ARCHIVED -  Decision CRTC 87-140

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Ottawa, 23 February 1987
Decision CRTC 87-140
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation/Société Radio-Canada Applications for the Renewal of the English and French Television Network Licences
- 861466100 - 861467900
The CBC's Mandate in the Act
Public Appreciation of the CBC
Future Direction of the CBC
Long-Term Objectives for the CBC
a) Canadian Content
b) Drama
c) Regional Expression
d) Network Exchange
e) CBC Northern Service
f) Programming for Children and Youth
g) Performing Arts
h) Independent Production
i) Portrayal of Women
j) Francophones Outside Quebec
k) Portrayal of Native Canadians
l) Multicultural Representation
m) Serving the Hearing Impaired
n) Technical Quality
o) Extension of Service
p) Advertising Revenue
Conditions of Licence
Expectations to be Met During the New Licence Term
Other Services
The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (the Commission, the CRTC) held a Public Hearing in the National Capital Region from 15 to 24 October 1986 to consider applications for the renewal of the English and French television network licences of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (the CBC, the Corporation). Over the eight days of the hearing, one and a half days were allocated for the CBC's presentation, Commission questioning took three and a half days, and a further three days were devoted to consideration of the views expressed in more than fifty oral submissions.
In total, the Commission received 320 interventions in response to these applications, including 250 from the general public, 47 from industry organizations and associations representing various interests, 11 from government departments or elected representatives at the federal, provincial, territorial or municipal level, and 11 from operators of broadcasting undertakings. All of these interventions form part of the public record. The issues raised by the interveners ranged from broad discussions of the mandate and future role of the Corporation to precise requests for extension of CBC service to certain unserved communities. Among the comments received were those stressing the CBC's involvement with the independent production sector, access for native programming, and the extent and nature of French-language television programming provided to or produced by Francophones living outside the province of Quebec. Many interveners voiced concerns about balance, Canadian content, program acquisition and scheduling practices, the inadequacy of regional reflection, the CBC's commercial practices -- in particular with respect to the English television network's use of advertising directed to children -- the Corporation's relationship with and future intentions toward its affiliates, equitable access for political candidates during election periods, as well as the national broadcasting service's responsibilities and weaknesses in terms of representing multicultural groups and visible minorities in mainstream programming, closed captioning for the hearing impaired and the portrayal and role of women in its television programs. These considerations reflect a very broad range of public aspirations as well as the requirements that Parliament has placed upon the CBC. They are also indicative of the widespread interest with which Canadians regard the performance of the publicly-funded national broadcasting service.
The Commission has considered all these representations seriously and at length, whether they originated with the Governments of the Yukon and Ontario or with the communities of Cumberland House and Pelican Narrows, Saskatchewan; whether they reflected the opinions of organized groups or the concerns of individual citizens. Of the total number of briefs and letters submitted, 200 were fully supportive of the CBC's applications and indicated strong public support for and belief in the national public television services. A further 115, while generally favourable, addressed particular aspects of the CBC's existing operations or future proposals where they considered improvements could be made. It is to be noted that only five submissions expressed outright opposition to the renewal of the CBC's television network licences.
The CRTC appreciates the fact that, from all parts of the country, so many official bodies, public authorities, institutions, associations, and members of the general public made use of the Commission's public process.
The previous hearing on the CBC's television network licences was held in October 1978. Thus, the 15 October 1986 hearing marked the first occasion in eight years for the Commission, pursuant to its mandate under the Broadcasting Act and with the participation of the people of Canada -- either in person or through coast-to-coast television coverage of the complete proceedings via the cable network facilities used to distribute the Parliamentary service -- to examine in detail the CBC's past performance and future programming plans. It is fitting that this hearing was the forum for public acknowledgement of the CBC's accomplishments over the past few years, particularly as 2 November 1986 was the Corporation's fiftieth anniversary. The hearing also afforded an opportunity to explore the future orientation of the national broadcasting service and provided interested parties with a unique public forum in which to voice their views on the past performance and the desired future direction of the CBC. This is particularly appropriate inasmuch as the Government is in the midst of a reevaluation of Canada's long-term broadcasting policy.
At the start of the hearing, the Chairman, on behalf of the Commission, praised the Corporation for its achievements:
Over the past 50 years, the CBC has contributed to the development of our identity and to the awakening of our concern for cultural matters to a degree that we will never be able to measure accurately.
It has provided a showcase of inestimable value for the launching of our Canadian talent. The CBC, through the extension of its services to all parts of this country, has also served as an instrument of social policy by drawing people from remote areas into the social mainstream of Canada, or providing them with the opportunity for maintaining a way of life comparable to some extent to that of privileged urban populations.
It would take more than the time allocated for this hearing to express meaningfully and fairly the gratitude of Canadians for all the accomplishments of our national public broadcasting service.
In recent years, the CBC has had to contend with substantial changes in the Canadian broadcasting environment. Private broadcasting has developed rapidly, particularly with the licensing of several new independent television stations in addition to the introduction of specialty and general interest discretionary services on cable. Cable television service is now accessible to 80% of Canadian homes and 42% of Canadian households have their own videocassette recorders, permitting them to program their own television viewing choices at times that best suit them. Most Canadians now have a vast array of home entertainment options from which to choose.
The CBC for its part distributes its programming across six time zones via satellite, while satellite distribution allows Canadians everywhere in the country immediate access to alternative services. Additionally, the CBC is confronted with a new economic environment and has had to face budgetary readjustments, requiring the development of new fiscal management techniques, in order to participate in the Canadian government's objective of reducing its deficit.
Other countries, too, are attempting to balance national budgets and to reduce government involvement in the communications sector. In the wake of the present need for fiscal restraint, cultural institutions, particularly those that are state-funded, have had to exercise special resourcefulness to adjust to the constraints of government cutbacks. Public television services in other countries have also had to reorient themselves and develop longer-term strategies in the face of partial or total government disengagement with regard to funding. For example, in France, the government has proposed to reduce the licence fees on television sets and abolish the tax on videocassette recorders, thereby reducing the government's subsidy to the public television networks, and the first public television network, TF1, has recently been restructured to permit privatization of its ownership. Britain, after much debate during 1985/86 on whether to permit commercials on its public television services to offset rising costs, has rejected this option. The British government has, nevertheless, reduced the BBC's funding. In the U.S.A., federal grants to the Public Broadcasting Service have also been substantially reduced.
The Commission recognizes that the CBC's role and mandate have become increasingly difficult to assess in the face of reductions in its funding and the uncertainties surrounding an eventual new broadcasting policy. It is also mindful of the fact that, since 1978, there has been no comprehensive public forum in which to assess the performance and future plans of the national broadcasting service, and that the present policy discussions could not be concluded in the immediate future.
Parliament has declared in the Broadcasting Act that the CBC should provide a national broadcasting service that is predominantly Canadian in content and character, that such a service should have certain fundamental characteristics (as set out in section 3(g) of the Act) and that these and the other objectives of the broadcasting policy for Canada can best be achieved by providing for the regulation and supervision of the Canadian broadcasting system by a single independent public authority, the CRTC. In assuming its responsibilities, the Commission considered that in light of the rapid pace at which the communications environment has been developing in recent years, it was in the public interest that a public hearing be convened at this time if the system was to remain relevant to Canadian viewers and respectful of the objectives set out by Parliament.
The Report of the Task Force on Broadcasting Policy was published on 22 September 1986, just three weeks prior to the start of the hearing. The Chairman referred to this in his opening remarks:
Since the applicant and the interveners did not have the benefit of knowing the recommendations contained in the Caplan-Sauvageau report prior to filing their applications and interventions, we will not, in the course of considering these renewal applications, be dealing with any of the specific recommendations. But, given that the Commission had already identified most of these issues last spring in its own public notice regarding the process for the renewal of the CBC's English and French television networks, we will, of course, be addressing these issues over the next few days.
And, as is apparent in later chapters of this decision, most of these issues have been addressed in depth.
Further, the Chairman noted that the Corporation is accountable to Parliament and the Auditor General with respect to its financial management and that this hearing was not the appropriate forum for discussion of such matters.
The hearing did, however, permit full public discussion of the essential role of the English and French national television services within the Canadian broadcasting system. This review was scheduled at the appropriate time since other major components of the system have also been subject to public scrutiny in the past eighteen months, as the Commission has considered renewal applications of Télé-Métropole Inc. (CFTM-TV), the CTV Television Network, Global Communications Limited, the Société de radiotélévision du Québec (Radio-Québec) and the English-language service of TVOntario, as well as Groupe Vidéotron Ltée's purchase of Télé-Métropole and the licensing of two new French-language television services, Télévision Quatre-Saisons in Quebec, and in Ontario, "la chaîne française", operated by the Ontario Educational Communications Authority. The Commission has also released decisions licensing new independent television stations in Regina and Saskatoon, and a decision permitting Baton Broadcasting to acquire the assets of a number of television stations in Saskatchewan; it authorized New Brunswick Broadcasting to establish an independent television service, MITV, in Halifax, Moncton, Saint John and Fredericton; licensed a fourth television service in Portage La Prairie/Winnipeg; authorized the transfer of control of CKVU-TV to CanWest Pacific Television Inc., noting that this should enhance the participation of western Canada in the Canadian broadcasting system; heard applications from stations in London, Wingham and Pembroke, Ontario to disaffiliate from the CBC's English television network in order to provide an independent television service in each of those communities, and competing applications for a new independent English-language television service in Ottawa.
Notice of Public Hearing CRTC 1986-61, inviting public comment on the CBC's applications for renewal of its television network licences, anticipated that the 15 October hearing would also provide an opportunity for the Corporation to elaborate on its future plans in a number of key areas, including its plans and strategies on how best to contribute to the objectives of the existing Act, initiatives to provide and maintain service to special or underserved communities and members of society, balance amongst program categories, the achievement of its Canadianization objectives, the future role and mandate of regional programming, its plans for participation with the independent production sector, proposals concerning the network/affiliate structure, projections regarding commercial revenues, the opportunity for increased access for northern and native programming, its policies with respect to violence and sex-role stereotyping, and its plans with regard to expansionary projects such as CBC-2 or a Windsor superstation. The public hearing provided an opportunity for the Commission and the intervening parties to engage in a full public discussion of all of these issues.
Since 1983 the CBC has deliberately increased its effort to reorient its television schedules in order to distinguish itself from the numerous other programming alternatives now available to most Canadians. The Commission applauds the CBC's achievements to date in its campaign to Canadianize its English and French television networks. The CBC has performed an important leadership function in proving to audiences, to other broadcasters and to advertisers that distinctive Canadian television programs in all categories, and increasingly in drama, will be watched.
What is more, these Canadian successes have helped the CBC to increase the proportion of its revenue attributable to advertising. In 1981/82, CBC's gross revenue from commercials was $131 million; by 1985/86 this amount had risen to $218 million -- an increase of $87 million or better than 66% in just four years. The proportion of its operating revenue attributable to advertising rose from 17% to 21% during this period. For the current year, the Corporation is projecting advertising revenue of $241 million.
The Commission has repeatedly emphasized that the presence on Canadian stations of good, attractive Canadian programming is not only an effective but also an essential means of maintaining a distinctive presence in the expanding broadcast spectrum.
The CRTC is not, however, insensitive to the very real challenges facing the Corporation as a result of recent budget reductions imposed by the federal government. Nevertheless, the Commission had hoped that the national broadcasting service would come to the hearing with an appreciation of the need for a special resourcefulness to adjust to the constraints of the current economic challenge.
The CBC's fundamental message at the hearing, repeated frequently during the eight days, was that unless substantial additional public funds were made available, it would no longer be able to continue to fulfill all of its legislated mandate and would have to diminish certain of its present achievements and curtail some of its current services. This attitude seemed the only recourse being considered by the CBC.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Commission is hopeful that the process of the October 1986 hearing and the free and frank exchanges that occurred within it have provided the Corporation with an incentive to take a fresh look at its situation. Given this and the track record of the national broadcasting service for innovation and creativity, the Commission is confident that the CBC, during the new licence term, will develop and implement responses to this challenge with its customary resourcefulness and in ways that are in keeping with its leadership responsibility.
Even before the creation of the CBC's predecessor, the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission, Canadians were debating the role that broadcasting should play in expressing Canada's national identity. In formulating a structure for Canadian broadcasting, Parliament chose a unique "mixed" system, combining public and private elements. The public component, the CBC, was based in part on recommendations of the 1929 Aird Commission on Radio Broadcasting, although private sector participation, patterned after commercial broadcasters in the United States, was also encouraged. The objectives set out for the national broadcasting service took into account certain public service goals of an institution such as the BBC as well as the economic and technical benefits that could be derived from Canada's proximity to the strong entrepreneurial system developing in the United States. In the 19th century, the railways played an all-important role in linking Canadians, from province to province, region to region, coast to coast. The CBC was to play a similar role in uniting Canadians across this vast country; it was to help us to define ourselves as Canadians by providing a national broadcasting service that is predominantly Canadian in content and character.
To ensure the rapid extension of first CBC's radio and then its television network services throughout Canada, private stations were encouraged to become affiliates. They distributed a portion of the programming provided by the CBC in exchange for a proportion of the revenue generated from advertising. At first the Board of Directors of the CBC was also responsible for regulating private Canadian broadcasting enterprises. In 1958 the Board of Broadcast Governors was granted regulatory control of the system as a whole and in 1968, with the enactment of new broadcasting legislation in which the fundamental role of CBC was enunciated by Parliament, the CRTC was entrusted with regulating and supervising a distinctive and comprehensive Canadian broadcasting system in the public interest.
With the advent of television in the early 1950s, the difficulties and expense inherent in producing and delivering a national programming service in English and French to a relatively small population scattered across half a continent became even more evident. One of the major priorities of Canadian broadcasting policy during the 1950s and 1960s was to extend broadcasting services to as many Canadians as possible, quickly and effectively.
In responding to the challenge presented by geography, Canadians became recognized world-wide for pragmatic utilization of cable technology to distribute distant broadcasting signals. The advent of communications satellites has enabled the Corporation and private enterpreneurs to extend at least a reasonable measure of program choice to virtually all Canadians. In fact, most Canadians, even those living in isolated communities in remote regions of this country, today enjoy a greater selection of television programming options than do many Americans residing in medium-sized cities.
In addition, other nations are examining the Canadian experience to see how we have learned to co-exist with the pervasive influence of the powerful American entertainment industry which is in such close proximity to us, and to create Canadian cultural products that are more successful here than such international hits as Dallas and Miami Vice.
As the Chairman of the Commission stated in his opening remarks at the public hearing, the achievements of this mixed system are considerable:
Let us not lose sight of the fact that we have in Canada a broadcasting system of which we can justifiably be proud....
Serving a population base of only 19 million English-speaking and six million French-speaking viewers strung out across the second largest country in the world, the Canadian broadcasting system reaches almost everyone with national television broadcasting services in two languages. Independent television services are rapidly multiplying. Many markets count three or even four local Canadian television stations, and independent stations operate in both languages across this country. Furthermore, educational television networks broadcast in five provinces. We also have discretionary services in French and English, as well as a growing number of ethnic services, native services and services for the hearing-impaired.
Although Canadian programming budgets are small compared with those of some other countries, we have a remarkable record of high quality international programming successes. We are exporting an increasing amount of Canadian-produced fare and are co-producing, with foreign interests, a growing number of television programs.
The CBC has played and will continue to play a pivotal role in this development. From a modest beginning in 1936 with eight publicly-owned or leased stations and fourteen affiliates linked together by land lines, the CBC now operates a distribution system of nine satellite transponders and more than 1300 radio and television transmitters. Two television and four radio networks broadcast daily in English and French with more than 100,000 hours of programming per year originating from 31 television and 45 radio regional production centres. The proceedings of the House of Commons are made available in both official languages to cable systems across Canada. Audiences in the North receive network feeds of radio and television from the South supplemented with programming in seven native languages. And the CBC operates Radio Canada International, an international shortwave radio service, in twelve languages. In all, the CBC today owns 99 radio and television stations and further disseminates its programming through 48 private affiliates and more than 1250 owned or affiliated rebroadcasters.
In addition to the provision of radio and television services as required in the Broadcasting Act, successive Canadian governments have directed the CBC to take on responsibility for the operation of Canada's overseas shortwave radio service (1942), the Northern Service (1958), the Parliamentary services (1977) and closed captioning for the hearing-impaired (1981). Policy statements by the Minister of Communications in March and October 1983, placed additional requirements upon the Corporation.
Since 1983, in order to further strengthen Canadian program production, the government has established and maintained a special Broadcast Program Development Fund to stimulate Canadian independent program production. The fund, administered now by Telefilm Canada, can be accessed by independent producers provided they have arranged for the exhibition of their productions on Canadian broadcasting services. The CBC's participation was to be major, with up to half of the Fund allocated for projects to be exhibited on the Corporation's English or French television networks.
The CBC's Mandate in the Act
The Broadcasting Act, which dates back to 1968, acknowledges that the historical development of broadcasting in this country owes much to both the public and private sectors. It does, however, clearly accord a certain priority to the former by stating that where conflicts arise between the objectives of the CBC and the interests of the private element they should be resolved in the public interest, but with "paramount consideration" given to the objectives of the national broadcasting service, the CBC.
Parliament further specified that the purpose of the publiclyfunded CBC is to provide a national broadcasting service that is "predominantly Canadian in content and character". Four primary objectives are prescribed. The CBC should:
be a balanced service of information, enlightenment and entertainment for people of different ages, interests and tastes covering the whole range of programming in fair proportion,
be extended to all parts of Canada, as public funds become available,
be in English and French, serving the special needs of geographic regions, and actively contributing to the flow and exchange of cultural and regional information and entertainment, and
contribute to the development of national unity and provide for a continuing expression of Canadian identity.
The CBC, above other broadcasters, is expected to be an instrument of public policy and to shoulder a special responsibility for safeguarding, enriching and strengthening the cultural, political, social and economic fabric of Canada. The Commission's 1974 renewal decision spoke of the CBC as the "cornerstone" of the Canadian broadcasting system and stated that any weakening of the national service would "pose a threat to the entire system." Similarly the 1979 renewal decision referred to the national broadcasting service as "the backbone of the Canadian broadcasting system." The Commission in 1987 reiterates its view that the role of the CBC has become pivotal for the distinctiveness of the system, and even more essential than it was previously now that there is such an abundance of viewing choices.
The CBC was intended by Parliament to be an independent, balanced, national public service with certain minimum standards of excellence in order to ensure that Canadians are informed and entertained citizens. Every Canadian ought to be able to find something of value on the CBC, whether his or her interest is politics, sports, science, or the arts. The CBC was expected to provide a range of programming of high standard that touches upon the best Canadian endeavours in all areas worth knowing or talking about, including those in which coverage by other sectors of the broadcasting system may be deficient, with the knowledge that in many parts of Canada, cultural and other support for certain interests is less than adequate.
The specific responsibilities of the national broadcasting service, the private components of the system, and the Commission are to be found in the Broadcasting Act. These responsibilities, as restated by Parliament in 1968, have been the focus of discussion on the three occasions that the Corporation has appeared before the Commission to present applications for the renewal of its network licences. They have also been central to the ongoing debate about the future direction of the national broadcasting service. The Commission does not find it necessary to repeat them here. However, under the present terms of the existing Act, the Commission expects the Corporation, at the time of a renewal hearing, to identify the objectives and priorities that should orient the CBC's television services during the next licence term.
Public Appreciation of the CBC
Because tax dollars support the CBC, Canadians have a proprietary interest in how well it is achieving its mandate. They demonstrate their faith in the CBC's ability to tell us stories about ourselves and to explain our nation and our world to us from a Canadian perspective by choosing to watch CBC programs in large numbers despite the offerings of other programming services. Since 1981 the English television network of the CBC has maintained a 21% share of viewing to all English-language television, while the French network's share has fluctuated between 40% and 50% of all viewing to French-language programming. In 1985 the French network's share was 42%.
Traditionally, the most popular Canadian programs have been information and sports on the English network and the téléromans or serial dramas on the French network. However, an important component of audience statistics is the availability of certain kinds of programs. As the CBC's English television network has increased its efforts to program Canadian drama in peak-viewing hours, it has been rewarded with increased viewership. Over the past three or four seasons such programs as Charlie Grant's War, Chautauqua Girl, Anne of Green Gables, Love and Larceny, My American Cousin, Danger Bay and Kids of Degrassi Street have met with enormous popular success. Similarly on the French network, Le Temps d'une Paix, La Bonne Aventure, Poivre et Sel and Lance et Compte have regularly attracted audiences of between 1.8 and 2.9 million viewers.
At the hearing the CBC made it clear that in creating a Canadian drama series, it does not merely imitate the American product. In order to provide programming that is clearly differentiated from what is offered on other television stations, the Corporation emphasizes such criteria as "a strong sense of place" and the accurate reflection of Canadian society and values. Such popular, distinctively Canadian programs as The Beachcombers and Seeing Things, A Plein Temps and Le Temps d'une Paix are evidence that the CBC provides a very different product than that of the American networks.
As a CBC official elaborated at the hearing:
The Canadian product is very different in the portrayal of women. It is very different in the portrayal of minorities. It is very different in the non-violent aspect.
The Commission considers noteworthy the Corporation's reference to the non-violent aspect of its Canadian product and of the foreign programs it acquires for distribution. A number of interveners to the television licence renewal hearings held last fall expressed concern about the level of violence in the programming available to Canadian television viewers. The Commission shares this concern and wishes at this time to commend the CBC for its efforts to restrict the depiction of gratuitous violence in both its drama and information programming.
The Canadian population is becoming increasingly sophisticated and even more demanding with respect to the CBC, as was evident from the interventions. There were requests for more Canadian programs and for more regional content; for increased use of the independent production sector; for restoration of local television service to Wabush, Labrador; for the provision of French or English television service to unserved communities in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Manitoba and the Territories; for increased windows for pay television; for the elimination of commercials; for full network service in place of the partial service provided by affiliate stations. There were demands for training programs and for more advisory committees; for more closed captioned programs; more programs on science and technology; equal budgets for English- and French-language news and public affairs; more talent development at the local and regional level; the establishment of a French-language regional production centre in Northern Ontario; and for increased use of Canadian composers and recording artists.
Such demands demonstrate the public's confidence in the Corporation's capacity to offer such services and in its ability to satisfy these specific needs. With this in mind, this hearing was the appropriate public forum for determining which of these objectives or priorities the two national public television services should set for themselves during the new licence term.
Future Direction of the CBC
The Commission indicated last spring that at the fall 1986 television renewal hearings it would be reviewing the future contribution each licensee was prepared to make to Canadian broadcasting with the clear understanding that more would be expected in terms of programming quality and production creativity. In his opening remarks at the CBC hearing, the Chairman elaborated on this theme and on the high expectations Canadians have for the national public television services:
Our best bet for the protection, advancement and fostering of a distinctive Canadian broadcasting system is still [the CBC] ... Increasingly, [Canadian viewers] are the major force that will determine how the Canadian broadcasting story unfolds. They will not base their crucial choices and judgements on channels, stations or services, but on content ...
If we want to retain audiences for Canadian programming, and if we are serious about our commitment to providing a uniquely Canadian perspective in the broadcasting system, we require more attractive programming which viewers will watch.
The Commission envisioned this public hearing as the appropriate occasion for a frank, open exchange of views on the immediate future role of the CBC. To this end, it had requested the CBC several months before the hearing to respond to the questions asked of it and to make precise commitments for the new licence term, given the existing mandate and the economic circumstances in which the Corporation has been operating in the recent past.
At the hearing the Chairman thanked the Corporation for its collaboration in the preparation of the applications and acknowledged that the CBC's openness in providing this information would help the Commission to assess the CBC's past performance and future direction. The Commission had encouraged the Corporation to facilitate full public discussion of the CBC's future plans by setting out its long-term objectives and its priorities for the coming renewal period by developing scenarios based on various funding assumptions. However, the CBC did not provide a strategic plan outlining which programming services and facilities it intended to maintain, expand or curtail. Indeed, whenever goals or plans were referred to, not only were they not prioritized --except for a few -- because of funding uncertainties, they were only discussed on a purely hypothetical basis.
While CBC officials were prepared to argue that the Corporation's anticipated future funding would not be sufficient to meet its statutory obligations, they were unwilling to state publicly any solutions to the funding situation in which the CBC finds itself or to identify the priorities the CBC would respect in operating its English and French television networks, in the absence of a legislated change in the Corporation's mandate. The CBC underscored that it was not insensitive to the fact that Canada's present economic situation has forced the Government to restrict its expenditures. In spelling out the consequences of these financial constraints, the Corporation asserted that it did not have the authority to cease performing any of its mandated functions. In effect, it maintained that only Parliament or the Government can decide which of the CBC's activities should be curtailed or eliminated; it further stated that it was in the midst of a detailed examination of its funding situation.
The CBC has an obligation, as the national broadcasting service, to inform the Canadian public through the public forum envisaged by the Broadcasting Act, of its priorities as to the future implementation of its mandate, based on the funds made available to it. In this the CBC has failed. The public hearing should have served as a forum in which the Canadian people could compare their aspirations for the national broadcasting service with the long-term objectives and priorities established by the Corporation itself.
In light of the present provisions of the Broadcasting Act which sanction the Commission's role to regulate and supervise the Canadian broadcasting system in the public interest, and taking into account the judicial interpretation of the Commission's mandate and responsibility, the Commission has provided in this decision an outline of the orientation the Commission considers reasonable to expect from Canada's publicly-funded national television networks, particularly in the absence of the CBC's own assessment of what its future objectives and priorities are or should be. Based on the CBC's past commitments and its goals as expressed in the applications, and taking into account the consensus of the views of the Canadian public as to the future direction of the CBC which were submitted during the hearing process, the Commission has identified a number of long-term objectives that the CBC's English and French television networks must undertake.
The Commission has used as a basis for these long-term objectives the exigencies of the present Broadcasting Act. While the list is not exhaustive, it clearly establishes a number of specific areas in which the Commission believes the CBC has a responsibility to exercise strong leadership in the future if it is to continue its pivotal role within the Canadian broadcasting system and provide Canadians with the level of service they are entitled to expect.
Nevertheless, it is precisely because of the uncertainty of the CBC's financing that the Commission has expressed its vision of the role the national broadcasting service should play within the Canadian broadcasting system in the coming years as long-term objectives rather than as conditions of licence or other precise regulatory requirements. Many of these goals have already been stated in this form -- or in words closely resembling those used here -- by the CBC itself or by the Commission in various public documents over the past three years.
Long-Term Objectives for the CBC
Canadian Contents
In an October 1983 strategy paper and again in its submission to the Task Force on Broadcasting Policy, the CBC Board of Directors expressed concern about the impact of the rapidly-changing broadcasting environment on the role set out for the Corporation in the 1968 legislation. In the face of what it terms a "revolution in television", the Board emphasized that the CBC's English and French television services must become popular but also distinctive alternatives to what is offered on the other channels now so readily available to Canadian viewers.
The CBC's stated intention is to establish for its television networks a more clearly marked position in the programming spectrum and to offer viewers programming that is "attractive", whether it is directed to popular tastes or to specialized interests, and with potential appeal for international audiences. It proposes to do this by concentrating on the production and acquisition of quality Canadian programming.
Canadians, through their interventions, have wholeheartedly endorsed the principle that the CBC should be the country's predominant source of Canadian programming. As a Toronto viewer wrote, "The CBC is a most beneficial and effective link across our far-flung country, holding us together as a people in a rather wonderful way. It strengthens our very Canadianness, our sense of unity, of common endeavour and citizenship."
CRTC regulations specify that the CBC must devote at least 60% of its broadcasting time to Canadian programming, including the "evening broadcast period" which is the time between 6 p.m. and midnight. Currently, the French television network's Canadian content levels average 76% over the full broadcast day and 85% in the evening, while those of the English network are 63% and 77%, respectively. The applications state that the Corporation has, in recent years, concentrated its energies on Canadianizing the evening portion of its schedule when the greatest number of people are watching television. In the 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. time period, the Corporation now provides an average of 22.5 hours of Canadian programming on the English network and 20 hours on the French network, while most of the time between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. and after 11 p.m. is given over to local station productions, primarily newscasts.
The Canadian content in the schedules of the two networks covers the entire spectrum of programming. The Corporation's achievements and projects with respect to drama, variety and children's programming are addressed separately later in this chapter. In terms of news and public affairs, and in sports, the CBC has built and maintained a tradition of excellence. Information programs such as The Fifth Estate, Marketplace and Man Alive on the English network, Le Sens des Affaires and Contrechamp on the French network, are well produced, insightful programs which consistently achieve large audiences even though they are scheduled in peakevening viewing periods in competition with popular entertainment programs.
The average audience for these programs in the fall of 1986 was better than 1 million viewers for each of the English-language titles given above and between 300,000 and 600,000 for the two French-language programs. The following chart demonstrates the audience appeal of these quality Canadian programs.
1986/87 Season
Weeks 1 to 15
Information Average Audience High Low Reach*
Fifth Estate** 1,385,000 1,799,000 1,174,000 -
Marketplace** 1,287,000 1,499,000 1,157,000 -
Man Alive** 1,005,000 1,263,000 686,000 -
Le Sens des
Affaires 568,000 680,000 427,000 -
Contrechamp 317,000 570,000 169,000 -
News and Public Affairs
The National 1,856,000 2,288,000 1,587,000 4,685,000
The Journal 1,581,000 1,923,000 1,331,000 4,607,000
Téléjournal 875,000 992,000 733,000 2,471,000
Le Point 615,000 730,000 536,000 1,923,000
Source: A.C. Nielsen NTI Share Reports
September to December 1986
compiled by CRTC Research Analysis Group
* Source: BBM 30 October to 5 November 1986
(5-day cumulative audience)
** The CBC's English-language weekly public affairs programs
attract as large an audience as its regularly-scheduled
Canadian drama series.
In 1983 the Corporation moved its evening news programs, The National and Le Téléjournal, to 10 p.m. and introduced the public affairs shows, The Journal and Le Point. These initiatives have met with resounding success, both in terms of program quality and audience response. CBC broadcasts of special events such as the Pope's visit, international summits, Federal/Provincial conferences, the Olympic Games and other major international athletic competitions, and federal and provincial elections bring Canadians closer together on matters affecting us collectively.
The Commission commends the CBC for these achievements and encourages the Corporation to continue to build on its justly-deserved reputation for excellence in these program categories. The Commission notes that the Corporation indicated at the hearing that the English television network may reduce slightly the quantity of its public affairs and sports programming during the next licence term in order to diversify further its television schedule.
In its applications the Corporation has stated that, in terms of Canadianizing its schedule, it would like to become "almost totally Canadian in prime time." To do this, the Corporation intends to replace its foreign, mostly American, programs with quality Canadian productions. The emphasis will be on Canadian drama and children's programs. Half of this replacement programming will come from the independent production sector. In setting this goal, the Corporation was cognizant of its mandate to provide a service which is not only predominantly Canadian in "content" but also in "character". As the Vice President of the English Television Network explained:
The desperate need is for Canadians to see more Canadian stories, so we are unapologetic when we say that at present we do not have the luxury of doing stories that are wonderful but are not Canadian.
We have told the independent production sector: do not come to us with stories that are not Canadian or about Canadians. And they have welcomed that challenge.
In the past the National Film Board has also been a valuable source of programming for the Corporation. During the current licence term, CBC/NFB collaboration brought to viewers of the English television network such programs as the award-winning Final Offer and Canada's Sweetheart: The Saga of Hal Banks. In 1985/86, CBC's French television network broadcast more than 65 feature and short films from the NFB, including La Politique au Féminin and La Grande Allure. In its applications, however, the Corporation stated that "the full potential for co-operation between the CBC and the National Film Board has not been realized." The Commission notes the CBC's statement at the hearing that it will use "as many NFB films as they can produce that fit our needs."
The Commission notes the enthusiastic assessment provided by CBC officials as to the availability of Canadian creative talent:
The talent is there, the projects are there. We literally have 20 to 30 projects now that could go ahead within the next year and could be on the air within two years if the money [is] there.
With this in mind, and given both the Corporation's mandate to be predominantly Canadian in content and character and the fundamental importance of Canadian programming on the national public broadcasting service, the Commission considers that, as long-term objectives, the CBC should:
* Canadianize the full-day broadcast schedules of both the English and French television networks to an annual average of 90%
* attain a level of 25 hours per week of Canadian programming in the 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. time period on both the English and French television networks.
In its written applications, the Corporation stated that a major increase in drama programming is the most important means by which the Corporation intends to develop its television services, both French and English. On numerous occasions throughout the hearing, the Corporation re-emphasized its commitment to meeting this goal. A CBC official explained the reasoning behind the Corporation's commitment:
All the various television formats -- drama, variety, news, current affairs, documentaries, children's, arts, music and science, sports -- all express our sense of place, our landscape, our heroes, our values, our myths, our character, our story. But drama touches more than our minds. It tells our story for our imagination and for our hearts. Drama is our most critical priority. Target number one.
The Commission and many of the written and appearing interventions share the Corporation's belief in the importance of quality Canadian dramatic programming and support the CBC's plans to increase its level of dramatic presentations. The Council of Canadians had this to say about the significance of television drama:
In terms of actual categories of programming ... if you look at the kinds of programs that are most watched, most effective ... [they are] dramas.... In terms of the CBC's essential role, our hope would be that they are able to move much more strongly into that area, because it is the area where you can do so many things for so many different audiences.... You can explore in dramatic terms almost every theme that is of concern ... often more effectively ... [than with] information [programs].
From its inception, the CBC's French television network has created and broadcast most of its own drama programs. It has favoured serial dramas (téléromans) -- there were 12 in its 1985/86 schedule, including Poivre et Sel, La Bonne Aventure and Le Parc des Braves -- and these have consistently achieved large and loyal audiences. Some are so popular that they attract as many as three-quarters of the available audience. The Vice President of the French Television Network put this figure in perspective:
[TRANSLATION] Since 1978, our programs have met with resounding success. Le Temps d'une paix has attracted as many as 2.5 million francophone viewers. In comparison with the American audience, this is the equivalent of more than 90 million viewers. Bill Cosby, the number one American program, has an audience of 57 million.
The French network also has a tradition of adapting literary works and stage plays for television. These elaborate productions (téléthéatres) are usually broadcast on Sunday evenings in a special programming block titled Les Beaux Dimanches. These dramatic productions include presentations by Quebec theatre companies and three presentations each year of well-known texts from the international repertoire such as Lorenzaccio, Cyrano de Bergerac or La Mouette. The French television network has also broadcast a number of very popular mini-series, including Duplessis, Maria Chapdelaine, Le Crime d'Ovide Plouffe, and Lance et Compte.
Over the current licence term, dramatic programming on the English network has increased from 75 hours in the 6 p.m. to midnight time period in 1979 to 125 hours in 1986. In past seasons, the English network has offered such feature presentations as Gentle Sinners, Chautauqua Girl and Charlie Grant's War, as well as multi-episode specials such as Empire Inc. and I Married the Klondike. Last season, the English network brought Canadians the enormously popular and critically acclaimed Anne of Green Gables, winner of an International Emmy and a number of Canadian Genie awards.
The Corporation's stated long-range goal is to increase Canadian drama programming in the hours between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. to 10 hours per week on both its English and French television networks. (The current levels are 5.5 and 7 hours, respectively.) The Corporation intends that half of its drama and entertainment programming including serial dramas, mini-series, specials and feature films, will be acquired from the independent production sector. To make room for these Canadian dramatic productions, the Corporation plans to reduce the amount of foreign-produced programming that it presently schedules during these hours.
In the future, according to the CBC's President, the French network will concentrate on building on the writing and performance skills it has developed in its téléroman productions, while on the English side the success which CBC has experienced with drama specials and mini-series is to be complemented by greater emphasis on the development of continuing series with the audience appeal of familiar characters. Continuing series are important to the CBC because of their ability to generate audience loyalty. Canadian series will not, however, merely be carbon copies of American ones. Rather, as stated earlier, the CBC's intention is to reflect Canadian society and values.
Accordingly, and in line with the CBC's own goal, the Commission considers it appropriate that the CBC should as a long-term objective:
* attain a level of 10 hours per week of Canadian drama in the 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. time period on both the English and French television networks.
Regional Expression
Parliament has specified a particular role for the national broadcasting service in terms of regional reflection. This topic was the one most frequently addressed in the interventions. Among others, the Council of Canadians, the Canadian Broadcasting League (CBL) and the Atlantic Independent Film and Video Association called for an enhanced commitment to regional expression. The CBL representative referred to broadcasting as the key instrument for linking the various regions of this country together:
To forego the bond [of broadcasting] in a country which is deeply steeped in its own regionalism, its own heritage, its own mythology, its own heroes ... is to be careless of our roots and of our existence.
As important as it is for the national broadcasting service to reflect the regions to themselves and to the rest of Canada, the task is by no means a simple one. The Commission's 1974 renewal decision expressed its concern that Canadian accomplishments were not finding their rightful place on Canadian airwaves. It stated that there were "serious shortcomings" in this aspect of the CBC's mandate.
These concerns were repeated three years later in the report of the 1977 Committee of Inquiry into the National Broadcasting Service in response to a number of complaints about the manner in which the CBC was fulfilling its mandate. The Committee found no evidence to substantiate the doubts that had been expressed concerning the Corporation's performance in matters of journalism or that the CBC had in any way infringed upon the public's right to be informed. The Committee did suggest, however, that the CBC's organizational structure prevented it from adequately meeting the needs of the various geographic regions of Canada, to the detriment of a true expression of Canadian identity.
At the Corporation's last licence renewal hearing in 1978, the CBC acknowledged that it was still not adequately reflecting "the regional character and the cultural diversity of the country." Since that time the Corporation has made some progress in terms of strengthening its regional programming and improving the quality of regional productions contributed for network airing. These efforts have been directly linked to its goal of increased Canadianization. As noted in the present applications:
When the broadcast schedule is authentically Canadian, it will naturally draw on the creative resources that exist in all parts of Canadian society. When all parts of Canadian society are reflected in our broadcast schedules, the national broadcasting service does indeed contribute to Canadian unity and to the expression of our national identity.
In its submission to the Task Force on Broadcasting Policy, the Corporation opened its chapter on regional programming by stating that the regions of Canada "are as critical to the success of the CBC as they are to the success of the nation itself". These same words were repeated at the licence renewal hearing. The Commission shares these sentiments, and is committed to seeing more regional input made available to Canadian viewers on both of the CBC's television networks.
Regional expression on the CBC's English and French television networks is now accomplished in various ways: through productions originating with and produced by regional stations and contributed to the networks; through network productions about the regions; and through the production in the regions of network programs. Regional expression is also accomplished through the airing in network news and public affairs programs of certain segments or items produced in the regions, as is the practice, for example, on Midday and Reflets d'un pays.
The Commission is of the view that the role of regional production within the network television services must be augmented further and the funds allocated for this purpose must be increased. Given that, for more than a decade, the Commission has repeatedly stated its misgivings about the manner in which the Corporation has been fulfilling this essential aspect of its mandate, the Commission urges the CBC to undertake over the long term, to:
* attain a fair and equitable balance between regional and network production, distribution and scheduling on both its English and French television networks.
Network Exchange
The Commission considers that one means by which the Corporation can actively contribute to the flow and exchange of cultural and regional information and entertainment and provide for a continuing expression of Canadian identity is through the exchange of programs between the English and French television networks. Unfortunately, however, while the two networks have existed alongside each other since the introduction of television to Canada in 1952, the Corporation has not made full use of the possibilities inherent in this unique television partnership.
In the Corporation's licence renewal decision of 31 March 1974, the Commission noted with concern that, at that time, there were no regular series produced on the French television network that were seen on the English network, nor were there any regular series produced on the English network that were seen on the French side. However, despite the Commission's call in that decision for a more specific commitment from the CBC to programming which bridges the differences between English-speaking and Frenchspeaking Canada, few improvements had taken place by the time of the Corporation's last renewal hearing in 1978. At that hearing, the CBC president admitted that "Canadian television had not adequately reflected English-speaking Canada to French-speaking Canada and vice versa ...." Once again, the Commission suggested that more co-operation and joint activity between the two networks would contribute to a better understanding by Canadians of their country, and would benefit the Corporation both in terms of meeting its mandate and in reducing programming costs.
In its 1986 renewal applications and at the hearing, the CBC outlined its efforts since 1979 and some of its proposals with respect to network co-operation and exchange. Over the current licence term, the English and French television networks have co-operated on a number of productions. They have shared financial, technical and human resources to create major mini-series and specials for telecast on both networks, as was the case with Lance et Compte and La Divine Sarah, and funded independent productions, also for telecast on both, as with Maria Chapdelaine, Joshua: Then and Now, and Le Crime d'Ovide Plouffe. Techniques to overcome language differences in the exchange of programs have included subtitling, dubbing and double shooting. Double shooting is an effective if expensive process where scenes are shot separately in each language. It has been employed for example in Bonheur d'occassion/The Tin Flute and in the mini-series Empire Inc.
In addition to describing the exchange of drama productions between the networks, the Corporation also noted that there is ongoing co-operation in terms of the exchange of news items and documentary segments for The Journal and Le Point. The Corporation also pointed out that a number of its foreign correspondents are bilingual and offer reports on the same topic for both networks.
The Commission acknowledges that there has been some improvement in co-operation between the English and French television networks in recent years. In particular, there has been close collaboration on the coverage of major events of national interest, including the Pope's visit to Canada, Canada Day celebrations, and broadcasts of gala entertainments in honour of visiting dignitaries. Sports programming is another field in which both networks contribute resources, particularly for major international events such as the Olympic, Commonwealth and Canada Games as well as regular or occasional coverage of hockey, baseball, Grand Prix racing, and skiing and skating championships. Arts, music and science programs also merit mention. Each network has acquired from the other opera and concert productions and both have collaborated on special projects such as A Day in the Life of Canada, Picasso, and A Planet for the Taking. In addition, Second Regard and Man Alive have exchanged 30-minute documentaries.
The Commission is of the opinion that such co-operation and exchange is one of the best ways of promoting Canadians' understanding and appreciation of the two principal cultures that make up this country. It is also a fundamental aspect of the Corporation's mandate. Accordingly, the CRTC calls upon the Corporation to continue to provide programming which bridges the differences between English-speaking and French-speaking Canadians. To this end, it urges the CBC, as a long-term objective, to:
* attain a reasonable level of program exchange between the English and French television networks.
CBC Northern Service
As noted above, the Commission considers that in terms of regional expression the Corporation should do more to fulfill its stated purpose of being "the cultural mirror of the nation." Of all the regions, the one that is least well-served, by the CBC's own admission, is the North. One Commissioner spoke at the hearing on behalf of the needs of this "extremely remote and vastly underserved population":
The Northern Service is integral to Canadian coverage and ... it is the one service that can incorporate programming for our native people [who] ... are struggling to maintain languages and cultures that have no other base. They did not come from somewhere else where their language and their culture is perpetuated ... their languages and cultures belong here and can only survive here.
The Northern Service's coverage encompasses a vast geographic area including the Yukon and Northwest Territories and Northern Quebec where nearly 60% of the inhabitants are native Canadians.
The CBC Northern Service was created in 1958 with special funding from Parliament. Its initial purpose was to introduce CBC radio programming to northern administrative centres and resource communities. As a result of the CBC's Accelerated Coverage Plan (ACP) and a program by the two territorial governments which provided northern communities with receiving and transmitting equipment, the Northern Service now provides both radio and television programming to 97% of the 87,000 residents of the Yukon and Northwest Territories and Northern Quebec.
In the Corporation's 1974 licence renewal decision, the Commission characterized the Northern Service's regional television programming as "inadequate" and noted that additional funding would be required to meet the particular programming needs of the region. Additional government funding, however, was not forthcoming and in the Corporation's 1979 licence renewal decision, the Commission repeated its call for "the necessary government commitment to this enterprise." The Commission feels compelled again in 1987 to reiterate these statements.
In 1979 the Corporation redirected internal funds in order to bolster its efforts in northern television production. It established a production centre in Yellowknife which currently produces a small but important part of the Northern Service schedule. Regular programs such as Focus North, Dene Series, Northland and Tarqravut are broadcast in English- and native-language versions (through repeats) and are well-received by both native and nonnative audiences. The Commission welcomes these initiatives, but considers them insufficient to meet the information and entertainment needs of northern viewers. As a region, the Northern Service produces less than 10% of what is produced in other regional centres such as Halifax, Quebec City, Ottawa or Calgary: only 64 hours of original production in 1985/86. In addition, programs produced in the North must be shipped south for satellite uplinking. At the hearing the Corporation stated that the installation of an uplink in Yellowknife was "a very high priority" but would have to wait until more funds are available.
One of the major constraints imposed on the Northern Television Service is the lack of a fully-dedicated satellite transponder. At present, CBC transmitters in northern communities receive the same satellite feed used to deliver network programming to provincial centres, such as Winnipeg and Vancouver. The Eastern and Central Arctic receive their feed from Toronto but broadcast in Atlantic time, while the Western Arctic receives network and regional programs out of Vancouver in the Pacific time zone. Northern Quebec receives the French-language national television service out of Montreal.
In the fall of 1985 in response to a call for comments on northern native broadcasting, the Commission held a series of public hearings to obtain an appreciation of the problems associated with the production and distribution of indigenous programming in the North. At those hearings, and again at the October 1986 renewal hearing, there was considerable discussion about the merits of a "dedicated" northern satellite transponder. Most parties concur that such a facility would contribute to the provision of a programming service of greater relevance to the North and ensure more flexibility for native programming. The Corporation has suggested that public funds be made available for this purpose and, to this end, it is currently engaged in discussions with native broadcasting societies, the territorial governments and officials in federal government departments and agencies. The Commission welcomes this initiative, and is hopeful that a solution will be found.
Of the seven appearing interveners who addressed northern programming issues, many voiced concerns about the relevance of the service currently provided by the CBC. The Inuit Broadcasting Corporation is a strong proponent of a shared dedicated northern transponder, and rejects any notion of ghettoization for native programming:
We see ourselves as responsible broadcasters in partnership with the CBC in providing one relevant public broadcasting service to our Inuit communities. We do not want to be considered a third level of service [after national and regional]. We want to be considered as a legitimate component of the public broadcasting system in the North.
Mikisew Broadcasting Incorporated and nine native Saskatchewan communities requested that the CBC rationalize its provincial program feeds to ensure that programming of interest to native communities reaches the appropriate targeted communities. It was pointed out that, ideally, the CBC should fully integrate independent native programming in its regional schedules. In response to the interventions, the CBC stated that it would be unable to improve or extend its distribution facilities in the immediate future, due to the high capital costs.
The Government of the Yukon stated that the CBC's Northern Television Service does not meet the needs of its citizens nor does it make adequate use of the resources that exist in the community. An independent production group, Northern Native Broadcasting, Yukon, argued for a separate mandate for the Northern Service. It stated its willingness to provide content (it currently produces thirty minutes per week which is distributed by the CBC), and suggested the Corporation must do much more to meet the distribution demands of aboriginal broadcasters.
The CBC's Director of the Northern Service, maintained that improving the Northern Service is a high priority:
Our mandate should, as public funds become available ... be more fully applied in the North. We agree that we should be providing a regional television service to the North more comparable to that in other regions and areas of Canada ... And we concur that the CBC should ensure the North is shared with and reflected to all Canadians ...
If the CBC had the means to provide a more equitable level of regional television service to the North, many of the expectations we have heard from the interveners this week ... would be met. In developing such a service, we would be anxious to co-operate with independent production agencies as well as the native broadcasting organizations so that they could help provide some of the increased regional production which would be required in developing an adequate northern regional service.
The Commission particularly regrets that over the past decade, while satellite technology has enabled an increasing abundance of southern programming, both Canadian and American, to be delivered to this part of Canada, the North has had minimal opportunity to speak to itself or to reflect its unique character to the rest of Canada. The Commission is firmly convinced the CBC must endeavour to provide the North with culturally-appropriate programming that meets its particular demographic constituency; it has a special obligation to foster and protect the unique lifestyles, cultures and sense of community that exist in northern Canada.
Accordingly, as a long-term objective, the CBC should:
* establish a specific and identifiable service for the northern region on a basis comparable in status to its other regional services.
Programming for Children and Youth
Part of the Corporation's mandate is to provide programming "for people of different ages". In the Corporation's 1979 licence renewal decision, the Commission noted with approval that preschool children could find a clear, non-commercial alternative in the programming offered by both the English and French television networks.
The Corporation is to be commended for continuing and expanding its efforts over the current licence term to bring entertaining programming of a high quality to Canadian children.
The CBC believes that the importance of quality Canadian children's programming cannot be overestimated. As a CBC official stated at the hearing:
... our children's minds are crucial for our future as a nation. Who shapes their minds, their perceptions, their images of the world? By age 12 our children will have watched 12,000 hours of television and 10,000 of those 12,000 hours will have been American television.
For its part, the CBC currently broadcasts an average of 22.5 hours of children's programming per week on its English network and 20 hours per week on its French network. These programs are predominently Canadian. The Canadian segments of Sesame Street teach children to count and say the alphabet in French, and include segments on metric measurement and other aspects of Canadian life. There are even three Canadian Muppet characters.
The quantity of children's and youth programming on the CBC now represents more than double the number of hours in that category broadcast weekly by the Corporation prior to 1982. Programs on the English network range from Mr. Dressup, which is in its 20th year, and Fred Penner's Place, for pre-schoolers; to the news and current affairs program What's New?; the internationally acclaimed drama Kids of Degrassi Street; the music of Video Hits; and science shows such as Owl-TV. Examples of children's and youth programming on the French network include Felix et Ciboulette, Génies en Herbe, and an amateur sports show, Les Héros du Samedi.
The French network dedicates approximately 16% of its schedule to children and youth, has after-school productions such as Minibus, Au Jeu and Traboulidon, and has been involved in co-productions such as La Baie des Esprits and Les Légendes Indiennes which were also seen on the English network. The French network also presents young viewers with dubbed versions of English-Canadian children's productions -- Le Vagabond (Littlest Hobo) and Le Clan Campbell. In recent years, it has also made a special effort to schedule Canadian feature films of particular interest to children: La Guerre des tuques (The Dog who Stopped the War) and Opération beurre de pinottes (The Peanut Butter Solution).
Much of the impetus for this significant increase in the amount of children's programming on the CBC came from the Broadcast Program Development Fund. The Corporation relies heavily on the independent production sector for its daytime children's shows as well as for such early evening programs as The Beachcombers, Danger Bay, The Raccoons, Fraggle Rock, Zigzag and Paul, Marie et les Enfants which the Corporation terms "family entertainment". These latter programs, it should be noted, constitute additions to, rather than part of, the 22.5/20 hours of children's programming on the English and French television networks, respectively. Two other children's programs, A Plein Temps and Passe-Partout, are produced in collaboration with the educational broadcaster, Radio Québec, and the Québec Department of Education.
The one area in which the Corporation could improve its performance on the English network is the after-school time period. The Vice President of the English Television Network commented in this regard:
We feel very proud of the early morning programming, and I think we have made some real strides in what we call family programming. I admit to a lack of satisfaction so far with a middle ground, essentially for school-age children ... we have had plans now for at least the last three or four years for an afternoon magazine, which we think would do the job splendidly. We have the formats and everything well developed. Each year we approach our budget with this in hand and we never do it, because it requires fresh funds.
The Commission agrees with the CBC that the afternoon period for school-age children is an area which needs attention. At present, the English network schedules a different program at 4:30 each weekday afternoon. The Commission notes with interest the Corporation's proposal for a magazine-style show and encourages the CBC to pursue this project. Such a program could develop audience loyalty by providing school-age children with a regularly scheduled afternoon show they could call their own.
Another area where the English television network noted that it could improve its children's schedule is the weekend morning period. The Corporation hopes to build on the success it has experienced with the Sunday morning program, Switchback, which is produced in and shown on a regional basis. However, as it is the local stations that are responsible for weekend morning programming, the Commission intends to address children's programming plans in this time period when it considers the licence renewals of the individual licensees.
The Commission commends the Corporation for its initiative in devoting an equitable portion of its television schedules to programming for children and young adults. The following chart demonstrates the extent of this achievement. In comparison with other Canadian and American television networks, the average weekly hours of children's programming presented on the CBC's English and French television networks are exceeded only by those of the American educational television network and TVOntario, both public broadcasting services with particular mandates to serve young audiences.
Accordingly, as a long-term objective, the CBC should:
* maintain a fair and balanced proportion of the programming schedule of its English and French television networks for children and youth.
Performing Arts
Just as television drama can provide Canadians with a vision of themselves through story, so too can the performing arts provide a continuing expression of Canadian identity through the forms of theatre, opera, dance and music.
In the 1979 renewal decision, the Commission congratulated the CBC for bringing Canadians such significant television moments as live opera telecasts from the stage of the National Arts Centre and National Ballet of Canada performances. Over the last licence term, the Corporation has continued this tradition of presenting productions by various Canadian performing arts groups. On the French network, the Sunday evening program Les Beaux Dimanches has long been recognized as a showcase for Canadian and international artistic talent. The French television network has also replaced Sunday afternoon broadcasts of NFL football with a series entitled "Les Matinées du Dimanche", featuring programs from the classical music repertoire including performances by the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and by the Opéra de Montréal. Sunday evenings have also recently been set aside by the English network to broadcast Canadian feature films and performances from stages and concert halls across the country. Theatrical presentations originating from the Stratford and Shaw Festivals, Place des Arts in Montreal, the Neptune and Citadel Theatres and the National Arts Centre, have been granted a national showcase through CBC presentations.
As part of the CBC's licence renewal process, the Commission received numerous interventions from a wide range of performing arts organizations and institutions, from the Royal Winnipeg Ballet to regional theatres, from symphony orchestras to small dance companies. In general, these interventions were very supportive of the Corporation's relationship with the arts community and of its cultivation and promotion of Canadian artistic expression at both the local and national level.
A Canadian Conference of the Arts representative explained:
[TRANSLATION] ... television plays a very important role in the diffusion of Canadian cultural products ... We believe that it is the most important means of disseminating Canadian cultural products. And the role that the CBC plays ... is crucial.
At the same time, however, many interveners expressed concern that the CBC's budgetary constraints pose a threat to a continuation of these efforts.
The CBC stated in its applications that financial considerations had forced it to reduce its presentations of live theatre, but expressed the hope that this was only a temporary setback. At the hearing, CBC officials described recent reductions in the broadcasting of arts and variety programming, and reiterated the CBC's belief that, as a public broadcaster, it should be doing more presentations of opera, ballet, and symphony concerts. The Corporation informed the Commission of a plan to broadcast more presentations from Canada's performing arts organizations "to capitalize on their creative resources." The Corporation outlined as a goal of both networks the monthly presentation of productions by performing arts groups from various locations.
The Commission considers that one means by which the CBC can provide programming distinguished by the degree to which it reflects Canadian creativity is to give greater exposure to the productions of Canada's performing arts groups. To quote the submission by the Writers' Union of Canada, "It is vital that Canadians see a reflection of ourselves, our own culture, on our own broadcasting system." In becoming "Canada's national electronic stage" for Canada's cultural community, the CBC has proven that it can gather together significant audiences: the number of viewers to a single performance broadcast nationally can be greater than the attendance at a single major theatre over an entire year.
Accordingly, as a long-term objective, the CBC should:
* schedule a representative number of broadcasts of performances from various Canadian performing arts companies and groups on both the English and French television networks.
Independent Production
The Commission has noted earlier that a large part of the CBC's improved Canadian content performance, particularly in the areas of drama and children's programming, is attributable to the Corporation's active co-operation with the independent production sector. Telefilm Canada's Broadcast Program Development Fund has, to date, stimulated $487 million of new Canadian production. As of 31 March 1986, the CBC's contribution of some $50 million has generated nearly 200 projects (with a production value of close to $300 million), and a further 100 projects are still in development.
It is the Commission's opinion that Canada's growing and dynamic independent production sector constitutes an under-utilized pool of creativity capable of offering television audiences a diverse range of original, high quality, attractive Canadian programming. It is for this reason that the Commission raised with the Corporation the issue of the CBC's scheduling of independently-produced programs.
In the 1979 licence renewal decision the Commission recommended that the Corporation make greater use of programs produced by the independent production sector. This was not the first time the Commission had called on the Corporation to look outside its own studios for alternative sources of programming: in the 31 March 1974 licence renewal decision, the Commission had urged the CBC to play a strong role in the development of the Canadian film industry both by participating in the financing of films and by their regular scheduling on the French and English television networks.
In 1980, the Corporation created the Office of Independent Production in order, in the words of the Vice President of the English Television Network, "to produce a focal point for a growing partnership with Canadian independent producers." Over the current licence term, the Corporation has increased its use of independent productions from what was a negligible amount prior to 1983 to an annual average of 31% of its programming other than news, public affairs and sports on the English network and 36% on the French network.
The CBC's target is to acquire 50% of all "entertainment" network programming from the Canadian independent production sector. This target is premised on two major assumptions: first, that there will be an increase in the CBC budget for each of the next five years, beginning in 1987/88; and, second, that the Canadian independent sector can fully access the Broadcast Fund.
The Canadian Independent Film Caucus spoke in its intervention of the importance of the CBC as a "window", "an opportunity for the Canadian viewer to gain access to culturally diverse programming." It went on to say that, in terms of English-language television production, Toronto has become a North American production centre "surpassed only by New York and Los Angeles in terms of facilities and crews":
It seems clear to us that if the CBC is going to survive in the future broadcasting environment, it must respond to the growth of the private sector. With the development of new technology and new avenues of film financing, our sector of the industry has increased production capacity and increased demands for air time. Independent documentary producers are a valuable part of Canada's cultural voice. It is imperative that these producers have an opportunity to show their work on Canada's public network[s].
At the hearing, The President of the CBC stated that one of the CBC's program goals was to revive "the great documentary tradition of the past." Since 1 April 1985, Canadian independently-produced documentaries have also been eligible for Telefilm funding. With this in mind, the independent production sector is in a good position to help the Corporation attain this goal.
It is the Commission's view, therefore, that the CBC should include some Canadian independently-produced documentaries in its program schedule. In response to a supplementary question filed with the Corporation following the hearing, the CBC provided information on its use, to date, of such Canadian material. In particular, the English television network has acquired two major documentary series, Democracy and The American Century, as well as occasional individual segments for The Nature of Things, Man Alive and The Journal, while the French network referred to La Justice Blanche (a program about natives in the Canadian justice system) and a list of documentaries from the cultural domain, most of which have been aired on Les Beaux Dimanches, including O Picasso, Pellan, La Ville de Québec, and Il était une fois un peuple (on the sculptor Alfred Laliberté). The French television network also mentioned a number of titles on social topics, among them Mémoire d'une guerre oubliée (on conscription), five sixty-minute episodes of Les Enfants du Monde, Territoires Interdits (female criminality) and "Caffè Italia" (on Montreal's Italian Community).
The Commission considers that the CBC should continue to make room in the network television schedules to accommodate the increased programming output of the private sector. Such productions, whether single or episodic dramas, feature films, variety series or specials, and children's programming, as well as documentary material to supplement CBC-produced programming, can assist the Corporation in its goal of providing Canadian audiences with a distinctive, quality Canadian service.
The Commission fully endorses the government's encouragement of the independent production sector and the establishment of a strong independent Canadian television and film industry. Such production activity has already proven to be of real and significant benefit to the Canadian broadcasting system. It also has growing importance in terms of the export of Canadian cultural products in international markets. Accordingly, the Commission endorses the Corporation's stated goal that, as a long-term objective, the CBC should:
* acquire 50% of its programming on both the English and French television networks, in all categories of programming other than news, public affairs and sports, from the Canadian independent production sector.
Portrayal of Women
On 22 December 1986 the Commission released its Policy Statement on Sex-Role Stereotyping in the Broadcast Media (Public Notice CRTC 1986-351), the purpose of which is to ensure that the portrayal of women on Canadian airwaves reflects more closely the reality of Canadian society. The policy was developed following hearings last spring to consider the success of a two-year self-regulatory period. The Commission released the policy after concluding that the self-regulation initiatives of broadcasters and advertisers had been only partly successful in improving the portrayal of women by the broadcast media.
Although the CBC hearing was held prior to the release of the Policy Statement, the Corporation did address the matter of its portrayal of women both in its written applications and at the hearing in response to questions from the panel and to interventions from the Member of Parliament for Broadview-Greenwood, REALwomen of Canada, Mediawatch and the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA).
The Commission considers that, as the national public broadcasting service, the CBC has a responsibility to show leadership in providing an equal reflection and better portrayal of women in the media to reflect Canadian society as it evolves. To this effect, the Commission specifically recognizes the efforts of the head of the Corporation's Office for the Portrayal of Women, who described at the hearing the function and role of the Office:
.... my office surveys [the] portrayal of women, sees that the portrayal of women is adequate, plus I have a new tool ... The Board of Directors last May voted that portrayal of women is an objective of the CBC, that the number of persons on air should be adequate, should reflect the Canadian population, and that the content should also be adequate. This policy is implemented by every area head in conjunction with me. ... I have met with every area head and we set out targets, people targets and content targets. I have met with utmost co-operation, imagination, intelligence and it has been ... - - it is very demanding work but so far it has been -- very, very good.
The mandate of the Office of the Portrayal of Women covers the networks, the regions, the Northern Service and Radio Canada International. The Corporation stated at the hearing that the Office will not be affected by budget constraints.
A number of interveners also addressed the issue of employment equity. In this regard, the Commission notes the Corporation's comments at the hearing that it is very aware of these concerns as well as the CBC's description of its progress to date and of its future intentions. Inasmuch as the federal government has recently passed legislation dealing with this matter, the Commission considers that there is no need for futher comment.
In its written supplementary responses to the interventions, the Corporation submitted the following statement:
It is the Corporation's belief that women in CBC programs, be these in-house productions, commissioned programs or foreign acquisitions, should reflect the diverse nature of the roles undertaken by women in today's society ranging from homemakers to working women, and through all age groups from youth to senior citizen. The Corporation will continue to consider the representation and portrayal of women as important factors when it determines the make-up of its broadcast schedules.
The Commission takes note of the statement at the hearing that the Office intends to conduct "a full content analysis" in 1987/88 "to see if these objectives we set in place are working ...." The Commission also notes the CBC's intention to circulate language guidelines to all CBC personnel.
Given the size, importance and special role of the national broadcasting service within the Canadian broadcasting system, the Commission expects the CBC to show leadership in providing an accurate reflection of Canadian women which respects and corresponds to their diversified roles in contemporary society. To this end, as a long-term objective, the CBC should:
* balance the representation and portrayal of women in the programming of both the English and French television networks in a manner that reflects the rightful place of women in Canadian society, and so as to eliminate negative stereotypes.
Francophones Outside Quebec
Of the CBC French television network's 18 owned-and-operated or affiliated television stations, over half are located within the province of Quebec. These Quebec stations supply the French network programming service to 80% of its francophone audience. Given these figures, it is not surprising that the French network tends to focus its attention on serving the viewing needs of its Quebec-based audience, even if, in so doing, it may fail to reflect adequately the equally important, but possibly quite different, needs of its viewers living in various francophone communities throughout the rest of the country. As the Frenchlanguage arm of the national broadcasting service, however, the network has a particular responsibility, to the extent that it is both reasonable and practical, to recognize in its programming the interests and concerns of its entire national audience.
In the 1979 licence renewal decision, the Commission recommended that the CBC seriously consider establishing an advisory committee on broadcasting and official language minorities. The suggestion for the committee had been forwarded at the hearing by La Fédération des Francophones Hors Québec as a means of permitting a better understanding of the requirements of such groups and providing opportunities to plan priorities that would satisfy all the parties concerned.
In its recent applications, the Corporation argued that such a committee on general programming, unlike the CBC's specialized committees for agricultural, religious and science programs, would be too large and unmanageable. The Corporation suggested that groups such as La Fédération des Francophones Hors Québec meet with senior and regional management to express their views and concerns.
At the 1986 hearing, La Fédération des Francophones Hors Québec again submitted comments. Other groups representing similar interests also appeared at the hearing: La Fédération des FrancoColumbiens, l'Association Culturelle Franco-Canadienne de la Saskatchewan, l'Association Canadienne-française de l'Ontario, and La table de concertation Radio-Canada des Territoires du NordOuest. The last group, representing Francophones living in the Northwest Territories, called for the French television network to extend its services to Yellowknife. The other groups complained that, while they could receive the French service, it was not relevant to their needs and interests. These groups called for a service that was less oriented to Quebec and again suggested that a consultative committee be created to address their concerns.
In all, the Commission received a total of 49 representations from francophone individuals, groups and organizations expressing discontent with the present allocation by the French television network of resources outside of the province of Quebec and requesting higher production budgets and better production facilities. Most suggested that the Corporation has an obligation to ensure that the programming service of the French television network reflects the broader reality of the overall francophone community.
The Commission recognizes that the CBC's French television network, in general, provides an excellent service for Francophones living within the province of Quebec. However, the Commission firmly believes that Francophones living outside Quebec deserve to receive programming from the national broadcasting service with which they can identify, whether it be through the inclusion of news items about their communities, editorial content, storylines, or all three. Regardless of where they reside, Francophones living outside Quebec must be able to identify with the national service. For this reason, the Corporation should, as a long-term objective:
* adjust its French-language television programming service to meet the needs of Francophones living outside Quebec.
Portrayal of Native Canadians
Elsewhere in the decision, the Commission addresses the Corporation's role in the distribution of independently-produced native programming. For the most part, such programming is available only to viewers who can receive the Northern Service. This means that, for the majority of Canadian television viewers who do not receive the Northern Service, their only exposure to native Canadians and to native Canadian lifestyles and cultures is through the mainstream programming broadcast on the regular service of the CBC and Canada's private broadcasters.
As the national broadcasting service, the Corporation has a leadership role to play in portraying Canada's native peoples with realism and dignity. The Commission commends the CBC for its efforts to portray native Canadians in such programs as The Beachcombers and the independently-produced Spirit Bay/La Baie des Esprits and Isaac Littlefeathers. The Commission encourages the Corporation to continue these efforts on both networks and, in line with its leadership role as the national broadcasting service, to increase its efforts in the future.
Accordingly, as a long-term objective, the CBC should:
* balance the representation of native peoples in the mainstream programming of the English and French television networks in a manner that reflects their just place in Canadian society, and so as to eliminate negative stereotypes.
Multicultural Representation
Canadians represent a diversity of peoples of different cultures, races and ethnic origins. At present, it is estimated that one-third of Canadians are of origins other than English, French or native Canadian. However, interveners representing a broad spectrum of ethnocultural communities submitted that the reality of Canada's cultural diversity is not being reflected in the Corporation's programming.
In 1984 the Corporation introduced a written program policy on Multicultural Broadcasting, a copy of which was added to the public file at the hearing. This policy recognizes that the Corporation has a role to play in reflecting the multicultural characteristics of Canadian society. In its applications and at the hearing, the Corporation offered examples of how the multicultural dimensions of the country are portrayed in CBC programming: on the English network, for example, The Beachcombers and Seeing Things "feature leading characters whose multicultural backgrounds are an integral part of character development"; on the French network, the Corporation noted that a Greek woman heads up a housing co-operative in La Sapinière, while a Haitian doctor was a major character in Lance et Compte.
Despite these efforts, however, it became apparent at the hearing, both from the concerns expressed by the interveners and the CBC's own responses, that neither the Corporation's existing multicultural policy nor its level of sensitivity to the subject addresses the legitimate wishes of Canada's ethnocultural groups to see themselves portrayed in mainstream television programming in a way that is representative of their place in and contribution to Canadian society. The Canadian Ethnocultural Council had this to say:
... my forefathers came about a hundred and ten years ago to Canada. But quite often when I see Asians shown in the media, we are seen as immigrants. And that is not true ... CBC must recognize that Canadians come in all shapes, sizes and colours, and their programming must reflect this.
It was submitted that the Corporation should provide the same mix of characters in its programming, particularly in drama, that one could meet in any Canadian supermarket or on any public transit system. Interveners asked that all individuals and groups, irrespective of their ethnic background, be portrayed fairly and as equal members of Canadian society.
The Canadian Multicultural Council praised the CBC for its progress in this area but explained that the public hearing was also the appropriate occasion to "nudge them along, so as to reflect a full range of Canadian content and experiences." It stated that it did not believe that this would involve "a tremendous amount of cost", and that the Corporation as a public broadcaster should take "an advocacy role on behalf of all Canadians."
A number of interveners, among them the Regroupement des Organismes de la communauté noire from Montreal and the National Capital Alliance on Race Relations, raised the issue of the portrayal of visible minorities, stating that it is important to see a true cultural mosaic through the participation of all ethnocultural groups in mainstream television programming. A representative of the latter group, suggested that there is still much room for improvement:
I have a strong suspicion that their concept of ethnic programming is showing some of the exotic aspects of the country that the people originated from and how they maintain [that] here, as opposed to their existence in mainstream society ...
I still do not see things that reflect the ethnic communities in a very positive light in most cases .... The only time non-mainstream communities [are considered newsworthy] is [in] stories that contain conflict and confrontation.
In its response to interventions, the CBC acknowledged the merit of the ethnocultural groups' presentations and reacted positively to the concerns raised. The CBC's Executive Vice-President stated:
We were very impressed. I think the first thing to realize is that that series of discussions was important to us; and I have discussed this with my other colleagues. We would say, at the moment, that the "nudge" somebody referred to has been well-felt. I think it was a positive thing that happened here.
He also proposed to enter into a more meaningful dialogue with ethnocultural groups "with a view to more widely disseminating within the organization the concerns of those groups." The Commission notes that, in response to the related interventions, the Corporation committed itself to a review of its program policy on Multicultural Broadcasting, and that in its written supplementary responses to interventions, the Corporation stated that it is aware of the need to improve and enlarge its programming "to keep pace with the cultural and socio-economic changes rapidly taking place in Canada", and that it intends "to work with the many multicultural organizations to ensure service of a high quality."
Some of the interventions also commented on the Corporation's policies with respect to the employment and training of ethnic minorities. Recent federal legislation concerning employment equity obviates further comment on this subject.
The Commission shares the view expressed in many of the interventions that the Corporation has not always been particularly responsive to the demands of Canada's ethnic minorities for a more representative portrayal. Further, the Commission's broadcasting regulations now specifically define a Type E program as a program in French or English directed toward ethnic groups or toward the general public that depicts Canada's cultural diversity.
Accordingly, as a long-term objective, the CBC should:
* balance the representation of multicultural minorities in the mainstream programming of both the English and French television networks, in a manner that reflects realistically their participation in Canadian society, and so as to eliminate negative stereotypes.
Serving the Hearing-Impaired
In the 1979 renewal decision, following interventions from representatives of the deaf and hard-of-hearing requesting some form of subtitling from the national public broadcasting service, the Commission suggested that the CBC examine the possibility of providing subtitles in order to permit hearing-impaired persons to enjoy more fully the programming to which they are entitled. At the same time the Commission recognized that unless specific monies could be obtained for such a service, the associated costs could prove to be an obstacle to its introduction.
By 1981, the International Year of the Disabled Person, the technology of closed captioning had been developed and in that year the CBC allocated the necessary funding to introduce the service on both its networks. Captioning is a means whereby dialogue is made to appear in print form on the television screen. Open captions are visible on an ordinary television receiver while closed captions only become visible to the viewer with the use of a decoder. At present, the CBC purchases most of its captioning from the nonprofit Canadian Captioning Development Agency (CCDA), which officially commenced operation with government funding in December 1982.
Beginning with a commitment to present five hours per week of closed captioning in each language, the Corporation has increased its output over the current licence term to an average of ten hours per week. At the recent hearing, the Corporation stated that it would distribute an average of fifteen hours per week of closed captioned programming during the 1986/87 fall/winter season. This would be accomplished by reducing the amount of closed captioned programming made available during the summer months: the annual average, however, would remain at about ten hours per week. Nevertheless, including repeats, the Corporation expects to exceed 1,000 hours of closed captioned programming this year.
At the hearing, the CBC stated that the annual amount allocated for closed captioning has remained at $1.7 million for the last two years and that it will probably remain at this level for the next three to five years. Nevertheless, the Corporation was optimistic that improvements in productivity will mean that more hours of captioned programs can be produced for the same amount. The CBC's Vice President of Planning and Corporate Affairs stated:
... We are optimistic. We will continue to improve our performance, even in this time of frozen budgets. This is one of the very few areas in the Corporation where there is an opportunity for improvement, and we are pleased to realize it.
In addition, the Corporation anticipates using some in-house captioning techniques to complement the purchasing of captioning from captioning agencies. The Corporation currently does its own captioning for The National and Le Téléjournal.
According to the intervention of the Canadian Association of the Deaf (CAD), there are over 220,000 deaf persons and over 1.5 million hard-of-hearing persons in Canada. As the population ages, these figures could potentially increase significantly. Interventions from various groups representing the hearing-impaired acknowledged the Corporation's efforts to date in providing closed captioning and encouraged its continued efforts in this regard.
In addition to providing closed captioned programming, the Corporation also provides a teletext channel available to persons with decoders. This teletext channel provides deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers with up-to-date information on available captioned programs and scheduling changes which have occurred subsequent to the publication of television guides. The Commission recognizes the value of the teletext channel and encourages the Corporation to maintain this service.
The Corporation also makes available a Telephone Device for the Deaf (TDD) at its head office in Ottawa in order that the hearing-impaired can communicate with the CBC from anywhere in Canada, at no charge, to register a complaint, pass on a compliment or ask for information. The Commission agrees with the interveners that this service should also be available at the network production centres in Toronto and Montreal. The Commission notes the Corporation's statement at the hearing that it is prepared to install TDD facilities in those centres.
While acknowledging the efforts the CBC has made to date to provide closed captioning for the hearing-impaired, including in-house computer-assisted captioning of The National and Téléjournal, the Commission considers it unacceptable that such viewers are severely deprived because only a very small portion of the television schedules of the national broadcasting service is fully available to them.
The Commission recognizes that if the CBC is to improve its level of service to this particular target audience, the co-operation of the CCDA and a significant infusion of funds will be required.
Nevertheless, given the CBC's obligation to make its services available to all Canadians, over the long term the Corporation should:
* closed caption the complete program schedules of the English and French television networks to ensure full access by the hearing-impaired to the programming offered by the CBC.
Technical Quality
As the major instrument of broadcasting policy in Canada, by right of Parliament's establishment through a Crown Corporation of a national public service, the CBC must ensure that the programming it produces or acquires is "of high standard" and "predominantly Canadian in content and character", and it is required to make use of "predominantly Canadian creative and other resources." The Corporation has interpreted this to mean that it should strive "to serve Canadians with programs of excellence, distinction and relevance" and that it must maintain the technical standards of its terrestrial and satellite distribution system at a high level. The programming aspect of the mandate has been dealt with in earlier sections.
The CBC's current capital appropriation of $68.4 million, which covers expenditures in the areas of extension of service and the construction and maintenance of transmission and production facilities, is divided in a ratio of approximately 80:20 between television and radio. The CBC's applications state that this portion of the budget has been reduced by $23.1 million since 1984/85, resulting in the CBC being unable to repair or replace obsolete equipment. It was suggested by a CBC official at the hearing that the Corporation's equipment has deteriorated in recent years from "state of the art" to "state of the Ark". At current funding levels, the Corporation is convinced that there will not be "sufficient monies to replace obsolete equipment". In its applications, the CBC stated:
Just to preserve the CBC's present position in both transmission and production facilities and to remain competitive with other broadcasters would require a significant increase in capital investment. To harness the new distribution technologies to complete the mandated extension of service, however desirable, is an unrealistic goal...
As part of its Corporate Plan, the Corporation prepared a list of future capital requirements for the years 1987/88 to 1991/92. In the specific case of capital expenditures, the CBC has described its projects on a priority basis. The CBC places primary emphasis on a perceived need for a new broadcast centre in Toronto, which would be the new nerve-centre of all its English-language broadcasting operations. It incorporates the funds required to obtain technical and other equipment for the new Toronto Broadcast Centre, totalling $121 million. The first priority, then, is maintenance of the CBC's distribution network and the second is the replacement of obsolete equipment. Over the next five years, the Corporation anticipates that it can allocate only an average of 11% of its capital budget to maintain its equipment to industry-standards, an amount it terms "unacceptable". Currently, the capital appropriation represents just 7% of the undepreciated book value of the Corporation's capital assets which are valued at $929 million. This includes major expenditures for new switchers and editing suites in some centres, and the conversion, within two years, of all of its film production facilities to ENG (electronic news gathering). The CBC suggested that its capital appropriation has been insufficient over the past six or seven years and it estimates that its obsolescent equipment replacement program has fallen behind to an amount of $100 million. To meet its capital expenditure needs the CBC has forecast that its "reference level" of $70.8 million for the next five years should be increased to $103 million in 1987/88 and be maintained, thereafter, at that level plus inflation.
At the hearing, the CBC also stated that because of budget cutbacks it has suspended all new projects relating to extension of service.
While the Commission considers that, on occasion, CBC technical planners have suggested "ideal" solutions to distribution problems, it also believes that Canadians have a right to expect that the national broadcasting service remain a quality service. To this end, the CRTC is convinced that, as a long-term objective, the CBC should:
* maintain high technical standards of program production and distribution on both the English and French television networks.
Extension of Service
In 1974 the Government announced that the Corporation would be provided with $50 million over five years to extend basic CBC radio and television services in the appropriate official language to unserved communities having a population of 500 or more. In response, the Corporation introduced a plan (the Accelerated Coverage Plan or ACP) to undertake 600 technical projects designed to accomplish the required extension of service.
By the end of 1984, the Corporation had provided over-the-air television service to all but twenty of the designated communities, and completed all but twelve of the ACP technical projects. The remaining unserved communities were identified at the October hearing. The Corporation now states that financial constraints have caused it to suspend any further extension of its services. Its capital funds, as described above, are all allocated for equipment replacement and maintenance to industry standards.
At present, the CBC delivers its television programming through 31 owned-and-operated stations and through arrangements with another 31 privately-owned affiliates. Historically, CBC's arrangements with its affiliates have permitted the Corporation to deliver its programming to outlying audiences that would be very costly to reach through additional publicly-funded CBC owned-and-operated stations. For the affiliates, the arrangements have allowed the network programming and financial resources of the CBC to assist in the provision of local program services.
The Corporation's owned-and-operated stations carry the networks' full program schedule, approximately 81.5 hours for the English television network and 108 hours for the French network. The private affiliates, however, may actually carry only 65 to 70% of the network's schedule. For 21% of the Corporation's English audience and 16% of its French audience, these affiliated stations are the only available source of CBC programming; for the people in those markets, the national broadcasting service is only a partial service.
It is the Commission's opinion that all Canadians should be able to receive as much as possible of the full television schedule of the national broadcasting service. With the existing network/ affiliate arrangements, this is not possible. One solution to the problem would be to encourage disaffiliation and replace the affiliates with owned-and-operated stations. Another solution would be for the Corporation to construct transmitters to rebroadcast the signals of distant CBC owned-and-operated stations. This solution, however, would mean the communities receiving the outof-town signal would be deprived of local CBC service. Both the full service owned-and-operated station and the rebroadcasting transmitter are costly options. In the present financial circumstances, these solutions may be possible only in some cases. At the same time, disaffiliation could seriously threaten the financial viability of some affiliates who would not have the resources to continue to broadcast as independent services.
In the Commission's opinion, one method of resolving this dilemma would be for certain of the private CBC affiliates to become "twin-stick" operators. Twin-sticking is the over-the-air broadcasting of two distinct and competing services by a single licensee. It was originally employed as a means of introducing CTV or TVA network service to communities whose only local Canadian service had been the CBC and whose markets could not support a new, competitive licensee. In those cases, the broadcaster originally licensed to carry the CBC service as an affiliated station was also authorized to construct a new transmitter to broadcast the private network service on another channel. In the present case, those CBC affiliates in a position to do so would construct a second transmitter: one would rebroadcast the full CBC service while the other would carry the newly-independent station's local television service. Since there already exists a CTV or TVA licensee in most affiliate markets, such a process, if approved by the Commission, would introduce a third service to area viewers.
The Broadcasting Act provides for the extension of the national broadcasting service to all parts of Canada, as public funds become available. There are still many small communities in Canada, in addition to the 20 listed by the Corporation at the October 1986 hearing, which do not receive the national television service. In the early stages of the Corporation's Accelerated Coverage Plan, the existing technology (essentially conventional over-the-air broadcasting) did not lend itself to cost-effective extension of services beyond the targeted communities. However, technical advances and refinements in the cable and satellite distribution industries in recent years now make it possible and economically feasible, given certain economies of scale, to extend television services to much smaller communities. With this in mind, the Corporation, as a long-term objective, should:
* extend full service of both the English and French television networks to all communities. In achieving this objective, the Commission encourages the even-tual replacement of all affiliates.
Advertising Revenue
The Commission recognizes that, given the existing financial cir-cumstances, and in face of the Corporation's past and anticipated budget shortfall as described at the hearing, advertising revenue plays a significant and necessary role in the Corporation's ability to meet its various mandated responsibilities. As noted earlier in this decision, the CBC has in recent years become more aggressive in its advertising practices as a means of augmenting this source of "discretionary" revenue.
Prior to 1982/83, the CBC's net advertising revenue as a percentage of its total budget (parliamentary appropriations plus revenue from all other sources) ranged between 16 and 19%. In 1983/84, the percentage increase in net advertising revenue over the previous year was 24.8%, representing an additional $30 million. The bulk of the Corporation's advertising revenue is generated through its national and national selective sales. National commercials are carried by all CBC stations across the country. National selective commercials are sold on an individual market basis. The CBC further distinguishes its "metronet" sales, which are those sold only on the owned-and-operated stations.
In its Corporate Plan, the CBC projects that, over the upcoming licence term, its Parliamentary appropriation will constitute approximately 72.5% of its income, with advertising revenue earning approximately 25.7% and miscellaneous income about 1.8%. In recent years, the CBC has also significantly increased its miscellaneous revenues. These include program sales, interest on Treasury Bills and certain cost recoveries. In 1985/86, the CBC earned $7 million more in miscellaneous income than it did in 1984/85.
According to the Treasury Board's financial guidelines, the CBC may carry a 1.5% deficit or surplus into the next fiscal year. The CBC Vice President of Finance explained the present situation in this way:
... We have an arrangement with the Treasury Board that we are allowed to carry up to 1.5% of our operating appropriation forward. So, with our appropriation approximately $800 million, that means we could have a surplus of up to $12 million that could be carried forward to the following year. If we exceeded that, we would have to return the difference in the following year ... We can also carry forward a deficit into the following year.
With respect to discretionary revenues the CBC may earn in excess of its projections, a similar administrative procedure is in place:
The way it currently works is that we forecast our revenue for any given year. For example, this year we forecasted $244 million on a gross basis. If we are able to overachieve that target, if we achieve $250 million, for example, we would be allowed to spend that money this year ... but [next year] the appropriation would be reduced accordingly.
The CBC President further explained, however, that in order to soften the impact of budget reductions, in 1985/86 the Government permitted the Corporation to retain and spend excess advertising revenue it had earned in the previous year. He also stated that there was "a definite disposition on the part of the Treasury Board" to continue this practice as a means of providing the CBC with an incentive for increasing its advertising revenue. The Commission fully endorses the continuation of this practice as a means of assisting the Corporation to fulfill its legislated objectives, particularly at a time when government appropriations have been reduced.
At the time of writing, the CBC is expecting to hear whether the federal government has approved the Corporation's financial projections for the next five years, as set out in the CBC Corporate Plan, or whether an application for supplementary funding might be considered. At the same time it expects to be informed as to whether the Government will agree to a multi-year budget allocation, rather than continuing the existing practice of annual financial appropriations. The CBC has repeatedly asked for such a financing formula, both as a means of facilitating longerterm planning and of ensuring increased efficiency. In the 1979 renewal decision, the Commission stated that it was in agreement with "a financing formula that gives certainty, assurance and adequacy to CBC funding." The Commission today reiterates this statement. By its very nature, broadcasting requires a long leadtime between acceptance-in-principle of a script and the completion of post-production editing. The continued and increasing emphasis on co-operation with the private production sector also demands a realistic projection of future funds. Similarly, to plan properly, the Corporation must be able to assess further than one year in advance the capital funds that will be available for the replacement of obsolete equipment, extension of service and any such projects as the consolidation of its Toronto broadcast facilities.
The ability of the CBC to perform its statutory mandate is contingent upon adequate funds being made available in circumstances that enable the CBC to develop coherent strategies to meet the diverse requirements for the national broadcasting service found in the Act. In view of the evidence submitted by the Corporation at the licence renewal hearing, the inability of the Corporation at present to make financial commitments beyond the two-year period specified by Treasury Board constitutes an impediment to the CBC's formulation of long-term broadcasting objectives. Consequently the Commission, as a means of fulfilling its own mandate to regulate and supervise the CBC, endorses the principle of adequate long-term funding, which it considers essential to the performance of the CBC's statutory mandate.
The issue of under-financing was the predominant theme underlying the CBC's application. The Corporation spoke of its budget reductions and the difficulties it has had in making commitments for the future as a result of continuing financial uncertainty. It made it clear that it will no longer be possible to do everything that it should. In such a framework, the CRTC does not wish to discourage the CBC in the immediate future from pursuing all reasonable alternative sources of revenue as a means of meeting the current economic challenge. However, consistent with its long-held concern over the potential threat to the Corporation's traditional role if "the criteria of the market place are permitted to predominate", the Commission would urge the Corporation, as a long-term objective, to:
* reduce reliance on advertising as a source of revenue as the CBC's government appropriations increase and its funding is approved on a longer-term basis.
On the two previous occasions that the Corporation has appeared before the Commission for consideration of applications to renew its television network licences, the Commission has issued decisions describing in detail the role and responsibilities of the national public television services.
Decision CRTC 74-70, dated 31 March 1974, contained an extended philosophical discussion of the dilemma faced by the CBC in attempting to reconcile its goals as a public service institution with those of a mass medium seeking to provide popular programming in competition with Canadian and foreign commercial broadcasters. The CRTC emphasized that the CBC, because of both its mandate and its public funding, has a special obligation to counteract the mass-marketing strategies so prevalent in the North American broadcasting environment. Specifically, the Commission expected the Corporation to enhance systematically and deliberately the range of viewer choice and to resist the temptation of achieving higher audience ratings by duplicating what was already widely available elsewhere.
It also stated that the CBC's absolute priority should be excellence, and endorsed the CBC's undertakings to provide more Canadian programming and to increase regional participation at the network level. The Commission urged the CBC to reassess the balance between in-house production and the acquisition of programming, and to schedule Canadian feature films on a regular basis. It expected the Corporation to eliminate as many as possible of the undesirable effects of commercials on its television services, to maintain a policy of no commercial messages in certain classes of programs and to take care that advertising messages within some other types of production not disrupt the flow or mood of the program. With respect to the extension of services, the Commission stated that the Accelerated Coverage Plan "must advance as rapidly as engineering and equipment supply permit" and that each province and the Territories "must have a regional CBC television broadcasting centre capable of developing programs of regional and national interest."
The 1979 renewal decision also devoted considerable attention to the manner in which the CBC was fulfilling its mandate. It ascribed the Corporation's ambivalent adherence to its objective of being "Canadian in content and character" in part to the CBC's reliance on private affiliates to distribute a significant portion of its network television schedules to the approximately 20% of the Canadian population not reached by CBC owned-and-operated stations:
In the Commission's view, CBC television's basic dilemma, despite an increasing number of individual programs of distinction, is caused by an unwillingness to break free from building its prime time television schedules around mass entertainment, commercially-oriented U.S. services.
The Commission recommended that the CBC fulfill its commitment to achieve 80% Canadian content in its weekly prime time television schedules, and published specific recommendations regarding objectivity in news and public affairs programming, the expression of Canadian identity on the French-language television network service, extension of CBC services, regional programming and minimum requirements with regard to television programming for the Northern Service, and a review of CBC commercial policies and practices. The licences for the English and French television networks were renewed to 30 September 1982, subject to the conditions that the weekly prime time program schedules only include Canadian material or "outstanding foreign programming other than commercially-oriented mass entertainment programming in a continuing series" and that no commercial messages be broadcast in programs directed to children under the age of 13.
Subsequently, to complete its deliberations on certain policy issues such as Canadian content and pay television which could have a considerable impact on the development and direction of the Canadian broadcasting system, the Commission renewed the CBC's television network licences for a two-year period from 1 October 1982 to 30 September 1984 (Decision CRTC 81-460, dated 22 July 1981). On 23 June 1983, at the Corporation's request, the Commission renewed the CBC's television licences for a further six months to 31 March 1985 to allow the Corporation to respond to a new federal broadcasting strategy which the Minister of Communications had set forth in a position paper in March of that year.
A renewal hearing was scheduled for 10 December 1984, but on 2 November the Minister of Finance introduced a new budget with serious repercussions for the CBC's future plans. To help meet the Government's target of reducing its deficit, the CBC's operational budget for the next fiscal year was to be reduced by $75 million and a further $10 million was to be deducted from its capital expenditure appropriation. The Corporation again requested a delay in the consideration of its applications for the renewal of its television services. On 14 November 1984 the Commission announced that it considered that the public interest would be served better if the CBC were given more time to review its plans and priorities in line with the necessary re-allocation of its resources. While it decided to return the renewal applications which had been filed in August, the Commission stated that it would retain the interventions it had received in response to those applications and permit them to be amended, updated or withdrawn in light of any new information the CBC would provide when new applications were submitted.
Prior to the expiry of the licences of the CBC's English and French television services, a two-year renewal was granted to 31 March 1987. Decision CRTC 85-140 announced that, as the Minister of Communications was undertaking a review of broadcasting policy, a primary focus of which would be a reconsideration of the role and mandate of the national broadcasting service, a further delay was necessary. In April 1985 Gerald Caplan and Florian Sauvageau were appointed to head a Task Force to recommend, among other things, appropriate public policy objectives for the Canadian broadcasting system in the environment of the 1980s and 1990s, addressing specifically the Government's cultural and economic priorities. It was expected that their report would be completed by 15 January 1986.
In a letter to the Corporation dated 7 March 1986, the Chairman of the CRTC asked the CBC to prepare for a renewal hearing scheduled for October 1986. The Commission acknowledged that there were still many uncertainties as to the final determination of the Corporation's future role within the Canadian broadcasting system, particularly as the Task Force on Broadcasting Policy had not yet published its Report. Nevertheless, it considered that: would not be in the public interest to further delay the public hearing relating to the licences of the CBC English- and French-language television networks. The Commission recognizes the special circumstances under which the Task Force has undertaken its investigations and the time limits imposed; however, the Commission ... believes that any further delay in the public hearing process relating to the CBC would not be responsible, either to the Canadian public ... or to other elements of the Canadian broadcasting system, on which the CBC's future plans will necessarily have a significant impact.
In his opening remarks at the hearing, the Chairman stated that this was an appropriate time to review the CBC's network television licences because the Commission's assessment of the national broadcasting service cannot be made in isolation from other elements of the Canadian broadcasting system. He noted that the CRTC would also be considering renewal applications by CTV and Global in the fall of 1986 and reiterated that the public has not had occasion to engage in a detailed review of the CBC's activities since October 1978:
It is time for the CBC to speak to the challenge created by prevailing conditions ... We expect the CBC to take this opportunity to display the kind of leadership we Canadians expect from it.
The Corporation was asked to respond to a number of questions about the nature and availability of its television programming services and the costs, distribution and audience appeal of that programming.
In August the Commission published details of the applications and announced the hearing date. Notice of Public Hearing CRTC 1986-61 noted that the CBC had not fully responded in the applications to certain specific questions asked of it, particularly on a number of important issues on which the Commission anticipated there would be considerable public interest.
While the Corporation's applications continued to reflect the orientation that had been set out in two earlier documents -- "The Strategy of the CBC", the five-year plan of action that had been prepared in 1984 prior to the budget reductions, and "Let's Do It/Le Courage de nos convictions", the CBC's December 1985 submission to the Task Force on Broadcasting Policy -- the CBC's proposals for the new licence term were phrased somewhat more cautiously in light of its present uncertainty as to the eventual outcome of the debate about its future orientation and its continuing financial difficulties.
The CBC's statement of introduction to its applications and the words of the President of the CBC at the public hearing further qualified the context in which these applications had been prepared. The applications stated that, while the ideas put forward to the Task Force had been submitted in response to a request for a "vision of the future", these plans were not meant to be taken as a blueprint for the immediate future. "Let's Do It" had made several suggestions for a revitalized broadcasting service, among them: a truly distinctive CBC committed to excellence and service, recognition of the particular situation of French-language broadcasting, a new emphasis on regionalism to reflect Canada's multifaceted culture, and a philosophy of partnership with the private sector and with other federal and provincial public bodies with the aim of increasing the number of Canadian services available to Canadian viewers. This "multi-channel strategy" encompassed second full-time CBC television channels in both English and French, as well as the possibility of CBC participation in specialty services in such areas as news, sports and programming for children.
The CBC's applications reiterated that the CBC's emphasis would be on Canadian drama, the reflection of regional diversity, program exchange, acquisitions from the independent sector, more broadcasts of performances by Canadian performing arts groups, and the continuation of the French television network's active involvement with other francophone broadcasters. It was stated that, until the present mandate is revised, the Corporation will continue to play the role that has been prescribed for it in the Act. The applications emphasized that in recent years the CBC has increased the amount of Canadian programming broadcast on its English and French television networks beyond the Commission's 60% requirement, both over the full broadcast day and, especially, between 6 p.m. and midnight. (In the first six months of the 1985/86 program year, these amounts were 63.3% and 77.3% for the English television network and 75.9% and 84.8% for the French television network.)
The Corporation confirmed its intention to increase these levels, although it admitted that "while these plans are well within the limits of the CBC's present mandate, they are well beyond present funding abilities. In fact, given present funding realities, the Corporation may even have difficulty maintaining existing service levels."
At the beginning of his presentation at the hearing, the President of the CBC addressed the seriousness of the CBC's financial situation:
Broadcasting is utterly dependent on two things --talent and financial resources. The greatest galaxy of talent cannot produce first class programs without minimal budgets, and all the money in the world cannot conjure up great programs if the talent is not there.
But talent is definitely not our problem ... the CBC is convinced that Canada has all the talent necessary to do the things we want to do, not just on the CBC, but in private broadcasting and in new program services which may be created ...
The problem for the CBC is resources. In the past the problem may have been the uncertainty which has characterized the Corporation's financial history for almost a decade. In future, according to current indications, the CBC must anticipate a continuous reduction in the real resources available to it.
Three weeks before the 15 October start of the hearing, the CBC's Board of Directors gave consideration to a five-year operating plan for the years 1987/88 to 1991/92. Entitled "CBC Corporate Plan", this document was submitted to the Commission on 9 October 1986 and placed on the public file.
Based on estimates of expected revenue, the document evaluates the resources that would be required to maintain CBC services at their current level. The Plan predicts that to achieve even this modest goal, and assuming both a 5% increase each year in commercial revenue and no further reductions in its Government appropriations, a deficit would have to be incurred commencing with the 1987/88 budget. However, given the Government's stated intention of reducing its deficit, and the requirement that Crown Corporations such as the CBC not operate in a deficit situation, the Corporation has also provided information on how it would deal with the anticipated shortfalls.
The "Foreword" to the CBC Corporate Plan plainly states that:
The Board of Directors of the CBC is of the view that the shortfall for each year of the next five years is such that fundamental aspects of the mandate will have to be abandoned. In this context, the Board will need to conduct detailed consultations with the Minister in order to determine which services the Government wishes to preserve and which ought to be dropped.
The CBC's 1984/85 Annual Report stated that while the CBC accepts the current need for economy measures, it cannot maintain its services indefinitely in the face of reduced resources and rising costs. Since 1978/79 the CBC has sustained more than $400 million in budget cuts, and both its operating and capital appropriations from Parliament have declined significantly in constant dollar terms. Despite this, the CBC has introduced new television programs, redirected funds to acquire Canadian productions from the independent sector, and substantially improved its prime time Canadian content levels.
At the hearing the vice-presidents responsible for the English and French television services described the extent to which production had already been affected by budget cuts over the last two years. Over 85 hours of original production have been eliminated from the English service: major documentary series like A Planet for the Taking and The Establishment are no longer being considered; the number of new episodes of regular series such as Tommy Hunter and Seeing Things have been reduced, as have five hours of variety specials; there have been considerable reductions in sports coverage; instead of two Stratford productions, this year the CBC did one; there were no productions out of regional theatres; a summer series, This Land, which had been on air for 20 years, was cancelled; Meeting Place now consists primarily of repeats "from weeks and months before"; documentary segments on The Journal have fallen from 130 to 80; regional content has been reduced on Marketplace, Venture and Country Canada; the CBC's Moscow news correspondent uses an NBC crew -- when it is available -- to file his stories; owned-and-operated stations across the country have cancelled almost all local variety productions; and regional programs originating in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Charlottetown and the North have been cancelled.
Similarly on the French network, fewer episodes are being produced, half the regional contributions to Reflets d'un pays are now repeats, and less costly productions have replaced the weekday variety programs that used to be run at 5 p.m. The network has reduced by one half-hour per day the schedule provided to its affiliates; 15 minutes of children's programming on week-day mornings have been eliminated; 16 half-hour drama productions and 8 half-hour afternoon programs for children have been replaced by repeats; fewer outdoor scenes are being filmed for its drama productions; La Course au Bonheur has been cancelled. Overall, there has been a 2% reduction imposed on the budgets of all in-house productions.
At the hearing, the Vice-President of Planning and Corporate Affairs explained in some detail the basis of the five-year projections that the CBC had submitted and set out the assumptions behind the Corporation's analysis of its current financial situation. The amount budgeted for 1986/87 is $1,105.5 million, of which the Parliamentary appropriation is approximately 71% or $782.7 million. However, without any significant improvements, the projections indicated that merely the maintenance of the CBC's current service levels over the coming licence term will result in shortfalls of $65 million in 1987/88 escalating to $104.5 million by 1991/92.
The Corporate Plan outlined a two-stage process for reducing the anticipated deficit. The first step, described by the President of the CBC as horizontal reductions, would include a 1% reduction in the inflation allocation, a 5% reduction in management expenditures, and ultimately the "down-grading" of certain mandated services. He stressed that in concrete terms this meant that the CBC would not be able to maintain the hours of service, quality of service, level of Canadian content or the schedule balance that had been achieved in 1986/87: there would be further staff layoffs; there would be less money for the replacement of obsolete equipment, for travel and for the salaries of contract employees such as actors, and expenditures on such items as sets and costumes would have to be curtailed, resulting in lower production values; even fewer regional contributions would be seen on the network schedules; and finally, after reducing further the number of original hours of production and increasing the number of repeats, one or two hours of Canadian programming per week on each of the English and French television networks would have to be eliminated. In 1987/88, the savings from all these measures would total only $26 million.
CBC officials explained that the further reduction of $39 million which would be required to balance the 1987/88 operational budget, the second step in the process, could not be achieved "without the cessation of one or more of the services which the CBC is formally mandated to provide." The President of the CBC then went on to theorize as to the savings which could be attained if the CBC were to eliminate one or more of the services it currently provides:
The CBC mandate in the Act and in the Orders in Council do not rank the services to be rendered by the CBC in any order or priority. Therefore, in these remarks I will only list the various services and the gross savings that could be realized if some of them were dropped ...
If, for instance, it was decided to discontinue Radio Canada International, the gross savings would be $16.5 million per year ... If the CBC ... limited its prime time Canadian content in 1987/88 to the level the CRTC regulations now apply to the CBC -- that is 60% ... -- the savings would be approximately $50 million. If, on the other hand, the CBC were allowed to adopt the same prime time Canadian content rules that the Commission applies to the private stations, namely 50%, savings in the order of a further $15 million could be achieved ... As to regional operations, limiting all production beyond news and current affairs to a small number of key production centres, and closing regional centres ... such as Corner Brook, Sidney, Saskatoon, Calgary ... or Matane, Sept-Iles, and Rimouski ... would save only about $15.5 million per year ... The closing of the CBC Northern Service would reduce costs by $12.5 million a year ... The closure of the FM stereo networks would represent savings of $31 million ...
He noted, however, that "all these unpalatable choices affect the CBC's basic services and its very raison d'être. All of them run counter to the almost universal demand that the CBC do more, not less."
The Broadcasting Act empowers the Board of Directors of the CBC, among other things, to "establish, equip, maintain and operate broadcasting undertakings", and to provide the national broadcasting service as contemplated in the provisions set out in section 3, subject to any conditions of licence the Commission may impose and to applicable regulations. Accordingly, the Commission is of the opinion that the CBC Board and management must, until such time as the CBC's mandate is altered by Parliament, continue to provide the services required of it in the legislation. This is why the Commission has insisted that the Corporation should have, as is required of all licensees, set out or at least suggested its priorities for the future. The Corporation has chosen not to do so.
At the hearing, both the Commission and a number of the interveners asked questions of the CBC with regard to its future plans. Following the intervention process, the CBC made its final rebuttal and closing remarks. The Commission is of the view that the Corporation did not respond adequately to many of the serious concerns that were raised in the interventions. The Corporation maintained that despite its acceptance of the issues raised by interveners and, in most cases, its general agreement with these suggestions, very little could be done by the CBC to accommodate their concerns given current funding constraints.
The Commission subsequently sent a series of written supplementary questions to the CBC on 3 November 1986, requesting the Corporation to respond formally to the concerns raised in several of the interventions. The CBC's written responses to these questions were duly received and placed on the public file with copies sent to all 320 interventions to the public hearing.
The Commission renews the French and English television network licences of the CBC from 1 April 1987 to 31 March 1992.
Conditions of Licence
The Commission has purposely limited the number of conditions it will attach to the CBC's television network licences. The Broadcasting Act provides for a mechanism whereby the Corporation may request consultation with the Executive Committee with regard to any condition that the Executive Committee proposes to attach to the Corporation's licences. In the past, such procedures have involved lengthy delays or resulted in prolonged discussion. Following the October 1986 public hearing, and in accordance with section 17(2) of the Act, the Executive Committee proposed four conditions to be attached to the CBC's television network licences. The Corporation then requested consultation with the Executive Committee pursuant to provisions of the Act. After preparatory discussions between CBC and CRTC staff, the Executive Committee proposed revised conditions. The Corporation then formally advised the Commission that it did not require consultation on the revised conditions.
For the coming licence term, the Commission is imposing only four conditions of licence. They relate to two social matters of broad public concern, sex-role stereotyping and advertising to children, for which the broadcasting industry has developed its own standards. Because of the CBC's pivotal role within the Canadian broadcasting system and given the scope and national mandate of the CBC's public television services, the Commission deems it appropriate that the CBC should perform a strong leadership role in this effort of industry self-regulation. In each instance the Commission requires that the CBC's internal standards be more stringent than similar guidelines to which private broadcasters are required to adhere.
Sex-Role Stereotyping
It is a condition of licence that the CBC adhere to its self-regulatory guidelines on sex-role stereotyping, as amended from time to time and accepted by the Commission. Such standards shall as a minimum meet the standards set out in the "Broadcasting Industry's Self-Regulatory Code on Sex-Role Stereotyping", as amended from time to time and accepted by the Commission.
Until such time as the Commission has accepted revised CBC guidelines, it is a condition of licence that the CBC adhere to its current self-regulatory guidelines on sex-role stereotyping (as set out in Appendix C to Public Notice CRTC 1986-351, dated 22 December 1986) and, as a minimum, to the current selfregulatory guidelines known as the "Private Broadcasting Voluntary Guidelines on Sex-Role Stereotyping" (Appendix A of Public Notice CRTC 1986-351).
Advertising to Children
It is a condition of licence that the CBC adhere to the standards for children's advertising set out in the Corporation's Advertising Standards Policy C-5 dated 4 June 1986 and entitled "Advertising Directed to Children under 12 Years of Age", as amended from time to time and accepted by the Commission, provided that the policy meet as a minimum the standards set out in the "Broadcasting Advertising and Children" code, published by the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, dated May 1985 or as amended from time to time with the approval of the Commission.
Further, it is a condition of licence that the CBC not broadcast any commercial message during any child-directed programming or any child-directed commercial message between programs directed to children of pre-school age. For the purpose of this condition, programs directed to children and scheduled before 12:00 noon during school-day morning hours will be deemed to be programs directed to children of pre-school age.
Expectations to be Met during the New Licence Term
In a previous chapter the Commission has set out its interpretation of the CBC's future role based on the responsibilities and obligations that have been established for it in the existing legislation. The Commission's evaluation of the CBC's service and programming proposals for its English and French television network licences for the coming licence term has taken into account the financial considerations noted in the foregoing chapters. The Commission has also considered the public concerns expressed at the public hearing in its determination of which expectations should be fulfilled.
As mentioned earlier, the Corporation will have to provide its network television services in accordance with its present mandate and with the available funds until such time as there is a legislated change in its role. It is therefore imperative that, taking into account the present legislative requirements and the fact that funds are finite, a choice and a priorization of the objectives to be achieved during the upcoming licence term must be made. In the absence of a proposal by the CBC as to which priorities it would undertake over the next five years, the Commission has identified a list of expectations to be met during the upcoming licence term, as funds become available. They are listed in order of priority. These expectations also provide a framework to enable the CBC to set its course for the challenging years of the new licence term in accordance with the long-term objectives identified earlier in this decision.
1. Canadian Content
The vast majority of interveners who addressed the subject of Canadian content supported an increase in the CBC's level of Canadian programming. Given the present financial circumstances facing the CBC, however, the Corporation emphasized, both in its applications and at the hearing that it would not be able to further increase Canadian content; in fact, Corporation officials suggested that it may even be necessary to cut back the current level of Canadian programming.
The Commission considers unacceptable the CBC's contention that its current Canadian content levels may drop. Instead, the Commission sets as the CBC's first priority for the upcoming licence term, the maintenance of its present levels of Canadian content in the 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. time period.
That the CBC maintain an average of 22.5/22.0 hours per week of Canadian programming between the hours of 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. for the English and French television networks, respectively, and increase this level as funds become available.
2. Drama
In the present fall/winter season, five and a half hours per week of the CBC English network's schedule are devoted to Canadianproduced drama. Included in this period are such half-hour series as Danger Bay, Airwaves and the regional anthology, The Way We Are; one-hour series like Seeing Things, He Shoots, He Scores and Street Legal; and a two-hour programming block on Sunday nights featuring Canadian feature films such as My American Cousin, The Boy in Blue, Loyalties and Island Love Song. This weekly total represents the largest amount of quality Canadian dramatic programming the English network has ever broadcast. In 1978 the English network aired only three hours per week of Canadian drama. The present amount represents an increase over the course of the current licence term of over eighty per cent.
On its French television network this fall/winter season, the Corporation is scheduling seven hours per week of Canadianproduced drama. Included are such téléromans as Le Temps d'une Paix, Des Dames de Coeur, Poivre et Sel and Le Parc des Braves, mini-series like Lance et Compte and Laurier, téléthéatre presentations such as Le Lys cassé by Michel Brault, and feature films like Les Fous de Bassan and Le Frère André.
The Commission is aware that the CBC's commitment to increase its output of quality Canadian drama is premised on sufficient funding, and the Commission acknowledges the Corporation's statement that ït will not be able to increase the amount of drama that is presently broadcast without additional resources.
While recognizing that the Corporation's financial concerns may somewhat delay any increase in drama, the Commission would consider unacceptable a retreat from the present level of dramatic production.
That the CBC maintain an average of not less than 5.5/7.0 hours per week of Canadian drama between the hours of 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. for the English and French television networks, respectively, and increase this level as funds become available.
3. Regional Production
At the October 1986 hearing, the Corporation stated that, in the year ending 31 March 1986, the regions produced 460 hours of non-news programming for English network exposure and 225 hours of production for French network exposure. These totals represent weekly averages of 8.8 hours and 4.3 hours for the English and French networks, respectively. Examples of regional productions controlled entirely by the network but produced in the regions include The Beachcombers (Vancouver), Chautauqua Girl (Calgary), Gentle Sinners (Winnipeg), and Island Love Song (Halifax/Sydney). Regional expression on the French network has been mostly in the form of contributions to news and information programs. In its applications, the Corporation stated that "new program formats need to be developed and additional regional windows must be incorporated in the French network schedule, although the relative scarcity of production capacity outside Montreal limits what can be done."
The Commission remains concerned that the French network is not seeking enough regional input from outside the province of Quebec, or even from its smaller stations within the province. Complaints about lack of regional input submitted by interveners representing Francophones living outside Quebec are addressed earlier in this decision. Within Quebec, the Commission notes that regional contributions from other than the Quebec City station and the Jonquière affiliate have declined from former levels. The Commission encourages the Corporation to expand the efforts of its French network to reflect not only the various regions of Canada, but also the various regions within the province of Quebec.
The most significant developments in regional production have occurred since the release of the 1984 report of the Corporation's internal task force on regional programming, entitled "Focus For Quality". The Corporation has implemented most of the report's recommendations, the major one being that the funds allocated for regional program production should be consolidated in such a way that, although each region would produce fewer programs, they would be of higher quality and would be eligible to compete for network scheduling.
Consolidation of regional funds has led to such programs on the English network as the anthology series The Way We Are and the variety show Country West. Another program resulting from this new policy is Gzowski & Co. in which popular broadcaster Peter Gzowski travels across the country to profile interesting Canadians. Other recommendations from the report which the Corporation has implemented include increasing the number of network series produced in the regions, producing segments or episodes of certain network programs in the regions and co-operating in supper-hour news shows through the exchange of news items.
The Commission recognizes that, in addition, the various regional stations, whether CBC owned-and-operated or private affiliates, contribute to regional expression through their own productions and through program exchange. However, since such programs are aired regionally rather than on the networks, these two methods will more properly be the subject of discussion in the context of the licence renewals of each individual station.
That the CBC increase the annual average of regional programming contributions (other than news reports inserted into news programs) aired by the networks to at least 10 hours per week on the English television network and to at least 5.0 hours per week on the French television network.
4. English/French Program Exchange
While stating that it "would like to do more" in terms of network exchange and co-operation, the Corporation did not in its applications or at the hearing outline any concrete plans for future projects over the upcoming licence term. The Commission remains of the opinion that co-operation between the French and English networks in the production and exchange of relevant programming can play a significant role in contributing to the understanding and appreciation by Canadians of this country's two founding cultures, and can, at the same time, provide a means for the Corporation to realize savings in programming expenditures.
That the CBC maximize co-operation and exchange of relevant and appropriate programming between the English and French television networks as a means of achieving the cultural objective of interchange between Canada's two founding cultures, and as a means of reducing program expenses.
5. Northern Service
Native Access
In 1983 the Minister of Communications published a policy statement on Northern Broadcasting which, in responding to the priorities approved by the CRTC following the Report of the Committee on Extension of Service to Northern and Remote Communities (July 1980), stated, in part, that northern native broadcasters should have "fair access" to existing distribution systems. For the purpose of that policy, the North is defined by the commonly-accepted Hamelin line, which includes the northern parts of seven provinces as well as all of the Yukon and Northwest Territories.
Concurrently, the government also introduced the Northern Native Broadcast Access Program (NNBAP), primarily a production fund for native broadcasters, which currently supports native broadcasting networks in thirteen regions of the far North and mid-Canada. The NNBAP was introduced as a means of supporting native languages and cultures. Currently, thirteen native broadcasting societies produce approximately ten hours of television and 204 hours of radio each week for broadcast to a potential native population of about 200,000.
Although both Canadian Satellite Communications Inc. (CANCOM) and TVOntario have provided distribution facilities for three native networks, it is the CBC that can most readily meet most of the radio and television distribution requirements of the native broadcasting societies, due to its extensive infrastructure of land lines, satellite channels, receive terminals and local transmitters. The Corporation's position has been that it will attempt to accommodate independently-produced native access programs in its schedules so long as it can maintain the integrity of the national service. The CBC, as stated in its applications, is prepared to allow American programming to be displaced in areas of significant native population. This has resulted in scheduling conflicts between the CBC and the native broadcasters, especially in mid-Canada, where the Corporation's terrestial microwave distribution systems are designed to serve the southern urban centres and the northern native communities simultaneously.
In recent years the CBC has accommodated five hours per week of programming produced by Inuit broadcasters in the Eastern Arctic, Northern Quebec and Labrador. Pursuant to a new agreement between the CBC and the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation (IBC), three additional hours per week of access programming will now be available in most Inuit communities through the pre-emption of certain foreign programs in the national schedule. To provide this extra native programming, IBC has leased additional time on Telesat Canada's occasional-use transponder.
At the hearing the Commission heard interventions from various native broadcasting societies whose primary concern was the role which the Corporation should play in the distribution of independently-produced native programming. In its intervention, the National Aboriginal Communications Society, which is the umbrella organization representing all native media, called for improved distribution arrangements with the CBC, improved consultation mechanisms and shared responsibility for scheduling.
The Corporation is currently meeting most of the distribution requirements of the native broadcasting societies, although some native broadcasters are unhappy with the scheduling of their programs. As production levels increase over the next few years, however, the native broadcasters are likely to require more access time from the CBC. The Corporation maintains that, in terms of the CBC's continued role in the distribution of native access programming, "it is CBC policy to support the objectives of the Northern Native Broadcast Access Program by facilitating access to its distribution systems by NNBAP agencies." In the longer term, the Corporation envisages a separate native network encompassing all native broadcasters, and utilizing separate distribution and transmission equipment.
In December 1985, the Commission issued a public notice on Northern Native Broadcasting which discussed a number of issues including "fair access" and the CBC's role with respect to northern broadcasting. The Commission subsequently established an Action Committee to act as a catalyst for resolving distribution problems (Public Notice CRTC 1986-75 dated 27 March 1986). Until such time as a separate distribution system is established for the North, the Commission is of the view that the CBC should cooperate with the native broadcasting societies by facilitating the distribution of programs produced by native groups and by establishing meaningful consultation mechanisms to ensure that the scheduling of these programs meets the requirements of northern residents.
During the public hearing the CBC noted that, as a matter of policy, the Corporation does not permit native broadcasters to include advertising material in their programs. However, in response to Commission questioning, the CBC indicated that:
It is a matter that we are prepared to review with respect to television, given that CBC television is a commercial-carrying medium. We are very reluctant to consider it for radio, but we would under certain circumstances.
The Commission considers that additional advertising revenue could augment and strengthen the financial base of native broadcasting societies, and is encouraged by the Corporation's willingness to reconsider its policies on this matter.
Information Programming
The Commission takes special note of the fact that the North still lacks its own regular newscast. The Eastern Arctic receives regional news originating from St. John's, while the Western Arctic receives local news from Vancouver. In its intervention, the Government of the Yukon called for the installation of northern satellite uplink stations to facilitate live news stories which would be relevant to its residents. In the Commission's opinion, a daily pan-Arctic newscast would constitute a significant step in the provision of relevant regional programming to the inhabitants of Canada's North. Such a regular news program to be produced by the CBC Northern Service and with the important and active contribution of northern residents is integral to the Commission's long-term objective which encourages the CBC to establish a specific and identifiable service for the northern region comparable in status to the CBC's other regional services. A newscast originating in and dealing with the North would provide northern viewers with up-to-date information on the people, issues and events directly involving their communities and their neighbours, and would also allow northerners access to the Corporation's acknowledged expertise in the gathering and presentation of television news. For its part, the Corporation, in response to the interventions, agreed that "the CBC should span all of the various sub-regions and large groups of the North through the provision of a daily regional information program." The Commission considers the introduction of a daily pan-Arctic newscast as both necessary and urgent.
That the CBC Northern Service provide a daily pan-Arctic newscast, and increase integration of native-produced programming in the schedule of the Northern Service.
6. Programming for Children and Youth
As noted in a previous chapter, the Commission commends the CBC's initiative in devoting a significant portion of its schedule to programs of particular interest to children. It recognizes the efforts taken by the Corporation to ensure, in particular, that pre-school children receive relevant programming that provides learning experiences in an entertaining non-didactic manner.
That the CBC maintain an average of not less than 22.5/20.0 hours per week of programming for children and youth for the English and French television networks, respectively.
7. Performing Arts
Earlier the Commission stated that over the long term the CBC should schedule a representative number of broadcasts of performances by Canadian performing arts groups. For the upcoming licence term, the Commission considers that the Corporation should fulfill its stated goal of providing a monthly window for productions of this type.
That the CBC achieve a level of at least one broadcast per month of a Canadian performing arts company or group on each of the English and French television networks.
8. Independent Production
The Commission commends the CBC for its active participation with the independent production sector. Given the present financial circumstances facing the Corporation, however, the Commission considers that the 50% target for independent production acquisitions (other than news, public affairs and sports), while potentially attainable, may be overly ambitious in the course of the upcoming licence term. It is the Commission's opinion however, that the present levels of 33% and 36% for the English and French television networks, respectively, can be augmented over the upcoming licence term.
In setting a target for independent acquisitions, the Commission has taken into consideration the availability of funding sources such as Telefilm Canada's Broadcast Program Development Fund, the Feature Film Development Fund, and other program funds as well as other financing alternatives.
The Commission also notes the concern raised by independent producers respecting the level of licence fees paid by broadcasters. The Commission fully expects the Corporation to ensure that the licence fees it pays to independent producers are set at equitable levels in order to encourage continued growth of the independent production industry and to strengthen the production industry's ability to produce high quality Canadian programs which will clearly be of benefit to the Canadian broadcasting system.
That the CBC, as a minimum, acquire 40% of its programming in all categories other than news, public affairs and sports from the Canadian independent production sector on both the English and French television networks. At the same time, the Commission considers that some independently-produced documentaries should be accommodated in the CBC schedules.
9. Canadian Music Talent
As the principal publicly-owned and -funded component of the Canadian broadcasting system, the CBC is expected to perform a special function as a key instrument of our national cultural expression and development. With this in mind, the Commission's Notice of Public Hearing announcing the CBC's licence renewal hearing (CRTC 1986-61) stated that one of the issues it expected to discuss with the Corporation was "the promotion and development of both English- and French-Canadian talent through the broadcasting of Canadian television programs, with particular attention to ... music industry-based programming, such as live music concerts, Canadian music magazine formats, or documentaries on artists and events." At the hearing, however, the Corporation offered little information with respect to its plans for production of popular music programs or variety shows.
In its intervention, the Canadian Independent Record Production Association (CIRPA) complained that "in the last couple of years there has been a very dramatic decline in the amount of popular music programming on CBC." According to CIRPA, the CBC's efforts to build up its drama programming have come at the expense of the Canadian music industry, with the result that new Canadian performers are not receiving exposure on the national broadcasting service. The Executive Director of CIRPA stated:
In regard to the CBC, I guess our major concern is this is one very popular area of Canadian culture which has been ignored by the CBC. When we have artists who are selling 100,000, 200,000, or 300,000 records in this country, it would seem to imply that there are a lot of people out there who are interested in them and yet they never show up on our national networks.
The Commission recognizes that the French network has developed a tradition of presenting both popular and classical music programming, especially in its Sunday schedule. The Commission also recognizes that the English network has annually broadcast the Juno Awards honouring Canadian music talent, that this past season it aired the documentary on the making of Canada's musical contribution to African famine relief, Tears Are Not Enough, and that last summer it provided live coverage of the new music awards ceremony, the CASBYs. However, the Corporation noted at the hearing that it had reduced the number of its variety specials this season, and admitted that it does not do enough variety programming, reasoning that "something had to suffer" in protecting its priorities of information, drama and children's programming.
The Commission wishes to emphasize that the Corporation's mandate to provide "a balanced service of information, enlightenment and entertainment" cannot be met without providing a certain level of variety programs "for people of different ages, interests and tastes." While many well-known English- and French-Canadian performers such as Tommy Hunter, Frank Mills, Diane Tell, Ginette Reno and Yvon Deschamps easily find room on the CBC schedule, there remains little opportunity for new, popular talent to receive regular cross-Canada exposure in the Corporation's television programming. The Commission encourages the CBC to explore avenues to be more supportive of the Canadian music community and not to limit its contribution to the music video concept. As the national public service, the CBC should play a leadership role in exposing and promoting new Canadian musical talent to Canadian television audiences; the searching out of these talents could be accomplished in conjunction with the CBC's regional stations.
Another issue raised by the CIRPA intervention was the low number of Canadian music videos presented in the English network's music video programs. At present the English network broadcasts two video-based shows, Video Hits on weekday afternoons, and Good Rockin' Tonight late on Friday nights. Music videos have become a primary medium through which music performers promote their material. For this reason, the Commission considers that one way in which the Corporation can fulfill its responsibility to expose new Canadian talent is by increasing the number of Canadian music videos it programs in its video shows.
The Commission also considers that the French television network should strive to increase the presentation of new and upcoming French-Canadian music performers in its music, magazine and variety programs. In this regard it notes that the network now features a "star" of the evening in the first portion of the weekly series Les Beaux Dimanches and that Samedi de rire and Décibels provide national television exposure for new talent.
That, in light of the need for the support and development of new Canadian music talent, the CBC make specific efforts to search out, expose and promote new artists on both the English and French television networks.
10. Diversify Sources of Foreign Content
The Commission is of the opinion that the national public broadcasting service should provide Canadians with the opportunity to view the best of international programming which would otherwise not be available to them. In 1979 the Commission imposed upon the CBC a condition of licence with respect to the acquisition of foreign content for prime time broadcast. Conflicting testimony was given at the hearing as to the Corporation's interpretation of the criterion set out in that condition of licence for distinguishing "outstanding" foreign programming. The Commission is not convinced by the CBC's arguments that such prime time series as Dallas, Kate & Allie, or Newhart can be interpreted as "other than commercially-oriented mass entertainment programming in a continuing series."
The CBC's proposal to Canadianize its broadcast schedule calls for the replacement of U.S. series with Canadian programs. On the basis of the Commission's first expectation cited earlier respecting the amount of Canadian programming between the hours of 7 p.m. and 11 p.m., the English and French networks will have, respectively, 5.5 and 6 hours per week in peak viewing hours in which to broadcast non-Canadian programming.
On the English network, these 5.5 hours, as well as daytime foreign programming periods, are predominantly filled with American programming, much of which is potentially available to Canadians from other broadcast sources. On the other hand, very little quality programming from countries other than the U.S.A. is broadcast by the Corporation. In its written applications the CBC indicated that it plans to diversify the origin and nature of the foreign programming that will remain in the schedules of both its networks and, at the hearing, the President of the CBC stated:
.... our role really is to [provide] Canadians [with] a chance to be both Canadian and universal, with a certain margin for importation of the best [programming] from around the world.
The Corporation's stated goal for the English network is to ensure that at least one hour per week in the prime time schedule is devoted to foreign programming from other than U.S. commercial channels. This programming will most likely come from the United Kingdom and Australia, although in the past the Corporation has also shown feature films from France, Germany and China. It expects that by 1991/92, the prime time schedule will include just four hours of foreign procured programming, of which one hour will be from non-U.S. sources. The Commission endorses this goal, and encourages the diversity it should contribute to the English network.
As on the English network, American programming has been featured in the foreign portions of the French network's schedule. At the same time, however, non-U.S. foreign programming has also occupied an important place in the French network's television schedule. The French network has also made ample use of subtitling when broadcasting programs purchased from other countries. The Commission encourages the CBC's French television network to continue the scheduling of foreign programs of excellence for its viewers and endorses its goal, as outlined in the application and repeated at the hearing, to reduce its non-Canadian programming in prime time to six hours per week of which only three hours will be American.
That both the English and French television networks of the CBC immediately diversify their sources of foreign content.
11. Sex-Role Stereotyping
In addition to the condition of licence which the Commission imposes on the licences of the Corporation's English and French television networks, the Commission fully expects the CBC over the coming licence term to abide by the requirements the CRTC has established for the CBC with respect to sex-role stereotyping. Public Notice CRTC 1986-351 set out six expectations pertaining specifically to the CBC. Because of its size, importance and special role in the Canadian broadcasting system, the CRTC expects the CBC to show leadership "in providing a more equal reflection and a better portrayal of women in the media." The CBC was asked to review its current sex-role stereotyping guidelines and submit a report to the Commission no later than 31 May 1987. Further, it is to meet with the Commission and report on an annual basis (at the time it submits its annual financial returns) on its "efforts to eliminate sex-role stereotyping both on- and off-air, with the knowledge that these reports will be placed on the public file." The Commission also expects the Corporation to review its complaints procedures with respect to programming and commercials and submit reports every six months on the disposition of any relevant complaints. Future studies on the subject of sex-role stereotyping are to be released to the public in their complete form, and the Corporation's "inclusive-language guidelines" are to be sent to all CBC owned-and-operated stations and to its private affiliated stations.
That the CBC observe the requirements outlined by the Commission in its Policy Statement on Sex-Role Stereotyping in the Broadcast Media (Public Notice CRTC 1986-351).
12. Weekend News and Information on the French Television Network
Earlier in this decision, the Commission highlighted the CBC's achievements with respect to its news and information programming. The Corporation stated, however, that one area in which its news and information programming could be improved is its weekend coverage on the French television network. At the hearing the Director of Information Services for the French Television Network volunteered that the CBC was not satisfied with the quality of the news and information it provides to its francophone audience on weekends, and stated that improvements in this area are a priority:
[TRANSLATION] The immediate goal, for 1987/88, is to double what we provide. We intend to re-examine completely weekend news and our public affairs programming in the 6 p.m. time slot on Saturday and Sunday to see whether we couldn't revamp it, change it, give it more diversity.
The second thing we have in mind, and we consider it to be very, very important, is to increase the amount of news on the weekend and to change the content ... We'd like to perform better with our weekend news ... All of this depends, of course, on management putting the means at our disposal.
That the CBC improve the quality of weekend news and information on the French television network.
13. Francophones Outside Quebec
The Commission has set out earlier in this decision its comments concerning the representations made to it on the subject of the service provided to Francophones living outside the province of Quebec. The Commission has stated its belief that the Corporation should be sensitive to the fact that such Canadians may have very different interests and priorities and should strive to accommodate these needs in the programming schedule of the French television service. The Commission recognizes that in order to embark on such an undertaking the Corporation must first assess these needs and formulate the means by which to accomplish this goal.
That the CBC undertake a study into the programming needs of Francophones outside Quebec, and submit a report and action plan to the Commission within one year of the date of this decision.
14. Representation of Native Canadians
The Commission has established, as a long-term objective, that the Corporation should balance the representation of native peoples in its mainstream programming. As an initial step, the Commission asks the CBC to continue to work towards this goal.
That the CBC increase its representation of native peoples in the mainstream programming of both the English and French television networks in a manner that reflects their just place in Canadian society, and that will help to eliminate negative stereotypes.
15. Representation of Multicultural Minorities
The Commission has stressed that the national broadcasting service has a particular responsibility to ensure that Canadians of diverse races, cultures, ethnic backgrounds and origins are accorded fair representation on its television programs and to make every effort to eliminate negative stereotypes in its portrayal of cultural minorities.
That the CBC increase representation of multicultural minorities in the mainstream programming of both the English and French television networks in a manner that reflects realistically their participation in Canadian society, and that will contribute to eliminating negative stereotypes.
That the CBC submit a report at the end of the first two years of the licence term on the initiatives and actions taken to achieve this objective.
16. Closed Captioning
The Commission notes that the appearing interventions from the Canadian Association of the Deaf and the Ontario Closed Caption Consumers suggested that the Corporation should accord priority to the closed captioning of The Journal and Le Point, to the verbatim captioning of political programming (such as election debates), and to the provision of open captions in emergency situations. In the interest of providing deaf and hard-of-hearing persons with a service which would enable them to benefit from the range and diversity of programming available to other Canadians, the Commission encourages the Corporation to explore means of addressing these specific and legitimate requests without reducing captioning in other areas.
In addition, the Commission expects the CBC to be able to increase its volume of closed captioned programs over the five-year term of its upcoming licence as a step towards the Commission's previously-stated long-term objective of a full closed captioned service on both the English and French television networks.
That the Corporation increase closed captioning to a minimum level of 15 hours per week on an annual basis for both the English and French television networks.
17. Extension of Service
It is the Commission's opinion that by making use of new technological developments, and possibly with the co-operation of private sector broadcasters already licensed to provide satellite or cable services to remote and underserved communities, the Corporation may now be in a position to complete its extension plans initiated under the Accelerated Coverage Plan, including the provision of service to those communities whose populations have reached 500 since the Plan was originally conceived. The Commission further believes that the CBC should consider extending its television services to communities with a population greater than two hundred. Accordingly, the Commission calls on the Corporation to undertake a study and submit a report on the implications of extending its service to communities with a population of between 200 and 500. In this study, the CBC should examine the possibility of private sector participation in this new initiative. In addition, the CBC should examine and take into account the recent decisions of the Commission licensing distribution services in a number of these communities.
The Commission has also stated as part of its long-term objectives for the CBC that the eventual replacement of the privately-owned affiliated stations is desirable. In assessing how to achieve this objective, the CBC should review the opportunities for replacing its affiliates with twin-stick operations where financially feasible; this should not, however, limit a more in-depth examination of the range of possible private sector participants that could help achieve these objectives.
That the CBC undertake a study and submit a report, within 18 months of the date of this decision, on the implications of extending full service to communities with a population of between 200 and 500, and of replacing its affiliates with "twin-sticking" operations where practicable. The CBC should examine the possibility of private sector participation in achieving the above expectations.
18. Commercial Rates and Advertising Practices
As a Government-supported broadcasting service competing against private broadcasters for a limited pool of advertising dollars, the CBC is in a privileged position in the marketplace. This is because approximately 80% of its total revenues come from public funds. If, however, its advertising rates are not comparable to those of its competitors, it will be accused of using its government subsidy to undercut the market. The Commission has addressed the matter of the CBC's advertising rate levels on a number of occasions. In the Corporation's licence renewal decision of 31 March 1974, the Commission stated:
The CBC should undertake a thorough review of its scale of rates for the sale of television network and station advertising time. The Commission considers that the CBC should, in establishing such rates, avoid any tendency to take advantage of its subsidized position.
In the 1979 licence renewal decision, the Commission again recommended that the CBC review its rate structure, but this time on the basis that the Corporation was missing out on available revenue:
The CBC has fewer commercial minutes available in its schedule than private broadcasters and thereby has established a higher quality advertising environment. This environment has a value and probably warrants premium rates. An increase in rates would generate extra revenue without bringing about additional commercialization.
At the October 1986 hearing the Commission once again raised the issue of advertising practices and policies. The Commission presented the CBC with the results of a study conducted in December 1985 by the consulting firm Baker Lovick which showed that the Corporation's national selective advertising rates were generally, and in some cases significantly, below those of its competitors.
In response to the Commission's supplementary questions regarding the Baker Lovick studies, the Corporation stated that if the data compilation is consistent from year to year, the Baker Lovick analysis may serve to indicate a change in prices for individual stations. However, the CBC contends that the methodology employed does not support any station-to-station or market-to-market comparison.
Notwithstanding the CBC's response to this matter and despite repeated requests by the Commission, the CBC did not submit an analysis of its commercial practices on either a station-bystation or market-by-market basis. Accordingly, the Commission remains concerned about what could be conceived as unfair pricing practices. As alluded to in the previous two renewal decisions, advertising rates which are not comparable to competitors' rates raise concerns about unfair competition and indicate that the Corporation is not maximizing the revenue potential of advertising dollars to meet its financial needs. In the upcoming licence term, the Commission will expect the Corporation to adjust its national selective advertising rates to competitive levels.
For its part, the Corporation has concluded that its budgetary problems make the pursuit of advertising revenue essential. To this end, the Corporation has increased its availabilities in certain programs, adjusted its acceptance policies to make them more flexible, and established on the English-language network a grid card strategy whereby its prices for commercial inventory change according to demand. As the Vice President of the English Television Network informed the Commission, the Corporation's efforts have been paying off:
For many years we were schizophrenic about our presence in the commercial world. Now we unabashedly compete for the sales dollars that are out there and we are proud that we are currently increasing our share of that market against some very tough competition.
In his opening remarks, the President of the CBC stated:
A truly distinctive CBC would imply more programs with fewer commercials and some high quality programs with no commercials at all, as indeed is the case at the moment, but more of those programs. We should be able to do that more often. This is a dream we are not prepared to let go .... But the pressure to increase revenue is constant and rising. I see little prospect in the forseeable future that the pressure will relent in the best of circumstances.
It is the Commission's opinion that one means of generating more revenue from the CBC's current commercial inventory is for it to adjust its advertising rates upward; this could help to minimize the need to introduce advertising messages in programs that are now commercial-free.
Historically, the Corporation has broadcast certain of its public affairs shows, such as Marketplace, as well other types of programs, free of commercial interruption. The Commission agrees with the Corporation that this practice should be maintained for certain categories of programs, where possible, and that the CBC should strive to reduce the potential irritation for viewers of commercial interruptions by the sensitive placement of advertising messages in its programs. Nevertheless, the Commission has taken note of the CBC's general expression of budgetary concern, and as a consequence, considers that, given the current circumstances, the Corporation should pursue available sources of commercial revenue with all reasonable vigour. The Commission agrees with the Corporation's conclusion that its budgetary problems make such initiatives essential.
That the CBC, in light of current financial constraints, adjust its national selective advertising rates to competitive levels to increase total revenues. In its pursuit of this expectation, the Commission expects the Corporation to continue to schedule commercial-free programs, and would not expect this practice to be limited or curtailed in any way as a result of adjustments in advertising rates.
19. Other Sources of Revenue
In 1985/86 miscellaneous revenue accounted for $23 million of the Corporation's total budget, up from $16 million in 1984/85; CBC Enterprises, the Corporation's marketing and promotional wing, generated half of that amount, primarily through the sale of CBC programs to national and international broadcasters and to the public on videocassettes. The remaining miscellaneous revenue comes from what the Corporation termed a "grab bag" of sources.
In light of current financial constraints, and assuming that CBC Enterprises is a profitable venture, the Commission considers it appropriate for the Corporation to take advantage of all of the sources of revenue available to it in addition to the revision of its advertising practices described above.
That the CBC, in light of current financial constraints, maximize other means of increasing revenues, provided these means are clearly profitable.
Other Services
In addition, with regard to other services, the Commission acknowledges the CBC's responses in its applications to the questions asked of it concerning the Parliamentary Services. In particular the Commission notes the CBC's intention to meet with the Speaker of the House of Commons or a Special Committee of Parliament to discuss Parliament's recommendations relating to the management or distribution of this service. At the hearing the Corporation referred to an internal Consultative Committee that was investigating "appropriate content and usage for the time available on the satellite transponders used to distribute the Parliamentary Services." In response to an intervention from the Canadian Cable Television Association (CCTA), the Corporation indicated that it would also consult with representatives of the CCTA on this matter.
The Commission urges the CBC to facilitate the process of these discussions and expects the Corporation to give a full report on its future plans to the Commission at the time of the renewal of the Parliamentary Service, the licences for which expire 30 September 1987.
The Commission also asked the Corporation a number of questions about proposals put forward in the 1983 Strategy document and "Let's Do It" concerning expanded programming services, such as second television network services in English and French, the establishment of a commercially-supported Windsor superstation designed to appeal to U.S. audiences, and involvement with other partners in one or more commercial specialty services. The Corporation indicated in its application that none of these proposals has "moved beyond the concept stage." Internal feasibility studies currently underway are evaluating various funding mechanisms.
Throughout this decision, the Commission has highlighted the many areas where the CBC has demonstrated its abilities and achievements. The Commission has commended the Corporation for its remarkable success in the production and scheduling of Canadian drama, both on its own and in co-operation with independent producers; for its continuing tradition of excellence in news and public affairs; for the quantity and quality of its children's programming; for the non-violent nature of CBC programming generally; for CBC's efforts to increase inter-network program exchange and to provide closed captioned programming for the hearing-impaired viewer. The Commission has also indicated in this decision where improvements must be made.
This environment, in which the CBC now operates, is vastly different from that of 1968 when the mandates for Canada's public broadcasting service and for the system as a whole were established by the current legislation. At that time cable was a relatively new technology, and neither satellite distribution in general nor direct-to-home satellite delivery of broadcast signals had yet been realized. Indeed, at the time there existed few independent television stations, no educational broadcasting services, and certainly no discretionary services, all of which are strongly in evidence today.
In less than two decades the viewing choices of Canadians have multiplied. As so frequently happens when such a rapid expansion occurs, it has taken somewhat longer to develop sufficient programming content to satisfy the technical capacity of the channel spectrum.
Nonetheless, it is impressive that while Canadians enjoyed only several hundred hours of Canadian programming per year prior to 1968, today the Canadian television industry, collectively, is each year delivering hundreds of thousands of hours of Canadian programs. Audiences have become more sophisticated in their choices and demand programming with the high production values often associated with the expensive entertainment programs that dominate U.S. prime time television. This explains why they are attracted in large numbers to attractive Canadian productions when these are offered.
Today's decision recognizes these realities. Further, the decision has emphasized that the Commission has both the mandate and the responsibility to establish objectives, conditions of licence and expectations regarding the content and scheduling of the CBC's television networks and the provision and quality of CBC services, with respect to such matters as Canadian content, drama, children's programming, regional reflection and the Northern Service, as well as the responsibility to outline priorities for the implementation of these objectives and expectations, particularly since the CBC has not established its priorities for the future.
In entrusting the supervision and regulation of Canada's broadcasting system to the Commission, Parliament endowed the CRTC with a broad range of responsibilities relating to the issuance and renewal of licences, the formulation of regulations, the imposition of conditions of licence, and the interpretation of the policy objectives for the Canadian broadcasting system as set out in the Broadcasting Act. On this basis, the Commission has outlined a broad vision for the future role of the CBC and established a number of challenging goals which are described earlier in this decision in the section entitled long-term objectives. In addition, the CRTC has stipulated four conditions of licence and nineteen expectations for the new five-year licence term which it believes the CBC must accomplish as necessary steps towards the fulfillment of the longer-term goals.
The Commission's long-term vision for the CBC sees the Corporation continuing to play a pivotal role in the Canadian broadcasting system, as a distinctive service of quality, truly Canadian, with a strong emphasis on drama, children's programming and news and public affairs. The Commission's outline for the future direction of the CBC also includes a balanced representation of native Canadians and those of various cultural and racial origins; a more relevant service for Francophones residing outside the province of Quebec; a full-fledged Northern Service; complete closed captioning for the hearing-impaired viewer; a fair and equitable balance between network and regional production, distribution and scheduling; a representative number of broadcasts of performances by Canadian performing arts groups; more program exchange between the English and French television networks, and a close alliance with Canada's independent production industry. In the Commission's view, the long-term vision for the CBC should include a reduced reliance on advertising as a source of revenue as its Government appropriations increase and its funding is approved on a longer-term basis, as well as the eventual replacement of its affiliated stations.
The Commission's long-term vision for the CBC, which is shared by many interveners, embodies the essential elements of what the national public service should be and can be for Canadians under the existing Broadcasting Act. The Commission reiterates that it is mindful that current financial constraints could make it difficult for the CBC to fully attain all of these objectives during the coming licence term and it has, therefore, framed them as long-term objectives.
The Commission has also set out nineteen precise expectations for the next licence term. For the most part these expectations are phrased in terms that endorse the Corporation's existing level of activity. Although they were developed taking into account the CBC's current financial restrictions, they are nevertheless goals which the Commission feels the Corporation can realistically meet. By numbering the various expectations it has set for the new licence term, the CRTC has, in effect, established a list of priorities for their implementation.
The Commission has identified, as a first priority, minimum target levels for certain categories of programming, including the maintenance of the CBC's existing levels of Canadian content in the 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. time period and its scheduling of Canadian drama and programming for children. In addition, the Commission has included expectations with respect to increased program exchange between the two networks, the monthly scheduling of performing arts broadcasts, the exposure of new Canadian artistic talent, and the immediate diversification of foreign program sources.
The Commission's expectations for the licence term call for improvements in the CBC's current activities in five areas: an increase in the number of regional productions aired by the networks; the provision of a daily pan-Arctic newscast on the Northern Service; an increase in the amount of programming in categories other than news, information, and sports, that is to be acquired from the Canadian independent production sector; an improvement in the quality of the weekend information programming of the French television network; and more closed captioned programming. These demands, which have been kept to a reasonable and realistic level, are in line with solutions that were suggested in the public representations to the Commission.
The Commission considers all nineteen expectations to be of great significance if the CBC is to achieve the more demanding objectives set out for it in relation to its future role. However, in order for the Corporation to meet the expectations for the coming licence term, it is of utmost importance that the CBC receive the Government's continued and strong support. Should Parliament deem, however, that the existing legislation has set out demands and obligations for the CBC that are beyond the CBC's current level of financing, it must seriously consider if it should reduce its expectations as to the level and quality of service the Corporation is currently mandated to deliver and that the Commission is, at present, mandated to expect of the national public broadcaster.
The Commission is very much aware of the funding constraints that the CBC faces. For this reason it has taken care to limit the number of conditions of licence and not to impose unreasonable expectations. While some of the expectations outlined in this decision may require an increase over and above the CBC's current financial commitment, several others can be undertaken at little or no additional cost. Further, the Commission would like to point out that many of these initiatives can be embarked upon simultaneously: for instance, Canadian musical talent can be encouraged through regional productions that receive network circulation; a policy to improve the representation of Canadians of diverse cultural origins can be achieved within the current level of Canadian drama productions; the sources of foreign television content can be diversified without diminishing the current levels of Canadian programming in prime time.
With respect to the funding of the CBC, the Commission recognizes that, particularly in recent years, the CBC has had to face reductions in its government appropriations. Shortly before the October 1978 renewal hearing, the CBC's appropriation for 1979/1980 was reduced by $71 million. Similarly, earlier fiscal restraint programs had prevented the Government from adhering to a 1975 commitment to provide the national broadcasting service with yearly increases of 5% over and above inflation.
The Commission has long been aware of and has, in the past, expressed concern about the funding of the national public service, particularly in circumstances that limit the CBC's ability to meet its statutory objectives as outlined in the existing legislation.
Decision CRTC 74-70 referred to testimony given at the February 1974 renewal hearing that the operating costs of the Corporation had been reduced by more than $130 million over the previous five years. At that time, while acknowledging that the CBC should make "every effort to curtail excesses and to ensure increased cost effectiveness", the Commission went on to say:
The CBC needs significant, enthusiastic and tangible public support to increase production, to improve the quality of programs and to extend and improve the facilities required to provide a better service to all Canadians.
The Commission stated that, if the objectives for the Canadian broadcasting system as a whole were to be achieved, the CBC must, as an immediate priority, be enabled to increase the quantity and improve the quality of its Canadian programming capability. It considered this "indispensable" to the CBC's fulfillment of its mandate and stated further that without such a commitment on the part of the Government, the Act's objectives would merely be "illusory".
In discussing the financial support of the national broadcasting service in the 1979 renewal decision, the Commission recognized that "it is the responsibility of Parliament, Treasury Board and the Auditor General to monitor the effectiveness and efficiency of the use of funds provided by Parliament." The CRTC further explained that its concern with the financing of the CBC is directly related to its assessment of the Corporation's ability to maintain its legislated mandate and duly licensed programming services.
The 1979 renewal decision emphasized that the demands on the Corporation are many and diverse. It stated that Parliament should either supply the necessary funds to meet the CBC's fundamental priorities "or reduce its expectations of the level and quality of services that the Corporation will otherwise be constrained to deliver." The Commission has no hesitation in this present decision in reiterating this statement.
The Commission is convinced that unless and until the mandate of the national broadcasting service is changed, the Government should assure itself that the CBC has sufficient funds to enable the Corporation to fulfill the objectives set out for it in the Broadcasting Act. Given the exigencies of the Act, the significance of the CBC within the Canadian broadcasting system, and the high expectations the Canadian public has for the CBC, the Commission considers this a matter of urgent priority.
The Corporation's ability to perform its statutory mandate is also contingent upon adequate funds being approved on a multi-year basis to enable the CBC to develop and adhere to coherent strategies to meet its diverse requirements. The Commission has also stated that it expects the Corporation, in the interim, to pursue more agressively advertising revenues and explore other means of obtaining revenue to increase its available funds.
Finally, the Commission reminds the Corporation that, given the present economic circumstances, it must give first consideration to its primary mandate as spelled out in this decision. As such, and so as not to jeopardize the basic raison d'être of the national broadcasting service, the Commission is of the opinion that the CBC should not undertake new programming projects such as second television service, the proposed Windsor superstation or involvement with commercial specialty services unless special separate funding is secured. The Commission does not consider it appropriate for the CBC to allocate funds from its available resources for such developments until the Corporation has fulfilled the expectations that have been established for the new licence term.
Fernand Bélisle
Secretary Genenral

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