ARCHIVED - Broadcasting Procedural Letter Addressed to Monica L. Auer (Forum for Research and Policy in Communications)
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Ottawa, 22 January 2016
Monica L. Auer
Forum for Research and Policy in Communications (FRPC)
Re: Procedural request – Appeal of CRTC staff’s denial of FRPC’s 21 December 2015 procedural request
This is in response to your letter dated 24 December 2015 requesting that the Commission reverse the decision made by its staff on 23 December 2015 to deny requests for procedural changes to the review of Local and Community Programming, outlined in Broadcasting Notice of Consultation 2015-421 (BNC 2015-421).
In your 24 December 2015 letter, you submitted that parties were denied procedural fairness in this proceeding for a number of reasons, including:
- The established deadlines are not reasonable and do not provide a sufficient amount of time to gather evidence to respond to the contents of an additional document (the additional document) to be published by the Commission on 12 January 2016.
- Parties have a legitimate expectation of a reasonable opportunity to provide written comments on the additional document given that, in response to previous procedural requests relating to the extension of the deadline for filing comments, the Commission had suggested that parties may be able to request to add additional information to the public record at the time of the issuance of the additional document.
- The 23 December 2015 staff letter did not provide sufficient rationale for denying FRPC’s request for more time between the publication of the additional document and the public hearing.
In your letter, you also argued that:
- The 23 December 2015 staff letter did not provide rationale as to why a deadline for final replies should not be established in advance to enable all parties to plan their work effectively and efficiently; and
- It is unclear from the 23 December staff letter whether parties will have the opportunity to submit new evidence as part of their final comments.
Accordingly, FRPC requested that the Commission reverse the determinations in the 23 December 2015 staff letter and:
a) publish the additional document on or before 4 January 2016 or alternatively postpone the public hearing for several weeks;
b) publish the deadline for replies in the 2015-421 proceeding forthwith, so that interveners may schedule their work accordingly; and
c) clarify whether new evidence may be submitted in parties’ final replies
With respect to your request to publish the additional document on or before 4 January 2016 or alternatively to postpone the public hearing for several weeks, the Commission notes that the additional document was published on 12 January 2016 in BNC 2015-421-3. The period of time separating the publication of the additional document and the commencement of the public hearing in this proceeding is consistent with the Commission’s past practices with similar additional documents (see Telecom Notice of Consultation CRTC 2012-557-3 and Broadcasting Notice of Consultation 2014-190-3). The content of this document is based on comments received and its purpose is to set out areas for exploration at the hearing in order to focus discussion and debate during the public hearing. As such, the Commission does not expect interested parties to file additional written submissions in response to the document, but rather that they would prepare to discuss specific issues identified by the Commission based on information that already forms part of the public record, at the hearing.
Regarding your arguments with respect to procedural fairness, the Commission notes that it may modify its procedures as the proceeding progresses in order to respond to issues that arise or to fill gaps in the record based on a consideration of fairness or the public interest. In the present proceeding, given the number of parties that expressed their intention to seek to add information on the public record in light of a conference that was held after the intervention deadline had passed, the Commission modified its procedures to allow for these requests within a specific timeframe. This additional process ensures fairness to all parties, the development of a more fulsome record, and allows time for parties to take into consideration the additional information when preparing for their appearance at the hearing.
For the reasons set out above, the Commission denies your request to publish the additional document on or before 4 January 2016 or alternatively, to postpone the public hearing for several weeks.
The Commission notes that, as indicated in BNC 2015-421-3, issued on 12 January 2016, the deadline for replies is 15 February 2016. The Rules of Practice and Procedure are applicable to such submissions. As such, replies should respond to elements raised on the record of the proceeding, but not introduce new issues. Parties may submit evidence as part of their final comments as long as it is consistent with the Rules of Practice and Procedure or with any other direction the Commission may give during or after the hearing.
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