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TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS BEFORE
THE CANADIAN RADIO‑TELEVISION AND
TRANSCRIPTION DES AUDIENCES DEVANT
LE CONSEIL DE LA RADIODIFFUSION
ET DES TÉLÉCOMMUNICATIONS CANADIENNES
SUBJECT / SUJET:
Various broadcasting applications further to calls for
applications for licences to carry on radio programming
undertakings to serve Chilliwack and Vancouver, British Columbia /
Plusieurs demandes en radiodiffusion suite aux appels de demandes
de licence de radiodiffusion visant l'exploitation d'une
entreprise de programmation de radio pour desservir Chilliwack et
HELD AT: TENUE À:
The Empire Landmark The Empire Landmark
1400 Robson Street 1400, rue Robson
Vancouver, B.C. Vancouver (C.-B.)
March 5, 2008 Le 5 mars 2008
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
Various broadcasting applications further to calls for
applications for licences to carry on radio programming
undertakings to serve Chilliwack and Vancouver, British Columbia /
Plusieurs demandes en radiodiffusion suite aux appels de demandes
de licence de radiodiffusion visant l'exploitation d'une
entreprise de programmation de radio pour desservir Chilliwack et
BEFORE / DEVANT:
Helen del Val Chairperson / Présidente
Rita Cugini Commissioner / Conseillère
Elizabeth Duncan Commissioner / Conseillère
Peter Menzies Commissioner / Conseiller
Ronald Williams Commissioner / Conseiller
ALSO PRESENT / AUSSI PRÉSENTS:
Jade Roy Secretary / Secretaire
Joe Aguiar Hearing Manager /
Gérant de l'audience
Carolyn Pinsky Legal Counsel /
HELD AT: TENUE À:
The Empire Landmark The Empire Landmark
1400 Robson Street 1400, rue Robson
Vancouver, B.C. Vancouver (C.-B.)
March 5, 2008 Le 5 mars 2008
- iv -
TABLE DES MATIÈRES / TABLE OF CONTENTS
PAGE / PARA
PRESENTATION BY / PRÉSENTATION PAR:
Rogers Broadcasting Ltd. 2038 /11659
INTERVENTION BY / INTERVENTION PAR:
Communications, Energy and Paperworkers 2134 /12258
Union of Canada
Adelina Suvagau 2167 /12457
Vancouver Multicultural Society 2174 /12482
Mason Loh 2180 /12517
REPLY BY / RÉPLIQUE PAR:
Rogers Broadcasting Ltd. 2192 /12588
Vancouver, B.C. / Vancouver (C.‑B.)
‑‑‑ Upon resuming on Wednesday, March 5, 2008
at 0930 / L'audience reprend le mercredi
5 mars 2008 à 0930
11653 THE SECRETARY: We will now begin the hearing.
11654 For the record, the Commission sent a letter to Rogers asking them to provide comments electronically, at the latest, on February 29, 2008 at noon and to provide paper copies, at the latest, on the morning of March 3, 2008 prior to the commencement.
11655 This letter and the document has been placed on the public file and copies are available in the examination room.
11656 Now, Madam Chair, we will proceed with item 25, which is an application by Rogers Broadcasting Ltd. (Rogers) to acquire the assets of the ethnic television programming undertaking CHNM‑TV Vancouver (also referred to as Channel M) and its related transmitter in Victoria, British Columbia, as well as the digital television undertaking CHNM‑DT Vancouver and its related transmitter in Victoria, British Columbia, from Multivan Broadcast Corporation (the general partner), and 650504 B.C. Ltd., Douglas M. Holtby, Geoffrey Y.W. Lau, Robert H. Lee, Joseph Segal and RCG Forex Service Corp. (the limited partners), carrying on business as Multivan Broadcast Limited Partnership (collectively Multivan).
11657 Please introduce yourself and your colleagues and you will then have 20 minutes to make your presentation.
11658 Thank you.
PRESENTATION / PRÉSENTATION
11659 MR. VINER: Good morning, Madam Chair, Members of the Commission and Commission staff. My name is Tony Viner and I am the President and CEO of Rogers Media.
11660 I want to speak to you this morning about how Rogers became involved in ethnic television, why we continue to believe in it and why we are delighted to be here today before you seeking to acquire Channel M.
11661 It all began with CFMT, a station launched in 1979 by a Toronto entrepreneur with the mandate of serving Toronto's ethnic communities. The business case for ethnic television with uncertain and by the mid‑1980s CFMT was insolvent.
11662 Rogers has never shied away from a challenge and in 1986 we acquired the station as it was about to go into receivership. This was our first foray into television. In fact, our entire broadcasting group at the time consisted of only two Toronto radio stations.
11663 Earlier, Rogers Cable had launched a successful multilingual television service here in Vancouver, so we knew the power of ethnic television and were excited by its possibilities. We began investing heavily in the studio and facilities and we assembled a team that could turn CFMT around.
11664 Kelly Colasanti was a cameraman when he was hired in 1979 and a technical director when we acquired the station. Today he is OMNI's VP of Operations and Engineering.
11665 Renato Zane was a journalist anchor in Italian language programming. Today he is the Vice‑President of OMNI News.
11666 In 1986 Leslie Sole joined as Vice‑President of Programming and Marketing. Leslie's number one priority was to make CFMT commercially viable and to give it the same professional look and feel as conventional television stations in Toronto. He convinced advertisers of the importance of ethnic media. Slowly the financial picture began to turn around.
11667 Today he is the CEO of the Rogers Media Television Group.
11668 Leslie then hired Madeline Ziniak, an award‑winning producer for the series Ethnicity, as the Director of Community Liaison. Today Madeline is the National Vice‑President for OMNI Television.
11669 Melanie Farrell also joined in 1986 as a sales representative. Today she is OMNI's Director of Community Liaison.
11670 Jackson Ip joined in 1989 as a production assistant. Today he is the Head of National Chinese Language Sales for OMNI.
11671 Paritosh Mehta was a CFMT scholarship recipient at Ryerson University in 1993, and today he is the Director of Independent Production.
11672 From the beginning, we loved ethnic television. We liked the connection it made with audiences. We saw the importance of reaching people in their language of comfort in a diverse country like Canada. Newcomers to Canada and second and third generation Canadians want programming in third languages, but they want it to be about Canada and seen through the eyes of Canadians.
11673 That has been our vision for OMNI and we are gratified that viewers, advertisers and the Commission have responded positively to that model of television.
11674 It is therefore a source of great pride that we have grown from the one station to two stations, OMNI stations in Toronto, and that we were recently awarded ethnic television licences in Calgary and Edmonton. I am particularly proud of the trust and confidence that Canada's ethnic communities have shown in working with us to produce high‑quality, informative and entertaining programming.
11675 Others seated with me here today have joined more recently but are no less committed to our goal.
11676 Alain Strati is Vice‑President of Specialty TV and Content Development. Jamie Haggerty is Executive Vice‑President TV Operations. Susan Wheeler is Vice‑President Regulatory Affairs.
11677 In the audience today we have Rael Merson, President of Rogers Broadcasting; Malcolm Dunlop, Executive Vice‑President of Programming; Tom Ayley, OMNI's VP of Finance and Administration; and Ken Englehart, VP Regulatory Affairs for Rogers Communications.
11678 The ethnic television market is one we believe in strongly at Rogers. We are thrilled to now have the opportunity to apply the same hard work and dedication to building a great station on the foundation laid by Channel M.
11679 We are honoured to have with us today Art Reitmayer, President and CEO of Channel M, and Diane Collins, Director of Channel M news.
11680 We also want to acknowledge Channel M's partners, Robert Lee, Joseph Segal, Douglas Holtby and James Ho, who are seated in the audience.
11681 With that, I would ask my colleague Alain Strati to lead our presentation today.
11682 MR. STRATI: Thank you, Tony.
11683 There are three reasons why approval of this application is in the public interest.
11684 Number one, Rogers is the best home for Channel M.
11685 Number two, our proposed benefits will support independent producers of ethnic programming and the Canadian broadcasting system.
11686 Number three, our acquisition will enhance the diversity of programming and editorial perspectives at Channel M.
11687 For the reasons explained by Tony, Rogers has the commitment to make the long‑term investments needed by Channel M. We have the experience, knowledge and resources to continue to build on the initial success of the station. We will foster the ability of local ethnocultural communities to tell their stories nationally through the provision of local, regional and national content from other diverse markets.
11688 We will enhance Channel M's news programming by providing it with access to OMNI's news bureaus and provincial capitals such as Victoria, Edmonton and Toronto, as well as the federal Parliament in Ottawa.
11689 Channel M viewers will gain access to a wider variety of ethnic programming produced as part of OMNI's tangible benefits funding in Ontario and Alberta. We will provide the technical and content infrastructure necessary for the transition to digital, enhance Channel M's online service and extend its content to new platforms like Video‑On‑Demand.
11690 We will work to strengthen the business model for ethnic television by offering advertisers a national platform for the very first time.
11691 We believe these measures will take Channel M and, for that matter, Canadian ethnic television to the next level in terms of providing quality service and programming that resonates with our audiences.
11692 I would now like to ask Art to provide to with a bit of the context behind the decision to sell and why he and his partners believe Rogers will provide the best home for Channel M.
11693 MR. REITMAYER: My partners and I are extremely proud of Channel M's accomplishments since its licensing in 2002. Channel M has rapidly become an integral part of the life of multicultural communities in Vancouver and Victoria, with a very strong focus on local news and community relevant ethnic programming. The station has won numerous local, national and international awards for programming excellence and become an important presence in Vancouver's multicultural communities.
11694 This is a source of great pride and accomplishment for Channel M's staff and management.
11695 However, after carefully reviewing ongoing trends in the local and national broadcasting environment, my partners and I have concluded that it will be difficult for Channel M to continue to operate successfully as a stand‑alone television station. While increased competition, audience fragmentation and viewer control and customization have been challenging for mainstream broadcasters, they have been particularly difficult for us.
11696 As a stand‑alone station serving a number of small, diverse audiences, we simply do not have the scale or distribution resources needed to offset rising costs and make the requisite investments needed to remain competitive in this increasingly crowded television market.
11697 Rogers has those resources and will be able to make the capital investments needed to reach viewers in new ways. They can better offset pressures on television advertising revenues by developing new revenue sources.
11698 As an integrated company, Rogers is in a better position to extend Channel M's content to other television platforms and to the new media environment increasing its ability to reach a wide variety of audiences on a local, regional and national basis.
11699 We also believe that Rogers will be able to assist Channel M in its transition to digital transmission and the provision of HD programming.
11700 I can tell you this is something my partners and I have struggled with over the last few years. The transition to digital transmission requires capital‑intensive investments that would be extremely difficult for a stand‑alone station to absorb.
11701 As part of the OMNI group of stations, Channel M will have access to these much needed technical upgrades that will ensure its long‑term competitiveness.
11702 Based on these considerations, we strongly believe that Rogers will be able to establish the requisite synergies and programming opportunities needed to sustain a viable business model for ethnic broadcasting in Canada and, as a result, provide the best home for Channel M.
11703 MS ZINIAK: We intend to assume responsibility for all outstanding expenditure commitments related to independent production and script and concept development, which are estimated to be in the range of 1.5 to $2 million in onscreen initiatives.
11704 Rogers has also proposed new benefit initiatives which are aimed at fostering the grassroots development of Canadian ethnic documentaries and series covering a diverse range of subjects in a variety of different languages. This funding is aimed at expanding the sources of storytelling by encouraging the involvement of first‑time Canadian independent producers.
11705 The absence of funding sources makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to produce high budget quality Canadian third language programming in genres such as documentaries and series.
11706 It is for this reason that we are proposing to establish a dedicated source of funding for third language television production in British Columbia with the creation of the Channel M Independent Producers Initiative.
11707 This initiative will provide $4 million in production support over the course of the next seven years. A minimum of $3.5 million will go directly to program licence fees, with up to $500,000 available for script and concept development.
11708 As with other OMNI initiatives, 100 per cent of the licence fees will be paid to Canadian independent producers.
11709 Until a few years ago, there were no government or industry sources to support the production of third language programming. OMNI has changed that. We provided the funding needed to give producers of ethnic programming the opportunity to tell their stories and express their cultural experiences to Canadian audiences.
11710 Through our OMNI Ontario Production Initiative, we have funded over 350 hours of ethnic programming, including such programs as "The M Word", an unflinching look at the state of multiculturalism in Canada and our legacy as the first country in the world to have an official multiculturalism policy; "The Bhangra Generation", a film looking at the influence of fusion music, a combination of traditional Punjabi rhythms with western beats on the young generation of South Asians in the West; and "True Triumph in Range Lake: The Sandy Lee Story", a documentary chronicling the life of Sandy Lee, the first Korean‑Canadian woman to be elected to the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories.
11711 Collectively, our funds will create an environment and underlying infrastructure to support ethnic programming production.
11712 MS FARRELL: While the Channel M Independent Producers Initiative will be an important source of funding for the production of ethnic programming in Vancouver, we also believe it is important to make funding available at grassroots level for the next generation of filmmakers.
11713 To this end, we have proposed to direct a $1 million benefit to the creation of multicultural film production program at UBC. This new program will establish a permanent educational facility for training aspiring Canadian filmmakers about filming techniques and intercultural dialogue and communications, increasing their capacity to tell stories in non‑English languages.
11714 We believe this investment will provide much needed training and development funding that will help create a solid infrastructure for ethnic programming production in British Columbia.
11715 MR. ZANE: We are also proposing to establish a dedicated news presence in Victoria. We believe there is a significant benefit to having dedicated news resources in capital cities. As part of our tangible benefits package, we are proposing an investment of $1 million in capital and operating costs for the establishment of a news bureau in Victoria. The bureau will be fully staffed and will have access to production facilities that will produce reports for broadcast on Channel M in Vancouver.
11716 With the approval of this application, Channel M will be able to improve its news and information programming. With news bureaus in Ottawa and three provincial capitals, Channel M will have access to a much broader group of news services and these additional resources will provide direct access and interaction between local ethnic communities in different regions across Canada.
11717 Being part of the Omni organization will provide the Channel M news team with a broader context within which to report on local reaction to news stories from across Canada and around the world.
11718 For the first time, Channel M will have a platform for provincial and national dialogue where it can share experiences from local communities across Canada.
11719 We will also give Channel M viewers the flexibility of accessing newscasts at times when it is most convenient for them, by streaming them online and making them available on video‑enabled cell phones.
11720 We believe that one of the many benefits of being part of the broader Rogers organization is the ability to draw content from a wide variety of sources, including our radio, television and magazine publishing divisions.
11721 This level of access allows us to bring the most comprehensive news and information programming to our audiences at a local, regional and national level.
11722 MR. STRATI: We have heard the Commission's concerns regarding the need to preserve the diversity of editorial voices in local markets across Canada, and appreciate its determinations in its recently released Diversity of Voices Policy.
11723 All of our media properties operate separate and distinct news operations, and we will preserve the independent management of Channel M and Cityty Vancouver news departments, and maintain separate presentation structures, because we see distinct editorial mandates for each station.
11724 Under our ownership, Channel M will continue to pursue its own editorial direction, continuing to provide a local voice for ethnic communities.
11725 While we believe that Channel M will benefit significantly from its inclusion in a larger group of stations, we also want to make it very clear that we intend to maintain the distinct service mandates of Channel M and our Citytv stations in Vancouver.
11726 To this end, we have proposed as Conditions of Licence commitments that there will be no overlap in third language programming on Citytv Vancouver and Channel M in any given broadcast year, and a maximum of 10 percent program overlap between Citytv and Channel M in any given broadcast week.
11727 Taken together, we believe that the different service mandates and the proposed overlap restrictions will ensure that the diversity of programming options and choice available to local audiences is maintained under the common ownership of Citytv and Channel M.
11728 Rogers has the scope, scale and ethnic television broadcasting experience necessary to ensure the continued success of Channel M in an increasingly competitive market. We have detailed in our application, and summarized in our presentation for you today the many ways in which our ownership of Channel M will enhance the quality of diversity of ethnic programming offered in the Vancouver market, and help the station secure its competitive position in this increasingly fragmented media landscape.
11729 Madam Chair and Members of the Commission, we can provide a strong and stable environment from which to grow the Channel M service. We want to build on its presence and involvement in Vancouver's ethnic communities.
11730 We respectfully ask you to give us that opportunity by approving our application.
11731 Merci pour nous avoir donné l'opportunité de présenter notre application pour Channel M.
11732 Thank you for allowing us to present our application for Channel M. We welcome your questions on our application or today's presentation.
11733 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Strati, and your team.
11734 I will start with the questions, and I might as well start with the hard one first.
11735 I think it is for Mr. Reitmayer, but it is, really, also, for the panel.
11736 It is always sad to see someone leave the industry, and I think part of the reason why we are here is that the licence in Vancouver for Channel M was such a hard‑won battle. It was divisive within the panel and all.
11737 One of the reasons why Channel M won was that people saw ‑‑ the Commission saw the promise in an independent, smaller, western player, and the diversity ‑‑ those who were vying for the licence had the depth and experience ‑‑ depth in financial capacity. It was going to be new blood, it was going to be local, and Channel M was successful in all respects, and it is hard to see that go.
11738 What lesson do you think that teaches us, the Commission and the industry, about the chances of success of the smaller independent players in the market?
11739 I open it for the panel ‑‑ anyone ‑‑ to give us a comment.
11740 MR. STRATI: Thank you, Commissioner del Val. It certainly is a primordial question.
11741 I will ask Art if he wants to comment, as well.
11742 From our perspective, in terms of lessons learned or not learned, it is hard to look at hindsight and decide that, if things had been done differently at the time ‑‑
11743 Certainly, then, there was the recognition of local ownership and a new voice in the Vancouver market, and certainly in the Canadian broadcasting system as well.
11744 I think a lot has happened since then, and that really does say ‑‑ not about the decision‑making process itself for licences or independents, but perhaps just about the realities or the nature of over‑the‑air television, if you compare that to other types of media as well.
11745 At the time, local ownership was a factor. We always thought it was one of the factors. Certainly, at the time we were, and still are a significant local broadcaster in terms of our presence in Vancouver. We had significant ties with the community.
11746 But there really have been some changes. I think, if you look at diversity and plurality now, as opposed to then, the difference is the consolidation in the industry and the fragmentation of audiences, and the response to that has been the emergence of two significant over‑the‑air television groups in Canada.
11747 Rogers really is, quite frankly, a new player in television. We have become, if you will, the third television player. I think that provides good opportunities going forward for Channel M, as well as the Omni group.
11748 I think, for licensing ‑‑ and I will ask others if they want to comment ‑‑ I still think it's a case‑by‑case basis. I still think that the Commission should look at factors. It is hard to predict what is going to happen in the future, but there are still opportunities for different independents to come into the system as well.
11749 We have seen that in radio, for example, and there are other instances.
11750 Perhaps it is just the nature of over‑the‑air television which has changed significantly.
11751 Art, do you want to add something?
11752 MR. REITMAYER: Yes, thank you, Alain.
11753 When you look back, and I guess when you ask the question "lessons learned", it is one of those things that ‑‑ you know, the timing of the lesson is always important, as well, looking at the time when the applications for ethnic and multicultural services in Vancouver were filed. We are looking back to 2001, which was a significant time ago, and much has changed in the landscape of broadcasting.
11754 I think the reason the Commission had such a challenge with the granting of that licence is that you had two parties that were very passionate about what they were going to be doing in this market: Rogers, with the experience from what they had accomplished in the east, and the new owners for Channel M, who were enthusiastic about the opportunity to enter the field and to provide a western voice, which we saw lacking in broadcasting.
11755 But the dynamic and the opportunities that exist in broadcasting have certainly modified in that time period from 2001 forward. The types of partnerships that you have been able to establish with respect to buying U.S. programming is a key component of many of the services in Canada, and those types of partnerships have definitely fallen off, because you have seen a significant change in the landscape. Craig Broadcasting no longer exists. CHUM broadcasting ‑‑ all of these things that have happened ‑‑ Standard Broadcasting ‑‑ they have all happened in the time since this licence was granted ‑‑ actually, within a very short period of time of years, just within quite recent memory ‑‑ and Alliance Atlantis and CanWest.
11756 These things all have a changing dynamic on the marketplace and on how people sell and purchase broadcast advertising.
11757 Being a stand‑alone station has become far more difficult than it was when you looked at what was the landscape in 2001.
11758 Looking forward, to answer the other part of the question, I think you would have to look at what types of licences are being applied for, but there certainly is an impact and a change that has occurred from the time that Channel M was licensed.
11759 MR. VINER: Madam Chair, I would only like to add, as the losing applicant all those years ago, that the Commission should be proud of the decision it made. Channel M has, as you have pointed out, been successful in virtually every regard.
11760 What has happened today is the result of some circumstances that, I don't think, anyone could have foreseen. Consolidation has occurred in the television landscape.
11761 However, I think the Commission should be proud of the record that Channel M has established. I think that Art and his partners should be proud of it.
11762 And it is our intention to take the foundation which they have built and build from it.
11763 There are lessons to be learned, but maybe the lesson to be learned is that you can't accurately predict the future.
11764 THE CHAIRPERSON: The future being what it is now.
11765 Following up on Mr. Strati's comments, when you were talking about the change, so that there are really two major forces in television broadcasting, I think we struggle with this on the telecom side. The question we ask is: Is two as good as it is ever going to get?
11766 MR. VINER: We respectfully believe that there are three: CTV, Global and ourselves ‑‑ and I forget that government broadcaster's call letters.
‑‑‑ Laughter / Rires
11767 MR. VINER: We think there is pretty robust competition out there.
11768 Over‑the‑air television isn't for sissies. It is a tough, competitive market, and the way in which the market has reacted, or the industry has reacted, is to consolidate and try to develop the scale and scope necessary to succeed.
11769 THE CHAIRPERSON: Coming to the specifics, I think your record on why you need to sell, why now, why Rogers is the best, is very full, as well as your replies to the interventions.
11770 Perhaps the only argument that I have not found an answer to in your written submissions is ‑‑ I believe it is multicultural society ‑‑ on the bidding process, on how Rogers came to be the purchaser.
11771 Was there a bidding process, or how did that come about?
11772 MR. REITMAYER: In response to ‑‑ I think it was actually the CEP intervention on that.
11773 When you look at the potential sale of broadcasting property, it wasn't something that we came to easily. We looked at the results of a number of different changes in the marketplace, and, obviously, what came out of the Alberta decision, and when Rogers came forward with an offer to purchase Channel M, we had to look at that seriously. It was a serious offer.
11774 When you look at the opportunities that were there, I can't think, honestly, looking back over the years ‑‑ and one of the things we talked about earlier even today ‑‑
11775 I think that part of the reason you had the challenges you did in 2001, when you awarded the licence in Vancouver, was that you saw before you a very strong broadcaster from the east and a local group.
11776 When we were looking to go through the potential to accept an offer to purchase the station, we had to look at who would carry that mantle forward, and carry it forward with the respect that we felt we had for our station, for our people, and what we had accomplished in the marketplace.
11777 Certainly, Rogers, the fact that they have been in competition with us at all of the hearings we have been through, would indicate that they have a strong and passionate interest in carrying on with multicultural broadcasting.
11778 So in terms of who would be the best fit, certainly the fact that that had been the case would be one very strong indicator for us.
11779 The other part is, to put a business up through an auction process ‑‑ I can honestly say that we have been through an extensive period, since the original offer and acceptance through our group, and it has been difficult on our staff through that extended period.
11780 I can't imagine what it would have been like had they heard that we were just putting up to auction that precious broadcast property they had worked so hard to build. I think it would have been far more unsettling on our staff, and I am not sure that you would have ended up ‑‑
11781 In all honesty I can honestly state you would not have ended up with a better broadcaster to take on Channel M at the end of the day than what you have before you today.
11782 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
11783 Going back to my original question for Channel M was Calgary and Edmonton your unsuccessful bid into those markets? That was pivotal for you, wasn't it?
11784 MR. REITMAYER: There is no question that ‑‑ you know the need to grow, I mean we have all talked about it. You have seen it with every broadcast company that has been before you to either acquire or to sell in recent memory, and for us the only opportunity we saw at that point was to acquire through licensing.
11785 And to not be successful in that application certainly has a very strong bearing on why we are before you today.
11786 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. I will turn this over to Commissioner Duncan for questioning now. Thank you.
11787 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Good morning.
11788 Thank you for the information that you provided with your February 29th response. It was all very helpful and we do still have a few questions as you probably expected. So we will just go through that.
11789 And I see that you have given us a revised chart ‑‑ not a revised but an expanded appendix. I think this was "A". I will just look at this here now. "A" is correct, yes.
11790 MR. STRATI: Yes.
11791 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Thank you.
11792 So what I have got, first of all, we of course asked for all the calculations and assumptions that led you to arrive at the purchase price. So I thought perhaps if you could take us through Appendix A, which is the schedule that was attached to the letter and shows how you arrived at the price, intended to show that. Maybe just hearing an explanation would help first.
11793 MR. STRATI: Thank you, Commissioner Duncan.
11794 I will ask Jamie to provide ‑‑ Jamie Haggarty to provide some more context on that.
11795 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Thank you.
11796 MR. HAGGARTY: Good morning. The original file, the Appendix A, the only difference between that and what you received this morning is we noticed over the weekend that we made reference to a "see table" in the table of Appendix A and we had ‑‑ it was a printing error. When we gave you the original letter we had collapsed some of the rows in the various permutations of what we printed off.
11797 So what you see in front of you this morning, the new handout, is just we expanded the Excel spreadsheet and it shows you the table now that provides the detailed calculations and the valuations.
11798 Maybe walk you through some of the key drivers of this valuation model. We start with some historical estimates which is the 2004‑2005 estimates. And that was based on a few different sources.
11799 We went back and looked at the Rogers' application for the Omni Vancouver application and our estimates on operating costs and what various rating points would do in terms of revenue for '04 and '05, and extrapolated out the revenue for those historical years and, again, looked at our historical model for costs and made our estimates of what we think Channel M would have done given the spending of advertising in the market and the costs required to launch the station.
11800 We then made our projections in the Years 1 to 5 on how we think we can grow the revenue.
11801 We looked at the current, I guess, status of Channel M's performance and we concluded that Rogers will hopefully bring some expertise, some selling practices and some inventory management practices. And with the addition of Channel M it gives us more of a national platform for ethnic broadcasting clients, clients that could not do that with one phone call; reach major markets in Ontario, throughout Ontario with the addition of Alberta in Edmonton, Calgary and now in Vancouver.
11802 So we think that the revenue numbers are aggressive but achievable and it really is a revenue orientation towards this valuation.
11803 The costs as you can see there, the costs do have some moderate growth over the course of the period of time. There is a really sort of complement of the infrastructure that's there today in a sustainable cost model and with the emphasis on revenue.
11804 The lower part of the valuation box I will highlight a couple of things. The reference is to restructure and immigration. That is just based on our experience where we have to spend a fair bit of money to relocate Channel M and our plan is to relocate the station with City TV Vancouver so that we made provision for that capital. We just know that equipment will be replaced over the course of time so we have put in a provision for capital.
11805 And it really comes down to a DCF model. Rogers' methodology of doing valuations is we do a base case standalone valuation and then we layer in what synergies that under our ownership we think we can bring to this. And that's kind of the high and low, the synergies. And those synergies really reflect things; you know, simple cost reductions of news feeds to various providers of various sources of information and licences that will get a better rate because of the Rogers' buying power and so on.
11806 So that's kind of, I guess, the overview of the model.
11807 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: That is very helpful, Mr. Haggarty.
11808 I just wondered on the copy that we got, circled in the ‑‑ it was the 100 percent synergies block ‑‑ is the table ‑‑ is $52,974 million. So I just wondered how you got from there to the price.
11809 MR. VINER: Yes, Commissioner Duncan.
11810 Jamie is a brilliant C.A. This is not an exact science. We got to that price through the free market negotiation between Channel M and ourselves. We did prepare these valuations internally as we looked at what we might bid. But the fact of the matter is, as you can see, you know this is a range. And if you look at this table you will see the range, I think, is $44 to $65 million and that's dependent ‑‑ those really depended just on two things; I think the terminal growth rate and the weighted average cost of capital.
11811 But really the key assumptions are the ones that Jamie mentioned and, you know, what can we do with this station that others might not be able to do? And if I could just briefly maybe highlight what those are I think there are three things.
11812 One, I think that we can moderate the growth in costs of U.S. acquired programming. We have the scope and scale and the size in order to be able to negotiate more efficient contracts with the big U.S. studios. So there is moderation on the cost; growth and cost of U.S. acquired programming.
11813 Secondly, we think we can get better programming that will get higher rates, higher ratings and therefore provide us with more revenue.
11814 But the third and the one that Jamie highlighted, and I think is the most important, is that now for the first time we will have a Vancouver licence to go with our about to be launched stations in Calgary and Edmonton and our two in Toronto. And for the first time we will be able to go to national advertisers. And national advertising is the lifeblood of over‑the‑air television as you know and we will be able to go to national advertisers and offer them advertising solutions in the majority of the country where they have distribution, so four of the largest markets.
11815 One of the things that we have had the greatest difficulty in doing over the last 20 years is to build national language sales from advertisers and we would go to them and say ‑‑ they would say, "Fine, you can solve that problem for us in Toronto but what can you do for us in Calgary or Edmonton or Vancouver where I also have distribution?"
11816 So there is a significant assumption in these numbers that we can significantly improve the national language sales of Channel M as a result of our common ownership.
11817 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Thank you. That is very helpful.
11818 I will just confirm a couple of little points.
11819 I assume the 1.2 million, that would be billion in CAPEX ‑‑ billion or million in year ‑‑ billion, I guess ‑‑ year 3?
11820 MR. VINER: It better not be billion.
11821 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay, so it's million.
11822 MR. HAGGARTY: Yes, it's a placeholder for improvement and equipment, digital HD at the time. It was just due really to reflect enhancement and updating of equipment.
11823 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: And my other observation on the synergies ‑‑ you have a dollar amount in there ‑‑ I don't imagine other than your best estimate you are able to quantify that or break it down into various components?
11824 I mean you have told us ‑‑ you have described what you think the synergies are going to be but as far as how much of those various reasons is counted for in the 1.5 million in year 3. Is it ‑‑
11825 MR. HAGGARTY: You are correct. It really is a placeholder and these are circumstances where we can turn to our in house ‑‑ Rogers is our biggest customer so where we turn to Rogers Wireless and we say, you know, this is now a new station in the family. We would like to drive more revenue onto Channel M that incrementally wouldn't have been there historically.
11826 So it is synergies within the company. It is synergies with our advertising partners. But I couldn't tell you the big dollars within that million five or the two million, but we do feel that there is ‑‑ our history shows that we can bring incremental and synergistic revenue and costs.
11827 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: All right. That sounds very reasonable, thank you.
11828 I wanted to look at the Appendix B and you didn't give us a revised one of that this morning. So I will just mention a couple of questions that I had on it.
11829 So the first one is to do with the Multivan Broadcast Corporation holdings rental agreement; it shows it expires in December of '08. First of all, this was not on the previous schedule I had. It might have been on other ones but it wasn't on the one that I had. So it shows it expires December '08 but there are commitments in '09.
11830 So I am just wondering if you can give us an overview of what that rental agreement is for and when it expires and if there are automatic renewal term periods.
11831 MR. VINER: I understand that it does expire at the end of this year. There is an opportunity should we require it to renew at then market rates for an additional three years, or I am not quite sure. It is negotiable.
11832 It is our intention to co‑locate the station with City before the end of the year.
11833 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: So the amount that's in '09 you will still be committed to pay that then, will you? You see how it has got $180,000 in '09 ‑‑
11834 MR. VINER: Yes.
11835 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: ‑‑ in the table?
11836 MR. VINER: Yes. I'm sorry, I don't know.
11837 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: You could give us an answer later.
11838 MR. REITMAYER: Maybe I can help on that.
11839 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Oh, yes.
11840 MR. REITMAYER: With respect to the lease because you are talking fiscal periods on this one so you are sort of crossing over periods, so December '08 actually would be in fiscal period '09. So that's why you are seeing that amount carryon.
11841 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Oh, okay. Okay.
11842 MR. REITMAYER: The lease does expire in December '08.
11843 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: All right. Thank you very much.
11844 And I am wondering, there was also a similar schedule attached to the financial statements which were granted confidentiality. But at the very back of those statements, so I won't refer to amounts because it was granted confidentiality because it is attached to the statements, but there is other information on it with respect to the CBC Seymour site and the Victoria site.
11845 And I just wondered if we could have those ‑‑ if we could have Appendix B be revised to incorporate that information on it because there are some dollar amounts there for '08 and '09, or maybe there is a reason for not doing it. I just have two schedules that are different.
11846 MR. REITMAYER: Again, looking at the CBC site licences those are renewable on a going forward basis and it really is at the election of Rogers. We have had discussions with CBC on that matter and that's why you see it in our statements. They would be done as a going concern basis.
11847 So we would reflect the fact because, certainly, our alternatives for site relocation wouldn't have you know included anything else other than who we were with at that time which is CBC. But the CBC has indicated that there is a one‑year period where Rogers would have the availability because of their own site in the market that they could relocate.
11848 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: So the schedule that was attached wouldn't normally be attached to a set of financial statements, but that schedule is something that you have produced as opposed to the schedule Rogers has produced; is that the idea?
11849 Like that information that I am looking for, those dollar amounts that show on the one schedule in '08 and '09 and are different in the Appendix B, those are the ones I'm interested in.
11850 MR. REITMAYER: Certainly ‑‑ I can only say that the information from Appendix B would certainly have been something that we would have provided because, again, that's fairly detailed information. You are starting to look at all kinds of not only operating lease, service provision items and everything else that would be in there. So we certainly would have advanced that information to Rogers, yes.
11851 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: All right.
11852 So is it reasonable then? Could I ask you just to resubmit B and incorporate those amounts, or if you don't think we should you could explain later.
11853 MR. REITMAYER: I am sorry. Could you ask that again?
11854 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: If you could resubmit Appendix B incorporating those 2008 and '09 numbers that are different for those two sites unless there is a reason for not doing it.
11855 MR. STRATI: Absolutely.
11856 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: So those lease renewals, Mr. Reitmayer, those are automatic renewals I expect? They are at Rogers' discretion but does it just keep going on?
11857 MR. REITMAYER: Are you referring to the site licence...
11858 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: So those lease renewals, Mr. Reitmayer, those are automatic renewals I expect, are they? They are at Rogers' discretion, but does it just keep going on?
11859 MR. REITMAYER: Are you referring to this site licence agreement?
11860 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: The site licence agreements.
11861 MR. REITMAYER: Yes, they would be at the discretion, then. You would have to indicate with the lessor whether or not you will be extending.
11862 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: So many months before the expiry date that you are planning to...?
11863 MR. REITMAYER: Correct.
11864 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Is it your intention, then, to keep those sites? I assume it is, is it?
11865 MR. STRATI: Commissioner Duncan, we do have our own site in Vancouver on Mount Seymour, so it is something that we would look at in terms of using our own site.
11866 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: All right. Thanks very much.
11867 In terms of the additional information that we need that would facilitate our review of the statements, could you provide the following audited financial statements. It is quite a list.
11868 Multivan Broadcast Group of Companies for the years ending August 31, 2003 and 2004; Multivan Broadcast Limited Partnership for the years ended 2005, 2006 and 2007, all audited preferably; Multivan Broadcast Corporation for the years August 31, 2003 to 2007; and Multivan Holdings Ltd. for the years 2003 to 2007, inclusive.
11869 Those I am advised, they will be granted confidentiality so you just have to state that when you file them.
11870 MR. REITMAYER: We can certainly provide those. The only thing is, some of them are audited, some of them aren't because they were audited or not depended on certain needs, whether it was tax filings are banking, that kind of stuff.
11871 But we do have financial statements I can provide.
11872 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: As long as we can tie them all into what is audited, that's fine.
11873 MR. REITMAYER: Should be able to.
11874 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: All right. Thank you. I have a couple of other questions here.
11875 As you know, there is the issue or question as to whether the gain represents a windfall or whether it is reasonable. So I'm just wondering in your view what criteria you think we should use in answering that question.
11876 MR. STRATI: Commissioner Duncan, I will certainly ask Art if he would like to comment on that as well.
11877 I think there are a number of different factors to look into, some of which are even laid out or discussed in various Commission policies.
11878 I think if you look at the attempt and the effort to implement the station in the first place, if you look at the infrastructure that has been provided, developed, if you looked at the news programming, the local community mandate, if you look at the various initiatives locally to build a station, I think that is an important factor and I think Channel M has certainly done that.
11879 I think another one is sort of has it fulfilled its commitments and its promises. I think if you look at the local news programming, their local programming overall, you will see that they are fulfilling their commitments, certainly on the broad service requirement.
11880 So overall they have launched and continue to provide the service they intended to and applied for.
11881 I think one of the things that has happened is some of the things we discussed before in terms of the interim circumstances and differences.
11882 I would ask Art to talk a bit more about sometimes the timing of sales and how we talk about profitability. But it is really that sort of timing and it's difficult to get a sense.
11883 But certainly the commitments have been fulfilled.
11884 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Yes. I think my question revolves more around whether the gain is reasonable or a windfall should be considered.
11885 MR. REITMAYER: I will definitely give you an answer on that, but I do think that the other components that Alain spoke of are important in appreciating what that number is.
11886 When you look at what has been accomplished by Channel M since it was granted that licence, the capital investment, again looking back to 2002, at that point in time there was, you know, no outlook to any purchaser being on the horizon so you are basically investing millions of dollars in capital, hiring some of what we thought were the highest calibre broadcasters in the market to ensure that the service that we provided would be of the highest caliber.
11887 I think that has been evidenced by the fact that we have won 40‑plus Promax Awards, two CAB Gold Ribbons, two BCAB Gold Ribbons and numerous other awards for commercial production and audio presentation.
11888 I think when you look at that, that is part of it. And this was all investment made early on with no outlook to any kind of return other than hopefully a viable business down the road that would actually service the community, which is what we were licensed to do.
11889 On top of that, we looked at the commitments that we made and conditions of licence and expectations that were imposed and we certainly measured up on all counts on all of those as well.
11890 So we have met everything that is there.
11891 The opportunity when it was presented is something that comes down to negotiation at that point in time. So there is then this profit that is derived from it but certainly isn't something that you enter into with, you know, the initiation of the business.
11892 When we started, again there was nothing on the horizon and certainly no outlook to profit in an easy transaction at that point of view. If that really was the case, one would certainly suggest that probably there would have been easier investments to make and certainly for my partnership group when you look at the types of holdings they have. So, yes.
11893 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Thank you. I think that's insightful.
11894 I just noticed in looking at the amount of what looks to be ‑‑ and we are still trying to determine exactly the amount of the gain. But looking at the amount, do you think that is a reasonable amount on a 4‑1/2 year investment?
11895 It probably started before 4‑1/2 years ago, but...
11896 MR. REITMAYER: We have been at this since 2001 and, again, with no outlook to any kind of return at that point in time. So there was a significant amount invested with no outlook to return.
11897 If I look to other transactions that have completed recently, I would certainly indicate that perhaps we should have gone even harder at trying to negotiate a price.
11898 You know, recently approved The Beat radio, first‑term licence, went through without even a hearing, and the profit on that was significantly higher than any kind of return that the partners at Channel M are going to realize.
11899 If you look at even going back, is it a single licence term that we look at profits? Certainly when you look at some of the larger broadcast transactions that occurred, the profits on those are substantially more than anything that we would have.
11900 So I guess it is always dependent on what you were comparing it against.
11901 Our investment going in was made with the full and complete intention of launching a successful broadcast service with no outlook to any kind of sale and nobody on the horizon at that time that was going to purchase our service. So we took a substantial risk at that point in time.
11902 We did realize a profit at the end of the day from that, but definitely when reviewing other transactions that have been approved, I can honestly say that it isn't of the same magnitude close.
11903 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Mr. Viner, from Rogers' point of view, obviously that is the price you are paying. It came about from free‑market negotiation.
11904 But do you think that is a reasonable return for 4‑1/2 years?
11905 MR. VINER: Well, the only disagreement I have with Art is whether or not we should have paid more.
11906 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: I thought you might have. I noticed that in the body language.
‑‑‑ Laughter / Rires
11907 MR. VINER: Listen, I think these are extraordinary ‑‑ first off, I think we agree based on both our internal documentation and outside sources that the purchase price is roughly correct.
11908 We also agree that Channel M and its partnership invested heavily in getting the station going and making it a going concern.
11909 These are extraordinarily risky businesses and it is my opinion ‑‑ and it is the opinion of Rogers ‑‑ that this level of profit is just commensurate with that risk.
11910 The purchase price is fair. We all agree that all commitments have been made and they haven't tried to operate the station on a shoestring and it is a risky venture.
11911 So the combination of those factors, I think that this is commensurate with the risk.
11912 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Thank you.
11913 I think those are both very helpful; thanks.
11914 As you know, the broadcasting licences are regarded as public property owned by Canadians. So the question here is: Because the licence was awarded as a result of competitive process, and considering that it is being sold in the first licence term, the question is whether the gain should accrue to the vendor or should it accrue to Canadians.
11915 So we are just interested in your comments on that.
11916 That would be like whether the money should go to an independent television fund or...?
11917 MR. REITMAYER: One would certainly suggest that if there is any desire to have any individuals participate in the broadcasting system, if that was the case, then you would have to look back and suggest that it really is no longer a business and probably should be funded through the public as opposed to any kind of risk.
11918 I mean, Tony indicated there was substantial risk undertaken by our partnership group in establishing this business, and there has to be some prospect that at the end of the day there is something that is compensating for that significant and high‑risk investment.
11919 So in the event that it was to just move it into the public arena, I think it would probably support more of a public system.
11920 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Thank you.
11921 MR. STRATI: Commissioner Duncan, if I could just add, you mentioned the CTF, and I would only add that the CTF does not fund a third language programming ‑‑
11922 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: No, an independent ‑‑
11923 MR. STRATI: Absolutely. Maybe it is just close to my heart, sorry.
11924 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: There is a few people here it is close to.
11925 MR. STRATI: I think one of the important issues is also, if you will, we certainly have proposed some tangible benefits. We also believe there are some significant intangible benefits to this acquisition.
11926 I think first and foremost, you are looking at the ongoing viability in the future of Channel M. You are looking at additional investments and a stronger foundation for not only Channel M but we really believe all of our stations together.
11927 We are talking a lot about risk and certainly Madeline, Leslie and everybody here is working very hard on the launch of the stations in Alberta. So there are some significant intangible benefits.
11928 There is a lot of here in terms of the local and regional, national and programming perspectives. There are opportunities for specials, for elections.
11929 I mean, there was the election in Alberta just a few days ago.
11930 So we think there is a stronger foundation and opportunity for stronger reflection.
11931 Those are not tangible benefits for the Canadian viewers and the Canadian audiences, but we believe they are intangible and will lead to tangible benefits for the system and for the viewers.
11932 I don't know if Leslie wants to add.
11933 MR. SOLE: Commissioner Duncan, above and beyond the public trust, which I think is your question here, there has been a number of years of goodwill, of recruiting people, of developing audience relationships, of putting this television service in good stead with every single stakeholder in the market.
11934 That has value. That has value to us. That has value to the system, above and beyond the public trust that you are referring to.
11935 I don't like to use the word danger, but I think that there is a certain bit of risk in looking to the margin or the profitability of transactions and then trying to apply them to cultural or social initiatives. I think it could become very confusing.
11936 I think that we are dealing with a raft of situations that wouldn't turn out to be precedents. They would be more case‑by‑case basis.
11937 So I'm not sure that would be a good idea.
11938 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Thank you.
11939 Those are all my questions for now, Madam Chair.
11940 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner Cugini, please.
11941 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Thank you.
11942 I am going to go down to about cruising altitude here and start talking about programming and what people are going to see on the screen as a result of this new and improved Channel M through the Rogers acquisition.
11943 Mr. Viner, I have heard you say repeatedly national sales. I heard you talk about national programming.
11944 What about the communities that have been served by Channel M most adequately, as has been repeated today in the oral presentation, as you have talked about in your application, that Channel M has done a great job at serving the communities here in Vancouver.
11945 So the question is: With all of this national input into Channel M, how can we be assured that the service to the local communities is going to also be enhanced and improved?
11946 MR. VINER: Commissioner Cugini, the only thing that I would correct in the question, I talked about national acquisition of foreign programming and I talked about national sales. I think throughout our presentation we tried to emphasize how important the continuation and the strengthening of local programming is to our application.
11947 But I will let Alain carry on.
11948 MR. STRATI: Just to finish off on the advertising issue, it is really about making it a more typical buy for advertising. So, if you will, it is a national opportunity for advertising rather than a national advertisement in a national program.
11949 For example, if we look at Cantonese language news or Mandarin language news, if the service is provided, the news is provided in each of the markets, Jackson and others can then go and deal with the advertiser, not only reactively in terms of a request from a national advertiser, but even proactively.
11950 Certainly there is a proactive element to advertising in ethnic television to convince the advertisers in the first place to consider ethnic television.
11951 So it's the Wal‑Marts, it's brand advertising, et cetera. It's the Chryslers, to say "I now have audiences for this kind of programming in each of the markets that I am serving."
11952 So that is the national component to it.
11953 In terms of the programming philosophy, I think the programming philosophy of Channel M and OMNI quite frankly are very similar. I think it is a local first programming philosophy. I think over the air television demands that.
11954 I think if you look at their news programming, if you look at their community magazine programs, you see the same elements that we at OMNI in terms of our programming philosophies.
11955 I think the national perspective is really about enhancements, complementariness and things of that nature. I think on the news side, you see the opportunity for access of additional resources from which the local news production team can use.
11956 I think you see an opportunity for special projects, special events, elections, Chinese New Year in February. You see the interaction and the reaction of communities across Canada rather than just the local community.
11957 It can be an international event to get the reaction across the country.
11958 So it really is an enhancement, if you will, more than it is a national programming mandate. It is the inserts and the resources within each of the local components which is really going to be, we believe, the enhancement.
11959 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: I mean, a lot of the information programming that is provided is news so I would like to spend just a little bit of time getting a little bit more detail on how the news operation will work across the country now, because you do in your application speak of viewers in Vancouver and Victoria having access to the perspective of other communities in Ontario and Alberta.
11960 So how exactly is this going to work in terms of the newsrooms in Ontario and Alberta working with the newsrooms now in Vancouver?
11961 MR. STRATI: Sure. I will ask Renato Zane to give you a perspective of how he sees it, and certainly Diane Collins from Channel M can talk to about that as well.
11963 MR. ZANE: Thanks, Alain, and thank you, Commissioner.
11964 The principle that we are applying that we have talked about has been a principle of local service first with a national perspective. We see a great opportunity, as Alain was saying, of making stories available to viewers across the country based on what is being covered in the local markets.
11965 But currently, as you know, we are still only in Ontario. There are two stations in Ontario; we haven't launched Alberta. So we are still building that system of stations.
11966 Our intention is to probably apply the approach that we suggested in Alberta with local talent assembling material locally with access to a vaster library of local or national material that they could insert into these programs locally.
11967 So again, local server first, assembled locally based on the needs and desires of each of the local programs that we are providing service to these various communities.
11968 It is possible in the future we may introduce other ideas such as a national forum for discussing topics like immigration, education, things like that, but we are still in a building mode and our focus is on allowing viewers in each of the markets to have access to stories that are of particular interest to those communities across the country.
11969 For example, Channel M currently does not have access to a lot of material from Ottawa and we would like our Ottawa Bureau to make available to the Channel M viewers stories that are of particular interest to them.
11970 We had the national budget recently, and what we did in Ontario is we provided a diversity community perspective on the budget. So we had interviews with Maurizio Bevilacqua in Italian, with Olivia Chow in Chinese, in Cantonese, on the case of the budget. It would have been of great benefit to the viewers here to see an interview with Ujjal Dosanjh for example on a topic like that.
11971 It was the same with stories like the head tax redress issue. Viewers in Vancouver did not have direct access to that kind of coverage and, as a matter of fact, Diane and I have been collaborating on news sharing on topics such as those on a regular basis.
11972 That is just the broad strokes. If you want to ask further questions, we can go deeper.
11973 But perhaps I should turn the microphone over to Diane to give you her perspective.
11974 MS COLLINS: Commissioner Cugini, as Renato says, it has been very difficult for us here on the West Coast to get that perspective from Ottawa and certainly a lot of the Members of Parliament from British Columbia are in the Chinese or Indo‑Canadian communities.
11975 The questions that are asked by the English‑language media are certainly not the questions that we would have. So we have to as a result, instead of being able to talk to them and have a visual image, I mean we are forced to do something on the telephone.
11976 I mean, we are finding creative ways of dealing with the situation, but what an incredible blessing it would be for us to, you know, have been able to have the access to a television camera in Ottawa with Ujjal Dosanjh, for example, and just to speak in Punjabi live on our newscast or even set up a time earlier in the day to record an interview with him on how he sees the budget in Punjabi so that our viewers would know what this means to them.
11977 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: In that example when the story comes to you from Ottawa, is there an opportunity or, in your opinion, even a need to contextualize that piece to make it more relevant to the Vancouver viewers?
11978 MS COLLINS: Yes, absolutely. Because a lot of them are newcomers to Canada, they don't understand the process, so we do take that opportunity to give them more background on a particular area.
11979 Then again, for them to be able to have someone ‑‑ and again you have seen the example of Ujjal Dosanjh ‑‑ speak to them in Punjabi, it just helps them to understand in a much better way.
11980 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: All right. I think I do have a better understanding of how the resources will be shared across the country.
11981 Mr. Viner, you did say that the intention is to collocate Channel M with CityTV in Vancouver. Is that going to be true in all other markets as well?
11982 MR. VINER: Pretty well, yes.
11983 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: All right.
11984 Therefore, will there be a sharing of resources in terms of staff? I am thinking in particular of news gathering between City and the OMNI Channel.
11985 Would you be sending one camera crew to City Hall, for example, for both stations?
11986 MR. VINER: I will let Alain and Renato addresses issue.
11987 MR. STRATI: Sure. I would ask Renato to do it.
11988 I think certainly there is the experience in Ontario which is specific to that, that can give you some really good context in terms of what we do.
11990 MR. ZANE: Thank you.
11991 Commissioner, it would be the same answer that we gave at the Alberta hearing.
11992 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: You see, some of these people weren't in Alberta.
11993 MR. ZANE: Sorry.
‑‑‑ Laughter / Rires
11994 MR. ZANE: I would be happy to repeat it for the record.
11995 Two things. First of all, the way that OMNI covers news is very different than the way that mainstream newscasters cover news, and it is the same thing for Channel M.
11996 First of all, there is the different languages.
11997 Second, there are distinct editorial principles or perspectives that are different for each of these communities.
11998 Third, each newscast team has an assigned producer that decides on the content of the story or the story placement within a newscast that is based on the specific needs of that community, and the perspective on each of the stories sometimes is different.
11999 Now, with respect to CityTV and OMNI or CityTV and Channel M, we have said that there would be separate news management in place, separate news rooms, separate journalists; no crossover in editorial boards except potentially for collaboration of content; continued use of existing news sources.
12000 Where we do see some synergies and some efficiencies, if you will, is in the ability to have one set of satellite dishes to record satellite feeds, for example, internal newsroom management computer systems.
12001 There are some wonderful opportunities for synergies there on the technical back‑office infrastructure.
12002 But in terms of news gathering, news is news, yes, but it depends on the story. It doesn't make sense to send three different cameras to a fire, for example. What we would do in that situation is, if CityTV is focused on breaking news and up to the minute news, for example, or news of a mainstream nature, we could use the pictures as a source for additional material that we would be gathering in the ethnic communities.
12003 So our focus of course in that case would be: Did the fire affect a Chinese community member? What do people think at City Hall on fire prevention and is there a spokesperson at City Hall that speaks Punjabi or speaks Mandarin or Cantonese?
12004 The Channel M resources or the OMNI resources would be devoted to those perspectives.
12005 Operating in a newsroom where we are collocated with another mainstream station gives us access to more pictures and sound, but the work of the journalists would need to be separate and distinct. We have committed to doing that in previous hearings and this would be the same.
12006 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: So, Mr. Zane, efficiencies and synergies do not necessarily translate into job losses?
12007 MR. ZANE: Not at all.
12008 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: All right.
12009 MR. ZANE: Not at all. It is not our intention to change any of the staff structure. We are very impressed. We look forward to possibly enhancing that in the future.
12010 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Thank you.
12011 Just because you are still on the microphone, Mr. Zane, and you did in your oral presentation talk about OMNI On Line, I'm wondering if you could just expand on the content that is currently available and how that service will be enhanced to include viewers in British Columbia?
12012 MR. ZANE: Certainly. On the OMNI site in Ontario we are currently streaming all five of our daily language newscasts. So we have a Portuguese streaming newscast available, we have a Cantonese, a Mandarin, and one in English for the South Asian edition.
12013 We also provide shorter daily news features on our website. These are posted in the same five languages.
12014 These same daily news features are made available to video enabled cell phone subscribers on the Rogers wireless network in Ontario, and we would very much like to be able to extend some of these opportunities to Channel M viewers here in British Columbia.
12015 Since we started our page streaming, page views on our video player have more than doubled since we began streaming the news.
12016 We also post a daily outlook of news coverage in text form on our website, as well as news stories in text form in each of the five newscast languages. Some of these stories are not the same stories that are on the broadcast. They are simply text stories or additional new media stories that we have produced.
12017 So OMNI's investment in new media has been substantial. It has been more than $600,000 over the last few years. Rogers Media has a very broad and significant investment strategy in the digital media environment going forward.
12018 So we look forward to introducing polling on a regular basis and blogging and things like that in Ontario. We would very much like the opportunity to be able to do the same here in British Columbia.
12019 MR. STRATI: Just to add to that, I know that in talking with Art and Diane, they have mentioned currently what they have with Channel M. They currently do not have that capacity and would very much like to have and introduce it here in Vancouver.
12020 As you can imagine, given scheduling for ethnic television stations, sometimes the streaming or the availability or the audience control, if you will, to see it at a different time or another time, a more appropriate time, is a key element and we think it is even a more key element than it is for a mainstream broadcaster.
12021 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: All right.
12022 I'm on your omnitv.ca site right now and of course I went to Ontario ‑‑ no surprise. So viewers in B.C. will go to omnitvbc.ca?
12023 MR. ZANE: That is a work in progress because we are undergoing a major redesign of our website at the moment. We haven't quite decided how we are going to separate those or make them available. We certainly want it to be easier, as easy as possible for viewers to find material that they are interested in.
12024 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Would viewers in B.C., Alberta and Ontario, through your website, have an opportunity to community bulletin boards, blogs, chat rooms?
12025 In other words, are you going to create an online community across the country with omnitv(blank).ca?
12026 MR. ZANE: We intend to do that. That is definitely something that we think has great potential for us.
12027 These new media platforms are really opportunities for communities to connect with each other, to talk to each other, to communicate in ways that are enhancements to the on‑air broadcasts.
12028 We very much would like to ‑‑ we intend to make that available to viewers across the country wherever we have OMNI stations.
12029 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: All right; thank you.
12030 Staying with programming but away from news for the moment, in your application you say that:
"Channel M already carries a number of programs produced by OMNI Television."
12031 How many hours currently and what is the nature of that programming?
12032 MR. STRATI: I just want to clarify that for you, Commissioner Cugini.
12033 I guess it is our mistake. It should have been "was carried on OMNI Television". It is not OMNI Television in‑house productions but are actually independent producers in Ontario that produce the program.
12034 So if we look at the schedule for Channel M, you will see there are approximately six to eight hours that are programs that have independent producers.
12035 For example, I know there is a Macedonian Heritage Hour. That is one example, and there is an Arabic program, as well, that is carried by Channel M.
12036 So it is the independent producer that works with Omni which, then, also works with Channel M here.
12037 MR. SOLE: Commissioner Cugini, I would explain it as an independent producer that has an arrangement with both Omni and Channel M. They are separate arrangements, but they are essentially the same program.
12038 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Are these programs that have been primarily funded through the Omni fund, or is it something that both Omni and Channel M pay a licence fee for?
12039 MR. SOLE: Both.
12040 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: You also say that now Channel M programming, where appropriate, can also be carried on the Omni stations in Alberta and Ontario.
12041 Are we talking about the same thing here?
12042 MR. STRATI: Certainly there could be that opportunity.
12043 Much like we talked about in Alberta, if there is a producer here ‑‑ and some of them you will probably hear from later today ‑‑ who is looking for additional opportunities to reach audiences in different markets, and they themselves have gone to other markets in Alberta ‑‑ and I know that she can speak about that later today ‑‑
12044 It is also an opportunity to access the benefits, in terms of developing and producing documentaries.
12045 So it really is about reaching out to other audiences with what is happening here locally, but also incorporating what is happening elsewhere, and reaction elsewhere, into the program that is produced here.
12046 Perhaps Madeleine could give you some additional context on that.
12047 MS ZINIAK: I think what is so important about being able to have a Vancouver station is our quest, and I think, also, the quest for ethnocultural communities across Canada, to finally be able to have a cohesive voice.
12048 We know there are opportunities for discussion. For example, we know there have been rumours that the Multicultural Act is going to be rescinded.
12049 Organizations and ethnocultural communities across Canada have banded together as national organizations ‑‑ like the Russian‑Canadian Association and the Italian organizations ‑‑ have come together to be able to discuss this.
12050 We would like to have this opportunity to be able to discuss this on a national platform, but also important is to, finally, for a multilingual system, be able to platform leadership across Canada.
12051 Both English and French systems have these opportunities, and the communities across Canada feel it is high time to have a national platform, both for discussion and for platforming national leadership; and, finally, to be proud of the individuals who have made it in Canada, in the establishment as well as their own communities.
12052 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Thank you for that.
12053 I have a couple more questions on your benefits, and the Channel M Independent Producers' Initiative at $4 million.
12054 I believe your oral presentation detailed that, for the most part, this will fund documentaries and drama series.
12055 Is that correct?
12056 MR. STRATI: That's correct. It will mostly be documentaries. There may be opportunities for series, and a series might be as much development as it might be a licence fee. As you can imagine, licence fees for $4 million is a significant amount, but certainly a development opportunity in a series would be a good way to work with a local independent producer.
12057 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: And these would all be in third language?
12058 MR. STRATI: Yes.
12059 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: And available to Channel M only, or across the Omni stations?
12060 MR. STRATI: Certainly across.
12061 One of the opportunities is to platform ‑‑
12062 For example, on Omni in Ontario, we carry both the program ‑‑ the documentary, if it is produced in its initial language, but then we will also make it available in English, or other versions of it as well. Because we produce documentaries in additional languages.
12063 So the opportunity here is for the documentaries, or the series, or the programs that are produced in each of the three regions to be platformed and available in each of the three regions, as well.
12064 So there could be these kinds of significant, if you will, programs that have broader distribution, absolutely.
12065 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: And would the funding of the versioning come from this initiative, or would that be over and above?
12066 MR. STRATI: That's correct. Certainly when ‑‑
12067 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: There was an "or" in there, so I don't know what I am correct about.
12068 MR. STRATI: I'm sorry?
12069 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: There was an "or" in my question.
12070 MR. STRATI: I'm sorry.
12071 Patatosh and Malcolm, and others, when they get the program proposals from independent producers, talk to them about elements within that ‑‑ the licence fee and the agreement ‑‑ and the agreement always incorporates, right from the get‑go, the opportunity to version it and make it available in additional languages.
12072 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: So the versioning would come from this $4 million.
12073 MR. STRATI: Yes.
12074 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Okay. Just a question of clarification on the UBC multicultural film production program. In your application you say:
"Expertise from Rogers Media and Channel M would be warmly welcomed as part of the program, should this be of interest."
12075 My question is: What would be warmly welcomed?
12076 Or, what is of interest, your input, or the initiative itself?
12077 MR. STRATI: The initiative itself, and certainly our input as well.
12078 At the time we had discussed it informally with UBC. Since then we have had a more significant and detailed discussion.
12079 Some of these elements are a little bit like we have done with SportsNet, just as an example. We have a sports broadcasting seminar that we do nationally with four different universities and colleges.
12080 So sometimes the input is ‑‑ it's not decision‑making as to what happens, but it is, frankly, participation.
12081 In the mentorship it is the participation of SportsNet staff and SportsNet management and producers.
12082 So the input would be our participation.
12083 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: So they have agreed to this initiative ‑‑
12084 MR. STRATI: Yes.
12085 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: ‑‑ funded by Rogers at $1 million.
12086 MR. STRATI: Yes.
12087 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Okay. Thank you, those are my questions.
12088 Thank you, Madam Chair.
12089 THE CHAIRPERSON: I believe that Commissioner Duncan has a question for clarification.
12090 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Actually, I just wanted to mention, in response to the last couple of questions that I asked Mr. Reitmayer, in particular, that you realize ‑‑
12091 I just wanted to make sure that you understood that the reason the amount of the profit on the transaction is coming up is because the system is being sold in its first licence term.
12092 I just wanted to clarify that, to make sure I had made that clear.
12093 MR. REITMAYER: I do, and I certainly ‑‑ the number of references that I made to other transactions have occurred within a similar situation.
12094 So I do understand that, but I guess I would have to hearken back to the responses to previous questions. The timing of sales sometimes really is coincident with two parties at any given time, and it really comes down to situations, and opportunities, and necessities that exist in the market at any given time.
12095 It really, I think, revolves around all of those items.
12096 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: I appreciate that. Thank you very much.
12097 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner Williams.
12098 COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS: Mr. Reitmayer, in this morning's National Post, I believe, Ted Rogers stated that private TV is a very good business, and that profits are rising, so much so that a fee‑for‑carriage most likely isn't needed.
12099 I guess that just echoes some of the other comments I heard today that a fair price was arrived at.
12100 Would you agree with that?
12101 MR. REITMAYER: Yes, I would agree. It was fairly negotiated between two parties at arm's length. That's a fair price by definition.
12102 COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS: Thank you.
12103 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner Menzies, please.
12104 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Thank you. I have a couple of questions, with a bit of following up on Commissioner Cugini's questions.
12105 On page 14 of the copy of your oral presentation, at the top it talks about having the ability to draw content from a wide variety of sources, including your radio, television and magazine publishing divisions, and down further it says: "Channel M will continue to pursue its own editorial direction."
12106 I would like to understand how that will work more fully, in terms of what you mean by editorial direction.
12107 Are you just referring to news, or are you referring to choice of programming?
12108 In other words, will a smorgasbord of programming be provided from which Channel M can choose to serve the local market, or will Channel M be encouraged to make use of this programming?
12109 MR. STRATI: It is the former, Commissioner Menzies, and I will ask Renato to give you some additional information on that.
12110 It really is about the availability of resources and content.
12111 At Rogers we have various initiatives, which are to include and incorporate, and Renato can give you a couple of examples.
12112 We would work with Maclean's magazine, for example, in terms of developing content that would be of interest to Channel M and to Omni.
12113 But it is about making more available in order to locally make the decision and to develop the news content.
12115 MR. ZANE: Thanks, Alain.
12116 Under the umbrella of Omni's core mandate, being diversity reflection, in terms of local news, there are different producers who are responsible for each of the programs, but what we were referring to in the opening presentation was the opportunity to plug into a vast power grid of resources within the Rogers Media organization, so that individual producers can have access to the information and information gathering that is made available through this vast array of properties, which all have separate editorial management and separate editorial direction.
12117 For example, Alain alluded to publishing. Omni news people can have access to some of the research that Maclean's magazine conducts on a variety of topics. It would be the same with Today's Parent and Canadian Business.
12118 On the radio side, Omni news people can have access to some of the reporting that has been done by Rogers Radio.
12119 That is not to say that we would duplicate it or simply translate it, but they would have access to it.
12120 It is very costly and time consuming for a TV station to post, for example, a crew at a courthouse for the entire duration of a trial. Our reporters could have access to Rogers Radio reporters, who would inform us, for example, when a jury is ready to render a decision, and then we could send our news trucks to the location at that time, instead of having somebody posted there for the entire period.
12121 Currently, in Toronto, 680 News sends a reporter to the Omni newsroom once a week. That reporter looks at some of the material that Omni has been working on in the various ethnic communities and produces a weekly story for the weekend, based on Omni reporting.
12122 So it is, also, a two‑way process. This is what I am referring to as the vast array of resources that are available.
12123 We have had a number of joint efforts ‑‑ joint editorial efforts in which Omni has taken part.
12124 For example, the Health Care in Canada Survey is an annual survey of health delivery and issues related to both patients and medical professionals. This is something that we have covered in conjunction with Maclean's magazine and 680 News in Toronto.
12125 We partnered with Canadian Business Magazine on a survey of the best companies for diversity in Canada. Canadian Business conducted the detailed survey. Omni was able to follow up with interviews specific to, for example, people looking for work, foreign‑trained professionals who are having trouble finding work in Canada, and we were able to both benefit from that kind of joint project.
12126 At Rogers, during election campaigns, for example, we conduct editorial board meetings where it is a lot easier, for example, to invite Stephen Harper to an editorial board meeting, and Omni is at that table asking the questions along with Canadian Business or Maclean's magazine or 680 News.
12127 These are the types of things that we think would significantly enhance the kind of reach and access that Channel M reporters would have here in Vancouver.
12128 Again, returning to the Ottawa bureau, in Ottawa the Omni bureau is now working side‑by‑side with City reporters. We have a base that allows us to do much more for television than when we were strictly just the Omni bureau in Ottawa.
12129 So those are some of the examples to which we were referring in the oral presentation.
12130 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: How many people are involved in news gathering with Channel M now?
12131 MR. ZANE: I will turn that over to Diane. She will have the exact number for you.
12132 MS COLLINS: Our newsroom staff is 34, and those are reporters for each of the news groups ‑‑ Mandarin, Cantonese and Punjabi.
12133 We have six shooters, who also edit.
12134 We have three dedicated editors.
12135 We have an assignment team of three people, and producers for each of the shows.
12136 As well, we have writers for each of the news programs, and I have an assistant.
12137 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: And how many will there be five years from now?
12138 MS COLLINS: I would hope that we would be able to add to that. I can't say how many more. It depends on what the ‑‑
12139 I would say, probably, it would coincide with the number of people who are immigrating to Canada from those areas, how many more stories we have to tell.
12140 MR. ZANE: Diane and I had an opportunity to walk through the newsroom at Channel M, and we were all very impressed with the amount of work and the quality of work that the Channel M news staff currently does.
12141 The Omni newsroom consists of 42 editorial staff, not counting the camera people or the editors or the studio people. We plan to hire about 20 people in Alberta and we currently have a staff of three people working for Omni in Alberta. It's very hard when you walk through that highly efficient, hardworking newsroom to imagine fewer people doing the work they do.
12142 Again, our purpose is not to cost‑cut or reduce staff with some of these ideas. Our focus is on local service and we firmly believe that. What we are talking about is an enhancement to the kind of content that would be available to viewers in the Lower Mainland. And you cannot have good content without the right people in place. So it would be hard to imagine a smaller newsroom here in Vancouver.
12143 MR. SOLE: Commissioner Menzies, that sounded like one of my questions to them.
12144 Just for context, British Columbia and Vancouver for our television company is a work in progress right now. We have just been given a decision on the acquisition of City TV that, as Tony mentioned, will have us co‑locating technical facilities in Ontario, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.
12145 City TV, we have only been around for about 100 days. So I am in this very unique opportunity to tell you that in five years from now the Rogers television stations in Vancouver will have more than 35 people.
12146 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Thank you. I guess what I'm trying to ‑‑ overall, what I'm trying to get at is the extent to which people can understand. What you are doing is adding something. Let me put it this way. What you are doing is, what you are proposing is something in addition to what is done as opposed to something instead of.
12147 And I guess part of that is a question. There is an argument that ‑‑ you might even hear it later today that, for example, with the fire story it probably makes a lot of sense off the top of it. You don't need necessarily two cameras to cover a fire, but there is an argument too that says if you ‑‑ the fewer people you send to compete for something ‑‑ and news is something that journalists compete for because they want to do a better job than the other person ‑‑ that the fewer people that are competing the less ‑‑ the lower the quality of work that's produced.
12148 If you are on your own covering a fire you just need to talk to this guy, this guy and this guy and you go back. If you are competing with five other reporters to cover the fire you are going to dig a little deeper and work a little harder and at the end of that the public will be better served.
12149 So that's the issue that we are all trying to address in terms of how the public, how you can convince the public that this will provide better, more enhanced service as opposed to more efficient service.
12150 MR. ZANE: It is a good question because it's one that we wrestle with all the time in our various newsrooms.
12151 Our main focus is the various languages that we are producing these newscasts in. So in the case of the fire, yes, it would be nice to have that ability to be able to send three different reporters and three different crews to the fire, each one reporting Cantonese, Mandarin and Punjabi for example. But our main emphasis is on covering the stories that are of particular interest to the viewers of those communities. And while the fire is of interest there are larger issues that affect these communities such as integration into Canadian life. And we found, in our experience both at Channel M and at Omni, that it's been much more effective for our viewers' needs and desires to be able to focus on those stories that are not covered by the mainstream media so much.
12152 So what we have done at both Channel M in Vancouver and Omni in Toronto, is we have made agreements for pictures of ambulance‑chasing stories or late‑breaking stories with other mainstream broadcasters. So for example in Toronto we have an agreement with Global Television for breaking prime news. For example, we have the pictures of those things. Here in Channel M Diane has an agreement with CTV for those kinds of things.
12153 It's our experience that not only do our viewers reward us for this kind of work through loyalty and through ‑‑ we can measure it through our advertising revenues that are specific to these language shows. It would be bad for business if we simply translated material that came from some of the mainstream broadcasters or if we did exactly the same stories.
12154 If you turn on any of the morning shows here in Vancouver at the top of the hour or the bottom of the hour you see so much duplication and we do not do that. And we are very proud of that fact that we are ‑‑ we are doing some very different things.
12155 So our viewers wouldn't tolerate it very long. Our advertisers also happen to be our viewers and so we want to maintain those kinds of good relationships. And it's also important for us to point out that we do compete. We do compete but we compete with Fairchild and we compete with Talent Vision and some of the other ethnic broadcasters in this country. And so it already is a competitive environment on the linguistic side.
12156 Our news in Toronto currently is profitable and we think that's because our approach works, because diversity works. So if we were to simply focus on efficiency and news coverage we think that we would lose credibility and it could hurt our bottom line as well as the good will that we have developed with our viewers.
12157 MR. HAGGARTY: Commissioner Menzies, can I just add to Renato's comments that in Toronto, as Lindsay suggested, we have been working together with Omni and City TV and the news groups that are working together. There has been no job losses and there are no intentions to reduce the newsgathering services.
12158 We found that in fact City news stories have made it onto the airwaves of 680News and so our hope and expectation is that in Vancouver we would like to see the day where news stories that have been generated out of Channel M will make it to the airwaves of News1130. So where we will be putting our news sources and stories to enrich that news experience is occurring on platforms originating from Channel M.
12159 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay, thank you.
12160 Perhaps Miss Collins can help me with this one just on the same vein, but I promise I won't be repetitive about it.
12161 When you talked about having access to Ottawa and being able to access interviews done in Punjabi or other languages, just help me understand how that works because it sounds great. It would be a good addition to the programming and that sort of stuff.
12162 The concern might be raised that ‑‑ I have heard people in western Canada talk this way from time to time, that the questions being asked by somebody in Ottawa or Toronto might not be the same as the questions being asked if they were asked by somebody in Vancouver or Calgary. So that what you might be getting will certainly be more and that's good, but it would be kind of like turning on your ‑‑ you know, it would be kind of like if your local sports network just led with the Leafs every night. You need some local nuance and contextualization to keep it local and keep it ‑‑ and if you keep it local, I think as was said, it will be meaningful for people and work.
12163 How do you see that working? Will you be able to feed questions to the interviewer there, have an exchange before that?
12164 MS COLLINS: Yes, we would say that we would be able to have a live line. We would book a line to Ottawa and setup an interview with, and again for example, Ujal de Sandhu we talk to on a fairly regular basis when he is here in Vancouver. But when he is in Ottawa we don't have that ability right now without ‑‑ and again, incurring a great deal of expense because it is a very expensive ‑‑
12165 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: So your reporter here will be doing the interview?
12166 MS COLLINS: Yes.
12167 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay, that answers that question.
12168 MS COLLINS: Okay.
12169 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Just one other in terms of synergies and efficiencies. Does any of this affect your sales force or how does that work with the advertising sales as opposed to news people?
12170 I am not asking about job losses or anything. I'm asking how they would integrate.
12171 MR. STRATI: Well, there is three levels of integration, Commissioner Menzies, and the first one is on American programming for the national sales force. So there is a national sales force that we currently have so that's a bit of an easier one.
12172 But certainly for local, both local sales and national sales of ethnic programming the integration would be ‑‑ on the national level would be, you know, work from the sales forces here as well as the sale forces in Toronto. But on the local basis you would have the local on the retail advertising side here working in Vancouver and in fact working in each of the markets that Omni operates.
12173 MR. SOLE: Commissioner Menzies, I would summarize the efficiencies very simply to say that there are efficiencies in national representation when you have a group of stations across the country and there are very few efficiencies in selling retail to local advertisers both in ethnic and in the English languages.
12174 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Thank you.
12175 THE CHAIRPERSON: Just to follow up on Commissioner Menzies' questions I was going to ask about sort of job losses in terms of ‑‑ you may have touched on this already and I understand very well that in terms of news there are not. What about in other areas to the current Channel M staff?
12176 MR. SOLE: I hope I understand the question. It's a good question.
12177 Can I start with Vancouver or let's talk about Vancouver; that's where we are today.
12178 The television station, the City TV television CKBU here in Vancouver prior to our ownership, went through a reduction of staff. That still is true today and they were business decisions that management thought were the right things for the future of the business. That resulted in some job losses.
12179 Putting that aside, because we didn't make that decision, it is our intention that the people that are working at Channel M right now are needed, all and every one of them, and that with our new obligations to a new and revitalized City TV Vancouver, that for a period of time for our stations in British Columbia I think job losses are not likely on the horizon and, on the contrary, I think that to put Channel M online to meet some of the obligations for our renewal on City TV that we are likely looking at a modest increase in employment.
12180 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
12181 In your presentation today, and I know that you mentioned your Victoria news bureau, if you can ‑‑ and I am sorry. I may have missed the answer when you were giving it. And I was joking yesterday the CRTC are too cheap to pay for expedited transcripts so I have to get what I have missed now.
12182 Is the Victoria news bureau the same as located with the City TV's news bureau or is that separate?
12183 MR. STRATI: There is currently no City TV news bureau in Victoria. There is the CKBI which is the "A" channel station in Victoria, CTV station.
12184 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, sorry.
12185 Okay, then one question on the benefits. Now, I know that you ‑‑ as required you will be assuming the outstanding benefits. Now, it looks like only half of the original benefits have been spent and there is only, I think, nine months left in the original term.
12186 And I think you committed originally to 4.5 million independent and 861 in script and development and so I think there is maybe still about 1.5 to 2 million to be spent. So how do you plan to do that?
12187 MR. STRATI: That is correct, and we mentioned sort of that range of programming. So that's the benefit still to be ‑‑ some of the benefits to be spent.
12188 In terms of the licence term it did initially expire in 2008. There has been an extension to 2009 so it does give us more time to do that but we have certainly, as we noted in our opening remarks and as we still commit to, we will fulfil those commitments by August 2009.
12189 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. I wonder why they weren't spent or you couldn't spend it sooner, Mr. Reitmayer.
12190 MR. STRATI: I think ‑‑ I mean, I will ask Art to add but on one of them; for example, script and concept development is one. We have done that as well with Omni in Ontario. I think the opportunity that comes from spending on development is the opportunity for the licence fee after the fact.
12191 So I think if we take one specific example on content development there is that opportunity to spend and to work with producers now in British Columbia so that they can provide and work with who will be the local Patitosh, if you will, and others here in Vancouver to develop projects so that they can in a year or two or perhaps if they are ready now, access the licence fees from the B.C. Fund or other opportunities.
12192 So that was just one example, but maybe Art can talk about others.
12193 MR. REITMAYER: I think quite honestly when you look at it, if you take those benefits and put them out over the original seven‑year term that was applied for, you would see that everything is probably working pretty much in accordance with the original plan, because that was the licence as submitted and that was the plan that we took forward. So when you look at it, things are moving along to that level quite acceptably.
12194 The only one, as I think Alain indicated, there has been some challenges with allocating script and concept monies to projects that are worthy at this given point.
12195 THE CHAIRPERSON: Before I turn it over to legal counsel, I think we started off this morning by discussing here is another independent gone. What lessons should the Commission walk away with?
12196 Then what about from the perspective of an independent, Mr. Reitmayer and your ownership group. Would you do it again or if you were to carry on, would you do differently?
12197 MR. REITMAYER: If you took me back to 2001, we would do it again.
12198 Looking at it today, it is a different landscape. And I think really it comes back to what we started with, the lessons learned. I mean, it is lessons learned and landscape changed.
12199 The market has shifted dramatically from when the application was made back in 2001. And today would we look at it with the same eyes? Likely not.
12200 I mean, there has been a decline in the growth in conventional revenues. Programming, you are definitely seeing consolidation and the opportunity for buying partners don't exist that were there in 2001.
12201 So it would be definitely ‑‑ it would be a different type of application if we were to come forward. It would be a different type of application today than it was back in 2001.
12202 THE CHAIRPERSON: How would it be different?
12203 MR. REITMAYER: Oh, you would ask me that.
‑‑‑ Laughter / Rires
12204 MR. REITMAYER: I'm not certain. Certainly in the field that we are in, I think we would have to take a very significant look.
12205 I mean, there are different opportunities perhaps for conventional over the air television that would target totally different audiences perhaps, but it would certainly not be in the type of programming format that we would have applied for in 2001.
12206 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
12207 Legal counsel, Ms Pinsky?
12208 MS PINSKY: Thank you. Just to follow up on the questions relating to the outstanding benefits.
12209 With respect to the commitment to provide scholarships each year, I think it was a $30,000 a year commitment, has that been fulfilled?
12210 MR. REITMAYER: It is in process and yes, it is all fully committed. It is just a question now of going out through the years, because the agreements in place with the institutions that we have provide for specific amounts to be allocated to each given year.
12211 MS PINSKY: It was an annual commitment each year, that commitment ‑‑
12212 MR. REITMAYER: Correct.
12213 MS PINSKY: ‑‑ including this last year?
12214 MR. REITMAYER: Correct.
12215 MR. STRATI: At the time it was an expectation in the decision. It hasn't been detailed ‑‑ it wasn't detailed in the decision it was year per year, but certainly Art and Channel M has done that, practically speaking or in reality.
12216 MS PINSKY: I believe the decision, it wasn't a condition. It was part of the commitment package that was put forward and was reiterated in the Commission decision.
12217 MR. STRATI: Absolutely.
12218 MS PINSKY: Then just so that we can have an understanding, because I don't think we have this on record in terms of the specific commitments that were made and as they were spent ‑‑ we just have this rough estimate of the 1.5 to $2 million ‑‑ I wonder if you would ‑‑ perhaps it might be easier just in a written undertaking to provide for us just a short list of the commitments that had been made and specifically how they have been fulfilled and, if you can allocate it to each category, what remains outstanding.
12219 MR. STRATI: Absolutely. I know that Art and his team have prepared that and we have a spreadsheet and we can provide that undertaking.
12220 MS PINSKY: Great, thanks.
12221 Then finally with respect to the commitment you made to file various documents, one to resubmit the Appendix B and also to file the financial statements, audited where available, could you file that with us by the end of day Friday?
12222 MR. STRATI: Yes, absolutely.
12223 MS PINSKY: All right, thank you.
12224 Then when would you be able to provide for us the benefits document?
12225 MR. STRATI: I'm sorry, just one second. Sorry.
12226 MR. VINER: I think you should ask Art whether he could file all of those.
12227 MR. STRATI: No, I think he ‑‑
12228 MR. VINER: You have them?
12229 MR. REITMAYER: We should be able to get most of that to you by Friday but, if not, early the following week.
12230 It is a fairly short turnaround for us.
12231 MS PINSKY: Okay. So why don't we just have a firm date. How about Tuesday, the end of day. Is that okay?
12232 MR. REITMAYER: That would be great.
12233 MS PINSKY: All right. Then just to confirm with respect to the benefits, you have that document with you.
12234 When would you be able to ‑‑
12235 MR. REITMAYER: Yes. We will just put it in more complete form, additional information, so it is very clear, and we will provide that by Friday.
12236 MS PINSKY: On Friday?
12237 MR. REITMAYER: Why don't we do it all by Tuesday so it will be more useful, if that's okay.
12238 MS PINSKY: Actually, if we can have the benefits by the end of Friday, that would be great.
12239 MR. REITMAYER: Then Friday. That's what I meant to say.
‑‑‑ Laughter / Rires
12240 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, Ms Pinsky drives a hard bargain.
12241 Those are all of the questions from the Commission.
12242 Do you have any concluding remarks that you would like to add?
12243 MR. VINER: Thank you for the opportunity, Madam Chair.
12244 You know, I think the most important thing that can occur with the approval of this transaction is, as we have described, the continued viability of an extraordinarily important voice for ethnic communities in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland.
12245 I think the talk about the diversity of voices policy, but really in 2001 when the Commission granted this licence I think they went a significant way towards ensuring that there would be a diversity of voices. I think that it will be our role to continue to ensure that those diversity of voices continue for Vancouver and the Lower Mainland.
12246 I do think that there is an opportunity for multilingual broadcasting to begin to have the size and scope of other conventional broadcasters. We have talked a lot about the fact that television is a business that requires size and scale and scope in 2008 and beyond and as we approach, frankly, the digital realities in 2011,
12247 I think that there will be a significant benefit to the system if there is a multilingual broadcaster that is able to invest in Canadian programming, that is able to make a viable business from multilingual broadcasting and continue to provide an extraordinarily high service, programming service, to Canadians in languages other than English and French.
12248 I guess finally I would conclude that I think that there would be a collective sigh of relief from many of the ethnic ‑‑ all of the ethnic communities in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland who have, on the one hand, been delighted with the level of service that Art and his team have provided to them but who would like to see this channel continue in the hands of broadcasters who have the resources, the expertise and the experience in operating multilingual television services.
12249 Virtually all of the local organizations are familiar with OMNI, perhaps because in 12 years I have applied three times for licences and whiffed on all three. But we have certainly gotten to know them and they have gotten to know us.
12250 So I think if Channel M has to be sold, I truly believe that the audiences that Channel M serves believe that this important mandate is being delivered into the right hands.
12251 I thank you for your attention.
12252 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Viner. Thank you for all of your team.
12253 We will take a 15‑minute break and be back at 20 minutes to noon to start the next phase.
12254 Thank you.
‑‑‑ Upon recessing at 1125 / Suspension à 1125
‑‑‑ Upon resuming at 1147 / Reprise à 1147
12255 THE SECRETARY: Please take a seat.
12256 We will now hear the presentation of Communications Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada.
12257 Please introduce yourself and you have ten minutes for your presentation.
12258 Thank you.
12259 MR. MURDOCH: Thank you. Good morning, Commissioners.
12260 I want to thank the interveners who were scheduled before us. I think like a number of you, I am trying to catch a flight back to Ottawa to try to beat the snow if we can. I'm not sure we are going to be able to.
12261 I am Peter Murdoch, Vice‑President Media with the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada. We are Canada's largest media union, with 25,000 members in the media including nearly all of Canada's private broadcasters and newspapers and some television production.
12262 With me is Stephen Hawkins, who is a local President here with CKVU unit; and to my left is Art Simmonds, who is a national representative who services a number of broadcasters in western Canada.
12263 Let me begin by saying, first of all, that we of course were appreciative of the decision the Commission made regarding CityTV and CTV and the idea of trying to ensure that there was even a margin of independence in Canadian television and ensuring that consolidation didn't go completely out of control.
12264 So we appreciated that decision. We thought it was the right decision. Now we are here before you in terms of Rogers and Multivan, to also ensure that this decision does not cost jobs, diversity of voice, independence, news and a variety of other concerns which we have a tendency to bring before you on a regular basis.
12265 Our concern will centre around a number of issues, first and foremost of course ‑‑ and I know you have touched on it in your questioning ‑‑ local issues.
12266 We have issues around the standards, the principles, the division of newsrooms.
12267 We have some concerns about I guess what you were asking questions about in terms of the speculative process of the buying and selling of licences, what that might mean, and in terms also of trying to ensure, with all due respect, that the Commission holds applicants and licensees feet to the fire, which is an expression I have heard here over the years, but actually does hold their feet to the fire, not to sort of burning embers which occasionally is what we have seen all too often.
12268 Perhaps I might begin by asking Stephen to tell us a little bit about what is going on here locally and some of our concerns that we have here.
12270 MR. HAWKINS: Thanks, Peter.
12271 My name is Steve Hawkins. I am the local President at 830M. I have been working as a news cameraman for the last 24 years and the last 15 of that with CityTV. I represent 90 members and my members work as editors, writers, camera people, studio technicians and office staff at CKBU.
12272 I am here today to express concerns related to local news or the lack thereof and how Rogers' application has the potential to make a bad situation here in Vancouver even worse.
12273 Our concern is the potential for sharing local content between Channel M and CityTV. Vancouverites need the CRTC to ensure separate and distinct news‑gathering crews: camera people, reporters, editors, writers and producers, all those people that shape the news to ensure separate and distinct content between the two stations.
12274 In a modern TV newsroom, we all work together to produce material for the local news, from the assignment editor that dispatches the crew, to the camera person, the reporter in the field that capture the images and conduct the interviews, to the newsroom editor and the writer that review the field material and determine its usage in the program that ends up on your TV screen.
12275 We all have creative and editorial input that shapes what you see on TV and adds to the diversity of voices heard in the Lower Mainland. We provide Vancouverites with the information they need to make important decisions in our democracy.
12276 I would like to give you an example of what this means.
12277 On Monday there was a significant development concerning a major news story of interest to both English and ethnic TV audiences. It involved the case of Laibar Singh who is facing deportation despite his serious medical problems. CityTV did not cover a news conference held by the South Asian community which withdrew its opposition to Singh's deportation. Instead, CityTV ran a story utilizing footage shot by Channel M.
12278 This is a regular weekly occurrence. We have cited this example of an event that occurred this week while the Commission was in town.
12279 A reporter or a camera person exerts a significant amount of influence on any story that goes to air. Two different reporters will ask different questions. Two different camera people will shoot an event from different angles and record different aspects of that same event.
12280 Our example demonstrates that combining news resources is already taking place. Instead of different views of significant news events, viewers of the two stations often get just one.
12281 We are asking the CRTC to require Rogers guarantee separate news gathering operations. Anything short of that will mean fewer voices for both English and ethnic audiences.
12282 MR. MURDOCH: Thanks, Stephen.
12283 Let me just add a bit to that. There is a concern of course that footage itself is part and parcel, and indeed can at times be a key ingredient to news coverage.
12284 I can't remember the gentleman's name from Rogers that mentioned the idea of using and sharing CTV coverage. Now, when you start doing that you start having the same newscasts throughout.
12285 You know, if we took a picture of the Prime Minister making a speech and we had one camera right on his face and exactly precisely what he was saying, that would be one view. But if we had another camera there, a camera from behind him, and there were only three people in the room, that would say a completely different message although we would both be at the same event.
12286 Footage is something that is critical to the news view, editorial view, to diversity and to distinction. So we can't just have ‑‑ and I think and I believe in the Diversity of Voices somebody made this comment: We can't have ethnicity simply mean dubbing. Ethnicity requires a perspective, a viewpoint. It is not simply a matter of dubbing footage from other people's programming.
12287 I think it is incumbent on the Commission to ensure that that does not happen.
12288 We heard a lot this morning about how wonderful it is to have national news coverage and that very well might be so. Our concern right now is to ensure that the local Vancouver community has the kind of diverse and ethnic coverage that it deserves and indeed that it was promised.
12289 Let me say that we wonder what happened to Multivan's ‑‑ and this is the time of the licensing and I am going to quote:
"... nine news vehicles, two satellite trucks two production trucks to gather local news from the Lower Mainland of British Columbia".
12290 Apparently ‑‑ and we can check this out ‑‑ Multivan is now operating with few vehicles, namely one microwave truck.
12291 On its website it says:
"The local news events are covered by our team of dynamic, highly skilled and well‑trained reporters. Our reporters bring a live report news to our viewers with our high tech microwave truck."
12292 So we have the promises made, the commitments made, and we end up with one truck. This is what I'm trying to ask and encourage you to hold the feet to the fire on these kinds of commitments. It cannot simply be platitudes and sentiments. There has to be some facts to this.
12293 I might also point out to you that if we consider that to produce the English‑language daily news at CKBU ‑‑ and you will recall that indeed that programming was cut savagely just prior to the CTV purchase ‑‑ its bare‑bones news operating now requires ‑‑ and we have 20 newsroom operations, I heard some different numbers there ‑‑ two field reporters, six ENG camera operators, six ENG editors, one assignment editor, four writer‑producer news desk positions and one news producer.
12294 That's for a very bare‑bones news operation. To produce CHNM‑TV's three daily newscasts, its newsroom does not have 60 people, which would be three times what this bare‑bones operations, but 28. And we can kind of quibble over that number.
12295 So we have a very, very, very trimmed down already bare bones.
12296 I must say the comment which would we say is there any more reductions that can be done and somebody suggested that no, that would be hard to imagine, it has been our experience that hard to imagine becomes quite reality almost with every transaction involving the media.
12297 So we would ask you to ‑‑ these are commitments that were made at the licensing of 2001. Certainly those should be upheld. Otherwise, indeed we are in the process of trafficking in licences and we don't think in any way that should be encouraged, nor do I believe the Commission believes that.
12298 I want to talk very briefly about the standards, the principles ‑‑ the name is changing ‑‑ the idea of the division of newsrooms.
12299 As you know, our position has consistently been that this is a standard that has been set up by employers primarily, not by those journalists who are out in the field and do the work. It is in some ways practically meaningless.
12300 We do not ask doctors ‑‑ we don't have hospital administrators setting policies, standards and ethics for doctors. We don't have school boards doing it for teachers. These are professional standards. We will look after those, thanks very much. We don't think we should be subject to those of the employers.
12301 But primarily and most importantly is that the news is shaped by news gatherers. We don't have people on the Board of Directors out there interviewing the local Mayor. It is shaped by news gatherers. Unless there is the division within these newsrooms of news gatherers and the people who shape the news, the people who are editing as well and doing the assignment, that are camera people, all of those people that shape the news have to be completely distinct from their colleagues in a sister organization. Otherwise, we end up with a homogeneity of voices rather than a diversity of voices.
12302 We would ask you ‑‑ and I heard the questions today and I appreciate those in terms of how do we assure that. And we did get from Rogers some language but, you know, we have heard language before and we need something that in the decision will put their feet to the fire, will make sure that people hold up to what could only be described perhaps as platitudes and sentiment.
12303 We have to ensure that the Diversity of Voices is maintained and that ethnicity and the opportunity for a variety of communities to be heard in Canada is encouraged.
12304 I mean, we appreciate the Commission's view on this and we just need to say you need to be a little stronger in the regulatory process.
12305 I guess I might finish by saying we don't allow ‑‑ the Commission does not allow recycling of programming, rightfully so, nor should we allow the recycling of news in whatever shape. I think that is incumbent on you to ensure that.
12306 Our on the ground, which we try to bring you regularly, our on the ground experience tends to be very different from a lot of things that you hear from the owner/operators, and we hope that you can take our concerns with as much seriousness as you do theirs, even though I am quite aware that they have millions of dollars attached. But then of course the benefits, as we heard this morning, are huge.
12307 I realize they put money into the channel. There are some things they didn't follow up on, I think some very significant things they didn't follow up on, but the rewards, in my view, are not just simply the rewards of the market. That is speculative rewards and I know the Commission does not encourage that.
12308 I think in order to ensure that that isn't encouraged, we have to make certain that the new buyers uphold commitments that the original licensees had.
12309 Do you want to say anything? Stephen, do you have anything?
12310 Those are our comments and, again, thank you very much, Commissioners, for allowing us this position in the order of the day.
12311 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Murdoch.
12312 I should start by saying we do appreciate all interveners' participation and we do consider all of the submissions very seriously. It is not a matter of the fact of who is putting money on the table for benefits. That has no bearing on our consideration of the interventions.
12313 Now, after that assurance, you have said a few times holding their feet to the fire. So I pulled up the conditions of licence for Channel M.
12314 Can you give me more specifically what you want us to do? What COLs are you referring to? What exactly do you want us to hold their feet to the fire of?
12315 MR. MURDOCH: Well, let me say I think we read out just in terms of infrastructure, in terms of all those trucks and a variety of other news gathering things, we know that they committed to the Legislative Bureau and that Rogers has committed to it for three years.
12316 We see no reason why Rogers shouldn't come in and commit to that for a longer period of time. I don't know, is the Legislature going to disappear in three years? I don't think so. If that is a real commitment, let's make it a real commitment.
12317 Certainly the original licensees made it a commitment for the term of their licence. I don't see any reason why we shouldn't ask Rogers to make it for a longer period of time.
12318 I think that ‑‑ and I'm not sure that it is a condition of licence except that it is part of the rhetoric that helps the Commission and encourages the Commission to accept licences, which are promises about diversity, which are promises about resources, which are promises about the kind of programming that is going to be put on the air.
12319 As I say, these are wonderful and, you know, heaven, we support all of those sentiments. The question then is: On the ground, what has this meant?
12320 We have just told you, and Stephen has just outlined what this means even at this time is sharing between Multivan and the CityTV station. We have told you, and we have certainly said in our submission, the idea of sharing footage between CTV.
12321 What we see is homogeneity of perspective, a homogeneity of what is appearing on your screen rather than the diversity which was promised.
12322 THE CHAIRPERSON: I'm sure that Rogers will respond in Phase IV when they respond to the interventions.
12323 Are there any other specific commitments that you are proposing should be reduced to conditions of licence?
12324 This is just so Rogers knows when they come back exactly what they have to respond to.
12325 MR. MURDOCH: Yes. We did in our submission, of course, make a number of recommendations and asked a number of questions and, if you want, I will read these out.
12326 Is Rogers prepared to accept a condition of licence limiting CHNM from sharing more than 10 per cent of its news footage during the same week?
12327 Is Rogers prepared to accept a condition of licence with respect to weekly hours of original news and hours of origination information produced and originated by CHNM?
12328 Is Rogers ‑‑
12329 THE CHAIRPERSON: I'm sorry, what page are you on?
12330 MR. MURDOCH: I'm at page 17.
12331 MR. MURDOCH: Is Rogers prepared to accept a condition of licence under which its management of CHNM is separate and different from its management and news gatherers? We would emphasize news gatherers there.
12332 Is Rogers prepared to accept a condition of licence under which production resources, including but not limited to, reporters and ENG staff are not shared with other Rogers print or broadcasting operations?
12333 We have asked a number of questions and we asked questions earlier, you will see in section 75, that were not answered and I don't think have been clearly answered.
12334 Part of the problem we have here, Commissioner, as we have had them with others, is the devil is in the details. We need to know from Rogers precisely what kind of resources.
12335 I appreciate the fact that you asked them are there going to be layoffs. Hopefully, in a purchase which has meant this amount of money to the sellers and all of the kinds of opportunities that we have heard from the buyers, that it is more than simply stand pat or no layoffs and simply more than we will be able to now have local MPs be seen here on this channel.
12336 We are talking about local coverage here and that is our deep and prevailing concern, local news coverage with local reporters, local staff and local personalities to help encourage and grow the station. We want these stations, both these stations, to do extremely well. But we don't believe they will be provided that opportunity with any kind of reduction of news coverage.
12337 THE CHAIRPERSON: Mr. Murdoch, page 17 is a good list in terms of something specific to work with.
12338 I think you have heard today ‑‑ I know you were here ‑‑ when we asked the panel and their answers on whether the gain was excessive, the bidding process, concentration of ownership, the plight of small independents in the TV broadcasting scene, explanation on the workforce, staffing and news gathering and sharing facilities.
12339 So have any of your concerns and unanswered questions summarized on page 17 of your intervention dropped off as a result of what you have heard today?
12340 MR. MURDOCH: No. Let me just phrase it this way. I appreciate the sentiments that have been expressed by Rogers, but we have had other broadcasters ‑‑ CTV expressed exactly the same sentiments when it wanted to buy CityTV.
12341 So no, it is the details we need to know: Here is how much Multivan put into its resources, here is how much we are prepared to put into news gathering, here is what we are prepared to do in terms of a whole variety of ways with some numbers attached.
12342 The idea that well, we hope to generate some more advertising and we might be able to get some more programming from Ottawa is nice, but we are talking about the kinds of commitments that the original licensees made on this station. Let's get those back in focus and let's put some details to them.
12343 So I'm going to say that I appreciate the sentiment, but I think it is up to the Commission to ensure that that sentiment is translated into material changes on the ground.
12344 THE CHAIRPERSON: So are you expecting commitments first, not just numbers on programming expenditures, and you expect to have exact numbers on those and then have them reduced to COLs? Is that what you are expecting?
12345 MR. MURDOCH: I'm sorry, could you...?
12346 THE CHAIRPERSON: Are you then expecting commitments on exactly how much should be spent on, say, programming and then you expect those to be reduced against conditions of licence?
12347 Is that what your asking?
12348 MR. MURDOCH: Oh, I see, yes, expressed as conditions of licence.
12349 Sure. I don't think it is unreasonable to say we expect these number of hours of original programming, we expect this kind of separation and distinction in terms of news gathering.
12350 They have offered the Victoria Bureau, but we would extend that.
12351 I think it is feasible to do that, particularly, as I say, where the benefits ‑‑ and you ask, you know, is it a reasonable return or is it something more than a reasonable return.
12352 In my life, I will tell you it is something a lot more than a reasonable return.
12353 But certainly our view would be is that somewhere when these purchases are made, when these acquisitions are made, and there is that kind of rate of return on investment.
12354 And I think, Commissioner, it might have been to your question: What if we in some way said we want to ensure that all of that profit doesn't just go to somebody who invested $10 and gets $20 out of it, but we want to ensure that in fact a step has been made to increase the level of programming, to increase the benefits to Canadians not simply to the investors?
12355 THE CHAIRPERSON: All right. I am sure that this will be addressed again in the next phase.
12356 But I don't think we have ever done what you are asking us to do in terms of telling the broadcaster to tell us how much exactly they are going to spend and then to commit to them.
12357 It is not just a matter that it is precedent‑setting, but certainly there has to be some room for the business people to run their business.
12358 MR. MURDOCH: As I say, we want to see businesses ‑‑ our members work at these stations so we encourage healthy, profitable broadcasters.
12359 But at the same time, what we have seen is a number of commitments and then following the rhetoric, we had 200 people laid off at CityTV just prior to that purchase. We have had people laid off, 200 people gone at CanWest, all these people involved in local programming. And now I see there are people losing their jobs at Alliance Atlantis as well.
12360 So have you done it? No, you haven't done it.
12361 Should you do it? Yes, I think you should do it.
12362 I think we are losing some of the principles out of the Broadcast Act.
12363 I think and I believe the Chair has said it a number of times to us, well, maybe that is something we should be dealing with at licence renewals. Well, I'm not sure about that. I think this seems to be an appropriate place when so much money is changing hands and so few people are benefiting from it.
12364 It is not unreasonable to ask that Canadians and those people who work in broadcasting, and whose lives depend on it, also benefit.
12365 THE CHAIRPERSON: I can't think of any legislation in our country where we would require any employer to hire a certain number of people on their staff and have a specific head count.
12366 We have legislation dealing with adequate notice and things like that.
12367 Why is the broadcasting industry here different?
12368 MR. MURDOCH: We do have certain regulations in a whole bunch of fields about staffing ‑‑ airplanes and hospitals. There are things like that.
12369 But what we do have ‑‑ and rather than put numbers to it ‑‑
12370 If you wanted to say, "Never mind the numbers, we want to ensure that local news is gathered and produced" ‑‑ and we do have hours. That is something that the Commission does. We say, "We want this many hours of Canadian programming prime time," and, "We want this many hours of original news and local programming."
12371 We can do that.
12372 Does that require staffing?
12373 You know what? I don't know how else they are going to do it, although I am sure they try.
12374 So, yes, I think it is very difficult, particularly when a broadcaster might find himself, for a whole variety of reasons ‑‑ downturn in the economy, et cetera, blah, blah, blah ‑‑
12375 But we do allow the purchase of American programming. We allow a whole variety of ways built into the system for broadcasters to earn a rate of return.
12376 So on the flip side of that, we have a whole bunch of regulations to ensure that they have a very good opportunity ‑‑ I would say an extremely good opportunity, unlike most sections of the economy ‑‑ to earn a fairly solid rate of return.
12377 Why we wouldn't be able to say, perhaps with not putting a number ‑‑ you know, it's not the staffing of press, which is, "We need this many people to staff the newsroom." What we can say is, we want to ensure that we have this many hours of programming, and that number of hours will probably require, in our experience, to do it in any way professionally, a certain number of people.
12378 I take your point, but, as I say, what we have seen time and time again is the reverse. Where there have been no commitments, where there have been no challenges to purchasers, we have seen vast reductions in employment, but, more importantly in some ways ‑‑ or as importantly, at least ‑‑ are reductions in local programming. That's a fact.
12379 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
12380 Commissioner Menzies.
12381 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Thank you.
12382 It would be helpful, as we deliberate on this, in terms of what you said, if you could ‑‑ you don't have to do it right now, but if you could get to us some specific numbers in terms of the size of job losses that have taken place over the last five or ten years. Then we would have some hard numbers to work with.
12383 And if you have any examples of what was said before us, and then what was done, as you have explained, which you could give us specifically, that would be helpful, too, if you don't mind.
12384 That said, just for the record, what is your estimate of the number of newsroom jobs in this industry today versus a few years ago?
12385 What is the trend? Is it growing by 2 percent a year, or declining by 10 percent a year?
12386 MR. MURDOCH: I will let my colleague Mr. Simmonds respond.
12387 MR. SIMMONDS: I worked in television news and in radio news for many years before being in this job. I acted in news management, as well.
12388 The last job I had in television was in Edmonton, at the CTV affiliate. I had a job called Assignment Editor, and every day it was my job to assign cameras and reporters, and to determine what was to be covered that day for the newscasts ‑‑ who is going to do it, what resources are available.
12389 I left that job in 1987, so I left that job 20 years ago. When I left, I had 14 reporters and 10 cameras to work with on a given day, and that was pretty typical in terms of markets such as Calgary, a little less in Winnipeg in terms of resources, a little more in Vancouver, and certainly more resources in Toronto.
12390 If you go back to the newsroom that I left 20 years ago, you will see that there is half the staff in terms of generating news, in terms of reporters and cameras. They are doing it with half the people.
12391 If anyone wants to tell me that they are providing the same quality and the same number of stories, and covering the community in the same manner that they did 20 years ago, then I would strongly disagree with that.
12392 That has been the trend in the industry. Year‑by‑year we see erosion.
12393 And that is true in the newspaper industry. There are fewer feet on the ground covering the events that affect people's daily lives.
12394 Perhaps Peter, with some time, could come up with more specific numbers, but that has been my observation, and I have serviced television stations with newsrooms from Winnipeg to Vancouver for 20 years now.
12395 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: I don't doubt that is the case, but you have asked us to try to guarantee some of those things in a Condition of Licence. Wouldn't it be more appropriate for you to negotiate certain manning levels within your collective bargaining agreements?
12396 Why would you want us to do that when you have some influence over that process yourself?
12397 MR. MURDOCH: You are right, we do have some influence over that. To the best of my knowledge, we haven't yet taken a dispute over that, although I can assure you that if we did go to manning/staffing clauses, it would be a very long and nasty dispute.
12398 I think there is an obligation that you have under the Broadcast Act. The Broadcast Act speaks to employment. It speaks to providing Canadian content, and it speaks to providing news and information.
12399 It might be very well to sort of hand that responsibility over to unions and say: You guys take this over and do your best at the bargaining table with this, because we are abrogating that responsibility.
12400 We are saying no.
12401 And, believe me, we have had campaigns, and I suspect that we will have more in the future, to try to encourage broadcasters and publishers and a whole variety of people to ensure that Canadians are getting adequate coverage of their communities. We will continue to do that, with the help, by the way, of a variety of other organizations.
12402 When we start taking manning and staffing clauses to the bargaining table, you are looking at very serious and long disputes. Maybe that's what we should be doing. I suspect that the managers at Rogers would probably want to forget about that one.
12403 I think that you guys have a responsibility under the Broadcast Act to do what you can to ensure that.
12404 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Thank you.
12405 In terms of a couple of the discussions I had with Rogers when they were up, what specifically about some of those concepts ‑‑ the content sharing ‑‑ and you mentioned earlier the idea of only sending one crew to a fire.
12406 Can you give us any hard data, because these things are difficult.
12407 I am not saying there is anything inaccurate in what you said, but they are difficult to quantify, particularly for people outside the industry. What difference does it make really, in terms of service, whether there is one camera or two cameras or three cameras, apart from the fact that it is easier if there is no competition?
12408 MR. MURDOCH: I will ask Mr. Hawkins to provide an example for us.
12409 MR. HAWKINS: Yes, fire is not a bad example. I went to a fire not that long ago, a few weeks ago, and the first three people that I tried to interview were Cantonese or Mandarin, I am not exactly sure. It was in Chinatown, and it was an historic part of Chinatown.
12410 Had Channel M been able to dispatch a crew, they probably would have come out with a very different story on that spot news scene from what I did.
12411 I went the historic route. It was an area that had a history of arson. I had covered that story in the past, and I did a series of interviews going down that road.
12412 I wasn't in a position ‑‑ I didn't have a reporter with me to go down the road of trying to find the people who were out of a home as a result of that fire.
12413 So that is a spot news thing that you think, "Why couldn't you just share the footage?" If Channel M had had feet on the street, they could have gotten a different view of it.
12414 Another example is, several weeks ago there was the Labar(ph) Singh candlelight vigil. I showed up to the vigil and I did the best job I could. It was a South Asian community event. All of the speeches were in Punjabi.
12415 I got translation from people I knew as it was happening, but, again, I think that Channel M, in their longer form news format, would have captured that event very differently than I would working for Citytv, which is essentially a headline news service, as I described back in August, what they are about now.
12416 But talking about Channel M, had they had feet on the street at that event, which they did not, they would have had a very different perspective on the same news event.
12417 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. And the example perhaps of being able to access the resources of other Rogers news outlets ‑‑ radio, magazines, et cetera ‑‑ is there anything troubling about that?
12418 Is there a Trojan Horse there that you are trying to point me to?
12419 MR. MURDOCH: There is a Trojan Horse in terms of the local ‑‑ the direct relation between Multivan and Citytv. We are certainly concerned about that.
12420 But I don't want to say that we don't think that Rogers brings benefits to this transaction. It does bring some benefits. Maybe its magazine and the idea of trying to set up a national network aimed at a variety of ethnic communities ‑‑ those are benefits, and we see those as benefits.
12421 So we are not, "No, no, this is terrible," but what we want to do is ensure that there is really not this downsizing and this homogeneity of voices at the local level, which we have seen in other transactions.
12422 Are there some good things? Is there an upside? You bet there is an upside.
12423 Is there a downside? Yes, and that downside could be very, very costly, not only to people who work in the industry, but to the communities which we purport to serve.
12424 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Thank you very much.
12425 THE CHAIRPERSON: Those are all of our questions, and we do appreciate your intervention and you coming all this way to participate. I am sure it is not only because Vancouver is a place that everyone wants to come to.
12426 Have a safe journey home. Thank you.
12427 MR. MURDOCH: Thank you, Commissioners. You too.
12428 THE CHAIRPERSON: I'm sorry, my mistake. Legal counsel has some questions.
12429 MS PINSKY: Commissioner Menzies asked you to provide some information, and I just wanted to ask you when you would be in a position to file it.
12430 MR. MURDOCH: Let me just say that providing information on job losses, particularly as it relates to news is very difficult for us to get a hold of. What we can do is ask our locals to tell us, you know, how many jobs ‑‑ people they have lost at this station or that station, and we will do that. That takes a period of time. As you know, people are working on the job. We don't have that data.
12431 Statistics Canada, I think, or HRSD has some data but when we have looked at that data we are not sure how they are counting or who they are counting. So it's very difficult. We want to count people who are on the ground working as news gatherers.
12432 And just anecdotally there are very few broadcasters and maybe one newspaper in this country that has seen an increase in their newsrooms and staffing. So have there been some winners? There have been a couple of winners in broadcasting there is no question about it, but a lot of the stations have seen fairly serious ‑‑ so I will try my best to get that to you and with some reliability. I think that's the one thing that's a question, but we will do a survey.
12433 And so I would say I will try and ‑‑ is two weeks too long, two or three weeks still? Let me see what I can do.
12434 I see.
‑‑‑ Laughter / Rires
12435 MR. MURDOCH: I will try my best, you know, and I hope I can get you some serious numbers for that.
12436 THE CHAIRPERSON: How much information do you think you can get us by Friday?
12437 MR. MURDOCH: By this coming Friday?
12438 THE CHAIRPERSON: We ‑‑ yes.
12439 MR. MURDOCH: I will do my best. I will make a try, and I can't tell you precisely. It is easier for me to tell you and you have already seen some of the data, I believe, in terms of you know public announcements and press releases and news stories. You have already seen some of those. So it's not going to come as a big surprise. But to get hard data across the country I will try. I will put out a call today and see what I can do. I can only tell you I will try my best.
12440 You know, we are not ‑‑ unfortunately I only wish that academic schools of journalism, radio and broadcast schools of ‑‑ all these people who are encouraging young Canadians to come into this profession, we should have some idea about what job opportunities are and what job losses have been and unfortunately that kind of research data is not available. And the idea that it's now a necessity of the labour unions to provide that data rather than ‑‑ anyway, I will do my best. I'm just whining now but I will do my best.
12441 MS PINSKY: Okay, thank you. And then we will provide Rogers an opportunity to file any additional comments they may have solely in relation to that additional information within ‑‑ you said Friday, so by the following Thursday.
12442 MR. MURDOCH: Okay. I will do my best.
12443 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, and Mr. Murdoch, if you find that it's just a task that is not going to be very meaningful given the short timeline, you can simply file that as well and say, you know, the information that we can gather within such a short period of time is ‑‑ or you just can't do it.
12444 MR. MURDOCH: Right.
12445 THE CHAIRPERSON: And that's acceptable too because we realize that it is a short timeframe but we have some ‑‑
12446 MR. MURDOCH: Right.
12447 THE CHAIRPERSON: ‑‑ tight time deadlines to work in.
12448 MR. MURDOCH: I'm not ‑‑ you know I'm not afraid of saying I can't do it.
12449 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
12450 MR. MURDOCH: So I'm not saying I can't do it.
12451 But I just put you on notice if we, you know, take a station for instance like BCTV here, the Global television station here, I think it's probably seen an addition but if we go through CanWest television stations across the country you will see communities that used to be served by local news gatherers and by local news teams have been reduced. So there have been some winners and losers and what our concern is there shouldn't be a community in Canada that is a loser because supposedly these stations are licensed as licensed groups but come as individual stations.
12452 Anyway, we will try our best.
12453 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, again.
12454 THE SECRETARY: I would now ask Adelina Suvagau, Vancouver Multicultural Society, Canadian Immigrant Magazine and Mason Loh to come to the presentation table.
12455 MS SUVAGAU: Shall I start?
12456 THE SECRETARY: Please introduce yourself and you have 10 minutes.
12457 MS SUVAGAU: Yes, my name is Adelina Suvagau. I am an independent producer with the Channel M for the past four years. My experience in television production is over 18 years and I am also a member of Channel M Advisory Council. The Channel M Advisory Council currently has nine members who are well recognized for their contribution and commitment to the community.
12458 Last year I was awarded for the cultural promoter award by the Romanian Community Centre in Vancouver for my contribution to the culture and promotion of Romanian image in Vancouver and Canada. My experience with Channel M is great and it's based on a professional appreciation and respect for high standards in television production.
12459 I'm here today to support Rogers' application to acquire Channel M station. In 1996 when I immigrated to Vancouver one of the first industry meetings I attended to was Rogers'
presentation for a multicultural TV station in Vancouver. They were preparing at the time to address for the licence at the CRTC hearing.
12460 I was thrilled with the possibility to be an active part of a multicultural TV station in Vancouver and become a voice for the Romanian community. My experience and the training in TV production were great, so an immediate continuation of my professional background in Vancouver was absolutely amazing, an exceptional opportunity.
12461 Unfortunately, Rogers wasn't successful at that time and didn't get the licence for a multicultural TV station in Vancouver. Personally, I was devastated but I never gave up. To be hired in any local TV station you needed to have more than the talent and the expertise. You needed to speak really good English language from a journalistic point of view so my chances were not too good.
12462 So I went back to school. I graduated from the film school and from multimedia school and I gained more control on a technical level as well.
12463 In 2002 Channel M got the licence for a multicultural TV station in Vancouver. When I approached Channel M in 2003 the station was broadcasting at the time a Romanian television show acquired from Toronto but Channel M's executives encouraged me to produce a local television show in the same language. Even though the Romanian community is not a large community they were looking for local exposure.
12464 In that way I started a 52‑episode contract with Channel M which continued until today. So I am in my fifth season. Each season has 52 episodes. It's a continuous production.
12465 In June 2007 the Alberta ethnic licences were awarded to OMNI Television, which establishes itself as an interregional ethnic broadcaster with the potential for a national distribution platform. As an independent producer I believe in the importance of our national expansion and interaction.
12466 In the show I am producing for the past four years I try to expand the national. So I travelled each time I had a chance or my husband had a conference from one city to another city, and I feature in my show Romanian communities from Alberta, from Edmonton, Calgary, Ottawa, Montreal and Victoria all the time.
12467 I felt like it's very important that an ethnic show will reflect more than the activities. Local activities will unite and celebrate the Romanian success across the country. So other communities across Canada learn about this opportunity with the shows. So they were very happy to have a one‑hour special during the show I was producing.
12468 Unfortunately, financially I wasn't able to assure a continuous communication with all the Romanians across Canada. Although then at times filming on location was too expensive for an independent producer, with Rogers' application to acquire Channel M in Vancouver I welcome the chance to the local ethnic communities in Vancouver and across Canada to connect permanently.
12469 With stations located in Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver Rogers will offer the access to information from multiple news outlets. This will allow all independent producers such as me to have a national approach and to interact with the same ethnic communities or to learn about other ethnic groups.
12470 Each time I had the chance I reflected in my show not just what happened with the Romanian community in Vancouver. I allow other communities who are not reflected in any independent show in any multicultural TV station available to be part of the show and celebrate their success and contribution to our Canadian culture and society.
12471 Currently, I am in development with Channel M for two‑hour documentaries. Sometimes it's very easy to find funding available and to finish such productions. With OMNI's already established highly successful production funding initiative in Ontario and planning to establish a similar dedicated source of funding for third‑language television production in B.C., I can imagine easily how big a potential it is to enrich the Canadian culture with new talented immigrants' production in a third language, a non‑English language.
12472 Sometimes when you move to a country you might have the expertise but you don't have the language to prove yourself and to produce in your native language and continue your devotion for television production or documentary production. It's a great chance; a great opportunity and I will continue with Rogers' media initiative to create at UBC a multicultural film production program.
12473 It is very important that the history and the ethnic diversity of British Columbia and Vancouver not be lost. Filmmaking has become a powerful medium for communication. Rogers' media investment in such a program will train filmmakers not just in filmmaking techniques but will help them to develop their intercultural communication skills and the capacity to tell stories in a non‑English language with the diverse needs of our multicultural society.
12474 After 12 years, since Rogers applied for the first time in Vancouver, I am meeting the same people. It's fortunate they have the vision. Now, I am an independent producer with Channel M. They grew as a combined ethnic television group with stations in four markets across Canada and I hope Rogers will invest in high quality Canadian programming and will serve better the local communities and will be at a larger audience.
12475 I have, if you allow me, just two things I would like to comment on.
12476 The speaker before us mentioned that Channel M is using CTV footage for the new segment. During the show I'm producing I'm like a small TV station. So I produce every week a one‑hour show which has news, travel, cooking recipes, know how to segments, arts and culture ‑‑ so lots of segments which I'm covering. And I am using sometimes the news footage from CTV but nobody is pushing me to use all the footage. It's available from the station. The freedom of the editorial content it's up to me.
12477 If I consider that the news which was already filmed, some news footage featuring a local story, it's already film and doesn't cost me as an independent any money and I have the access, that's a bonus because I can include that in my show without moving from one location to another to cover everything. So once I have what interests my community, then I reflect local and international news and if I have some footage that's a bonus. Of course it will be in Romanian language and my community will understand what is important.
12478 Thank you.
12479 Yes, I think ‑‑ yes, I mean it's a lot of talk but I don't want to take more time. Thank you.
12480 THE SECRETARY: Thank you.
12481 We will now hear the intervention of the Vancouver Multicultural Society.
12482 MR. NOORANI: You are probably expecting four people here. I confess, my name is Nick Noorani and I am the President of Vancouver Multicultural Society as well as the founder and publisher of the Canadian Immigrant Magazine, so actually wearing two hats.
12483 It's a pleasure to be here. I'm thrilled, first of all, as a Canadian immigrant to see the growth of ethnic media. In a discussion with Stats Can recently when I talked about ethnic media I was corrected. StatsCan now refers to it as the new mainstream.
12484 My story is where the story of Rogers would be if they got their licence to operate Channel M.
12485 A magazine that was started in the basement of my house four years ago was acquired by the Toronto Star a year ago, so I believe I can bring to this a perspective of someone who has actually seen his baby grow.
12486 So I want to go through a couple of things that we talked about.
12487 I am going to first address what Madam Chair brought up about, you know, when you talked about the chances of success when newcomers are entering an industry and whether the wrong kind of signal is going out by being ‑‑ to me, as a new immigrant, as someone who entered this field when there was no one in this arena, what has the Toronto Star acquisition done for me? I think it is more important what it has done for the genre and what it has done for the readership.
12488 So I am going to enumerate a couple of things as far as that is concerned.
12489 Number one, let's talk about the distribution of the magazine.
12490 When we started we were 7,000 copies in Vancouver, which is like a drop in the desert. When we were acquired, we were 20,000 copies. Today we are 80,000 copies across Canada. We had two editions, in Toronto and Vancouver.
12491 We therefore serve that many more communities. We are able to speak with so many more people.
12492 In addition, the production quality of the magazine has gone up. I mean, there is no way I would have, with my bent out of shape Visa cards, afforded a glossy cover. But that glossy cover has also allowed us to attract a certain type of advertiser.
12493 I understand when Rogers talks about the importance of national advertisers. I couldn't get those kind of advertisers when I was a Vancouver‑only publication. You would be surprised how many phone calls weren't returned what I called the national advertisers.
12494 Today our revenue has gone up five times from when we were acquired. But more important than that for me, what is heartening is the way that revenue is being channelled back into the product, whether it is investment in website, to talk to communities.
12495 Communities are very important to me. When I was in Moose Jaw three weeks ago ‑‑ and I didn't see anyone volunteering to accompany me there. When I was in Moose Jaw, they said why is a magazine only talking about Toronto and Vancouver? What about us as smaller communities?
12496 So what this does is the website will allow smaller communities to interact with each other and gain the lessons which they can collectively get.
12497 And that's what it's about. Immigrants don't want to know about only what is happening in Vancouver or Surrey or Richmond or Burnaby. I would also like to learn about what is happening in Waterloo and Kitchener. I believe that this acquisition will help me look at that.
12498 Let's talk about some of the staffing.
12499 Our staffing has gone up incredibly. We were 3‑1/2 people ‑‑ I say half deliberately because my editor was a part‑time editor because I couldn't afford a full‑time editor. We now have over 20 people working on the magazine. Revenues have grown, so has staffing.
12500 The other thing I want to talk about is what has the relationship with this Toronto Star done for me as someone who wanted to see this magazine grow. Well, for one, I didn't want it to be the Vancouver Immigrant Magazine. I wanted it to be the Canadian Immigrant Magazine. I wanted to get out of here. But I realized, like most entrepreneurs, I had limitations. I also realized that the access to what the Toronto Star gives me is incredible.
12501 Let me give you an example.
12502 One of the most important things ‑‑ we all read the newspapers and we know that one of the most important challenges immigrants have is jobs. A lot of immigrants get told, you know, you don't have the qualifications, you don't have the Canadian experience.
12503 Now, in association with Workopolis, we have now created a job board where corporations ‑‑ and I could give you several examples of corporations who have that in their policy, their diversity policy, where they like to recruit immigrants.
12504 This Workopolis, Canadian immigrant website, is a prime example of how the relationship with the Toronto Star ‑‑ which owns a major portion of Workopolis ‑‑ is able to ‑‑ we are able to use the facilities of Workopolis to help immigrants.
12505 The Toronto Star also owns a majority shareholding in Sing Tao and Metro. This allows us to start creating relationships with all of them. I am not going to take an article from the Toronto Star and put it into the Canadian Immigrant Magazine, but it does help when I have access to, for instance, a photo bank.
12506 For the longest time I used to go around with my editor carrying the camera slung around my neck and that's how it is.
12507 So for me when I look at what are the advantages of the relationship with the Channel M acquisition with Rogers, I believe it will be being able to talk to advertise, having access to research figures very much like I now have access to research figures because I am part of the Toronto Star.
12508 It will also allow national advertisers to come in, and I believe with revenue growing we will be able to support communities.
12509 So this is as far as my deposition on Canadian immigrant is concerned.
12510 Now, moving on to the Vancouver Multicultural Society, we are one of the oldest societies in Canada. We are 37 years old. Our mandate is to talk about what is it that it means to be in a multicultural society, to continue to have dialogues on diversity and multiculturalism.
12511 I can tell you, of all the events that we have held, we have invited a lot of mainstream media so‑called. No one showed up. Channel M did. That shows Art and his team's commitment to smaller organizations, smaller communities.
12512 In all my sleepless nights in Toronto ‑‑ because of the jet lag, nothing else ‑‑ I have had the opportunity to watch OMNI and I can see that they have the same commitment.
12513 I would be glad to see this grow and, from that perspective and from the other perspective I just mentioned, I 100 per cent support this acquisition.
12514 Thank you for the opportunity.
12515 THE SECRETARY: Thank you.
12516 I would now ask Mason Loh to make his presentation. You have 10 minutes.
12517 MR. LOH: Commissioners, thank you for the opportunity to speak to you.
12518 I will first introduce myself briefly and then I will talk a little bit about my association with Rogers and its quest for a station, multilingual, multicultural station in Vancouver.
12519 Third, I will state why I support this application.
12520 And fourth, I will talk a little bit about how the community perceives this particular application.
12521 On my own background, I am a lawyer by profession but I have been working as a volunteer in the community for close to 30 years. I was the Chairman of SUCCESS, which is the largest Chinese community organization in Vancouver and perhaps the largest immigrant and social services agencies, not just in Vancouver but in the nation.
12522 I am a Vice‑President of the Affiliation of Multicultural Societies and Services Agencies of B.C., short for AMSSA, which is an umbrella organization of all the immigrant services agencies in the province of British Columbia.
12523 And I have been on the board of various community organizations such as United Way of the Lower Mainland, and I am on the B.C. Premier's Chinese Community Advisory Committee.
12524 This is just a little background on myself.
12525 I have been working with Rogers to get a multilingual, multicultural station in Vancouver for close to 14 years. I started supporting them way back and went through three applications and now here we are. That is a long process, and in that process we have done extensive community reach during which Rogers has understood very well what Vancouver represents, how the community feels and they are still committed to doing this.
12526 Why do I support this application?
12527 There is only one reason and the reason is Rogers OMNI is the right broadcaster to run the station in Vancouver.
12528 Why do I say that? Five points.
12529 First, vision.
12530 Rogers came to me 14 years ago to tell me about the concept of a multilingual, multicultural station in Vancouver modelled on CFMT, what they had in Toronto. We didn't have anything like that at that time. I heard it for the first time and I immediately fell in love with it, not because particularly about the Chinese community, because the Chinese community had already two stations, TV stations in Vancouver, Fairchild TV and Talentvision. But those two stations were run by one operator. There is not a particular diversity of voices.
12531 But more so for the smaller ethnic communities there was no voice. There was no TV station, no broadcast in their languages. I was concerned about that and I immediately fell for the concept and I joined the campaign to make this a reality.
12532 So these people started way back then and they are still doing this, and they are the first one with the vision to do this.
12533 Second point.
12534 They have the experience to do this. Their CFMT station in Vancouver, when they took it over, it was in shambles. It was losing money; it was going to shut down. But they turned it around and it is a big success. On top of that, it has become OMNI 1 and OMNI 2.
12535 So there is no question they have the experience and expertise to do so.
12536 Third, resources.
12537 I don't think I need to tell you too much about Rogers' resources; they have talked about it in their presentation. But I do want to say that a multilingual, multicultural TV station is not easy to make it a success. It doesn't turn a profit quickly. It takes time; it takes investment. So it needs a broadcaster like Rogers to make it a going success in the long run.
12538 Fourth point, commitment.
12539 I think in most cases we like to support people who have commitment and Rogers has more than proven their commitment to this concept and this service in Vancouver.
12540 Last but not least, the people at Rogers OMNI, why I think that they are the right people to run a station like this.
12541 They have sensitivity. They have been running a multilingual, multicultural station in Toronto. They know how complex it is to run a station like this and they have done it very well.
12542 I was in a group with the Rogers people the other day and we were talking, and one of the people in my group ‑‑ in fact it was Adelina sitting next to me. Adelina was very modest and she was making a point and she said oh, you know, I have a Romanian accent, or something like that, to that effect, and Madeline Ziniak in the group immediately jumped on that and said there is no such thing as an accent in Canada.
12543 This is the kind of sensitivity ‑‑
12544 MS SUVAGAU: I'm sorry, it was in regards of reading at the hearing and not talking diversity. I said if I'm reading, I'm sounding even worse than when I'm talking directly.
12545 So, yes, Madeline did make that comment.
12546 MR. LOH: That is the kind of people I think, you know, with the passion and also the mission to make the station a success. It is more than a business to the people involved, people like Leslie Sole and Madeline Ziniak. They are the ones who will be running the show and they are the ones with the vision, the mission and the passion to do this and do it right.
12547 Last, I want to talk a little bit about the community and how it feels.
12548 I have not heard anything negative from the community about this particular application. People are generally receptive and positive about this application.
12549 The one point I do want to make from the community perspective is this point about national platform, how the ethnic communities all across Canada, how they share information and how they talk to each other.
12550 We know that Canada is a large country geographically and the ethnic communities, immigrant communities, are spread out across the country. They don't really get a lot of opportunities to talk to each other and share things. To have a national platform like Rogers can provide, it is wonderful.
12551 On that point I want to share one story with you, one particular example.
12552 It is on the Japanese "comfort women" issue.
12553 In the Second World War the Japanese Imperial Army took in hundreds of thousands of women across Asia wherever they invaded and occupied. They took these women as prostitutes, made them to serve the Japanese Imperial Army. That chapter of atrocities in history has not been properly addressed, but a few months ago there was a movement in Canada to try to do something about it and a group brought some of these still alive victims, women, to Canada. They were in their 80s and 90s and they have gone across Canada to talk about their experience.
12554 We could only hear about it when the people came to Vancouver, but they were making stories across Canada. They went to the House of Commons and spoke about their experience, but we couldn't hear in Vancouver what they were doing over there except for the newspaper stories about the reports the day after, or later sometimes.
12555 First it was just a few MPs supporting this, then one party and then more MPs and then the second party, third party. Eventually all the political parties jumped on the bandwagon and supported this and a motion was passed in the House to condemn this page in the history and asked the Japanese government to address this historical shame.
12556 But as a citizen of Vancouver and the people in the community here, there was confusion, even after the fact. It was a happy thing when the motion was passed, but there was confusion here as to what actually happened, how it got there.
12557 Eventually it became a political issue between two parties, certain members, where they stood on the issue.
12558 It is unfortunate that happened, but there is no question it was a good story. It was a story for human rights, a story for justice and fairness.
12559 But I just think about this and said well, if there is a TV station that was there following this tour of these ladies talking about their stories across Canada and then detailing how all the political parties supported this idea in the end and what was involved ‑‑ the English media, there was hardly any report on this issue. I think I only saw when the motion was finally passed, it was mentioned briefly in the media, but there was no background, no follow‑up on all this thing.
12560 So I think if we have a national broadcaster with a Bureau in Ottawa who can really report a story like this, which is very important to the community ‑‑ and it wasn't just one ethnic community; it was the Chinese community, it was the Korean community, it was the Filipino communities, the South Asian communities. It meant a lot of interest.
12561 So I don't want to take too much of your time. I know it's getting close to lunch time and people want to grab a bite.
12562 I want to say that I hope you will approve this application so that we will have a station which will inform and involve the multicultural communities in Canada.
12563 Thank you very much.
12564 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for your interventions.
12565 It is not just talk. What you have to say is very, very important to us.
12566 I will ask Commissioner Menzies to lead the questions, please.
12567 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Can you give me one primary reason each why this sale will make Vancouver a better place?
12568 MR. NOORANI: The number one reason I would think is that because it will knit this country together. You will have communities in Vancouver that would know about other communities, whether they are Calgary, Edmonton or Toronto.
12569 I think that to me is the number one.
12570 MS SUVAGAU: With Rogers' application to acquire Channel M station, I think this is a chance for local ethnic communities to interact with each other and learn about other communities as well.
12571 Think about newscasts with information and news comment, Vancouver, Toronto. I don't know if live is possible because I know that is very expensive, but as I was doing, maybe telephone conversation or, you know, receiving information from different locations.
12572 This I think will unite the entire Canada because multicultural TV stations, in my vision, is not a few separate ethnic programming shows; it is our desire to understand each other's culture, to live together. So a multicultural TV station needs to be connected and needs to have different points of interest across Canada.
12573 In this way we will learn more about our society, about Canadian culture and to integrate much faster in the society if we don't try to live isolated with what is happening just in Vancouver for our small ethnic community and we try to expand. Expansion is very important, in my vision, I think as an independent producer, to be able to express yourself and to learn about other cultures.
12574 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Thank you.
12575 MR. LOH: There is a headline in Vancouver Sun paper this morning releasing the Statistics Canada report on the labour force in Canada, the trend. It is very clear that there is going to be a labour shortage in Canada because of aging. We will need immigrants and we will have immigrants coming to Canada for the foreseeable future, 10, 20 years, increasing needs for immigrants to fill the jobs that we need to have people fill.
12576 When these immigrants come, it is important that they learn about Canada as quickly as possible, involve themselves and integrate into our society. A national broadcaster like this will help the communities and the immigrants to do that.
12577 An Ottawa Bureau will shorten the distance between Ottawa and the ethnic communities here in Vancouver.
12578 That is my answer. Thank you.
12579 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Thank you very much.
12580 That is my question.
12581 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, obviously your answers were all very clear and we give heartfelt thanks for your taking the time ‑‑ and I know you are all very busy people ‑‑ to come and participate in the process. Your contribution is felt and is very important.
12582 Thank you.
12583 THE SECRETARY: We will now proceed to Phase III in which the applicant can reply to all interventions submitted on their application.
12584 I would now ask Rogers Broadcasting to come to the presentation table.
12585 THE SECRETARY: We will take a short five‑minute break.
‑‑‑ Upon recessing at 1310 / Suspension à 1310
‑‑‑ Upon resuming at 1318 / Reprise à 1318
12586 THE SECRETARY: Please reintroduce yourselves.
12587 You will have ten minutes.
REPLY / RÉPLIQUE
12588 MR. STRATI: Thank you. I have with me Renato Zane, Diane Collins, Tony Viner, and Leslie Sole.
12589 Madam Chair, Commissioners, Commission Staff, we are pleased to be here in the last phase of this proceeding to provide our reply comments.
12590 We want to thank the supporting intervenors for coming here today and expressing their support for our application to acquire Channel M.
12591 We would like to respond briefly to the comments of the CEP regarding local news.
12592 We would note that Rogers Broadcasting has an excellent track record of providing new and innovative news programming for Canadians. We pioneered all‑news radio with our 680 News station in Toronto, and now have radio news stations in six other markets in Canada, including Vancouver.
12593 The core of our Omni stations is local news. We have daily local evening news programs for the Mandarin and Cantonese‑speaking Chinese communities, Portuguese, Italian and South Asian communities.
12594 In Toronto, where we operate both Omni and City stations, we have not reduced news at all. In fact, since taking over the City Toronto station, we have added an extra hour of news with "Live at 5" at five o'clock.
12595 There has been no homogeneity of the two news outlets. They have remained as distinct as they have always been.
12596 For the reasons given by Mr. Zane during Phase I, to do otherwise would jeopardize audiences, advertisers, and the bottom line.
12597 Channel M has aired more news than they planned to air at the time of their application. They planned to air newscasts in Cantonese, Mandarin, and also for the South Asian community, and they have done so. But in addition to that, they have added a half‑hour daily Korean newscast, which they work on with independent producers here in Vancouver, as well as a weekend Filipino‑language newscast.
12598 These newscasts have been enthusiastically embraced by audiences and advertisers.
12599 At Rogers, we have the knowledge and experience to produce high‑quality news that is appreciated by our audiences. There have been no complaints from audiences and advertisers about the news produced by Channel M or Rogers.
12600 To conclude, Madam Chair and Members of the Commission, we feel that we are accountable to our audiences and the local communities we serve. We feel that Channel M has done a very good job in terms of launching and providing a local news service, and we look forward to the opportunity to build on that and to work with the communities here.
12601 Thank you for your time and attention.
12602 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
12603 To follow up on CEP's intervention, I think they summarized their list of unanswered questions on page 17 of their intervention.
12604 Could you please give me your response to those items?
12605 MR. STRATI: I could go through them, Commissioner del Val.
12606 From our position, if we talk about staffing levels, they talked a lot about commitments at the initial application stage. Things have changed a lot from the initial application stage, not just in terms of staffing levels.
12607 At the time of the application, Channel M was proposing, for example, to do an English‑Speaking South Asian newscast. It changed that. It worked with the local community and realized that maybe a Punjabi newscast would work best.
12608 There have been a lot of changes, and technological advancements, and different elements. To talk about staffing commitments in an application process, and to talk about delivery, in our estimation, is not the discussion about local news.
12609 For us it is about local news in the community.
12610 Whether it is the different levels of staffing in the different components of the news gathering, news making, and news producing process, for us it is about the delivery of news and the audience interest for it, and the service to and reflection of the audience interest.
12611 We could certainly go through some of them, but, for us, the Conditions of Licence and expectations that were set out for Channel M ‑‑ not only have they been met, they have been exceeded.
12612 We think that it's a success story, in terms of serving the community with news and local programming. To then look at additional elements to somehow restrict or impose, we don't feel that is appropriate at this time.
12613 But I would be glad to go through some of them, if you would like, or specific ones.
12614 THE CHAIRPERSON: Other than your response, say, to their paragraph 76(a) ‑‑ other than a general response that you don't feel that any of those are appropriate or necessary, do you want to add anything?
12615 MR. STRATI: Are you talking about the 10 percent of news footage, or any of the elements?
12616 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, and in paragraph 76, where they are talking about the Conditions of Licence that we should be imposing.
12617 MR. STRATI: Again, Commissioner del Val, we have discussed these, and the reason we didn't respond to them is because we didn't feel they were appropriate Conditions of Licence or impositions.
12618 THE CHAIRPERSON: All right.
12619 Those are the questions that the panel has ‑‑
12620 Oh, I'm sorry, Commissioner Williams.
12621 COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS: I will be very quick. I know we are all hungry.
12622 Regarding staffing levels, an article in today's Globe and Mail, discussing profit levels in the television business, said that 8,200 people were employed in 2006, and with various cuts, primarily to television news productions, there were 7,900 people employed in 2007.
12623 In the Rogers Television Network, what percentage of downsizing, I guess, for lack of a better word, took place in the TV news production area?
12624 MR. STRATI: Commissioner Williams, to answer your question quite truthfully ‑‑ and certainly Leslie or Renato could speak to you as well ‑‑ we have significantly expanded. Certainly, we have the addition of Omni.2 in Toronto. We have the upcoming launch in Calgary and Edmonton, and we have, certainly, the acquisition of Citytv.
12625 So we have not reduced staff, we have significantly increased staff.
12626 COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS: So Rogers is adding staff, contrary to the rest of the industry?
12627 MR. STRATI: That's correct.
12628 I mentioned radio, but some of these stations were not new stations, they were conversions of existing AM radio stations.
12629 For example, in Calgary, and certainly in Vancouver some years ago, these were conversions of music‑based radio stations to all news.
12630 So it is a significant additional investment, not from an application process, but from an existing mandate and an existing station.
12631 COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS: Thank you.
12632 Mr. Viner, there was a fair amount of discussion this morning on the value of the transaction. In your experience, does Rogers typically pay, or have they ever paid a premium above market price when acquiring another broadcaster, particularly in a non‑auction type of transaction?
12633 COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS: Are you careful with your money?
‑‑‑ Laughter / Rires
12634 MR. VINER: Yes, we are very careful.
12635 I was about to say "Not to our knowledge."
12636 The negotiations into which we enter are open market negotiations. We try to buy properties as inexpensively as we can. We have never knowingly paid a premium.
12637 COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS: Thank you.
12638 That concludes my questions, Madam Chair.
12639 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
12640 One item of housekeeping is that we have asked CEP to provide the information that Commissioner Menzies has requested by the end of the day on Friday, which is two business days, and I think it is in everyone's interest to have this proceeding close as quickly as possible.
12641 So we would like to give you only two business days to respond, which would take it to the end of Wednesday.
12642 So you don't have to make anyone work on the weekend.
12643 Is that acceptable?
12644 MR. STRATI: Yes, Tuesday would be great.
12645 MR. VINER: Did you say Tuesday or two days, I'm sorry.
12646 THE CHAIRPERSON: Two business days.
12647 MR. VINER: Just to clarify the request, Madam Chair, is it to respond to materials provided by CEP?
12648 THE CHAIRPERSON: That's right.
12649 And they have the option to not file, if they don't want to, or have nothing to add. In that case, you will have nothing to respond to.
12650 MR. VINER: The answer is yes, we will do it within two business days.
12651 THE CHAIRPERSON: All right. I want to thank you all for taking the time to be here. We all know that this is very, very important to you and to the community, and the fact that there are so many of you present impresses us with that fact.
12652 We will very, very carefully take into consideration all of your submissions, and, please, pass on the Commission's appreciation to your intervenors who took the time to participate just to make the process better.
12653 Thank you. you.
12654 THE SECRETARY: I would like to indicate for the record that the intervenors who did not appear and were listed on the agenda as appearing intervenors will remain on the public file as non‑appearing interventions.
12655 Also, there are a number of non‑appearing applications on the agenda of this public hearing. Interventions were received on some of these applications. The panel will consider these interventions, along with the applications, and decisions will be rendered at a later date.
12656 This completes the agenda of this public hearing. Thank you, Madam Chair.
12657 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Have a safe flight home.
‑‑‑ Whereupon the hearing concluded at 1330 /
L'audience se termine à 1330
Barbara Neuberger Beverley Dillabough
Jean Desaulniers Sue Villeneuve
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