedings. Four are used for the distribution of the national services in English and French in various time zones. The remaining three transponders are termed "omnibus" channels, and are used for news gathering, inter-provincial feeds, pre-distribution and as back-ups to the other transponders.
The Commission strongly urges the CBC to re-examine immediately its scheduling priorities on these omnibus channels with a view to allowing more native access potential within its Northern Service television schedule. As suggested in some of the submissions, the CBC should consider permitting native groups access to the unused time on the House of Commons transponders.
Another factor bearing on the CBC's limitations in providing access to native Canadians is its distinction between the far North and mid-Canada. The latter is defined as the northern parts of seven provinces, each served by intra-provincial terrestial feeds emanating from southern production centres through in-line transmitters alternating between native and non-native communities. These regional feeds are designed to be one-way, and do not permit different program feeds to the various communities they serve. A more practical means of delivering discrete television and radio programs to the native communities in the mid-north would be by satellite, requiring the installation of receiving stations. This would permit the far North and portions of mid-Canada to receive a common Northern Service.
The Commission agrees with the CBC statement that "ideally, the role of the CBC in the provision of native programming in mid-Canada should be similar to that in the Far North, i.e., where numbers warrant", and that the Northern Television Service could become significantly more meaningful to all residents of the North if it had the benefit of a fully dedicated satellite transponder.
In the meantime, the Commission encourages the CBC to explore the possibilities of a reconfiguration of its distribution methods in mid-Canada in order to allow those communities that so choose to be able to receive the Northern Service satellite feed.
Another distribution option in Mid-Canada would be the installation of split-feeds, as are already in place in Saskatchewan, to allow for the distribution of programs of specific interest to predominantly native communities.
As noted earlier, programming funded by the NNBAP is currently distributed by a variety of means including the CBC Northern Service network, CBC intra-provincial feeds and split feeds, and the TVOntario provincial educational network, as well as by local CBC stations, by private broadcasters and community stations. The Commission acknowledges the significant contributions that have been made by all of these parties, and encourages continued goodwill and co-operation.
Native broadcasters are currently producing in excess of 92 hours a week of radio and 6.5 hours of television programming. It is anticipated that these levels will increase substantially in the near future. Unfortunately, as noted by the CBC at the public hearings, "the system is going to burst at the seams" if the distribution bottlenecks and scheduling problems aren't soon rectified.
The question of a dedicated satellite transponder was raised in the Commission's Call for Comments. The majority of submissions, including those of the CBC and the government of Ontario, recognized the merit of such a facility as a means of relieving the pressures on current distribution systems. Most native broadcasters felt that this would allow for a "blended Northern Service", whereby predominantly native communities could benefit from both the CBC Northern Service and native-produced programs. The CBC's sophisticated cue-and-control system could ensure that native programs are delivered only to native communities.
As the footprints of the Anik C series of satellites do not extend into the far north, it is increasingly obvious that the only appropriate satellite for distributing radio and television signals to native audiences is the Anik D. This satellite is rapidly approaching full capacity. It is essential that funds be reserved immediately in order to secure a fully-dedicated northern transponder.
Once the amount of native programming reaches significant levels, it may be necessary to provide additional transmitters in certain communities to permit not only additional flexibility in providing the full services of the CBC but also the provision of full-time native stations to accommodate increased levels of native programming.
Also, additional video uplinks will be required to permit live television programming by native groups. The Commission notes in this respect that Telesat has proposed a revised policy for the ownership of uplink stations, effective April 1986. In addition, Telesat has introduced a new satellite radio service, Radio-Net One, which can be tailored to suit a variety of multi-user needs.
Whatever distribution options are selected, it is evident that additional funds must be found if native broadcasters are to secure the necessary distribution facilities. The Commission agrees with the majority of submissions which suggest that the NNBAP program would be the most appropriate vehicle for the administration of such funds.
Native communications societies from Inuvik to Nain have expressed their feelings of isolation from the policy-making process and have asked the Commission to set up a more structured mechanism to ensure continuing dialogue between native broadcasters and the CRTC.
The Commission accepts the responsibility of facilitating communications and of ensuring the active participation of northern native broadcasters in policy development, and will make appropriate arrangements to establish a permanent liaison group within the CRTC for this purpose.
In addition, the Commission will immediately set up an Action Committee to deal with the problems of fair access that were outlined earlier in this notice, with a view to resolving conflicts in the best interests of all parties. This Committee will approach distribution alternatives on a case-by-case basis as required. It will have representatives from native communication societies, private and educational broadcasters, the CBC, the CRTC and the co-ordinators of the NNBAP. The composition and mandate of this Committee will be the subject of a separate Public Notice.
Fernand Bélisle Secretary General

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