Broadcasting Commission Letter addressed to Distribution List
Ottawa, 11 March 2016
Re: Clarifications in regard to questions included in the letters requesting licence renewal applications from large English-language ownership groups
Dear Ms. Courtemanche, Ms. Clout, Ms. Wheeler and Mr. Goldstein:
On 4 March 2016, Bell Media Inc., Corus Entertainment Inc., Rogers Media Inc. and Shaw Media Inc. (collectively, the Groups) requested clarifications in regard to questions in the letters sent on 8 February 2016 requesting licence renewal applications. The information sought related to:
- the request to file partial historical financial information for the 2015-2016 broadcast year;
- the definitions for original programming and newly commissioned programming; and
- the request to break down programming expenditures by program category.
Partial historical financial information for the 2015-2016 broadcast year
The 8 February 2016 letter requests that the Groups provide historical financial data for the first six months of the 2015-2016 broadcast year (from September 2015 to February 2016) as well as financial projections for the next six broadcast years, starting with the complete 2015-2016 broadcast year. The Groups stated that it was impracticable to break down financial information for the first six months of the 2015-2016 broadcast year and that such information would not provide a clear picture of the year. The Groups proposed instead to provide financial projections for the full 2015-2016 broadcast year.
The purpose of these questions is to obtain a complete overview of the current and future licence terms. In our opinion, the Groups’ proposal would generally provide such an overview. Further information may be requested in future requests for information. For example, the Groups will be required to update these projections with actual historical information following the end of the broadcast year.
The Groups are reminded that, pursuant to Broadcasting and Telecom Information Bulletin 2010-961:
- they may designate as confidential, projections for years remaining in the current licence term for television stations submitted as part of renewals;
- projections for years remaining in the current licence term for pay and specialty submitted as part of renewals are generally treated as public.
The definitions of original programming and newly commissioned programming
The 8 February 2016 letter requests that the Groups provide historical financial information related to Canadian programming expenditures (CPE) and expenditures related to programs of national interest (PNI) for original first-run and newly commissioned programming. The Groups requested clarifications on the definitions of those types of programming.
As set out in Schedule 1 of the Specialty Services Regulations, 1990, and as referred to in the 8 February 2016 letter, an original, first-run program refers to the original exhibition of a program that has not been distributed by another broadcasting undertaking licensed by the Commission. By contrast, according to the same regulations, an original program refers to the original exhibition of a program that has been distributed by another broadcasting undertaking licensed by the Commission.
As set out in the overview form for the annual PNI report, expenditures for newly commissioned programs refer to expenditures for a program original to the service, excluding tangible benefits expenditures, for a given year. It is up to the Groups to inform the public record as to the manner in which they have been reporting their respective PNI expenses and to explain for the record how each has treated the definitions provided.
In their response to this question, the Groups may submit any available data along with any information they feel relevant to inform the public record of the proceeding. The 8 February 2016 letter also invites the Groups to provide their own definition of newly commissioned programs in order to further clarify this concept going forward.
The request to breakdown programming expenditures by program category
The 8 February 2016 letter requests that the Groups provide historical financial information relating to CPE by program category. The purpose of this question is to allow the Commission to evaluate performance over the past licence term and identify trends in spending, which falls within the scope of the licence renewal process. The Groups stated that they do not currently collect information in this way and that providing the requested information would require considerable additional work on their part.
The Groups should respond to the questions to the best of their ability and provide the information they have on hand when they file their licence renewal applications. If they are unable to provide the requested information in its entirety at that time, they should explain the reasons why they are unable to provide the requested information in the timeframe allotted and indicate when the information will be provided.
Should you require additional information, please do not hesitate to contact Joelle Paré by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 613-325-1279, or Julie St-Pierre at email@example.com or 819-956-2974.
A copy of this letter and all related correspondence will be added to the public record of the proceeding.
Original signed by
Acting Senior Manager
English- and Third-language Television
c.c.: Peggy Tabet, firstname.lastname@example.org
Luc Doyon, email@example.com
David Spodek, firstname.lastname@example.org
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