Broadcasting Procedural Letter adressed to Various Parties

Ottawa, 14 March 2019

Our reference: 1011-NOC2019-0067

BY EMAIL

Kevin Goldstein, Vice President – Regulatory Affairs, Content and Distribution, BCE Inc.
Karen Phillips, Senior Director, Government Relations and Compliance, Corus Entertainment Inc.
Susan Wheeler, Vice-President, Regulatory, Media, Rogers Media Inc.

BY REGISTERED MAIL

Douglas A. Smith, Vice President, Client Relations, CBS Studios
Robert Cooper, Senior Vice President, Business and Legal Affairs, Warner Bros. International Television Distribution Inc.
Ryan Victor, Senior Vice President, Business and Legal Affairs, NBCUniversal
Phil King, Senior Vice President, Sony Pictures Television Canada

RE:  Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2019-67 – Request for Information by 8 April 2019

Madams, Sirs,

This letter sets out the questions for parties to this proceeding to answer by 8 April 2019.

Context

On 11 March 2019, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) published Broadcasting Notice of Consultation 2019-67 Call for comments on an amendment proposed by Bell Media Inc., Corus Entertainment Inc. and Rogers Media Inc. to their condition of licence that requires prime time programming to be broadcast with described video.

In paragraph 19 of that Notice, the Commission stated that “The Commission may request information, in the form of interrogatories, from any party to the proceeding.” Responses to questions from the Commission must be filed by 8 April 2019.

This letter sets out questions to be answered by that date.

Procedures for filing

Responses to these requests for information must 1) refer to the file number noted above, and 2) be sent to the Secretary General of the Commission via My CRTC Account (at the following link: https://crtc.gc.ca/eng/cover.htm) using GCKey. GCKey allows you to securely access the Government of Canada’s online services and conduct online business.

For further information on how to submit your response, see the CRTC’s web page Submitting applications and other documents to the CRTC using My CRTC Account.

As set out in Broadcasting and Telecom Information Bulletin 2010-961, Procedures for filing confidential information and requesting its disclosure in Commission proceedings, parties may designate certain information as confidential. Parties must provide an abridged version of the document involved, accompanied by a detailed rationale to explain why the disclosure of the information is not in the public interest. All submissions are to be made in accordance with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission Rules of Practice and Procedure, SOR/2010-277.

Should you have any questions, please contact Natalie Riendeau, Senior Analyst, Social and Consumer Policy, at natalie.riendeau@crtc.gc.ca.

A copy of this letter and all related correspondence will be added to the public record of the proceeding.

Yours sincerely,

(Original signed by)

Nanao Kachi
Director, Social and Consumer Policy
CRTC

c.c. mary-louise.hayward@crtc.gc.ca, Manager, Social and Consumer Policy


Appendix 1 - Questions for Bell and Rogers

  1. When the Commission renewed the licences of Bell (2017-149) and Rogers (2017-151) for the term of 1 September 2017 to 31 August 2022, it imposed the described video requirement of BRP 2015-104 as a condition of licence to take effect by 1 September 2019.  The record of the licence renewal process shows that neither Bell nor Rogers indicated any obstacles that would affect their ability to adhere to this described video requirement for any programming including non-Canadian. 

    Explain what has occurred since your 2016 submission to the renewal process that makes it impossible to meet the described video condition of your licence by 1 September 2019.  Include in your answer details concerning when you first became aware of the situation and the steps that you took to proactively address the issues.

Appendix 2 - Questions for Bell, Rogers and Corus

  1. In the records of the proceedings that resulted in BRP 2015-104, BRP 2016-436, Decision 2017-149, Decision 2017-150 and Decision 2017-151, the Commission asked questions of Bell, Rogers and Corus to confirm that these licensees include a “line item” in their procurement policies or licensing agreements that requires described video to be delivered with the programming such that it is procured as accessible.  During those proceedings, all parties confirmed that this is indeed the practice for procuring programming including that from non-Canadian sources.  No party indicated that doing so was impossible.

    In light of the above, please comment on the statement made at paragraph 3 of the application:  “… it is simply impossible to meet the new requirement as of 1 September 2019.”

  2. Provide your scheduled prime-time (7:00pm to 11:00pm) programming for 2019/2020 season and beyond where it is known.  From that schedule, identify each non-Canadian program and for each provide the following information:
    1. The timeslot in which it is to be aired.
    2. The program category.
    3. First-run or repeat broadcast as applicable.
    4. Country of origin.
    5. How the program is delivered to you, i.e., mail, electronically, etc.
    6. Delivered to you for broadcast with or without described video, as applicable.
    7. Simultaneous airing by a U.S. network.
    8. Airing by your network using the simultaneous-substitution regulatory framework.
    9. Live or near-live. 
      In your answer, define what is meant by live and near-live with examples.
  3. In planning your first-run prime-time programming for 2019/2020 season (and beyond where it is known) identified in your answer to question 3:
    1. Confirm that it is your practice to procure this programming with described video where it is available from sources that include production house, studio, and networks.
    2. Are there any circumstance where you are not able to procure this programming with described video?  If yes, provide details including:
      1. When your organization first became aware of this situation; and
      2. The measures proactively taken by your organization to meet the described video conditions of your licence.
  4. It is the practice for Canadian networks to procure American programming from U.S. sources or representatives that include production houses, studios and networks.  For each of the programs that you have identified in your answer to question 3, on what date did you finalize your agreements with the supplier for broadcast on your network? 
  5. Appendix C of the application includes letters from Sony Pictures Television, CBS Studios International, Warner Brothers International Television Distribution Inc., and NBC Universal.
    1. Does your organization have agreements in place with each or any of these companies or their subsidiaries for the procurement of the programming listed in your answer to question 3? 
    2. List all other companies that your organization has agreements in place for procurement of the programming listed in your answer to question 3. 
    3. For the companies that you have identified in your answers to 6. a. and b.,
      1. Identify the specific programming supplied by each company in respect of your answer to question 3.
      2. Confirm that your agreements with each company or its subsidiaries set out requirements that described video must be provided with this programming.
      3. Identify the duration of these agreements.  Identify the opportunities that are available to amend these agreements to address your described video regulatory obligations set out in your licence.
      4. File with the Commission the agreements that you have in place with these companies or their subsidiaries in respect of your answer to question 3.
  6. For the same programming, is there a price difference between procuring a version with described video, and one without described video?  If yes, provide details of such differences across a typical range of programs.
  7. In circumstances where programming is not delivered with described video, explain why it is not possible to negotiate the delivery of the programing in a timeframe that would allow you to arrange for the program to be described?
  8. In BRP 2015-104, the Commission focused on increasing the amount of described video in the Canadian broadcasting system.  Outside of requesting the Commission to grant the proposed amendment set out in the application:
    1. Identify other solutions that your organization has considered to meet the described video requirement conditions of licence.  Provide in your answer why these would not be viable options.
    2. Explain why adjusting your prime-time schedule to air the programming at another time after it is described (e.g., 72 hours plus after delivery) is not an option.
  9. Refer to FCC Report and Order FCC 17-88, 12 July 2017 that took effect on July 1, 2018.Footnote1   At paragraph 9, the FCC stated (emphasis added):

    Because a given hour of described programming can be counted twice toward the requirements of the rules (once when initially aired, and once when rerun), any given included network would need a total of 175 hours of first-run described programming on that network per year to comply with the expanded video description requirement adopted today.

    In light of the above, provide your view with respect to the degree to which first-run prime-time American programming produced with described video for the U.S. market is available to fulfill the described video condition set out in your current licence. 

    If you have identified a shortfall, is there other programming with described video available in the U.S. market that you could procure to meet your licence condition?

  10. Appendix B of the application includes letters addressed to Rogers and Bell from Red Bee and Onextra respectively.
    1. Rogers:  Confirm the relationship between your organization and Red Bee.  Include in your answer how this relationship is related to your position set out in the application. Is Rogers able to secure similar services from a company other than Red Bee?  If no, explain why.  If yes, provide the name(s) of applicable organization(s).
    2. Bell:  Confirm the relationship between your organization and Onextra.  Include in your answer how this relationship is related to your position set out in the application. Is Bell able to secure similar services from a company other than Onextra? If no, explain why.  If yes, provide the name(s) of applicable organization(s).
    3. Corus:  On 16 September 2015, Corus announced the creation of Quay Media ServicesFootnote2 and the acquisition of FastFile Media Services:Footnote3   For the programming at issue in this application for which a 72-hour exception has been requested:
      1. Confirm the degree to which Corus uses or plans to use Quay Media Services and/or FastFile Media Services to provide described video. 
      2. In your answer specify whether or not Corus uses this approach in conjunction with, or in lieu of, setting out procurement requirements for described video programming in agreements with suppliers.
      3. Confirm whether Quay Media Services or FastFile Media Services has, or plans to have, commercial arrangements to provide described video services to the entities identified in this application, i.e., Bell, Rogers, Onextra or Red Bee.   If yes, describe the nature of those commercial arrangements.
  11. Provide details of the consultations that you held with accessibility organizations and/or Canadians who rely on described video to access programming when you developed the proposed amendment presented in the application.  Show where you have considered their input.
  12. In the proposed amendment, explain what is precisely meant by the statement “Such programs will be broadcast with described video for repeat airings scheduled in prime time greater than 72 hours from delivery.”  Specify in your answer where the broadcasts are available on a linear and on a non-linear platform.

Appendix 3 – Sony Pictures Television Canada, CBS Studios International, Warner Brothers, International Television Distribution Inc., and NBCUniversal.

Sony Pictures Television Canada

  1. Please see your letter dated October 24, 2018 to Corus Entertainment Inc., filed in support of the Licensees’ application to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).  Please provide the following information.
    1. Your letter states (emphasis added):

      This letter is to confirm that episodic broadcast materials for first run television series to Corus Entertainment Inc. for exhibition in Canada on a ‘day/date’ basis with the initial linear broadcast of the same first run television series in the US are frequently delivered without Described Video to Corus on the day of broadcast and often only a few hours prior to broadcast of said episode.

      Please explain what is meant by the language underscored above.  In your answer, please clarify how often (“frequently”) and the circumstances under which this occurs.

    2. Please explain why this programming cannot be delivered to Corus in a timeframe earlier, i.e., 72 hours or greater, prior to broadcast.
    3. To what extent are the first-run prime-time programs that are the subject of this letter (i.e., “delivered to Corus on the day of broadcast and often only a few hours prior to broadcast of said episode”) the same as those delivered without video description to the top 60 U.S. television networks?
    4. Please refer to FCC Report and Order FCC 17-88, 12 July 2017 that took effect on July 1, 2018.
      1. Does Sony Pictures Television or any of its subsidiaries supply first-run prime-time programming to broadcast stations or multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) in the United States to which the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) rules apply? 
      2. If yes, please explain the process followed by these U.S. networks to procure prime-time programming with video description in order to meet the FCC’s requirements. 
      3. In your view, are there any obstacles that could prevent Canadian broadcasters from using the same or similar approaches as in your answer to (ii) to procure first-run prime-time programming with video description?

CBS Studios International

  1. Please see your letter dated November 15, 2018 to Global Entertainment and Acquisitions (Corus Entertainment Inc.), filed in support of the Licensees’ application to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).  Please provide the following information.
    1. Your letter states (emphasis added):

      This letter is to confirm that episodic broadcast materials for first run television series to Corus Entertainment for exhibition in Canada on a ‘day/date’ basis with the initial linear broadcast of the same first run television series in the US are frequently delivered without Described Video to Corus and are frequently delivered on the day of broadcast of said episode.

      Please explain what is meant by the language underscored above.  In your answer, please clarify how often (“frequently”) and the circumstances under which this occurs.

    2. Please explain why this programming cannot be delivered to Corus in a timeframe earlier, i.e., 72 hours or greater, prior to broadcast.
    3. To what extent are the first-run prime-time programs that are the subject of the letter (i.e., “delivered to Corus on the day of broadcast and often only a few hours prior to broadcast of said episode”) the same as those delivered without video description to the top 60 U.S. television networks?
    4. Please refer to FCC Report and Order FCC 17-88, 12 July 2017 that took effect on July 1, 2018.
      1. Does CBS Studios International or any of its subsidiaries supply first-run prime-time programming to broadcast stations or multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) in the United States to which the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) rules apply?  
      2. If yes, please explain the process followed by these U.S. networks to procure prime-time programming with video description in order to meet the FCC’s requirements. 
      3. In your view, are there any obstacles that could prevent Canadian broadcasters from using the same or similar approaches as in your answer to (ii) to procure first-run prime-time programming with video description?

Warner Brothers, International Television Distribution Inc.

  1. Please see your letter dated August 31, 2018 to Rogers Media Inc., filed in support of the Licensees’ application to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).  Please provide the following information.
    1. Your letter states (emphasis added):

      This letter is to confirm that episodic broadcast materials for first run television series licensed by Warner Bros. International Television Distribution Inc. (“Warner”) to Rogers Media Inc. (“Rogers”) for exhibition in Canada on a ‘day/date’ basis with the initial linear broadcast of such first run television series in the U.S.A. are delivered to Rogers in Toronto on the day of such initial U.S. broadcast (and generally only a few hours prior to U.S. broadcast) of such an episode.

      Please explain what is meant by the language underscored above.  In your answer, please clarify how often this occurs and the circumstances under which it occurs.

    2. Please explain why this programming cannot be delivered to Rogers in a timeframe earlier, i.e., 72 hours or greater, prior to broadcast.
    3. To what extent are the first-run prime-time programs that are the subject of the letter (i.e., “delivered to Rogers on the day of broadcast and often only a few hours prior to broadcast of said episode”) that same as those delivered without video description to the top 60 U.S. television networks?
    4. Please refer to FCC Report and Order FCC 17-88, 12 July 2017 that took effect on July 1, 2018.
      1. Does Warner or any of its subsidiaries supply first-run prime-time programming to broadcast stations or multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) in the United States to which the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) rules apply?  
      2. If yes, please explain the process followed by these U.S. networks to procure prime-time programming with video description in order to meet the FCC’s requirements. 
      3. In your view, are there any obstacles that could prevent Canadian broadcasters from using the same or similar approaches as in your answer to (ii) to procure first-run prime-time programming with video description?

NBCUniversal

  1. Please see your letter dated October 18, 2018 to Bell Media, filed in support of the Licensees’ application to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).  Please provide the following information.
    1. Your letter states (emphasis added):

      This letter is to confirm that first run television series licensed by NBC Universal to Bell Media for exhibition in Canada on a “day/date” basis with their initial linear broadcast of such first run television series in the U.S., are delivered to Bell Media in Toronto for the most part 24-hours ahead of the initial U.S. broadcast.

      Please explain what is meant by the language underscored above.  In your answer, please clarify how often this occurs (“for the most part”) and the circumstances under which this occurs.

    2. Please explain why this programming cannot be delivered to Bell in a timeframe earlier, i.e., 72 hours or greater, prior to broadcast.
    3. To what extent are the first-run prime-time programs that are the subject of the letter (i.e., “delivered to Bell on the day of broadcast and often only a few hours prior to broadcast of said episode”) that same as those delivered without video description to the top 60 U.S. television networks?
    4. Please refer to FCC Report and Order FCC 17-88, 12 July 2017 that took effect on July 1, 2018.
      1. Does NBCUniversal or any of its subsidiaries supply first-run prime-time programming to broadcast stations or multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) in the United States to which the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) rules apply?  
      2. If yes, please explain the process followed by these U.S. networks to procure prime-time programming with video description in order to meet the FCC’s requirements. 
      3. In your view, are there any obstacles that could prevent Canadian broadcasters from using the same or similar approaches as in your answer to (ii) to procure first-run prime-time programming with video description?
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