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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:
Review of the regulatory frameworks for broadcasting distribution undertakings and discretionary programming services /
Révision des cadres de réglementation des entreprises de
distribution de radiodiffusion et des services de
HELD AT: TENUE À:
Conference Centre Centre de conférences
Outaouais Room Salle Outaouais
140 Promenade du Portage 140, Promenade du Portage
Gatineau, Quebec Gatineau (Québec)
April 17, 2008 Le 17 avril 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
Review of the regulatory frameworks for broadcasting distribution undertakings and discretionary programming services /
Révision des cadres de réglementation des entreprises de
distribution de radiodiffusion et des services de
BEFORE / DEVANT:
Konrad von Finckenstein Chairperson / Président
Michel Arpin Commissioner / Conseiller
Leonard Katz Commissioner / Conseiller
Rita Cugini Commissioner / Conseillère
Michel Morin Commissioner / Conseiller
Ronald Williams Commissioner / Conseiller
ALSO PRESENT / AUSSI PRÉSENTS:
Cindy Ventura Secretary / Secretaire
Cynthia Stockley Hearing Manager /
Gérante de l'audience
Martine Vallée Director, English-Language
Pay, Specialty TV and
Social Policy / Directrice,
TV payante et spécialisée
de langue française
Annie Laflamme Director, French Language
TV Policy and Applications/
Directrice, Politiques et
demandes télévision langue
Shari Fisher Legal Counsel /
Raj Shoan Conseillers juridiques
HELD AT: TENUE À:
Conference Centre Centre de conférences
Outaouais Room Salle Outaouais
140 Promenade du Portage 140, Promenade du Portage
Gatineau, Quebec Gatineau (Québec)
April 17, 2008 Le 17 avril 2008
- iv -
TABLE DES MATIÈRES / TABLE OF CONTENTS
PAGE / PARA
PRESENTATION BY / PRÉSENTATION PAR:
CanWest Mediaworks Inc. / CTVglobemedia 1585 / 8993
GV Vancouver / Metro Vancouver 1817 /10469
Shantichandra B. Shah 1847 /10598
Gatineau, Quebec / Gatineau (Québec)
‑‑‑ Upon commencing on Thursday, April 17, 2008
at 0900 / L'audience débute le jeudi 17 avril 2008
8988 THE CHAIRPERSON: Madam Secretary...?
8989 LA SECRÉTAIRE: Merci, monsieur le Président et bonjour à tous.
8990 We will now proceed with the presentations in the order of appearance set out in the revised agenda.
8991 I would now invite CanWest Mediaworks and CTVglobemedia to make their joint presentation.
8992 Appearing for them is Mr. Leonard Asper. Please introduce your colleagues and you will have 20 minutes for your presentation.
PRESENTATION / PRÉSENTATION
8993 MR. ASPER: Thank you.
8994 Mr. Chairman, Vice‑Chairman Arpin, Vice‑Chairman Katz, Members of the Commission and Commission staff, for the record my name is Leonard Asper and I am President and CEO of CanWest Global Communications Corp.
8995 Seated next to me ‑‑ I can't believe I'm going to say this ‑‑ is it really you?
‑‑‑ Laughter / Rires
8996 MR. ASPER: That's not in the script; sorry.
8997 Is Ivan Fecan, President and CEO of CTVglobemedia and CEO of CTV Inc.
8998 Before we begin our formal presentation, I would like to introduce and present the members of our panel.
8999 To Ivan's left is Paul Sparkes, Executive Vice‑President, Corporate Affairs for CTVglobemedia. To Paul's left is Rick Brace, President, Revenue, Business Planning and Sports for CTV Inc.
9000 To my immediate right is Charlotte Bell, CanWest Senior Vice‑President of Regulatory Affairs. Seated next to Charlotte is David Goldstein, Senior Vice‑President, Regulatory Affairs for CTVglobemedia. To David's right is Barb Williams, Executive Vice‑President, Content for Canwest Broadcasting Division. Next to Barb is Chris McGinley, CanWest Senior Vice‑President of Broadcasting Operations.
9001 In the back row, seated on the far right, to your left, is Jonathan Medline, Vice‑President, Regulatory Affairs for CanWest. To John's left is Kevin Goldstein, Vice‑President, Regulatory Affairs for CTVglobemedia. Next to Kevin is Rob Malcolmson of Goodmans LLP, our outside regulatory counsel. To Rob's left is Stephen Armstrong of Armstrong Consulting. Seated next to Steve is Margaret Sanderson of CRA International. Next to Margaret is Nik Nanos, President & CEO of Nanos Research. To Nik's left is Bart Yabsley, Executive Vice‑President of Business Planning and Distribution for CTV. Next to Bart is Brian McCluskey, Senior Vice‑President, Revenue Management at CTV. Beside Brian is Kathy Gardner, Senior Vice‑President of Integrated Media Research and Corporate Promotions at Canwest. On the end next to Cathy is Errol Da‑Ré, Executive Vice‑President of Sales for Broadcasting at Canwest.
9002 It is a very large panel but, respectfully, we believe we have put forward the most comprehensive research on the public file in this proceeding and we wanted to provide the Commission with the ability to fully question our experts and the senior executives of these two companies who are in the trenches on a daily basis.
9003 I will now turn to Ivan to begin our formal remarks.
9004 MR. FECAN: Thank you, Leonard.
9005 We would like to begin by thanking the Commission for the opportunity to appear before you at this historic proceeding to make this unprecedented joint submission.
9006 It has been 15 years since the Commission has conducted a comprehensive review of the policies that impact all parts of the Canadian television industry: distributors, pay and specialty services and local TV stations. We thank the Commission for recognizing that the issues affecting these sectors are interconnected and we commend the Chair and the Commission for conducting this timely and important proceeding.
9007 Collectively, we should be very proud of the fact that this is the most successful broadcasting system in the world. It offers Canadians unparalleled choice and diversity. It is not perfect. There can always be tweaks to improve it, but it works. So we must be careful about deleting the interdependent supports that balance obligations and opportunities. The stakes are high and the results of your deliberations will have a profound impact on our collective ability to continue to fulfil the requirements of the Broadcasting Act.
9008 That is why we have set aside our fiercely competitive differences to come before you with a unified vision for the future of Canadian television: a vision that promotes diversity of ownership, a diversity of voices, consumer choice and, most importantly, a pride of place for Canadian programming and services in the system.
9009 As we will explain today, this is in sharp contrast to the proposals being advanced by the distributors. As Canada's two largest broadcasters, we are responsible for the lion's share of investment in Canadian programming. If the BDUs' proposals are implemented, our ability to make this contribution would be seriously undermined with nothing obvious to take its place.
9010 This entire proceeding revolves around two key concepts, fair access and fair compensation. The BDUs continue to ignore the ongoing structural problems facing local television which, contrary to what some parties have argued, remains the cornerstone of the Canadian broadcasting system. For our two companies local service is not a sideline but a fundamental part of who we are.
9011 With single‑digit rates of return, the lowest in four decades, massive technological shifts occurring, the extremely expensive conversion to HD and significant and often uneconomic programming obligations, something will have to give unless we can shape the right business model going forward.
9012 We believe local television must remain a central part of the Canadian broadcasting system because of its unique role in connecting Canadians to their local communities. For decades, local broadcasters have established strong ties with the communities they serve through local news and other programming, as well as on air and other support for charities and local organizations that depend on us to make a difference.
9013 The outcome of this review will also decide who will program the remote controls of the nation. Contrary to what some BDUs argued, if their proposals on genre protection and access are adopted, a few largely deregulated distributors and not the consumers will control choice. Let me count the ways.
9014 They provide the TV and Internet pipeline to consumers. Some already own conventional stations and specialty channels. But with the elimination of genre and access rights, they will rapidly become our principal specialty competitors while at the same time deciding our fate by choosing which of our channels get carried, in which packages they are placed and what they are paid.
9015 They will compete with us for VOD program rights, for VOD advertising revenues and will sell local commercials on U.S. specialty channels. So you see, no matter how strong or how well‑financed we will be, the system will be about the BDUs and what they want, not the consumer.
9016 While we firmly believe that the current regulatory model can be streamlined and must evolve, we take strong exceptions to the positions being advanced by the BDUs who it seems would prefer to dismantle the system with little regard whatsoever to the consequences. Their mantra seems to be unbridled competition for broadcasters, but no DirecTV for them.
9017 We embrace the future. We have come together with solutions. We look forward to working cooperatively with the Commission to rebalance our regulatory framework to preserve real Canadian choice for Canadians. To ensure this occurs, we believe that the regulatory framework that emerges from this proceeding must be consistent with the following four overriding principles.
9018 One, as section 3(1)(e) of the Act states:
"Each element of the Canadian broadcasting system shall contribute in an appropriate manner to the creation and presentation of Canadian programming."
9019 Two, carriage and packaging guidelines that incorporate the necessary checks and balances to ensure a future for non‑BDU affiliated broadcasters.
9020 Three, guaranteeing that consumers continue to have access to the widest and most diverse range of programming options at affordable rates.
9021 And four, recognition of the cornerstone role local stations play in achieving the goals of the broadcasting policy for Canada.
9022 We will now turn to the Commission's five questions.
9024 MS BELL: Thank you, Ivan.
9025 Chairman, at the opening of this hearing you indicated that parties appearing before you should be prepared to address five specific questions.
9026 The first question you asked was: What should be the size of the basic service?
9027 While our written submissions were silent on this issue, we support the Commission's proposal for a uniform or lifeline basic service for all BDUs limited to the following services: Canadian private local and regional over the air stations and the CBC/SRC, educational television services and other services that are carried pursuant to a mandatory order under section 9(1)(h) of the Act.
9028 In our view, this would guarantee that all Canadians have access to a range of essential Canadian services at an affordable price. You will note that we have not included the U.S. four‑plus‑one channels in this package. To be blunt, we don't think a lifeline package for subscribers in a city like Ottawa requires local news from Detroit.
9029 The second question you asked was: Should there be guaranteed access for certain Canadian specialty and pay services; and, if so, which ones and on what terms?
9030 The Commission made a landmark decision in 2000 to allow cable companies to own discretionary programming services on the basis that the strong access rules in place acted as a check and balance against those companies unduly favouring their own services. Access rules have been fundamental to the success of the Canadian broadcasting system and its ability to fund Canadian programming.
9031 Access rules will continue to be critical going forward, particularly when most Canadians only have two or three possible choices from where to purchase their television service, creating a situation where one BDU can have a significant impact on the entire business model each non‑affiliated service. For example, if Rogers drops one of our services, we lose 50 per cent of Ontario.
9032 We believe that existing analog and Category 1 digital services, which were licensed in very competitive processes that matched obligations to carriage, must be categorized as core to the system and maintain their access rights given the significant contribution to the production and exhibition of Canadian programming these services make. There is no doubt that removing such guaranteed access would have a significant impact on the revenues of these services and hence the ability to fund high‑quality Canadian programming.
9033 We would be pleased to detail, in response to your questioning, the potential magnitude of this decline in spending.
9034 We also fail to see why removing the access rules is necessary at all. Rogers and most other cable companies have commented over the last two weeks that their systems are robust and that there are no capacity constraints. If they have seemingly unlimited capacity, why, other than to give themselves more bargaining leverage, would the elimination of access requirements for Canadian discretionary services be necessary?
9035 The third question you posed was: Should there be any type of genre protection for guaranteed services; and, if so, should they be protected from other Canadian services or only from foreign ones?
9036 While on the surface it may seem counterintuitive, genre exclusivity for Canadian services creates diversity. This is clearly evident by the number of distinct services available to Canadians which ranks as the highest in the world on a per capita basis. Canadians enjoy a phenomenal wealth of programming choice and all but one of the top 100 programs on U.S. over the air television are licensed to Canadian broadcasters, while 194 of the 200 U.S. cable programs are available to Canadians.
9037 Contrary to what has been advanced by the BDUs, the wholesale elimination of genre protection will not lead to greater programming innovation or excellence. In fact, the more likely result of having more players with the ability to compete in any programming genre will be less diversity as everyone rushes to the middle and services go after more mainstream programming.
9038 In fact, you could say that it could well take the specialty out of specialty.
9039 In addition to resulting in a marked decrease in diversity, removing genre exclusivity would make specialty services even more directly competitive with conventional television for revenues and programming. Given the fragile state of conventional television and its unique role in the system, this would not be in anyone's interest.
9040 With respect to the authorization of foreign services in Canada, we believe the Commission needs to strengthen its policies in this area. Direct competition from U.S. services further fragments viewing and compromises the ability of Canadian services to thrive within their home market. Of equal concern to us is the fact that once foreign services are authorized for distribution in Canada, they can morph into entirely different services by shifting their programming focus and schedule and it is next to impossible to remove them.
9041 Foreign services now draw more than $250 million in subscription revenues a year out of the Canadian broadcasting system. Effectively, they are squatters in Canada. They pay no rent and make no direct contribution back into the system.
9043 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: Thank you, Charlotte.
9044 The fourth question you asked was: Should there be a fee for carriage for over the air broadcasters; if so, how much and on what terms?
9045 CTVglobemedia and CanWest have proposed a compensation for carriage model that has at its basis local reflection. We have proposed a rate of 50 cents per channel per subscriber per month. Approval of such a rate structure will allow us to continue to meet our obligations relating to local programming and it is fair compensation for the value to the BDUs that flows from the carriage of our signals.
9046 As outlined in the research we commission from CRA International, the decline in conventional television is not cyclical but systemic and is being felt here and around the world. What is true in most developed countries is compounded in Canada where we have less local signal protection and higher regulatory expectations.
9047 Our economic ability to make contributions to the system was clearly understood by Parliament in section 3(1)(s) of the Act. As a result, we need to rebalance the economic model or reduce the regulatory expectations.
9048 In 1971 the Commission defined the relationship between local television stations and cable companies as one between a supplier, the station and user cable, and the Commission made it very clear that one should pay for what one uses.
9049 However, 37 years later local television stations are still not compensated when they are carried by cable and now satellite providers, yet these distributors continue to profit from the value these stations add to their offerings.
9050 Our consumer research conducted by Nanos Research definitively shows that Canadians place a very high value on local service and local reflection and they believe they are already paying for those local services through their basic cable fees.
9051 The economic analysis conducted by CRA definitively shows that the economic impact on BDUs and other specialties is not the catastrophe that the BDUs predict.
9052 We note that some BDUs have erroneously stated the fee could somehow reach $8.00, $9.00 or $10 a month. First, it is important to highlight that we are not proposing that consumers be required to pay this fee. The BDUs have indicated they would pass this fee on to their subscribers.
9053 Second, assuming that this is in fact the approach that the BDUs take, the fee could only reach such levels if the BDUs apply an outrageous mark‑up. What we have actually proposed amounts to an average of $2.40 per BDUs subscriber in Canada per month.
9054 Indeed, our proposal seems in line with routine BDU rate increases that have clearly not led to a mass exodus of subscribers out of the system since the overall BDU subscriber base continues to rise year after year despite these rate increases.
9055 On the issue of distant signals, we are looking for a simple and straightforward approach. Canadians value these services, BDUs charge for them, and we should be able to conduct fair negotiations with all BDUs. The only way to allow for fair negotiations would be to require BDUs to seek the consent of the originating station before the station is offered and to restrict BDUs from carrying the second set of four‑plus‑one signals that are merely drawing tuning away from Canadian channels and adding no new programming.
9056 The final question you pose, Mr. Chair: Should BDUs have access to advertising revenues from on‑demand services or from local avails?
9057 While we believe it is important to explore new revenue streams, advertising is not a new revenue stream and is not growing. BDUs already have access to advertising revenues through many of the programming services they operate and they also have access to a large portion of the inventory in the local avails of U.S. cable channels to promote their own Internet and wireless services. Any further erosion of the advertising market will unduly hurt all broadcasters, but particularly local broadcasters, the ones facing the greatest challenges.
9058 There is no compelling evidence on the public file that the advertising pie will increase if the BDUs' proposals are accepted. Canada has a far lower per capita spend on TV advertising than the U.S., at $99 per person in Canada compared to $228 in the U.S. in 2006, and we are consistently below other English‑speaking countries as well, such as Australia and the U.K.
9059 Of course, broadcasters in these countries don't have the spill to deal with. There is no evidence to suggest that providing television advertisers with more choices results in increased expenditures, just more revenue fragmentation.
9060 With respect to advertising on VOD specifically, while we are prepared to discuss revenue‑sharing models, there is no rationale why BDUs should have access to such revenues. Broadcasters, not BDUs, licensed the rights to distribute content on this platform. Moreover, they do not charge subscribers to access this programming, which often diverts viewers from watching it when it is originally broadcast.
9061 As a result, advertising on VOD is likely to mainly shift advertising dollars away from conventional and specialty. The total pot does not grow.
9062 Finally, in no way can BDUs use economic need as a reason why they should be granted access to advertising. They are the healthiest in the sector.
9063 MR. ASPER: Mr. Chair, Vice‑Chairs, Members of the Commission, we are roughly at the halfway point in this proceeding but we have observed an emerging trend. There is a camp on one side of the debate that includes the unaffiliated broadcasters, large and small, the CBC/SRC, the guilds, the unions and the creators who are, by and large, advocating an evolution of and not a revolution in the regulatory framework. They seem to be unified in a voice that says the system is working, we can make it better, but diversity in Canadian reflection are served by ensuring fair access and fair compensation.
9064 And there is another camp, almost singularly populated by the BDUs, who claim that local reflection is not important. The system is too complicated and it should be dismantled. They speak of competition, but they are not interested in competition from foreign BDUs. They claim the consumer as their shield but have provided no evidence of consumer dissatisfaction with the Canadian system as it is or as we propose it ought to be.
9065 Over the years they have benefited from substantial regulatory incentives and deregulation. They have been given the right to expropriate our local signals and sell them to consumers without fair compensation for carriage.
9066 In the early 1990s the Commission allowed the cable BDUs to recover a portion of their capital expenditures related to the transition to digital through increased subscriber fees. This allowed them to build out very profitable distribution systems and then extremely profitable non‑regulated ISP and telephony businesses.
9067 Following the transition, they were allowed to keep these additional revenues in exchange for a very modest contribution to the Canadian Television Fund.
9068 Soon after, basic cable rates were deregulated and rates have increased dramatically since then. In fact, the monthly cost of basic cable has increased by almost $8.00 over the last three years or about 11 per cent per year.
9069 They have been afforded Canadian distant signals without our consent and the direct importation of U.S. network signals, both practices that no other country that we know of allows. They were freed from having to make benefit payments on transactions, which saved the BDUs an estimated $1.2 billion and has resulted in five companies, accounting for essentially the entire Canadian customer base, while broadcasters paid $800 million in public benefits over the same period.
9070 In 2000 they were given the right to own programming services which provided them the last piece of the value chain. We do not begrudge the fact that they have built a profitable business. We would just like the same opportunity.
9071 We also believe that all members of the regulated system should be making equitable contributions to the system. Given BDU dominance and regulatory advantages, we think the least they should be required to provide is fair access and fair compensation.
9072 As you may know, Mr. Fecan spent part of his career working in the U.S. network world. I have had some experience internationally as well in markets like Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and the U.K. We have each had a window into what is happening in the rest of the world and we marvel at how truly special the Canadian system is and, frankly, how potentially fragile the future could be.
9073 As Ivan said earlier, your deliberations will have a huge impact on that future.
9074 So tomorrow we will go home to fight each other in the marketplace, but today we have come together to fight for a shared vision of a truly remarkable Canadian system that promotes diversity of ownership, diversity of voices and consumer choice, a vision of a broadcasting system that remains distinctly Canadian and that will ensure a pride of place for Canadian services with local and national reflection.
9075 The Canadian system has the most local television and specialty services on a per capita basis of any country I am aware of in the world, resulting in employment for thousands of Canadians, particularly for producers and the creative community. It is a great success story and it is well worth continuing to fight for.
9076 We thank you for the opportunity to appear here today, and Charlotte and David will be co‑chairing our panel to facilitate any questions you may have.
9077 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, thank you very much for your presentation.
9078 As you said, this is indeed historic in that both of you who are normally fierce competitors appear together, so consequently we will treat you historically too and we will question you on the five questions.
9079 I will deal for fee for carriage. My colleague Michel Arpin will deal with basic package and access, and Len Katz will deal with genre protection and VOD. But obviously we will not be totally restricted to this but will generally cover the waterfront.
9080 Let's start out with the basic.
9081 You say on page 7 of your submission of January 25:
"... the impact of these ... extends beyond OTA broadcasters and the health of the specialty sector is in large part reliant on the health of the conventional sector." (As read)
9082 I have said, and you have quoted me as saying the OTA system is part of the cornerstone. You go further than saying cornerstone; you say that the health of the specialty sector is dependent on the health of the OTA.
9083 Maybe you can elaborate on that point?
9084 You are smiling, Mr. Asper.
9085 MR. ASPER: No, I'm not.
9086 MS BELL: Sorry. We are trying to figure out ‑‑
9087 MR. ASPER: We actually are trying to figure out what happens if he asks ‑‑ we have Charlotte and David co‑chairing here and you are looking at me when you are saying that.
9088 MS BELL: That's right.
‑‑‑ Laughter / Rires
9089 MS BELL: I know, that's why he's saying ‑‑
9090 MR. ASPER: So I think that's out the window, isn't it.
‑‑‑ Laughter / Rires
9091 MS BELL: I will start and I think also maybe Barbara Williams will want to chime in, I think.
9092 To some extent the specialty services do depend on the health of the OTA service in terms of the relationship that they have with programming. Conventional television is still the place where high impact Canadian programming begins and then it finds its way onto specialty networks.
9093 I think there is still a direct relationship there and I think that is the relationship that we were referring to.
9094 Barb, would you add anything to that?
9095 MS WILLIAMS: I can, unless Leonard wants to go first.
9096 MR. ASPER: Go ahead. Go ahead.
9097 MS WILLIAMS: I think it is important to remember that conventional television does have its own obligations and it necessarily requires its own resources, and so we do see that system as a unique stand‑alone system from that perspective.
9098 But there is no doubt that as programmers in both companies, I think we have come to see the opportunity to be efficient and effective frankly with our Canadian content in particular to give it more reach, to give it more opportunity across both platforms.
9099 So there certainly is a supporter of the Canadian system that is being benefited by having both platforms active and successful, but I don't think it takes away from the core point that conventional needs to have its own resources and its own ‑‑ because it has its own obligations.
9100 THE CHAIRPERSON: But there are players in the system who were just specialty who do not have OTA, Astral being the most prominent of them.
9101 Are you suggesting they could not make it a business case if the OTA sector did not exist?
9102 MS WILLIAMS: I think on the Canadian side what we have demonstrated is that we have shared content successfully across specialty companies in those cases, and you will often find financial support of a program between Astral, between Corus, between the specialty assets that either of our companies might have.
9103 So there is a respect cross‑company I think to be sure that the Canadian financing of programming is being supported on all platforms.
9104 MR. ASPER: Mr. Chairman, I think the issue is that a lot of the programming that the OTA broadcasters do as part of their priority programming obligations and others end up somehow being co‑financed or appear on specialty, and in a large part a lot of the specialty programming that they do gets co‑financed by over the air.
9105 So specialty may get a first window and then over the air, but it is co‑financed by OTA. And specialty couldn't otherwise afford to get that programming and produce it and get the same quality programming. The higher the quality programming is on specialty, the higher their revenues and the more of course they are putting back into the system as a part of their Canadian program expenditures.
9106 THE CHAIRPERSON: Would it be overstating to say it is a symbiotic relationship? They need each other.
9107 MR. ASPER: In programming, yes. I don't know if "symbiotic" would be the word, but they would certainly ‑‑ relationship.
9108 There is a support, a foundational support mechanism that OTA provides. So symbiotic, yes.
9109 MR. FECAN: And particularly when you look at high‑quality priority programming generally, I think you would find that local television or over the air television has the first licence fee, usually the largest licence fee, usually triggers the funds. And then not so much in the case of Astral because it is a pay‑per‑view service and The Movie Network is a different kind of service, but when you are dealing with normal specialty channels usually that is second window and they pay less.
9110 So you do need the over the air to create the high‑quality content that later has an after life on specialty.
9111 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Clearly we look and the whole system looks to OTA as being one of the key providers of local content. Just so we all speak about the same thing, give me your definition of "local content".
9112 MS BELL: I guess ‑‑ and the Commission doesn't have an official definition of "local content". I'm not sure if CTV would have the same definition.
9113 I think we would define "local content" as content that reflects the local community, whatever that community might be. It could be news and information programming, but it could also be other types of programming, in which case it either reflects the community through news and information programming or it's locally produced content that would be of interest to the local community.
9114 For instance, it could include cooking shows.
9115 Perhaps Chris McGinley could expand on that.
9116 MS McGINLEY: No, I think you covered it very well. Local programming is there to reflect the local issues and the interests to the communities that they serve. It could be through local news, it could be through local reflection, it could be through talk shows.
9117 Generally the primary goal is to reflect the issues of the communities.
9118 THE CHAIRPERSON: How local is local?
9119 I mean, I live in Ottawa. I have a Global station in Ottawa but it doesn't have Ottawa news. It has regional news, it has Ontario news, et cetera.
9120 So does Ontario qualify as local in terms of Ottawa or how do we ‑‑
9121 MS BELL: That's a good question that you ask.
9122 The licence we have for Ontario is actually a unique licence; it is a regional licence. So we are required to provide regional reflection as opposed to local reflection.
9123 I think, when you get into the smaller markets, the question of what is local becomes a lot clearer. I think, certainly in Ontario ‑‑ and because the station is housed in Toronto, which is the capital of Ontario, a lot of the programming that we would consider to be local to Toronto is also of importance to the rest of the province.
9124 So it would be local perhaps to a certain market, but it is actually of interest to a larger demographic.
9125 THE CHAIRPERSON: So local includes regional, or provincial.
9126 MS BELL: I think it can.
9128 MS McGINLEY: When we provide our local programming, the majority of it will be strictly local, being the events within the market, the weather, the sports‑related events within the local community, and then we will include regional, national and international as part of the full package, but we always try to make that relevant to the local market for which we are reporting the news.
9129 THE CHAIRPERSON: No, I understand, I am just ‑‑
9130 I told Rogers the same as I am telling you, I am going to give everybody an equally hard time.
‑‑‑ Laughter / Rires
9131 THE CHAIRPERSON: You say that local should reflect the local community.
9132 I am not trying to pick on Global, but it is an example that I know firsthand.
9133 What does local mean when you live in Ottawa?
9134 I guess the answer that Ms Bell gives me is, it means Ontario, because my local station, for which you want a fee for carriage, does not really give me Ottawa news, it gives me the regional news from Ontario, as assembled by Global, which may have an Ottawa component in it, but it is not Ottawa, or Greater Ottawa, or Gatineau, if I understand correctly.
9135 MS BELL: I think I get the point you are trying to make. Basically, there are two ‑‑ just to be clear, there are only two such licences in Canada that are regional, and Canwest has both of them.
9136 We would argue that, even though Global Ontario is in fact a regional licence, we do a significant amount of programming that is directed at the Toronto market, and there is also ‑‑ through the regional programming, there are local elements for Ottawa and the other communities that we serve through the regional licence.
9137 MR. FECAN: Mr. Chairman, their obligations are balanced. Their obligations and their licence states that they must be regional, meaning provincial.
9138 They are not allowed to take local advertising in Ottawa or other kinds of places.
9139 Their advertising is regional, as well, so there is a balance of obligations and opportunities.
9140 THE CHAIRPERSON: No, I understand that, I just want to make sure that we are clear in terms of their using ‑‑
9141 I think you have answered my questions.
9142 You will recall that last year at this time we came out with our OTA decision, and on the whole theme of fee for carriage we said that we were convinced we have the authority to impose it, et cetera, but we were not convinced of the necessity of it. I think we didn't know whether it was a blip or a trend.
9143 Now, I notice this morning that you said ‑‑ you were quite clear that it is a trend and not a blip, and that it is systemic, and you cite a study by CRA, which documents the fact that, indeed, this is a systemic trend, not a one‑time or a temporary phenomena.
9144 I wonder if you could explain what led you to that conclusion.
9145 Maybe you would want to call on CRA, but I leave it up to you.
9146 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I will start off, and then I will bring in the experts.
9147 We read the decision of the TV Policy Review very carefully, and when your statement came out that we would revisit the fee for carriage issue for local television, one of the first things that we did was to try and step back from, sort of, the usual suspects, and we asked CRA, which has done some broadcasting work, but is more familiar with what is going on in other areas of the economy, to take an objective look at what is going on with OTA; not just here, but to do some international comparative analysis with what is going on with OTA in various parts of the developed world, because we think that is indicative of Canada, to a certain degree, bearing in mind, again, as we said in the opening statement, that we don't have the same level of signal protection in Canada, and we have very different levels of obligation.
9148 What I would like to do is perhaps ask Margaret Sanderson to go through some of the macro stuff, and I believe that Steve Armstrong will have some specifics about what has evolved economically in the OTA sector.
9149 MS SANDERSON: Thank you, David.
9150 Mr. Chair, I would like to approach your question from two sides, the revenue side and the cost side.
9151 In the context of revenues, conventional television, as you know, basically can only rely on advertising as its revenue base. So we focused on what was going on with advertising trends in Canada, and also in a selected group of English‑speaking comparable countries, which essentially were Australia, the U.K. and the United States.
9152 Basically, what you see happening in Canada you see happening elsewhere in the world, in that total advertising gets driven by total economic growth.
9153 As the economy grows, total advertising grows.
9154 In the meantime, what has happened is that there has been an increase in the number of vehicles that are seeking advertising dollars. So, if you are a conventional advertising player, you, basically, are facing increasing competition for getting advertising dollars.
9155 Why is that, in essence, happening? Is that, as you say, a blip, or is it something that is going to be a longer term trend?
9156 If we think about why that is happening, it is basically technological change that has caused that to happen.
9157 Fifteen years ago an advertiser like Procter & Gamble, for example, that wanted to reach a mass audience, that advertiser had very few good substitutes to reaching that mass audience. Conventional television was its best ability to reach a mass audience.
9158 Now, today, if you are Procter & Gamble, you can use conventional, you can use specialty, you can also have millions of hits for, say, the Dove make‑over commercial that was on YouTube.
9159 In fact, Rogers, in its submissions in this proceeding, has documented the fact that it expects, within as little as perhaps two years ‑‑ by 2010, Rogers is predicting that internet advertising in Canada will reach $3 billion.
9160 At that point, Rogers indicates that that will either meet or exceed total Canadian television advertising.
9161 At the same time that you have this increasing number of options available to advertisers, so that they can put less into conventional than they did before, you also have technology changing the value of that 30‑second commercial, because there is increasing use of PVRs ‑‑ personal video recordings.
9162 Surveys of U.S. advertisers, in particular the National Association of Advertisers in the U.S., have indicated that as there is increasing use of these digital recording devices, the value inherent to the advertiser in that 30‑second commercial is in decline.
9163 That means there is going to be increasing pressure on the rate that a conventional advertiser can charge.
9164 That is the revenue side.
9165 Is there any way that that is going to be a blip? Is it going to go away? I don't think any of that is going to go away.
9166 If you think about the cost side, at the same time that there has been an increasing number of outlets that advertisers can turn to, that has also increased the costs of obtaining content. Everybody is now fighting to put content onto these different vehicles.
9167 So, as there have been increasing licences of specialty services and other types of options available, you continue to have rising programming expenses, as the conventional broadcasters, essentially, are bidding for content.
9168 Now, can they stop bidding on U.S. programs? Can they stop bidding on Canadian programs?
9169 I think that is highly unlikely.
9170 You do see rising programming expenditures in other parts of the world. The U.S. networks have shifted considerably to an increased use of reality television, and have reduced marketing expenditures and some other promotion expenditures in order to get their costs in line.
9171 So, essentially, the two trends are a flat or, possibly, a declining advertising base, which is your sole source of revenue, and, at the same time, you have rising programming expenditures and costs on that side, plus you have the transition to digital, which is a fairly substantial investment cost on the capital side. As a result, you get low profitability.
9172 The last two years, 2006 and 2007, have had negative pre‑tax margins for conventional television, which is the first time that has happened, and at least the analysts that follow the industry are forecasting that the situation is going to remain challenging. Both networks and other players are trying to get costs out of the system as best they can, and they will obviously continue to do that.
9173 MR. ASPER: Mr. Chairman, just to put a Canadian point on that, I think that I would describe this market, in particular, as profoundly more challenged than any other market I can think of in the world, save maybe ‑‑ actually, I would say in the world.
9174 There are a few that are similar ‑‑ and I will tell you what they are in a minute ‑‑ but I think the point is, it is not the same in every market.
9175 There is no doubt that if you go to a developing country, where brand advertisers are just entering and there is no BDU presence or anything like that, you will see that advertising rates on conventional media ‑‑ that there is still growth.
9176 But there are some very common threads in the conventional television market in the world. Number one is, the larger the presence of BDUs ‑‑ in other words, the more people that are hooked up to cable or satellite ‑‑ the more there is spill.
9177 Canada is the worst, but there is Ireland, where the large markets come over. There is Austria and German‑speaking Switzerland. And while I love Germany and Austria, it is tougher to be a broadcaster.
9178 The more there is broadband, you see the MSN and Yahoo! advertising presence ‑‑ the more there are PVRs.
9179 All of those markets are where it is the most challenged, and, of course, we face all of those things. We are still the only market where U.S. network signals come in over the border in the same language.
9180 Rogers has cited some data, and others have, which says that Canwest had a better year last year or something; but, remember, we have fallen off a cliff. We have temporary share gains against CTV, but they are likely not to increase much more.
9181 You can only have so many of the top 10 shows, and it is likely that probably both broadcasters will end up with four, five or six, and that is not enough to cover all of the other things that are affecting us.
9182 We have implemented some cost reductions, so that has helped out PBIT, but it still gets us into single‑digit returns on revenues.
9183 We had a slight potential win before us on the Part II fees, but after that we are kind of out of tricks.
9184 There is not a forecaster you can find around the world ‑‑ Price Waterhouse or Veronis Suhler or Wilkofsky Gruen, or any other forecasters that say that conventional TV advertising will go up anything more than somewhere between zero and 2 percent.
9185 THE CHAIRPERSON: We have heard a lot about the traditional regulatory bargain, that the OTAs got mandatory carriage on basic, they got the tax deduction advantages with C‑58, and they got simultaneous substitution; and, in return for that, they have the major burden in local content, prime time programming, drama, et cetera.
9186 If I understand you correctly, basically that bargain doesn't apply any more because your advertising revenue has been fragmented.
9187 That is really the part of that bargain that no longer is there.
9188 MR. FECAN: I would like to challenge that concept of bargain.
9189 When we talk to our American colleagues, they scratch their heads and try to understand why, as a country, we have allowed the importation of foreign over‑the‑air signals without the consent of those signals.
9190 If you are sitting in Rochester, you can't see a Buffalo signal.
9191 If you go on DirecTV, it says right on their website: Under federal law we can provide local channels only within a local television market. For example, we can provide San Francisco stations only in San Francisco and the surrounding area. Federal law requires us to respect the local TV market boundaries.
9192 THE CHAIRPERSON: Now you are getting into the distant signal ‑‑
9193 MR. FECAN: No, I am talking about, in Toronto, why do we have Buffalo Television there?
9194 THE CHAIRPERSON: But, in return for that, you have simultaneous substitution.
9195 MR. FECAN: We don't have permission from Buffalo Television to retransmit that. We have just done it as a country.
9196 And if you look through the files of the CRTC, you will see that we did it to help the BDUs, to help the cable companies build their business.
9197 Simultaneous substitution is a workaround. It is a workaround to protect the rights that we buy lawfully ‑‑ the exclusive rights to the programs that we buy lawfully ‑‑ and we have lived with that workaround for 30 years.
9198 But it is not some gift given to us, it is a partial workaround for the damage done to us by doing something that would not be tolerated in the free enterprise country of the United States of America.
9199 MR. ASPER: I think that the key point there is it is really only partial compensation. It is an attempt to somehow compensate but it does not compensate for what should be the case, which is the signals aren't here. They have been ‑‑
9200 THE CHAIRPERSON: No, I understand.
9201 MR. ASPER: Yes.
9202 THE CHAIRPERSON: So you own it, it, et cetera, and to protect those Canadian rights that you acquired we instituted the simultaneous substitution regime to protect you.
9203 MR. ASPER: Well, partially protect. I mean don't forget it's not ‑‑ we don't air at the same time you know.
9204 THE CHAIRPERSON: We are getting to that in a second.
‑‑‑ Laughter / Rires
9205 MR. FECAN: So that's not part of what I would consider a regulatory bargain.
9206 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
9207 MR. FECAN: Somebody sideswipes you it is partial compensation for that.
9208 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
9209 Secondly, on Monday you were here and I am sure if not, you listened and you heard Rogers say ‑‑ and I put exactly the same thing too that you said.
9210 I said, "You raise fees annually and nobody walks. So why if there was a fee‑for‑carriage do you think people would walk?" And they said, "Because we deliver more. We improve our system. We offer more channels, greater variety, et cetera. If you as the CRTC institute a fee‑for‑carriage the consumer tomorrow will get exactly the same as today and we will make absolutely sure that the consumer knows he is paying that because you impose it on, not because we, Rogers, wanted to."
9211 Now, let me put the question the other way around. If we impose a fee‑for‑carriage as you suggest, what does the consumer gain; to answer Mr. Lind's question?
9212 MR. ASPER: First of all, I would never underestimate the ability of a BDU cable company in particular to find a way to tell the consumer they are getting something when they are not and change their packaging.
‑‑‑ Laughter / Rires
9213 MR. ASPER: The other thing I can certainly say we would do is we realize that we are saying, you know, there is no new channel being added in particular but we are ‑‑ to some extent we are talking about retaining, maintaining, sustaining what they already have and what they clearly value and have said they would pay for.
9214 And I will turn it over to the researchers to discuss but I think that it's not a question ‑‑ I appreciate that your question is that there is nothing else new that they are getting but they are getting what they already value and they have said they will pay for. So it becomes a question to me really of marketing and packaging this whole change in regime.
9215 We think, first of all, we will be glad to help cable and the satellite in that endeavour. We have presence on the ground. We have people who are connected to the community all throughout our organizations and I don't see why that's the most relevant question.
9216 MR. FECAN: There is no question people value their local television. I think that's very clearly demonstrated. They also believe they are currently paying for it which also our research indicated. Maybe this would be a good time to go to that.
9217 MR. NANOS: Yes, so Nanos Research was retained to collect the views of subscribers, cable and satellite television subscribers related to local television and the value that they placed on local television. And when we asked; for example, you know on a scale of one to five where one was very low value and five was a very high value, local TV news kind of rated 4.1 three out of five; a second came specialty channels at around 3.4, followed by Canadian drama at 2.9 and access to high definition television at 2.8.
9218 But from my perspective as a researcher what was actually striking was the intensity of value that Canadians placed on local television because on the scale of 1.5, 52 percent gave local television news five out of five.
9219 And to put that into perspective in regards to what I will say who came second with their specialty channels, only 26 percent of subscribers gave specialty channels a five out of five.
9220 So not only is it first, it is first by a factor of two. It has a significant advantage.
9221 And what the research also showed that at about seven out of every 10, cable and satellite subscribers, 40 thought that they were supporting their local TV stations and that three out of four favoured local television stations receiving some sort of compensation.
9222 But what I found striking ‑‑ I do a lot of price sensitivity research ‑‑ was that when we asked subscribers to put a dollar value on what they would be willing to pay in addition to basic value, that average dollar value was $6.65. And we have to remember that whenever we do research the default position is no one ever wants a price increase. It's very unusual to ask consumers, you know, how they would feel about a particular subject and for lots of people to volunteer to say, "Yes, I would be pleased to pay more for a particular service or product."
9223 But in this particular case what I found quite significant was that a majority who volunteered were willing to support local television news directly in addition to basic cable and that the dollar value was actually quite significant.
9224 So what we see, quite simply on the one hand very high value, recognition of that value, and what I will say a willingness to support local television.
9225 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: Sorry, and if I could just ‑‑ Mr. Chair, just to dovetail with that because the premise of your question was their rate increases are attributed to value.
9226 We also then tested the elasticity of that price and as most Rogers' subscribers received in Ontario, this notice of effective rate increases as of March 1 where I can tell you the Goldstein family got hit particularly hard.
‑‑‑ Laughter / Rires
9227 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: But average Canadians probably ‑‑ average Ontarians probably got $2.00 to $3.00 per subscriber. I suspect if they had read their own research which Dr. Globerman had conducted they probably wouldn't have done this but either they don't believe their own research or they wouldn't have made the increases.
9228 What we have done, though, and perhaps Ms Sanderson can speak to this if you would like, is to look at that price sensitivity. But the very evidence of what took place in March gave me no more service in my household or anyone else in Ontario.
9229 THE CHAIRPERSON: No, I think you answered your own question. Whatever Globerman said, I mean they practiced it in the past and this year it doesn't conform to the studies.
9230 So let's leave that point aside.
9231 MR. ASPER: Mr. Chairman, the point is though, if I just look at that list you see NCAA, the college basketball sports pack, you know $26.95 and now it's $29.95. I'm not getting any more games for that and it sounds like David Goldstein likes that pack too.
‑‑‑ Laughter / Rires
9232 MR. ASPER: But you know there is a whole bunch of them. They just raised the price, period, for specific packs.
9233 And I think the issue ‑‑ the point is this is a marketing question and marketing is a very easy thing to do when there is perceived value, and I think that's what there is here.
9234 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Well, let's turn it the other way around.
9235 Would it make a lot of sense for us to ‑‑ assume we could grant you a fee‑for‑carriage of 50 cents per signal as you suggest and we earmark it in some way, we either insist that it is incremental over what you spend right now on local content and drama, let's say those two things, or we say it all has to go into local news, or in some way that in effect both you and we as a Commission could demonstrate we are doing this only for one purpose and that is to maintain that part of the system which we feel is under threat because of the fragmentation of the advertising dollars and a fragmentation of the whole broadcasting system.
9236 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: As outlined in our joint submission, we submit that the fee would be tied to local reflection as to be defined by the Commission.
9237 THE CHAIRPERSON: Put some bones on the flesh for me. What does that mean?
9238 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: One of our issues, of course, is that of sustainability. As the economic research has borne out, the obligations on these stations are particularly onerous.
9239 What we are not coming back, or at least not what we are presenting today, is ask for a reduction in those obligations. But what we would ‑‑ what we would hope is to come back at group licence renewal for each of these individual stations and give you an extremely specific proposal of what that means to the sustainability of local service in each of those markets.
9240 MS BELL: And Chairman, we have tied the ‑‑ we have tied this to local original programming and part of the reason why it would be difficult for us to put a number on that at this point is we ‑‑ as you can appreciate this is a pretty massive review of television policy in Canada and there may be other outcomes of this review that will have an impact. And I will just use one example, Chairman.
9241 If you did grant cable companies or BDUs the right to advertise in local avails that would have an impact on us. So in terms of making long term commitments and telling you where those numbers lie it would be difficult for us to do that today.
9242 THE CHAIRPERSON: I am not asking for long term commitments.
9243 MS BELL: Okay.
9244 THE CHAIRPERSON: I want to understand concepts.
9245 MS BELL: M'hm.
9246 THE CHAIRPERSON: I'm a pragmatist. I want to understand how things work. I don't want you to give us loosey‑goosey concepts.
9247 You say if local programming targets are not hit in a given month no subscription fee is permitted. Mr. Goldstein just said it would be tied to local content.
9248 Explain to me, first of all, is it going to be incremental? Is it over and above your current expenditures on local content? Those you know. We know them. So would the fee be over and above? Would it be dedicated solely to local content or something else?
9249 And then would it be paid to the network to go to the individual stations or on what basis would it be distributed?
9250 And lastly, what does it mean if local programming targets are not hit, no subscription fee is permitted? Does that mean there is a refund or what?
9251 And I would just like to understand how this works.
9252 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: Let me take your questions in reverse order, if I can.
9253 On the accountability issue, first of all we provide logs to the Commission. That was a simple recognition that whatever the commitment would be there would be a regular accountability and transparency to that, to the Commission.
9254 So we don't underperform and we wouldn't underperform, and therefore I don't think there is an issue about whether there would be rebates or whatnot.
9255 As far as ‑‑
9256 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, but if you do underperform then what? You have opened the door. I mean, you said that no fee is permitted. So since you state it in black and white you tell me what happens if you do not perform.
9257 MR. ASPER: Mr. Chairman, I think what ‑‑ as I understand it, there is an implementation phase coming after this hearing. And to be fair, it's hard and without a conversation with BDUs and how they ‑‑ you know in terms of discussing how and when they pay their subscription fee I think we don't have the exact mechanics of how that works, but we are saying the principle is accountability on a monthly basis, not on an annual basis.
9258 THE CHAIRPERSON: I understand that. We are talking at the conceptual level.
9259 MR. ASPER: M'hm.
9260 THE CHAIRPERSON: Are you suggesting either a refund or a credit or a debit for next year so next year you get less because you didn't live up to ‑‑ how does this accountability work in a way that actually is meaningful?
9261 MS BELL: It could probably work through a credit. I am assuming that is probably the easiest way of doing that instead of having an exchange of ‑‑
9262 THE CHAIRPERSON: So it's a debit for next year.
9263 MS BELL: Exactly.
9264 THE CHAIRPERSON: So you didn't live up to this year so next year you get less.
9265 MR. ASPER: I think given that we have got two business people who are sitting beside each other who haven't had a chance to discuss the specific mechanics if we could have a noon‑hour chance or a break chance to just have a quick conversation about it?
9266 THE CHAIRPERSON: No, you can come back in and answer but you appreciate, you know, you put a concept like this on the table I have got to figure out what are the consequences. So this is obviously one you might want to reflect on.
9267 MR. ASPER: I think a quick conversation could ‑‑
9268 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes. Go on, Mr. Goldstein.
9269 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: Well, I am going to ‑‑ I can only speak on behalf of CTV as far as the networks but I believe both of these companies spend local dollars.
9270 THE CHAIRPERSON: Come on. You are coming as a joint to joint ‑‑ so you speak jointly or else we have to listen to you separately. I am not going to play this back and forth.
9271 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: Our local spending is with local stations. And as we filed our numbers with the Commission the local spend on local programming is done with the local stations and not network.
9272 The second ‑‑ the second one is the dedicated to local content. That is something that we have affirmed in our proposal and if that requires a more detailed discussion there is an implementation phase and we can perhaps look at a definition of local content that would comfort the Commission.
9273 And the last, which is the hardest question to answer, is incrementality. And it's hard to ‑‑ it's hard to answer because if you drill into the numbers even with ‑‑ even though we are here jointly we are still competitors and we have filed confidentially on the public file what our costs are individually for local news.
9274 We will be filing additional information as part of this process that will give you the full scope on a per‑subscriber basis what that cost is. And frankly, you will note that it is just a fraction of the 50 cents that we have advocated. It is just a fraction of what we are already spending on local news programming.
9275 THE CHAIRPERSON: Oh, I appreciate that. You know, I mean, incrementality is obviously going to be an issue.
9276 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: So our primary ‑‑ and I know Mr. Asper and Mr. Fecan will want to jump in, but our primary issue right now is sustainability. Incrementality ‑‑ and I can't believe I am about to agree with Mr. Stursberg in this proceeding, but he made a very good case that there are two steps to this; that there is a sustainability issue before you can even discuss incrementality because that's the challenge that is facing local right now.
9277 MR. FECAN: Conceptually what we are saying is the foundation is cracking.
9278 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
9279 MR. FECAN: And the crack is spreading. We need to stabilize that first before we put another story, another floor on that foundation.
9280 And that's how we are approaching it. The money would go towards local programming and local reflection. Our licences all come up ‑‑ our local licences come up within a year and it was ‑‑ I thought that when we understood the other decisions that you would make that would affect potentially very seriously our local businesses that then we could come forward with each of us separately, because we will be applying separately for our licences, with what the regulatory proposed bargain is for that particular term being talked about.
9281 MR. ASPER: I think, Mr. Chairman, you know the local licences are quite a patchwork of different obligations sometimes relating back to historical circumstances. But there are some stations that have 40 hours or 30‑some odd hours of local programming. Others have 10 or 12. You know, obviously, the smaller the market usually it ratchets down but it is not always the case.
9282 So I think, you know, it comes back to the issue of what is the entire package of regulatory reform that comes out of this hearing that will factor in your decision?
9283 But I would just say we are not closed to the idea entirely of incrementality. I think we just have to see where all the chips fall from this hearing and we can, I think, have that discussion in more detail at a subsequent hearing.
9284 THE CHAIRPERSON: I notice the qualifiers both in your and Mr. Fecan's answer. So I gather the net result is going to be partial incrementality.
9285 To use Mr. Fecan's words, part of the funds you would use to fill the cracks and the rest you would use to augment the base, is that the idea?
9286 MR. ASPER: I think, you know, if we were to state just on principle what our view is, our view is that we have been wronged for a long time and we would simply like to have that wrong righted and we shouldn't have to do something extra to right that wrong. However, you know we understand that the Commission has a number of interests to balance.
9287 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
9288 MR. ASPER: There is a Broadcast Act you are regulating us under and there are other constituents. And that's why I say I think we are willing to have a discussion given we are ‑‑ later on as to where ‑‑ and whether there is a discussion about incrementality.
9289 THE CHAIRPERSON: Is it only local content that we are talking about or is there more to it?
9290 MR. ASPER: Yes, yes.
9291 THE CHAIRPERSON: So the fee‑for‑carriage would be in effect to ensure there is local content?
9292 MR. ASPER: Yes, we agreed on that, yes.
9293 THE CHAIRPERSON: In your case, Mr. Asper, could it mean that for instance that ‑‑ to take us back to an example of Ottawa, it could mean that we get an Ottawa local newscast out of this rather than a regional one?
9294 MR. ASPER: Are you saying that it would apply to Global Ontario in the Ottawa market?
9295 THE CHAIRPERSON: No, but I mean if we said part of it would be, to use Mr. Fecan's words, to fix the cracks and part of it is to amend and grow the local content, one of the logical ‑‑ one place would be taking Global ‑‑ I'm picking on Global, I realize, deliberately because it is the only example I know ‑‑ but we don't have a local Global newscast in Ottawa. Since you now get a fee‑for‑carriage that should ‑‑ conceivably could amount to the net result being a local newscast for Global in Ottawa. Or if not to pick on Global, City would get it and City would be able to do a Vancouver newscast which was just cut off and which we had a long discussion in this room with Rogers about that it should be reinstated.
9296 I just don't want to pick on you. I am just trying to elaborate ‑‑ an example.
9297 MR. ASPER: The only thing I think where one would have to bear in mind was that balance Ivan talked about earlier, which is you know we don't have the right to sell local ads. I think Mr. Fecan might have a view about that if we were to apply to sell local advertising. So there may be some issues that arise out of that because we don't sell local advertising even in Toronto and in Global.
9298 So you know how that might work again, I think requires a little bit of thought. But the principle would be because we are broadcasting in Ottawa that we would receive the carriage from that market. We could have a discussion about whether that means additional programming obligations there ‑‑ about what the revenue opportunity is there as well would have to be on the table.
9299 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
9300 Now, your proposal ‑‑ really, mine has four distinct components, the fee‑for‑carriage. It's a distant signal. The mandatory carriage by DTH in the areas where there is more than 30 percent distribution, and the simultaneous substitution for second four‑plus‑one signals so that to protect you from station shifting.
9301 Those to me ‑‑ it is not set out that way but those are the four key components of what you are proposing?
9302 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: That is correct.
9303 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. So far we have talked about fee‑for‑carriage. Let's talk about distant signals.
9304 I have heard from BDUs now saying essentially this is a bogus claim, that there is a system in place that compensates you and that distant signals are not allowed to be carried and they have to be blacked out unless you have been compensated and there is a compensation regime in place both for DTH and there for terrestrial BDUs. And so therefore via the mechanisms of payments through the CBA you will actually be compensated for it.
9305 Obviously, you don't agree. So since I have heard their story let me hear your side.
9306 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: First of all, I will begin by saying I think they think it's a very fair and reasonable proposition because they have the entire control in the system and we have no negotiating tool. I think you have heard from Mr. Charman at the CAB who gave a fairly eloquent detailed history of how he got to that position but it can't be characterized as a fair and open negotiation.
9307 So whatever fees ‑‑ and we saw several numbers that got put on the public file ‑‑ none of them necessarily go directly to the compensation that's going to the local broadcaster. And we can drill down through that with Mr. Armstrong if you wish and we can drill down through the damage if you wish, and we would be happy to do so. But what we are proposing to do ‑‑
9308 THE CHAIRPERSON: Just keep it at the 10,000 feet level. What is the damage according ‑‑
9309 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: What we are proposing to the Commission ‑‑
9310 THE CHAIRPERSON: ‑‑ to you?
9311 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: We read the public notice. We understand the Commission's desire to seek streamlining, regulatory streamlining. We are not sure that whatever the public policy principles that were that brought us to the distant signal issues still exist.
9312 And, frankly, we think it's time to allow this to go back into a fair commercial negotiation and that the Commission should allow that to transpire between the parties. The only way that you can do that is to allow us consent because otherwise it's not an equal playing field.
9313 THE CHAIRPERSON: How do we prevent the consumer from suffering in the case that you and the BDU can't make a deal?
9314 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: Well, I guess there is a couple of things to look at, and I may want to throw to Mr. Brace or others who may want to comment. But from a practical level there are other technologies in which other Canadians can watch some of this programming whether it's the evolution of PVR or VOD.
9315 And in fact it's interesting, and I think Mr. Asper and I were telling you about this earlier, you have seen actually a dwarfing of those technologies in Canada because of the distant signal issue. And so I think there will be opportunities for Canadians to see that programming.
9316 But I think you have to start ‑‑ where we have to start is about the integrity of the program rights that we have purchased and the defence of those rights.
9317 MR. ASPER: Just to go back to your question, we have said on the record we believe the damage is $93 million. I think it would be appropriate at this time to maybe turn to Mr. McCluskey to try at 10,000 feet to just one more time say ‑‑ we have had this discussion a few times ‑‑ to just say how we calculated that and where we came to that conclusion.
9318 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
9319 MR. McCLUSKEY: Actually, I am going to pass it to Mr. Armstrong because he did the calculations.
9320 MR. ARMSTRONG: Thank you.
9321 The $93 million estimate is based on a study that I undertook where we looked at each of the local ‑‑ each of the programs offered by each; CTV A‑Channel, Global and E! Television station in their home markets and then identified each occasion in those local stations' home markets when an identical program came in on a different television station, on a distant Canadian station, on a distant U.S. or it came in on the local set of U.S. four‑plus‑one.
9322 We attached a value to that viewing based on the local revenues of each television station. So we assigned a value in each market based on the revenues of each local television station and then asked the question: If all of that viewing were to come back to the television station how much of that available inventory could it sell?
9323 And we ended up at 24 percent as a reasonable estimate there of the amount. Based on that we were able to identify ‑‑ based on that kind of analysis we were able to identify a number of different impacts.
9324 In terms of distant signals, the impact of distant Canadian signals on those television stations it was $47.2 million; distant U.S. it was $15.4 million.
9325 The impact of identical programming coming in on the first set of four‑plus‑one we set at ‑‑ we estimated to be $21.8 million.
9326 And then in those situations where we identified viewing in a situation where we would have expected simultaneous substitution to have occurred we identified the impact there as $8.8 million.
9327 So that's how we arrived at the $93.1 million.
9328 And just to set that in context, the study that I undertook for the CAB where I looked only at the impact of distant Canadian and the second set of four‑plus‑one, I came up with a number of $80.1 million, and that is comparable to $62.6 million in the study that I undertook for CanWest and CTV if we just isolate the impact of the distant Canadian and the distant U.S.
9329 MR. FECAN: Distant signals takes money away from us on a revenue basis, and Mr. McCloskey is getting read to explain how that is so.
9330 But really what distant signals are used for, I mean, you don't really ‑‑ I don't imagine people in Edmonton really care about Detroit news or probably the Montreal news. They are used ‑‑ they use these things to timeshift.
9331 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
9332 MR. FECAN: And there is a direct connection, I believe, between the fact that these things exist in our country; again, without the permission of the originating stations, foreign and domestic, and the lack of VOD because typically that's ‑‑ you know, you would have the ability to watch something at a time that is convenient to you through VODs and PVRs.
9333 But in our country we have kind of stumbled into this distant signal regime which originally was put in place to help DTH and then cable, digital cable said, "We have to have it too." And now, you know, we are left with a revenue loss because of that, and that Mr. McCloskey can explain.
9334 MR. McCLUSKEY: The central problem with monetizing distant signals is the fact that advertising agencies can gain the system to get away without paying for it. Advertising agencies buy up a half of many different accounts. They buy at a regional level. They buy at a local market level. They buy at a network level. When they buy at a local market level that sets their benchmark rate that they will pay stations.
9335 So when we move up the ranks, say we get to network where it would seem obvious that they should be paying for the distant signals; they are a network advertiser, they are carried right across the country; what an agency will do is examine the rate of the network and compare it with the rate of all of the stations that comprise that network.
9336 If the rate of the network is higher than the rate of the individual stations they will simply choose not to buy the network and will buy the individual stations instead.
9337 THE CHAIRPERSON: And through timeshifting get a network effect?
9338 MR. McCLUSKEY: Yes.
9339 MR. FECAN: And our one ability to deal with that is to get a fee that we feel is fair and we need to be able to negotiate with the BDUs for that and give our permission to take our signals.
9340 MR. ASPER: Mr. Chairman, if I could just add one piece of history?
9341 This happened at the same time in the United States, mid‑nineties, when it started to be a technical possibility. And in Canada the broadcasters were encouraged to "play ball" with the regulatory regime to allow BDUs to get off the ground and provide a competitor to cable. In the United States maybe they were asked to do that but they didn't. They went right to the Supreme Court because Direct TV and others were trying to do this and they won.
9342 And that's why Direct TV doesn't bring in distant market signals and that's why you see on their website that federal law says they can't and that's why it doesn't happen there. It's just been a different response to what all ‑‑ what both broadcasters, sets of broadcasters saw as a major problem.
9343 THE CHAIRPERSON: Now, that is the distant signal. Now, on DTH it's slightly different. You will have a compensation system too. You think it's inadequate and you feel that any market which has DTH penetration of 30 percent you should be compensated to or you should have the ability to give your consent to have that carried; if I understand it correctly.
9344 MS BELL: We have said two things, I think.
9345 Part of our position is that all local signals should be carried by all BDUs.
9346 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
9347 MS BELL: So that's the part that says they should carry our signal as long as DTH penetration has reached 30 percent in a market.
9348 And then the other part of it is the compensation part, of course, is if we are losing $90 million a year to compensation right now, for the entire industry amounts to about $20 million. It's nowhere near what the damage is. And I would say the $90 million is between only two companies also.
9349 THE CHAIRPERSON: I'm sorry, I wasn't clear. You are quite right.
9350 You want, first of all, the distant signal, but then, in DTH ‑‑ if I look at paragraph 168 of your submission, you are quoting, for Canwest, Red Deer, Montreal and Regina; and for CTV, Yorkton, Prince Albert and Kitchener.
9351 You are basically saying that in all of those areas there is a 30 percent penetration, yet we are not carried.
9352 You should be carried. In effect, we should impose that obligation on the DTH ‑‑
9353 MS BELL: That's correct.
9354 THE CHAIRPERSON: Is there any capacity constraint?
9355 We have heard various stories about whether there is a capacity constraint.
9356 MR. ASPER: I am just looking down the Bell programming lineup. They have said that there are capacity issues, and then I look down at Channel 749, the Venus Preview Channel; Venus Adult Pay‑Per‑View, 7:50 to 7:56; Playboy Television; Adult AOV Movies ‑‑ about nine or ten pornography channels.
9357 I then flip over and I see ten channels reserved for NCWA college basketball, and on and on.
9358 They don't have room for Montreal local TV, but they have room for porn.
‑‑‑ Laughter / Rires
9359 MR. ASPER: I know some people think that's good, but ‑‑
9360 THE CHAIRPERSON: I won't touch that line.
‑‑‑ Laughter / Rires
9361 THE CHAIRPERSON: Do you have any value on this station shifting, the effect that simultaneous substitution ‑‑
9362 First of all, you are suggesting simultaneous substitution where the distant signal is being carried. I guess there should also be simultaneous substitution for a second 4 plus 1, which may be in that market, and which may be showing those shows at the same time.
9363 I have no idea ‑‑ I presume it is technologically feasible.
9364 I don't know what the cost is and what would be the benefit to you.
9365 Do you have ‑‑
9366 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: First of all, I would welcome Mr. Armstrong to walk you through some of the impact, but I think that on the distant 4 plus 1 we would actually require non‑simultaneous substitution, which may be technologically difficult, but not impossible, especially in a world where the BDUs are now talking about dynamic ad insertion.
9367 Frankly, we would like to see compliance with the current simultaneous substitution provisions, as they stand.
9368 The point, I think, that we were making, or that Mr. Fecan was making, is that this is only a partial solution. The real solution is to find a way to regain the integrity of those rights, for here and in distant markets.
9369 THE CHAIRPERSON: You are asking for non‑simultaneous substitution rules, did you say?
9370 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: The problem with the distant 4 plus 1 is that they are time shifted in a different time zone. In order to maintain the integrity of those rights ‑‑
9371 Mr. Brace may be able to help you out, but I think the real point here is that we have to return the integrity to those who have the program rights.
9372 MR. BRACE: That is the key issue, we have the program rights for these programs, yet they are broadcast in those areas, with commercials coming in.
9373 We believe that there are really two choices ‑‑
9374 THE CHAIRPERSON: No, I'm sorry, I don't understand you.
9375 Let's take a concrete example. Everybody seems to love taking "Desperate Housewives" ‑‑ and I don't know who has the right to "Desperate Housewives", I don't watch it, but that's neither here nor there.
9376 Let's assume that CTV has it, and you show it at seven o'clock Ontario time and at seven o'clock Manitoba time and at seven o'clock ‑‑
9377 By way of distant signal, obviously, a person can watch it at whatever time they want to watch it.
9378 Now, I understood that the idea was that a second 4 plus 1 in the U.S. ‑‑ the Manitoba one may show it at that time, too, and the simultaneous substitution only would work for Ontario, but wouldn't work for Manitoba. Therefore, you wanted to have it in Manitoba, too ‑‑ if anybody watches Ottawa time in Manitoba or something.
9379 Where does non‑simultaneous substitution come in?
9380 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: I actually think that Mr. Armstrong can give you an example of what we are trying to describe.
9381 MR. ARMSTRONG: Actually, it just turns out that I looked at "Desperate Housewives" broadcast on CJOH on Sunday ‑‑
‑‑‑ Laughter / Rires
9382 MR. ARMSTRONG: It was broadcast in the Ottawa‑Gatineau market, in Week 3, on CJOH.
9383 Of the total viewing in this market to that program, 55 percent of it was to out‑of‑market television stations and 45 percent was the local station.
9384 If you want, I could walk you through some examples of the viewing.
9385 It was broadcast on CJOH on Sunday, Week 3, at 9 p.m., and it generated an average quarter‑hour, viewers 25 to 54, of 33,000 on cable, DTH and OTA.
9386 It was also available in Ottawa‑Gatineau ‑‑ and at this point I am talking about station shifting ‑‑ on CFTO on cable, and that generated 8,300 average quarter‑hour viewers.
9387 I think that is an instance where we would have expected simultaneous substitution to occur.
9388 It was available on DTH at the same time, same day, again on CFTO, and it generated 3,500 average quarter‑hour viewers.
9389 And I classify that as a distant signal, in fact, because I don't believe that DTH is required in all instances to undertake simultaneous substitution.
9390 It was also available in Ottawa on CFCF, on DTH, and it generated 13,200 average quarter‑hour viewers.
9391 And I classify that as a distant signal impact.
9392 It was available in Ottawa on CJCH Halifax at the same time, and it generated 1,800 average quarter‑hour viewers.
9393 That, I believe, is a compliance ‑‑ or failure to undertake substitution.
9394 It was also available on WCVB, on DTH ‑‑ 3,800 average quarter‑hour viewers.
9395 And I would classify that as sort of the first set of 4 plus 1, so ‑‑
9396 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right. Let's deal with 4 plus 1. We were talking about 4 plus 1.
9397 This W ‑‑ whatever ‑‑ where does it come from?
9398 MR. ARMSTRONG: That's a Boston station, so I would classify that as the first set of 4 plus 1.
9399 THE CHAIRPERSON: Why wouldn't that be subject to simultaneous substitution?
9400 If it's at the same time period ‑‑
9401 MR. ARMSTRONG: Oh, excuse me, that's on DTH. It was on that station, on DTH, at the same time.
9402 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: I believe, in this market, that Detroit is the simulcast station.
9403 MR. ARMSTRONG: So you can see that there is a wide variety of choices there ‑‑
9404 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, but I am trying to figure out what you are driving at. I thought you were driving at ‑‑
9405 Let's take "Desperate Housewives" being shown in Ottawa at nine o'clock. If a station in Minneapolis shows it at ten, and you can get it via your cable or your DTH, then you could actually, in effect, watch it in Ottawa at nine o'clock on an American station.
9406 That was the station shifting that you were worried about.
9407 That's not the case? That's not what we are talking about?
9408 MR. ARMSTRONG: There is also station shifting in this market.
9409 "Desperate Housewives" was on KOMO in this market at mid ‑‑ it came in here at market and that's a station shifting. It generated 2,500 average quarter‑hours.
9410 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, and I thought that in your proposal that was the sort of station shifting that you were trying to address. It's a different second 4 plus 1 which is showing it at the same time, where the first 4 plus 1 is simultaneously substituted, and you were losing revenue there.
9411 If I have it wrong, please correct me.
9412 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: That is correct.
9413 There are a couple of distinct problems. There is the division within the same time zone of the distant signals, as Mr. Armstrong is putting to you, and then there are the time shifting issues of watching those signals, and the second set, and I was referring to the second set of 4 plus 1s, in distant signals, from different time zones.
9414 So that, even in Ottawa ‑‑
9415 I'm sorry, Mr. Chair.
9416 THE CHAIRPERSON: Go through that again, Mr. Goldstein, from the beginning ‑‑
9417 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: There are two distinct problems. The first is that, within a market like Ottawa, you are watching "Desperate Housewives" on different signals. It is in the same time slot, but it is coming in from various sources that divide the advertising for the signal.
9418 There is also the time shifting, where you ‑‑
9419 THE CHAIRPERSON: Hang on. Stop. It comes from various sources.
9420 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: Right.
9421 THE CHAIRPERSON: If they are Canadian sources, presumably, they have acquired the right. If they are U.S. sources, there will be simultaneous substitution.
9422 MR. ASPER: They have acquired the right for a different market, so they are really ‑‑
9423 If you want to cover the whole landscape, there are four things. There is watching another Canadian channel in the same time zone, but not in that market ‑‑ a Torontonian watching a Montreal station.
9424 Then there is watching another Canadian channel that is in a different time zone ‑‑
9425 THE CHAIRPERSON: Stay with the Torontonian watching a Montreal station. Why are you bringing this before me?
9426 I mean, the Montreal and the Toronto stations paid for the right to broadcast that.
9427 MR. ASPER: No, Montreal didn't pay for the Toronto right to broadcast there, and it takes viewing away from the Toronto station that can't be monetized.
9428 THE CHAIRPERSON: I know, but that would be caught under distant signal, which we just talked about.
9429 MR. ASPER: Right, I was ‑‑
9430 THE CHAIRPERSON: I was talking about station shifting.
9431 MR. ASPER: Right. I understand.
9432 There is station and time shifting of Canadian signals. I just want to make sure that we are covering ‑‑
9433 We are not on that subject, I am just saying that there are four issues facing broadcasters.
9434 Now, let's go to the U.S. situation. There is the watching of an out‑of‑market/same time zone U.S. station. So the first set of 4 plus 1 gets simulcast. Fine. Partial compensation. The second set of 4 plus 1, same time zone, doesn't get simulcast.
9435 The third problem is, out of time zone U.S. 4 plus 1. So Spokane, Washington/Calgary; Detroit/Winnipeg; eastern versus central time zone ‑‑ those kinds of things.
9436 I think those latter two are the ones we are at ‑‑
9437 THE CHAIRPERSON: Do you have any quantification for either the second 4 plus 1 in the same time zone, or 4 plus 1 in a different time zone ‑‑ what the damage of that is to you?
9438 MR. ARMSTRONG: Yes, I do.
9439 I could give you station shifting in total, which is $30 million.
9440 Time shifting in total ‑‑
9441 It is 30.9 for station shifting, and 60.2 for time shifting.
9442 In terms of station shifting U.S., that is $26.4 million.
9443 In terms of station shifting U.S. on DTH, that is $13.6 million.
9444 THE CHAIRPERSON: You said 30.9 station shifting, and 60.2 time shifting for Canadian.
9445 You don't have the equivalent for U.S.?
9446 MR. ARMSTRONG: No, that's total. That is total.
9447 For U.S., I have station shifting on cable, which is 26.4. U.S. station shifting on DTH is 13.6.
9448 THE CHAIRPERSON: And time shifting?
9449 MR. ARMSTRONG: My totals for time shifting ‑‑
9450 You know what? I apologize. I have two rows of numbers here.
9451 May I go through those again, to make sure we are absolutely right?
9452 THE CHAIRPERSON: Sure. Let's start from the beginning.
9453 MR. ARMSTRONG: Yes.
9454 My total for station shifting and time shifting ‑‑ station shifting is 30.9, and time shifting is 62.2.
9455 Station shifting on cable, U.S., is 5.7.
9456 Station shifting on DTH is 2.9, U.S.
9457 Actually, these are at Figure 2 of page 7 of my report.
9458 Time shifting, U.S., on cable is 27.7.
9459 Time shifting, U.S., on DTH is 6.3.
9460 So I have them split by station shifting and time shifting for each distributor.
9461 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. I suggest that in your reply ‑‑ in your additional submission you set that out in detail ‑‑ exactly the comparison, so that we can ‑‑
9462 So time shifting and station shifting, Canadian, what is the damage, according to you, both from cable and DTH, and then, U.S., what the damage is from cable and DTH, in those four categories.
9463 MR. ARMSTRONG: Yes, sir.
9464 MR. FECAN: Mr. Chair, if I could also draw your attention to a wrinkle that will become a lot more significant in the future, and that is the way the BDUs are interpreting the simulcast rules for high definition programs.
9465 Their view is that, if there isn't a high definition transmitter in Ottawa, then they don't have to do any simultaneous substitution over the high definition signal going into the market.
9466 You have a complaint in front of you on the Super Bowl, where both Bell ExpressVu and Shaw took the view that if it was outside of Toronto or Vancouver, they didn't need to do any simultaneous substitution for those signals.
9467 In fact, ExpressVu went further, they put up a non‑simultaneous substituted signal available in Toronto and directed people to it.
9468 That's another issue, but the crack gets bigger on this one.
9469 Philosophically, since all of the programs are available on Canadian channels, and since we own the rights, I really don't understand why, under the Broadcasting Act, or on any other basis, we worry about these signals being here or have them here in the first place.
9470 THE CHAIRPERSON: As you mentioned, there is a live dispute before us, so I think we should leave it to be resolved on that basis.
9471 If I could go back to ‑‑ my knowledge of your demand is, as I said, fourfold: fee for carriage, distant signal, DTH, and simultaneous substitution, of course ‑‑ second U.S. plus 1, or other types of U.S. plus 1, et cetera.
9472 In a perfect world you get all four. If you can't get all four, which ones are key to you?
9473 And don't tell me all four.
‑‑‑ Laughter / Rires
9474 MR. ASPER: I was about to. I was trying to read your thoughts, and it turns out that I was right.
9475 If we have to rank them, which is the best I can do on the spot, fee for carriage is, by far, the most important. I think the distant signal would be second, and I think the other two are interchangeably third and fourth.
9476 THE CHAIRPERSON: Mr. Fecan, do you agree?
9477 MR. FECAN: I would agree with that, but I would also point out that if simultaneous substitution is eroded further, we will take steps to ensure that the signals on the programs are carried in this country.
9478 MR. ASPER: Yes, I think that is the point. What we are trying to do is ‑‑ we have already started with a compromise, and I guess the compromise of a compromise is where we have a little bit of trouble going. I think that is ‑‑
9479 THE CHAIRPERSON: No, I am not asking you to make a decision. I am not going to hold you to it, I just want to see, from your perspective, what are the priorities.
9480 And I apologize to you, Len, if I am cutting you off, to some extent, but I have to pick up on this one point here, which is that Ms Bell, in her presentation this morning, said that the pie isn't growing, as a definite amount, et cetera.
9481 We have heard an awful lot of evidence about VOD and SVOD. Yesterday, as you undoubtedly heard, we heard about NPVR, and how network PVR may, at the end of the day, be the way to keep the viewer in the broadcasting system, and to also target the individual viewer, giving the broadcasting system ‑‑ let's call it the system, as such ‑‑ the ability to individually target viewers, and therefore prevent migration to the internet.
9482 Clearly, everybody is working on it. There are privacy issues, as Mr. Rogers pointed out. There are lots of companies who have perfected it, or who claim to have perfected it.
9483 We found out yesterday, to my surprise, that in the U.K., apparently, there is already some sort of NPVR.
9484 Since part of this whole proceeding is to look forward, and assuming that this would develop, is it not possible that this, in effect, number one, would arrest the migration of advertising dollars to the internet, but, also, in effect, would increase advertising power and represent a new source of revenue?
9485 And that, rather than us trying to work out some sort of fairly interventionist fee for carriage, or improved simultaneous substitution rules, we should say: No, let's look forward. That's where this whole market is going. And let's make sure that both you and the BDUs, on some sort of sharing basis, can have access to this increased revenue, this increased ability to target the consumer's wants, and use that to finance local content, rather than yesterday's methodology, as some people call it, fee for carriage, et cetera.
9486 What are your views on that?
9487 I realize it is not a very precise question, but it has really come up in the way that I posed it to you during the last week and a half.
9488 MR. ASPER: I think I would like to turn to some of the people who are out trying to sell advertising in the marketplace, but I think that we have to come back to what are the objectives of the system.
9489 We would love to be a part of the video‑on‑demand world. We see it as another platform, just like we are all struggling with, but trying to find our way on the internet, and dealing with the issue of program rights, or even the rights of commercials.
9490 A lot of the agencies, and others, have not even cleared the rights for commercials to be played on other platforms and the internet.
9491 It is a lot more complicated world out there, to just jump into VOD, than the cable and DTH people would have people believe.
9492 We would love to embrace that world, it is just that it is not available to us, I think, as much ‑‑ at all, right now, very much.
9493 I think the revenue opportunity there ‑‑
9494 It is not available, to some extent, technologically and rights‑wise, but also, from a revenue perspective, I think there is a story that is worth telling.
9495 MR. DA‑RÉ: We have had some preliminary discussions with the folks at INVIDI, through Capital Network, which is the representative here in Canada, and, really, it is such a new technology ‑‑ and I think it is actually being launched, as we speak, in test mode in the States somewhere, possibly Baltimore or Maryland, but I am not positive on that.
9496 But, in the end, I think there are a lot of issues ‑‑ and I think you mentioned it, Commissioner ‑‑ on the privacy perspective on this. I think that is something that could become one of the key issues going forward with this.
9497 We are all in favour of targeting better for our clients and for our advertisers, but in the end it has to be something that is measurable by standards that the advertisers and the advertising agencies have at their disposal right now.
9498 From what we are hearing, we don't know what that measurement is at this time.
9499 So, going forward, I guess that is the main question, will we see the measurement that can be sustained from agencies.
9500 What is the cost of the set‑up?
9501 We don't know what that is, either. That could be substantial.
9502 And who is paying for the cost?
9503 We have a lot more questions than we have answers when it comes to that kind of software for advertisers, but, obviously, there is a lot of interest. I think that clients are interested in that, but I think there are way too many questions that are unanswered at this point.
9504 I have tried to get in touch with a few of the top agencies, and the presidents and the very senior people, and the responses I have received so far are that they don't know a lot about this themselves.
9505 It's pretty hard to move forward on this when we don't have those questions answered.
9506 MR. BRACE: If I could add to what Mr. Da‑Ré has said, I have, in fact, met with several of the agency presidents, and I have also had meetings with Rogers.
9507 First of all, this is very interesting for us. I mean, it would be wonderful to go down this road, and the display of VOD programming would be great for our major programs, and if there is a way that we can monetize it, once again, that would be terrific for us.
9508 The initial hurdles that we have to get over are, number one, is the money going to be truly incremental.
9509 That is number one. To this point in time, in meeting with, as I say, several ‑‑ in fact, seven of the agency presidents over the last month or so ‑‑ the indication to me is that money is moving around, but it may be because it is not clearly understood yet what could happen in this world.
9510 In terms of dynamic advertising, which I think is outside of privacy issues or other concerns, the concern for the agencies there is that they have to, incrementally, produce creative. So there is a greater cost in order to access the audience they are targeting, because you may be producing four or five versions of the same commercial to use the dynamic advertising system effectively.
9511 In this country, at least, it is going to be an evolution. We see it kind of rolling out in the U.S., where they are selling advertising on VOD, and, seemingly, it is working.
9512 I don't know that it is incremental, to be honest with you.
9513 But, at this point in time, that technology is not here in Canada. It will have to roll out.
9514 Rogers has said that they are going to do it within the next year, so they will become the beta test for it, but I think it is going to be several years before we can really determine whether or not this is an effective way of increasing revenue.
9515 My initial feeling is that it is just more of holding the revenue that we have, because as it moves to various platforms, we are just kind of moving it from one pocket to another.
9516 MR. FECAN: As part of experimenting, what we did this year was, we tried to do some VOD of popular programs, both domestic and foreign.
9517 The first thing you have to do is buy the rights for that, because the rights are not the normal package of rights you buy, there is an additional level of rights.
9518 And we, in fact, worked with Rogers and put a number of the programs on the VOD basis, but we found that a lot of advertisers had not cleared their commercials to run on a VOD platform, or they were time‑sensitive and they didn't want them stretched out over a period of time.
9519 We found that there is no accountability to the agencies because, at the moment, none of the Canadian BDUs has purchased the software that tracks who uses it and how many use it in any kind of reportable data.
9520 We did the experiment, it was all cost and no revenue for us, and, yes, I think there is an interest, but I really don't see any evidence whatsoever that it is growing the pie in terms of revenue.
9521 THE CHAIRPERSON: What about the whole issue of network PVR?
9522 The way I understood it, which was strange to me, is that, in effect, you would have the ability with your remote either to go back to the whole schedule for CTV ‑‑ or whatever Rogers has offered for the last week, or the last month; or, alternatively, you would have a search function that would find "Desperate Housewives", and you could watch all five episodes that were shown in the last month or whatever.
9523 Apparently, such a capability exists in some countries and people are working on it. If that is true, would that be a way of growing the advertising pie?
9524 Obviously, you could insert a new ad when people watch stuff on that basis.
9525 MR. FECAN: It depends on whether this network PVR allows fast‑forwarding of commercials.
9526 THE CHAIRPERSON: Apparently, it wouldn't.
9527 MR. FECAN: You shouldn't take it for granted one way or the other.
9528 Some of the PVR versions in the U.S. don't allow for that, particularly on the BDUs.
9529 Whether the memory is resident in your set‑top box and you have actually done something to download or to record something as it was going by, or whether the memory is resident in some network thing is, frankly, a technicality. It is a PVR. Then the questions are: Can you sell advertising for it? Who sells that advertising? Is there a fee? Can you fast‑forward through the commercials?
9530 All of these questions are part of the business model in trying to figure out what the thing is worth.
9531 THE CHAIRPERSON: It's not quite a technicality. The difference is, I control the PVR in my house, and the network PVR is controlled by the network.
9532 For instance, they could make such rules as to whether their ads could be deleted or not, and whether they could substitute and so forth.
9533 And, of course, they take away for me having to think of what I want to do, I can just act on impulse.
9534 MR. FECAN: That's true.
9535 THE CHAIRPERSON: It struck me, I must say, at first blush, that, indeed, this could be a fairly lucrative source of additional revenues.
9536 MR. FECAN: If those rights are available.
9537 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, that's ‑‑
9538 MR. FECAN: At the moment that, by the studios, might well be considered theft.
9539 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
9540 MR. ASPER: I think it is also worth stepping back and remembering how advertising budgets are set. It is usually a function of GDP, particularly in a mature economy. I can't speak for an India or a China, where it is growing.
9541 If GDP is 3 percent, that is a target that people will use. In most cases, in large advertisers, it is a percentage of their projected sales.
9542 When they are going through product launches and other things, they might heavy up.
9543 If they are trying to get rid of inventory, they might do a tactical buy on a radio or a newspaper.
9544 But it's 3 percent, call it. Somebody is usually growing at 7 in that environment, and someone is growing at zero. Or, someone is growing at 2 and someone is growing at 4, and it averages out to 3.
9545 It comes back to what Rick was saying, as money moves around, and is moving around to the more targeted forms of advertising ‑‑ that is the current, but 10‑year trend, and foreseeable trend.
9546 That is why VOD advertising is going to be a switch ‑‑ it is going to be yet another switch from conventional, just like the internet is providing the same opportunity ‑‑ perceived opportunity for advertisers.
9547 It is not going to grow viewing. People only have a certain amount of hours, so they are just going to switch again.
9548 We just don't see how it grows the pie. It will shift it, but I think it is a three to five ‑‑ probably a five‑year move before it has any kind of substantiveness to it, and it is going to cost people to buy rights.
9549 It's not just new revenues, it is a net factor.
9550 THE CHAIRPERSON: And I assume that you would agree with TELUS, to the extent that if there is advertising on VOD, SVOD, NPVR, or whatever, it should be on a shared basis between broadcasters and BDUs.
‑‑‑ Laughter / Rires
9551 MR. FECAN: It depends who bears the cost.
9552 MR. ASPER: Don't forget, in VOD, part of what is happening is that the studio is part of the pie, too. They want some of the money, too.
9553 MR. FECAN: You know, this network PVR thing isn't entirely new. Google has been talking about doing a similar kind of thing. As soon as they try to record something on that basis, if there is a rights‑holder that cares, they take that down pretty quickly.
9554 You know, you just can't take somebody's intellectual property and use it for your commercial purposes without the creator's express consent.
9555 THE CHAIRPERSON: No, I understand that.
9556 Last question, and then I think we will take a break.
9557 TELUS yesterday made sort of a point targeting particularly both of you and Quebecor and said: Look, yes, OTA is not that profitable these days, but you know, like a responsible commercial enterprise, you have diversified and you have just acquired a huge bunch of specialty channels, et cetera. In Quebecor they have their distribution, Rogers has a distribution. However, we have to look at these enterprises as a whole. There are profitable lines and less profitable lines. We at TELUS also have our fixed line telephone which is really not that profitable and ‑‑ that is part of the business.
9558 Look at these enterprises as conglomerates; they are healthy, they are doing well, et cetera. Sure, there is one arm that is not doing so well, but other arms ‑‑ and they need each other.
9559 This is why I started off just asking you whether they are symbiotic or not and you said more or less. So therefore that's just a cost of doing business. Giving you a fee for carriage is basically giving you an undeserved support for a weak side of your business. Every business has a weak side and yours happens to be OTA, but some other people it's others.
9560 Now, that is how it was presented to me. You heard it yourself. I thought I would give you a chance to comment on that.
9561 MR. FECAN: Well, I presume they would then look at all of their unregulated businesses as supporting their regulated businesses as well. I don't think I heard them saying that. I didn't hear Rogers saying they wanted to include their Internet revenues and their wireless revenues towards their regulated services.
9562 So you know, what is good for one is good for the other, I suppose. And I didn't hear them saying that at all.
9563 But from our point of view, we really believe that each of our sectors, the specialty sector, the conventional sector, really needs to stand on its own two feet and if one sector isn't working and if it's broken beyond fixing and there is no potential solution in sight, then we have to look at whether that is the right place to keep investing or whether it becomes a TQS.
9564 In our case we walked away from a $72 million cash investment because we saw no way of there being a future under the existing licensing structure for that channel. Hopefully a new buyer with perhaps different rules might be able to make a go of it. We did walk away and we are not happy about doing it.
9565 You know, if you can't see a foreseeable future for something, then you have to make tough decisions.
9566 MR. ASPER: I think I would just add two points.
9567 One is if Rogers, for example, or TELUS felt that way ‑‑ but I would apply it more to Rogers ‑‑you would say to them: Well, that's fine, you can afford the fee for carriage because you have a very profitable other business, an ISP that was funded by the support and subsidies given to you to build out your broadband network. So you have the money to pay for the fee. I mean, don't pass it on to consumers, you're fine.
9568 The second thing is, as Ivan said really, we are portfolio managers effectively and we look at different lines of businesses. At some point we are going to make a decision about whether it is worth investing capital in a particular one.
9569 I know from CanWest's perspective we sold our Irish and New Zealand conventional operations because we just didn't feel in those economies, particularly in Ireland with BBC and all the British channels coming over the border, it made sense to own conventional TV.
9570 We think in Canada, and Australia too, it is worth giving it a shot and continuing to fight the good fight.
9571 The way TELUS has phrased it is something with which I disagree, because they are saying that we are taking the position that business is bad, turn to the regulator for help. We are saying no, a series of regulations under which we operate are very punitive to us and we are saying lift some of those regulations. And if you don't want to lift the regulations, then provide some sort of a transfer of obligation to the cable companies ‑‑ to us from the cable companies.
9572 So you could go another route which says don't do Canadian content, you know, no 60 per cent Canadian content, no priority carriage, I mean no priority programming, kick out the U.S. channels that are here illegally and go back to the way the U.S. operates and no local obligations on the licences, who all lift everything, and then we would have a discussion about whether we need that fee.
9573 I mean, we are not pounding the table in Australia to get a fee for carriage because they don't bring an NBC to Australia. You know, it is market by market. It comes back to that balance in the bargain.
9574 MR. FECAN: And yet even in the U.S., which has none of those obligations that we happily live up to at the moment, they are getting a fee for carriage.
9575 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: Sorry, Mr. Chair, can I just add that if the concept is that somehow you are tying OTA and the specialty and their obligations together, then in effect you are creating a prejudice against those who own OTA as opposed to those who don't.
9576 So you create an environment ‑‑ I can only think of two examples but Corus and Astral, who don't have that burden on them, and therefore you are creating in a sense a prejudice against those who continue to have those OTA services as part of their portfolio.
9577 MR. FECAN: You know, I recall at the last hearing ‑‑ I don't think you were chairing this one on the fee for carriage subject ‑‑ Mr. Shaw making the statement that if any of these people don't want conventional stations, he would happily buy them. Well, there were a number for sale and he was not even a bidder.
9578 THE CHAIRPERSON: I am surprised that none of you made the other logical argument; that if you are going to look at the revenue side on a corporate basis, you have to look at the obligation side of the corporate basis, too, which is ‑‑ I mean, I just want to give you a chance to answer.
9579 I gather my colleague ‑‑ Michel, you have one more question on fee for carriage before we break?
9580 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Yes. Thank you, Mr. Chair. I have quite a few questions.
9581 I want to bring you back to the beginning of the questions and answers with the Chairman where you talk about saying that the money will go to local expression or local community. Then at some point in time in the conversation some of you were using local community programming; some others were using the word local programming.
9582 It raises in my mind a big issue about the definition of what is really the local programming, because we just issued a decision regarding HDTV a few weeks ago in which we stated that, on average, Canadian broadcasters were having 22 hours of local programming and we were talking obviously about you, your operations in the English language. We were not taking into consideration what is happening in French Canada.
9583 I know that the range that we were looking at when we came to that 22‑hour number was somewhere between 10 and 40 hours depending on which group.
9584 So what kind of local programming are we talking here about?
9585 I am hearing improving local news and local reflection, or is it local programming as a whole? What are we really talking about?
9586 MS McGINLEY: To define local programming, we are talking about local news and information programming. I think the information programming can be the reflective side we were having.
9587 An example of that would be a talk show, a local talk show.
9588 But the basic description is local news and information programming.
9589 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: So you are refining your description to that type of program even if you were to produce a locally ‑‑ say in Calgary for the whole network, that is not a local program?
9590 MS McGINLEY: No. We are talking about local programming produced for Calgarians.
9591 MR. FECAN: We are talking local for local.
9592 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Local for local. Okay. That is a nice clarification and I think a significant one, at least from my own perspective.
9593 Also, during the conversation you said that the U.S. stations should not have come here first. Obviously as you know, they were already here when the CRTC was created and they are also here through over the air.
9594 I understand that the Commission could have said no for Calgary and Moncton and other locations. I'm an old guy as well and I used to work for the Commission. I was in Winnipeg when the CRTC held a hearing if they were to allow U.S. programming to come to Winnipeg through microwave, and the position of the Commission was negative. I remember the outcry of the Winnipegians saying how come Toronto could get U.S. programming and Winnipeg cannot? The same screams were made in Calgary and Edmonton, and at the end of the day obviously the Commission agreed to have them.
9595 So there is a really historical background to that.
9596 It is easy to say they should not have been there, but obviously they came there because they were there. I want to say that only as a matter of clarification, unless you want to make any comment.
9597 MR. FECAN: I would just say that between the Department of Communications and the FCC, if a Canadian signal goes into the U.S., the FCC lets you know about it and you retune your transmitter. That's the fact every day in radio.
9598 And really the observation was a philosophical observation and it is just a question of, you know, we wouldn't be talking about simultaneous substitution if our program rights were protected. We wouldn't be worried about ‑‑ I know a lot of producers worry about how we schedule programs. We wouldn't be talking about that if we had taken our cultural sovereignty then. I'm just saying what if.
9599 MR. ASPER: I think there were two points in time, though. In the time you are talking about also I think ‑‑ you have to remember at the beginning there were no Canadian ‑‑ there was CBC and there were no other Canadian services airing the programming that was on the U.S. channels. So NBC had started up and ABC had not by then ‑‑ this is mid‑to‑late '50s into the '60s. So there was a consumer choice reason to bring in some of these U.S. services.
9600 And then there was a second phase ‑‑ it was wrong, you know, because we couldn't do the reverse, remember. A Winnipeg station couldn't go and broadcast in the U.S. So that's fine.
9601 But then along comes the '70s and cable needs to get going and so they get the right to bring in the U.S. signals on cable.
9602 Again, yes, consumers did want it, but the consumers want, you know, bread for free. But at some point there is a right, there is a property right that was ignored and that generally isn't ignored in economies. But in this little part of the economy it was ignored.
9603 MR. FECAN: And so from that day we used American programming to subsidize Canadian programming, and that's the fundamental underpinning of the system. If you can't beat them, you join them. You use it and you use it to finance Canadian.
9604 You know, it was just a what if.
9605 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: It has been the conundrum for the last 40 years and will remain I'm sure forever.
9606 You are saying that the payment should be made to the local broadcaster. Have you thought of the way ‑‑ so if I understand, it is quite easily to be dealt with regarding with the territorial BDU because they have your signal or they don't. But how will we do it regarding the DTH?
9607 Have you thought about a formula on how to calculate proportionately what will go to this one rather than that one?
9608 MR. FECAN: On the DTH basis we were only proposing to charge a Toronto subscriber for Toronto signals.
9609 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Yes. Calgary.
9610 MR. FECAN: Calgary for Calgary signals. We are not ‑‑
9611 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: So you are going to ask the DTH to declare how many subscribers they have with the Calgary address?
9612 MR. FECAN: A simple postal code.
9613 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Simple postal code.
9614 MR. FECAN: Within the DMA, the designated market area.
9615 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: I'm sure you haven't yet started to discuss that with them.
9616 MR. FECAN: I'm sure they have postal codes.
9617 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Oh, I'm sure they do, but I did negotiate with them and only to have their numbers of subscribers say only in the Province of Québec and I'm still waiting for the answer.
‑‑‑ Laughter / Rires
9618 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: It's confidential information.
9619 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: But respectfully, these are no bigger than the challenges we have in affiliate relationships for our specialty services.
9620 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Yes, absolutely. That's why I'm raising the question, because I know what is going to be their answer.
9621 We will come back, but I have other questions.
9622 THE CHAIRPERSON: I'm going to assert Chairman's prerogative. You can ask many more questions, but it is two hours and we all need a health break.
9623 Let's have a 10‑minute break.
‑‑‑ Upon recessing at 1101 / Suspension à 1101
‑‑‑ Upon resuming at 1119 / Reprise à 1119
9624 THE CHAIRPERSON: Michel, you had the floor.
9625 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
9626 You haven't said anything about the CBC this morning and I wonder, should the CBC get a fee or not?
9627 MR. ASPER: Our position has been no, they shouldn't, they have other mechanisms of funding.
9628 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Now, what about their affiliates, their private broadcasters, should they get the fee or not?
9629 MR. ASPER: Well, I think we were thinking about the CBC as a whole. I mean, the funding goes to the network but also to the affiliates.
9630 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Yes. Here again we are back to the earlier discussion. You did say that the money goes to local reflections, local programming.
9631 They do produce local programming, the affiliates.
9632 MR. FECAN: If you are speaking of the privately owned affiliates ‑‑
9633 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: That's what I'm talking about.
9634 MR. FECAN: ‑‑ that have local programming of their own.
9635 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Yes.
9636 MR. FECAN: Yes. They are privately owned. They have their own set of obligations.
9637 When we say the CBC, we mean the network and the owned and operated stations of the network.
9638 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: But the local affiliates, the CBC, the privately owned, good standing member of the CAB.
9639 MR. FECAN: Well, yes. I mean, you know, we have in the CTV system one CBC affiliate acquired through the CHUM transaction, Brandon, which I think the CBC wishes to disaffiliate anyway. But they do have a 6 o'clock local newscast that they produce locally and that is why that particular station should have a fee for carriage.
9640 MR. ASPER: I agree with that.
9641 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Okay.
9642 On Tuesday morning when we heard Quebecor, they reminded us that the current regulation doesn't forbid any over the air broadcasters to go and negotiate a fee for carriage with any of the BDUs.
9643 Have you ever undertaken that? And if yes, what have been the results?
9644 MR. ASPER: It has certainly been mooted in discussion I would say informally, but it meets with such a violent response it really hasn't precipitated a second meeting, I guess.
‑‑‑ Laughter / Rires
9645 MR. ASPER: You know, you have one individual saying he would take it to the Supreme Court even if imposed, if it is imposed upon him. So it is not something they are willing to entertain from any discussion we have ever had with them.
9646 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Now, I understand from the reply that CCSA made regarding your submission that the small independent cable operator ‑‑ well, it seems that you have a say that you will not be seeking them for payment of fees for carriage.
9647 Am I reading well or understanding well what I seem to have read in their reply?
9648 MR. FECAN: No. Actually our position is that our smallest stations, which often are in the area that the small cable companies are in, have the toughest economic case.
9649 So yes, we would look for a fee for carriage in those markets. The principle is the fee for carriage is for local programming.
9650 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: We are clear here we are talking about the systems under 6,000 subscribers and we yesterday heard EastLink appearing before us saying that on average they have 464 subscribers to their small system.
9651 MR. ASPER: I think ‑‑ sorry. Did I interrupt?
9652 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: No, no.
9653 MR. ASPER: I think the principle is that it should be across the board and universal, but we wouldn't be opposed to particular cable systems, if they could show some sort of economic hardship on an objective basis, being exempt from it.
9654 But I don't think that they would make ‑‑ there is no reason in principle ‑‑
9655 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: So what you are saying is not as a rule, but there could be instances where ‑‑
9656 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: We would agree with that.
9657 MR. ASPER: I think so.
9658 MS BELL: We should point out also that for a lot of those systems there is no local station so there would be no impact. That is the other side of the coin.
9659 MR. ASPER: You have to remember, many of those systems will not be taking $2.40 or $3.00 of new fees on that they would have to either eat or pass on, but it's $1.00, it's $.50, it's $1.50 or nothing in some cases.
9660 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Yes, because ‑‑
9661 MR. ASPER: Yes, they are smaller. There are not as many stations in the market.
9662 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: I'm sure that ‑‑ but I don't know ‑‑ in Moosonee there might be a cable system but no local TV station. One of you may have a rebroad.
9663 By the way, I know that CTV has 79 rebroadcasters in various communities. Do you consider them as being local stations or are they in areas that there is no local programming?
9664 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: I believe Mr. Fecan was clear that it is local to local and that is our proposal; is for local service.
9665 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: So it's local for local.
9666 MR. FECAN: Unless we provide local service to that community.
9667 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: To that area, even if it is only once a year.
9668 MR. FECAN: No. I think on a daily or weekly basis. I mean, we have local in a lot of small places, in Timmins, in North Bay, in The Sault, in Prince Albert, in Yorkton, just to name a few.
9669 I would certainly consider them local.
9670 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Okay.
9671 Mr. Chairman, those were my questions for the time being. I know that other of my colleagues have questions also on fee for carriage, so I will get back to you later on with my section, which will be shorter.
9672 THE CHAIRPERSON: We will come back in a second.
9673 This local for local, how is it applying in terms of Global in Ontario?
9674 MR. ASPER: I ‑‑
9675 MR. MEDLINE: Sure, you know ‑‑
9676 MR. ASPER: I have been cut off, I'm sorry.
‑‑‑ Laughter / Rires
9677 MR. MEDLINE: Right, because we have the two regional licences, one in Ontario and one in Québec. So when we were developing the model it was where you provide ‑‑ in our case we were thinking mainly in the news area, not in the other types of local. But where we provide local programming, predominantly news, is where you would get the fee.
9678 So although we are carried across the province, let's say in Ontario, if there is almost no local content in let's say some of the northern areas, but there is a lot of local news and information in a market like Toronto and the surrounding areas and a few of the other areas, then it would qualify for a fee.
9679 THE CHAIRPERSON: I'm sorry, I don't understand that answer at all.
9680 I mean, I understood Mr. Fecan to say the fee for carriage would be in order to pay for local reflections, local for local. I understand that when you have a local station being carried. I don't understand it when you are talking about what essentially is regional like Global has, let's say Global Ontario, for instance.
9681 Does that mean basically you expect us, in Global's case, to substitute regional for local? If not, then how does it apply on the basis of the retransmitter, because that is the question that my colleague had?
9682 MR. ASPER: I think we would have to expect it because, as I say, it is almost impossible to break down what part of a Global newscast applies to London, Ontario per se as a London city or as a city in Ontario. So we had not broken it down across different markets.
9683 THE CHAIRPERSON: So it is local for local except for when it's regional for regional.
9684 MR. ASPER: Well, in the case where there is a regional licence.
9685 THE CHAIRPERSON: I'm just trying to understand the logical consequence of your position.
9686 MR. ASPER: Yes.
9687 THE CHAIRPERSON: Len...?
9688 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
9689 I want to spend some time on some numbers, but before I do, both of your submissions spent an awful lot of time addressing the issue of the health of the BDU industry. I'm just trying to understand the rationale for that and the presumption by some people that we are being asked to play Robin Hood here.
9690 Presuming the health of the BDU industry was not what it is today, however we define today, would we still be here in this room today?
9691 MR. FECAN: Well, we think it is what it is, but presuming it wasn't we would still be coming to you. We would still have a problem. We would be coming to you and seeking to rebalance opportunity and obligation some other way.
9692 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. So that is the crux of the issue.
9693 MR. FECAN: The problem, the cracking foundation is there one way or the other, and that's what we are trying to address: how to shore it up and how to shore it up enough so that maybe you could put some more on it, but we have to shore this thing up.
9694 That problem, you know, even in your scenario may well still be there, and I'm assuming based on what has caused the crack it probably would be there.
9695 So as Leonard said just before the break, if it is not a fee for carriage, it is a rebalancing of obligations. It's something.
9696 MR. ASPER: I think the way to express it is the problem itself is independent of the health of the BDU sector, but the BDU sector, one of their familiar refrains is we can't afford this terrible new fee that would be imposed upon us. We would lose all these customers, et cetera. So we have tried to point out why we think that is a wrong assumption.
9697 So that is essentially why we have put out this information on the health of the BDU sector.
9698 COMMISSIONER KATZ: But given that health, if I can follow my logic one step further, let's say that the Commission in their wisdom does decide that there is an opportunity to rebalance today, in two years from now cycles happen, economies change, things change, and now what was a strong and vibrant BDU industry in your perspective has now shifted two years from now and it no longer is. What then?
9699 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: If I may, I think one of the reasons why their profitability was brought into play was because it was explicit in the Public Notice that you wanted us to model what the impact would be on potential players in the system. So we are in fact just responding to what the Public Notice made and we would be happy ‑‑ I don't know if you want to go through those numbers right now because Ms Sanderson did a fairly detailed analysis of that.
9700 That is the primary reason why this is germane at this point.
9701 COMMISSIONER KATZ: I don't want to question the health of the industry. What I'm trying to understand is whether we would still be here today if the health of the BDU industry wasn't what it is today.
9702 The answer I heard was yes.
9703 MR. FECAN: Yes, we would be here today.
9704 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay.
9705 MR. ASPER: I think also it is partly relevant that the BDU sector, either through their actions or through the regulatory benefits they get, is in large part the cause of these ills, of the problems. They either don't pay for the signal that they get for free or they bring in other competitive factors illegally that hurt us.
9706 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Let's take a look at the quantum of this crack now just so I understand it.
9707 Your proposal I think is this could be balanced with a $2.40 charge to every BDU subscriber. I will throw some numbers out here and say that I think there are somewhere in the order of 15 million homes in Canada and penetration for both DTH and BDU is somewhere in the order of 90 odd per cent. So if you multiply 90 per cent of 15 million homes times $2.40 times 12 months, you get to about $400 million, if my math is about correct.
9708 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: Actually, what I would like to do is ask Steve and Margaret to walk you through the numbers, because we actually have done a fairly detailed analysis on this.
9709 But just to be in the $2.40 was ‑‑ sorry, speak up.
9710 The $2.40 was on an average basis, but we have taken into account market by market, so I am going to let the experts explain how they modelled that.
9711 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. But at the end of the day, Steve, when you summarize, I need a number. What is the big number at the end of the thing?
9712 So go ahead.
9713 MR. ARMSTRONG: Sure. What we did is we ‑‑
‑‑‑ Laughter / Rires
9714 MR. ARMSTRONG: Is $24,580,000 a month, which is around $295 million a year.
9715 COMMISSIONER KATZ: $295 million a year?
9716 MR. ARMSTRONG: That is correct.
9717 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. Now that number, is that net of distant signalling, the $93 million you have talked about, or is that all‑encompassing?
9718 MR. ARMSTRONG: That is the proposed compensation for carriage fee by the number of households in television markets. So that is the total proposal at 50 cents.
9719 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay.
9720 MR. FECAN: That is the local for local.
9721 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. And that assumption of what that number comes out to be, $300 million, assumes that we won't be fixing the distant signalling issue as well or that we will as well, so the quantum of the crack is either $295 million in total or is $295 million plus the $95 million that you quoted earlier this morning?
9722 MR. ARMSTRONG: The $295 million is just a straight calculation of the application of the proposed fee of 50 cents per month per local signal to the number of television households in each market.
9723 COMMISSIONER KATZ: But when you came up with that number, did you implicitly assume ‑‑
9724 MR. ASPER: No.
9725 COMMISSIONER KATZ: ‑‑ there was going to be relief on DTH and distant signalling as well or not?
9726 MR. ASPER: No.
9727 COMMISSIONER KATZ: You did not.
9728 MR. ASPER: They are independent variables.
9729 MR. FECAN: We looked at it in isolation. We didn't assume a package or anything. We looked at what do we feel is what we need for compensation for carriage for local and what we want is a right to negotiate with the BDUs for distant signals.
9730 MR. ASPER: We may not end up with a figure of $93 million in the negotiation. It might be $5 million more than the current I think seven or eight that we ultimately get. So that's an independent variable.
9731 THE CHAIRPERSON: Surely you must have a cost of the value of your total wish list of fee for carriage, improved ‑‑ the four elements that I mentioned this morning, distant signal and so on.
9732 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: And the carriage of our local signals, which is of particular damage especially in smaller markets.
9733 THE CHAIRPERSON: DTH, yes.
9734 COMMISSIONER KATZ: So in fact we are looking at the sum of those two.
9735 THE CHAIRPERSON: Four. For four elements to their request.
9736 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Right. Okay.
9737 THE CHAIRPERSON: What is the sum of those four requests? That is what I'm trying to get at.
9738 MR. ASPER: Well, it is hard to calculate other than the fee without knowing ‑‑ I guess you could do a range of sensitivity analyses of what might arise from a negotiation on distant signal.
9739 All I can say is it is somewhere between zero and $93 million. I mean, we don't know that we are going to get anything in that. There is going to be negotiation. There will be something because we have something of value that we know people want so they will pay for it, the distributors.
9740 We could try to provide you I guess a range of potential outcomes on the other two.
9741 I think the local carriage is less, would again rank third or fourth in the pecking order in terms of what creates the most value. And fee for carriage would be the ‑‑ the $295 million would be the most.
9742 MR. FECAN: The distinguishing factor between the local compensation for carriage and the distant signals is important to just note.
9743 One is right in the Broadcast Act and consumers, viewers want it, value it, and so forth.
9744 The other is nowhere in the Broadcast Act. Nowhere in the Broadcast Act do we have distant signals. This is a commercial transaction, a pure commercial transaction.
9745 What we are saying, respectfully, is let us operate it as a commercial transaction between a distributor and an originating station and, with respect, stay out of that, please.
9746 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. Let me continue on with my thought process here and see if it still makes sense.
9747 I think I heard one of you say earlier that you look at these businesses as businesses and if it is broke, you try and fix it; and if it can't be fixed irreparably, then you have to look at alternatives, whatever those alternatives are.
9748 So what I was trying to do was understand the magnitude of the problem, which apparently is now $295 million plus perhaps $93 million, plus, plus, plus. So we are looking at a $400 million to $500 million problem here.
9749 Obviously when you folks and your CFO sit down, you have a budget and you know what you need to do to achieve your targets, bank financing or whatever it is as well. And then you miss somewhere. You miss somewhere and you try to figure out what you're going to do to offset it.
9750 So what I have read in your testimony in reading it all over is the reason that we are here ‑‑ one of the reasons why we are here today, one of the big reasons why we are here today is because there is a major impact on your revenues due to fragmentation, less audiences, less advertising revenue, which results in a PBIT reduction or whatever the case may be.
9751 You also have a higher cost that perhaps wasn't anticipated with regard to digital transition and the need to invest more money in digital transition as well.
9752 We have heard other parties come before us and talk about financing costs due to your acquisitions and that drives up your costs as well and therefore drives down your profitability as well. Whether that is above the PBIT line or below the PBIT line ‑‑ I guess it is below the PBIT line because interest is below PBIT.
9753 The other one we have heard about is programming costs being driven up as well.
9754 So what I am trying to do is understand the magnum of the issue before us here, which is between $400 million and $500 million, I guess I heard, and how that is allocated between at least these four components; those four components being revenue impact due to fragmentation, costs due to digital transition, additional financing costs and perhaps the escalation in programming, U.S. programming that you're facing as well.
9755 What do those four represent of your total miss, if I can call it that, of your target that you need to achieve to achieve your financial goals to your shareholders or your bankers or whomever?
9756 Is that doable?
9757 MR. FECAN: We can try, but let me just deal with the last two first because I don't think they are appropriate in this situation.
9758 The financing cost issue, when we bought CHUM we bought specialty and radio. We didn't get to keep City. The A Channel portion of that is de minimis. So that has no factor on the health of our conventional business.
9759 When CanWest bought Alliance Atlantis, they did not by any conventional. They were buying specialty and so that doesn't have a factor on the health of their conventional business.
9760 So I think that is a bit of a red herring, that one. We are talking about a conventional business and neither of those factor into that. We are talking about how those businesses do, not financing charges for specialty. Okay?
9761 On the cost of foreign programming, it has gone up, but it has gone up a fraction of what it has gone up for the BDUs. Just the number?
9762 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: Just for clarity, ours has gone up by 4.8 per cent; their's has gone up by 24 per cent.
9763 So I'm not sure that's a material argument if that is their main argument against us.
9764 COMMISSIONER KATZ: But they are not here looking for some relief; you are. So I am trying to understand what the cause and effect is and the reasons why we are here today.
9765 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: But I think it is a mischaracterization to say that we are running away in the U.S. market spending programming dollars when given the inflationary trend there. It just does not bear out next to what they are spending.
9766 COMMISSIONER KATZ: We have heard in the last week I believe from some folks that the proportionate cost between Canadian programming and American programming has gone south, and there is a much higher cost of U.S. programming than there has historically been relative to Canadian.
9767 MR. ASPER: If Barb wants to chime in here, she can.
9768 The facts are that the number David just cited ‑‑ I think it was three point something ‑‑ is roughly in line with what foreign program costs have gone up over the last few years. Canadian program costs of specialty channels in particular have gone up by a far greater amount, never mind the BDUs have gone up 24 per cent in their spending.
9769 But it is not about them, I understand, in terms of they are not here asking for something.
9770 But the increases in specialty have been much more significant as a percentage basis because it is tied to CPE.
9771 So what people sometimes misunderstand is that there is a bigger dollar base. So 3 per cent on a bigger dollar base does look like more money, but in terms of where the focus of increased spending is, it's on the specialty.
9772 So I don't think we have run away and gone on a major buying spree. 3.9 or whatever per cent is not ‑‑ you know, it is a fairly acceptable rate of inflation for programming, especially given that it is a very, very competitive marketplace, made more competitive by the introduction of Rogers in this ‑‑ with CHUM, by the way.
9773 MR. FECAN: And given that that is where you make your money to finance the Canadian.
9774 MR. ASPER: So to come back to your initial question, you are asking is this number the fix? And the answer is not really in the sense that as a manager, you try to get to a return on invested capital number. You try to get, as you know, a return on revenue, a profit margin percentage, you know, profit as a percentage of revenue. And this puts us from the mid‑single digits to what I would call the mid‑teens.
9775 That is the point roughly where you say okay, it's still worth investing in this business and carrying on this business.
9776 So again it will depend on what the outcome of some of these negotiations are, particularly with the distant signals.
9777 You know, one would like to have a 20 per cent margin and have $1.00 per sub. We try to get this 50 cents in a range that we felt had some relevance to the fees paid to other specialty services.
9778 I would point out here that you mentioned $300 million and that is our number, but that pales in comparison to the over $1 billion of sub‑fees that get paid to specialty. So in that context I think it is worth noting how that relates.
9779 So this is a middle ground position I think that buys us probably three to five years in addition to the cost cuts we have introduced in both of our businesses. Over 400 jobs have evaporated in the conventional business because we are not, as I say, just coming here asking for relief on one side. We are doing other things to try to manage our business well.
9780 That buys us three to five years of mid‑teen margins which are the margins that, as you know, equity shareholders expect from a business. That's really how we ended up with that number.
9781 MR. FECAN: Leonard, of course, is an owner; I am a manager. But if our owners were sitting here, they would completely agree with that kind of target as an acceptable rate of return for invested capital.
9782 COMMISSIONER KATZ: I want to come back to this question because I don't think you answered my question on the fragmentation quantum or the digital cost as well.
9783 But before we do that, as managers of the business, don't you look at the business as a whole?
9784 I guess you tried to address part of that earlier with the Chairman as well.
9785 But your financing is done as an entity, I would imagine. You go to your advertising agencies as an entity and you buy advertising for both specialty as well as for conventional. You run your businesses, I would imagine, as an entity with people wearing multiple hats, including yourselves and your senior officers that are probably here today as well.
9786 Why suddenly are we looking at this in two separate sectors when an awful lot of it is costing allocation, if I can call it that?
9787 MR. FECAN: I don't think the revenue is really costing allocation, and I think the costs are quite discrete between ‑‑ and the obligations are quite separate between the specialty licences and the conventional licences. They are entirely separate licences and each comes with their own set of obligations.
9788 While we try to use everything we have in the most creative and businesslike manner possible, you also look at what is performing and what is not performing.
9789 I think as we said, you try to turn around the things that aren't performing; you try to make it work. But if you come to the conclusion that there is no way this dog is going to hunt, you have to do something about it.
9790 MR. ASPER: I think if you look across other businesses, you see Loblaws will close the under‑performing stores or they will renovate. They will make a decision that something has to be done.
9791 GM will close car divisions. They will say I'm not going to produce this car any more. I'm going to close a plant in Windsor and I'm going to open one in Tennessee. That's what business managers do. They look at the under‑performing divisions and they decide what is going to happen to those divisions.
9792 Even within divisions you look at ‑‑ as I say, GM could close a plant. We could look at a newspaper within our newspaper division and say, you know, that is not going to work any more. Let's get rid of that newspaper, let's keep 12 others.
9793 So it gets very granular as to what is performing at what is under‑performing. There is just not much ‑‑ as Ivan said, the revenue really is quite discrete in terms of where it goes and the costs are also quite discrete, especially the technology, the investments you have to make.
9794 Some things like a sale system, a software investment in a sale system where we spent upwards of $20 million in the last several years, that applies across the board. So there are some back‑office things that apply across divisions. But it's quite separate in terms of the ‑‑ in our case specifically, the CW Media assets, which is the specialty business, is financed separately from the CanWest credit, CanWest parent company credit.
9795 COMMISSIONER KATZ: So coming back now to those issues that can be directly identified, the fragmentation of the audience and the digital transition costs, we are in a competitive environment here I guess so this is going to be difficult, I have a feeling as well, and I might get yanked pretty quickly.
9796 But to what extent are those two components driving why we are here today?
9797 The commitments and the contributions you have today you had two years ago as well and you were meeting them. So one of the reasons why we are here, notwithstanding the fact that you feel there should be a rebalancing taking place, is because there has been fragmentation, as I understand your evidence, and there has been a load, a burden put on you as an exogenous factor in terms of the cost of transitioning from analog to digital.
9798 I guess the question is: How much do those two components weigh in the overall equation?
9799 MR. ASPER: I guess the analogy I might use ‑‑ and I'm always afraid to use analogies. I remember the Starbucks one didn't work out as well as I would have hoped.
‑‑‑ Laughter / Rires
9800 MR. ASPER: So I will go out on a limb here.
9801 I guess it is kind of like the boiled frog.
9802 COMMISSIONER KATZ: The boiled frog.
9803 MR. ASPER: You know, the frog gets in the ‑‑ you know, in 1961 distant signals come in and whatever we are, the temperature gets turned up in the pot, and eventually the temperature keeps getting turned up and eventually you just get this death by a thousand cuts. And at some point you say you know, five, ten, fifteen years ago we would review the business and sit in strategy sessions and we would always have things ‑‑ we would always complain about the regulatory situation. But it never was quite bad enough to say okay, that is going to be our primary focus.
9804 But as you started to get into the fragmentation that I think this Commission ‑‑ for valid reasons in some other sense, in consumer choice and all the reasons you have cited in past decisions ‑‑ started this fragmentation thing, call it 1995 but going back to 1984 with the licensing of specialty channels.
9805 And we are not saying that was a bad idea, but just at some point there was no ‑‑ the temperature just kept getting turned up and the frog you know spent all this time getting closer and closer to death.
9806 And so here we are today, we would like you to turn the boiler off and simmer this frying pan or this ‑‑
‑‑‑ Laughter / Rires
9807 MR. ASPER: ‑‑ this pot down a little bit.
9808 COMMISSIONER KATZ: But to continue that analogy ‑‑
9809 MR. ASPER: So whether there were CAPEX or not, I think there is always going to CAPEX ups and downs in a company.
9810 You know, I remember going to my father and Seymour Epstein arguing about whether they should spend money going to stereo TV, if you can imagine. So high‑definition is much worse in terms of the capital expenditure example of that.
9811 But really it is a combination of all of these things. You look at the business model. If you were a private equity company coming into conventional TV right now, you wouldn't invest in this.
9812 COMMISSIONER KATZ: But to continue your analogy, I guess one of the questions the Commission has to deal with, if in fact we are going to look at this in the manner that you want, is do you take the pot off the fire or do you just lower the flame?
9813 So that is what I want to get a sense from you folks as to how hot is hot and what were these two incremental components contributing to that flame?
9814 MR. ASPER: The two being which, the CAPEX and ‑‑
9815 COMMISSIONER KATZ: The two being the impact of ‑‑
9816 MR. ASPER: ‑‑ fragmentation.
9817 COMMISSIONER KATZ: ‑‑ in the last two years, for argument's sake, because it has been two years I think this thing has sort of gone south from the data that I have seen from the CRTC where there was double‑digit returns or PBIT on conventional, and then two years ago it went down to 4.9 per cent and then last year I think the number was in the 5 per cent range.
9818 So it is the last 24 months where obviously fragmentation, if that is the major cause, hit; as well as the issue of we are getting closer and closer to digital transition and you are going to have to bite the bullet at this point in time and face those costs, which again could be argued are exogenous or non‑controllable costs.
9819 MR. ASPER: Well, I think there have been many times where we have peeked our head over the top of the pot and said enough, turn it down, I mean going back to the '90s in the structural hearing.
9820 I want to make clear it is not a question of just waking up; there is a tipping point of fragmentation. It was this one thing after the other. There was four‑plus‑one, then there was two‑four‑plus‑one and then there was six‑plus‑one really, because in Buffalo‑Toronto there are really six local Buffalo stations coming in. And then American Movie Classics comes in and then they start doing original programming that competes directly with other Canadian specialty channels and conventional channels in particular. It is just one thing after the other.
9821 We really did foresee this. We did say something about it a number of times. We were treated as simply doing ‑‑ you know, the numbers weren't showing the effect of it yet, and eventually what we said would come to pass has come to pass. That's why I think at this point it's just year after year of more and more fragmentation.
9822 MR. FECAN: The amount is our best shot at this point, but we also don't know what else you are going to decide in the course of this hearing in terms of opening up local avails to the BDUs or how VOD gets split or anything else.
9823 You know, at this point it is our best shot, but we really need to reserve until we see what decisions you make in this proceeding.
9824 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Those are my questions on this topic.
9825 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
9827 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
9828 I too want to stay just for a moment on fee for carriage.
9829 As you know, we are going to be hearing from the guilds tomorrow. You heard the CBC say that it should be tied to drama. The guilds will say the same thing tomorrow, as they have in the written submission.
9830 So I am asking you: Why have you chosen local to local when as over the air broadcasters it is the one format that sets you apart from all other broadcasting in the country, including unregulated media?
9831 It is the one thing that identifies you with your audience. So why is local the one thing that ‑‑ I know it's not the one thing. I know it's not the only thing. I know you are looking at the basket of your regulatory obligations.
9832 But why the focus on tying the provision of local programming to fee for carriage?
9833 MR. FECAN: Because you all here and we all here live on the avails of the audience, and the audience values local television more than anything else. Our survey has demonstrated that.
9834 I'm not saying there is no value in drama or other kinds of priority programming and God knows, we are champions of Canadian programming. We don't want to get into a situation that says, you know, one of the children is better than the other children. You want to have as much for everybody is possible.
9835 But you have to always take it back to audience because we all live and breathe and exist because of audience. If there was an audience, you wouldn't be sitting here, we wouldn't be here. The audience tells us that that is what they value most.
9836 That is what we want to ensure survives and flourishes. So in the kind of choices you need to make, that's why we chose to base it on what the audience values the most.
9837 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Okay.
9838 Repeatedly you have said this morning that specialty services aren't a factor in your over the air business, but certainly you have increased opportunities in the last six months to a year to amortize programming across the many platforms.
9839 Is there no cost recovery from being able to do that?
9840 You know, just recently your press release, CTV, said the Junos on CTV will now be shown on MuchMusic. You weren't able to do that a year ago.
9841 Global, by the same token, is now showing House on Showcase. You weren't able to do that six months ago.
9842 Is there no cost recovery from that and is there no new revenue generating opportunity from being able to do that?
9843 MR. FECAN: We are all trying to stretch their resources we have as efficiently as possible. We do not make money on the Junos, but we lose a little less because we are able to provide a few more platforms for the show and create more value for advertisers.
9844 You know, does it make it profitable, that whole program? No. It helps a little bit.
9845 But as stewards of businesses we have to look at each component and try to assess, you know, where the strength is, where the weakness is and what can be done.
9846 I think, Leonard, you said best. If this was a fresh investment, if people were looking at our businesses and say would you want to invest in the whole business or just specialty or just conventional, I think we would be hard pressed to have people invest in the conventional sector given the challenges that we have all outlined.
9847 MR. ASPER: Yes. We are not saying there is no relationship. I think we are just saying we make financial decisions about investment in the things on a separate basis. And yes, we will use, where we can, each asset to try to help the other where it's possible.
9848 Probably what will happen is conventional will help specialty more than specialty will be able to help conventional. And that's why I kind of used the expression we are running out of tricks in conventional to try to make the business viable.
9849 We have done a lot of cost‑cutting and there will be short‑term ‑‑ you know, this year there will be synergies out of the Alliance Atlantis transaction, there is no doubt about it. But again, you have to look at ‑‑ we are looking, like you, five years into the future, even two years into the future, and we just look at that revenue line. We can try to manage costs as much as possible but there is only so far you can go.
9850 MS WILLIAMS: If I could add, I actually think it comes back to the whole point about local. I actually think that the one thing that our local television stations are doing that does make conventional television unique is local programming.
9851 Specialty does do drama and does original drama and puts it on in prime time. Now it does that with a different effectiveness than our conventional broadcasting system does.
9852 But it is local that really is setting us apart.
9853 When you look at the opportunities to share things across conventional and specialty, the one thing you cannot share actually is your local obligations, because the specialty networks are national licences.
9854 So the one thing you do do uniquely in your local markets is your local programming that is a local obligation and needs to be supported.
9855 Actually, I think the key point is that we want to support it. We actually believe we are doing something truly important for these communities across Canada and that we are uniquely positioned to be able to do it. There is no other opportunity to serve those communities the way we do.
9856 So we are looking for a way to make sure we can maintain and continue to support those communities through our local television stations, and they are not supported in any way by our specialty business and they can't be.
9857 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: I think you will remember that I started my speech with the uniqueness and how providing local sets you apart.
9858 So we get that. Thank you.
9859 MR. ASPER: Commissioner, I just think it is also worth pointing out that I can think of seven of our local TV stations that lose money. Again, if you looked at it on a granular division by division basis, you might think about closing those.
9860 I know certainly I have had proposals internally that have come forward to me a few times that that would be a solution that would improve the profitability of the Global E Networks.
9861 Of course, it is the small market ones. You know, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Toronto are doing okay now, but it's the Halifaxes and the Winnipegs and the Reginas and the Lethbridges that just ‑‑ the local revenues generated just don't equal the costs of that station.
9862 So I think that's why we think the local thing makes a lot of financial sense.
9863 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Mr. Fecan, I believe it was you who compared it to the U.S. model and that there is a compensation for carriage in the U.S. of over‑the‑air but is it not in lieu of must carry? Isn't it a negotiation between the ‑‑
9864 MR. FECAN: Yes, you are absolutely right. But there is also property protection in terms of program rights.
9865 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: And that's the retransmission regime?
9866 MR. FECAN: Well, no ‑‑ well, yes. So if you are in Rochester and you want to watch Desperate Housewives you only have one place to watch it on the ABC station in Rochester.
9867 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: By the way, somebody provide a box set of DVDs of Desperate Housewives for the Chairman.
‑‑‑ Laughter / Rires
9868 MR. FECAN: For the Chairman.
9869 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: It's come up way too often.
‑‑‑ Laughter / Rires
9870 MR. FECAN: I just want to make sure that that part is on the radar. Yes, it's a consent regime. Yes, some stations ‑‑ we are told that Sinclair Broadcasting within a couple of years expects to get 20 percent of their revenues from fee‑for‑carriage in the U.S. And yes, there is a priority of negotiation. But, and this is a big but, it's the only place to see those programs in that community.
9871 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: It's the only place that?
9872 MR. FECAN: To see those programs in that community and so that is a very different model, a very different model, and I wouldn't be unhappy with that model.
9873 If we were rewriting the rules and saying we will take all these foreign stations off over‑the‑air you know you can have a fee‑for‑carriage ‑‑ I guess I should speak for CTV here. We haven't consulted on this. You either get a fee‑for‑carriage or priority.
9874 And if the only place to see all of these programs that we have bought the exclusive Canadian rights to are on our stations that's an interesting negotiation for us. I am not opposed to that but I am not sure how to stuff that genie back in the bottle.
9875 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Did you want to add anything, Mr. Asper?
9876 MR. ASPER: No, I think that's ‑‑ I couldn't have said it better.
9877 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Okay.
9878 A final line of questioning on the issue of distant signals, we have been told; we have read there is no way to ‑‑ one of the problems with distant signals no way to monetize the audience. But Mr. Armstrong did quite in detail tell us what kind of audience Desperate Housewives gets received in Ottawa on those distant signals.
9879 And therefore, I would assume, if the audience can be measured it can be monetized. Is that not the case, based on the numbers that Mr. Armstrong gave us earlier?
9880 MR. FECAN: It has a value. The challenge for us is how to monetize it because it is unpredictable and because the agencies can buy around that. They will ‑‑ you know, if they want 80 points in Toronto they can buy 65 and the spill might give them the 80 but you can't charge for that spill.
9881 MR. ASPER: See, they don't know where it is going to come from. So they don't know that people are just going to happen to pick on a Calgary station that night or, you know, a Winnipeg station.
9882 So they know that they buy 65 points they are going to get 80. So they get 15 for free, and that's the money we are saying we are losing. But we can't ‑‑ so we can't tell the where the 15 sell in advance, where the 15 is going to come from because we don't know. It depends when people get home for dinner that night.
9883 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Because from a consumer point of view, once you become accustomed to timeshifting it's a very ‑‑ it's a convenience of course. If that convenience is removed or it's limited, I am going to rely almost entirely on my PVR which you cannot monetize, right? I mean, you can't monetize my use of the PVR. Aren't you better off trying to figure this out between the advertisers and the BDUs on making maximum use of the distant signals?
9884 MR. FECAN: We buy the rights to these programs and I think what we are saying is, "Let us figure it out with the BDUs".
9885 MR. ASPER: Just give us a card ‑‑
9886 MR. FECAN: And maybe it is VOD and maybe it's PVR ‑‑ and by the way in PVR homes people watch more television than in non‑PVR homes.
9887 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Right.
9888 MR. FECAN: And they actually remember the commercials that are terrific commercials and skip pass the ones that maybe aren't so terrific.
9889 So yes, I mean it could go any number of ways but ‑‑ and it is a convenience and I don't think anybody wants to take that convenience away from the public. We just want to be able to have a fair negotiation with the BDUs about whether it's distant signals or VOD or their PVR set‑top boxes.
9890 MR. ASPER: I think you can expect that if one has the ‑‑ if the property right is acknowledged that there will be a reasonable negotiation about what the proper compensation is for the carriage of the distant signal.
9891 So I would bet ‑‑ I would be surprised if suddenly signals started getting pulled down. Will there be some brinkmanship? It's happened with the United States this way, not on the distant signal issue just on contract renewals, but I think you can expect the parties would be reasonable.
9892 I just find going to the BDUs today without that card you don't even get in the front door and it's just a question of ‑‑ I think the consumer in the end won't be hurt by this.
9893 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Thank you.
9894 Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Those are my questions.
9895 THE CHAIRPERSON: Ron.
9896 COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
9897 Good morning, Mr. Asper and Mr. Fecan.
9898 Earlier in this proceeding Rogers said that the conventional television broadcasting business was robust, financially attractive. In fact, that was why they invested $400 million or slightly more than that in Citytv. He put the statement on the record.
9899 If we were to consider alternative rebalancing; let's explore the scenario that no fee‑for‑carriage was approved, what other specific actions could we take to assist your businesses?
9900 MR. ASPER: Well, I think as Mr. Fecan said, you have to start at the obligations.
9901 You know Canada has the ‑‑ I don't like this solution because as a Canadian I don't think it's the right thing but, you know, you will end up with Australia which I can talk about in a second as an example.
9902 But you could say no content rules, no 60 percent content. You know in New Zealand there were no content rules and we put on 25 to 35 percent as a matter of market practice because that was the smart thing to do for a lot of news and information and the odd drama here and there. You know Ireland has got a 25 percent rule. The EU is 50 percent, but it's 50 percent EU so it doesn't have to be French in France. It could be, you know, a British program. But language obviously and culture obviously dictates that it's more local.
9903 So change the content rules, change the priority carriage ‑‑ sorry, priority programming rules so you know 30 percent of our primetime is on economic programming. That's for the eight hours. You know, there are things like that you would have to look at, you know, the local commitments. Again, is it an average of 22 hours or there is an average of 10 hours? Things like that, I think, that is where you would start.
9904 I don't know if I have missed anything.
9905 MR. FECAN: I would agree completely and God bless Ted for paying what he did for those stations. We are eternally grateful to him.
‑‑‑ Laughter / Rires
9906 MR. FECAN: But I would point out that he has ‑‑ that it's a drop in the bucket in the universe of the Rogers company and their revenues and what they have got. And they have some fairly unique synergistic opportunities. City is a youth ‑‑ a cutting edge brand. I think I remember we had a discussion about what that meant. Apparently it meant enough for Mr. Rogers to pay that kind of money because he thought he could sell more wireless phones to youth and Blue Jay games on Citytv and all kinds of things, and I don't question why he did what he did. I'm just grateful he did.
9907 But as long term ‑‑ and of course, they have the ability to amortize U.S. program costs between their two OMNI stations which run an awful lot of American programming out of prime with Citytv. So they have got ‑‑ they have got a plan and good for them.
9908 But I completely agree with what Leonard said in terms of if we didn't get it, the rebalancing, that we would be looking at, and I don't think either of us as broadcasters and as Canadians want to go there.
9909 MR. ASPER: I have a few other things I thought of in the interim.
‑‑‑ Laughter / Rires
9910 COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS: Please share them with us.
9911 MR. ASPER: Maybe by noon I will have another.
9912 Just things like enforcing local simulcast rules, you know, takedown the second set of four‑plus‑ones; the production sector, remember we have a requirement of 75 percent of the drama has to come from the independent production centre of your community and that is something the United States got rid of in 1991 with the end of what they called the "sin fin(ph) rules". And again, make sure that simulcast in the HD world is completely enforced; the enforcement of local carriage of stations.
9913 You know there are a number of things which if you add them up ‑‑ I would say also the distant signal thing has ‑‑ I think the acknowledgement of the property right there is ‑‑ that's an interesting package that might change our view on the whole fee‑for‑carriage issue.
9914 COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS: Thank you, Mr. Asper and Mr. Fecan.
9915 The second half of this question now, I guess, is if it is determined that a fee‑for‑carriage is appropriate what are your views on rebalancing the fees charged between the conventional and specialty sectors and staying within the existing BDU rates, thereby minimizing the impact on subscribers or customers?
9916 MR. FECAN: I think ‑‑ let me start and, Leonard, I know you are going to want to jump in, but our lifeline proposal should actually reduce the basic package cost.
9917 COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS: Okay.
9918 MR. FECAN: Go ahead.
9919 MR. ASPER: I'm not quite sure I understand the question. Could you repeat it? I would appreciate it.
9920 COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS: Well, maybe that the specialty sector would receive lower rates to free up some financial capacity to support the conventional sectors is what I'm suggesting.
9921 MR. ASPER: Well, I think then you start to look at all the other obligations of the specialty sector which is the CPE and you know ‑‑
9922 COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS: So it's a similar argument then? It would be ‑‑
9923 MR. ASPER: Yes, I think it's just the balancing of it.
9924 You know, I was just going to point out the Australian system here. The Australian system is very interesting because they have a BDU system there and they have created this world where there is one BDU effectively and there are ‑‑ there is a 55 percent content requirement for conventional and there is some drama component of that in there. But the BDU sector is a company called Foxtail which is partly owned but run by News Corp.
9925 And what you have in Australia is about a 55‑channel package about half of which are owned by the BDU of channels. So they own their own channels and then they have ‑‑ the other half are American channels brought in, you know, like Discover US and E! Network and all these things, but there is no Australian ownership and there is $20 million a year of local production from the pay sector compared to $800 million here.
9926 So that's a different system but it's there. It's an alternative.
9927 COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS: Your answers have been very helpful, thank you.
9928 Those are my questions.
9929 THE CHAIRPERSON: Michel, you had a question on fee‑for‑carriage?
9930 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Merci, Monsieur le Président.
9931 J'ai effectivement ‑‑ I have a couple of questions. The first one is there a place throughout the world where an OTA broadcaster can get the access and a regulated price for their signal? Is there a place, another place in the world where we can have both, the access and a regulated price as you are asking?
9932 MR. ASPER: I don't know of another system like that.
9933 COMMISSIONER MORIN: I think that there is another place ‑‑ that there isn't another place where you have both.
9934 MR. ASPER: So true.
9935 COMMISSIONER MORIN: So you are asking here to the Commission an exception only in our world, television world?
9936 MR. FECAN: Well, with respect, you are missing something. You are missing the obligations.
9937 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Yes, of course.
9938 MR. FECAN: Because in the U.S. model that we have described before it is exactly as you say. It is one or the other but there are no obligations.
9939 MR. ASPER: And there is no U.S. foreign signals. Nowhere in the world does somebody buy a program from NBC and then compete against NBC.
9940 MR. FECAN: So when you pose the first two you need to consider the other two as well because it balances.
9941 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Will it be feasible to get for you ‑‑ to get the fee‑for‑carriage on a temporary basis? I mean for example a period of three years only because there is an exceptional reason; the model is evolving. We don't know what will be the conditions in three years or four years.
9942 MR. ASPER: I guess the way I would put that is if something, some input, other input to the system changed there would be ‑‑ you know maybe that's a possibility. But I think what we are saying is we don't see any reason why the world is going to change from what the five‑year and ten‑year forecasts are in what technology is allowing people to do.
9943 But again if the Commission were to change some of the other parts of the equation, again, it's always assuming ‑‑ we are open to being open about it, I guess.
9944 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Because I am not sure that you have convinced your bankers with the arguments you are putting forward before us this morning. You talk about reducing your obligations with the renewal of licence, to reduce the drama, documentaries. All these options are before us. We can reduce the obligation to produce at least 70 percent of your priority programming with the independent producers. We could have opportunities with the video‑on‑demand.
9945 You are in the business of content. You are doing well with your specialized channels which is a part of your business, but it's in the whole system. In your CTV it's a business which is doing well. Eventually, you will target the audiences in such a way that it will be probably very profitable and more and more people will get the HD signal and enjoying watching television.
9946 So there is a long list of reasons. I would like to hear the same arguments you have given to your bankers when Commissioner Katz mentioned it, when you bought CHUM and Atlantis ‑‑ Alliance Atlantis or is there something that I am missing?
9947 MR. FECAN: What you are missing is that we didn't buy a lot of conventional with CHUM. We bought at the end of the day the A‑Channel which are diminimous to the size of the transaction. I can't even do the math in my head but it is a few percent of the whole transaction. We bought CHUM for specialty and radio.
9948 And I believe ‑‑ well, it's self‑evident that CanWest bought Alliance Atlantis purely for specialty because there were no conventional assets there.
9949 MR. ASPER: And I think it's also worth saying again, CanWest is bifurcated in terms of its credit facilities. It's actually more than that. They are trifurcated, if you will. But the Alliance Atlantis specialty assets are housed in a separate business that is separately financed. And so that's to Ivan's point.
9950 But then at the CanWest parent company level they look at the ‑‑ the bankers there looked at the company on an overall basis and they look and they say, "Well, they have a set of forecasts for the Global Television group and they have a set of forecasts for the publishing group and they have a set of forecasts for Australia" and they will look at it and they will say, "Well, thank god for publishing in Australia."
9951 They will look at it on a combined basis and say ‑‑ and I didn't mean to say that glibly. I just think the point is there is some ‑‑ they will look at it overall and ask if we are in within ‑‑ if they think we can be within our covenants over the next several years.
9952 COMMISSIONER MORIN: And we will have to explain to the consumer this decision. So if the Commission agrees with your demand for a fee‑for‑carriage will you accept as a condition to publicize it during a whole month, perhaps 20 times with standard clips, your clients, your viewership that because of the CRTC's decision following your demand they will have to pay a rate of 50 cents per subscriber and per month?
9953 MR. FECAN: Commissioner, the issue is they think they are already paying it. They believe they are paying it. They can't believe that we are not getting it because they are paying for it. They think they are paying the money for these services which they value above all the other services provided.
9954 MR. ASPER: I think the answer, you know, to go back to what I said earlier, we would be ready, willing and able to assist BDUs with a marketing campaign and using our media to do so. And I promise you that the head of the Variety Club Telethon and the head of the ‑‑ what's that team Crosby played for, Rimouski, I think ‑‑ and you know the junior hockey team players and all the people in the community would be enlisted to support this and try to help cable sell this.
9955 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Thank you.
9956 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, before you finish fee‑for‑carriage one last question.
9957 Several of the intervenors have suggested that part of the problem in OTA is a lack of discipline between you and beating each other's brains out in trying to acquire American programming at excessive costs, and one way to do that is to impose some discipline on the bidding and he makes analogy to hockey where the teams were beating each other to pay the players and as a result everybody else goes bankrupt or near bankrupt, and they suggest that we should impose a proportional spending requirement on you, whatever it be. So let's say 50‑50, 60‑40 or something like that basically for a programming requirement each year you can only spend so much on American and so much on Canadian.
9958 By doing that you automatically put some discipline in the system and make sure there is enough money available for Canadian programming but also that you don't needlessly beat each other up, to the benefit of Hollywood but not to the benefit of the broadcasting system. It has been suggested to us in various forms and I would like to have your views on that.
9959 MR. FECAN: As a part owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs I think the jury is still out on whether the new system is working or not for all the teams.
‑‑‑ Laughter / Rires
9960 MR. FECAN: But I would say to you that there is discipline. There is a very good discipline. There is a profit discipline.
9961 You know, when the rest of our business in conventional doesn't make money and one sector does make money that's the discipline. And that money that we make is used to finance Canadian. So the linkage is already there. The linkage is the basis of our business. And you know, I guess it is understandable when all other portions of the business are not making a lot of money or any money at all that which does make money becomes more valuable.
9962 MR. ASPER: I don't think we can escape the issue that the top 10, top 20 programs are more and more an important part of the makeup of the broadcasting ‑‑ of a broadcaster's profit. I mean it's in the 80 to 90 percent range. I mean one makes a small margin on news. When you net out the losses in the markets and the wins and bigger markets and then the Canadian drama, unfortunately, still has not been able to become profitable and it's loss making.
9963 So it is one part of capital so to speak. It's one ‑‑ there is a programming budget and we are trying to do as best we can and I think the evidence shows that we have. A 4.5 percent increase in foreign programming costs is not out of line with other inflationary inputs in the business whether it's labour or other things.
9964 THE CHAIRPERSON: What is wrong with the argument that is being presented to me that ‑‑ let's say for argument's sake, make it simple, we impose a 50‑50 program expenditure requirement on everybody; you, Rogers or whoever is bidding for an American program. That means that you obviously have to make choices of how much to wait but effectively since there is nobody else bidding for the Canadian programming rights, you know, you are going to make intelligent choices yet Canadians will still have the programming but the overall part of the pie that is spent on U.S. programming rather than Canadian programming is going to be contained.
9965 MR. ASPER: The short answer is that the profits of Canadian broadcasters will come down because they will substitute low margin or loss‑making programming for high margin or profitable programming.
9966 And I just ‑‑ it's simple and what will then happen is the reverberation into the system will be ‑‑ there won't be as many of those Houses and Prison Breaks and CSIs and shows that drive entire CPE ‑‑ not the entire but a big part of the CPE expenditures that go to specialty. I mean, House went onto Showcase last week and ratings are up and guess what, revenues are up and expenses will go up, spending on the Canadian production sector.
9967 So they are going ‑‑ what they are going ‑‑ what they are suggesting is to ‑‑ they are robbing their own Peter to pay their own Paul. They are going to say ‑‑ they think they are going to get it on the conventional by upping the amount that conventional spends but then they are going to give it back because there won't be as much profitable U.S. programming to go around which then works its way into the specialty system which then drives the CPE up there. We think this is ‑‑ so I think that's ‑‑
9968 THE CHAIRPERSON: I am sorry, I am not sure I quite followed. You are suggesting that the prime programming will migrate to specialty programming rather than over‑the‑air? Is that the ‑‑
9969 MR. ASPER: Well, no. The point is the volume and the availability of U.S. programming in the conventional system will reduce because there will be ‑‑ there won't be as much purchased in this environment. So then that won't then find its way onto the specialty channels which drives the ratings on specialty channels.
9970 THE CHAIRPERSON: And the argument ‑‑
9971 MR. ASPER: It's connected ‑‑
9972 THE CHAIRPERSON: ‑‑ is the U.S. programmers produce for the U.S., not for the Canadian. The Canadian is basically nice icing on the cake. You two bid it up. If you two are under constraint you will still wind up with it but you will wind up with a lower price because you are the same but it will still be shown on Canadian. It's not that those shows won't find their way to the Canadian market. They will just find a way to the Canadian market at a lower price.
9973 MR. FECAN: Not necessarily if ‑‑
9974 THE CHAIRPERSON: That's what I am asking you.
9975 MR. FECAN: If they don't get the price they want they may choose to not sell it and they may ‑‑ and ultimately because as a country we have let these signals in anyway. And it's a very short jump to do what A&E does, which is you buy the rights for North America and you sell the advertising for North America.
9976 So you know the thing is you actually want us to make money on the American because that's how we pay for the Canadian.
9977 THE CHAIRPERSON: Absolutely.
9978 MR. FECAN: So you don't want to govern, I submit, how much we make on that because it goes in to support the obligations of the Canadian.
9979 MR. ASPER: I agree with that, yes.
9980 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Then let's go to the next line of questioning, Michel, on access and basic package.
9981 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Okay, thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
9982 Just before going in that direction because I am trying to convince myself because if I am not hearing ‑‑ confusing an argument on the matter of fee‑for‑carriage ‑‑ what I was thinking about was that if I am going back at the previous century or even at the end of the 1890s when they introduced the automobile for the first time. And if I would have been a carriage manufacturer and I will have knocked at Henry Ford's door and say, "I need your support because you are destroying my industry" I was asking myself what will Henry Ford have replied.
9983 MR. FECAN: You are describing a free market system.
‑‑‑ Laughter / Rires
9984 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Well, the thing is ‑‑
9985 MR. FECAN: This is not a free market system. This is a mixed system.
9986 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: The thing is I also heard you that obviously what is destroying the system is the accessibility of the U.S. channel. I am saying to myself, well, if there were to be no more over‑the‑air broadcasting then you will get the protection of the one per genre.
9987 So are we assisting here at the beginning of the end of the era, and the era of over‑the‑air broadcasting, because the way that you are putting it seems to me very alarmist? It's very ‑‑ crack in the foundation and we cannot build over another floor.
9988 So I am trying to ‑‑ I am wrestling with all those arguments and still far from having made up my own mind. But I was saying to myself looking at the carriage industry what Henry Ford would have said if somebody had ‑‑ I am not asking. I don't know if he was asked the question and I don't know what the reply was. I'm not an historian, but it's something that did cross my mind.
9989 I am asked to undertake or to go over the basic ‑‑
9990 THE CHAIRPERSON: I am reminded it is 12:30. Maybe we should break for lunch before we start again.
9991 MR. ASPER: Okay. Mr. Chair, could I take one 30‑second stab at answering the question?
9992 THE CHAIRPERSON: Sure.
9993 MR. ASPER: I guess the thing that struck me was Henry Ford operates in a free market that is missing two things. There isn't this state‑sponsored what I would call piracy of some of it, but the inputs to his business, and there isn't a section 3 of a Broadcast Act. And we can go back and change section 3 of ‑‑ he doesn't have this overriding statute in there which creates this obligation. I just think to compare a free market to a different kind of market is maybe not quite symmetrical.
9994 That's my off‑the‑cuff response thing.
9995 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Thank you.
9996 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, we are running a bit behind schedule but I think it was a very valuable morning. So we will break now for lunch.
9997 Thank you.
‑‑‑ Upon recessing at 1229 / Suspension à 1229
‑‑‑ Upon resuming at 1330 / Reprise à 1330
9998 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, Michel, you have the floor.
9999 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
10000 Good afternoon. I hope you benefited from the small break.
10001 I want to thank you for the last page of your oral presentation, to which you have attached your streamlined initiatives. I think it is a very handy piece to start with to do my part of the interrogatories.
10002 As the Chair said, I will be responsible for basic, access and preponderance, and my colleague Mr. Katz will deal with the other issues.
10003 I am sure that all of my other colleagues will also come back with their own questions to complement this proceeding.
10004 Let's start with the basic service. On page 8 of your oral submission you gave us your lineup of what constitutes the lifeline basic service for all BDUs, and I would guess that those are the "must" items for basic service.
10005 I heard you this morning say that if they were to go with a very small basic service, then, if the Commission were to grant fee for carriage, it might not have a significant impact on the rate to subscribers.
10006 But we also heard other BDUs throughout the week, which have come up already, say, "Leave it to us to make the determination as to what is the best basic service. We don't see the need to fix it. It isn't broken."
10007 It is not broken even if, in some instances, some BDUs have fairly big basic services. Rogers has 63 positions freed up for the basic service, which includes audio services.
10008 Some other BDUs are saying, "We are trying to meet our customer needs." In most instances, only about 5 percent of their subscribers are taking the basic service. Let's say between 5 and 10.
10009 Even if the Commission suggested a very small basic service in its letter of mid‑March, do you think that the BDU should have the flexibility to package the basic service along the lines of their own experience, the needs of their customers, or that the lifeline basic service should be the set rule?
10010 MS BELL: I think the idea here is, really, that we feel the basic package should reflect the priorities of the Broadcasting Act, which is why we have outlined local and regional stations ‑‑ CBC, educational stations, 91H.
10011 In terms of the other services that are typically included in the basic package, we note that there is such a thing, and there is a possibility for BDUs, then, to offer an extended basic package, which could be much, much larger and include a number of other services, including Canadian specialties and 4 plus 1.
10012 But in terms of the basic basic package, we feel that this reflects very accurately the priorities of the Broadcasting Act.
10013 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: We would also note that we are certain that the BDUs are happy with the current situation because the price of basic has doubled since 1998. But given that the Act speaks of accessibility, we thought the customers should be able to avail themselves of a small lifeline basic.
10014 As Charlotte said, the customers could then decide to take whatever package flows from there.
10015 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: We also heard the BDUs during the week say that if we were to touch the basic service, we should not touch the analog basic service, because trapping the system is fairly intensive, cost intensive, and we are at the end of a technology that will be disappearing in less than five years, according to the migration policy.
10016 Do you have any comments to make on that?
10017 ‑‑ so that it applies only in the digital world.
10018 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: I think we are fine with that, moving through the digital transition.
10019 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Moving through the digital transition.
10020 Obviously, in your lifeline, you don't see any Canadian specialty services. You have removed the U.S. services, and you are removing all of the specialty services that are not 91H.
10021 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: That's correct. In fact, obviously, we have services that would be lost to the basic service, but we think, overall, if the overall goal is to create a small lifeline basic service that is affordable to Canadians, then it should include those services.
10022 As long as access and genre protection rules are in place, we should be fine in packaging those services with other tiers or other ‑‑ either it is a basic‑plus or other tiers.
10023 MR. FECAN: Mr. Vice‑Chair, we are not opposed to extended basic, or any other marketing thing that the BDUs want to do. I think you asked the question, "What should get special protection," and our answer is, only these channels should get special statutory protection.
10024 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: My secondary question is, could the BDU expand that lifeline?
10025 And your answer is no, because you want to keep it as small as possible, and as affordable as possible, with a fairly reduced price, so that if fee for carriage is approved, then the end customer will not see a significant difference.
10026 If he wants to have the U.S. services, and they elect to sell them as a tier by itself, then, obviously, their total bill could change. That is another consideration, which is part of their marketing, not part of the regulatory system.
10027 That's what you are saying.
10028 MS BELL: In fact, I think the overall price would probably decline, because you would be dropping a number of services.
10029 So even if there was a small increase for fee for carriage, I think that the overall price would probably be lower than it is currently.
10030 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: An argument was made, saying that, obviously, the basic service pays for the infrastructure and for the back office. So the reality is, it may not go down that much.
10031 Yes, some costs associated with the distribution of some specialty services will be removed, but the total will not be that staggering.
10032 If you think that it will go down from, say, $32.95 ‑‑ in some instances that is what we have seen ‑‑ to $15, you, Commissioners, are dreaming.
10033 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: We are not advocating that the Commission go back to re‑regulating basic cable, but consumers would, I am sure, have a larger measure of transparency within that big chunk that is your basic cable fee if they had a sense of exactly what the services were.
10034 MR. FECAN: Just for further clarification, we understand that in the U.S., $15 is the price for what they call the skinny basic package.
10035 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: I heard you say that you don't have anything against extended ‑‑ a huge extended tier, but in the digital world they could sell them piecemeal, if they so wished, because set‑top boxes are addressable.
10036 They usually talk about the thin package, and the most appropriate thin package that they have been talking about ‑‑ the optimum one is a package that is made up of only six services.
10037 Going with your lifeline package here, if they were to go with a thin package of six, at the end of the day, do you think ‑‑
10038 I don't know if you have made any calculations or looked at the final cost for the subscriber.
10039 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: No, we haven't done that, but I suspect that when you put those packages together ‑‑ first of all, they know well how to promote and how to market their services.
10040 Our view, again going to the submission, is that through access rules and the double preponderance rule, we should have sufficient competitive ability to be part of those packages with attractive offerings.
10041 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Let's move to access rules.
10042 With the current access rules, obviously, analog and Category 1s have almost a must carry status. We could call it dual status, modified dual status, or whatever lexicon the Commission finally uses in authorizing the Category 1s.
10043 What you are saying here is that these rules must stay.
10044 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: The Commission identified in its Schedule 2 this notion of core Canadian services, and we believe that the original analog services and the Category 1 digital specialties should form that core, largely because of how they were licensed.
10045 Their carriage was granted based on those licensing proceedings, which were very competitive, and placed emphasis on the contribution they make to the system.
10046 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: In your written presentation, both of you had a different point of view regarding access and preponderance. You seem now to have come up with a single position, which you expressed this morning in your oral presentation.
10047 That leads me to ask you a few questions about the existing 1‑to‑1 and 5‑to‑1 linkage rules.
10048 One of your group was saying that they were not ‑‑ and you, again, are saying that they could be removed, but in the Canwest submission there was a long explanation of the negative impact of removing those linkage rules.
10049 You made a bargain before coming here, so...
10050 MR. ASPER: I think you are right. To the extent that there has been a change in one of our positions between submission time and now, it is just a function of the dynamic of coming together, realizing that this is so vitally important as a hearing, as a process, that we have looked at some of these other ‑‑ the places where we were apart and said to each other, "Who can live with what? What is the most important?"
10051 You come back to the question earlier this morning about, when you rank, what really matters.
10052 This particular issue, especially the basic package issue, was something that we hadn't raised or given much thought to in our submission.
10053 So where the Commission asked questions, we have tried to come together here to make it simpler for you.
10054 If I go back to the last hearing, one of the comments that was made in the decision was ‑‑ it was the hearing we had on structure last year ‑‑ "Even CTV and Canwest aren't proposing the same thing."
10055 So we just tried to make it easier here, and we picked, sometimes, the lesser of two poisons ‑‑ sometimes the greater of two poisons ‑‑ that one could live with.
10056 I think that is what has happened here.
10057 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Getting back to the last question on basic ‑‑ I hope the last question on basic ‑‑ you haven't put the community channel anywhere in your lifeline basic package.
10058 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: No, we have not. We are assuming that they are going to carry their own community channels.
10059 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: On a tier?
10060 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: We are assuming that they are going to carry their own community channels.
10061 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: On basic?
10062 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: Yes.
10063 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: By your answer, you are telling me that you are allowing them to repackage the basic service in a different fashion than the lifeline.
10064 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: They may carry their community channel, but, to be clear, it need not be part of the basic package, and they shouldn't be charging customers for that privilege, except for the portion that they take from the 2 percent contribution, which they are already paying themselves for those services.
10065 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: But that is taken out of the pocket of the consumer.
10066 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: Correct, but I don't think ‑‑
10067 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: What you are saying is, no more than that 2 percent.
10068 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: That's correct.
10069 I may question the 2 percent, but that may be in another proceeding.
10070 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Yes. Okay.
10071 MR. ASPER: From an access perspective, if I read the BDU submissions and comments correctly, what they have said is, likely everybody, or the vast majority ‑‑ 90 to 95 percent of consumers will then move from the basic to the extended basic package, and in that package one will probably see community channels, and we are confident that they will want our specialty channels, and that there will be a rather large extended basic.
10072 Even in the U.S., again looking at other totally free markets, that is what has happened there. There is a small basic, but most people move beyond that.
10073 Those are kind of our underlying assumptions that underpin the positions we have taken here.
10074 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: And that's what they are already saying. They are saying that, even with a big basic package, 95 percent of their subscribers ‑‑ 90 to 95 percent of their subscribers, depending on the area, will take, also, extended basic, or the various tiers, the various thematic packages.
10075 What you are saying is, even with a bigger basic package, that is not much different than what you are also saying about the U.S. experience, where they only have a very small package. Almost nobody takes the small basic package, except the viewers who are only interested in news on their preferred local stations. They don't watch television for any other purpose whatsoever.
10076 MR. FECAN: And those of modest means.
10077 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Yes.
10078 But we are still of the view that a good number of them are still over‑the‑air. That's why we are talking about HD in another forum.
10079 Let's talk about preponderance. I read in your submission that you are talking about a double preponderance, a level of the offering ‑‑ 50 plus 1 ‑‑ and a subscription of 50 plus 1.
10080 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: I'm sorry, just for the sake of clarity, Mr. Arpin, which submission?
10081 Because, on these issues, I believe we had ‑‑
10082 We came in with separate submissions, so is it the CTV submission or the Canwest submission?
10083 First of all, I should say that you will find that we are both on the same page now; not to pre‑empt any of your questioning, but ‑‑
10084 THE CHAIRPERSON: Why don't you give me your joint position?
10085 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: What is key for us is your joint position.
10086 MS BELL: We agree on a double preponderance.
10087 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: So you agree on a double preponderance, and you have established it at 50 plus 1.
10088 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: That's correct.
10089 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: We heard assumptions that it should be two‑thirds Canadian at both ends.
10090 That, surely, was the position of the CBC.
10091 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: But that doesn't change our proposal.
10092 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: You haven't seen any benefit in the views of others regarding the ‑‑
10093 So your view is 50 plus 1, and, obviously, 50 plus 1, in a 500‑channel universe, means 251 Canadian and 249 foreign.
10094 With respect to foreign services, are you including all of the ethnic channels and all of the third‑language channels?
10095 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: Yes, we are.
10096 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: So foreign is not only U.S. In your assumption, it is all over the world ‑‑
10097 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: Non‑Canadian services.
10098 MS BELL: And it assumes access and genre protection still.
10099 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: I will leave genre protection to my colleague Mr. Katz.
10100 MR. ASPER: Commissioner, I want to, again, state the underlying principle.
10101 We like the CBC idea. Anything that is better than what we proposed for broadcasters could be useful, but I think the issue is ‑‑ the underlying principle we have tried to come up with is, where we can show flexibility and sympathy with the Commission's objectives, and it won't cause undue economic harm to us, we will do it. We will try to help out here as part of the overall equation of trying to help the Commission get to some of these things we are trying to ask for from the regulatory side.
10102 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: Could I correct the math on your 500‑channel universe, 250 plus 1?
10103 Our double preponderance does not include basic, so the double preponderance would be on discretionary services on top of basic.
10104 The lifeline ‑‑
10105 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: The lifeline.
10106 Aren't the distant signals part of the basic service?
10107 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: No.
10108 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: So the distant signal will count, but the local signal won't.
10109 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: That's correct.
10110 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: That's the way you see it.
10111 Mr. Chairman, those are my questions. Thank you.
10112 THE CHAIRPERSON: Len?
10113 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
10114 On the issue of genre, I believe you have had a coming together as well.
10115 In one of these documents ‑‑ and I am not sure whose it was ‑‑ there was the suggestion that you were in favour of having broader categories of themes, and in the final submission, I gather, you retracted that.
10116 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: I am going to ask John Medline and Kevin Goldstein to walk you through the proposal that is now before you.
10117 MR. MEDLINE: The joint position right now is not what some people have called the bucket idea, but is, rather, a streamlining of genre protection, where we keep the nature of service, but where all of the category restrictions, and what we would call the unique or one‑off restrictions, are removed from licences.
10118 That is the current genre position.
10119 COMMISSIONER KATZ: And the reason you have moved to this environment, from what I gather, is a fear of morphing of services into the middle?
10120 Is that what the concern is?
10121 MR. MEDLINE: Our plan was really designed for streamlining purposes. We see value, still, in maintaining genres, but we also see value in allowing more flexibility within our system, for all parties.
10122 It was really designed for streamlining, and to make it more efficient, and, at the same time, create more flexibility.
10123 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Once the two of you walk out of this room, you are going to be at each other again. That is the competitive nature of the business, and that's terrific.
10124 You also will come back to us ‑‑
‑‑‑ Laughter / Rires
10125 COMMISSIONER KATZ: You also will come back to us and say that there is what we will call creeping genre syndrome, where people are creeping into my genre, versus somebody else's.
10126 Wouldn't it be easier if we had something that was ‑‑ I am not sure that I would use the word "transitionary", but something that would make things a little clearer and a little easier for everybody to operate in, without a regulator having to deal with this creeping syndrome issue?
10127 MS BELL: I think that is why we proposed what we did propose.
10128 I think, in fairness, what usually happens in terms of the creeping, is that it happens at the category level. You are trying to decide, "Should I allow this party to do 10 percent of programming in this category," and then other people intervene.
10129 We know that can be a bit of a headache, and it just becomes difficult for you to figure out, "When have you slipped out of your genre?"
10130 We looked at the buckets very carefully. We did a whole analysis at Canwest, and I know that CTV went through the same exercise, and we appreciated what your dilemma was. We thought: Let's find a very simple, streamlined way to make it easier for the Commission, and also to stop all of the ‑‑
10131 And, frankly, to save time for ourselves, because we don't enjoy writing all of those interventions, or responding to them.
10132 That's why we suggested this. We think that this is going to help, and as long as you maintain the nature of service, I think the natures of service are still sufficiently detailed to ensure that individual services will stick to a certain genre without having to resort to the complication of dealing with the categories.
10133 COMMISSIONER KATZ: What harm would be caused if we went the next step and went to the broader categories that some parties have advocated?
10134 MS BELL: I actually think it's more complicated. It's more complex for you. It's more complex for us.
10135 There are a number of disadvantages.
10136 I think that Barb Williams may want to chime in at some point.
10137 A one‑size‑fits‑all is not how the services were licensed in the first place, but there was a good reason for that.
10138 I guess what we are trying to say is, let's not take the specialty out of specialty and get these services closer and closer to the middle, because that is really, I think, where we might end up going.
10139 MS WILLIAMS: When we tried to model the allocation of services into those larger buckets, we actually found that we were having more disagreements internally about what belonged where than we did under the current system.
10140 So we actually were concerned that we were going to find ourselves having more of the kind of problems that we are trying to avoid here, and that we are trying to get rid of, because the edges are just not very clear when you go to those buckets at all.
10141 There were some services that just, clearly, didn't fit anywhere. There were some services that clearly fit in two or three. And there was no clear, or easy, straightforward way, from our point of view, to make that work.
10142 To speak to Charlotte's point, we really felt that with maintaining the Canadian content and the spend requirements, we were maintaining what was really key in terms of supporting the community.
10143 With maintaining the nature of service, we were actually preserving the diversity that, I think, has made our system so successful.
10144 And, then, by moving away from the quirks of the individual licences, and some of the particulars that got caught in the categories, we were freeing the system from the endless arguing about the small points, and providing services a little bit of flexibility to be that much more competitive.
10145 We actually felt in the end that we had something that worked.
10146 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Having lived through telecom deregulation, sometimes there is more work before there is less.
10147 I certainly hear what you are saying with regard to, in a transitionary period, it may be more difficult in the short‑term, but I think, longer term, there probably are some benefits, and we need to balance those one way or another.
10148 I also wanted to talk about this notion you have put out that, if we did remove the genres, there would be morphing.
10149 From my perspective, I don't know why someone who is successful would leave his space and go somewhere else where he would be less successful.
10150 On the other side of the coin, someone who is not successful will not be around long‑term anyway, unless he finds a home for himself.
10151 So, why is that a bad thing, within the confines of the Canadian system?
10152 MR. ASPER: I am just trying to think of our own portfolio of channels. Some are more successful than others, and some are less successful.
10153 And, yes, the more successful ones will try to stay in their area, but there are a lot of others that are, I think, sort of in the middle. They are not sure where they should go, from a programmer's perspective, and they could go different ways.
10154 They are successful enough to stay around, but the financial impetus would be to go after some of the more successful categories.
10155 That is what has happened in the United States. You have seen a lot of what were specialty channels or specialized programming channels all ending up in the general programming business. You know, it started with USA Network and now we see American Movie Classics saying, you know, they are going with first run kind of general programming.
10156 And TBS, WTBS, the Super Station, was like that and it has gone through this. It went through this men's ‑‑ there was Spike TV and they keep changing and trying to go to compete head‑to‑head with NBC and CBS basically.
10157 They all try to get the mainstream programming.
10158 Then there are a few successful ones like ‑‑ I can only speak for ourselves ‑‑ the Home and Garden TV, where they will stay there and they will try to continue to be very successful in that niche. It is the other ones.
10159 I'm trying to think of a middle one like ‑‑ Barb, what is a channel that is kind of in the middle, successful enough to stay around but not successful in its own genre?
10160 Slice maybe.
10161 MS WILLIAMS: Yes. If you take some of the services that we know today, like a Slice, you know, if it was opened up into a general interest bucket, you would see at trying to do something probably quite different than it does today. And we would be potentially just taking away diversity from the consumer, not adding to it.
10162 You might see the same with a drama service like a Deja Vu which is offering a very distinct opportunity to its viewers today. It might do something quite different too in terms of morphing into the middle.
10163 I think we need to think carefully about what this system has done in terms of preserving and encouraging diversity as opposed to encouraging the middle ground.
10164 THE CHAIRPERSON: Where does your interest lie in this? As the owner of specialty channels, I would have thought you would have an interest in morphing if you are not successful.
10165 So why do you want to stick to ‑‑ you're talking about diversity as if it was of value to you as a business. I don't see that at all.
10166 Surely you are in the specialty channels because you successfully can make money there. So if have a narrow specialty which is not terribly lucrative, wouldn't it be in your interest to morph?
10167 MR. ASPER: Not at the expense of the erosion of the successful ones. I think again it is a double‑edged sword or a pick your poison situation.
10168 MR. FECAN: And whatever genre protection exists at least gives you ‑‑ gives the system diversity and gives that channel an opportunity within a context, maybe a narrow context, to try and do something.
10169 MR. ASPER: I mean, it certainly allows a greater investment in ‑‑ a higher investment in programming.
10170 THE CHAIRPERSON: In short, the bottom line is you will make more money on your successful genres in which you can protect than having the opportunity to have your less profitable one morphing into profitable ‑‑
10171 MR. ASPER: Yes.
10172 MR. FECAN: Bottom line.
10173 MR. ASPER: I think in systemic broadcast system terms, that creates greater investment on those channels as they are successful.
10174 COMMISSIONER KATZ: But it also means living in a protected environment as well.
10175 MS BELL: With huge obligations though. I mean, that is the counterbalance of the whole thing and the fact is Canada is a small market. I am not sure ‑‑ and I think Barb would agree.
10176 I am not sure that we can live with three Food Networks, and I'm not sure that the sum of the parts would be greater if you had three channels splitting viewership.
10177 What would be the total contribution and what is the total contribution to diversity and to Canadian programming and spending?
10178 MR. ASPER: And don't forget, by the way, at 10 per cent other companies can do food programming and they can do sci‑fi programming and sports programming. They just can't ‑‑ you know, we're leaving it open. We have tried to be ‑‑ we leave everybody open to be able to program in each other's sphere. So it is not entirely protected.
10179 And 10 per cent is a lot. On a 168‑hour week, that is 17 hours a week that's prime time. That's 22 hours is prime time so that pretty much covers it.
10180 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay.
10181 Let me try to morph into revenue growth opportunities.
10182 We talked a bit this morning about areas of exposure and we tried to quantify them, and I mentioned one of them being a digital transition cost as well and there is a cost associated with it. But in looking at the other side of the ledger ‑‑ and obviously you folks go to your bankers and your shareholders all the time ‑‑ and looking down into the two‑to‑five‑year period, are there any savings or opportunities that you see on the horizon?
10183 We talked a bit about dynamic ad insertion. I think you suggested it may not be as incremental as other people have presented it.
10184 But I wouldn't mind hearing from you with regard to those opportunities, as well as the cost savings and digital transition. Surely downstream there are savings to be had by being totally digital as well. And how does that all fit into this equation we are looking at?
10185 MR. ASPER: First of all, I just wanted to make a quick correction to something we said earlier today, which is that the $295 million is not for us alone; it is the whole industry.
10186 So the amount to these two companies here was $150 million. I just wasn't sure which impression I left you with, or we left you with.
10187 So that is the industry number of the entire 50 cents of which we are about half.
10188 MR. FECAN: The other half would be the Vidéotrons and Rogers and whatnot.
10189 MR. ASPER: Yes.
10190 So in terms of looking forward, we have instituted two major cost reduction schemes. One is creating these digital newsrooms. Now, they were done, I should say, with a revenue opportunity in mind. There is no doubt it is in our interest to digitize as much as we can the content so that we can move it around to different platforms, hopefully online, hopefully mobile and hopefully video on demand at some point.
10191 So it is a capital expenditure that doesn't have an immediate payback, but we know we have to do it because at some point we hope it will have a payback.
10192 So those are the kinds of ‑‑ I mean, that has been, as I say, a cost and it has resulted in some cost savings in terms of employment. We will continue to look at individual markets for where we can manage costs better, and we may take what we have done and extend it further into different markets; in other words, reduce the number of production centers.
10193 We have gone from production centers in every market down to four markets. It might end up at two markets some day, but that is not on the books or the plans right now but it is something we could do.
10194 It is really more about making sure our content is in digital form. Our future we think is to make sure it is in digital form so it can be moved and it can be essentially platform agnostic. I mean that is the only savings that I see, you know, that is on the horizon.
10195 MR. FECAN: When we look at it, we look at it in a similar way, not exactly the same tactics or execution. We look at the opportunity of digitizing our own content. We are talking about news, sports, content that we produce and control, because that is the content that we have the rights to, to do that kind of digitization with.
10196 We look at it as a tool to improve productivity, improve the quality of the programs.
10197 When we introduced something called Video Express, which is an IP‑based video file transfer system between all of our newsrooms, so any newsroom in our country, CTV or A Channel, can call up any piece of video or audio that is originated anywhere in Canada within our system. So that enriches the existing newscast.
10198 Does it save you money? Well, I suppose, except you probably wouldn't be doing a lot of it. It would just physically be not possible to do that kind of content transfer. You just wouldn't do it in the old satellite days, but you can do this now.
10199 You can make the product better because the content is better. If that drives a higher rating, then perhaps there is a revenue opportunity there. So a lot of what we look at it at is what can we use these tools to improve our product to get more viewers and then hopefully earn revenue?
10200 Is this a big number? Probably not. But I just think it's good business.
10201 COMMISSIONER KATZ: And on the revenue upside, looking at digital ad insertion and the opportunities afforded by network PVRs and the integration?
10202 I think I spoke to, I guess it was TELUS yesterday, about the power that I think is there by the integration of a headend PVR coupled with the knowledge of who the customer really is at the time he is downloading.
10203 MR. FECAN: Honestly, it is hard, at least on the CTV side, to comment on that because this is five to ten years away. It is nowhere near close in North America. So we look at it. We are obviously interested in it, assuming the privacy issues can be dealt with, which I don't think is something one should take lightly.
10204 Maybe there is an opportunity there, but what our technological experts are saying is yes, that is a possibility and it is something we should be exploring and it might have some granularity in five years. But we just don't see it today as something I can quantify with any confidence.
10205 MR. ASPER: I think there is that part of it. There is trying to monetize the online mobile content, online and mobile, and the problem we are having with that is the rights. We have the rights to our news and information. We sometimes get them from the Canadian producers, very rarely, but to some extent we are now starting to convince the U.S. studios to provide us those rights.
10206 They do want a price for those. They either want a revenue share or they want to charge a straight cost.
10207 The other thing that is a bit of a double‑edged sword is the in‑program advertising, because there have been examples, isolated, where we have done that in Canadian programming. For example, when we had the program Falcon Beach, there was GM who did a deal with us where they inserted four cars into the program and there was some revenue attached to that.
10208 But more often than not in a show like 24, which is a U.S. show, as you know, GM will ‑‑ I think it was Ford or GM, one of the car companies, had paid Fox to put the cars in the show. That meant there was less inventory in the show, because they brought a show here that had 52 minutes of content, not 44 or 46. So they reduced the amount of inventory so there were only eight minutes to sell for the Canadian broadcaster. So that inventory was gone, presold by an American for the North American market.
10209 Then there is exclusivity. So Ford owns the cars in 24. You can't sell the GM or Chrysler or anybody else. So you wipe out the automotive sector as a potential sale.
10210 That happens with Coca‑Cola in Survivor. I don't know what shows you have that it happens in.
10211 MR. FECAN: Coca Cola on American Idol.
10212 MR. ASPER: And we have had modest success, I will say. We put the ads in the Super Bowl. You know, we had the blimp and we sold virtual ads in the Super Bowl, but the revenue there has been a few million dollars and it's just not that significant right now.
10213 THE CHAIRPERSON: The Super Bowl, I can't resist.
10214 MR. ASPER: I know, I shouldn't have brought it up. It pains me.
10215 THE CHAIRPERSON: I promised I would ask you how much, because EastLink or Bragg, or whatever they call themselves, said that was the single biggest complaint; that Super Bowl is a unique opportunity to launch ads, et cetera, and Canadians couldn't use that, et cetera, and we should make a special exception for Super Bowl.
10216 I said, "Have you any idea what the value of the Super Bowl ads were to Canadian broadcasters because of simultaneous substitution?" And they had no idea.
10217 So I promised them I would ask you, so I do this here.
10218 MR. FECAN: I think we both can speak from experience, that we obviously make money on the NFL package. You may not make that much money on the games; you may barely break even. But you make money on the Super Bowl.
10219 We were a little hurt this year because we didn't get the simultaneous substitution that the law required in all jurisdictions.
10220 But yes, it is profitable as a package
10221 THE CHAIRPERSON: Any ballpark figure you can throw out?
10222 MR. FECAN: Well, I think this is the one sensitive subject.
10223 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: We were doing so well.
‑‑‑ Laughter / Rires
10224 MR. ASPER: But it is heavily skewed. The package is heavily skewed towards the Super Bowl and the NFC and the divisional championships.
10225 But I think Ivan's point is worth noting that he slipped in there, which is that more and more often the BDUs try to get out of the simulcast and they introduce these new ‑‑ they point you to some other channel that you can watch it out of market where there is no simulcast.
10226 So it is a diminishing property as well.
10227 MR. FECAN: We have suggested actually to the NFL that they might want to just sell us a show with just the American commercials that we could run some time, but they pointed out to us those commercials aren't cleared for Canada.
10228 THE CHAIRPERSON: Sorry, back to you, Len.
10229 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Thank you.
10230 I'm still looking for new revenue opportunities for you.
10231 So I think it was ‑‑
‑‑‑ Laughter / Rires
10232 MR. ASPER: I have one.
10233 COMMISSIONER KATZ: I think it was the cable industry last week, I think it was probably Rogers, who talked about the opportunity that VOD affords to monetize the time shifting issue; that if you put everything on VOD, you can then get the advertising and the eyeballs and everything else in sync as well, and there is upside there obviously as well.
10234 Can you comment on is there, how big, what is the opportunity?
10235 MR. FECAN: Maybe there are others that can quantify, but I would just say that I think I heard them say ‑‑ I might be mistaken ‑‑ that they would be happy to get out of distant signals because they see VOD as doing the same function.
10236 We know they are very interested in VOD because every May when we go to the Hollywood screenings and we look at our American shows to buy, there are buyers there from the BDUs looking at the same shows and beginning to have conversations with the studios about buying those rights.
10237 So far in most cases ‑‑ I think in one case they have, in Survivor. But in most cases they haven't.
10238 So somebody has to pay for the rights. Then we need a way of tracking who uses it and who watches, which is not yet possible because the investment in the infrastructure hasn't been made by the BDUs. It is done in the U.S.; they have made that investment.
10239 Then you have a conversation about, you know, who sells that time and is there a system charge or does one person have the advertising, the other has an access charge or how you split the money up.
10240 So I think again one needs to understand whether distant signals exist or not to even begin to model what that might look like.
10241 MR. ASPER: I think I would come back to the point, Commissioner Katz, that to the extent there is revenue there, we see it as revenue that is likely to be substituted for conventional TV revenue. It is the same problem. It's more targeted advertising and it's just like the Internet or even specialty channel advertising. It comes out of the less targeted advertising.
10242 COMMISSIONER KATZ: But over and above that, if there is a fee for VOD, I think I heard them say that they are prepared to share it. I'm not sure how you would negotiate your sharing agreements, but I think I heard there was a perception that they would sit down with you folks and share some of that subscription revenue, call it what you want to call it, as well, which I would think is upside as well.
10243 MR. ASPER: I will let Mr. Goldstein comment in a second.
10244 I find that when I hear a BDU say we will meet you halfway, I find they are usually very poor judges of distance.
‑‑‑ Laughter / Rires
10245 MR. ASPER: And so I have never heard them ‑‑ seriously, I have never heard them say ‑‑ and maybe they have decided to change their stance given some reconsideration.
10246 But I have never heard ‑‑ unless someone else from CanWest can tell me ‑‑ them say they were prepared to offer any part of the fee. I think they have said "and we will work a revenue‑sharing model with you", which, as I said earlier, has to include the studio because ‑‑ they aren't saying they are going to contribute to the costs. So they are saying you pay for the cost of the rights and we will split the revenue with you and take the fee.
10247 That is the offer I think that has been on the table, unless somebody else from CanWest ‑‑
10248 UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: No, that is. That's basically it.
10249 MR. ASPER: That is, by the way ‑‑ TELUS was up here too and that is kind of the way the cell phone companies look at it with a very much smaller pie. But when we talk about trying to put content on cell phones, which is a tiny little market now, it is the same thing. You know, we take the fee and would like to split any advertising revenue with you.
10250 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: I think, Commissioner Katz, Vice‑Chair Katz, you used a telecom analogy earlier and I guess our concern about the idea well, it is very exciting and it could be a potentially great platform and it may mitigate some of our issues with distant signals, is we are in a situation where we are kind of like CLECs without access to the ILECs. Unless there is some access for us, again if we go back to our main point of fair access and fair compensation, you will not get fair compensation unless you have some access to the system yourself.
10251 I saw nowhere in the BDU proposals where they are prepared to give up VOD shelf space for the programmers, yet we are the ones that are spending money on the program rights.
10252 COMMISSIONER KATZ: But I find it surprising to say that you see them negotiating VOD rights in Hollywood or whatever. Why would you let them even get it?
10253 Doesn't that give them power and ability?
10254 If you are already negotiating getting the rights for live, why wouldn't you negotiate the rights for everything?
10255 MR. FECAN: It's all cost and no revenue right now.
10256 COMMISSIONER KATZ: But it is an investment presumably, because if they do get it then you are going to be facing them with less ‑‑
10257 MR. FECAN: Which is why we did the experiment last year, which proved it was all cost and no revenue.
10258 MR. ASPER: It's a little bit murkier because in some cases we have negotiated VOD rights. I remember there was a show called Rock Star ‑‑ was it Rock Star? ‑‑ yes, Rock Star where we did and we did a deal with Rogers. I don't think it got a lot of play on VOD. I think there was about $5,000 of revenue to split.
10259 But then they went and did a deal for Survivor. They went and bought the VOD rights for survivor.
10260 In a lot of cases you are dealing with another part of the studio, so the party from whom you buy the conventional and even cable rights is not the same person dealing on VOD. So you go to get the VOD rights and they say well, that is Jones across the street who does that.
10261 And sometimes, it depends, that does vary from studio to studio. For sure the online rights are in a separate things. Some of the studios are trying to come together to package those, but in all events they want cash for the rights or they want revenue sharing.
10262 In the end, it just doesn't come down to very much left for us.
10263 We want to embrace VOD and we want to go buy the VOD rights. And yes, it is an investment, but when you are ‑‑ it is tough to invest as a company. When you are growing, you can always take a little bit of that growth and put it back. When you are not growing, you are looking to cut costs.
10264 MR. FECAN: I think it is instructive that generally the BDUs now just go to Hollywood and get a tan. They don't buy a lot of shows because they can't figure out how to make money on this right now.
10265 COMMISSIONER KATZ: My last question, and I guess it is to you, Mr. Asper, because I am going to pull out an article from the Globe and Mail, dated Saturday, March 15th, written by a Globe and Mail reporter.
10266 It is a quote and I will allow you to decide whether it was quoted correctly or not.
10267 The quote was with regard to the financial growth of CanWest and where it stands and it is quoted as saying ‑‑ the question was:
"Are you going to get 50% profit margins on Canadian conventional TV?"
10268 The answer is:
"'No, but certainly crossing 10% and heading for 20 is a very realistic goal', he told analysts last fall." (As read)
10269 I am just reading this out and trying to understand the context of that statement and whether that statement was in the context of a proceeding like this that would result in fee for carriage to get you there or not, because this was last fall and I don't know if it was before or after this proceeding was announced.
10270 MR. ASPER: I think the key word in that entire thing ‑‑ and I will stand by that quote ‑‑ is the word "goal" as opposed to "likelihood".
10271 Yes, I go back to 2005 when we had a strategy session internally and we identified really three things that would ‑‑ you know, we identified the problem on conventional television and really discussed it in some detail and identified three prongs of what we would do of activities, three sets of activities, what would undertake to fix, to try to fix this.
10272 One was looking at the cost side and doing some of the things that we are doing now that result in, unfortunately, some loss of employment but significant cost savings.
10273 Then the second part was and there is a set of regulatory changes we would like to have fixed, which added up to a certain dollar value.
10274 And the third was to try to change how we sell advertising and look at how we manage the ‑‑ I guess 3(b) was how we manage the program costs and try to manage the foreign.
10275 Part of that led to the rebranding of the CH networks and the E.
10276 So there were three different buckets, but a number of activities were undertaken. And yes, regulatory change is part of that. I think it is the difference between 10 and 20 basically.
10277 I said earlier today, you know, if you try to add up the effect of everything that we're talking about today that we have asked for in those four buckets, you get to probably 15, not 20. So that's why I say I think a 15 per cent margin is at least acceptable to shareholders.
10278 I don't really know how you get to 20, but I think with these changes we have made, we certainly can get back above 10. Ten is not really acceptable, though, to me or to clearly the street which values Global at about zero right now if you look at our stock price. You know, if you read every analyst report it's all about Global and conventional TV.
10279 And basically the analysis is that no matter what we do, the structural issues are so severe that the analysts don't see how we get out of this dynamic.
10280 We think there is, as I say, some ways to do it and we have undertaken most. Everything we can control, I think we've done. There is one part that is out of our control and obviously it is in your hands.
10281 I don't mean to say it's only in your hands, but it is something ‑‑ regulatory change is part of that.
10282 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Thank you.
10283 Those are my questions, Mr. Chairman.
10284 THE CHAIRPERSON: Would you care to give a similar quote, Mr. Fecan?
10285 MR. FECAN: No. We are proud to be a private company.
‑‑‑ Laughter / Rires
10286 MR. ASPER: And I'm envious.
10287 THE CHAIRPERSON: Rita...?
10288 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
10289 I just want to take you back to your position on access and preponderance.
10290 Why both? Why both access and double preponderance? What are you trying to avoid?
10291 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: The BDUs. Once we crossed the rubric on a BDU zoning programming service without access and preponderance, they could ‑‑
10292 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Double preponderance.
10293 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: Well, double preponderance. If I as the consumer can't receive it or it is not part of my package to receive, then preponderance could be just because it is part of an offering doesn't mean that Canadians are going to be able to avail themselves of it.
10294 Well, they will be able to avail themselves of it, but they can be packaged in such a way where clearly our services could be disadvantaged but Canadian services as a whole could be.
10295 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Right. But doesn't the received by the subscriber 50‑plus‑one take care of that as opposed to 50‑plus‑one carriage and 50‑plus‑one receipt by subscribers?
10296 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: I'm sorry, the 50‑plus‑one received, if effectively it is offered and not received, then they could be packaged in other services and there could be a significant disadvantage to Canadians to be able to buy those packages.
10297 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Let me ask ‑‑ I mean, I will try.
10298 If the preponderance rule says that 50‑plus‑one services received by the subscriber ‑‑ in other words, they have a list of 100 and they pick 51 and they are Canadian ‑‑ doesn't that take care of it?
10299 Why do you need the double preponderance? Why do you need to also have the rule that of the 100 services, 51 carried by the BDUs have to be Canadian?
10300 MS WILLIAMS: Let my try. I think I'm understanding the question.
10301 I think what access is doing is prioritizing which channels are carried. There would be I think potentially an opportunity to have met the preponderance of received but with a selection of channels that didn't give access to what we would determine to be core services that first and foremost deserve that access because of the obligations that they have.
10302 I think maybe what we are talking about here is being careful that we preserve those channels that are most supporting the industry through their obligations and that we are sure that they are part of that preponderance and gain, because it would be possible to achieve that without necessarily carrying the core services.
10303 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Right. The access rules would take ‑‑ maintaining the access rules would take care of that.
10304 MS WILLIAMS: Right. But that's why you need both.
10305 THE CHAIRPERSON: You still don't need double preponderance.
10306 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Exactly.
10307 MS WILLIAMS: Well, if you only have the one end. I mean, if you receive it, you don't care about delivering it?
10308 THE CHAIRPERSON: No. Let me try it.
10309 You get your mandatory access, you are part of basic and you can only send to your customers something where there is a preponderance in number of channels received. Surely that is all you need.
10310 You don't need that as an offering of preponderance as well.
10311 MR. MEDLINE: Let me try this, because I think that the issue is what is offered really affects what is received by the consumer at the end of the day. If it's not offered, it can't be received.
10312 So when we look at ‑‑ you know, in preparation for this hearing we looked at Rogers Cable Toronto and broke apart their lineup channel by channel, and what you find, whether it is offered or received frankly, is that only bad things can happen to the Canadian broadcasting system.
10313 The best that could happen is, frankly, the status quo. The worst that could happen is that the number of Canadian services plummets or, alternatively, the number of foreign services rises to meet the Canadian.
10314 Even if you meet halfway, and even if you only measure preponderance against discretionary services, on the Rogers Toronto basis you would have lost. Eighty‑four domestic services would disappear, another 84 would be added, foreign services would be added. So you would be increasing your fragmentation and decreasing the number of services. So the offered affects received.
10315 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: That is the CanWest submission. That is not the new ‑‑
10316 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Right. Joint position.
10317 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: ‑‑ joint presentation.
10318 THE CHAIRPERSON: Let me simplify this really.
10319 You have 500 channels of which 300 are foreign, let's say for argument, and 200 are Canadian. So there is clearly not a preponderance of Canadian offering.
10320 But the rule is, first of all, there is a mandatory package, basic package, and as a customer you have to select a preponderance of Canadian channels.
10321 I don't see how anybody is harmed.
10322 I don't know why you insist on preponderance of Canadian channels being offered.
10323 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: And I am just going to add, and you are asking that the access rules be in place.
10324 So the question is: Access and double preponderance. Why do you need all three?
10325 MS WILLIAMS: So you are saying it should be ‑‑ let me just see if I can repeat back and get the question.
10326 So you are saying that it should be okay to offer way more foreign than Canadian as long as in the end people have to take more Canadian than foreign?
10327 Is that what you are saying?
10328 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: That is what I am asking.
10329 MS WILLIAMS: Now another question.
10330 MS BELL: Okay. But then doesn't that suppose that you have to add a bunch of foreign services to the list because ‑‑
10331 MS WILLIAMS: But saying it would be okay to add as many foreign services as you want ‑‑
10332 MS BELL: That is right.
10333 MS WILLIAMS: ‑‑ as long as in the end they have to take more Canadian than foreign. why do we care?
10334 I think the concern where we landed ‑‑ and maybe we just didn't think it through as carefully as you did.
10335 I think the concern always was they were going to offer more foreign and our concern was, well, we just care about receiving Canadian. So it may be that we assumed the front half of the double where it is really the back half of the double that we care about.
10336 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Okay. Maybe you guys want to think about it, talk about it and get back to us in reply.
10337 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: We will get back to you in reply.
10338 MS BELL: That's a good idea.
‑‑‑ Laughter / Rires
10339 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Now I want to just go briefly to the last page of your oral submission, the streamlining initiatives.
10340 Number three, the proposal to get rid of advertising restrictions on specialty. If advertising an audience fragmentation and the decrease in advertising on conventional is part of the problem, why do you want to eliminate the advertising restrictions on specialty?
10341 Why do you want to add new inventory into the market?
10342 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: Simply put, we felt the Commission was looking for regulatory streamlining.
10343 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Yes, but we also need reasons to streamline.
10344 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: But perhaps either Kathy or Errol may want to discuss this.
10345 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: In other words, won't you make the problem worse in five years?
10346 MR. DA‑RÉ: I can jump in.
10347 Conventional television is typically bought by clients for the purpose of top 10/top 20 shows and obviously for mass reach. Then they will buy it for local, for local news and local opportunities on the conventional platform.
10348 Specialty television is very unique. It is extremely targeted and it offers unique opportunities in areas such as product placement. We talked earlier about some of the hindrances that we have with conventional, even in simulcasts that come over with products already embedded into the programs.
10349 While we are left with specialty, we have some very strong specialty channels in this country that can look at product placement or product integration ideas for a number of different clients that are looking to target in that niche environment.
10350 So that's why we're looking at it in that regard.
10351 So it is really for different reasons in terms of deregulation. The reasons more for the specialty area have more to do with the fact that the integrations are more important on the specialty side and more accessible as well for advertisers to go after.
10352 Also, we don't really have a major sellout situation in the specialty world. We have a number of channels that have fairly high sellouts but they don't really sell out, much like a lot of the major conventional markets where a number of our top 10 shows or top 20 shows do sell out.
10353 So that's the main reason for it.
10354 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: So this suggestion wasn't necessarily based on increasing advertising minutes allowable on a per hour basis on specialty as it was based on removing ‑‑ you know, identifying product placement is not part of the 12 minutes.
10355 Is that what this recommendation is about? You want to maintain 12 minutes an hour of advertising on specialty?
10356 MS BELL: I think at the end of the day it makes it ‑‑ it just simplifies the situation for you if we say deregulate, because then we get into the whole, you know, how do you count product placement unless you exclude product placement from the calculation of the 12 minutes.
10357 You would have to do something in order to effect that change.
10358 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Okay.
10359 Your proposal for shared CPE. As our Chairman likes to say, operationalize this for me.
10360 You have a number of specialty services, either company, both companies, you pick. How is this going to work when your CPE obligations are all over the board?
10361 So how do we share CPE obligations across your specialty services?
10362 MS WILLIAMS: I think the understanding is that the calculation of the CPE is made against the service to which the obligation is there.
10363 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Absolutely.
10364 MS WILLIAMS: You take your revenue and you know your CPE and you come to a dollar amount. The opportunity I believe is then after those unique calculations have been made for all of your services, there is the opportunity to combine those dollars and then spend them most effectively and most efficiently across your services.
10365 But the calculation is made on the individual station's revenue and its own CPE.
10366 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Okay, you will have to explain this further to me.
10367 Let's take one of the highest, which as we know is Slice. The CPE is 71 per cent. So you calculate that your Cancon expenditure for the year is based on 71 per cent of gross revenues of Slice.
10368 MS WILLIAMS: Right.
10369 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: You don't spend all that 71 per cent on Slice?
10370 MS WILLIAMS: No, you take ‑‑ so the Slice calculation was $10 and the Showcase calculation was $20 and the History calculation was $10 ‑‑ I am not going any further because I will lose track of my math. But you have $40 there in total that you are obliged to spend on Canadian content with the independent production community against your regulations.
10371 You then take those $40 and you spend with the independent community to make Canadian content, and you use it against any of your services, still achieving your Cancon requirements in each service. But the spend may shift. That is the opportunity.
10372 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: And how do we license this or how do we renew your licences, because each licence is granted on individual obligations, on individual CPE and individual Cancon. It is not group licensing.
10373 MS WILLIAMS: It is just the spend that would get this group application. So the licence itself can be renewed the same way it always would be if the determination is that Slice's CPE should stay.
10374 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: Sorry, Barb. Just to get past the conclusion, if you go to streamlining initiative eight, which is group licence ‑‑
10375 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: I understand that.
10376 MR. DAVID GOLDSTEIN: ‑‑ nine flows from eight.
10377 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: So in other words, in 2009, when you come to us for your licence renewals, we say that CanWest has a CPE of what percentage for your entire specialty complement?
10378 MS BELL: No. You would still have a CPE for each of the services and you would probably have, as the Commission did when it licensed all of our conventional stations as a group, there is usually a statement or a public notice attached to an overall ‑‑ it is an overall licensing public notice that applies to all of the stations.
10379 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Yes.
10380 MS BELL: So you would do the same thing in this case. Basically you would establish a rule that would say that there is some flexibility in terms of sharing your CPE across the services.
10381 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: And it is only applied to CPE, not to Cancon, not to exhibition?
10382 MS BELL: That's correct, yes.
10383 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Okay.
10384 MS BELL: There is no loss to the system.
10385 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Thank you.
10386 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Wouldn't that inconvenience or be to the detriment of the independents, the smaller guys who don't have that flexibility?
10387 Isn't this a big player solution to a problem that helps yourselves but not those people that can average across a bigger base?
10388 MR. ASPER: I mean, we don't know of any services of the independents ‑‑ and I stand corrected if there are some ‑‑ that have some of the more onerous levels like a Slice at 72.
10389 There is a possibility that somebody who is way up there in those levels may not be able to benefit the same way, it's true. I just don't know that there are that many out there. So most of them are in the 30, 40, 50 per cent range.
10390 We are just trying to ‑‑ I think there are a few channels within each of our groups that are penalized by this that would not be so penalized, so I think we will benefit a little bit.
10391 Barb, do you want to add?
10392 MS WILLIAMS: Yes. I would just add that I think there is a very positive outcome potentially from this to support the genres that we are all struggling to finance. There are some channels that have very high CPEs and are profitable channels and are churning out a significant amount of spend, but are very limited at the moment as to what genre of programming they can be supporting with that spend.
10393 The ability to shift the dollars across some of the other services I think potentially allows us to move some of those dollars into stations that are supporting genres of programming that we are all actually inclined to want to spend more on but don't have the financing dollars to do so.
10394 So I think there is potentially a real upside to moving the dollars into the categories of programming that we have all acknowledged in our system require it.
10395 THE CHAIRPERSON: Ron, you had a question?
10396 COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS: Yes. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
10397 It is getting warm in the kitchen so just a quick question.
10398 Are we to understand that you do not include the Community Channel in your proposed lifeline skinny basic package; and, if so, why not?
10399 MR. ASPER: I think the answer is no, we weren't proposing it. Mr. Goldstein earlier mentioned that he thought they would do just fine because they would be in an extended basic package or some other next tier package that would very likely for most consumers be picked up.
10400 But I think the answer is no, we weren't proposing ‑‑ I'm not sure, we were again just trying to be responsive to what have customers, consumers shown they want and need. So we included those channels that fit that description, as well as looking at section 3 of the Broadcast Act and trying to fulfil its objectives.
10401 That is how we tried to create this. That is how we came up with the lifeline package. Is that ‑‑
10402 MR. FECAN: I agree.
10403 COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS: Yes. The reason I ask is our next intervener has a different view so I wanted to get your answer on the record.
10404 Thank you.
10405 THE CHAIRPERSON: Michel...?
10406 CONSEILLER MORIN: Merci, Monsieur le Président.
10407 The access to the basic service is a very important issue of course and you are the biggest players with more than 50 specialized channels. The first day of this hearing I put forward a model point system with Rogers and after with ExpressVu, Pelmorex, The Score and Quebecor.
10408 My model ‑‑ because it is not a proposal from the Commission. My model is a simple equation with Cancon, CPE and minus the price of the consumer from the first two numbers, and you will get the access to the basic service. There will be no access rules, no linkage rules and every channel will be on the same basis, analog Category 1, Category 2.
10409 I don't know if you have any comments right now. But at the end of the hearing this model will probably be available and I would appreciate, because you are the biggest players, I will appreciate your comments on this point system model.
10410 MR. ASPER: Can I just understand one part about the model?
10411 I take it there was a minimum. A+B‑C created a minimum ‑‑ there was a minimum threshold one had to ‑‑
10412 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Yes, the threshold ‑‑ of the Québec market probably.
10413 MR. ASPER: Okay. So you hadn't suggested a specific threshold? Okay.
10414 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Yes. And this model can be ‑‑ the threshold will be up or down if some events happen in the system as we are facing some right now. The threshold can be adjusted.
10415 The BDUs have said that there isn't any problem as far as the capacity is concerned, so we can have on the basic service ‑‑ I made the exercise for the Toronto market and with the threshold of 100 points, Rogers will have the same number of specialized channels on its basic service.
10416 MS BELL: Did I just hear you correctly say the threshold number would be 100? Is that what you are ‑‑
10417 COMMISSIONER MORIN: It is an hypothesis. It can be 80 or 70 or 110.
10418 MS BELL: We have taken a look, actually we have done the breakdown of all services.
10419 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Yes...?
10420 MS BELL: As you can appreciate, there are some wild differences.
10421 For instance, I would point out to TSN actually, TSN's threshold number would be minus eight.
10422 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Of course, because TSN, the price is more than $1.00. So even if TSN has a Cancon or CPE that are very worth it, we have to subtract the price. But TSN is so popular that you don't need the access to the basic service.
10423 MS BELL: Well, I think first we were advocating that the basic would not include any specialty services to begin with and that the specialty analogs and Category 1s would be part of core services.
10424 I think, and just off the top, one of the dangers with going with a one‑size‑fits‑all, especially in the specialty world, is that it is difficult to look at all of these services which have very unique natures of service and unique issues also.
10425 When we look at Discovery Health, for example, it has a lower Canadian content because there is little access to that type of programming. When you look at TSN, you have to take into account the type of service and the fact that there is a huge demand for sports programming.
10426 I think just overall ‑‑ and we will provide you with more detailed comments in writing, but just off the top ‑‑
10427 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Yes.
10428 MS BELL: And I appreciate the effort to try to find a simple formula, but the thing that gets lost with a simple formula sometimes is that it doesn't account for all those other things. And there may be some very important things that we lose as a result of trying to adopt a uniform system across the board.
10429 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Of course, a model can replace 400 rules or 80 rules as far as the access is concerned. It is a model.
10430 MS BELL: That's right.
10431 COMMISSIONER MORIN: But for me it will give the impulsion on the Canadian content. You spoke a lot about the Broadcasting Act, so we have an opportunity to make all the things simpler, but based on the law.
10432 MS BELL: And just one more comment on this also when I look at this.
10433 The fact is that when all of these services were licensed, their CPE and their Canadian content exhibition requirements were set and in fact in some cases in the early days, in '94 and '96, it was a sliding scale and it was directly tied to penetration, to access.
10434 All of a sudden we're going to start playing with these numbers based on a bit of an artificial formula that doesn't take into account certain factors. It is a little bit difficult, but we are going to take a close look at it and we will provide you with some written comments in the last phase.
10435 MR. ASPER: Just to be specific on what Charlotte was saying, if you remember there was ‑‑ there still is to some extent ‑‑ a Tier 1, a Tier 2 and a Tier 3 set of analog services and, as you know, that is how those CPEs were set.
10436 So we are as much as you interested in anything that simplifies our lives and your lives and the amount of times we all have to be here together to discuss these things.
10437 So I echo Charlotte's comments. We will give serious consideration to it and provide a thoughtful reply.
10438 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Thank you.
10439 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. One last question before I let you go.
10440 ExpressVu, when they were here, talked about Freesat and suggested that that might be an answer to the migration costs. I mean, if you now have to go to digital and transmit in some cases, especially in smaller markets, it may not warrant building a whole new antenna, et cetera, in order to do digital. And they suggested something that they call Freesat.
10441 I think you heard them. You know what their proposal is, how it works. Basically people who received that channel beforehand get a free box from them which only receives that channel and they won't pay anything more. They have to pay for it.
10442 Is this something that you are looking at? Do you see yourself availing yourself of something along those lines in order to deal with the digital migration costs for your smaller stations when you hit 2011?
10443 MR. FECAN: We are obviously very interested in exploring anything that aids that situation.
10444 My understanding of their proposal ‑‑ and we just heard it for the first time at the hearing ‑‑ was that the consumer would in fact pay for the box and the broadcaster would pay for the uplink.
10445 But our major issue with the proposal as stated is it leaves a whole bunch of local channels behind.
10446 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, sure.
10447 MR. FECAN: You know, for this proposal to work for us, we would really need to have every local station in the country on it, because otherwise we're dooming, we are closing a station effectively if we are shutting off the transmitters and we are providing an alternative distribution mechanism but Kitchener isn't on there or Timmins isn't on there. They are dead. The station is closed.
10448 So our starting point has to be all the stations have to be there.
10449 The other thing I think they said was that they would withdraw this proposal if there was any fee for carriage. I'm hoping that that is just a negotiating ploy from them because you still need the fee for carriage to do the local.
10450 THE CHAIRPERSON: Mr. Asper, were you going to say something?
10451 MR. ASPER: I don't have anything to add. Thank you.
10452 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Then thank you for your presentation.
10453 I should mention that yesterday Shaw, which is going to be appearing at this hearing, wrote a letter to the Prime Minister, with a copy to me, in which it commented on these proceedings.
10454 In the spirit of total transparency, we are placing that letter on the record. It is available now in the conference room. It speaks for itself and presumably when Shaw comes, they can further elaborate on it.
10455 But we are placing it on the record now because it was a communication regarding this proceeding which we received yesterday.
10456 So thank you very much.
10457 MR. FECAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Commissioners.
10458 THE CHAIRPERSON: We will take a 10‑minute break before we go to the next intervener.
‑‑‑ Upon recessing at 1450 / Suspension à 1450
‑‑‑ Upon resuming at 1506 / Reprise à 1506
10459 THE CHAIRPERSON: Good afternoon. Can you hear me in Vancouver?
10460 MR. CORRIGAN: Yes, we can. Thank you.
10461 THE CHAIRPERSON: And you can see us too? Consider yourselves lucky that you are not in there because the room is so hot. That's why you see us in short sleeves. So I am sure it is much more comfortable in Vancouver.
10462 So please go ahead.
10463 MR. CORRIGAN: It's very cool here, thank you.
10464 THE CHAIRPERSON: Wonderful.
10465 Madam Secretary, over to you.
10466 THE SECRETARY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. For the record we have adjusted the agenda to accommodate the next two intervenors, Metro Vancouver and GV Productions, who are joining us via videoconference from Vancouver. We will hear each presentation which will then be followed by questions by the Commissioner to both intevenors.
10467 We have also been advised that we will begin with the presentation of Metro Vancouver. Appearing for Metro Vancouver is Mayor Corrigan.
10468 Please introduce your colleagues and you will have 15 minutes for your presentation.
PRESENTATION / PRÉSENTATION
10469 MR. CORRIGAN: Good afternoon, Chairman von Finckenstein, Commissioners, and Commission staff.
10470 My name is Derek Corrigan. I am the Mayor of the beautiful City of Burnaby, the third largest city in British‑Columbia and I am here representing the Metro Vancouver board of directors where I serve as the chairman of land use and transportation planning.
10471 The other members of my panel; on my left is Mr. Gordon Inglis, the Senior Producer for GV Productions; and on my right is Marianne Pengelly, Executive Producer of Metro Vancouver's TV programming.
10472 Metro Vancouver and the City of Vancouver jointly fund GV Productions which creates television productions for both organizations.
10473 We want to thank you on behalf of Vancouver and the Metro Vancouver government for this opportunity to comment in the public hearing on the review of the regulatory frameworks for broadcasting distribution undertakings and discretionary programming services.
10474 And I might add that is a mouthful.
10475 I am sure I'm taking coals to Newcastle but just to let you know what then Metro Vancouver is, we are a non‑partisan political body representing 22 municipalities and one electoral area and over two million residents. Our three primary roles are service delivery, planning and political leadership.
10476 We represent the interests of local government in our region regarding what should be included in the basic package of services. This is the first time that the local government in the Lower Mainland has made a submission and presentation to the Commission.
10477 We are aware that there will be a separate hearing on the community channel in the very near future and we hope again to participate in that hearing. We understand that substantial changes could be made as to what constitute basic services, and that brings us here today.
10478 We value the community channel a great deal. It is very important to local political discourse. We feel that we have a unique perspective on the use of the community channel by local government and we want to make the CRTC aware of the extent of our interests and how highly we value the opportunity for a community channel to cover local government.
10479 The community channel is really the only arena within Canadian broadcasting specifically designated to the public sphere in local government. It was described in its original 1975 mandate as being intended to identify communities such as neighbourhoods, wards, boroughs and where appropriate municipalities, and give expression to individuals and groups in these communities to express their ideas and aspirations, cover the activities of municipal councils and school boards, search out and give opportunity for expression to individuals and groups within communities of interest.
10480 The community channel has changed. Communities have changed. Local government has changed and how they communicate with the residents has changed.
10481 In 1975 80 percent of Canadians lived in rural areas. Now it is exactly the reverse. Cities are the economic drivers of the Canadian economy. The governance of cities is increasingly more complex and cities need a way to inform and engage citizens on so many issues that affect their everyday lives.
10482 95 percent of residents use TV but government cannot afford the advertising on the paid television stations. We can only afford to be on the community channel.
10483 Research shows that 95 percent of people in the region use TV as a main source of their information. Local government cannot rely on the news agencies to cover what government feels is important. Often, that is done in 30‑second sound bites and does not address the kind of thoughtful dialogue that is necessary to a thoughtful discourse in civil society. We cannot afford financially to get our messages out through the mainstream television networks so we need the community channel more than ever before.
10484 Metro Vancouver has been involved in the community channel since 1998. When local cable companies withdrew coverage of our regional board and the meetings that we undertake, we created our own programming using our own resources.
10485 We have an effective, efficient communication tool and we rely on the community channel for that communication with our public.
10486 We believe that the use of the community channel will continue to grow and become even more meaningful to people in our community.
10487 Metro Vancouver has also provided a model for other governments across Canada.