Broadcasting - Commission Letter addressed to Tulsa Valin-Landry (Conseil provincial du secteur des communications)
Ottawa, 13 December 2021
Our reference: 1011-NOC2021-0281
Conseil provincial du secteur des communications
Re: Application 2021-0228-4 – Application by Rogers Communications Inc. (Rogers), on behalf of Shaw Communications Inc. (Shaw), for Rogers to acquire all of the issued and outstanding shares of Shaw
The Commission is in receipt of a procedural request by the Conseil provincial du secteur des communications (CPSC) of the Syndicat canadien de la fonction publique (SCFP). In its procedural request, CPSC explained that due to unforeseen circumstances and serious health issues experienced by its regulatory officer, it was unable to submit an intervention nor file a procedural request earlier.
CPSC represents members of the Montréal Global television station and of the independent broadcaster RNC Media Inc. in the Outaouais region. It noted that its members are the only group specifically serving an official language minority community and that they could be directly impacted by the redistribution of Independent Local News Fund monies.
Under section 7 of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission Rules of Practice and Procedure (the Rules), if the Commission is of the opinion that considerations of public interest or fairness permit, it may dispense with or vary these Rules. Further, paragraph 10(e) of the Rules allows the Commission to provide an opportunity for parties to make written or oral representations.
Consequently, the CPSC requested that the Commission allow it to make final submissions based on the documents added to the public record by the deadline for the submission of final written submissions, namely 13 December 2021, although it is not a party to the proceeding. The Commission notes that Unifor and the Forum for Research and Policy in Communications have expressed their support of CPSC’s procedural request.
Rogers also provided a response in which it noted that it would clearly be prejudiced by the participation of CPSC at such a late stage in this proceeding given that it would be filing new arguments and new evidence in respect of its application. Moreover, it indicated that every other party to this proceeding, including the vast majority of interveners who filed comments in support of its application, would also be prejudiced because they would not have the opportunity to address the issues, arguments and evidence that CPSC is proposing to file.
The Commission notes that CPSC did not file an intervention during the intervention period nor did it request an extension of time to allow it to intervene at a later date. Rather, it waited until the public hearing was completed to file a procedural request. In Broadcasting Notice of Consultation 2021-281-1, the Commission already extended the opportunity to all interveners, including those who did not participate at the oral phase, to make final submissions. In varying its procedures to provide the opportunity of final submissions, the Commission clearly indicated to parties that they cannot submit new evidence in their final submissions and replies, with the exception of any information requested by the Commission.
While the Commission appreciates the circumstances surrounding the inability of CPSC to submit an intervention, it nonetheless considers that CPSC did not sufficiently demonstrate that it would be in the public interest or in the interests of fairness to warrant that the Commission vary its Rules in this instance. The Commission notes that Rogers has raised concerns as to the fairness of accepting an out-of-process intervention at this stage of the proceeding. The Commission further notes that numerous parties to the proceeding, including Corus have already submitted evidence related to the potential negative impact on Global stations to the record of this proceeding.
Therefore, the Commission finds that approving this request would represent a significant departure from its procedural practices as the CPSC would be introducing evidence on the record to which the applicant will have a limited opportunity to respond. Further, the Commission was clear in its intention when it added a final submissions period that it was limited for a reply to information currently on the record or of any information requested by the Commission.
In light of the above, the Commission denies the procedural request by CPSC to add new information to the public record.
- Date modified: