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Ottawa, 21 December 2011

Mr. Jay Thomson
Broadcasting Policy and Regulatory Affairs
601 Bank Street
Ottawa (Ontario) K1S 3T4

Mr. Ted East
1001-2 Bloor Street West
Toronto (Ontario) M4W 3E2

Subject : Request to obtain information designated confidential by Astral Media Inc.

Dear Sirs,

This letter concerns the requests by the Canadian Media Production Association (CMPA) on 13 December 2011 and by the Canadian Association of Film Distributors & Exporters (CAFDE) on 15 December 2011 to obtain information designated as confidential by Astral Media Inc. (Astral) in its filing of 8 December 2011, at the public hearing regarding the development of a regulatory framework for the French-language television market, licence renewals for Astral Media Inc., Quebecor Media Inc. and Serdy Media Inc., and review of certain conditions of licence for V Interactions Inc. (Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2011-525).

The CMPA submitted that the disclosure of this information would be in the public interest and that the disclosure of the Astral information is therefore necessary for the public to monitor whether and if so, to what extent, Astral is contributing to the

current crisis in Canadian theatrical film funding and support.  As well, the CMPA explained that the disclosure of that information is necessary for the public to assess if Astral is in compliance with their pay TV mandate, and would be consistent with the Commission’s expectation that Astral demonstrate its support for Canadian feature films “in detail”.  Finally, the CMPA explained that, in the past, the Commission has required VOD services to provide this type of information, therefore, Astral should also be required to provide their information.  The CMPA added that Astral did not provide adequate justification for their request for confidentiality, as required pursuant to Broadcasting and Telecom Information Bulletin CRTC 2010-961, and that, in any event, the Astral information is not the kind of information specifically identified in that Information Bulletin as being information the Commission would typically treat as confidential. CAFDE is in agreement with the CMPA letter.

In its reply dated 16 December 2011, Astral confirmed the confidentiality of the information submitted on 8 December 2011.  First, Astral explained that the information contained in “% Breakdown - TMN and Super Écran - License Fees for Canadian Theatrical Feature Films versus Original Canadian Dramatic Series” is highly sensitive commercial information and that its disclosure would prejudice Astral’s competitive position.  As well, the disclosure of the information could prejudice Astral’s negotiations with both Canadian and foreign suppliers. Moreover, it puts Astral at a competitive disadvantage relative to other buyers of programming including foreign buyers.  Finally, Astral submitted that this type of information was not requested from the Anglophone broadcasting groups in the context of their renewals hearing earlier this year and that this information is not relevant in this context, as it is irrelevant to assess any potential compliance issue related to TMN or Super Écran.

The Commission considers that the data submitted by Astral would reveal the precise amount invested by TMN (The Movie Network) in Canadian films, as Astral informed the panel during the hearing that TMN has spent $9,266,534 on drama and Canadian films combined. The Commission notes that this type of information is typically kept confidential as it provides a level of detail on historical data that goes beyond what the Commission requests broadcasters submit within their annual returns. In light of the above, the Commission considers that the disclosure of this type of information would likely result in direct harm and cause prejudice to Astral’s competitiveness.  Therefore, in the present case, this prejudice outweighs the public interest.

In light of the above, the Commission confirms the confidentiality of Astral’s document and denies the requests by the CMPA and by CAFDE.

Please note that a copy of this letter will be placed on the public file for this proceeding.


Original signed by

John Traversy
Secretary General

c.c.: Astral

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