ARCHIVED - Transcript / Transcription - Calgary, Alberta - 2002-04-11
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TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS
FOR THE CANADIAN RADIO‑TELEVISION AND
TRANSCRIPTION DES AUDIENCES DU
CONSEIL DE LA RADIODIFFUSION
ET DES TÉLÉCOMMUNICATIONS CANADIENNES
SUBJECT / SUJET:
HELD AT: TENUE À:
The Metropolitan Centre The Metropolitan Centre
333 Fourth Avenue South West 333, quatrième avenue sud-ouest
Calgary, Alberta Calgary (Alberta)
11 April 2002 Le 11 avril 2002
In order to meet the requirements of the Official Languages
Act, transcripts of proceedings before the Commission will be
bilingual as to their covers, the listing of the CRTC members
and staff attending the public hearings, and the Table of
However, the aforementioned publication is the recorded
verbatim transcript and, as such, is taped and transcribed in
either of the official languages, depending on the language
spoken by the participant at the public hearing.
Afin de rencontrer les exigences de la Loi sur les langues
officielles, les procès‑verbaux pour le Conseil seront
bilingues en ce qui a trait à la page couverture, la liste des
membres et du personnel du CRTC participant à l'audience
publique ainsi que la table des matières.
Toutefois, la publication susmentionnée est un compte rendu
textuel des délibérations et, en tant que tel, est enregistrée
et transcrite dans l'une ou l'autre des deux langues
officielles, compte tenu de la langue utilisée par le
participant à l'audience publique.
Canadian Radio‑television and
Conseil de la radiodiffusion et des
Transcript / Transcription
BEFORE / DEVANT:
Barbara Cram Regional Commissioner for Manitoba and Saskatchewan / Conseillère régionale pour le Manitoba et la Saskatchewan
Ronald Williams Regional Commissioner for Alberta and the Northwest Territories/ Conseiller régionale pour l'Alberta et les territoires Nord-ouest
David McKendry Commissioner / Conseiller
ALSO PRESENT / AUSSI PRÉSENTS:
Peter Foster Hearing Manager / Gérant de
Marguerite Vogel Hearing Secretary / Secrétaire de l'audience
Secretary / secrétaire
Leanne Bennett Legal Counsels /
Alastair Stewart conseillers juridiques
HELD AT: TENUE À:
The Metropolitan Centre The Metropolitan Centre
333 Fourth Avenue South West 333, quatrième avenue sud-ouest
Calgary, Alberta Calgary (Alberta)
11 April 2002 Le 11 avril 2002
TABLE OF CONTENTS / TABLE DES MATIÈRES
PAGE / PARA NO.
INTERVENTION BY / INTERVENTION PAR
CFTPA (The Canadian Film and Television 1 / 1251
Production Association), Elizabeth McDonald,
NBRS (The National Broadcast Reading Service Inc.), 21 / 1321
Nomadic Pictures Corp., Mike Frislev, Chad Oakes 26 / 1344
Minds Eye Pictures, Josh Miller 31 / 1367
Nancy Laing 37 / 1388
AMPIA (Alberta Motion Picture Industries 45 / 1419
Association), Nick Rye
Marge Gudmundson 60 / 1489
Special Events Committee for Child Find Alberta, 70 / 1530
The Canadian Institute for the Blind, Ellie Shuster 75 / 1553
Meningitis Foundation of Alberta, Earl Shindruk 82 / 1580
The Downtown Business Association of Edmonton, 89 / 1608
The Mustard Seed Street Church, 98 / 1635
Reverend Neil Duncan McLean
The Rainbow Society of Alberta, Craig Hawkins 107 / 1662
S. Dean Yaremchuk 112 / 1677
Provincial Exhibition of Manitoba, Dave Wowchuk 121 / 1705
Louis P. Visentin 129 / 1731
Peak of the Market, Larry McIntosh 139 / 1764
Aboriginal Council of Winnipeg, Wayne Helgason 148 / 1787
National Screen Institute, Bill Evans 168 / 1851
TABLE OF CONTENTS / TABLE DES MATIÈRES
PAGE / PARA NO.
REPLY BY / RÉPLIQUE PAR
by Craig Broadcast Alberta Inc. (CKAL-TV) 173 / 1875
par Craig Broadcast Alberta Inc. (CKAL-TV)
by Craig Broadcast Alberta Inc. (CKEM-TV) 173 / 1875
par Craig Broadcast Alberta Inc. (CKEM-TV)
by Craig Broadcast Systems Inc. (CKX-TV) 173 / 1875
par Craig Broadcast Systems Inc. (CKX-TV)
by Craig Broadcast Systems Inc. (CHMI-TV) 173 / 1875
par Craig Broadcast Systems Inc. (CHMI-TV)
Calgary, Alberta /
--- Upon commencing on Thursday, April 11, 2002 at 0930 / L'audience débute jeudi, le 11 avril 2002 à 0930
1248 THE CHAIRPERSON: Madam Secretary?
1249 THE SECRETARY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. We're in Phase II of this hearing where we will be hearing presentations from interveners. Each intervener has 10 minutes to make a presentation and first up this morning is the Canadian Film and Television Production Association. Elizabeth McDonald and Julia Keatley will present on their behalf. Could I ask you to speak quite close to the microphone, please, so that everyone can hear.
1250 MS. McDONALD: Good morning, Mr. Chair, and members of the Commission. My name is Elizabeth McDonald and I'm the president and CEO of the Canadian Film and Television Production Association. With me today is Julia Keatley, who is Vice-Chair of our Board of Directors and Chair of our Broadcast Relations Committee. Julia is the Executive Producer of Keatley Films in Vancouver and the producer of "Cold Squad", which is now in its fifth year of broadcast in Canada. She is also one of the members of the Board of Directors delegated by the CFTPA to the Canadian Television Fund and she represents the interests of independent producers on that Board.
1251 Mr. Chair, as this is the first time we have appeared before you since your return to the Commission, please let me take this opportunity to welcome you back. We look forward to continuing our industry's dialogue with the Commission under your leadership.
1252 The CFTPA represents over 400 companies that finance, produce, distribute and market television programs, feature films and multi-media products in the English language. Our members are present in every region of Canada, from coast to coast to coast. In an ever-consolidating media world, independent creators have the role of ensuring diversity to the broadcasting system. Our members obtain the rights from authors and others with stories to tell, employ writers to prepare screenplays, hire directors, actors and craftspeople to make the stories into programs and conduct all the business dealings to finance the provision of these stories to Canadian and foreign audiences. As such, we have a vital interest in the terms and conditions governing the program practices of our major customers - the Canadian television, pay and specialty broadcasters.
1253 The Group Renewal process gives the public and interested parties the opportunity to look back at the performance of a broadcaster and to have input to what they will do in the next licence term. The Group Renewal process allows us to look at the whole of a licensee's activities and to comment on the appropriateness of their proposed contributions to Canadian programming.
1254 In looking back over the past performance of the Craig's, we appreciate what we see. The A-Channel (in its three communities) and the Brandon station have provided a strong local presence and have been important in commissioning works from independent producers, particularly from the West, and they do it in their communities. Whether it is drama commissioned through A-Channel Production Fund or long form documentaries commissioned in Manitoba, the Craig stations have played an important role. Combined with their local news presence, their contributions to reflecting aboriginal cultures and their delivery of substantial amounts of Canadian drama to audiences every week, we believe their performance warrants a full seven-year renewal.
1255 However, as we look forward, we have some concerns with certain of the proposals in their renewal applications. In particular, we wish to discuss the amount of priority programming, drama programming, regional independent production, children's programming and terms of trade.
1257 MS. KEATLEY: Thank you, Elizabeth. Turning to priority programming: the applications filed only proposed five hours of priority programming on each of the stations. However, the Craig's also indicated that if they were successful in Toronto they would ensure that this would increase to eight hours on each of the stations. Clearly, with the decision announced on Monday, we can expect that the eight-hour commitment will now be adopted. This is a great improvement over what was proposed. However, in order to be assured that the results that will be seen on television screens in the markets under review, we would propose the Commission make this commitment a condition of licence for each of the stations.
1258 While all of the priority programming categories are important vehicles for telling our stories, it is drama that enables a creator to tell a story in a creative and entertaining way. Indeed, drama is the genre that continues to attract the largest audience numbers than any other category of programming. Over the past licence term, the Craig stations have made long form drama a particular priority. When the A-Channel was licensed, the Craig's committed to four and one-half hours per week of drama, with one and a half hours set aside for the long form drama.
1259 While the block schedules submitted with the renewal applications included significant amounts of drama and the Craig's have generally exceeded the commitment to drama, no specific amount was proposed in the application. The Television Policy did not specify priority programming requirements for the licensees of smaller groups, leaving them the room to develop their own programming niches. Clearly, the Craig's niche, particularly in prime time is drama, particularly movies, as well as television series and documentaries.
1260 These programs are important to Canadian viewers by providing a reflection of Canada and are important to the production community. In light of Craig's success in its Toronto/Hamilton application, the CFTPA considers that it would be appropriate that the CRTC continue to require the Craig's to provide a minimum of four and one-half hours per week of drama, including the commitment to long form drama.
1261 I'm now going to digress from the written. Finally, in response to some issues raised yesterday, there are a number of reasons that projects are not successful in gaining funding from the Canadian Television Fund, the most significant being the level of licence fees paid by the broadcaster. That being said, with the expansion of a number of satellite and digital services, the Canadian Television Fund cannot be relied upon to be the primary source of financing of Canadian priority programming. In fact, as discussed earlier with the applicant, whereby eight of the 15 films that have been commissioned by the applicant were feature films, there is a significant new financing available, for instance, through Telefilm Canada Feature Film Fund.
1262 Co-productions and co-ventures are another vehicle, but there are increasingly more issues surrounding these treaties and the willingness of foreign governments to underwrite projects that are primarily geared to the Canadian market.
1263 As the Commission is aware, the production community believes that over-the-air conventional broadcasters have an important role to play in providing children's programming. The Craig's have done a good job in the past in providing kids programs and we note that the block schedule for the Alberta stations shows nine different Canadian children's programs. We encourage the Commission to include a requirement in the decision that the stations continue to provide the same amount of programming for children as is currently outlined in their schedules throughout the upcoming licence term.
1264 As a B.C. producer, I know how important the commitments made by local stations are to a region's independent producers. Regional broadcasters have direct contact with producers who reside in their communities and they are in a position to ensure that stories based in the regions get both regional and national audiences. With the Craig's new broadcasting opportunity in Toronto, they are now well positioned to present Western productions on a national stage.
1265 As we indicated in our written brief, we were quite disappointed in the lack of ongoing funding for the development and licensing of regional producers in the application. Any continuation of the A-Channel Production Fund was left dependent upon the granting of a Toronto licence. Monday's decision means an additional $10 million in funding for Alberta and Manitoba producers, or $2 million per year once the original A-Channel monies are expended. We believe that this proposed expenditure should be made a condition of licence and as you did with B.C., the decision on BCTV that any recruitment be re-invested in this fund to maximize the quality of Canadian priority programming. Craig should also be required to file annual progress reports to the Commission on its fulfilment of this obligation.
1266 Thank you. Elizabeth?
1267 MS. McDONALD: Finally, we would like to discuss what has become an increasingly important issue for us: providing a level and predictable playing field when producers are negotiating to work with broadcasters. The licence fee that a broadcaster brings to a production is a key piece of production financing arrangements. Without a licence agreement, the producer cannot access tax credits, the CTF and often cannot convince distributors to pay advances.
1268 For producers to become successful, they must be able to fully exploit their copyrights and catalogue. Absent such control, they are really only line producers and cannot build the kinds of businesses able to invest in new productions.
1269 When a broadcaster controls several territories and several windows (conventional, specialty, et cetera) it is an important funder and investor, and they have the clout in negotiations. When the Canadian Association of Broadcasters appeared before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage recently, on behalf of their private television broadcaster members, it indicated quite clearly that becoming producers and distributors of programming was a priority for its members. If this becomes true, producers will have to negotiate with their competitors for licence fees - not an encouraging prospect.
1270 We have asked the Commission to endorse our idea of developing Terms of Trade agreements between producers and broadcasters and we believe that this is the right time to ask the Craig's to work with us to negotiate such an agreement. In the context of a more aggressive broadcaster push for access to production funds and tax credits, we believe that it is even more important that the Commission ask the licensee about its commitments to such an agreement and note such a commitment in the decision resulting from this hearing.
1271 And I am going to digress for one paragraph. We also note that we have sought and gained support from the Commission for broadcaster commitment that 75 percent of priority programming be produced by independent producers. Given the current environment of consolidation expansion within the Canadian television industry, we believe that requiring this of the Craig stations ensures the diversity of stories and voices that will be available on these services, regardless of changing circumstances, over the next seven years.
1272 Mr. Chair, Members of the Commission. Thank you for your attention today and we would be pleased to answer your questions.
1273 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, and thank you for your kind remarks to me personally. I'll turn the mike over to Commissioner Wylie.
1274 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good morning, Ms. McDonald, and your colleague.
1275 You have been here throughout the process yesterday. I would ask whether you have a better level of comfort with some of the matters that you raised after hearing the comments of the applicant.
1276 MS. McDONALD: I think we are very pleased with the level of questioning and certainly we were pleased with the commitments the Commission appears to be pursuing with the applicant. I think, from our point of view, one of the issues is to ensure that commitments become conditions of licence. We're finding in this world that if it's not a condition of licence, it doesn't seem to exist, so it's all we've got, just like you.
1277 I guess there will be some reporting back on some of the issues from the applicant and we'll be interested to say what they have to say, but we certainly think that you're pursuing the issues that we have a lot of concern with ourselves.
1278 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: With regard to terms of trade, am I correct in understanding that you are near some agreement with the CBC?
1279 MS. McDONALD: Miracles, miracles, only two years. We will be actually ratifying a terms of trade agreement with the CBC at our Board meeting at the end of April in St. John's, Newfoundland. I must say it has, even the negotiating of it, has gotten rid of many of the issues that have been longstanding problems between producers and the CBC, and led them to actually set up a website to assist independent producers and there was methodology on both sides, some of it just because of the size of the CBC. And then we will have annual meetings about it and we'll certainly keep you in touch.
1280 We have also begun discussions with CTV. CHUM has been in touch with us to begin negotiations. We've developed a template for private broadcasters which we think will work -- oh, and Corus, Corus is very anxious as well. So we've been further along with CTV, we have a template, we just have to meet with them again so I think that we'll be more -- that that will be along the way and we'll have a template to present.
1281 But it certainly helps, even in discussions, much less being close to agreement, changed the relationship between the producer and the broadcaster and allows the producer to have someone to talk to through us, so that their marketplace relationship isn't disrupted with the party that may be buying their product.
1282 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: So I understand then that you are negotiating with private television owners individually. You're not working through the CAB?
1283 MS. McDONALD: No, because I think we'd like to finish it. I think it would be very difficult for us to negotiate that with the CAB because the CAB, we would be dealing with their boards and each of them having much different structure. For example, for those companies that have producer affiliated broadcasters, such as Corus with Nelvana, that makes a difference in the structure, or if they have distribution interests. I didn't know that there was a Craig Entertainment until yesterday, but that does obviously increase the need for such an agreement between the CFTPA and Craig.
1284 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: To what extent will your apparently successful negotiations with the CBC shorten the time period to iron out for the private sector, or is it so different as not to be any help?
1285 MS. McDONALD: I had some sympathy for our friends at Craig in dealing with the CBC on their affiliation agreement. The CBC is a unique and very large and bureaucratic organization, so a lot of -- we could have probably done it in six months if every time between a meeting we came to an agreement and then it appeared it had to go to many different people, and so then there was always like a four-month gap between a meeting and agreement between the two negotiating parties and then whoever the right person was in the CBC to agree to it.
1286 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: So with the Craig's, it could just be a thousand dollar cup of coffee instead of four months gap.
1287 MS. McDONALD: We're happy to come out here too.
1288 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: I certainly meant that it would be --
1289 MS. McDONALD: We have members, quite active members in Alberta, and we have an office in Vancouver so there are many reasons, active members in Saskatchewan, so we're happy to come out here.
1290 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: You had something to add, Ms. Keatley?
1291 MS. KEATLEY: I was just going to say I think it would probably be with sort of a six-month time period. The legal template is now there so I think that we're finding that with CTV for instance, we're moving much more quickly.
1292 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: Yes, even if they -- helps you to know what the differences are between the private sector and so on, it's probably helpful.
1293 Your comment about the 75 percent, 25 percent is in relation to what you perceive to be the presence of the production company under the control of Craig, is it? Or is it just in case they do have one eventually?
1294 MS. McDONALD: Well, I think one of the things perhaps that has not been talked about is how much of the priority programming is going to be created in-house and how much will be created by outside independent producers. I must tell you that all producers are quite aware of the decision recently adopted by the Canadian Association of Broadcasters and so we have to be concerned about what levels of opportunity are going to be available to us if that marketplace is being shut off to us. So we remain in the Broadcasting Act as an important element of it but you know, clearly, there is a desire to go into this business and so many of the broadcaster companies are getting into production themselves. So for that reason, I think the 75 percent makes a big difference.
1295 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: So what you're suggesting is that all private broadcasters, that we impose an anticipatory condition of licensing in case they turn themselves into production companies or buy one?
1296 MS. McDONALD: They do produce in-house.
1297 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: But not what we have addressed today for the 75-25, as I understand it.
1298 MS. McDONALD: Not up until today, but I think the other issue is that it makes it also -- independent production makes a big difference to the employment, in how many people become employed and engaged in this industry. Because we have a certain responsibility to the unions and guilds with whom we negotiate to ensure that that work keeps coming, and so there are cultural diversity issues and there are also industrial reasons that it's important to keep this industry active.
1299 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: We're well aware of your interests, of course, and since you've followed the hearing you have heard the commitments in the discussion with the applicant and you will hear further, of course, reply. I hope that maybe if you stay another day you can get half of your terms of trade before you leave.
1300 We thank you for your participation. It's always helpful.
1301 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Commissioner Cram?
1302 COMMISSIONER CRAM: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I wanted to follow up on what Vice-Chair Wylie was referring to in terms of the anticipatory nature of the COL you're proposing about independent production. I guess my question is I, and of course I'm certainly not the expert, am not aware of us ever having done or given an anticipatory COL, and I guess I would need to be persuaded that in this circumstance it would be necessary for us to do something like that. Are you aware of any other precedent that we've done this before?
1303 MS. McDONALD: Well, companies that do have active production, like Alliance Atlantis, CTV has that as well.
1304 COMMISSIONER CRAM: I hear you, but here it's anticipatory.
1305 MS. McDONALD: The seven-year licence term, if we just look at the past two years of what's happened with change and so I become concerned about that and I don't, from reading the business pages of The National Post or The Globe and Mail, this is going to be an active sector and there's a lot of talk about how much work is going to be done with independent producers.
1306 I think it's fair to ask how much there really will be done and to attach a percentage to it. Priority programming is only so many hours a week and it's actually not that many, overall, the production created by a broadcaster, and I think there has to be some concern and some support that the verbal commitments, the good words that are said can be backed by some sort of percentage, level of activity. It is within the Television Policy, easy to do shows within the studios. So that is also a trend that we're watching and are concerned about.
1307 But to support a broadcaster for seven years in this kind of environment, I think requires us to also say -- because they're always very happy to have our support, but are we all going to be together in seven years? Will this sector still be able to continue to exist?
1308 MS. KEATLEY: I think also when you look at a lot of the clients and the relationships with the independent producers that the Craig's work with, they tend to be the smaller companies who are actually the most vulnerable. They aren't the larger consolidated who are competing with them in other ways and so it really is a concern for those members of ours.
1309 COMMISSIONER CRAM: I guess my concern is that it may, because I'm not aware of it having been done before, in anticipation of something that may or may not occur and I'm concerned about the present value of it. I hear you about the smaller companies. Are you aware of it ever having been done before, an anticipatory COL; if you're going to do this, here's the restrictions we'll impose on it?
1310 MS. McDONALD: I believe you have done it with CTV-BCE in their decision. I mean essentially they, at that point, were thinking of forming a company which has essentially now been dissolved, but did impose this.
1311 MS. McDONALD: The Landscape Mark -- they had a company where they were in the process of reviewing the idea to form a production company at the time of their hearing and we expressed concern about it and asked for the condition of licence. Subsequent to that, that company never was formed but the condition of licence, that means that CTV has to do 75 percent of their work with independent producers stand and they are very active with the sector.
1312 COMMISSIONER CRAM: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
1313 THE CHAIRPERSON: Counsel?
1314 LEGAL COUNSEL, STEWART: Merci, Monsieur President. I just have a brief question and that is why, in your written intervention, you didn't make any mention of the 75 percent requirement, as I understand it's a very important plank of your overall submission.
1315 MS. McDONALD: There may be two reasons. The first reason is -- I always believe in being honest about these things. I was out of the country and so was Julia and we'll never do that again, never, ever leave on holidays and I was supposed to be reviewing the intervention and it followed me rather than preceded me on my trip so I didn't see it.
1316 We debated then when we came back whether we would raise it in our oral. There is a concern among local producers here about how much of the work will be done in-house, and as Julia has said very clearly, here and in the three prairie provinces, there are a lot of small and medium-sized companies and so in discussing with them and realizing their concern about not being sure how much will be done in-house and how much -- we felt that it was appropriate to raise it in our oral remarks.
1317 LEGAL COUNSEL, STEWART: Thank you very much.
1318 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Thank you very much. Madam Secretary?
1319 THE SECRETARY: Our next intervener today is the National Broadcast Reading Service and Lynne Rach will be representing NBRS today. Would you come forward, please?
1320 MS. RACH: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. My name is Lynne Rach. Thank you for allowing me to appear today. I oversee the Alberta operations of VoicePrint, the reading service of the National Broadcast Reading Service. I am here today to read into the record NBRS's position regarding described video.
1321 We have listened to your questioning of Craig at this hearing and we have received Craig's reply to our intervention. We have also spoken to them to try and better understand their proposal.
1322 Let me begin by saying that NBRS is pleased that Craig now has proposed firm minimum commitments to the broadcast of described programming. That's an important step forward.
1323 Craig, in its reply to our intervention, committed to the broadcast beginning in year two of the new licence term, a minimum of one hour per week of described priority programming. Beginning in year four of the new licence term, a minimum of two hours per week of described priority programming.
1324 However, this commitment referred to total hours. That meant Craig was proposing just one-half hour per week of original described programs beginning in year two and one hour per week in year four. That's substantially less than what you expect from CTV and CanWest. It's also substantially less than what was proposed by CHUM in its renewal application.
1325 We have had several discussions with Craig over the past few weeks and Craig now has advised us that they are prepared to commit to the following. Beginning in year two of the new licence term, a minimum of two hours per week of described priority programming in peak viewing time, of which 50 percent would be original, and beginning in year four of the new licence term, a minimum of four hours per week of described priority programming in peak viewing time, 50 percent of which would be original.
1326 NBRS is pleased that Craig has come forward with this proposal. We feel it represents a reasonable compromise that we can endorse.
1327 NBRS respectfully suggests that these commitments should be included as a condition of licence. Also, NBRS respectfully suggest that whenever Craig licences a program for which a described version is available, Craig should be expected to acquire and broadcast the described version of the program regardless of whether it is a Canadian or non-Canadian program.
1328 NBRS thanks the Commission for the opportunity to participate in this important proceeding. Thank you.
1329 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Commissioner McKendry?
1330 COMMISSIONER McKENDRY: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Good morning. Thank you for your comments and your ongoing participation in the proceeding. You've obviously been busy in dealing with Craig.
1331 Do you have any information about the number of visually impaired people in Craig's territory and the scope of the audience that would be impacted by described video?
1332 MS. RACH: In the two provinces, I think about 380,000, both people with diminished vision and who are print restricted are included in those numbers.
1333 COMMISSIONER McKENDRY: One of the things that interested me is the cost of described video. We've heard some comment that the cost of described video will probably decline. Do you have any comments with respect to that, that over the seven-year licence term for example, do you anticipate that the cost of described video will decline? I understand the National Broadcast Reading Service does described video.
1334 MS. RACH: Yes. I think it will operate much like closed captioning did initially. Because there was such a little bit of demand, the cost was quite high. Now, the cost has become quite reasonable and in fact closed captioning has become a profit centre for most broadcasters.
1335 COMMISSIONER McKENDRY: One of the questions I asked Craig about yesterday, and I don't know whether you were here or not, was whether or not they felt there was any opportunity for sponsorships for described video as well as closed captioning. Their response was it was something they hadn't really examined at this stage. Has your organization any comments to make about that possibility?
1336 MS. RACH: I think that there's a tremendous opportunity to say this program, "This described program is brought to you by," much as closed captioning is, and these are spots that can be sold or through a sponsorship basis. So I don't see any difficulty with, over time again, that becoming a revenue source for them.
1337 COMMISSIONER McKENDRY: My understanding is that the Federal Communications Commission in the United States has put in place on April 1st of this year, regulations with respect to described video. Is your organization involved at all with monitoring what's going on in the United States and working with groups down there as well?
1338 MS. RACH: We certainly would be involved in monitoring, but we're more delighted that this Commission in Canada has set the precedent with regard to description. Your ruling with CTV and Global last September made Canada the first country to do this, and my little organization has been practising to do this for seven years.
1339 We've been honing our skills with a collection of described movies for libraries and it's very exciting to sit down with a blind person or see a blind family sit down together and enjoy a movie without -- or a TV show, for example, without somebody saying, "What's happening? What's happening?" when there's noise on the screen that is essential to the plot that the blind person can't access.
1340 COMMISSIONER McKENDRY: Thank you very much. We appreciate your participation in the proceeding.
1341 THE CHAIRPERSON: Madam Secretary?
1342 THE SECRETARY: Our next intervener today is Nomadic Pictures Corp. This will be intervention number 029. I would invite Mr. Frislev and Mr. Oakes to come forward.
1343 MR. OAKES: Good afternoon, Mr. Chair, Commissioners. We appreciate the opportunity to come before you to support Craig Broadcasting Systems bid for the re-licences of the mentioned Craig stations.
1344 My name is Chad Oakes. This is my partner, Mike Frislev. We are co-chairmen of Nomadic Pictures, small TV and feature film company based here in Alberta, specifically in Calgary, which does around between $4 and $10 million of productions per year.
1345 From A-Channel's inception Drew Craig and Joanne Levy, have supported our productions with broadcast licenses. Not all - some - most of them, but specifically the projects they did support did close off our financing or assist in getting financing finished.
1346 Their word over the last five years has been gold and promises have been kept. This is why we come before you to support 100 percent Craig's attempt to re-licence their stations. We, as Alberta producers, also feel a need that Craig Broadcasting System Company in Alberta in business to continue, for us to, in turn, continue our endeavours, specifically for Canadian projects.
1347 We also appreciate CRTC's stand with regards to the COL's and the money that has been earmarked to the Alberta producers and agreed amounts by the Craig's for the COL. We are here and are happy to spend Craig's money. We personally, Nomadic Pictures as well has three pictures - well, one TV series and two features with broadcast licences of over $1 million that Craig has give us last year and this year, to be shot this year.
1348 I believe this is a good step in the right direction for -- I guess there is a shortfall in the money they need to spend, and again we're endeavouring to do so.
1349 MR. FRISLEV: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. We're a company of two, so we don't have a tremendous amount of resources with which to scramble together projects in an ever-shifting marketplace, given the current downfall in the foreign markets. We are always, always light on our feet in terms of how to get things financed. Being able to go down the street and talk to Drew and Joanne is key for our business. The projects that they have licensed for us, to enable them to go forward and to complete financing has literally enabled the survival of our company of two.
1350 They're great to deal with. If we have a problem or something needs to be solved with a bank package or whatever, we've called Drew on his holidays and he's helped us out with a piece of paper to close a bank financing. I can't say that we would get that kind of support if we had to, you know, participate in the $1,000 cup of coffee to go down to Toronto. We would not have that relationship with the broadcaster that wasn't in our neck of the woods and we wouldn't be here.
1351 I think the overall intent of the CRTC and of the whole system is to support companies like us so that we can grow, prosper and get Canadian stories out into the international marketplace.
1352 All I can say is that from top to bottom, everybody that we've dealt with in Craig Broadcasting has been helpful, honourable and true to their word. And this whole proceeding is, to me - I've never been to a hearing before - is a place where commerce has to meet culture in a very, very difficult and changing marketplace. All I can say is that although they may say in their last condition of licence that they will move forward and do program A, B, C, D, if they fall short on that mark like some of the shows that they didn't get made, their intentions are always there and I think that through this process they'll be honourable to the process and they will fulfil the intent of this whole, you know, through the Commission and through supporting Canadian stories being told locally and internationally. I can just say that from both of our experience in dealing with them that the intent of the process will be maintained, from my perspective, from the Craig Broadcasting team.
1353 That's about all I've got to say.
1354 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Commissioner Williams?
1355 COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS: Good morning, Mr. Frislev and Mr. Oakes. You have told us a bit about the convenience of being able to walk down the street to Craig's offices as opposed to going elsewhere. Can you please describe how the Craig's approach is, other than that it's different than the other broadcasters in this marketplace in regards to its dealings with the independent production fund -- community, pardon me.
1356 MR. FRISLEV: The head office is here in Calgary, so you can talk to the decision-makers. Every other broadcaster that's represented in our marketplace, it's not a head office. There's always decisions being made elsewhere in terms of issuing licenses and those kinds of things.
1357 And also, the television marketplace is changing rapidly. To keep on top of what's happening, where the business is going, to be in touch with the pulse of the business itself so that we can recognize opportunities and fulfil those opportunities, that requires a dialogue. So having the head office here is important.
1358 COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS: Do you have work with any of the other broadcasters, in the past or currently?
1359 MR. OAKES: Yes, we also work with Corus, WTN, SuperChannel, SuperEcran, Movie Central, TMN. We do work with them in conjunction with the Craig Broadcasting for TV licenses, yes.
1360 COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS: And with Craig's expansion into Toronto, do you see an opportunity to tell Western stories or some of your products being available in that marketplace?
1361 MR. OAKES: I think the stories in the past that we have done are actually Canadian stories, they're not specifically just West. Out of the three pictures, the TV series is worldwide recognition, although it is Canadian. Specifically, two are Canadian, one is a native Indian story. Another one is the story, true story of a young boy growing up in British Columbia. We're in Alberta, yet we're going to make it look like B.C., so that is a Western story, but we really believe that it's important for Canadian independent producers, even the small ones, to make movies for Canadians, by Canadians, but for everybody in the world to watch.
1362 MR. FRISLEV: We bring our voice to the table. We are who we are. We were born and raised in Calgary. All I can say is - I used to live in Toronto - there is stylistic differences, from my perspective, the way people do business in the West and the way they do it in the East. So having a broadcaster that's western-based in our hometown, I don't know, we just relate to them.
1363 COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS: Okay. Thank you very much. I have no further questions, Mr. Chair.
1364 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Thank you very much, gentlemen. Madam Secretary?
1365 THE SECRETARY: Our next intervener is Minds Eye Pictures. I'd invite Josh Miller to come forward. This is intervention number 035.
1366 MR. MILLER: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. My name is Josh Miller. I'm a producer and a partner in Minds Eye Pictures, an independent film and television production company. My office is in Edmonton and we are affiliated with Minds Eye Entertainment, which is engaged in the production and distribution of independent film, television and multimedia products around the world.
1367 Minds Eye is also vertically integrated with audio and video post-production companies. One of them, Postmaster Digital, is based here in Calgary. Minds Eye's operations began in 1986 and I'm given to understand that in terms of production volume, we are now the largest privately-held independent production company in western Canada.
1368 Minds Eye supported the original application for the A-Channel services in Calgary and Edmonton filed in 1996. The wisdom of our decision to support these new licenses has been borne out by the performance of the A-Channel in Alberta over the past four years. It should be noted that Minds Eye has benefited directly with the A-Channel licensing one of our TV movies and also investing in the development of a second TV movie project.
1369 A-Channel also supported Alberta-based training initiatives and industry events. I sit on the Board of the Edmonton International Film Festival Society, the organization that puts on the Local Heroes Film Festival, and the A-Channel renewed their support this year both as a cash sponsor and as a media sponsor for the event. This is but one example among many of their ongoing sponsorship support for the Alberta community.
1370 The current A-Channel application before you proposes to expend the remainder of the original allocation of dollars in the A-Channel Drama Fund with Alberta independent producers and writers. In addition, the A-Channel is proposing to expend an additional $200,000 annually on the development of new priority programming with Alberta and Manitoba independent producers. Both the continuing and new initiatives are most welcome.
1371 The application also proposes to commit an additional $10 million in funding for Western Producers conditional upon the approval of a Toronto station licence, which I understand has been granted to Craig Broadcasting earlier this week. This is certainly welcome news and our only comment here is that these expenditures be directed to Manitoba and Alberta, guided by the same rationale as the proposed new development commitment, and I understand from the comments yesterday that, indeed, Craig intends to do that, to direct those expenditures to Manitoba and Alberta. So that is good news for us.
1372 In closing, I'd just like to comment in a broader sense about the importance of medium-sized and regionally-based broadcasters such as Craig. Over the past several years, decisions have been made that have resulted in a concentration of ownership of broadcast and other media assets. While there is a valid school of thought that larger entities are better able to compete in a global marketplace, here in Canada, this consolidation should be scrutinized in our opinion, in terms of whether or not it has benefited the Canadian broadcasting system, specifically in terms of furthering the goals of the Broadcast Act.
1373 Large public companies with crushing debt loads often have to make cutbacks in order to appease shareholders. They cut back personnel and in due course they cut back the quantity and quality of their Canadian production, and it should be noted that the effects of this are magnified in the regions. We understand that the CRTC is being lobbied for an easing of licence conditions in this area from some of the larger Canadian broadcasters.
1374 While obviously the system needs its larger players, the CRTC might want to examine whether the policies it has been pursuing the last few years have actually yielded the benefits sought. It's our belief that the success of entities such as Craig Broadcasting, a medium-sized company with a Western base, is critical to meeting the goals of the Broadcast Act, as well as maintaining the health of the Canadian system as a whole.
1375 I'd be pleased now to answer any questions you might have. Thanks.
1376 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Miller. Were you present for the discussion on conditions of licence with the applicant yesterday?
1377 MR. MILLER: I came in midday yesterday so I caught the afternoon.
1378 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right. At the bottom of your oral presentation, page 1 notes, you reference the $10 million. Are you prepared to comment on whether you'd like to see this as a condition of licence?
1379 MR. MILLER: Yes, I think I take the same position as the CFTPA that these commitments should be conditions of licence.
1380 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. I'm not quite sure on your second page, on the cutbacks of personnel and the reference there to easing of licence conditions. It isn't generally a condition of licence that the party employ so many people in such and such a location.
1381 MR. MILLER: No, I was talking more in general terms about sort of what I'm seeing out there. I'm noting - and I'm not an expert in this area, I make film and television productions, so bear with me - but my sense of hearing and reading things like looking to have things like infomercials considered, you know, priority programming and expanding the definition of what those kinds of programming are to encompass or pull in lower cost sponsored programming is but one example.
1382 When I say cutbacks, of course, it's the company's prerogative to rationalize their human resources, but it leads to a condition where they could also make a compelling business argument that Canadian content production is too onerous. And I just have been sort of noticing that in the news and I'm kind of concerned about that, because I have a strong conviction that Canadian content regulations are extremely important for success of both broadcasters and independent production.
1383 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Thank you very much.
1384 MR. MILLER: Thank you.
1385 THE CHAIRPERSON: Madam Secretary?
1386 THE SECRETARY: Our next intervener is Nancy Laing, and she is representing Earth to Sky Pictures Inc. This is intervention number 034.
1387 MS. LAING: My name is Nancy Laing of Earth to Sky Pictures and I am an independent feature film producer from Calgary. I strongly support Craig Broadcast Systems application for renewal of its broadcast licenses in Alberta and Manitoba.
1388 I have been working in the film industry in Alberta for nine years. I trained under Bruce Harvey of Illusions Entertainment and in the seven years we worked together, he produced nine feature films, five of which were A-Channel supported projects.
1389 Two years ago I started my own production company, Earth to Sky Pictures. A-Channel has been a firm supporter, contributing development funding in the form of grants from it's A-Channel Drama Fund, as well as broadcast licenses to both of my first two feature films, "Jet Boy", currently playing on Pay-Per-View, and "Don't Call me Tonto", scheduled to be shot this year. I believe this is the 16th production that A-Channel is counting as licensed but not completed. I may be wrong about that.
1390 In total, I have been intimately involved with seven of the 16 movies that A-Channel has licensed over the last five years, with combined budgets of over $14 million. The A-Channel Drama Fund, now the A-Channel Production Fund, has significantly contributed to independent production of long form drama in this province - there can be no question.
1391 My experience with A-Channel has been very positive. Joanne Levy is very approachable and supportive of independent producers such as myself. A-Channel is now one of the only broadcasters in Alberta to put broadcast licenses into feature films or made-for-television movies. The continuity of this support is especially important in the constantly shifting landscape of Canadian film financing.
1392 A prime indicator of the state of flux is the contrast in the 2001 and 2002 funding results from the Canadian Television Fund License Fee Program for Drama. Last year, the amount of broadcast licenses needed to get LFP funding for made-for-television movies was equal to the $300,000 eligibility threshold. This year when it became apparent that an additional $128,000 above this eligibility threshold, which just for the record means that you had to get maximum broadcast points, you had to totally max out on that. When this became apparent that that amount of money was required to secure LFP funding, A-Channel and the other broadcasters involved stepped up to the plate and increased their broadcast licenses. With this additional support from the broadcasters, the LFP was able to give us an extension to the 2001 funding that had been earmarked for our project, and as of yesterday at lunch our financing is now complete, and this is on the project "Don't Call Me Tonto" that yesterday they were talking didn't get through. We, on appeal, did get through and got our old financing back.
1393 It is because of this type of support that independent production in Alberta survives. Joanne Levy and Drew Craig know us personally. They believe in our projects and they believe in our companies.
1394 As well, having another Canadian broadcaster or group of broadcasters who are not one of the two national networks, I believe, with the power to green light projects, can only strengthen the diversity of voices in Canadian broadcasting.
1395 The announcement this week of Craig Broadcasting's successful Toronto One bid is very good news for Alberta. Not only will it ensure the continued funding of the A-Channel Production Fund for the next seven years, two years to finish the current fund, then $10 million over the five years after that, but it will also encourage co-production between Ontario and Alberta. Joanne Levy has already been instrumental in bringing two Ontario/Alberta co-productions, which are now in development, to our company.
1396 As Craig Broadcasting becomes part of the Toronto community, I feel certain that A-Channel will foster more and more connections between the three provinces in which it has stations, to the benefit of all.
1397 And co-productions is the way of the future both nationally and internationally. At the American Film Market this year, Lou Horowitz held his usual or annual Future of Film Financing seminar, and co-production, particularly with Canada as well as the UK and Germany, was front and centre.
1398 Finally, on a more personal note, I watch A-Channel and wish to continue to do so.
1399 Renewing the A-Channel's licenses will allow A-Channel to continue to be a broadcaster that Western Canadian independent feature producers such as myself can count on. It is my hope that the CRTC will support A-Channel's application for renewal.
1400 Thank you for allowing me to appear before you at this hearing. I'll be happy to answer any questions.
1401 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Commissioner Williams?
1402 COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Good morning, Ms. Laing. Tell me a bit about your movie, "Don't Call Me Tonto". What's that about?
1403 MS. LAING: The movie is about -- you want to know the plot, is that what you're asking?
1404 COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS: Sure, a thumbnail sketch.
1405 MS. LAING: Okay. The movie is about a sort of disillusioned aboriginal lawyer who has kind of gone corporate although he was an activist in his youth. He gets thrown together with an old cowboy clown, loser-type. They get accused of robbing some bingo halls, wrongfully accused. They have to hit the road to clear their name, and in the process they renew their lease on life and discover that there are still things to live for and he becomes more active again and it's a comedy, if you can't tell by the title.
1406 COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS: I'm intrigued by some of your comments in both your oral and in your written intervention, specifically one, A-Channel is now one of the only broadcasters in Alberta to put broadcast licenses into feature films or made-for-television movies. Can you elaborate a bit on that?
1407 MS. LAING: CTV, I believe, makes its decisions out of Vancouver and Toronto; CBC makes its decisions on made-for-television movies out of Toronto; Movie Central makes its decisions out of Vancouver; SuperEcran and TMN make their decisions out of Toronto; APTN makes its decisions out of Winnipeg; Showcase makes its decisions out of Toronto; WTN now makes its decisions out of Toronto and Vancouver. There's nobody here. CFI, I believe, has a little tiny bit of money that they spend. There is the CanWest producers fund; they don't give broadcast licenses. That fund is a grant that you -- it's a last-in grant so you have to have all your other financing in place before you can go to it. The CFCN production fund no longer exists. It is the only place to get broadcast licenses for feature films in Alberta.
1408 COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS: I guess it's much the same answer to my next question then, I guess. Another of your comments was it's because of this type of support that independent production in Alberta survives. Is there anything you can add to the previous answer?
1409 MS. LAING: I think that there's -- it's interesting because I was at the Vancouver Film Festival in the fall last year and they had a panel up there with someone from Alliance Atlantis, someone from CTV, someone from CBC, someone who was a producer for CTV, and they were talking about how to make feature films in Canada.
1410 From my point of view, and I've been making, like I said, I've gotten nine features under my belt kind of thing, they were talking some other world to me. It was an ivory tower where one broadcaster gives you your whole license fee that you need to apply to all the funding.
1411 The way we make features here is we cobble things together. We have our first window which is Pay, so we're very good friends, hopefully. We're well acquainted with Michelle Marion and Shelley Gillen who are the two Pay decision makers. Then we go, then we have to get our convention licence which is, in so many cases, A-Channel. Who else would we go to? We can't get CTV -- we can, there are producers here in the province who do, and don't get me wrong, I'd love it. I think all of us would love to do a nice big movie of the week from CTV or CBC. A-Channel is not a big enough company to give the full licenses to do a premier on A-Channel. That's not the way it works. They're doing second window after Pay, so they're putting in smaller licenses, which is appropriate. So we're doing the cobble together thing. And then we throw in specialty channels in between. For example, with "Don't Call Me Tonto", the broadcast licenses are made up of TMN, SuperEcran, Movie Central, APTN and A-Channel. So it's the whole thing cobbled together. On "Jet Boy it" was about the same combination without Movie Central and with Showcase instead of APTN. That's the way we make movies in this environment.
1412 COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS: Craig, as you know, as been successful in the bid for a Toronto licence, and an earlier intervener suggested that the additional $10 million committed in funding for Western producers be a condition of licence. Do you have a comment on that?
1413 MS. LAING: Yes, I'd like to have that happen as well. As the other producers in the CFTP has said, it's nice if that's in writing and it's a commitment and not only an expectation.
1414 COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS: Okay. Congratulations on your financing. I trust it wasn't coincidental to the fact that a hearing was being held here.
1415 MS. LAING: Thank you.
1416 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Madam Secretary?
1417 THE SECRETARY: Our next intervener is Alberta Motion Pictures Industries Association represented by Nick Rye. This is intervention number 026.
1418 MR. RYE: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. I apologize for sounding slightly like Mickey Mouse but I've got the Western flu that's doing the rounds and I'll stay far away.
1419 I'd just like to bring up a couple of things as I start. I think Josh Miller and I are probably slightly sensitive because we were the Alberta people who represented the Pay broadcasting companies for the last 20 years when they were owned locally. We're both doing very well on our own in our independent status, but when the owner no longer became someone in Alberta the relationship and the job went to Vancouver and Toronto. But I worked for Dr. Allard and I feel very blessed to have done that.
1420 The other thing I just would like to bring up briefly is I'm happy to report that at WestJet as of May 28th, we'll make it a $500 cup of coffee to go to Toronto instead of $1,000. So that should really help us all.
1421 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: I heard this morning that even the Competition Bureau is getting into the action, so I'm sure that you can get your $500 flight.
1422 MR. RYE: For 28 years, the Alberta Motion Picture Industries Association has represented independent producers and members involved in all aspects of the film and television industry in Alberta. The mandate of the association is to ensure the growth and development of the indigenous industry at the producer, technical, talent and craft levels. Central to this mandate is maintaining an environment in which Alberta producers can initiate, develop and produce films and programs over which they have creative and financial control.
1423 AMPIA has a total of 275 members representing a cross-section of more than 3,000 industry professionals, including but not limited to, producers, directors, performers, writers, craftspeople, distributors, suppliers and exhibitors.
1424 AMPIA is here today to offer our support for the renewal of the licenses of A-Channel in both Edmonton and Calgary.
1425 Since A-Channel was licensed in Alberta, we have seen the production of 15 feature films that would not have been made otherwise. This was made possible through the $14 million A-Channel drama fund, now the A-Channel production fund, that was committed at the time. Within less than two years that fund will spend the balance of the money remaining, and Joanne Levy has reassured us that that will happen and as was brought up yesterday in terms of the timing of when that money needed to be spent.
1426 As in our written submission, we want to make it clear to the Commission that Joanne Levy has been an integral part of the Alberta production community and has helped many writers and producers with their long form dramas. As well, A-Channel has provided support to the Alberta film and television industry in a variety of ways, most notably last year by televising the Alberta Motion Picture and Television awards live for two hours, which I produced. It doesn't say that either.
1427 AMPIA commends A-Channel on its involvement in the production of 15 Alberta features as well as a number of documentary programs. They have allowed Alberta producers, directors and writers to tell their stories.
1428 AMPIA is also pleased that A-Channel in its submission has committed to one hour of local reflection each week and we hope some of this will be with independent producers. Through consolidation and integration, it has been extremely difficult for producers to find local shelf space on their existing local stations. In our discussions with Ms. Levy, it's our understanding that this one hour will not be news programming. This kind of commitment from A-Channel will allow Alberta storytellers to reach Alberta viewers. We would ask that A-Channel elaborate on this commitment in terms of the type of programming and the range of license fees that would be available.
1429 Over the last several years, we in the Alberta industry have witnessed the erosion and disappearance of many broadcast funds that were enormously beneficial to our production community. What's happened is that they have been conditions of licence on transfer and people have then begun to rely on them and when that runs out, they no longer go forward. We are pleased that the resolution of the Toronto licenses will result in an additional $10 million in licence and equity and we were delighted to hear Joanne Levy say that this fund will go to Alberta and Manitoba independent producers. AMPIA supports A-Channel in this initiative and recommends, as we have in our last several appearances before the Commission, that the Commission make this a condition of licence specific to the stations in Alberta and Manitoba. Also, we would encourage that these funds are distributed in reasonable allocations over the course of the licence.
1430 We would urge that as a condition of licence, the $10 million fund be spent not less than 15 percent a year if it's a five-year licence, or 10 percent a year if it's a seven-year licence - we're a little confused as to exactly what might be granted - and any recoupments from sub-licensing or equity be re-invested in the fund the year after it is received. The reason for that is if a broadcaster stands to benefit from the recoupment themselves by putting it into their corporate profits, it puts them in a very awkward position of the more money I get back, the better my company shareholders do. So if we make sure that this is as close to a loan as possible so we get it all back -- a broadcaster is just automatically conflicted, so it's a great help if it's by condition of licence being recycled into the fund.
1431 AMPIA further recommends that A-Channel's commitment to spending $200,000 each year on the development of priority programming within Alberta and Manitoba, as outlined in their supplementary brief, also be a condition of licence. We would support A-Channel's commitment to the success of the indigenous industry in Alberta.
1432 We would also ask the Commission to make it a condition of licence that the applicant file on a yearly basis at least the following information with the Commission and the CFTPA: project development - how much was committed and how much was spent in the development for the year; licenses - how much was committed and how much was spent for the year; equity - how much was committed, how much was spent and how much was recouped for that year; and the amount spent on administration each year, which we feel should not exceed about 5 percent; and the amount spent on each producer resource each year, because they've said 10 percent for admin and producer resources.
1433 To be clear, we're not asking for specific information on any particular development or production project, because we feel that's inappropriate. We are seeking cumulative totals for each of the categories we have described.
1434 As a courtesy, we would ask that the applicant file with the Commission this information for each year of the current licence term. We realize completely that that's not something the Commission could impose, it would only be a courtesy.
1435 We are very pleased that A-Channel is committing to eight hours of priority programming per week with one hour of local reflection. Again, we would ask that A-Channel elaborate on, if this hour will be produced by independent producers.
1436 We applaud the Commission in their recent licensing decisions whereby they have asked for an annual report from each broadcaster that clearly indicates the dollars and allocation of these dollars to independent producers.
1437 We further recommend that as a matter of course, the beneficiaries of the benefits also be contacted through the CFTPA on a yearly basis and asked to provide their input on the impact and success of the promised benefits to independent producers and report it back to the CRTC.
1438 AMPIA strongly recommends that all promises of performance be made conditions of licence. It has been our experience that when a broadcaster's promises of performance are not deemed to be conditions of licence, they're not necessarily fulfilled. We were actually told by several broadcasters, without being specific, that expectations didn't need to be met on their licenses and if it was not on the page marked "condition of licence", they would not necessarily be doing it.
1439 We thank the Commission for the opportunity to provide our comments and we would be willing to answer any questions you have. I apologize for how much I went off the prepared text.
1440 THE CHAIRPERSON: Not at all, Mr. Rye. Thank you. Commissioner Wylie?
1441 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: Good morning, Mr. Horne. It is Mr. Horne?
1442 MR. RYE: It's Mr. Rye. I apologize.
1443 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: Oh, I'm sorry.
1444 MR. RYE: That's okay. It's Nick Rye, like the drink.
1445 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: I went back to the agenda.
1446 MR. RYE: I was going to be Connie Edwards and Nick Rye today, but --
1447 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: We're delighted to meet you. Give our best to Mr. Horne.
1448 In your written presentation, to get that out of the way, your support is conditional upon the applicant continuing the same support to independent producers. I believe you have been here for yesterday. Are you satisfied with the $10 million and with what I understood, which we can of course get back with reply, I understood would be specifically involving Western producers - that was the discussion we had about emphasis - that your condition had been met?
1449 MR. RYE: Yes.
1450 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: Now, with regards -- there have been a number of parties suggesting that the idea of asking for annual reports when broadcasters invest in a fund and in the Toronto decision I guess that's what you're referring to, in paragraph 12 in part, this annual reporting is required and that gives some idea of how the funds are disbursed so that we don't end up with an impossible ballooning at the end of the licence term.
1451 I'm referring back now in this context to paragraph 8. Do you think that with the reporting perhaps that would be sufficient to keep an eye on things rather than require a certain percentage be spent per year?
1452 MR. RYE: Yes, I think it could be. The only trick would be is that if it wasn't being met, it's kind of awkward between hearings, between the seven years for us to do anything because we can't appear before the Commission again before the end of the term.
1453 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: So you would want this built into --
1454 MR. RYE: I feel -- we deliberately didn't make it equally spaced. The whole idea was to give them some flexibility, as I believe broadcasters have --
1455 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: You mean because you say it's not less than?
1456 MR. RYE: Well, yes. And we said 15 percent over five or 10 over seven, so in fact we're not talking about a seven-year licence, it being divided exactly equally. You would only need to spend 10 percent in each one year to make sure that it didn't balloon, but maybe that's too complicated.
1457 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: Your point here -- well, it's simply that it could be limiting and there may be some reason why more money would be expended in one year. Maybe it --
1458 MR. RYE: I was just going to say, I think our concern came somewhat from what's happened to this point where they've spent $3 or $4 million and after 17 months spent quite a lot.
1459 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: Yes. So your point is that simply reporting, there are no tools then to demand that was spent, but there's always the problem of being too intrusive and --
1460 MR. RYE: Completely.
1461 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: -- and could be to the disadvantage even of your colleagues, your members.
1462 MR. RYE: We leave this totally to you. It was just our suggestion.
1463 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: In paragraph 10, one of your concerns, which also was addressed in the Toronto decision, is the amount spent on administration which we'll hear further from the applicant, because I think that's what we were discussing yesterday, that when you add all the amounts that have been expended and then we're told what's left is expenses, administration expenses or costs.
1464 On what basis do you propose 5 percent? For example, if it were $2 million a year, 5 percent of $2 million to you would be a reasonable amount?
1465 MR. RYE: Yes, there are a couple of places that comes from. Yesterday, they said it was for administration and producer resources, which I think means the support they give to the NSI or to AMPIA that when they said yesterday, they said its admin and producer resources. So I believe that that's not strictly overhead costs, that there are other things in that number when they said 10. The five came -- I was on the Board of the CTF for its first six years and the CTF was constrained to 5 percent a year, and we found it kept the management quite diligent in how much money they had to spend each year by being capped that way. And they found a way to make it work.
1466 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: Are you aware that in the Toronto licensing decision in the condition of licence and the amounts spent, there is a line that says "administrative costs shall not be included in these amounts". Is that what you're looking at?
1467 MR. RYE: In an ideal world, that's what happened when I was at SuperChannel. Originally we had the right to have admin costs in our commitments and what happened at the subsequent hearing was they said let's just establish the money, an amount that has no admin, it can be a slightly lower number, but let's just establish a number that has no admin. What are you going to spend on third parties writing cheques? And we found at SuperChannel that really made it easier because then there was no issue about how much overhead should be allocated.
1468 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: Yes. In the Toronto case they had mentioned a certain amount for administrative costs, and the way I understand it, it was deducted from the larger amount so that then you had an exact amount to producers with the line I just read, and then whatever they said about this administrative costs was excluded.
1469 MR. RYE: I think it would help greatly if perhaps in rebuttal they could give you an actual number that doesn't include admin, just the actual number they'll spend.
1470 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: We may hear from the applicant on that point which has been raised, obviously, in a number of places, at reply stage.
1471 I'm a little puzzled by your paragraphs 12 and 13. Would you expect the Commission to require that beneficiaries report?
1472 MR. RYE: I don't think that -- Connie wrote that and Connie is very idealistic, and I think it's a good idea, but it's a little bit impractical as a formal process. I think some sort of informal process whereby the Commission actually hear informally how it's going with the benefits the broadcasters have, would be good, and we'll just have to see what that might be. I know AMPIA is appearing before the full Commission in September so perhaps that would be an opportunity.
1473 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: And is that not something that your organization perhaps would have a benefit in discussing. What is the - I'm sure I should know that but I don't - the relationship between AMPIA and CFPTA, if any?
1474 MR. RYE: AMPIA is the provincial producers' representative. They're the national.
1475 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: Of the CFPTA, so that would --
1476 MR. RYE: Actually, part of it was separate.
1477 COMMISIONER WYLIE: So that could be something discussed with those associations rather than having the Commission involved in the process which, as you understand, would be difficult. So we'll expect you to pursue that and hopefully the plane tickets remain reasonable. Thank you.
1478 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner Cram?
1479 COMMISSIONER CRAM: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Thank you, Mr. Rye. When you were talking about local shelf space, I'm reminded of, after the CBC's decision came out, the renewal decision, The National Post talked about how PBS had more Alberta stories than CBC. Do you live in Edmonton still or didn't you --
1480 MR. RYE: I still live in Edmonton.
1481 COMMISSIONER CRAM: And can you tell me in Edmonton, what is the local shelf space on --
1482 MR. RYE: What's really happened is the only local programming is news now. There are no other local programs as they used to be deemed, so there only is news. They will occasionally run a documentary, but they really have, for independents now, focused on the eight hours of priority programming, and we've assumed that it's not possible to get local shelf space because that's not even controlled locally any more. It's all controlled out of Toronto and they don't have any allocation of local other than news in the schedules.
1483 COMMISSIONER CRAM: So other than Craig and PBS, there is no local shelf space in Alberta?
1484 MR. RYE: That's correct. We're hoping that maybe the new community channels, if they come on line might.
1485 COMMISSIONER CRAM: Thank you.
1486 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, Mr. Rye. Madam Secretary?
1487 THE SECRETARY: Our next intervener today is Marge Gudmundson, and this would be intervention number 023. Would you come forward, please.
1488 MS. GUDMUNDSON: Good morning everyone. I'm Marge Gudmundson, and I'm a dedicated and true Calgarian right to the core and a friend of the A-Channel. What does the A-Channel mean to me, to the Calgary Educational Partnership Foundation, where I'm director of public relations, our mandate being to keep youth in school and get them educated, which we have been doing successfully through our programs for the last 11 years.
1489 What does A-Channel mean to the Calgary Stampede miniature horse show which I host; to the Chickwagon Foundation, of which I am an active member; to Tourism Calgary; to the White Hat ceremonies honouring VIP's who are visitors to our city; to the Calgary Chamber, where I'm hostess to many events? A-Channel is always there. And because they are, we enjoy the publicity and the community awareness which is most important to every aspect that I have mentioned. In the diversification of my personal involvement, it is mandatory to get the word out to the folks and there's not a more valuable or viable vehicle to do this than the A-Channel here in Calgary.
1490 The Calgary Educational Partnership Foundation is involved with six school districts, 300 schools and over 200,000 youth. The messages carried by the A-Channel are invaluable, not only to our foundation but to the parents and to the teachers and to the students as well. There is definitely a not more valuable and viable vehicle than the A-Channel.
1491 When they view these various events they become more interested and excited about the programs we extend, therefore, resulting in a higher viewership.
1492 I'd like to say, in addition, the staff there, they're not reticent when it comes to helping out. We had our ski day about three weeks ago. We hosted 200 at-risk students with 200 mentors and they weren't there only to represent the A-Channel, they just got in there with their hands and they're happy dispositions; registration, gofers, whatever we needed, they were there, and that was really above and beyond the call of duty when it was minus 39 degrees, and all was selflessly given.
1493 Our Meadow Muffin Madness Event - we do things differently in Calgary - we're very unique. Meadow Muffin Madness are 16 Holstein cows led by 16 celebrities up and down Steven Avenue Mall. Now, the A-Channel actually allowed me to bring Ruby Lee to the station and, boy, she was all Holstein and I don't really think they appreciated her licking the windows because she thought she was meeting another cow, but you know, there was never a complaint, just a lot of encouragement and a lot of fun and a tremendous amount of publicity for our foundation.
1494 Our Miniature Horse Show for the Calgary Stampede is more than adequately covered by the A-Channel. And when they get stepped on by the little minis, they don't complain, they just keep right on filming.
1495 Again, this creates a great deal of interest in these tiny versatile animals and a renewed dedication to agriculture and ranching in our area. Without A-Channel, this would be increasingly difficult to inform the public about this niche in our history.
1496 The Chicks from the Chickwagon, we really appreciate the A-Channel. We're 167 of Calgary's busiest, funniest women dedicated to the benefit of women. We buy a Calgary Stampede canvas and a driver and we race a chuckwagon in the Stampede Chuckwagon races, and the money all goes to our selected charity for women. We are given the opportunity of having the A-Channel follow me and the driver all over Calgary, to hospitals, to seniors complexes, to residences, anywhere. They are there and they know why we're there and who we represent - all because of the A-Channel.
1497 Tourism Calgary is very grateful to this channel because of their coverage, particularly of our White Hat ceremonies. It's a special ritual that's common only to Calgary, to welcome very important people. So you should be wearing your white hats.
1498 We welcome guests from all over the world with a pledge and a white Stetson hat. I personally conduct these ceremonies on behalf of the city and Tourism Calgary. They're interviewed, the people who are the visitors, very often by the A-Channel about the reception that they're getting in Calgary and in our area and that's just invaluable information.
1499 They know where they came from and also this increases the number of viewers for A-Channel, and they know what we are accomplishing on their behalf. The Calgary Chamber of Commerce hosts innumerable number of special folks and it's always so exciting for me to see that big black and yellow A, and everybody watches the news and they watch for what we're doing on the news on the A-Channel.
1500 The visitors I speak of include Mikhail Gorbechov, Buzz Aldren and the astronauts, ambassadors from a large number of countries and presidents of even a larger number of companies.
1501 I'd like to speak now about their chosen staff for which the management should be commended. They're friendly, they're cooperative and never in all of the involvement that I have had with the A-Channel has there ever been any negativism in their reporting. It's honest, it's truthful, and you can depend on it. Maybe not always the weatherman, but everything else, definitely. You know, we live in Calgary; if you don't like it, you wait 10 minutes. A positive presentation is always so much appreciated and this staff gets involved in our community.
1502 I personally enjoy having them in the middle of the Holstein herd on Steven Avenue Mall pulling a cow. They're in a fashion show for me next week. They're attending our celebrity golf tournament on the 1st of August. They invite me to "The Big Breakfast" to advertise various events and functions and I always know that there will be a smiling and inviting person beside me on that set.
1503 Yesterday, you were inquiring about how do they get their contacts? Well, before you sits a walking encyclopedia of Calgary's clubs, groups, organizations, small businesses and corporations and they have accessibility to all my contacts in the past and will continue to have it in the future.
1504 What else can I say about this wonderful medium of news, weather, sports, entertainment, diversification and information? I wish to conclude by saying the A-Channel is not only my friend, but it's a friend to the whole community of Calgary and surrounding areas. May they be there a long time and continue to extend their service to a very grateful Calgary. There shouldn't be a trace of doubt as to the award of their licence renewal so they'll continue to conduct the superior service to which we have become accustomed.
1505 I thank you so much for your time and allowing me to come to speak to you today on behalf of these great people at the A-Channel and Craig Broadcasting. And thank you, A-Channel, for always being there.
1506 Any questions?
1507 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Commissioner McKendry?
1508 COMISSIONER McKENDRY: Thank you for coming. You're a very busy person. When we arrived here in Calgary Tuesday night, we were greeted by some men and women in white hats at the airport who were very helpful to us. Was that part of the volunteer organization that you're involved with?
1509 MS. GUDMUNDSON: No, not exactly. They're part of Calgary and they are the special greeters at the airport, but I do all the VIP hat presentations, people who come into Calgary to visit. They come to the city, they come to various corporations and companies and organizations and that's what I do. But they don't get those hats easily, you know. There's a pledge.
1510 COMMISSIONER McKENDRY: And I take it our timing is not good with respect to Meadow Muffin Madness? We're too early or too late?
1511 MS. GUDMUNDSON: No, you can always come back. It's on the 4th of June, and if you wish I will provide you with a live Holstein cow.
1512 COMMISSIONER McKENDRY: That's quite an offer and I think that's probably a first. We've been offered a lot of promises and so on --
1513 MS. GUDMUNDSON: Bribes?
1514 COMMISSIONER McKENDRY: -- here at the Commission and that's probably the most intriguing one.
1515 MS. GUDMUNDSON: You'd love it.
1516 COMMISSIONER McKENDRY: There are other television stations and radio stations, of course, and newspapers in Calgary other than the A-Channel and that, but I take it the A-Channel, in your view, stands out from the rest of that crowd in terms of their community involvement?
1517 MS. GUDMUNDSON: Yes, it certainly does and they just never say no. Mind you, the others don't -- they have a very difficult time saying no to me, too, but the A-Channel, they know that I will bombard them because we're only a block away and I'm just liable to bring the whole herd of cows into the A-Channel. But they have been just above and beyond the call of duty. For instance, as I said, in minus 39 weather, there they were at Nakiska helping us with 200 students and 200 mentors.
1518 COMMISSIONER McKENDRY: I wanted to ask you about the youth you mentioned. You said that the mandate of your organization, the Calgary Educational Partnership, was to keep youth in school and you referred to one occasion where you were dealing with 200 at-risk students. What is the relationship between what goes on at the A-Channel and your organization and keeping youth in school? Is it publicity for your fundraising activities and so on, or are the youth directly involved themselves at all?
1519 MS. GUDMUNDSON: Not only fundraising. We have various programs. Our duty, God- given duty, is to form partnerships with corporations and businesses and organizations in order to maintain these programs that we have. For instance, we partner with the Calgary Flames in a program called "Reading: Give it a Shot", where young people are reading. They never read before. Some of these kids can hardly speak English - they're Third World country children - and after being in our program it is amazing how well they have picked up on our English language. And they read 100 minutes, they get a bookmark from the Flames, they read another 100 minutes, they get another bookmark until they go right through the team. But in the meantime they're gaining the knowledge and they're also gaining a desire to keep on reading and to keep in school because they have role models. The mentors at the ski day were role models and they were from every corner of Calgary, from CEOs to policemen, to plumbers, to nurses, whoever, whoever is interested in really keeping kids in school because you and I both know what the alternative is.
1520 COMMISSIONER McKENDRY: Thank you very much for taking the time to come today. We appreciate the insights into Calgary and the insights into A-Channel that you have given us and I'm sure all of us have marked June 14th, was it?
1521 MS. GUDMUNDSON: No, June 4th and I'm going to phone you on the 3rd to make sure you're on that plane in the morning.
1522 COMMISSIONER McKENDRY: Thanks very much.
1523 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: Does his cow have a name already?
1524 MS. GUDMUNDSON: Oh, I think I'll give him the wildest one we've got and his name is Zebra.
1525 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Madam Secretary?
1526 THE SECRETARY: Our next intervener today is the Calgary Downtown Association, Richard White representing, and this would be intervention 004. Would you come forward, please. Not seeing anyone coming forward, Mr. Chair, for the record, if someone is not here on the first call I will recall at the end of the list just to make sure that we hear everyone.
1527 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
1528 THE SECRETARY: Next on the list then is Special Events Committee for Child Find Alberta, intervention number 037, represented by Wil Gadsby.
1529 MR. GADSBY: My name is Wil Gadsby. I'm Chairman of the Special Events Committee for Child Find Alberta. I'm a volunteer and, indeed, Child Find depends on volunteer support from the community to stay alive.
1530 Child Find is an organization that's dedicated to the prevention of missing children and my responsibility there is very specific and so is the A-Channel for our support for the most part. I have an event down at City Hall and it's called Family Fun in the Sun and it's a day set aside to commemorate International Missing Children's Day, which is May 25th of each year, and A-Channel is just very key to that support. Marge said it well with the above and beyond the call of duty as far as the A-Channel and Craig Broadcast go. It's just amazing what they do.
1531 They're just incredibly helpful. We've got our event, they give us an interview for "The Big Breakfast" show, and each year, "What can we do and how can we do it better?" Last year it wasn't just an interview. They said, "What can we do? Let's bring in some kids." They brought in a class full of kids down to "The Big Breakfast" studio. I mean, they could have kept it simple, had an interview and asked us about our special events day, asked a bit about Child Find and sent us on our way. Instead they organized a group of children to come down and be fingerprinted for the All About Me ID program. And that's a lot of work for all those people to work around with Dave Kelly and the cords and the cameras and stuff and all those kids. It's not easy to coordinate it. They did it very well, very professionally, and they're an awesome group of people.
1532 As well, they send over to emcee our event, and this is hopefully the third year in a row that Rochelle -- the second for her, but Rochelle Chendria, hopefully will be emceeing our event this year. She was awesome last year and, again, their support is just phenomenal. For us, everything they give us is out of the kindness of their heart, we're not paying them for anything.
1533 So they're very crucial for the organization. As well, we get a clip on the news of the event, and it's all promotion and that's how we educate the public to prevent missing children is through public awareness campaigns, like our event commemorating International Missing Children's Day and as well as other things.
1534 Briefly, that's really what I wanted to come down and say and just express my support for them because they've been so supportive of Child Find and again, anything we want, they ask how can we make it better even, which really sets them apart. What A-Channel does, really, they are part of the community by bringing people down into the studio. I'm sure nobody else does that, and so they are actually making people part of the community by bringing them down there. They do both. They go out and they bring people down and see what it's all about at the studio.
1535 So I guess I'd just be happy to answer questions you might have.
1536 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Commissioner Wylie?
1537 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: Good morning, Mr. Gadsby. Does the A-Channel also air public service announcements related to missing children?
1538 MR. GADSBY: Yes, they do. Actually, we have a public service announcement that they send out that, on occasion will promote, for sure. Yes, they're very helpful.
1539 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: Would you be involved in feeding the content of the public service announcements?
1540 MR. GADSBY: Just for the --
1541 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: Or would it come from the police or --
1542 MR. GADSBY: Well, as far as missing children, you mean?
1543 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: I suspect that's what Child Find is about.
1544 MR. GADSBY: That is right, yeah. And as far as what the organization as a whole does, now as far as on a case-by-case basis of how they inform the media, now that's handled by the head office and how exactly they would go about facilitating that with A-Channel I'm just not sure and I wouldn't want to speculate and --
1545 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: So you're representing the Special Events Committee --
1546 MR. GADSBY: Yeah, the Special Events Committee and just because they are so -- well, helpful and they really make that happen. I mean, that is our voice to the community to come down to the event and we have our fingerprinting program down there. Last year we fingerprinted probably a record number, I think 250 kids. Now that's not on the preventative side unfortunately. Those types of things are given to police after an abduction, so when the parents are distraught, the police can go to work. They have a description of the kid, they have pictures hopefully that they've kept in there and so the police can go right to work, they don't have to speak to a parent, they can take that little All About Me kit that we give them with their fingerprints and all the identification, they go to work.
1547 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: And it would also involve younger -- young or older, perhaps, children or young people who have run away from home and help them change their minds --
1548 MR. GADSBY: Exactly, that's right, yes. Exactly. Because it's very much they provide counselling and all that, at the Child Find event. The only time they do get involved in Missing Children is if a case has already been open with the police. They have to report it to the police first, have a file open and then they're referred to us and then we go ahead and help them.
1549 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: Thank you very much for your participation.
1550 MR. GADSBY: Thank you.
1551 THE SECRETARY: Our next intervener is the Canadian National Institute for the Blind represented by Ellie Shuster, and this is intervention 005.
1552 MS. SHUSTER: Mr. Chairman, Members of the Commission, thank you for inviting me to speak to this public hearing in support of the application by Craig Broadcast Alberta.
1553 My name is Ellie Shuster, and I am the Director of Communications for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, Alberta, Northwest Territories, Nunavut Division.
1554 The CNIB is a national, charitable organization which provides rehabilitation, library, and other services to over 100,000 people who are blind, visually impaired or deaf-blind, and their families across the country. In Alberta, we serve over 9,000 clients from seven offices.
1555 These figures - our client base - represent only a fraction of the people who are struggling day to day with vision loss. There are thousands of other Albertans for whom vision loss is a problem, but they don't realize you don't have to be blind to come to CNIB.
1556 Please, if you would, and members of the audience, indulge me for a moment. If you are wearing glasses, please remove them. How well can you see? If this was the best that you could see, even with your glasses, would you still be able to function? If the answer is "with difficulty," then there's probably something that the CNIB could do to help you.
1557 You don't have to be blind to come to the CNIB. There's our message in a nutshell. But it's a difficult one to get across, and that's where the A-Channel comes in. Probably more than any other broadcaster, A-Channel consistently helps us get our message out.
1558 As an organization that self-generates over 70 percent of our budget, you can imagine that we don't have much money for promotion. We rely heavily on the media. We worked hard to find the good news stories, the successes, novelties, the feel good news bumpers, and sometimes the controversy that sheds a positive light on vision loss or blindness and helps the public understand that the CNIB is there to help.
1559 When we invite the media, A-Channel is there. They're often the only ones, but they're there, whether it's our Walk Towards Independence, or a panel discussion on Braille literacy, or the opening of our fragrant garden, or introducing the first blind person to summit Mount Logan, or an open-house for our renovated offices, we can count on A-Channel's interest.
1560 Every year for White Cane Week, which is our national awareness week, "The Big Breakfast" broadcasts live from the CNIB in Edmonton and in Calgary. In fact, one year, we kicked off on Monday from the CNIB and we had several hits each day for the rest of the week from "The Big Breakfast" studio. In addition, there were two news stories which ran several times in a 24-hour period that week. One featured a day in the life of a white cane user and the other one featured a day in the life of a guide dog team. It was an amazing educational week and I heard about it for months.
1561 The CNIB appreciates this broadcaster's community orientation, its commitment to local news coverage, the opportunity it presents for us to reach a young demographic with an important message.
1562 We also appreciate what Craig has accomplished and has committed to do for people who are blind and visually impaired. Think about your glasses again. If you were blind or had limited vision, which TV station would you choose for your news and community information? You'll turn to the TV station that focuses on community events and where you know you'll get the best audio message.
1563 A-Channel has made the commitment to audio description, that is, voicing the things on the screen that cannot be read by somebody who is visually impaired, whether it's the weather or the hockey scores, or important contact information, or even something as simple as what I heard the other day, where the announcer said, "Well, if you've just tuned in, the camera is just panning over Grant McEwan Community College in downtown Edmonton." These simple things may seem small to us visual people but they bring television to life for someone who cannot see.
1564 I understand that Craig has embraced the concept of descriptive programming and has committed to offer greater services to blind viewers in the near future. My friends and colleagues who are visually impaired are excited by the prospect of being able to enjoy TV in the same way as their sighted peers. And if you've ever spent a few hours describing a program or movie to somebody who is blind, you'll appreciate what a gift that really is.
1565 I wanted to add just a couple of comments after listening to the proceedings yesterday, and that is at a time when supporting Canadian content and Canadian expertise is so very important, I would encourage Craig to source out a made-in-Canada solution to descriptive programming and I can say from experience that we have well-developed expertise right here at home in Canada.
1566 I have probably said enough. I hope you are all wearing your glasses again. I will be happy to answer your questions. I would just like to conclude by expressing my appreciate for the last four years of Craig Broadcasting's commitment to the communities of Edmonton and Calgary, and I look forward to many more years of working with them on behalf of a growing number of blind and visually impaired Albertans and their families.
1567 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Commissioner Williams?
1568 COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Good morning, Ms. Shuster. I'm intrigued by your presentation and I appreciate this, it gives me a much better understanding of visual impairment.
1569 The television set, as we know, as become to many the heart and the centre of home and family activities. So obviously with described programming, visually impaired people and, in fact, even totally blind people can still enjoy that family time around the TV set with the rest of the family.
1570 Do you have comments regarding the broadcast of described programming? Craig has made some commitments. For example, at the beginning in year two of their new licence term, a minimum of two hours per week of described priority video programming at peak time, 50 percent of which would be original, and beginning in the year four of the new licence term, a minimum of four hours per week, 50 percent of which would be original. Can you please comment on this step forward and suggest to us maybe it should be a condition of licence as well?
1571 MS. SHUSTER: I do believe it should be a condition of licence, and the difference that it makes to people, when you think about television as sort of defining our culture, and it really is inaccessible to people who can't see it properly because they can hear what's going on and they don't get the full impact, and much of what's on television is very visual and not auditory at all.
1572 I think it's an important first step. I'd like to see more of it. I also would agree with the comments made earlier that it could be a profit centre, it could be something that is sponsored, and I would encourage that and would gladly work with the broadcaster on that as well, because of course our organization would have a vested interest in making sure that it is accessible to as many people as possible.
1573 It's ultimately, I guess, as closed captioning is for people who are hearing impaired, we should be working towards having either on the SAP, or what other new developments there may be over time, the opportunity for people who are blind to be able to watch TV at all times with the rest of the family without having to ask the question, "What's happening?"
1574 COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS: Thank you very much, Ms. Shuster.
1575 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Ms. Shuster. We'll break now and resume at 11:30 sharp. Thank you.
--- Upon recessing at 1130 / Suspension à 1130
--- Upon resuming at 1135 / Reprise à 1130
1576 THE CHAIRPERSON: Order, please. Alors, s'il vous plait. In order to assist parties, I'll give you our current thinking as to scheduling. We will take all remaining interveners prior to lunch, whenever that is, and then we will break for a short lunch of about 30 minutes in order to give the applicant an opportunity to finalize its responses and whatever thoughts you might want to share with us, and come back and finish the hearing at that point.
1577 Madam Secretary, would you call in the next item, please?
1578 THE SECRETARY: Thank you Mr. Chairman. Our next intervener is the Meningitis Foundation of Alberta, represented by Earl Schindruk. Please come forward.
1579 MR. SCHINDRUK: Good morning Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. It is my pleasure to be here representing the Meningitis Foundation of Alberta.
1580 We are a relatively young organization because, as some of us were talking about before the break, meningitis is a relatively new disease in its intensity and frequency in Canada. It is very prevalent in Europe and the United Kingdom in particular.
1581 We started in February of 2000 after one of my son's schoolmates died from meningitis at W.P. Wagner High School in Edmonton. She was a 16 year old, female athlete, very vibrant young lady. She contracted meningitis and died within a day of doing so.
1582 We exist to increase awareness of the disease. We also exist to further education, particularly students, young people, the target groups that are most susceptible to meningitis. One of our other roles is family support. We support those who have been affected by meningitis, either families who have suffered a loss of a son, daughter, or somebody who has survived meningitis and may have lost limbs, had an amputation, something like that. We also hope to, in future years, promote research and further study into finding cures to this terrible disease.
1583 In regards to the A-Channel, they've been a tremendous help to us. We all, in the Meningitis Foundation, are volunteers - as I said, we're a very young organization, a very small organization - and we depend tremendously upon the support of organisations like the A-Channel to help us fulfil our objectives.
1584 The A-Channel in Edmonton, that's where I'm from, has supported many other charities, such as Cops for Cancer, Salvation Army, CNIB, as you've heard of, and numerous others - too numerous to mention. So, it's very important to us, as a small organization run by volunteers to have this type of support because without this type of support, we really wouldn't' get very far with our cause. We have a handful of volunteers. I'm one of six who volunteer with the Meningitis Foundation of Alberta - that's how small we are. We've been able to accomplish a lot through help from people like the A-Channel.
1585 First of all, I want to comment on the staff. The staff have been tremendous to us, newsroom staff, reporters, medical watch reporters.
1586 I should mention one person in particular because she's become very dear to some of our members who have lost loved ones to meningitis. Her name's Molly Findlay, she's now in Toronto. It went way, way beyond the call of duty, with what Molly did. At the time meningitis broke out in February 2000 in Edmonton, she was there. She was in the home of the MacAngus', the MacAngus family and she became very good friends with Dee MacAngus and was an additional support with a family that was grieving the loss of a daughter. She also became friends with Brenda and Richard Morneau who lost a one and a half year old child to meningitis. They talked regularly and, as I said, Molly was a real good support and source of encouragement for the MacAngus and the Morneau family.
1587 Other people have helped tremendously too. Producers of "The Big Breakfast", Mark and Steve who host "The Big Breakfast" in Edmonton have been tremendous and we noticed that Mark was very much moved -- we've had two events that we promoted and Mark was tremendously moved by, in particular, a young gentleman who lost both arms and both legs to meningitis and Mark interviewed him in the studio and did a tremendous job of that.
1588 From a news perspective, the A-Channel has covered meningitis. There have been a few large outbreaks in the Edmonton area. There are still ongoing cases. There are about four per month. And they continue to make everyone aware of the symptoms of the disease, what to look for, early symptoms and so on.
1589 They do regular interviews with Capital Health Authority, with medical officers, such as Dr. Gerry Predy and Dr. Steve Buick to keep people updated on meningitis and again, its symptoms and how to prevent it, in a preventative way.
1590 I also wanted to mention two events the A-Channel helped us with. Dawn MacAngus died on February 10th and the Foundation was formed shortly after that. On April 30th we did a run, the Dawn MacAngus memorial run for meningitis. If I were to do it again, I wouldn't do it that quickly, that was quite an undertaking but there was a lot of passion and energy and enthusiasm from students in the community and from the A-Channel to promote that event.
1591 As I mentioned, they had us on "The Big Breakfast", they interviewed the MacAngus family, did a tremendous job, and Molly Findlay came out to cover the run. She was there. And it was really a partnering arrangement with us. That went further when we did our next event, the same year. We did a variety show at the Winspear Centre, which is a large concert hall in Edmonton. We had 17 performers and the A-Channel put together promotional spots for us. It was more of true partnership. They provided the host for us, Joanne Nugents, Dawn Chubai, one of the news staff at the A-Channel sang, did a lovely jazz number, actually two of them. Again "The Big Breakfast" interviewed and had interviews on. "Wired" had one or two of our entertainers on "Wired" to help us promote the show. That show helped us raise money for the foundation, in particular, for Daniel Ennett, the young gentleman who, as I mentioned, lost both arms and both legs to meningitis. But you know what? He can walk as fast as any of us in a normal walking pace. He could probably beat most of us from a 20-foot distance. All I wanted to say on that, though, is that through the A-Channel's help, we were able to go above and beyond what we thought we could do in terms of that event. And we donated specifically to Daniel and also to the Foundation, to other people who needed help.
1592 So, in conclusion, I look forward to a long and continued relationship with the A-Channel and also anticipate working with them on other projects that we have coming up in the future. That's the conclusion of my presentation and I look forward to any questions you may have.
1593 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Schindruk. You mentioned that you were a young organization, and I guess, is that a function of the incidents of meningitis in Alberta?
1594 MR. SCHINDRUK: Yes, there is one other organization in Canada called the Meningitis Research Foundation in Ontario, I'm not sure where. Their role is quite different. They are very much into finding grants and funding to research the causes and cures of meningitis. There are no -- or there were no organizations like ourselves until February of 2000. Our role is more of a supportive role, education, and awareness role.
1595 We hope, in the future, to have chapters and branches across Canada but at this point we are fairly locally based.
1596 THE CHAIRPERSON: Has there been an increase in the disease?
1597 MR. SCHINDRUK: There are outbreaks. There were 17 cases about a month ago in Ingersoll, Ontario. Is there an increase? Yes, there's an increase in Canada and we're not sure why. For example, in the Capital Health Region surrounding Edmonton has one of the highest incidents of meningitis in Canada.
1598 THE CHAIRPERSON: Where's that?
1599 MR. SCHINDRUK: Capital Health, which surrounds the Edmonton area.
1600 THE CHAIRPERSON: What are the causes of meningitis? Is contaminated water or an element or?
1601 MR. SCHINDRUK: I'm not sure that that would be a cause in particular. Most of us carry meningitis, but most of us are not susceptible to the bacteria. Some of it is viral. Again, I'm not from a medical background. There are several different forms of meningitis. The target group is a young group, like ages 0 to right up to age 24. As I say, most of us will carry meningitis but will never contract it.
1602 If you get -- let's think of a recent case. If you're run down, if your immunity is low, there's a young lady in Edmonton who died a month or so ago. She was 18 years old, performed in a theatre troupe with Grant MacEwan Community College. They had a tradition of sharing mouthwash before the performance, which is not a good idea, so she contracted meningitis and died from it.
1603 Also another young fellow, 19 years old, we've lost track of him, but he was in hospital in Edmonton, had to have some amputation. So, in terms of cause and why it breaks out in certain areas, I'm not really sure.
1604 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for taking the time to be here and sharing your views with us and for your support for the applicant.
1605 MR. SCHINDRUK: Thank you very much.
1606 THE SECRETARY: Our next intervener is the Downtown Business Association of Edmonton, represented by Jana Clarke, and this would be intervention number 007.
1607 MS. CLARKE: Mr. Chairman, Members of the Commission, my name is Jana Clarke and I'm the manager of marketing and communications for the Downtown Business Association of Edmonton. Though I haven't provided a prepared presentation for you today, I wanted to take a few minutes just to talk about the A-Channel in downtown Edmonton and what they've done for us and basically, what they mean for us.
1608 Several people have stood up here and spoken about the community involvement of the A-Channel and in some ways, I just want to say ditto, you know. And I don't want to reiterate too, too much on what other people have said.
1609 However, almost five years ago, the A-Channel opened its doors in our downtown community. They did a couple of things for us right off the bat. First of all, they took over an empty space that we thought would be empty for a very, very long time and really provided a cornerstone for that area in the downtown core. We are very, very pleased to have them as a part of our community. They are extremely dynamic and really have maintained a visible presence, first of all.
1610 Secondly, what they did is they really filled a hole within television broadcasting in Edmonton. We didn't have an independent television broadcaster prior to their coming on board and we have found them to be an invaluable tool in many of the things that we do.
1611 I, myself, run nine different events per year for the downtown core. A-Channel has been involved in the majority of these on either a sponsorship basis or by simply providing a additional support. They've provided me with direct advertising in which they've provided individual sponsorship totalling approximately $8,000 per year for our organization.
1612 They have also participated directly within these projects, by attending the projects, by coming out and promoting the projects. One example of a promotion would be this winter, putting up a very large tree in Churchill Square for Christmas. We actually had A-Channel on-site almost every day of that project. It was fantastic. At one point we took Dawn Chubai, the weather gal at the time, and put her in the bucket and sent her up 40 feet in the air, where she did her weather report from alongside the top of this tree. It was fantastic.
1613 Their direct participation has been demonstrated throughout. Another example is our Chilli Cook-Off in which they really went above and beyond the call of duty. The Chilli Cook-Off itself, I mean, it's a fun event. It also does a lot to support the CFR and raises dollars for the Downtown Cowboy Benevolent Fund. The Cowboy Benevolent Fund dollars that we raised literally doubled this year and I think that was due, to a large part, from their support.
1614 We had a really hard time partnering our media people. What we do is we have the cooking group partnered with a media partner and we could not get enough media people to fill the spaces for the number of cookers that we had. We called everywhere. We called all the newspaper outlets; we called Global; we called CFRN; and it was A-Channel that stepped up to the plate and provided seven people, seven bodies, on-air personalities and behind-the-scenes personalities alike, to come down and really help us out with that. And that was absolutely fantastic.
1615 That's just a couple of examples and I don't want to take up too much of your time, because I could go on and on, really, about all of this. Oft times, looking at A-Channel from a pure marketing perspective, if I was to say, does this meet my target markets, am I going to access the people I want to access with their programming, oftentimes, I would have to say no, this doesn't quite fit. But I pick A-Channel consistently because they are made up much more of that. And I pick them because of their participation levels, because of what they give to me, above and beyond just a closed captioning pot.
1616 They are incredibly enthusiastic; they are incredibly creative and I think a lot of their creativity is due to the fact that they are an independent station and they have the ability to do new, fun and creative ideas without having to go through all the red tape that it may take a Global or a CFRN to do.
1617 In addition, there is not a media outlet existing in Edmonton today that provides the level of support for the arts and cultural community in Edmonton, in my opinion. For example, this summer, I did a project in which I hired 24 bands to appear over a period of eight days in conjunction with the World Championships in Athletics. They appeared as part of our Downtown Plaza portion to attract our visitors to the downtown core. I interviewed approximately 80 bands for these 24 spots, and of those I'd say about 20 were directly multicultural in nature. Of those bands, I had three or four, I think maybe even more, who gave me a tape of their appearance on "The Big Breakfast" show that they were using as their promotional vehicle and it was absolutely fabulous. They were very excited about appearing on the show and excited about the exposure that that gave them. I really think that this has led to the development of a lot of careers just through the A-Channel and their appearance.
1618 In addition -- I have so much more to add and I don't want to take up too much of your time. In addition, A-Channel has really helped out with direct participation in events and have run events for us. For example, they open their doors and do studio tours for us as part of our Family Festival promotion in February and we've seen great success. It's a good promotion for the A-Channel themselves; it's also a good promotion for our downtown core.
1619 The A-Channel is a downtown business. We are here to support our downtown businesses, but they do provide so much for our business community.
1620 Finally, I've been sitting here since yesterday afternoon, listening to these proceedings. I would just like to say that though setting a goal for the amount of local programming that the A-Channel needs to provide, by setting that goal in the number of hours and minutes that they are on the air discussing local stuff through their news programming, et cetera, is a very important thing, that this is one measuring tool. I understand measuring tools. I use measuring tools on a daily basis, trying to quantify exactly what I'm doing and sell that back to my boards and committees and my downtown business community. I understand that. But I do believe, however, that there's a big difference between setting a goal on quantity and setting a goal on quality, and I think that what we see with A-Channel is we see a great deal of quality.
1621 There is a lot of community organizations and groups that raise an awful lot of dollars for an awful lot of different things. There's also a bit of a hierarchy in place when it comes to these local organizations and community groups. Oftentimes what I see is media groups that are partnering with the more high-profile of the community organizations because that benefits them in a great way as well. I don't necessarily see that with A-Channel. I see the A-Channel crew -- well, the A-Channel crew out there not worrying about things like that, but looking more towards what this organization is striving to do and helping them out in any way that they can. That, right there, is quality. That is community partnershipping and that's what the A-Channel does for us.
1622 The arts community within the downtown business core, which is actually, very, very prevalent, we have Arts Habitat, we have the Arts District, speaks incredibly highly of the A-Channel. Any smaller group or organization that I have run into that has worked with the A-Channel speaks very highly of their work. And I think that's all I have to say. Thank you.
1623 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you Ms. Clarke. Commissioner Wylie?
1624 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: Good morning, Ms. Clarke. You, in part, answered my question before I asked, and it was to be whether you were aware since you put so much stress on the community part of it, the local programming part, you were aware of the possibility discussed, and you obviously are, yesterday, that commitments would be lowered in local programming, although intention would not be to lower them. I gather from your comments that that's not a problem for you, for the licensee to say, "I may satisfy my commitments by chopping what I did before by half, but it will be better." Is that not a problem?
1625 MS. CLARKE: Personally, I don't feel that to be a major issue, no. There is an awareness on our part as well as to how much of that local programming would be cut back. I'd feel that you can't chop 50 percent of our local programming instantly. I mean, that's just not, that wouldn't be viable. However, I do feel that if we set our goals too high and that we say that we have to provide local programming for the sake of providing local programming, I think there's an issue right there. If we're providing local programming with a purpose, that's an entirely differently ball game.
1626 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: But you are aware that as a Commission, who sets goals and conditions of licence and so on, quality is a difficult thing to measure.
1627 MS. CLARKE: Absolutely.
1628 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: And it's difficult for us to know whether it would still be satisfactory to the community if "The Big Breakfast" were chopped by half or if your events were not covered. So it's difficult for us to measure quality. It's easier, of course, to say, well, this is what you're doing now and, in terms of hours and the community is satisfied because, obviously, there are a number of a positive interventions. We don't know, of course, the extent to which each intervener understands the possibility of a reduction but we appreciate your comment.
1629 In other words, whether their support is based on a continuation of what they have, which is measured, of course, by what they see and whether, if they were told, it would be better but there'll be less of it, that would be -- it's a difficult. But I appreciate your comments on this matter, which is obviously quite difficult. Thank you very much. I don't know if my colleagues have questions.
1630 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Ms. Clarke, for taking the time to come and present your views.
1631 MS. CLARKE: Thank you so much.
1632 THE CHAIRPERSON: Madam Secretary?
1633 THE SECRETARY: Our next intervener is Reverend Neil Duncan McLean, intervention number 033. Would you come forward, please?
1634 MR. McLEAN: It's still good morning. Mr. Chair, other Commissioners, welcome to Alberta. If I could amend how I've been represented. I'm actually here representing The Mustard Seed Street Church in Edmonton. Information that I've passed out to you really is that I am the front point of many, literally, thousands of individuals that are involved in the inner city of Edmonton. So this is not me as an individual, but being somebody from the community that represents the hard part of a great city. That's what The Mustard Seed is.
1635 We work with people who don't have anything to eat. 117,000 meals were provided last year out of a little kitchen that wouldn't be much bigger than the platform that your tables are on right now. The toughest thing about that is that there is no budget for that. It is strictly volunteer labour and provision of volunteer food. There were over 20,000 food hampers provided with the partnership of the Edmonton Food Bank to people within walking distance of ourselves and the A-Channel studios. Over 17,000 people got free clothing and household goods.
1636 Some other things that are critical to give you context for where my statements will be. I am not here as A-Channel's chaplain. I don't think that's ever been a question or, as you've heard, not as A-Channel's charity. In fact, I want to sit here today and commend on behalf of the inner city of Edmonton the people we work for, that we represent, the work that has been done for the Bissell Centre; significant involvements, very creative productions. We had a former weather person water ski the length of the North Saskatchewan River as a fundraising project for the Bissell Centre; a tremendous group that worked primarily in the provision of professional social service to people that simply wouldn't be getting that. The Salvation Army's been mentioned in various ways, that they do great work, the food bank that we're partnered with directly, and I think, even for the news department.
1637 We had a politically sensitive issue just after Christmas this year at the Herb Jamieson Centre Hope Mission. The executive director there is a friend of mine who hates limelight, hates media attention, and because of actions of other people, he got more than he ever wanted to. The way in which A-Channel reporters consistently tried to understand the depth of the story and not just give the airplay that things went nationally with, with the names and the splash, but actually what was going on and the very difficult position that these people were in.
1638 What I'd like to talk about is community-based news issues, how that is dealt with. I'd like to talk about how things are reported and I'd like to talk about "The Big Breakfast".
1639 The first thing is simply the sheer number of reporters that are employed. Hearing yesterday that there was a commitment to employing young people, there's a commitment to that we've seen since the inception of A-Channel of having people available to cover stories. Where we are located in the downtown core of Edmonton, we are involved with more than our share of stories and it's those little yellow and black trucks that we see consistently first, and stay around the longest. That is time and time and time again, things we're directly involved with, things that touch the lives of our people.
1640 The value that is placed on soft news stories. It can be so easy to try and compete with CNN and work at that, but instead, A-Channel has shown that they are committed to try and weave together and tell the story of the fabric of the City of Champions. They do it well. They are not afraid to deal with things, dealing with how individuals get impacted, how families are changed, and through the Meningitis Society we've heard a powerful example of that.
1641 I'd like to talk about the way that they covered the Christmas Gift to the City of Edmonton given by a little tiny historical Lutheran Church. It was the First Missouri Synod Church that the Lutherans put in. It is an old congregation, old historically, old in the demographics. Very creative young pastor who wanted to provide a live manger scene to the city and he wanted people to come by and enjoy the hospitality. He wasn't trying to sell them anything, get them to join the congregation. He wanted to celebrate. The fact that (a) the story was covered at all was impressive, but not only that, they got it and they communicated it. I was incredibly impressed with that.
1642 We had an example of that. Every year we have and event called Meet the Street. I know it takes place as well in downtown Toronto. It does here in Calgary. And what we do on a Meet the Street event, for us, it's between 100 or 150 people that we kick loose into the downtown core area, spend the entire night out on their own. They're given a maximum of $3 that they can spend and they are on their own to try to find their way through the evening.
1643 The reporter that came out and covered the story, I thought she needed a learner's permit for her camera. I was really concerned. Young, and she was trying hard, "Why are you doing this? What's this about? Who are these people?" We literally had people from all over the city, for, probably as many reasons as there were individuals there. She worked hard; she asked questions; she dug, she dug, she dug. The piece that she presented helped me understand and get a better handle on an event that I planned, helped to see execute. That came from a very young, very junior filmographer for A-Channel Edmonton.
1644 The way local, more hard news stories are covered, I have to speak about. The way I would describe it is that they bring local focussed issues. It's not isolation. You, probably more than any of us in this room, are aware of some of the horrible things "community" stations can come up with and how an incredibly small narrow perspective on the world can be put forward as normative. I have, instead, seen A-Channel try to take stories of the impact, whether it be the September 11th catastrophe, how it impacted, yes through CNN coverage, but also how it impacted members of the Muslim community in Edmonton and the issues of their children trying to come through school. They took the issue and made it alive. How Ace Bailey was impacted as a former member of the Edmonton Oilers scouting staff and he was one of the people who died on it. Things like that were brought home. I've seen them do that consistently.
1645 They work to ask critical questions, and this is part of where we are involved with. The only government money that we receive is only 7.5 percent of our budget is to provide chaplaincy services for released federal prisoners coming into the Edmonton area. We provide the chaplaincy services for the Grierson Centre minimum security prison, four blocks away from us in the downtown core of Edmonton and also for Circles Support and Accountability, a way in which we try to bring safety to our community for high risk to reoffend, high needs sexual offenders that are held to their warrant expiry dates and that are released into the Edmonton area. What do we do with them? How do we deal with them? Those types of issues.
1646 Reporters have dealt with the tough questions. Why should a paedophile come into our city? They've looked at it, they've tried to deal with it. How do we balance off the needs of our families, of our kids to be safe and remain safe? How do we work through those issues? How could this incredibly wealthy province have hungry people, as they watch, as they see through the mealtimes when we have, on average 400 people every time the door opens, line up for a meal in this great city, the city I was born and raised in? It seems impossible.
1647 Two reporters especially I want to single out for this. Dan MacLellan worked at trying to stem the tide of a media feeding frenzy that took place in our city over the release of a very high profile paedophile, a person who has been vilified on a national scale. Dan did not back away at all from who this person was, what this person did, but tried to come to grips with what does that mean to our city? What does that mean with the individual now? What are our choices and options? I was incredibly impressed.
1648 Paul Mennier as well, has tried to do that on issues of hunger, on issues involving, especially, the racial gangs. And literally, where we are located, First Nations gangs impact us on a north and south axis, Asian gangs impact us on an east and west axis and we are right at the confluence of where they come through; very real part of our every day life. Dan tried to understand and not just sensationalize the fear that people were experiencing.
1649 THE SECRETARY: I'm sorry, Reverend McLean, we're past the 10-minute mark. Could you move toward a conclusion, please?
1650 MR. McLEAN: The only other thing I could talk about is "The Big Breakfast". Any self- respecting pastor would run away from that place. Providing Canadian content, it's like the trials for razzle-dazzle. First time I was invited there and it was Mustard Seed was invited to come down and talk about what we're doing at Christmas. I didn't know what I was in.
1651 THE CHAIRPERSON: We're going to have to ask you to please finish.
1652 MR. McLEAN: What I was going to say by finishing is coming from that, an expression to give back into our city, what is being provided by Edmontonians to the needs of Edmontonians, and you have the written material to back that up, has been nothing but incredible. Thank you for your time and indulging a preacher.
1653 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. We do have your written remarks so you can be sure that those will be taken into account. Commissioner Wylie?
1654 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: Good morning, Reverend McLean. It's obvious that you think a lot about the A-Channel's participation in the community and about "The Big Breakfast" in particular. You've been here most of the hearing?
1655 MR. McLEAN: Yes.
1656 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: Let me ask you the same question I asked Ms. Clarke a few minutes ago. Do you have any comment about the possibility that the amount of local programming and the hours devoted to it would be, potentially, decreased in the short or medium term if the applicant had its licence renewed for seven years?
1657 MR. McLEAN: I would actually endorse as is, and where I would put that from is with what we do, every media outlet in the city touches base with us, deals with us. The impact of something that comes from A-Channel, measurably to us, absolutely blows away all of the other stations. If they went, based on the quality of the people, what they have demonstrated over time, less time, the impact to people like The Mustard Seed, like others that have been represented, I have no doubt that they will continue to be outstanding. I could spend hours in other places, as opposed to what comes out of A-Channel and the difference we get, there is, our receptionist would be a better person to talk to about, our phones are lit up and she can't do anything for two days.
1658 COMMISSIONER WYLIE: Thank you, Reverend McLean. Thank you for your discussion.
1659 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank very much. Madam Secretary?
1660 THE SECRETARY: Our next intervener today is the Rainbow Society of Alberta, represented by Craig Hawkins, and this would be intervention number 021.
1661 MR. HAWKINS: Good morning Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. I'll be brief here. The Rainbow Society of Alberta is a real grassroots organization. We've been around since 1986 and we grant wishes to Alberta children with chronic or life-threatening illnesses. So, you know, I have a lot of people who come up to me and obviously exclaim, well, how can you do that, and gee, that must be a terrible thing to do, but it's rewarding in its own right. I mean, I have young children and I saw a young girl this week who is seven years old and probably isn't going to live very long. She's had trouble with her liver and so forth.
1662 So, our organization, the same as any others, and you know there's tens of thousands of charities out there trying to get their message across, look for an avenue, a way to get our message out. We want people to know about us, to bring their children to us so we can spend money on them. That's a measure of success for us. Also to get our name out there so that when we run events, people come and they donate money to us. I mean, we can't do it without that.
1663 There's been lots of talk here the last couple of days with A-Channel and, you know, the amount of money they have to spend on their programming and we're dealing in tens of millions of dollars and that's way above my budget. I think the real, important thing that we get from the A-Channel, more so than, honestly, more so than from any other broadcaster in the Edmonton area and in Calgary too, because we work here, is the people, and you heard some of the interveners earlier talking about the people and interviewers and news people taking a vested interest,
1664 it seems when we have an event or function and we ask people to come out, we tend to go back more to the A-Channel because we get a greater response. Other stations respond as well, but we just find over the years that we get a greater response from the A-Channel and we tend to go back to them a little bit more and we're happy with what they do. But these people, even though they are news people, they're anchors, weather people, sports people, never hesitate to come out and help us. I've only been in this business a couple of years - I've been in the oil and gas business all my life - and you don't really ever see that part of it when you watch the news. I mean, they interview whoever they're talking to and that's the end of the story.
1665 On the volunteer side, I was just really amazed that these people would give up their time and come out. I'm a volunteer and I do lots of things for different organizations around where I live but there was never any hesitation. They come out after hours; they come out on weekends and they willingly give up their time. I never quite understood why, when you're holding an event it seems you have a lot more creditability if you have people that are on TV come out and speak on behalf of your group. I couldn't quite ever figure that out. It perhaps gives us a little more creditability, but if somebody is on television, it just seems they are more of a presence and people will actually come and listen to what they have to say.
1666 So we're glad that people from A-Channel do that. It helps us. I've got a list here of events we've had over the years - I won't get into all of them - but I guess, suffice to say that over the couple of years that I've been with the society, many of them have said to me, you know, "If there's anything we can do for you, like really, just give me a call. Here's my card, give me a call and I'll get back to you and we'll figure out something we can do." That's really neat. You always have the impression that they're busy people and they've got their jobs and, of course, there's all these other charities asking them to do similar things, but they are genuine people and they want to help us. We're a good cause and I can't blame them.
1667 I should just mention, too, "The Big Breakfast" has been a big benefit to us. I mean, it's a perfect venue for us to get our face on TV and tell people in the province of Alberta what we're doing. But I can't stress enough how much the personal time from their people means to us. It goes a long ways.
1668 I should mention, too, that one of my directors, volunteer directors, for fundraising has been with us a number of years. Just with the non-stop work that he did, we voted him volunteer of the year last year and he's a sales rep for A-Channel in Edmonton.
1669 Thank you for your time.
1670 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Commissioner McKendry?
1671 COMMISSIONER McKENDRY: Thank you, Mr. Hawkins. I think I understand the importance of the A-Channel in your fundraising activities. Do they play a role as well in helping citizens of Alberta understand, who have children that might benefit from what you do, do they play a role there in raising the exposure, the identity of the organization with parents and children?
1672 MR. HAWKINS: Yes. That's a big role for us, Commissioner. We want to make sure that everybody in Alberta who has a child who is sick, or possibly dying, knows that they can come to us. It's a sad fact that a lot of people will not approach our society because they are either ashamed or they are admitting the inevitable. It is still our function and my job to make sure that they know about that and we try to make people comfortable with that. When we can get that sort of exposure, when we get those people who care and come to these events and take an interest in what we do, yes, that helps us tremendously. You know, we wouldn't be where we are today without them.
1673 COMMISSIONER McKENDRY: Thanks very much for taking the time to come and talk to us today.
1674 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
1675 THE SECRETARY: Our next intervener is Dean Yaremchuk, who is the director of Economic and Community development for the City of Portage la Prairie, Manitoba.
1676 MR. YAREMCHUK: Good morning. It's a pleasure to move forward into the comfortable chairs as well. Nice to move up into the comfy seats. My name is Dean Yaremchuk. I'm the director of Economic and Community Development for the city of Portage la Prairie. I've been there, held that position for the past 10 years. Certainly, on behalf of our city, we're here to speak in support of A-Channel's CRTC licence renewal.
1677 Part of my responsibility with the city is economic development, which is business attraction, business development, land use planning, property management, social services, recreation services, along with tourism, marketing and promotion. So you can kind of see that within our corporate system, our department tends to be directly involved with the community in shaping programs and services that we provide to the public.
1678 As a result of our contacts we tend to interact on a consistent basis with the various forms of media throughout the course of the year. For those of you that aren't aware of our geographical location, our community is situated on the Trans Canada highway about 45 minutes west of Winnipeg, which of course is the capital, and about 75 minutes east of Brandon, which is the second largest city in the province. Portage la Prairie is the fourth largest city in Manitoba with a population of approximately 13,000. We are considered the major retail and service sector in our trading area of approximately 50,000 people, so many people come into our community and rely on services that we provide. Of course, we are fortunate to be in some of the best agricultural land in Canada. We are fast becoming the centre of Canadian potato processing, with the recent announcement of $120 million JR Simplot plant in our city.
1679 In addition to having a strong local economy on the move, we've also have a community that really prides itself on its ability to host major events and attractions, is very safe and secure and offers a quality of life that, in our view, is second to none anywhere.
1680 I think the picture I'm trying to paint here is that we are a very well-rounded community, active, that has an impact on our citizens.
1681 So I guess the question is how does A-Channel Manitoba fit into this.
1682 Well, A-Channel has been a valuable part of our city and area since 1986 when they were known as MTN. Certainly, as they did in the southwest part of Manitoba for 30 years prior to coming to our city, the Craig broadcast family has consistently demonstrated their willingness and ability to not only provide diverse, up to the minute, local and regional television coverage, but to get involved in their community by taking an active role in community events and activities.
1683 It's certainly pleasing to hear, sit through the presentations part of yesterday and today, and to hear, even coming from Manitoba into Alberta that that same level of commitment is certainly demonstrated here as well, which isn't surprising to me.
1684 Certainly one of the highlights from our point of view of A-Channel's community involvement would be the significant role that they've played in promoting and marketing one of the most successful Christmas light shows in Canada, which is called the Island of Lights. This is really a story that needs to be told because it demonstrates, in our view, the genuine corporate philosophy of community involvement and giving back from the top of the A-Channel organization down to its field staff.
1685 In 1999, a city councillor and myself travelled to Calgary to meet with Drew and talk to him about the concept we had to transform Island Park into a winter wonderland with the idea we had on promoting this particular project. I don't think we were into the presentation more than 5 minutes when Drew, enthusiastically, jumped into the mix, brought in some other creative people and suddenly something that was just merely a concept that we didn't really know what the response could be, A-Channel was in, and they were in hard and deep right from the word go.
1686 We left the meeting with nothing more than a handshake and a commitment to make sure that together we would produce the results that we really desired. That is critical for you to note as members of the CRTC because, in my view, that exemplifies how this corporation does business and gets involved. A simple handshake was all we really required and that's in fact, what occurred.
1687 So what are the results of A-Channel's direct involvement on the Island of Lights? The third season of this award winning show has had several key results. Last year we had 8,500 more people in 1,700 more vehicles, which was an overall increase of 25 percent. Sixty percent of the attendees were from outside of Portage la Prairie. Ten percent, or 3,400 visitors were from Winnipeg, which was up from the previous year and in the show itself generated almost three-quarters of a million new tourism dollars to our community. So over the course of three years, we've put through almost 90,000 people in 2,300 people coming to the show. We ask people specifically how they hear about the show and in year 2, 13 percent said they heard about it from TV ads, certainly the direct involvement of A-Channel and in year 3, it even increased more.
1688 As always, A-Channel was not only in but they were in all the way. Never, ever once, in any of our discussions with A-Channel were we felt, why they should be involved but it was more a matter of how more could they become involved in the project. This is important to note because in this particular project, every net tax dollar that is generated by this amazing community event goes directly into the development of recreation facilities that benefit all of our citizens, young and old. A-Channel should be very proud of their direct contribution in making this happen.
1689 In addition to the involvement of A-Channel and the Island of the Lights, they've also played a significant role in supporting local, grassroots, initiative events such as the annual Gillespie Centre Golf tournament, which is a fundraiser for a performing arts facility. As well, Drew in particular was, when he lived in Portage, was directly involved in the actual building and development of that particular 450 seat performing arts facility. They are a major sponsor for a hospital for a golf tournament, whereby the funds that are raised are actually going to a foundation to offset some of the incremental costs in health care.
1690 Of course, community involvement is not the only thing that A-Channel does well. In my view, from a rural Manitoba perspective, A-Channel continually demonstrates their commitment to covering the news and community-based events outside of Winnipeg on a consistent basis. In fact, whenever we issue press releases on a variety of subjects from city hall that impact our residents and those living around our city, in our trading area, A-Channel will, at the very least, call to obtain more information, which is very much appreciated. This cannot be said for other television-based mediums that are located within the City of Winnipeg.
1691 In closing, the A-Channel operation and its Manitoba links consistently and reliably provide news and reporting coverage on those events that sometimes may be perceived as non-sensational, but yet are very meaningful at the local level. It's something that viewers in our trading area want to hear about and it's news that impacts people they know and news that can be trusted and relied upon. The special commitment that A-Channel Manitoba makes to covering the entire province of Manitoba from a news and events perspective, makes the corporation unique and necessary in providing an alternative Western Canadian voice to those of us living in rural Manitoba.
1692 From my perspective, we certainly look forward to continuing and building the outstanding partnership that we have with A-Channel. Thank you for the opportunity to present our views to you today.
1693 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Commissioner Cram?
1694 COMMISSIONER CRAM: Thank you, Mr. Yaremchuk. I wanted to ask about -- there you are in Portage and clearly you can watch CKY, CKND and, of course, CHMI, CHMI, yes. Like, my understanding was that CKY was particularly good at local coverage also. Can you say why you say that A-Channel is the best for Portage?
1695 MR. YAREMCHUK: Well, I think that, again, I've been in Portage for 10 years. Certainly I got to know Drew and his family and I think that that level of involvement and from Drew, kind of emulated into our community. I think A-Channel for Portage and Portage residents and Portage area, you know, they've gotten to know the Craig family and they've gotten to know and rely on the news people that are there.
1696 I mean, as a matter of fact, one of the camera people from A-Channel just lives down the street from me and I see him on a regular basis, so they're part of the community. For us, whereas CKY is Winnipeg-based and unfortunately, in a Manitoba context, there's a little issue called "perimeteritis" where sometimes events outside the city of Winnipeg aren't as critical to those as what happens in rural Manitoba. And A-Channel, without failure, consistently provides that level of service to us at the local level. So for us, they are the first people that we'd go to and they are always the first responders.
1697 COMMISSIONER CRAM: So is it fair to say then that CKY and CKND are more, sort of, Winnipeg- based?
1698 MR. YAREMCHUK: In my opinion, yes.
1699 COMMISSIONER CRAM: And then the A-Channel, are there reporters out in Portage or in Brandon or?
1700 MR. YAREMCHUK: In the Portage context, again, yes there are some reporting done by the camera people who are there and, you know, it's a matter of a quick turnover if we need coverage. If we issue a press conference through the mayor's office or we have to put something together, A-Channel is there.
1701 COMMISSIONER CRAM: Thank you. Thank you very much for coming from your home province, here.
1702 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Madam Secretary?
1703 THE SECRETARY: Our next intervener is the Provincial Exhibition of Manitoba, represented by Dave Wowchuk. This is intervention number 018.
1704 MR. WOWCHUK: Is it working? I don't have one of these at home, so I'm not quite sure. Good morning -- or, pardon me, good afternoon members of the Commission. As mentioned, my name is Dave Wowchuk and I'm here representing the Provincial Exhibition of Manitoba that's located in Brandon. We don't like to call that rural Manitoba, we like to call it Greater Manitoba and we're very pleased to be allowed to make this presentation in support of CKX Television and the Craig's application to the CRTC.
1705 We know that A-Channel came to Winnipeg. We know that the A-Channel came to Calgary and Edmonton. We now have Toronto 1 going into the Toronto market and we're very proud to say that the roots of all those came from Brandon Manitoba, our beautiful city. I know that I speak for many in congratulating the Craig family in their many accomplishments in the broadcasting industry.
1706 The Provincial Exhibition of Manitoba is an agricultural society, this year celebrating 121 years. We're very proud of that fact because we're two years younger than the city itself and two years older than the Chamber of Commerce, so we've been an organization in southwestern Manitoba for many, many years. We organize three fairs annually. This is very important because these fairs showcase agriculture that we feel is very, very important to Brandon, Brandon's economy, and also to the Winnipeg economy as well.
1707 Those events consist of the Manitoba Fall Fair or Livestock Expo that's going to be celebrating 26 years and that is Manitoba's largest cattle show. The Manitoba Summer Fair will be celebrating its 121st year, this year and again, we're proud to boast the largest outdoor horseshow in the province. And, of course, we're doubly proud of our next one, which is the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair and it did get some airtime yesterday and we're very pleased. It is the largest indoor show of its kind in Western Canada. It is only one of two in the country that has Royal designation. In 1972, Her Majesty designated the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair in Brandon. The other one, of course, is in Toronto. So we're very, very, very proud of that designation and we host this in about 450,000 square feet in the Keystone Centre and I would take this opportunity to invite you all there. I don't know if we can get you milking any cows, but we might be able to get you riding some horses. It's just an excellent, excellent show.
1708 Our relationship began with CKX as they signed on in 1955. Since those early years, a very important partnership has developed and I'm pleased to say it continues today. For the past 47 years, we've worked very closely with CKX in promoting and making the viewing audience of Brandon and southwestern Manitoba aware of our events. Television communications is very important to our success and Brandon records a population of slightly over 40,000, however, our rural communities, within an 80 mile radius, probably going out maybe a 100 miles, totals over 130,000. So it's very, very important that we have direct access to those people and we can do that through CKX television.
1709 The ability to advertise to that large audience is only one way that we've been able to communicate through CKX. The other is, of course, through their tremendous support given in making people aware of our program and events through their coverage prior and during our events.
1710 It was mentioned "The Big Breakfast" is a show in Winnipeg and we've had the opportunity to have them come and visit us, but we have a show in Brandon called "The Noonday Show" and that has, probably a huge, huge viewership and it gives us the ability to share with the audience, well in advance, what the fairs are going to offer as well as interviews and highlights with a number of our committees that we get into the many, many homes throughout our trading area and beyond. That "Noonday Show", not only supports our organization, but many, many organizations. As a matter of fact, I think you can probably mirror "The Big Breakfast". They showcase local talent, different organizations, charitable organizations and such.
1711 On-site reporting during the fairs has always been a huge benefit to our organization. As I mentioned, at the Winter Fair, they basically set up and live there for the six days of our event. They do it from a stage located in the Keystone Centre, the home of our event. This report also features the news, the weather and sports broadcasts as well as all the fair highlights throughout the day. They do come in and definitely do just a great job.
1712 I know it's been mentioned before and it's almost sounding like an echo, but their staff is absolutely incredible for us. They work with us in all these areas and, of course, you know, they keep the Winter Fair in everyone's mind during the Spring Break in the province.
1713 Through their A-Channel affiliate, I'd mentioned we'd been visited by "The Big Breakfast" which broadcasts on the A-Channel in Winnipeg, and it's an absolute -- just marvel for us because that gives us the opportunity to market to approximately 600 and some odd thousand people. Yesterday it was mentioned that it definitely has made an impact on our attendance. We had a number of people last year and this year come out to our show which probably would not have before. Although our fair is 95 years old, we're learning all the time that we have to market into that bigger area there.
1714 CKX and Craig family have been long time supporters of the Provincial Exhibition and it's endeavours, not only through their broadcasting, but as corporate citizens. They have sponsored many of our events financially, and of course it just gives us the opportunity to provide our audiences with new and exciting venues and helps us to continue striving towards our mission statement, which is showcasing agriculture while linking urban and rural through education awareness, while providing entertainment, community pride and economic enhancement to the region.
1715 That's quite a mouthful, but I guess if we want to kind of capsulize it, it's supporting agriculture and when the Craig's support us through CKX television, they are, in reality, supporting agriculture. Because it's an industry that if -- every generation that moves away from the farm has a little less understanding that that industry faces.
1716 This support has now been carried on through three generations of the Craigs, and has not only been extended to our organization but to many others located in Brandon and south western Manitoba. We do not take this lightly, this service and support that we are afforded by having a local station that is willing to stand by the events in Brandon and our surrounding communities. I would like to be able to speak for those surrounding communities because there are numerous affairs and events that happen that I know they cover. We are a little different in our geography, it was mentioned before. Doing a news report sometimes takes all day because you have to travel well over an hour to get there, but they do do that and, of course, they're Western Manitoba's number one news station for that.
1717 In closing, I guess I would certainly like to ask the CRTC to look favourably on CKX's application so they can continue to provide this critical service to our community and communities, which have come to depend on CKX. We cannot stress heavily enough the local program, the ability to have news there, and I hope that the negotiation with CBC goes well, because that is very, very important to continue. It's just a must. Again, I would like to thank the Commission for allowing me this time and if there's any questions right now, I would be more than willing to answer.
1718 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Wowchuk. Commissioner McKendry?
1719 COMMISSIONER McKENDRY: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Wowchuk, for coming today. It's been an exciting morning for us. We were offered Zebra the cow earlier, and now I take it horse rides are available in Brandon.
1720 Now, I take it that the Craig station in Brandon and in Winnipeg is, as I said to one of the earlier interveners, standing out from the other media crowd in terms of helping you publicize your events and so on. Is that a correct conclusion for me to take away from your comments?
1721 MR. WOWCHUK: I would probably say that that is fairly accurate. There is a little bit of "perimiteritis" there and it's difficult for the other major television stations to come out at times. Again, the geography is 120 miles, but it's amazing that it takes the same length of time to go from Brandon to Winnipeg as it does from Winnipeg to Brandon, but it seems a little further going one way all the time.
1722 I think, because of the roots of the Craigs that they have always given us, you know, front and centre as far as marketing and promoting our organization.
1723 COMMISSIONER McKENDRY: You've been, or your organization at least, has been putting on agricultural fairs for a long time, as you pointed out to us. What's happening with attendance at agricultural fairs, or at last the ones you're responsible for? Are they holding steady? Increasing?
1724 MR. WOWCHUK: We're just like agriculture. We rely on the weather. If we have bad weather, of course most of our patrons do come from outside our city boundaries. We're pleased to say that this year our Winter Fair, which ended about three weeks ago, exceeded last year's attendance by about 9 percent. I attribute that to the Winnipeg market and we're really concentrating on going into the area more.
1725 We are an excellent show and I would be more than happy to host you if you ever came out. Not only can we market into Winnipeg through the Craigs, but maybe - a bit of commercial here - we're hoping eventually to get into Western Canada through their A-Channels there as well. We have done an excellent production called "The Royal Manitoba Winter Fair, Spruce Meadows Today" video that was one hour, and they graciously aired it on CKX in Brandon. It was well received and, hopefully, we can do that again and get into the other parts of Western Canada.
1726 COMMISSIONER McKENDRY: Thank you very much for your invitation. Thank you again for coming from Manitoba to give your comments to us. We appreciate that.
1727 MR. WOWCHUK: My pleasure.
1728 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Madam Secretary?
1729 THE SECRETARY: Our next intervener is Dr. Louis P. Visentin, intervention number 022. Would you come forward, please?
1730 MR. VISENTIN: Thank you very much, Commissioners. It's a pleasure to be here and it's great to have a chance to be part of something that is so Canadian.
1731 I think I should probably give you a bit of a context. I'm a president of a very small university that is located in Brandon. It's Brandon University. I've been there 18 months. I come from the east. I've been at five different universities. I've spent 20 years with the National Research Council. We've paid taxes in six different provinces and I've worked in all of them, if not in biotech then in kinds of communications, and I think I know the university sector. I also know the kind of coverage that universities get across the country and, believe me, universities are not served very well by the media, whatever its form, across this country.
1732 CKX is something different, and I'm here to support their licence renewal application because it's of interest to Brandon University, it's of interest to our community, and I think it's of interest to the country.
1733 We've heard a lot about the Craig broadcasting system. They serve a very interesting community and university. I guess Tor Star might call us a "pipsqueak" university. We're not elite, exclusive or expensive. We're accessible, affordable, accountable, accommodating and accomplished. We have probably the best music program west of Toronto. We were the first music faculty in the West. Thirty-four percent of our students are aboriginals. We've heard a lot about aboriginals yesterday. We've produced a thousand aboriginal teachers through our BUNTEP program and our PENT. We have a rural development institute. We have great arts and sciences and believe it or not, we probably have one of the best basketball programs in the country.
1734 All by way of saying, broadcasting the message about this tiny, perfect institution is really important to us and that's where the Craig family comes in. You've heard that they're really unique in Canadian broadcasting. They began in Brandon; they've been around for 50 years. Their corporate offices are now in Brandon and Calgary, and they're truly Western Canadian based and provide an alternative voice to the large television networks currently headquartered in eastern Canada. I can tell you that not all things emanate, originate in Toronto. Not all great ideas or great people come from Toronto or Montreal, or even necessarily from Vancouver or Calgary. It's one of the very few Western Canadian voices left in television and I think that's really important.
1735 We've heard a lot about numbers and content. They've had a huge impact, and if you were in the university system it would be impact you were trying to measure, rather than just numbers.
1736 CKX plays a vital role in the community of Brandon and in the life of southwestern Manitoba. It's a primary source for local news - you've heard that - and programming targeted towards the residents. The community commitment you've heard has been exhibited over and over again by the events that they cover, whether it's the Provincial Exhibition, the charities, the health authority, the Canadian Cancer Society, the Lion's Club telethon, the Multiple Sclerosis Society, and many others. Their impact in the community, more than just broadcasting, is important to us.
1737 From Brandon University's point of view, CKX provides an invaluable resource for getting our message out to our clientele who are perspective students and perspective parents in southwestern Manitoba. They make us accountable for what we do because they tell people what we do. They are also a source for enrolment management. They help us recruit, keep people there and help getting them out into the community.
1738 I'll just give you a couple examples of things that they've done to help us promote BU. I've been there 18 months and one of the very first things I promised the Board that I would do was create a strategic plan. It was put together. It was called Scope 20/20. When I announced it to the public, at a public forum, CKX was there. Whenever we have a special concert performance, a lecture series, speaker presentations, athletics and many, many other aspects of what's going on at the institutions, CKX is there. Ann Philip hosted the coordinator of our Summer Institute on Population Health program last August, helping to inform area residents about health and sustainable communities. CKX is there.
1739 I'll digress just for a minute to talk about the other side of the University, and that's university athletics, and believe it or not, even TSN doesn't do a good job here. If it were left to the media of this country we wouldn't even know there were university athletics. I'll tell you, the Brandon Bobcat University basketball program, people hear about that in the community because of the kind of coverage we get from CKX. Five national championships, a coach that's every bit as good a Bobby Knight in the U.S., won 700 games. They know about him nationally because of the diffusion efforts of places like CKX.
1740 It not only communicates news and information about BU, but it gives back to the university community. The Shirley Craig Scholarships in Music were established by the Craig broadcast system in memory of Mrs. Shirley Craig and are designed to encourage young Canadian performers to succeed and excel. The likes of James Dennis comes from Brandon, affiliated with Brandon University, the music school.
1741 Through programs such as "The Manitoba Farm Report," "CKX Noon Hour," "CKX News," "News @ Six," CKX Television provides a voice for southwestern Manitoba residents, businesses and organizations like the university.
1742 I wholeheartedly support and encourage the renewal of CKX's renewal. To say that CKX is an integral part of cultural, economic and educational and social fabric of southwestern Manitoba would be an understatement.
1743 I, like you, read in the newspaper that they were going to Southern Ontario. I'm a Niagara Falls boy from immigrant roots. I speak one of the two aboriginal languages in Canada besides the two foreign ones. I would say to my French Canadian colleagues, the aboriginals were here first and the Italians found them. I speak one of the aboriginal languages, Italian, along with the other two foreign tongues. It is important to have the kind of multicultural programming that Craig is talking about in southwestern Ontario and in southern Ontario. It's time for a bit more diversity.
1744 As a biologist, I can tell you that diversity is probably the most important aspect of hybrid vigour. Diversity, biological diversity is important and so is social diversity and so is communications diversity. I can't say enough about Craig communications. They are an exemplar, as we would say in the biological sciences. With that, thank you very much for hearing me.
1745 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Commissioner Cram?
1746 COMMISSIONER CRAM: Thank you, do I address you as Professor or Doctor or Mister?
1747 MR. VISENTIN: Your choice.
1748 COMMISSIONER CRAM: Thank you, Mr. Visentin for coming. I was intrigued -- how long have you been here? Were you here yesterday?
1749 MR. VISENTIN: All day.
1750 COMMISSIONER CRAM: All day. So you heard us talking about tonnage.
1751 MR. VISENTIN: I heard tonnage, yes.
1752 COMMISSIONER CRAM: Quality, quantity, those sorts of issues. And I just heard you say that we, if we were a university and we were looking at, let's say the local issue, that we would consider impact. Would impact be more important than the term that's been used here, tonnage?
1753 MR. VISENTIN: Absolutely. Let me give you an example from the academic sector, okay. Three major areas of economic development are now focused on various industries: informatics, biotech and materials. Biotech really started back about 1953 and its inception was signalled by a single paper, published in Nature by James Watson and Francis Crick, a one page paper in Nature in 1953 - one page, one single paper transformed the whole science. That's what I'm talking about impact. Rather than measure 10 papers, in the Academy, what's really more important is how original, how creative and what's the impact. Of course, we do go out of our way to try to measure impact in the Academy, usually by citation, by citation per paper per dollar invested, okay.
1754 We also heard some notions about value, okay, value and quality. We make some attempts at measuring quality or, say, making statements about quality and value and the best value is high-quality at low price. High impact, low price. It's not the investment, the total amount that counts; it's how creative and how innovative and how original. Producing something in the West that's used in the U.S. and listened to in the U.S., it's a measure of impact, creativity, originality, okay.
1755 I mean, you don't just produce for the home, for the home crowd. I heard, I think it was Mrs. Wylie, talking about, you know, producing it in the West and keeping it in the West or producing it in Ontario. I mean, I happen to be Canadian. I happen to live right now in Brandon, but where things are produced in Canada, I mean, it's really important that Canadians produce to the world, you know, the world.
1756 COMMISSIONER CRAM: So if you were our consultant and we were attempting to change how we would measure these issues and we used impact, how would we measure impact? I heard Mr. Wowchuk, I think, talking about the fact of A-Channel publicizing their Winter Fair that they had an impact on their attendance.
1757 MR. VISENTIN: Well, that's one way of measure: how does it influence people's behaviour. I mean, if you're thinking about -- if you were in the R and D field, and I'm thinking about innovation, okay, how does one innovative idea generated in the university impact on industry's uptake and change of business activities? How much money do you get back because of a particular innovation? Now, I'm a very expensive consultant and if you wanted me to actually look at that, I'd be willing to. But I think it's important to analyze. I'm not being facetious here. This is a very important issue because we've heard it over and over and over again and we hear it in the public -- it's before the public all the time. Canadian content. Canadian content. Canadian content. Well, what is the impact?
1758 I mean, we also measure impact by citations. I mean, how often do people talk about what you've done? Measure the impact of "Survivor" for example. "Survivor", the impact was huge - all kinds of people not only watching it, but talking about it. How did it change the direction of the business, the impact on other facets of the business that you're in? These are important ways in which you measure impact, and I think what really needs to be done is you have to actually get a group of people together and analyze, look at what impact really means to radio broadcast, radio and television broadcast, and what the long-term effect is in developing Canadian content for what. So the objectives and qualities are the factors that you want to look at and they should be tied up. Otherwise, it's just vacuous talk.
1759 COMMISSIONER CRAM: Thank you very much for coming and thank you for your insights. I'll have to talk to the Chair about the contract.
1760 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. You can deposit your curriculum vitae with the secretary if you'd like.
1761 MR. VISENTIN: There you go.
1762 THE SECRETARY: The next intervener today is Peak of the Market, represented by Larry McIntosh. This will be intervention 008.
1763 MR. McINTOSH: Well, good afternoon. Thanks for asking me to speak to you today and to show our support for Craig Broadcasting. There's about 18 interveners before me, I think, but not many of them talked about vegetables so I'm here to correct that wrong. Peak of the Market represents 65 Manitoba vegetable producers. They are located throughout rural Manitoba, obviously. Our main offices are in Winnipeg. I moved there about eight years ago. I was told that I had "perimeteritis" because I lived in Winnipeg. I immediately went to the doctor because I thought that it might be contagious, but apparently it's something to do with the perimeter of Winnipeg where people don't go outside it. Our growers are all outside the perimeter and we represent them well. Part of our philosophy is giving back to the community, as corny as that may sound (vegetable pun intended) we want to give back to Manitobans who have made us successful.
1764 There are three areas I want to talk about today: one is the news coverage; second one will be their community involvement; the third one will be how I view A-Channel as an advertiser with them.
1765 First talking about news coverage, I am the immediate past Chair of the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce. Just to give you an idea, we represent 77 chambers located throughout rural Manitoba. We deal with issues in Winnipeg, but also rural issues, whether it be Brandon or wherever the case may be. A-Channel has always been there when we've had an issue to talk about or a press release to issue. This is interesting because most of what the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce does, as far as our head office, is in Winnipeg, so when we're talking about the Port of Churchill or agriculture, A-Channel is there to cover the story. The other news stations tend not to be. We're actually surprised when someone other than A-Channel shows up for a story. When we have the Mayor of Winnipeg, all the media comes out. We do rural issues that affect even areas they don't cover, such as Churchill or Dauphin. A-Channel does come out because they believe it's important for Manitobans to know about what is happening in Manitoba, in my opinion.
1766 If it's a charity event or a news event, they are there to cover the event. I think, when you look at the other medias, they have their targets. One of the stations in Winnipeg, their motto on their news is "Winnipeg stories for Winnipeg people and Winnipeg news". They are clearly there to cover Winnipeg. That's fine if that's what they want to do. A-Channel is clearly there to cover more than Winnipeg and that's a great effort to them.
1767 Community involvement, I want to talk about and that's really, I think, a big strength for them. Of course, they cover a lot of community things through the news; good news stories as well as the bad news stories. But they also have the community calendar, where it's called "Manitoba According to A". I know they also have it in Alberta as well, "Edmonton According to A", "Calgary according to A". But that's important for community groups to be able to get their message about, about whether it's dinners or about charity events, or whatever the case may be, to people through that community calendar. Some of the other stations have community calendars. They are fairly limited in what they cover, but they do have that, but nowhere near to the degree as "Manitoba According to A".
1768 "The Big Breakfast" you've heard a lot about. Certainly they have the remotes and they've come out to our facility when we had a pancake breakfast, potato pancake breakfast for the Winnipeg Harvest Food Bank. They were out there for the two hours on the front lawn, interviewing people, talking to people. Other charities actually came out to our pancake breakfast to talk about what's happening to the Manitoba Cancer Care, so they tied in a whole bunch of charities into that one remote.
1769 The actual show "The Big Breakfast" I've appeared on several times myself. I want to talk about two very real examples that you can measure the effect that they've had on what happens in Manitoba. One is the Heart and Stroke Foundation. We did a fundraiser for them where we sold a recipe CD that you stick into your computer. We were selling that for $10 with every penny of it going to the Heart and Stroke Foundation. They put that on "Manitoba According to A", in Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg because it covered all those areas and the money was going back to, basically, Canadian research, but in Manitoba itself we had -- I appeared on "The Big Breakfast" with some chefs.
1770 So we had a three part thing: number one is Peak of the Market got some publicity out of it for the charity fundraiser we were doing, certainly that's great; the chefs that we had every day - we had a different chef for the five days - they got some publicity for themselves and for their restaurants or hotels; but we also were able to educate people on heart and stroke disease and how to prevent it through healthy cooking and through vegetable recipes, that type of stuff. So here's a win, win, win situation. We won because we got our name our there; Heart and Stroke got their message out there; and they also got, from the week we were there, they sold 800 CDs, which was $8,000 that went to Heart and Stroke for that one week's promotion alone - real and tangible things that help the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
1771 The interesting thing about it was that we had people in Dauphin and Churchill order our recipe CD that had no way of knowing that through "The Big Breakfast" in Winnipeg, but because it was on "Manitoba according to Edmonton", and they picked up Edmonton via satellite, they could pick it up through there. It's a shame that people in Northern Manitoba, especially, can't get Manitoba news through A-Channel, they have to go to Edmonton to get any A-Channel programming. Hopefully that will be corrected in the near future.
1772 Another one we just finished in March was a campaign were we encouraged people to go to our website and sign up for free e-mail recipes. I won't get into the whole thing, but basically for anybody that signed up in the month of March, Peak of the Market growers donated 50 pounds of vegetables to the Winnipeg Harvest Food Bank. So consumers could get free recipes, the food bank got 50 pounds of vegetables, everybody is a winner on this. I went to all four television stations and talked to them about this in Winnipeg and whether they'd come onside. Three of them said, you know, "We'd like to help, but we have no vehicle to help you." A-Channel said, "Absolutely. Put us on "Manitoba according to A" and we did a week on "The Big Breakfast". The week of "The Big Breakfast" alone, we had 8,000 people sign up in the one week that we were on "The Big Breakfast". For the month, we had over 15,000 people sign up and raised over 758,000 pounds for the food banks.
1773 Why was A-Channel interested in this? Because the food not only stayed in Winnipeg. Winnipeg Harvest supplies 250 food banks throughout the provinces. So that food went to Dauphin, went to Portage, went to Brandon, went to Flin Flon, way outside of -- even though their viewers aren't in some of those areas because their signal doesn't go there, they were committed to giving back to Manitobans and that's why we have such a good relationship with them.
1774 As an advertiser, in my letter of support that I sent in earlier, about 80 percent of our advertising is spent with A-Channel. We're not big advertisers; we're certainly not in their top 100 customers in Winnipeg by any stretch, but what money we have, we try and give to A-Channel. Why? Because we believe in what they believe. We believe in giving back to the community; we believe in covering all of Manitoba; and we believe in telling Manitoba's story, not just Winnipeg's, not just Brandon's, but all of Manitoba. That is fundamental to us and we share philosophies with them.
1775 The other 20 percent I'm forced to spend with other stations because I have to get my message out to northern areas that don't, unfortunately, get A-Channel and I hope that will be corrected one day.
1776 Certainly, I've dealt with dozens of their staff, some of which are here today, and I would say they are all very professional, very dedicated to getting the story of Manitobans out there and I want to commend them for that. I could go on and on for 30 minutes. I've had some dealings with the Alberta stations as well and very similar experiences. They get behind community events and they help quite a bit. Obviously, I'm a big fan of A-Channel. I think they do a wonderful job and I would urge you to renew their licensing. Thank you.
1777 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, Mr. McIntosh. Your oral presentation answered a question I had which arose from a statement in your intervention that your opinion is that A-Channel does the best job, by far, of covering Manitoba's stories and helping Manitoba charities and non-profit groups. That, I guess, was intended as a comparative statement between A-Channel and the other broadcasters in Winnipeg?
1778 MR. McINTOSH: That's correct, yes.
1779 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right. Your intervention doesn't at all describe your business. Could you, in a sentence or two or three, tell us what Peak of the Market actually is and does?
1780 MR. McINTOSH: Yes, absolutely. Peak of the Market is very much like a co-operative. It represents 65 Manitoba vegetable growers, located primarily in the agricultural land, which is the southern part of the province. Basically, they grow it; they are the experts on that. Allegedly, we're the experts in sales, marketing and transportation. It's a very good relationship because they know what they are doing in the fields, but they don't want to sit in an office for eight or ten hours a day. I have a plastic plant in my office that is currently dying so they don't want me in the fields. So it's a very good relationship.
1781 Really, we'll talk about vegetables all you want, but we're really involved in the community and giving back to it and that's really where our interaction with A-Channel is. A lot of the advertising we do with A-Channel is to get out community events and talk about Manitobans and how proud we are to be Manitobans.
1782 THE CHAIRPERSON: So it's a co-op rather than a for-profit corporation?
1783 MR. McINTOSH: That's correct. It's a not-for-profit actually.
1784 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Good. Thank you very much for appearing before us. Madam Secretary?
1785 THE SECRETARY: Our next intervener is the Aboriginal Council of Winnipeg represented by Wayne Helgason. This would be intervention number 027.
1786 MR. HELGASON: Good afternoon, Commissioners. It's a pleasure to be here today and to address you. I would like to introduce myself; Wayne Helgason. I am the president of the Aboriginal Council. I am not, nor have I been a member of the industry. I am not, and have only had the pleasure of meeting Drew Craig yesterday, and I'm not involved with any Western producers by way of participation or investment, although I am reconsidering that given the information and the opportunities that this will provide to Western Canada.
1787 The Aboriginal Council of Winnipeg represents aboriginal people in Winnipeg. Our 7,000 signed up members are a function of the fact that in Winnipeg we have the largest population of aboriginal people anywhere else in Canada. It's a population which is challenged in may regards, but it's also a population which has had many accomplishments over the years. I have served previously for six years as the president of the National Association of Friendship Centres and I currently sit on the Board of the North American Indigenous Games.
1788 In my profession, I serve my community on a voluntary basis in these regards. In my professional capacity for eight years I've been the Executive-Director of the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg, which does research and support to community, particularly as a regards to marginalized groups, poor children, persons with disabilities, minority issues and, of course, aboriginal people. I am a First Nations person from Sandy Bay Reserve. I have lived in the city of Winnipeg for 28 years.
1789 I want to complement the Commission for it's persistence in what I have seen and was here yesterday, on the issue of diversity generally and on the issue of aboriginal inclusion and aboriginal participation. I think it's commendable and I expect that this is something that is very comprehensive and applies to all of the broadcasters for which you have an opportunity from time to time, on our behalf, as Canadian citizens, to ensure quality.
1790 I want to, in my written letter, which I presume you have in front of you, I want to make a couple of references to it and then make some further comments on information that was discussed yesterday.
1791 In my letter, I, of course, to some extent, have referenced the issue of "perimeteritis". It is, indeed, an issue for Manitoba and living in Winnipeg, I've potentially been afflicted. However, within the aboriginal community, First Nations community, certainly and Metis communities, there is a connection outside the city. As I said, I'm a member of the Sandy Bay Reserve. The majority of aboriginal people are living in the City of Winnipeg, but not all. About 80 percent are from Manitoba and have a connection to either a community outside. In fact, when aboriginal people ask each other, say, "Well where do you come from? You might have lived in Winnipeg a long time," but it's, "Oh, I'm from Barrens River," or "Norway House", or some other community, although maybe not having lived there in a long time.
1792 In the third paragraph in my letter, and I want to apologize because when I wrote the letter, you know, sort of late, after hours, and I took a bit of liberty, which I want to ensure that I cause no confusion because I indicate that I've never been on "The Big Breakfast". I say it only in the sentence -- well, the sentence I describe, I say it's marvellous that 4,000 members of our community have been on "The Big Breakfast" and I'm not one of them. I said that in the context of being supportive, although circuitously perhaps, because in my professional capacity, I do get the opportunity to be on all television stations, on the news quite regularly, obviously because we bring forward issues and as a non-government policy research organization, we challenge the policies of government.
1793 A-Channel and others, I have I think a perspective which is comparative from eight years of experience in bringing issues forward into how the broadcasting industry treats, on a news basis in particular. But just quickly, on "The Big Breakfast", one example the Winnipeg Friendship Centre hosted every Friendship Centre in Canada in their AGM last time. Again, they were featured on "The Big Breakfast", they were proud to show that in Winnipeg, you know - well, sometimes we consider ourselves the national aboriginal capital of Canada. They were able, through A-Channel to be on "The Big Breakfast". It was a big deal. It was very supportive to the organization and this is commonplace. The 4,000 I refer to, I know that this is something that community groups get inspired by, benefit as you've heard, but it reinforces the validity, the essence of their intent and moves them along. It's very important.
1794 On the issue of news coverage, I will tell you that in my eight years, I can remember sometimes when community groups and community organizations with good ideas wanted to get their ideas forward, would hold a news conference and nobody would show up. Very disheartening. You know, it may not have rung the bell, it may not have been controversial enough. But since A-Channel has been evident in the last four or five years, that has not occurred. At the very least, A-Channel shows up and sometimes that's enough. Sometimes they all show up.
1795 I can give you a classic example. On April the 4th, 100 inner-city organizations had, through some support, had come together to -- basically had come to the conclusion that we wish our governments, all of, of our governments, the federal government, the provincial government, the municipal government to cooperate together on some of the community issues. Of course, this was a report that was done with our support and suggested. Of course, the new by-line was, "Community groups want governments to cooperate together to address some of the inner-city issues." We have issues of security, gangs, economic circumstances, certainly family violence, others. Well, they all showed up, for sure, because this was controversial enough.
1796 It was only A-Channel that dug beyond the headlines and said, okay, let's find an example of where this coordinated agreement that the community is asking for has in the past had some effect, and they drilled down into an aboriginal youth training program called Recreational Technicians. But basically we take in 60 aboriginal young people in the inner city and train them to be lifeguards -- well, it's called swimguards now, but to equip them with all of the things that you need to be a supervisor of a swimming pool, or summer programming, and the city has many jobs over the summer, but has not been accessible because of the lack of qualifications. Well, the city, in the way they were cooperating, the city provided the facilities free, the provincial government had provided the income support through the training, and the federal government had paid for the training. Marvellous.
1797 We have 60 young people, may of whom in all likelihood, would have been -- and now equipped to work over the summer, supporting their education in good paying jobs the city had. The alternative probably would have been many of them into the gangs or the -- well, other circumstances. It was only A-Channel that covered that as a news story in more complete form, not just the community is angry at governments and want them to cooperate in an agreement. But here's an example, an example that gives evidence to the notions that the community suggests.
1798 I wanted to just quickly hit on one other thing. It happened yesterday, and it was your inquiry into the staffing component, you know, the equity. As a member of the committee which attracted APTN to Winnipeg with the Chamber of Commerce and the Mayor, and were successful and very happy about that. As Vice-President for the Centre of Aboriginal Human Resource Development, who've funded some training, we know that APTN has had a great challenge in attracting aboriginal people from all over Canada and certainly, our own resource base. So it's a very competitive environment for anyone who is qualified.
1799 One other factor that you may not, or may know, is that the federal government, through regulation, through Indian Affairs and through Revenue Canada, has special provisions for First Nations people to exercise their right to income tax exemption. This is, of course, in discussion and before the courts and, as a First Nations person, I watch that. I'm in a non-aboriginal organization where I work, so I pay taxes and everything, but in an aboriginal organization and in certain circumstances, First Nations people are entitled, I would suggest, and do have the opportunity to work without paying income tax, and this circumstance is afforded, and has been afforded, to APTN.
1800 So essentially what you've got is Craig Broadcasting is, it's not available to Craig Broadcasting; it's not an aboriginal organization, and so it would be very difficult, I think, to maintain aboriginal people in their staffing component when this option down the street is available as it is.
1801 I would say, though, and I want to commend Craig for the partnership and the support of "The Sharing Circle" over ten years, because in some ways I believe, and I'll suggest this as a model, even beyond the inclusion, where you might have some staff, but indeed a real capacity within the organization that's an enhanced model beyond just having some staff who are in some places at some times, but a long-term partnership. You've heard some of the benefit that Ms. Meeches provides on a connecting and contact basis, but also an awareness. And also, developing the capacity in our community to be part of something on your own terms, which is very important in inclusion, that it's not just subsumed that you have an operating capacity within the dynamic, so I commend Craig for its --
1802 THE SECRETARY: Mr. Helgason?
1803 MR. HELGASON: Am I really out of time?
1804 THE SECRETARY: I'm sorry, we're past the 10 minutes.
1805 MR. HELGASON: Okay, thank you. I will conclude there, and just conclude by saying I really do appreciate the opportunity to experience this whole arrangement. It's very important in the fabric of our society, I believe. Thank you.
1806 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Commissioner McKendry?
1807 COMMISSIONER McKENDRY: Thank you, thank you Mr. Helgason. We appreciate your participation as well, as well as the participation of all the interveners. It's very helpful for us to, in our deliberations, to hear the kinds of things that you and the others are telling us.
1808 The Broadcasting Act says that the broadcasting system should reflect the special place of aboriginal people within our society. Do you have any views about how well the A-Channel is accomplishing that aspect of the broadcasting system?
1809 MR. HELGASON: Well, the evidence over the years, as president of the Aboriginal Council, I can assure you that A-Channel is well ahead of the other organizations in covering the events that occur in the aboriginal community. I would suggest that the principal upon the kind of suggestion you are making about the special place really has to be evaluated against what I would say is mutual accommodation, that is, aboriginal people and circumstances are such that they do have a special place, but it has to be specially recognized from that perspective.
1810 So mutual accommodation is really the key, and I believe that, as I said earlier, I think, what I know from Ms. Meeches in particular, and from others that have participated, that that principal is operative; mutual accommodation - what is it that you want not necessarily always what we need.
1811 COMMISSIONER McKENDRY: Thank you. You mentioned that Winnipeg has the largest aboriginal population of major cities in Canada and that there were many positive accomplishments being achieved by aboriginal people in Winnipeg. Are the positive accomplishments reflected adequately in the coverage of aboriginal affairs in the media?
1812 MR. HELGASON: In the media generally?
1813 COMMISSIONER McKENDRY: Well, in the media in Winnipeg and A-Channel in particular?
1814 MR. HELGASON: Well, there is some confusion in the general public about some of the circumstances of aboriginal people. I mean Saguin got all kinds of coverage around the cruise, and yet the acquisition of the CP station by aboriginal people, 100 percent, which is now full, operating, successful, the Thunderbird House, aren't a regular feature. It seems there's an appetite, unfortunately, in many of the news coverage, to be sensational and to put First Nations people into a negative context too easily. The balance, I find, isn't there usually.
1815 The example I cited about A-Channel really going to where there had been a success connected to what the community was asking for, and this was the larger community that was asking for this, and yet the best example was an aboriginal example of industry, cooperation and commitment to youth. There isn't enough, no, but I believe A-Channel has set a standard and I encourage you to hold all of the other organizations to the same, or a standard such as that.
1816 COMMISSIONER McKENDRY: Just one final question and I hope it isn't an unfair question, but if you feel it is, don't ask it, but I'm going to ask it more in the context of your experience with the Social Planning Council in dealing with marginalized persons and so on. With respect to marginalized persons and groups in society, and I guess in the context of Winnipeg, do these groups have adequate access to media in your view to represent their difficulties and the solutions that they feel need to be put in place?
1817 MR. HELGASON: Winnipeg is a very diverse place as well. We have many new Canadians because we're one of the cities that encourage immigration. We just had a circumstance recently of the accreditation of foreign doctors. You know, we have people who are fully accredited medically, but for reasons of accreditation are sweeping floors and whatnot, and within some of our refugee sector.
1818 To answer your questions quickly, on their own right it's very difficult because there is sort of a process to get to the attention of the mainstream media certainly, and so that's part of our function, the Social Planning Council, is to help organize so that their press release is timely, that there's not a coincidence with something else that's going on and to support their messages going forward. We have, you know, in the issue of our child poverty report card, we won the Social Justice Research Award last year from the University of Manitoba.
1819 The Social Planning Council doesn't seem to have as much difficulty. In some cases we would hope that groups in themselves have greater access. We're a bit of the facilitator right now, and I guess that's an important role, but it's a step that may be needn't always be taken in the best instance.
1820 COMMISSIONER McKENDRY: Thanks very much for your comments today and thank you for coming to be here.
1821 MR. HELGASON: It's my pleasure. Thank you.
1822 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner Williams?
1823 COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS: Good afternoon. I have a few questions for you as well.
1824 MR. HELGASON: Certainly.
1825 COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS: I thought I would catch you before you left. It's in the area of taxation. So are we to understand that APTN's aboriginal employees pay no income tax?
1826 MR. HELGASON: I don't know. Yes, in some cases, that is the case.
1827 COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS: Okay. I'll just ask you a couple more.
1828 MR. HELGASON: First Nations, to be specific. I don't know that all their staff are aboriginal. I don't think so. Those would pay tax. But First Nations people have a right and an entitlement to be exempt from tax and they exercise it. All of the tribal councils and other aboriginal groups that are associated with the Assembly of First Nations, or if you locate your business on reserve you are able to avoid the payment of federal tax.
1829 COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS: That was the balance of my questions. I think you've covered them. I'll run through them quickly, just in case there is something you want to add.
1830 So do all aboriginal employees, regardless of status, enjoy this tax situation? Do those employees have to live on a reserve? Does the business, i.e., APTN have to be headquartered on a reserve? And is APTN headquartered on a reserve? I'm just trying to understand how APTN can get this tax advantage.
1831 MR. HELGASON: Well, it's the staff members for example of the North American Indigenous Games who are First Nations, the head office is actually in Skanaberry, which is outside of Winnipeg on reserve, the administrative office, so that's why that's facilitated. There's an organization out of Six Nations called OI Leasing, which I believe have the relationship so that they lease employees. There's different arrangements and they are unlike any other, I would suggest, corporate organization that perhaps for which there is an objective to reduce the level of tax to which you are subjected. I mean, it's a notable, admirable thing in the business community. First Nations people attempt, when possible, to exercise that as well.
1832 COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS: I was just curious on APTN's status because I wasn't aware that APTN was headquartered on a reserve.
1833 MR. HELGASON: Well, no. APTN is located in Winnipeg, but through, I think, leasing arrangements, they are able to -- this is not peculiar to the broadcasting industry.
1834 COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS: Oh, it's not peculiar to business either. Business, in general, tries to avoid taxes so, you know, I understand where you're coming from.
1835 MR. HELGASON: I believe that they are, indeed, located administratively in Winnipeg, but I believe they have an arrangement with -- and I'm not trying to tell or cause problems for them of course - I have to live in the community - but there is currently clarification coming before the courts on this because there are many, including First Nations people, who work in Friendship Centres who are -- it's a leasing arrangement. I could technically go to my band and ask to be employed by them and then, if you will, seconded or leased into any organization, I would be exempt from tax.
1836 COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS: Yes. I just wanted the information for the record so if other broadcasters, Craig included, are having difficulty attracting employees, maybe this could be an aid for them.
1837 MR. HELGASON: I think it is a dynamic, certainly. And the other dynamic, of course, is the culture of the organization and whether or not this mutual accommodation and respect for and, you know, sort of a respect for and acceptance of aboriginal perspective in the workplace is at play. We do a lot of employment equity and the banking industry has very serious challenges about maintaining and obtaining aboriginal people. Part of it is the culture of the organization, but I don't want to make more than an issue with respect to -- I know why in Winnipeg, because that's where there's such a demand -- I mean this just happened in the last three years. I mean, APTN only moved there a couple of years ago, and have been on a recruitment drive and looking everywhere for, and bringing talent from across the country. And that's notable. But even they, for highly skilled, high performance people, have to compete too, and when you can offer somebody the circumstances under which they can exercise their right to avoid tax, it's a very, very, what shall we say, incentive. Thank you.
1838 COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS: I have no further questions.
1839 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Commissioner Cram?
1840 COMMISSIONER CRAM: Thank you, Mr. Helgason. How then would you advise -- and the other thing about Winnipeg of course is NCI, Native Communications, the radio station, you know, and that's also another problem because when you've got fairly successful Native radio and then APTN, it's difficult. How would you advise Craig and other broadcasters, non-Native, then, to recruit aboriginals? And you can limit it to Winnipeg if you wish, but it appears to me that that may be a problem pretty well -- and I know, I'm from Saskatchewan, and in Saskatchewan, there's casinos that now have -- the casinos are now designated reserve land, so, for example, in Yorktown, for the broadcaster to compete, it's almost impossible. So, what do you say? How do they recruit people?
1841 MR. HELGASON: I will acknowledge it is a challenge, although I think that the demographic of aboriginal people is such that 60 percent are under the age of 30, which means, in all probability, they are either recently graduated. We've had some success with what we've called a mentorship program in Winnipeg, where we've had some young aboriginal people who have some skills, but if they're given positions of more responsibility connected to -- well, I'll describe the initiative.
1842 We looked at high performing CEOs. This is not in the broadcasting industry, this is United Way of Canada, the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce. So we went to those CEOs and we said, "We have some young aboriginal people who have just graduated and they want to shorten the time between what they learn in this industry." And so under a mentorship program where they were paid a reasonable amount, I think $30,000, and they were satisfied with that given the richness of the experience of being connected to a high performing CEO and exposed to the things that you don't learn in school and the things that aren't available sometimes as a result of your family connections or family history, and that's not often available to aboriginal people. You know, you might be the first one -- I was the first one graduating with a degree of all my family, and I would have loved for my time to have been shortened when I was 25 to a different place. It's taken me to my old age here. No, I shouldn't say that. But we would like to see aboriginal people -- the mobility factor is also, I think, something that many aboriginal people would consider a real positive, where they knew that as a result of three or four years of dedicated experience they would be at a senior level in the wider community even.
1843 Because John Ralston Saul gave a speech last Friday and he was talking to these Canadian and housing people from across the country, saying aboriginal people have a great contribution to make. You should be very much aware, you know. And I believe that. I believe that what "The Sharing Circle" has done and other -- APTN will do nationally, will give great evidence to the extreme value and the contribution that aboriginal people will make to the quality of Canadian life. And it's evident in different places. It's evident on the streets of Winnipeg. Those young people, the Aboriginal Centre, the CP station, the Thunderbird House, you know, are signs that we're past the residential school.
1844 You know, our young people are not as encumbered. They will be moving ahead with pride and will form - in Western Canada, where 65 percent of aboriginal people live west of the Manitoba/Ontario border, we know about you in Saskatchewan, you must know about the demographics - I mean, more than one quarter will be -- the investment is so important, and the opportunity in the environment to succeed and build on success and support that. It really is a crossroads for us.
1845 I think the communications industry, broadcasting industry, should, and will, and need to play a vital role. Craig actually, one of the presentations referenced the Canada West Foundation's analysis - a very good analysis. Now we have, if you will, I won't say right wing, but we have a business- oriented policy think tank talking about this very thing, saying the same thing. It's so important that we give consideration to the aboriginal perspective and dynamic and grow with it within our Canadian context, recognizing the diversity and accommodating the inclusiveness and celebrating together, you know, in partnership.
1846 COMMISSIONER CRAM: Thank you, very, very much.
1847 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very kindly for your appearance. As we've been at it for two hours now, I think we're going to take our lunch break for 30 minutes at this point and then resume with the final few interveners and reply, so we will resume at 2:00 sharp. Thank you.
--- Upon recessing at 1330 / Suspension à 1330
--- Upon resuming at 1416 / Reprise à 1416
1848 THE CHAIRPERSON: Madam Secretary?
1849 THE SECRETARY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'd like to begin this afternoon by checking to see if two parties who weren't here this morning are with us this afternoon. Is anyone here from the National Film Board of Canada? I see no one. How about the Calgary Downtown Association? And seeing no one from those parties, I would like to call the National Screen Institute represented by Bill Evans. This is intervention 038.
1850 MR. EVANS: Thank you. I'll keep it brief. I know you want to have more opportunity to try on those hats, but Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, my name is Bill Evans. I'm here representing the National Screen Institute of Canada, a national training organization with its headquarters in Winnipeg. I'm happy to be here to appear on behalf of A-Channel to support the renewal of CHMI and I'm glad that I am able to be here in person.
1851 The reason we are supporting the application is simple: The A-Channel goes out of its way to support and promote and encourage the activities of organizations like NSI and other cultural and social service groups. In so doing, A-Channel both gives Manitobans a unique look at their community and greatly extends the ability of NSI and groups like us to service that community.
1852 In our case, a strong example is the exceptional support A-Channel gives Film Exchange, NSI's Canadian film festival, held in Winnipeg and formerly known as the Local Heroes Canadian Film Festival. Film Exchange is the only major annual film festival dedicated to screening 100 percent Canadian films and celebrating those who bring Canadian stories to the screen. As the producer of Film Exchange, I can say that since we launched the festival in 1999, A-Channel has supported us in many ways, including creating commercials, donating an exceptional degree of airtime and they have found other innovative ways of promoting the festival to the public. I would estimate that their contribution to our organization easily surpassed $50,000 in services and air time each year. And most remarkable of all, because of the fact that we are just one of many groups that they support in this way, they came to us to propose a partnership and to ask how they could help us to get the word out about the festival to the city of Winnipeg.
1853 Primarily through their programs "The Big Breakfast" and "Wired", A-Channel provides a unique opportunity for Manitobans to see what is happening in their community and to learn more about the place in which they live. From the smallest community drive to the largest festival and also onto social awareness activities, to glimpse into a little shop down the street, "The Big Breakfast" has given exposure to groups that otherwise would not be able to bring their message to the screen and into people's homes.
1854 As well, "Wired", A-Channel's nightly news and entertainment show has given NSI and numerous other cultural organizations the opportunity to promote our activities and encourage community participation. That kind of exposure is essential.
1855 I would just like to also mention a couple other things in particular that A-Channel helps us with as part of the festival. The first being Local Exposure, which is our amateur home movie contest, which encourages ordinary people, many of them being young people, to pick up a camera for the first time and make a movie.
1856 A-Channel has supported this program over the last four years in such ways as they have us on for a week at "The Big Breakfast" in which we invite various people from the film community to come on air and talk about how to shoot, how to record sound, how to light and that kind of activity, and also just to encourage people to apply. Then the finalists are chosen through a jury that the A-Channel is involved in, and presented as part of the festival and A-Channel hosts the screening and the awards ceremony that follows. It's always a big kick-off to the festival, a great public event that helps bring attention of the public to Canadian films and helps encourage people to go out and actually get involved in making film.
1857 The second way they help us is with our Movie Camp, our summer training program for teenagers ages 13 to 19. It's a program that brings these kids together with industry professionals where they receive training and they make movies. It's a national program centred in Winnipeg and A-Channel has been very supportive of it both in Winnipeg and also when we ran it in Edmonton, primarily through, again, "The Big Breakfast". But I think it's indicative of their support of young people, encouraging young people to get involved and start thinking about television and film as a career and I know A-Channel is very involved with outreach to youth, in particular.
1858 So, in conclusion, I would strongly urge you to renew A-Channel Manitoba and I look forward to the opportunity to take your questions, if you have any.
1859 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. NSI's primary activity is Film Exchange?
1860 MR. EVANS: No, the primary activity is actually film and television training programs. There are a range of programs starting with Movie Camp. We also run Drama Prize, which is a short film program, and we also have a program called Features First, which encourages the development of Canadian feature films, all of which are showcased at Film Exchange.
1861 THE CHAIRPERSON: So the way that A-Channel has helped you in particular, though, is in connection with Film Exchange?
1862 MR. EVANS: Yes. They are very active in covering the festival when it's on and they are also, as I say, very active -- take an active participatory role in helping us with the local exposure campaign, which is a public outreach part, portion.
1863 THE CHAIRPERSON: That's been your interface with them?
1864 MR. EVANS: Yes, primarily.
1865 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Madam Secretary?
1866 THE SECRETARY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'd like to call the Economic Development of Edmonton, Lindsay Daniller representing them. And seeing no one, those are all of our interveners, Mr. Chairman.
1867 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Call the next phase.
1874 THE SECRETARY: The next phase is Phase III where the applicant has an opportunity to reply to the interveners. I would invite Craig to come forward for its reply.
1875 MS. STRAIN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. I won't reintroduce the members of the panel. I think you still have the seating plan. I would like to just start by clarifying some of the issues that were discussed yesterday and that I said we would come back to you on.
1876 First, we confirm that the allocation from the proceeds from the sale of Craig Music and Entertainment four Manitoba radio stations has been filed confidentially with legal counsel. Drew would also like to make a couple of remarks with respect to the questions that you had about that yesterday. Drew?
1877 MR. CRAIG: I just wanted to clarify for the record. Yesterday I said 50 percent of the proceeds from the radio sales went to the broadcast side and the wireless side. I was talking in the context of the total radio assets. I think you might have been specifically asking me about transaction to Standard.
1878 THE CHAIRPERSON: I'm sorry, I didn't catch your last question.
1879 MR. CRAIG: When we spoke yesterday about the proceeds of the sale, I was assuming you were talking about historically, because we did at one point own a station in Edmonton and Regina. I was giving you a ballpark number in terms of the percentage. What we filed with the Commission relates to the sale of the Standard assets -- sorry, the Winnipeg assets that Standard purchased from Craig.
1880 MS. STRAIN: Mr. Chairman, I believe you had also asked about when we expected SkyCable to be implemented in British Columbia, and we expect that it will be implemented by the end of August. We currently have an extension of time from the Commission that extends to July the 6th, so we would likely be filing another extension.
1881 Second, we have also filed with legal counsel a chart reconciling the drama fund commitment of $14,070,000.
1882 Third, we have filed a consolidated financial projections which take into account the Toronto station and the additional $10 million expenditure commitment for Alberta and Manitoba. These statements assume, first, that the remaining original drama fund money will be committed by August 31, 2003 and that the additional commitment of $10 million will be spent over the five years, that is, between fiscal 2004 and 2008. No more than $500,000 of that $10 million will be directed to administrative expenses.
1883 In addition, you will find with the financials we filed a one-page explanatory breakdown of the production expenditures.
1884 Fourth, we have also filed financial projections for Calgary and Edmonton, covering the years 2001, 2002 and 2003, which show the remaining drama fund commitment. The Edmonton financial also shows a correction to our administrative and general expenses, where there was an error that Commissioner Williams had pointed out to us yesterday. As the 2001 numbers are actuals, these financials are being filed on a confidential basis for that particular year.
1885 Fifth, Vice-Chair Wylie, you had asked for an estimate of the original repeat ratio with respect to the priority programming that is currently in our schedules. I can advise you that it is about 50/50 for series programming and that movies are typically repeated three times.
1886 Fifth, you had asked for clarification as to our definition of "regional" when used in the contest of our commitment to ensure that one hour of the eight hours of priority programming on our stations is local or regional reflection. The definition of "regional" that I would propose would be as follows: A priority programming (as defined in PN 1999-205) that is reflective of the interests of the Western Canadian Region and/or the individual markets served by the Craig stations within the Western Canadian Region.
1887 Sixth, Commissioner Wylie, I believe you had asked about the time credit with respect to the exhibition of priority programming. If I understood your question correctly, the answer is that we assume that we will be allowed the use of the priority programming time credits that are set out in Appendix 2 to PN 1999-205. If your question was also whether we would like to avail ourselves of the old 150 percent time credit, we hadn't thought about that. The answer is yes, but we're content with the priority programming time credit on its own.
1888 Finally, I would like to clarify our commitments to local programming. At CHMI, A-Channel Manitoba, we have an existing expectation of licence of 15 hours a week of news. We intend to continue to air a minimum of 15 hours of local reflection programming each week inclusive of news and other non-news local reflection. This would include the one hour of regional reflection priority programming discussed above.
1889 At CKX we intend to maintain our existing licence commitment but we reiterate our position that six hours of local programming, as a minimum, is reasonable given the tremendous uncertainty of the CBC affiliation that we spoke of yesterday and the problem of tuning to satellite services. Given our record of providing outstanding local service to this community for nearly 50 years, we hope that it is evident to you that we will do everything reasonably possible to continue this legacy and that the six hour minimum assumes the most dire of circumstances.
1890 At CKEM and CKAL we have an existing licence commitment to local of 31 and a half hours. We intend to maintain this level of local programming in the new licence term, on each station. In addition, we will commit that of this 31 and a half hours, nine hours will be non-news local programming. Within that nine hours, we would include "The Sharing Circle", which has always been part of our non-news component in our original application and the one hour of regional reflection priority programming discussed above.
1891 In Public Notice 1999-97, the Television Policy Framework, the Commission stated that:
"at the next licence renewals for conventional, local television stations, the Commission will not require
applicants to make quantitative commitments with respect to local news programs. However, all licensees
will be required to demonstrate, in their applications, how they will meet the demands and particular concerns
of their local audiences."
1892 In commenting on the rationale for this change, the Commission stated that it was of the belief that "there are sufficient market incentives to ensure that audiences will continue to receive a variety of local news without regulatory requirements."
1893 In the recent renewals of the CTV and Global stations, local programming commitments were not imposed as either conditions or expectations of licence. There were some exceptions, for example, where incremental local commitments were transfer benefits or in the case of Global, where news expectations were not fully met.
1894 But generally, these renewal decisions cited the "flexibility envisioned by the TV Policy and the business realities of a constantly evolving broadcasting environment."
1895 Turning to the Craig licence renewals, with the exception of the hours of non-news in Alberta, our news and other exhibition commitments were not just met, they were exceeded. We spent nearly $25 million more than we expected to in Alberta on Canadian programming expenditures. Our non-news coverage is extensive in each market, way out in front of our competitors.
1896 In addition, we have stepped up to the plate and committed to eight hours of priority programming on all of our stations. We have committed another $10 million to independent production in Western Canada.
1897 We think these are very significant and important commitments for a medium-sized player. With respect to local programming commitments, we are simply seeking regulatory parity given the circumstances outline above. We have every incentive in the world to provide - to continue to provide - excellent local service to our communities. It is the reason we're here. It is at the very core of everything we do.
1898 MR. CRAIG: Thanks, Jennifer. We believe that our role is to fill the void left by the larger players who have focussed their resources on national priorities. We provide exemplary service to the cities we serve, and in Manitoba, to our rural areas. But we go beyond that: we get into the communities and neighbourhoods. This is what makes us different.
1899 Over the last licence term in Manitoba, we have continued the legacy of being a critical diverse media voice in Brandon, Portage la Prairie and Winnipeg. We haven't just maintained levels of service. By example, we invested $3.5 million in Winnipeg and nearly $700,000 in Brandon in capital enhancements to and increase our production and improve our product. We introduced a two-hour morning show, "The Big Breakfast", every weekday. We had no obligation to do so, but in doing so we offer something different and something that no one else in our market is doing.
1900 In Alberta, I think it's important to look at what we've already accomplished. We haven't even celebrated our fifth anniversary. Five years ago these stations didn't exist. In fact, this time, if you wind the clock back five years ago, we had two employees, Joanne and myself. Three months later, we had nearly 300 employees.
1901 We built two state-of-the art digital facilities in the centre of our communities that didn't exist before. We launched two stations with three days of each other. We developed, commissioned and produced 60 hours per week of local programming for Edmonton and Calgary. This was a huge undertaking.
1902 You've heard from us about the job we've done, and more importantly, you've heard from interveners about our record. We have had a profound impact and we've literally touched thousands of community groups, artists, charities and producers.
1903 This is a 24-hour a day, seven day a week commitment. It is not easy being the premier provider of local television, but we do it with joy and a firm determination to make it work. I would be remiss -- I say we, but it's not really "we", it's our staff that does this. And you heard about some of them from some of the interveners today, and from my perspective I think it demonstrates the commitment that we have as a company to do this.
1904 Every day I come to work to the Calgary building and get there at quarter to eight and the building is full of people. There's literally up to a dozen community groups in our studio every morning. The same thing is going on in Winnipeg. The same thing is going on in Edmonton. Brandon is also making a major contribution to its community. I would like to commend our staff over this last five-year period for what they've accomplished. You heard it from some of the interveners.
1905 In conclusion, we are thrilled about the future. We obviously haven't fully digested all the implications of Monday's decision, but we know it will help us set our own course and give us a wonderful opportunity to produce innovative and creative programming that can be seen across the country. That flexibility will allow us to inject more diversity into the system not only in the West, but also in Toronto.
1906 We are totally focussed on the future. We are excited about the prospects of our digital specialty channels, but conventional television is and remains our core business. We will continue to look for opportunities in other markets outside the ones in which we currently operate, and this includes smaller markets and medium-sized markets where we think our unique brand of local programming is a good fit.
1907 I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks to the interveners, many of whom travelled a long way, as far as Brandon, to be here to represent their views. We also would like to recognize the hundreds of positive interventions that were written in support of our renewal applications. We appreciate their support very much.
1908 We would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Commission staff for their assistance over the last few days and several months during this process. And finally, Mr. Chairman, Vice-Chairman Wylie and Commissioners, we appreciate you coming to Calgary. We think you all look great in cowboy hats and we thank you for the opportunity that we've had to tell you our story.
1909 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, Mr. Craig, ladies and gentlemen. Counsel will begin with some questions and we may have some follow- up after that. Counsel?
1910 LEGAL COUNSEL, STEWART: Merci, monsieur president. Good afternoon, panel. I'd like to begin by asking you to turn, if you have it, to the written intervention of the Alberta Motion Pictures Industry Association, in particular, to paragraph 10. Do you have that?
1911 MS. STRAIN: I've got the intervention, Counsel. Which paragraph?
1912 LEGAL COUNSEL, STEWART: Paragraph 10.
1913 MS. STRAIN: We've had a chance to read that.
1914 LEGAL COUNSEL, STEWART: Would you like more time to review it?
1915 MS. STRAIN: No.
1916 LEGAL COUNSEL, STEWART: Because what I intend to do is to seek your comment on each and every submission that is made in that paragraph 10, so if you would like to take time to caucus. I am referring, of course, to the issue of the reporting of the production.
1917 MS. STRAIN: Counsel, I think I'm on -- did you say the AMPIA or the CFTPA intervention?
1918 LEGAL COUNSEL, STEWART: Excuse me, it's their oral presentation, the written paper copy of their written presentation. It's just from their intervention.
1919 MS. STRAIN: Okay, sorry. I'm with you now.
1920 LEGAL COUNSEL, STEWART: I apologize. I obviously confused you.
1921 MS. STRAIN: Can we take a minute to read this?
1922 LEGAL COUNSEL, STEWART: With the Chairperson's indulgence.
1923 THE CHAIRPERSON: Sure.
1924 MS. STRAIN: Thank you.
1925 LEGAL COUNSEL, STEWART: Well, I really have bungled this question obviously. I apparently referred to the CFTPA, and of course I'm talking about the Alberta Motion Pictures Industry Association. Some commissioners have told that to me. But I also would like to bring to your attention that the Commission would be seeking your response to the various submissions and, in particular, the form that this would take, i.e.,a condition of licence. With respect to paragraphs 7 through to 10, I, not specifically - well, not solely 10. Is that -- do you understand that? Are you ready?
1926 MS. STRAIN: Yes, I think so.
1927 LEGAL COUNSEL, STEWART: Shall we start with paragraph 7? I think that's an easy one.
1928 MS. STRAIN: Yes, I think we already said yesterday that we would accept a condition of licence that the money would be spent with Alberta or Manitoba producers or co-producers.
1929 LEGAL COUNSEL, STEWART: Thank you. Now, with respect to paragraph 8, I suggest we walk through together chronologically these paragraphs and you may, for the benefit of the commissioners, give your response to it.
1930 MS. STRAIN: Number 8, I don't think we'd like to be held to a minimum percent every year. I think we said we'd spend the $10 million over the five years, so we don't agree with number 8.
1931 LEGAL COUNSEL, STEWART: Can I just stop you there?
1932 MS. STRAIN: Yes.
1933 LEGAL COUNSEL, STEWART: What about the recruitment for sublicensing that could be reinvested?
1934 MS. STRAIN: No, we don't agree with that either. Joanne, maybe I'll just get you to step in and talk about what happens with recruitments on licence fees now.
1935 MS. LEVY: Although we are a regional station, we pay for national licences for conventional, and in some cases in the early years, we paid for all television rights nationally. So we have had opportunity to sublicense some of those rights to pay television, for instance, and to other conventional television in Canada. The recruitment from that comes into Craig as general revenue. However, we do have, in every agreement with every independent producer, it is clear that once we recoup the amount that we've paid out in the licence, that anything over and above that actually goes back to the producer of the program. So should we be so fortunate over the term of a contract as to make more in sublicensing than we paid out in the initial licence, that funding goes back to the producer. So we're tied by that agreement and I think it would be an abrogation of that agreement to put this one on top of it.
1936 As well, I think it's been commonly understood that a fund is a fund. Once that commitment is fulfilled, it is fulfilled, and in fact, the Alberta and now the Manitoba producers will have the very great advantage of not relying on recoupment of these fees for ongoing expenditures to them. We've made a rock solid commitment of $10 million to them. So I think they will find that that's a far better position to be in to have the guaranteed $10 million that what we might make from recoup.
1937 LEGAL COUNSEL, STEWART: But I think they were suggesting that this recoupment be in addition to the $10 million.
1938 MS. LEVY: No. That wouldn't be appropriate.
1939 LEGAL COUNSEL, STEWART: That would not be appropriate. Are you surprised at this submission, given the identity of the intervener, because I think you're suggesting that this suggestion might be at variance with the contractual obligations of producers.
1940 MS. LEVY: I haven't had a chance to talk to them about this particular aspect of it. I believe that it's a notion being floated in the independent production community and it's, as I say, it's counter to contracts and agreements that we have with individuals that they probably didn't fully appreciate when they came up with the notion.
1941 LEGAL COUNSEL, STEWART: So I take it there has been no discussion with you about this?
1942 MS. LEVY: Yes.
1943 THE CHAIRPERSON: If I could just interrupt there. I take your answer on that last point, but I just want to backtrack to the first part of paragraph 8. You submitted a document entitled, I think, Breakdown of Craig Broadcast Production Fund, and in that you indicate the spread of the $10 million over the '04 to '08 period and $1,900,000 a year direct on the administrative. I'm wondering why, in the light of that projection to us and in light of the fact that it was a huge ballooning last time around, that you would not be prepared to accept a condition to space it out as you projected, even across the period with a condition such as a 15 percent requirement?
1944 MR. THORGEIRSON: Chairman Dalfen, we're discussing it. The issue for us is not whether it's a percentage or not. It's really more how the projects come along. In terms of budgeting, we have to put a number in and we try to spread the commitment out over the licence term. In this particular case, we're spreading it out over five years so we simply divide that ballpark number by five. But as part of our problem with the first licence term was that, you know, we intend to make commitments in the area of $2 million, but what actually goes out the door and gets expensed in any fiscal year is dependent upon the projects themselves.
1945 THE CHAIRPERSON: But I would have thought the pump is now primed and you have projects now rolling along, so that, call it a start-up issue, would not be there?
1946 MR. THORGEIRSON: Certainly we do, but we still have projects that were, in fact, produced a year and a half ago which still have licence fees that will be going out to them in the future. Some of the fees are tied to the actual delivery of the product for us.
1947 THE CHAIRPERSON: So when I look at the chart I was referring to, and I see $6 million in 2003, I mean, that really says that, I think as you said it in your earlier phase, you're going to commit that money but it may not be in the form of actual payments that go out and so forth?
1948 MR. THORGEIRSON: That's correct.
1949 THE CHAIRPERSON: Why wouldn't you be willing to accept a similar criterion? It's simply to avoid a ballooning effect at the end of the period.
1950 MR. CRAIG: Chairman Dalfen, that is something we could accept. And what I would do, you know, I think the AMPIA thing, the AMPIA proposal is a reasonable compromise to that. Basically they're saying not less than 15 percent for any given year. As long as that was tied to the commitments, I guess from an accounting point of view - that's Al's concern - that if the money doesn't flow out the door, we're offside on that condition. But if it was simply to commit it every year, we would certainly be prepared to live with that.
1951 THE CHAIRPERSON: And I think you're asking us to consider whether that's an appropriate way of interpreting the condition, which I'm not sure we've addressed or had discussion on it, but I guess to try and reconcile what you're projecting on this chart with a belief on our part that there should not be a ballooning of the commitment at the end of the period, that perhaps for present purposes we can leave it at that, that we're talking about the commitment and spacing it out and drawing your attention to your own projections might be a way of doing it. I'm sure we'll want to discuss further in this and other proceedings about how these kinds of commitments should actually be interpreted, and whether the commitment is sufficient or whether it's actual expenditure, obviously, without wanting you to throw money out the door by a calendar date just for complying with the licence.
1952 MR. CRAIG: And we share that concern.
1953 THE CHAIRPERSON: Counsel.
1954 LEGAL COUNSEL, STEWART: Merci, Monsieur President. So just to clarify, so with respect to paragraph 8, you would then, in effect, substitute the word "committed" for "spent" with respect to that 15 percent?
1955 MS. STRAIN: That would be acceptable.
1956 LEGAL COUNSEL, STEWART: Is that what Mr. Craig said to the Chairman?
1957 MR. CRAIG: Yes.
1958 LEGAL COUNSEL, STEWART: Yes, thank you, just to clarify for the record. Thank you.
1959 THE CHAIRPERSON: I guess that's right. In those terms we would be changing "spent" to "commit" and interpreting that as, in effect, verifiable commitments that could be audited in effect if you like, even though they aren't expenditures at that stage. Thank you. Counsel?
1960 LEGAL COUNSEL, STEWART: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I now turn your attention to paragraph 9.
1961 MS. STRAIN: Nine is acceptable.
1962 LEGAL COUNSEL, STEWART: Thank you.
1963 MS. STRAIN: And I'll just move on to 10. Everything in paragraph 10 is acceptable with the exception of -- this relates to the discussion that we just had on equity. So if I go down to equity, we're happy to report how much was committed and was spent but we're not going to report the recoupments.
1964 LEGAL COUNSEL, STEWART: Thank you. I'd like to now turn your attention to the filing you made today entitled Breakdown of Craig Broadcast Production Funds. Do you have that?
1965 MS. STRAIN: Yes.
1966 LEGAL COUNSEL, STEWART: Just with respect to the admin expenses, they are the -- I see for the Alberta fund, which is, I think, the production fund, that the admin expenses there were, if my mathematics is correct, roughly 9.2 percent. Can you explain why that was so high as compared to the admin expenses projected for the other two funds?
1967 MS. STRAIN: When we filed the application for Alberta in '96 I guess it was, we had filed it that way. The admin expenses were set out in detail and 9.2 percent. That's why they are in there that way and we've just, you know, we've got Joanne in place now and we think we can do a lot of what we're doing with lower administrative expenses. And it's more in keeping with Toronto as well. Our admin expenses were less than 5 percent -- well, between like 4.9 or something, and then we heard AMPIA today talk about admin expenses, so we've cut them back to 5 percent. We think we can live within that.
1968 LEGAL COUNSEL, STEWART: Sorry, I don't know if Ms. Levy would like to say something?
1969 MS. LEVY: Sorry, I wasn't entirely clear on the question so I was trying to get some clarification. It's okay.
1970 LEGAL COUNSEL, STEWART: Yes. But these figures, these projections, are fairly solid in your view?
1971 MR. THORGEIRSON: Yes. And with respect to the Toronto fund, those are the figures that were in the Toronto application.
1972 MS. LEVY: One of the things that should be said about the administration of the Alberta fund is that these numbers also include a commitment being made to new producer training. We spent quite a lot of money out of it to sponsor things such as Features First and other programs that directly contribute to the education and advancement of producers, particularly new producers.
1973 LEGAL COUNSEL, STEWART: And will you be continuing to do that, given the reduction in the percentage attributable to admin expense?
1974 MS. LEVY: I think that we'll account for it in a different way. I have to get paid.
1975 LEGAL COUNSEL, STEWART: Accounting is not a science, in other words. Now, if I can ask you to turn to Schedule 2, entitled Craig Broadcast Alberta Inc. Reconciliation of Drama Fund, schedule 2? Have you got that? Good.
1976 Now the annual returns to 2001, those figures, line B3 and line B5, can you confirm that those are monies that have actually been expended?
1977 MS. NOTO: Yes, definitely.
1978 LEGAL COUNSEL, STEWART: Thank you. Now, where -- perhaps I'm confused, but where would the administrative expenses be identified in the period of 2001?
1979 MS. NOTO: As this was the start of the drama fund when we first started filing, the admin expenses are showing up in that B5 line. I thought of breaking them down to show them individually, but didn't want to complex it. That's why we did the other spreadsheet, so it could break down. But you will see on the spreadsheet that shows the total funds and the breakdown of the three, there's about half a million dollars in the B5 line that is administration, but either way, the production part of it still totals the $11,835,000. And it would compare to when we file our annual returns, we include a page from our audited statement that reconciles the funds paid as well as those committed. We file that every year with our annual return.
1980 LEGAL COUNSEL, STEWART: I think I understand. Now for the 2002 budget, and again I'm back to Schedule 2, those figures there, those are all -- are they a mixture of projected and actuals or are they projected only?
1981 MS. NOTO: They would be a blend of both.
1982 LEGAL COUNSEL, STEWART: Excuse me, could you repeat that?
1983 MS. NOTO: They would be a blend of both; both actual, you know, for the year as well as projected. But, obviously, because the year is not closed, it has to be a projected amount for 2002, fiscal 2002.
1984 LEGAL COUNSEL, STEWART: And of the sum attributable to line 17, how much, roughly speaking, in terms of a percentage has been monies that have been actually spent?
1985 MS. NOTO: I know what would be committed but I'm not sure on spent.
1986 LEGAL COUNSEL, STEWART: I'm really asking a very rough ballpark for this.
1987 MR. THORGEIRSON: It's about a third.
1988 LEGAL COUNSEL, STEWART: Thank you. Now, the 2003 budget, the Chairman has already referred to this ballooning effect, and in particular I think in this respect to line 17, but it also can be seen in the program expenses, which as I understand it, are admin expenses only. Can you confirm that?
1989 MR. THORGEIRSON: The 2003 number that's there has taken what we had budgeted in our original filing for 2004, taken all those dollars and added them into 2003.
1990 LEGAL COUNSEL, STEWART: So you simply just collapsed the years into one?
1991 MR. THORGEIRSON: Correct.
1992 LEGAL COUNSEL, STEWART: Thank you.
1993 MR. THORGEIRSON: Except it wasn't that simple, but.