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TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS BEFORE
THE CANADIAN RADIO-TELEVISION AND
Various broadcasting applications
140 Promenade du Portage
April 3, 2009
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.
Canadian Radio-television and
Various broadcasting applications
Konrad von Finckenstein Chairperson
Michel Arpin Commissioner
Len Katz Commissioner
Rita Cugini Commissioner
Michel Morin Commissioner
Sylvie Bouffard Secretary
Lyne Cape Hearing Manager
Peter McCallum Legal Counsel
140 Promenade du Portage
April 3, 2009
- iv -
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PAGE / PARA
PHASE II (cont.)
Centre québécois de la déficience auditive 637 / 3563
Nova Scotia Emergency Management Office 651 / 3627
CKUA Radio Network 666 / 3706
The Companies 684 / 3795
NetAlerts 742 / 4099
Canadian Association for Public Alerting and Notification 761 / 4197
Pelmorex Communications Inc. 775 / 4276
--- Upon resuming on Friday, April 3, 2009 at 0905
3559 LE PRÉSIDENT : Bonjour tout le monde. Madame la Secrétaire, nous sommes prêts.
3560 LA SECRÉTAIRE : Merci, Monsieur le Président.
3561 I would just like to note for the record that intervener number 11, New Brunswick Department of Public Safety, listed in the agenda will not be appearing at the hearing.
3562 J'invite maintenant le Centre québécois de la déficience auditive à faire sa présentation. Monsieur Gilles Nolet comparaît pour le Centre québécois de la déficience auditive. Vous avez 10 minutes pour votre présentation.
3563 M. NOLET : Mesdames et messieurs les commissaires, bonjour. Je suis Gilles Nolet, président du Centre québécois de la déficience auditive (CQDA). Je suis malentendant.
3564 Comme vous le savez, le Centre québécois de la déficience auditive est un regroupement d'organismes représentant les personnes vivant avec une surdité au Québec, soit environ 10,67 pour cent de la population, qui croît sans cesse, compte tenu du vieillissement de la population et de l'utilisation des iPod, des jeux vidéo et autres technologies qui endommagent l'ouïe.
3565 D'entrée de jeu, le CQDA salue les efforts de Pelmorex dans le présent dossier. La nécessité pour les Canadiens d'avoir accès à des messages d'alerte et d'urgence est indéniable. Toutefois, les personnes sourdes gestuelles ne se retrouvent pas dans l'offre de services déposée au CRTC par Pelmorex, d'où notre présence aujourd'hui.
3566 Le problème de la surdité est très complexe, et il est faux de croire que toutes les personnes malentendantes ou sourdes lisent parfaitement sur les lèvres ou comprennent entièrement les messages écrits, dont le sous-titrage codé à la télévision.
3567 Pour ceux qui ont déjà fait l'expérience avec un film étranger muni de sous-titres, il est parfois très difficile de lire les sous-titres et de regarder les images en même temps. Cela constitue une gymnastique mentale de haute voltige.
3568 Imaginez devoir obtenir toute votre information à l'aide de sous-titres, dont de l'information importante pour votre santé et votre sécurité, comme les messages d'alerte et d'urgence.
3569 Cette gymnastique intellectuelle est d'autant plus importante lorsqu'une personne sourde gestuelle, dont le français écrit est une langue seconde, doit comprendre le sens des sous-titres qui défilent rapidement, sans possibilité de retour en arrière, tout en se référant aux images pour compléter sa compréhension du texte.
3570 Pour ces personnes en situation de détente et de loisirs le fait de ne pas toujours comprendre l'entièreté des sous-titres, bien que nettement frustrant, est compensé en partie par une observation plus approfondie des images. La compréhension du message s'effectue donc dans sa globalité et non dans sa spécificité textuelle.
3571 Lors de situations d'urgence ou d'alerte, de stress ou de crainte pour sa santé, sa sécurité, sa vie ou celle de ses proches, ce mécanisme de déduction de l'information n'est plus possible. Toute personne en situation de stress perd quelque peu ses moyens. Pour une personne sourde gestuelle, c'est le décodage du français écrit qui fait alors défaut.
3572 De plus, si le message d'alerte est en surimpression d'une image ne correspondant pas du tout avec le message proprement dit, la personne sourde gestuelle ne peut associer cette image au texte écrit afin de déduire le sens du message d'alerte qui lui est envoyé, d'où l'importance de lui transmettre le message dans sa langue maternelle, la langue des signes québécoise ou l'American Sign Language pour les personnes sourdes gestuelles anglophones.
3573 Ceci est d'autant plus vrai si deux sous-titrages se superposent à l'écran : le sous-titrage habituel de l'émission en bas d'écran et le sous-titrage d'alerte prévu en haut de l'écran.
3574 Nous l'avons spécifié dans le document déposé au mois de mars dernier, et nous le répétons aujourd'hui au bénéfice de tous. La Cour suprême du Canada, dans la cause Eldridge contre la Colombie-Britannique en 1997 a indiqué qu'en matière de santé :
« La norme des communications efficaces est une norme souple qui tient compte de facteurs tels que la complexité et l'importance de l'information à communiquer, le contexte dans lequel les communications auront lieu. ... Dans le cas des personnes atteintes de surdité dont la capacité de lire et d'écrire est limitée, il est permis de supposer que l'interprétation gestuelle sera requise dans la plupart des cas. »
3575 Le CQDA considère donc que tout message d'alerte ou d'urgence diffusé par quelque média que ce soit, la télévision, Internet, téléphone cellulaire et le reste, doit être en langage signé, élément que Pelmorex n'a pas démontré dans sa demande. Ainsi, dans l'état actuel des choses, les messages d'alerte et d'urgence ne rejoindront pas, tel que le prétend Pelmorex, toutes les personnes vivant avec une surdité.
3576 Le but de l'intervention du CQDA aujourd'hui est donc de sensibiliser les intervenants qui auront à émettre et à diffuser les messages d'urgence et d'alerte à la nécessité de les adapter aux personnes sourdes gestuelles, donc, de prévoir un médaillon en langue des signes québécoise -- puis je vais dire, entre parenthèses, on a souvent à la télé, à la Chambre des communes, dans la période des questions, un médaillon qui nous aide beaucoup à mieux comprendre le sous-titrage -- et aussi, la même chose pour les anglophones, dans le respect de l'esprit du jugement Eldridge.
3577 Certains s'opposeront à cette nécessité en indiquant que le recours à des interprètes en situation d'urgence pourrait s'avérer difficile. Ce n'est, toutefois, pas le cas.
3578 Je suis personnellement aussi président du Service régional d'interprétariat de l'Est du Québec, et nous offrons, à toute heure du jour et de la nuit, sept jours par semaine, des services d'urgence en matière de santé. Cette disponibilité d'interprètes en cas d'urgence est aussi une priorité des autres organismes offrant des services d'interprétariat au Québec.
3579 Le recours à un interprète à pied levé n'est donc pas un obstacle à la transmission de messages d'alerte et d'urgence en signes.
3580 Les usagers et le CQDA le répètent inlassablement : la qualité du sous-titrage en direct reste un élément plus que problématique.
3581 En temps normal, le sous-titrage en direct est souvent truffé d'erreurs, il est hachuré, absent et parfois même tout simplement incompréhensible, avec des mots écrits au son.
3582 Nous sommes en droit de nous questionner sur l'accès des personnes malentendantes qui comprennent bien le français et qui ont principalement recours aux sous-titres pour comprendre les messages d'alerte et d'urgence lors d'émissions en direct sur le sujet en cas de crise.
3583 Bien sûr, cette préoccupation ne concerne pas directement la demande de Pelmorex puisque les messages seront préenregistrés, mais nous tenons tout de même à soulever à cette audience l'importance de réfléchir au respect des normes du sous-titrage, ainsi qu'à sa qualité, afin que toutes les chaînes de télévision canadiennes prennent conscience du rôle important qu'elles jouent pour les usagers vivant avec une surdité lors de situations de crise, d'alerte ou d'urgence.
3584 Depuis près d'un an, le CQDA participe activement aux multiples audiences du CRTC touchant les personnes vivant avec une surdité. Dans les faits, le CQDA s'est impliqué dans le dossier du sous-titrage depuis 1983, année de la Conférence mondiale sur le sous-titrage, et en 1991, celle de la première Semaine nationale du sous-titrage, et en 1992, année de la première participation du CQDA aux audiences du CRTC.
3585 Le CQDA a aussi participé à la mise sur pied du défunt Regroupement québécois pour le sous-titrage, qui a pris le relais de ce dossier jusqu'à de cela quelques années.
3586 Aujourd'hui, le CQDA a repris le flambeau du sous-titrage en l'incluant dans un mandat plus large, cela de la défense des droits des personnes vivant avec une surdité. Ce mandat comprend tant le sous-titrage que l'information adaptée, qu'elle soit à la télévision, sur Internet, par téléphonie IP, téléphone cellulaire ou autre moyen de communication.
3587 Il est indéniable que le CQDA n'a pas été invité aux travaux des divers intervenants dans le dossier des messages d'alerte et d'urgence par méconnaissance de son mandat fondamental.
3588 Nous profitons donc de cette tribune pour le faire connaître et rappeler aux principaux intéressés que la transmission des messages aux personnes vivant avec une surdité ne passe pas uniquement par le sous-titrage. Le croire, c'est nier la réalité de l'analphabétisme fonctionnel de la plupart des personnes sourdes gestuelles canadiennes.
3589 Afin de faire mieux connaître les réels besoins de toutes les strates de personnes vivant avec une surdité, le CQDA est plus que prêt à participer à tous les travaux en lien avec la transmission de l'information à notre clientèle, surtout celle ayant trait à leur santé et même à leur vie.
3590 Le CQDA a démontré cette réelle volonté de collaborer à l'amélioration des services aux personnes vivant avec une surdité en participant à pied levé aux récents travaux de l'Association canadienne des radiodiffuseurs quant à l'élaboration d'une norme canadienne du sous-titrage.
3591 Et en tant que porte-parole officiel des personnes vivant avec une surdité au Québec et des francophones hors Québec, nous souhaitons élargir notre participation à toute autre instance pertinente.
3592 Nous le répétons, le travail doit se faire non seulement pour les personnes vivant avec une surdité, mais aussi par les personnes vivant avec une surdité et leurs représentants.
3593 En terminant, nous réitérons notre intérêt plus que manifeste pour l'accès à un système canadien de messages d'alerte et d'urgence, principalement parce que notre clientèle a souvent recours à la télévision, à Internet et à tout autre moyen adapté mis à leur disposition afin d'obtenir de l'information en lien avec leur santé et celle de leurs proches.
3594 Nous ne sommes pas en opposition directe avec la demande de Pelmorex, mais nous croyons, toutefois, que l'offre est incomplète quant aux besoins spécifiques des personnes sourdes gestuelles et qu'elle se doit d'être bonifiée avant d'être acceptée par le CRTC, s'il y a lieu.
3595 Le CQDA reste disponible afin d'aider Pelmorex à la bonification de son offre de services et tout autre intervenant au dossier concernant les messages canadiens d'alerte et d'urgence.
3596 Merci beaucoup de m'avoir écouté.
3597 LE PRÉSIDENT : Merci pour votre présentation. Vous dites dans le dernier paragraphe que vous restez disponible afin d'aider Pelmorex. Est-ce que vous avez eu des discussions avec Pelmorex déjà?
3598 M. NOLET : Personnellement, directement, non. La directrice est partie. Je crois que oui, mais je ne peux pas vous garantir qu'elle a participé vraiment. Je ne peux pas vous le garantir.
3599 LE PRÉSIDENT : Non, non, pas vous personnellement, votre organisation. Est-ce que votre organisation...
3600 M. NOLET : Moi personnellement, non. Moi, je demeure à Québec, puis le bureau est à Montréal, alors...
3601 LE PRÉSIDENT : O.K.
3602 Michel, tu avais des questions?
3603 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Merci, Monsieur le Président.
3604 Bonjour, Monsieur Nolet. Vous étiez ici hier, parce que je vous ai remarqué dans la salle, et donc, vous avez entendu Pelmorex décrire le fonctionnement de son système d'alerte, qui est un service ouvert, qui est en fonction de manière continue, 24 heures sur 24, sept jours semaine, avec des messages pour toutes les régions du Canada, et c'est à la personne qui reçoit le message de déterminer si elle diffuse ou si elle n'en tient pas compte parce que ce n'est pas pour sa région.
3605 Or, tenant compte de la description que Pelmorex nous a faite hier de son projet, comment voyez-vous la possibilité de faire de la traduction gestuelle des messages?
3606 M. NOLET : J'en ai compris hier une partie parce qu'on trouvait... Mais pour moi, l'importance, c'est la même information à partir... surtout la communauté sourde gestuelle. S'il arrive une catastrophe comme on a vécu au Lac-Saint-Jean ou qu'on a vécu à d'autres moments, je pense que c'est important de faire venir un interprète, puis d'avoir un médaillon à l'intérieur de la télévision pour interpréter l'alerte pour que la communauté sourde comprenne vraiment le sens de ça, pas partir de sous-titrage et que les gens vont tout comprendre.
3607 Comme on répète souvent, la communauté sourde gestuelle, entre autres... je ne veux pas dire qu'ils sont analphabètes, mais ils n'ont pas une compréhension dans le même sens que nous. Quand on fait des signes, ce n'est pas parlé... comme nous, on parle en français avec les grammaires et ainsi de suite, et on a des mots-clés.
3608 Quand il y a un interprète qui passe à la télé, comme on voit à la Chambre des communes, c'est plus facile à comprendre parce qu'un geste avec la main, ça veut dire plus que... ça veut dire beaucoup de choses pour eux autres, puis avec l'expression du visage et ainsi de suite, ça nous aide beaucoup à...
3609 Je ne sais pas si je réponds à votre question là.
3610 CONSEILLER ARPIN : En fait, ce qu'on a compris des messages d'alerte d'hier, c'est qu'au niveau du visuel, Pelmorex ne fournit pas de visuel, il n'y aura pas de personnes à l'écran qui seront des employés de Pelmorex. Les personnes à l'écran seront des employés des stations de télévision qui diffuseront l'information.
3611 M. NOLET : Pour moi, les compagnies de télévision qui transmettent le message ont la responsabilité de bien informer la communauté en général, peu importe le handicap, peu importe la forme de... ont l'obligation de trouver les ressources pour passer l'information.
3612 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Pour vous, évidemment, l'information gestuelle est... Est-ce qu'elle est prioritaire au sous-titrage?
3613 M. NOLET : Les deux sont très bons, parce que vous avez aussi les personnes malentendantes qui ont une perte d'audition assez sévère, comme moi. Moi, j'utilise les deux.
3614 Comme moi, mettons que j'écoute une émission... là, on tombe dans un autre sujet. Mais mettons, on va prendre l'exemple des nouvelles. Si vous écoutez les nouvelles avec du sous-titrage, un bout ça va bien, tout d'un coup ça arrête, un moment donné ils nomment le nom d'une personne, ils ne mettent pas le nom d'une personne. Un moment donné, on perd.
3615 Moi, j'ai un système infrarouge avec des écouteurs. Je réussis à récupérer, ça va. Mais pour les personnes qui sont sourdes profondes là, c'est important d'avoir un message clair, bien sous-titré. Mais si j'avais un médaillon supplémentaire, je vais être encore... Le sous-titrage passe vite, mais dans un moment comme ça qui répète souvent, on peut le récupérer parce qu'on le répète plusieurs fois.
3616 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Évidemment, vous soulevez un certain nombre de questions qui débordent du contexte de la comparution de Pelmorex.
3617 Le Conseil, comme vous le savez, a tenu l'automne dernier des audiences sur l'accessibilité des services de radiodiffusion et de télécommunication aux personnes handicapées visuelles ou auditives, et le Conseil est encore en délibéré. Mais d'ici quelques mois, on devrait publier une décision, et qui aura une incidence pour l'ensemble de votre présentation d'aujourd'hui.
3618 Donc, je pense que ce n'est pas approprié de discuter de certains des enjeux, mais il y a des décisions qui s'en viennent. Je tenais à vous en informer.
3619 Est-ce que le Regroupement pour le sous-titrage est une des composantes du Centre québécois de la déficience auditive?
3620 M. NOLET : Le Regroupement pour le sous-titrage n'existe plus, je crois, depuis deux ou trois ans. La personne responsable travaille comme « consultant » pour une des compagnies de sous-titrage, mais on a un contact avec lui quand même comme membre du CQDA, parce qu'on est quand même... Il a été longtemps... l'organisme a duré quelques années. Il a quand même une certaine expertise dans son domaine. On le consulte, oui.
3621 CONSEILLER ARPIN : D'accord. Monsieur Nolet, je vous remercie.
3622 Monsieur le Président, j'ai terminé pour mes questions.
3623 LE PRÉSIDENT : O.K. Je crois que ce sont toutes nos questions pour vous. Merci pour votre présentation.
3624 M. NOLET : Merci beaucoup.
3625 LE PRÉSIDENT : O.K. Madame la Secrétaire, qui est la prochaine personne?
3626 THE SECRETARY: I would now call the Nova Scotia Emergency Management Office to come to the presentation table.
3627 M. MYETTE: My name is Mike Myette. I am here representing the Emergency Management Office of Nova Scotia in my capacity as the Office's Director of Emergency services. Our Office is responsible for coordinating the Province's response to emergency events, and in so doing we work I very close collaboration with more than 50 municipal emergency managers.
3628 Good Morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners and Commission Staff. Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this application.
3629 Our office recognizes Pelmorex's contribution to providing important public safety information to Canadians through The Weather Channel and MétéoMédia. We believe that contribution should be an important consideration in deciding the merits of Pelmorex's application for inclusion on basic cable. We also agree with the intervenors who have already spoken at length of the merits of the proposal and those include Pelmorex's long history of issuing emergency alerts and its investment in countrywide infrastructure.
3630 As you know, there are ongoing efforts by government to create a national public alerting system called NPAS. An RFI has been released and we are told that the next step is to release a competitive RFP. We are concerned that approving the application now will disenfranchise other entities who are planning to respond to that RFP.
3631 Given the planned release of an RFP, we are suggesting that the greater public interest would be served were the Commission to await the outcome of the RFP before rendering its decision on this application. In so saying, I note that Pelmorex has said that it may respond to that RFP.
3632 We believe the potential benefits of waiting include a wider variety of technical solutions suited to the very significant challenges of emergency alerting.
3633 Moving on to deal specifically with the Pelmorex proposal.
3634 While Pelmorex has discussed their proposal with provinces and territories and the federal government we are not aware that any actual consensus or agreement has been reached or is documented between the parties to ensure that it fully meets the needs of the Canadian Emergency Management Community.
3635 Yesterday, Mr. Chairman, you and your fellow commissioners asked what I thought were a number of excellent questions in your efforts to find out how this system would work and what the various operating parameters are.
3636 I suggest that were you to approve this system now, many of my provincial and territorial counterparts who would be relying on it don't know the answers to those questions and possibly many more. My concern is that they have not had an opportunity to ask those and other questions and to more importantly document the answers for the record.
3637 It is not insignificant that one of the most important functions an RFP serves is the ability to compare established specifications with a vendor's capacity to meet them. To that end, we suggest that it would be premature to approve the application now because the technical details of the proposal are not as widely understood or documented as they need to be. We think there needs to be an agreement spelling out specifically what the service looks like and what is in and out of scope.
3638 In my discussions with colleagues in other provinces, there are still certain technical and operational aspects of the system that are clearly open to interpretation.
3639 Nova Scotia has many small broadcasters on whom a lot of people still rely for local information. It is not clear to us that these small broadcasters would be technically capable of participating in this system.
3640 If you approve the application without waiting for the outcome of the RFP, we ask that the approval be contingent upon Pelmorex reaching agreement with the provinces, territories and the federal government on the specific details of how the system will work. Doing so would enable the Commission, as well as the emergency management community in Canada, to be better informed on exactly what it is that Pelmorex is offering to do and precisely how they intend on doing it.
3641 If there are gaps between what Pelmorex can do and what is actually needed, we can identify those gaps and get to work on finding ways to bridge them.
3642 Canada needs a National Public Alerting System. We believe that doing it right is just as important as doing it.
3643 We want the Commission to understand the critical relationship between emergency alerting systems and reverse 9-1-1, a service the Commission has ruled on previously and will be offered by carriers starting in 2010.
3644 If you turn to the last page of my presentation, you will find a diagram that demonstrates that relationship.
3645 Starting from the Emergency Operations Centre, which is shown at the top centre of the diagram, the lines that splay out to the left represent the emergency alerting system that Pelmorex is proposing to operate.
3646 I will apologize now for having left and right transposed in my comments. That was an error that wasn't picked up until after it went to print. So where you see "left" put "right"; where you see "right" put "left".
3647 So the lines that go to the right represent a reverse 9-1-1 alerting system. Simply put, the reverse 9-1-1 system allows emergency managers to obtain phone numbers for all addresses in the impact zone and it gets those numbers from the telephone company's 9-1-1 database. Emergency managers use an automated dialler to call people directly by telephone and tell them that an emergency has happened.
3648 The reason reverse 9-1-1 is useful is because many emergencies happen in the middle of the night when most of the population is asleep and are not watching television or radio or using the internet. That point perhaps didn't come across in our discussion yesterday on the situation in Barrie, but it's a very important one.
3649 Using reverse 9-1-1 and multiple lines a message can be sent to hundreds or even thousands of phone numbers in a very short timeframe. That means, however, that the messages need to be kept very, very brief.
3650 An emergency alert system as Pelmorex proposes is absolutely necessary in Canada because of the fact that when time is of the essence you can't call every person and tell them what they need to do, whether it's to evacuate or to boil their water or whatever the case may be. A broadcast system like the one proposed by Pelmorex is far more effective.
3651 Consider, if you will, a scenario of an overturned tanker of hazardous materials at 3:00 a.m. in the morning and lethal fumes moving towards any community in Canada. Deploying reverse 9-1-1, people would awake to a phone call telling them that an emergency incident has happened and to tune to local broadcasters for information on what they need to do to protect themselves and their families. So the reverse 9-1-1 system wakes them up and tells them to tune in and the emergency alert system does the rest.
3652 That is what we see as the most significant benefit of emergency alerting as proposed by Pelmorex and as contemplated by the RFP.
3653 The point of all this is to demonstrate, Mr. Chairman, that any gap in the emergency alerting system is going to have a very direct impact on the safety of Canadians because, in our view, it is this system that is going to be relied on to tell people what they must do to keep themselves safe from harm in the evolving moments after an emergency happens.
3654 Mr. Chairman, several of your questions and those of your fellow Commissioners yesterday were critical to your collective understanding that what Pelmorex is proposing, while it is certainly of benefit to the emergency management community, it is not a true end-to-end solution for public alerting. It only delivers the message to broadcasters and makes it available for them to receive it. The system does nothing to ensure that the message is in fact broadcast.
3655 I already mentioned that Nova Scotia has quite a number of small broadcast stations, particularly those involving FM radio. One of the most significant challenges our municipal emergency managers report to us is their inability to have messages broadcast on radio or TV between midnight and 6:00 a.m. because most, if not all, broadcast stations are unstaffed.
3656 As I'm sure the Commission is aware, there is equipment available that will enable messages sent through the emergency alert system to go "direct-to-air". In fact, the Commission recently facilitated changes to the Broadcast Act to authorize this very thing.
3657 The Pelmorex proposal does nothing to provide equipment to stations to enable messages to be broadcast direct-to-air.
3658 We think it is important the Commission understand that that there are some important pieces missing that need to be added before this system can be relied upon as a true end-to-end public safety system that would function equally well at all hours of the day or night.
3659 Questions were posed yesterday to Pelmorex on the matter of revenue and expenses associated with the application. Pelmorex said that in previous applications they were denied permission to provide equipment at the broadcaster interface. If Pelmorex is granted inclusion on basic cable it may be fair to suggest --although, to be clear, I'm not suggesting it -- that Pelmorex's bottom line would improve somewhat.
3660 In that vein, we would ask the Commission to review the cost studies thoughtfully and consider the issue of whether Pelmorex's involvement should or could reasonably extend to providing the funding for that equipment, if not the equipment itself.
3661 Mr. Chairman, you were also asked questions yesterday about the voluntary versus mandatory participation of broadcasters.
3662 We suggest that allowing broadcasters to participate voluntarily will create risk because messages cannot reach the greatest number of people unless all broadcasters participate.
3663 A true end-to-end solution for an emergency alerting system must include at least two items that aren't part of the Pelmorex proposal, that is mandatory participation of all carriers as a condition of their broadcasting licence, and the mandatory installation of equipment to enable direct-to-air broadcasting of emergency alerts any time the station is unstaffed.
3664 Our office initially had concerns about the governance structure outlined in the application. We feel that each province needs to be represented, not a regional governance, as was proposed. Pelmorex has since assured us the proposal could be amended to ensure equal provincial representation.
3665 In conclusion, we urge the Commission to proceed cautiously in its deliberations to ensure that the opportunity for Canada to have a much needed emergency alerting system is realized, but in a manner that serves both Canadians and the emergency management community that works so hard to protect them.
3666 Thank you.
3667 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Myette.
3668 We have a fundamental misunderstanding here. You have talked about a perfect end-to-end public system. We understand this is not a perfect end-to-end system. All my questions to Pelmorex yesterday were directed as part of trying to understand it and understanding if we do this does it impede or hamper a perfect end-to-end system. That clearly is the end activity and we all want to see it.
3669 Right now we have nothing. I'm one of these people who believes half a loaf is better than none at all and what we hope is that if we -- and that's how Pelmorex put it and you tell me if there is something wrong because you are the expert in this field, not me -- they say "If we put this voluntary system in, then at least we have that in place."
3670 Now, it's not perfect, it's not end-to-end, it doesn't cover all, but we will -- according to their assurance -- and I asked them if granting them this it will not impede the development of the full system and the full system may either wrap itself around and make Pelmorex mandatory or put in some other system, combine it obviously with a reverse 9-1-1 which is a key part which is not here, et cetera, all of this.
3671 But for two years we have been waiting for something to happen; nothing has happened except that the report that we received, which clearly makes it clear that it's a stage of issuing the first of two RFPs -- God knows where they will get compliant bids, God knows where the funding is and whether it's there.
3672 So hopefully all of that will take place. Our aim is not to impede it, to supplant or do something else, but to at least get something on the ground.
3673 Is there anything that you see in the Pelmorex proposal that would impede the NPAS process?
3674 MR. MYETTE: No, I don't.
3675 I think what we are saying is, realizing that this is a bird in the hand versus two in the bush --
3676 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes. Right, okay. No, I agree with you.
3677 MR. MYETTE: -- we would be remiss not to see this as the opportunity it is.
3678 At the same time, I would want to Commission to consider doing the best we can with the opportunity. My point about adding end-to-end was simply an effort to ensure that we do the very best with the opportunity that is before us, sir.
3679 THE CHAIRPERSON: I appreciate that reminder and I fully agree with you, it's a bird in the hand rather than -- but, as I say, half a loaf is better than none. I'm sorry, I'm mixing metaphors here.
3680 I will pass you on to my colleague, Rita.
3681 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
3682 Just a couple of questions.
3683 Your oral presentation this morning is very true to your written presentation so am I to assume, therefore, that nothing you heard from Pelmorex yesterday has caused you to rethink some of your original positions?
3684 MR. MYETTE: No. In fact my point being that some of the questions asked by Pelmorex -- answered by Pelmorex is they were good news in terms of the features of the system. My concern was that my provincial colleagues may not fully understand the system, though.
3685 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: I understand.
3686 The issue of mandatory participation of all carriers, do you see that as the biggest gap and therefore if it were to be mandatory you may have supported the application?
3687 MR. MYETTE: I would say yes, because when an emergency manager in an EOC -- and I'm one of those people -- issues an alert, you need to know that every broadcaster is sending it out. I think if we know that every broadcaster is sending out that alert, then we know Canadians are getting the information they need, yes.
3688 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: How does your office provide emergency alerts now?
3689 MR. MYETTE: We do have a connection to Pelmorex, we can send alerts from our EOC and have them displayed on The Weather Channel. Other than that we don't have a system and the Chairman's comments in terms of something is better than nothing are very relevant in this case.
3690 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Well, like I said, your oral presentation is very true to your written, so I want to thank you very much for your participation.
3691 MR. MYETTE: Thank you.
3692 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Those are all my questions.
3693 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thank you very much.
3694 Those are our questions. I appreciate the frank answers you gave us.
3695 Thank you.
3696 We will take a 5-minute break because apparently the next intervenor will be coming by video.
3697 Thank you.
--- Upon recessing at 0940
--- Upon resuming at 0950
3698 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, Madam Secretary, let's continue.
3699 THE SECRETARY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
3700 I would now invite CKUA Radio Network to make their presentation via video conference from Edmonton.
3701 Appearing for CKUA Radio Network is Mr. Ken Regan.
3702 Mr. Regan, can you hear me?
3703 MR. REGAN: Yes, I can.
3704 THE SECRETARY: All right.
3705 Please introduce your colleague and proceed with your presentation.
3706 MR. REGAN: Very good. Thank you very much.
3707 Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, thank you for the opportunity to address these hearings and thank you for your indulgence, and to Commission staff, for accommodating our schedule -- my schedule and that of my colleague Kris Rodts -- for allowing us to participate long-distance via teleconference.
3708 Kris Rodts is the Engineering Supervisor at CKUA Radio and he has the prime responsibility today for CKUA's management of Alberta's Emergency Public Warning System.
3709 Mr. Chairman, as the Commission is aware, CKUA Radio Network is a pioneer in public alerting in Canada. Our original Operations Manager, Neil Lutes, and CKUA conceived, engineered and built the first Emergency Public Warning System, or EPWS, on behalf of the Alberta government between 1989 and 1992.
3710 Now in its 17th year of operation, Alberta's EPWS is considered by experts nationally and internationally as one of the best functioning public alerting systems anywhere.
3711 It has successfully operated as a first line of defence for Albertans faced with life-threatening or dangerous weather, flood or other disaster potentialities. Alberta's EPWS also provides a parallel service by carrying Amber alerts in the event of child abduction or other serious child endangerment.
3712 Over the years, Alberta's EPWS and Amber alert systems have been activated on a number of occasions and they have worked. On at least two separate occasions, policing authorities have directly credited the Amber alert system for the successful and safe resolution of child abduction incidents.
3713 Similarly, reports to government agencies and local authorities during and following EPWS activations confirm that citizens hearing these alerts have recognized them and taken appropriate safety precautions as a result.
3714 Therefore, Mr. Chairman, we know that public alerting can be successful and it is why CKUA has consistently supported the concept of a National Public Alerting System. It is also why CKUA has been a partner, along with our friends from Pelmorex, the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, Industry Canada, Environment Canada and others in the Broadcasters Technical Working Group which has been working on an NPAS solution.
3715 Our position with respect to the application by Pelmorex is straightforward. CKUA supports Pelmorex's request for mandatory distribution and carriage as part of the digital basic package, whether by implementation of a 9(1)(h) Order or by some other mechanism.
3716 CKUA also acknowledges, Pelmorex's suggestion that their offer to act as an aggregator of public alerting messages for distribution to participating media is a constructive and, frankly, a generous gesture.
3717 However, we believe it's important that it is understood that what Pelmorex is proposing in this application is not a public alerting system. It may be a useful augmentation of service for the general public and for those participating media who wish to avail themselves of Pelmorex's messages, but it is not a National Public Alerting System and CKUA feels it's critically important that it not be represented as one or construed to be one.
3718 Mr. Chairman, in 2006 CKUA participated in hearings related to Broadcasting Notice CRTC 2006-3, which was a call for comments on applications 2004-1260-2, 2005-0874-9 and 2005-0872-3. At that time we outlined our position with respect to any National Public Alerting System and how such a system should properly be developed and we stated:
"A national alerting system is only a true public safety system if it is universal and consistent -- or constant. Any opportunity for discretion creates opportunity for failure and when it comes to the fundamental issue of public safety, failure is not an option." (As read)
3719 Mr. Chairman, Pelmorex within its own application makes it clear that its alerts will be made available on a voluntary basis to those broadcasters wishing to receive or access them. By definition what is being proposed has significant opportunity for major gaps in service and delivery.
3720 More relevant, though, we feel is the fact that regardless of Pelmorex's good intentions or its generosity, or its desire to provide a National Public Alerting System, even one which claims to meet all CANALERT standards and protocols, the technical and other critical elements identified by the NPAS Broadcasters Technical Working Group for a true public alerting system would not be part of this proposed system.
3721 For example, in Draft Briefing Document 2009-02-17, Revision 1, List of Tasks and Proposals, the Broadcasters Technical Working Group identified no fewer than 10 important technical issues needing resolution in order to get close to having an appropriate framework for a National Public Alerting System. We have included that document in Appendix "A".
3722 Among the issues requiring technical and/or technological resolution, the need to harmonize alerting tones with U.S. alerting agencies, particularly in areas where signals can be accessed across borders, the need to harmonize or standardize the appearance of alerting messages to ensure quickest and greatest public recognition; the need to define satellite requirements, resolve latency issues, language issues, language priority and protocol issues, and others.
3723 In addition, Mr. Chairman, Pelmorex does not offer a viable solution to one of the most critical and perplexing issues facing Canadian broadcasters interested in participating in a public alerting system and that is the issue of liability.
3724 Who will assume the liability for any gap or breakdown in what would ultimately be a patchwork alerting system?
3725 As well, while Pelmorex's application leaves the integration responsibility and technological solution development to participating broadcasters, we know from our own work with the Broadcasters Technical Working Group that the complexity of some of those technical issues relating to conversion from one broadcast platform to another, along with the issues of liability and overall cost responsibilities, are significant obstacles to creating a viable alerting system.
3726 These issues will not go away under this proposal.
3727 Mr. Chairman, one of the reasons for the relative success of Alberta's public alerting system is the consistency of the technologies applied, the financial support provided by the Alberta government and the confidence of the participants that they will not be held liable in the event of any system failure.
3728 Pelmorex's proposal to be an aggregator and distributor of alerting messages to other broadcasters is, without question, well-intentioned and generous, but it should not be tied to Pelmorex's desire for mandatory carriage on the digital basic platform, nor should it in any way be construed as a substitute for a genuine National Public Alerting System, because it will not be a system of consistency, nor will it be one with comprehensive or consistent funding.
3729 Rather, it will at best be a patchwork system of voluntary players applying potentially a multitude of technologies of varying degrees of quality and reliability, with participants potentially coming and going depending upon their ability to fund integration and support systems who are, frankly even -- depending on their interest in participating.
3730 A genuine National Public Alerting System we believe is possible, but achieving it is not a simple matter, as evidenced by the delays experienced within the Broadcasters Technical Working Group.
3731 However, despite these setbacks CKUA believes very, very significant progress has been made by the members of the group. More importantly, though, we believe that the Broadcaster Technical Working Group should be allowed to continue its work, unless and until it concludes that progress or success are no longer possible.
3732 Further, we believe that it is possible that if the public perceives the Pelmorex proposal to be a national public alerting system, it could in fact erode support for possible government or industry expenditure on further research and development of a genuine national alerting system, such as the one being worked on by the Technical Working Group.
3733 Therefore, Mr. Chairman, while CKUA supports Pelmorex's request for mandatory distribution on the digital basic platform, we respectfully request that the issue of public alerting relating to the application be set aside and made part of a future discussion specific to public alerting and the NPAS group's future proposals.
3734 Thank you, Mr. Chairman, we appreciate the opportunity, and we are happy to respond to any questions.
3735 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you for your intervention.
3736 Paragraph 9 states the essence of your position, and there is nothing in paragraph 9 that we disagree with, and I don't think that Pelmorex disagrees, because that is what they are -- at least that's how I understood their proposal. It is a voluntary system. It is not a replacement of NPAS. It is not to be construed as one, but it is sort of one step of the whole.
3737 Yesterday, in my questions, I was very specific on trying to find out whether there is anything in the implementation of Pelmorex's request that would in any way upset the NPAS process, interfere with it, substitute it, or anything else. I was categorically told no.
3738 I have since heard, just before you, from the Nova Scotia Emergency Management Office, the same thing, the same warning as you: Let's make sure that we understand what it is. It is a voluntary system to make something available, it is not a panacea, it is not an NPAS system, et cetera.
3739 But, by the same token, the speaker said that it does, at least, put something on the map which can be used by broadcasters in lieu of in jurisdictions where there is nothing.
3740 Do you agree with that?
3741 MR. REGAN: I do to an extent. I don't think it necessarily interferes -- directly interferes with the work that the NPAS group is doing, but, as I say, I think it could be problematic if, in fact, people get the sense, through exposure to the Pelmorex system, or through usage of The Weather Network's alerting systems -- if the public gets the sense that this is a national public alerting system, or if industry and government feel that it is good enough, then securing the impetus, I guess, for developing a genuine national public alerting system could be jeopardized.
3742 I know that is speculative, but I think it's a possibility.
3743 As well, there are other specific technical issues. For example, how will this system integrate with Alberta's existing Emergency Public Warning System? Who will be responsible for developing or supporting that integration?
3744 So there are some practical issues, and I think that would be a similar issue in other jurisdictions that have alerting systems of one kind or another.
3745 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, I understand.
3746 Okay. Thank you.
3747 Rita, I believe you have some questions.
3748 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
3749 Good morning. I only have a couple more questions, and I will ask you the same question that I asked the previous intervenor. You, too, oppose the voluntary distribution of these alerting messages that would be distributed from Pelmorex. Would you have supported this application if those had been mandatory?
3750 MR. REGAN: No, not this specific aspect of the application, because, you are right, CKUA has been an advocate for the mandatory carriage of alerting systems, and we would support that within the context of a true national public alerting system.
3751 But, again, because this is not the genuine article -- it's a great complement to what Pelmorex is doing already, and, as I say, we don't oppose the principle of what they are trying to do, but our concern is that, when it comes to public safety, issues of reliability, consistency, and a clear understanding amongst the public as to who is sending this message, and what is the veracity of this message, and is it genuine or not, those things are absolutely fundamental.
3752 Again, we do believe in the principle of the mandatory carriage of alerting messages, but in the context of a genuine national alerting system, not necessarily in the context of this.
3753 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: The work that you have done on behalf of the Alberta government for the Emergency Public Warning System, is that now available province-wide?
3754 MR. REGAN: Yes, it reaches, I think, at the last estimate, about 95 percent of the populated area of the Province of Alberta, and we are working with the Alberta government right now on proposals -- or we hope to be working with the Alberta government on proposals to augment that system to increase its carriage capacity, and its distribution area, as well, to new platforms like the internet and cell phones and that sort of thing.
3755 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: So how do the residents of Alberta receive these alerts?
3756 MR. REGAN: The way the system works now is, CKUA is the central distributor -- single-point distributor, if you like -- of public alerting messages, and then we re-distribute, if you like, to other broadcasters, radio and television operations. We distribute to cable head ends, to individual broadcasters, and that sort of thing.
3757 So it's not unlike what Pelmorex is proposing.
3758 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: And since CKUA implemented this system, did that increase your costs that are directly attributable to the distribution of the alerts to the other broadcasters?
3759 MR. REGAN: I think it's fair to say -- and Kris could speak to this better than I, but I think it's fair to say that the costs have gone up, certainly, since the system was initially implemented.
3760 But, again, the Alberta government funds the costs related to the system here in Alberta. CKUA has a services contract to support, maintain, do any repairs, training, maintenance and testing of the system, as well as research and development, here in Alberta.
3761 So while the costs have increased, the Alberta government has increased its own support of the system.
3762 Just to point out, though, I think it is important to recognize that on a per capita basis right now, the actual cost for the contract with CKUA works out to less than 25 cents per capita annually.
3763 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: That is certainly not a large price to pay to save lives.
3764 Thank you, gentlemen, for your participation. I don't have any further questions.
3765 MR. REGAN: Thank you very much.
3766 THE CHAIRPERSON: Michel...?
3767 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
3768 Mr. Regan, good morning.
3769 MR. REGAN: Good morning.
3770 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Is the system that you have in place in Alberta mandatory or voluntary?
3771 MR. REGAN: It is a voluntary system, Mr. Arpin, although we have advocated for a mandatory system.
3772 The Alberta government prefers to keep it as a voluntary system at the moment.
3773 It works fairly well, for the most part; although, because it is voluntary, I think it is safe to say that, on occasion, some of the partners are less diligent perhaps, or less careful about how they respond to things like testing of the system and that sort of thing.
3774 Occasionally we have problems where someone has left a switch in the wrong position and a test signal is not received and that sort of thing. But, for the most part, it has worked very well as a voluntary system.
3775 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: The previous intervenor, the Nova Scotia emergency organization, said that in their province a good number of radio stations, and television stations, are unmanned for a good number of hours during the evening and overnight. I am sure that a similar situation occurs in Alberta.
3776 In these instances, what happens in Alberta if there is an emergency that takes place during the unmanned hours?
3777 MR. REGAN: Mr. Arpin, maybe I will allow my colleague Kris Rodts to speak to that, because it is probably more of a technical question.
3778 MR. RODTS: In a lot of cases there are always people who will listen to their own radio stations, and as soon as an alert is out, then usually they call in newspeople and they cover the event.
3779 But there are situations, you are correct, where they are running unattended, and hopefully the public hears. Normally what happens is, they either turn to television or an all-news radio station.
3780 MR. REGAN: I think, too, that stations running in an automatic mode -- the system can be left on in that automatic mode, so that if there is an alert issue at a time when there is no one actually physically in the station, it can still be broadcast.
3781 It is not an optimum situation, of course, because there is no one there to respond from that station to provide additional information to their listeners.
3782 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Thank you very much, Mr. Regan.
3783 THE CHAIRPERSON: Since the Alberta system is voluntary, I gather that you would prefer mandatory, but you think that a voluntary system is better than none.
3784 MR. REGAN: Yes, I think that's fair to say, but, again, as we have said in previous submissions, Mr. Chairman, a public alerting system is only as good as its weakest link. Our feeling is that if you don't have everyone participating at an optimum level, you don't truly have a public alerting system.
3785 If I may, Mr. Chairman, one of the things that we have suggested in the past, and I would mention it here again, is that I think the Commission may have a role, in the sense that, even though the system could be voluntary, if the Commission were to, at the time of licensing applications, or licensing renewals for broadcasters, ask of them whether they would consider participation in a public alerting system as a Condition of Licence, I think that most broadcasters would, in their own self-interest, if nothing else, probably answer affirmatively, that they would accept that as a Condition of Licence.
3786 It is still a voluntary system, but at least there would be perhaps a greater responsibility, or a greater onus on the broadcaster to participate at a higher level.
3787 THE CHAIRPERSON: I detect a slight note of inconsistency in your presentation. You say, "Don't approve Pelmorex," which is a voluntary system, "because it will give the appearance that there is a mandatory system and the problem is solved, and, therefore, there won't be the incentive to evolve a truly mandatory, all-coverage system," yet that is precisely what you are doing in Alberta.
3788 MR. REGAN: No, I should make myself clearer. I don't mean to say that it would give the impression that there is a mandatory system, but I think it could give the impression that there is a fully evolved system perhaps, and I think that could represent, potentially, an impediment or reduce the impetus for developing what truly could be a fully evolved system.
3789 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes. Clearly, nobody wants to do that. We will have a communications problem, if we endorse Pelmorex's system, to make sure that people do not see it as a full-scale solution.
3790 Thank you very much for your intervention.
3791 MR. REGAN: Thank you very much, we appreciate the opportunity.
3792 THE CHAIRPERSON: Madam Secretary...?
3793 THE SECRETARY: I would now call Rogers Cable Communications Inc. and Bell Aliant Regional Communications, Limited Partnership, and Bell Canada, collectively "The Companies", to appear as a panel and present their intervention.
3794 Please introduce yourselves and begin your presentation.
3795 MR. ENGELHART: Thank you very much. Mr. Chairman and Members of the Commission, good morning. I am Ken Engelhart, Senior Vice-President, Regulatory, for Rogers Communications Inc. With me today, for Rogers, are, to my left, Pam Dinsmore, Vice-President, Regulatory; and Peter Kovacs, Director, Regulatory.
3796 To my right is Paul Armstrong, Director of Regulatory Affairs, Bell TV.
3797 Behind me are, from your left to right, Alan Dagenais, Associate Director, Digital Systems, Bell TV; Scott Loretto, Manager, Video Product Development, Rogers Cable; and Suzanne Blackwell, President of Giganomics Consulting.
3798 Scott is also the co-chair of the Public Safety Canada BDU Technical Working Group on Alerting.
3799 Mr. Chairman and Members of the Panel, in our remarks today we would like to make the following four points:
3800 First, The Weather Network and MeteoMedia do not meet the Commission's exceptional importance criteria for a mandatory digital basic carriage designation.
3801 Second, since 2007, and at the Commission's urging, Rogers, Bell and other industry representatives have worked diligently and in good faith with Public Safety Canada and its partners to implement a comprehensive national public alerting system.
3802 In response to Public Safety's timetable, our operational target date has been, and remains, 2010. Approval of Pelmorex's application will not result in the earlier implementation of a national alerting system.
3803 Third, Pelmorex's entire proposed contribution is the creation and operation of a dispatch centre. In other words, writing a computer program and performing associated administrative functions. It has nothing to do with broadcasting services, let alone Pelmorex's Weather Services.
3804 Fourth, there is no free lunch. Despite Pelmorex's claims, its computer system will be paid for by BDUs through the Weather Services' wholesale fee. This is unfair and not consistent with sound public policy.
3805 MR. ARMSTRONG: Following two denials, this is the third Pelmorex application for mandatory carriage of its Weather Services on digital basic in four years. Pelmorex has offered no new evidence that would warrant a different Commission decision this time around. The only difference is that Pelmorex has linked its application for 9(1)(h) status to a commitment to operate a dispatch centre. In our submission, this is an improper consideration in an application for 9(1)(h) status.
3806 Conferring section 9(1)(h) status on a programming service is an extraordinary benefit that should be granted to provide something to the Canadian broadcasting system that is critically important to achieving the objectives of the Broadcasting Act. On this basis alone, Pelmorex's Weather Services do not qualify.
3807 The channels that have been granted 9(1)(h) status by the Commission are niche services that would not have a viable business case without universal subscription. They also provide unique programming of national importance. For example, APTN provides all Canadians a window into the unique perspective of Canada's indigenous peoples, while The Accessible Channel reaches out to the visually impaired to make our system inclusive.
3808 Being popular does not qualify a service for 9(1)(h) status. In 2007, the Commission denied 9(1)(h) status to YTV, Newsworld and RDI. These very popular services were regarded by the Commission as having the ability to negotiate reasonable carriage arrangements with BDUs.
3809 The Weather Network and MeteoMedia are very popular. They have had the benefit of universal subscription on analog for over 20 years. They have strong, well-known brands and loyal audiences. They have healthy -- very healthy annual profit margins.
3810 In addition, they have a right of access, undue preference safeguards, right of a dispute resolution, and are the only weather services licensed by the Commission.
3811 Pelmorex has a monopoly on this genre of programming. It is more profitable than cable or DTH BDUs. Accordingly, Pelmorex is more than capable of negotiating a wholesale fee like every other specialty service.
3812 Bell TV has distributed both services on basic since the launch of our satellite service in 1997, without any requirement to do so.
3813 Pelmorex states that circumstances have changed since its 2006 digital basic application, and that these changed circumstances demand that its Weather Services be granted 9(1)(h) status.
3814 The three change factors that they cite are: the economic downturn; global warming; and reduction in local newscasts.
3815 All specialty services are affected by the economy, so this cannot be a justification for 9(1)(h) status.
3816 Global warming and changes to local weather coverage will increase the popularity of Pelmorex's services, making it even easier for them to negotiate wholesale fees without 9(1)(h) status.
3817 Notwithstanding its current success, Pelmorex claims that it will face financial ruin in August 2011, when it loses its grandfathered dual status on cable.
3818 According to Pelmorex, this will inevitably result in those BDUs moving Pelmorex's service from basic to a discretionary tier.
3819 Pelmorex wrote to a number of elected politicians, seeking support for their application, a number of whom have intervened. Pelmorex told them that unless their application was approved, their service would be removed from basic and viewers would have to pay "several extra dollars just to continue receiving The Weather Network."
3820 Mr. Chairman, this is fear mongering. Satellite and terrestrial digital-only BDUs offer Pelmorex's Weather Services as part of their basic package, despite the freedom they have to move them onto a tier. Cable and satellite customers are used to having these services on basic, and distributors change popular tiers and packages at their peril.
3821 We would note that in the U.S., The Weather Channel, part owner of the Applicant, does not have any of the regulatory protections that the Applicant has, not even access rights. Nonetheless, it is received by 97 percent of BDU subscribers. It is an extremely profitable service, which last year was purchased by NBC for $3.5 billion.
3822 In our view, this application is not about financial vulnerability or emergency alerting. Pelmorex simply wants to be insulated from the commercial negotiation process. It wants to perpetuate its status as a mandatory service on cable, with a regulated wholesale fee.
3823 Pelmorex wants the Commission to substitute regulation for negotiation. This is contrary to the Commission's stated policy that commercial arrangements between BDU operators and programmers are matters best determined by negotiations between the parties.
3824 Pelmorex has argued that it requires the certainty of 9(1)(h) in order to diversify into public alerting. However, its own track record of sophisticated and profitable business dealings tells another story. It has demonstrated its ability to effectively diversify into a range of non-programming endeavours, such as internet and mobile weather information services. This has positioned the company well for future financial success.
3825 MS DINSMORE: Just two years ago the Commission denied Pelmorex's request for a 9(1)(h) order that would have required BDUs to distribute its emergency alert messages. Instead, it supported a voluntary approach to the development of a national alerting system. It concluded that mandating one specific solution could discourage innovation.
3826 It also stated its expectation that the alerting system would be created and operated through the cooperative efforts of emergency management organizations, broadcasters and BDUs.
3827 It recognized that such collaboration was essential to ensure that the most cost-effective and efficient solution was established.
3828 Finally, the Commission noted that the broadcasting system's role would be a subset of a much broader alerting system, one designed to support the timely delivery of alerts across the country via multiple platforms.
3829 We believe that the Commission's determinations in 2007 were correct, and remain correct today.
3830 Immediately after the Commission's 2007 alerting decision was released, Rogers started work on our own proprietary solution to deliver alerts within the Commission's two-year deadline.
3831 However, in mid-2007, Rogers and Bell met with other BDUs, Public Safety Canada, Commission Staff, and other key government departments to discuss the public alerting initiative. It was clear that Public Safety Canada wanted a holistic, multi-platform, national public alerting system.
3832 Alert issuers did not want to deal directly with each last-mile distributor. A centralized point of contact to authenticate these issuers and verify the accuracy of alert messages was the key to effectiveness and efficiency.
3833 As a result, Rogers stopped working on our own proprietary solution. We focused all of our efforts on working with Bell and other public alerting stakeholders.
3834 In January 2008, the federal and provincial ministers responsibility for emergency management announced the creation and funding of the National Public Alerting System. They set out key dates for the system: by 2009 issue a single Request for Proposals, or RFP, to operate components of the system, and by 2010 begin implementation.
3835 The ministers designated Public Safety Canada to lead the initiative.
3836 And the Commission was fully aware of the plan. In fact, the minutes of the National Public Alerting System BDU Advisory Group meeting of April 2nd, 2008, state as follows:
"The Commission remains fully committed to Public Safety Canada's initiative to establish a comprehensive national emergency alerting system. In order to clear up any confusion between the target dates established by the Commission and Public Safety Canada for the implementation of the system, Scott Hutton indicated that broadcasters and distributors should continue to work on the establishment of a voluntary alerting system.
The Commission is of the view that Public Safety Canada's initiative should form the basis of such a voluntary national alerting system.
The Commission will evaluate the progress that broadcasters and distributors have made to the establishment of a voluntary alerting system early next year, 2009.
The Commission's decision to proceed towards a mandatory system will depend on the progress that broadcasters and distributors have made towards the establishment of Public Safety Canada's national system."
3837 Exactly one year ago the Commission told us to stick to the plan, and, in good faith, we did. We followed your guide, we worked with the public authority you designated, and now we are left to wonder why we are here.
3838 Following the January 2008 announcement, Public Safety Canada set up alerting stakeholder working groups comprised of major BDUs, broadcasters, Public Safety, the CRTC, Industry Canada, Heritage, and Environment Canada. Rogers, Bell, and our partners have been actively participating in the working groups, identifying interface requirements, conducting tests, and providing demonstrations of the alerting system.
3839 In addition, Rogers, along with Public Safety, co-chairs the BDU Technical Working Group.
3840 Meanwhile, the Canadian approach to alerting has been adopted by the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA. This has been a positive development, because it means that large U.S. manufacturers will be making the equipment that we need.
3841 Consistent with the schedule established by Public Safety Canada, Rogers and Bell have committed to the purchase of the latest digital equipment in 2010. We will begin alerting on our BDU systems in 2010, and will not have the capability to process the alerts before then. This is a major gating factor. Approving the Pelmorex application will not accelerate the delivery of alerts in any fashion.
3842 MR. ENGELHART: Public Safety and the provinces have defined a next-generation alerting system. The system, for the most part, involves: one, the issuance of emergency alert messages by government agencies using the Common Alerting Protocol; second, the delivery of these alerts via the Internet; and third, the receipt and processing of these messages by last-mile distributors such as BDUs.
3843 As you have heard, CAP, the Common Alerting Protocol, is a standardized way of issuing an alert. All of the necessary information is set out in predefined fields so that the computer used by a BDU can process it automatically.
3844 The CAP protocol describes: the emergency; how urgent, certain and severe it is; and the affected areas. The message is then sent through the Internet to all recipients. A BDU's computer will automatically receive any alert that has been issued. The computer will then pass through only those alerts that apply to the BDU's serving area, activating all digital set-top boxes in the area to display the alert message.
3845 The use of CAP replaces a huge part of the work that Pelmorex proposed in its earlier All-Channel Alert application, mapping alerts to the areas affected. With CAP, the alerts will technically work without Pelmorex or anyone else.
3846 However, Public Safety has quite correctly decided that a relatively simple piece of computer software would help the process. The software would sit on a computer in a dispatch centre. All issuers would log into the computer through a web portal. The computer would make sure that the issuer had the correct password and would then send the alert in the CAP format to all distributors.
3847 That's it. Public Safety needs a computer program written and needs a contractor to manage the dispatch centre. For the most part, the dispatch centre is an IT function. In addition, the contractor will supply satellite backup to the Internet. It will also distribute training manuals to issuers and sign contracts.
3848 It is this role as an IT contractor that Pelmorex proposes to perform. It will be a contractor for Public Safety. It will have no contractual or other relationship with the BDUs. Public Safety has, we understand, prepared the RFP and the modest costs of the contractor will be split between the federal government and the provinces.
3849 Pelmorex's own cost estimates are that the Internet software can be written for $2.6 million and the ongoing operating costs are $2 million per year. However, Pelmorex is in no way critical to the delivery of the dispatch centre. Public Works has identified 22 potential bidders.
3850 The operation of this dispatch centre has nothing or very little to do with broadcasting of any kind, let alone Pelmorex's existing broadcasting services. It is computer programming, not broadcasting. Pelmorex has admitted that software development is not a match with their core business strategy.
3851 Pelmorex claims that its alerting service will be provided to the government free of charge. In reality, BDUs will pay for this service on behalf of the government. This would be in addition to covering our own internal alerting costs.
3852 When Pelmorex last applied for digital basic status in 2006, it concluded that the resulting financial stability would enable it to reduce its monthly wholesale rate from 23 cents in 2007 to 20 cents by 2010. Recognizing it would generate ample profits, it offered to give back 3 cents.
3853 Pelmorex has not made the same proposal in this application. Instead, it proposes to keep this 3 cents or $4 million per year to fund its dispatch centre role. It plans to do this despite the Commission's conclusion in 2007 that alerting should be funded separately from the Weather Service's broadcasting activities and that revenues derived from alerting should not be included in Canadian programming expenditure calculations.
3854 To allow this to happen would be bad public policy. A multiplatform national public alerting system that benefits all Canadians should be funded by all Canadians.
3855 Good public policy and fairness in funding require the Commission to allow Public Safety Canada to proceed with its single RFP. Without a competitive selection process, public alerting stakeholders will never know whether Pelmorex delivers the most efficient and cost-effective dispatch service.
3856 In effect, the Commission would be taking responsibility not for a broadcasting undertaking but for a computerized dispatch centre. This goes well beyond the Commission's statutorily conferred authority over broadcasting.
3857 More importantly, the Commission would be designating Pelmorex as Public Safety's information technology contractor. Once that happens, the power of Public Safety Canada, advisory boards or any other governance mechanisms will be academic. Only the Commission can enforce this IT contract by threatening to remove, or removing, Pelmorex's 9(1)(h) status.
3858 The Weather Network and MétéoMédia do not merit 9(1)(h) status. They didn't in 2004 or 2007. Nothing has changed.
3859 As directed by the Commission in its 2007 Alerting Policy, Bell and Rogers have worked diligently and in good faith to implement public alerting. We have done so by responding to the timetable set by the agency responsible, Public Safety Canada. All of our plans were made with the full knowledge of the Commission. The alerts will begin in 2010 and the system will be state of the art. It is not possible to advance that date.
3860 BDUs are perfectly willing to pay for the equipment to issue alerts on our system. However, we believe it is unfair to require us to bear the costs of the dispatch centre.
3861 Thank you for providing us with this opportunity to appear before you. We would be pleased to answer any questions you may have.
3862 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for your presentation, Mr. Engelhart.
3863 First of all, just so there is no misunderstanding, you point out that you worked very diligently with Public Safety and the whole Commission trying to develop it. We appreciate those efforts and we commend you for them. The fact that we are entertaining this is in no way meant to be seen as a criticism that you didn't work very hard. A lot of very good work has been done. Especially just implementing the CAP/CP Protocol is a phenomenal advance and we recognize that.
3864 What we have here and why we are holding this hearing, as you well know, is because we are concerned when there will be something in place and we had set February 2009 to review this issue and to look at Pelmorex' application in light of circumstances as they are today.
3865 Which leads me to your submission. You speak with considerable authority in your submission on behalf of PSC. In paragraph 7 you say:
"Unfortunately, the Commission's gazetting of this application has put PSC's RFP process on hold."
3866 I don't know why you come to that conclusion.
3867 Secondly, you said:
"PSC will now wait and see if the Commission decides to approve Pelmorex's application and, if so, whether Pelmorex should become the defacto (sic) aggregator without a competitive process."
3868 I have absolutely no such information of that now. PSC chose not to intervene. They have observers at this hearing. The only thing I have is a February report which you undoubtedly are familiar with.
3869 So what leads you to make these categorical statements and what is the source of your knowledge that PSC is now on hold awaiting the outcome of this process?
3870 MR. ENGELHART: That is what they told us. We said to them: Where is the RFP? And the say: Well, it is on hold pending the Commission's proceeding.
3871 THE CHAIRPERSON: Assuming we say denied to Pelmorex, what happens then?
3872 MR. ENGELHART: I beg your pardon, sir?
3873 THE CHAIRPERSON: Assume we say to Pelmorex, your application is denied, what happens then?
3874 MR. ENGELHART: The RFP comes right out.
3875 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right. And how long will it take?
3876 MR. ENGELHART: Well, they are still planning to finish this in 2010. The important point is this RFP isn't the public alerting system. It is a fairly minor component.
3877 The public alerting system in a modern next-generation system is the CAP Protocol, the Internet, the equipment at the BDU's head end. That is the system.
3878 THE CHAIRPERSON: I understand. Let's stay with my questions.
3879 MR. ENGELHART: Right.
3880 THE CHAIRPERSON: The RFP, when will it come out, do you have any idea?
3881 MR. ENGELHART: I think it would be out already if we weren't having this hearing. Having had this hearing, I would imagine it will come out the day after you deny Pelmorex.
3882 THE CHAIRPERSON: Do you have any experience with government departments issuing an RFP in conjunction with Public Works, multi government departments?
3883 MR. ENGELHART: I have lots of experience with corporations issuing RFPs, which I would imagine is a similar process. But you have --
3884 THE CHAIRPERSON: I wish it was is all I can say. Government processes are considerably more cumbersome, as you well know.
3885 MR. ENGELHART: Mr. Chairman, granting Pelmorex's application doesn't solve any of those problems. It is as if the CRTC needed a computer system built and you had to issue an RFP and the Fisheries Department came along and said, well here, we will give you this one for free. It may or may not satisfy the RFP, it may or may not do most of the things you want but it is free. It is faster but you don't know if you are getting the things you need. The fact that Pelmorex is saying we are here to help doesn't indicate in any way that they are going to meet all of the requirements.
3886 So I will agree with you, having a process that guarantees you meet all the requirements will take longer than getting some catch-as-catch-can solution that may or may not.
3887 THE CHAIRPERSON: I want to test some of your assumptions here because I don't quite --
3888 You say today on page 10:
"More importantly, the Commission would be designating Pelmorex as Public Safety's information technology contractor."
3889 I questioned Pelmorex extensively yesterday. You were in the room, so you know my questions. If I understand, it is a purely voluntary system that they are putting on board. Admittedly, you are paying for it, as you are saying through the existing 23-cent rate that they get. It will be there. It will furnish a signal. It will be up to broadcasters whether to put it on or not and in whatever form they do it.
3890 But if I understand it, they ensure me and I asked them to file me a timetable of how they are going to be there by 2010.
3891 I don't quite see how you can say with the same conviction that by issuing an RFP, even assuming you actually get it out of the door next month, you will be there by 2010 because an RFP, you still have to have a contractor bid on it, he has to be compliant, you have to select from -- in your own submission you say there are 23 possible contractors, and then there has to be performance.
3892 MR. ENGELHART: Mr. Chairman, this is a lot simpler than you think. This is not an alerting system. This is a room. It is a room with a computer in it and a computer program. It is a $2-million computer system.
3893 Rogers spends $300 million a year or so on IT systems. I am sure Bell spends the same. The National Gun Registry cost $1 billion.
3894 This is a pretty simple little computer system, a very important little computer system. Somebody has got to write the code, someone has got to pop it into a computer. As Mr. Temple said yesterday, you would have two computers geographically separated. Someone has got to provide some satellite backup. That's it. This is not reinventing the wheel.
3895 The tricky part of a modern alerting system is not that little room. The tricky part is all the work that has been done to date on defining the rules. It's the rules designed by human beings to work with human systems that is the tricky part.
3896 This computer program, think of it as a mailbox. It is an important thing to have a mailbox but it is not the system.
3897 THE CHAIRPERSON: I agree. I have no problem with you saying that the rules are the tricky part. But you are making the point, which I guess I just don't get, that -- we talked yesterday with Pelmorex about that. If they implement their system, they say they can get it up by 2010. Let's assume for argument's sake that they convinced us, yes, they will be up and running then, and that part, the message being available by 2010, will be there.
3898 As far as I can see, I don't know why you see this will supplant the NPAS process, subrogate it, make it the de facto winner of the contract or anything of that sort. It seems to me at least we will have some concrete process on this file.
3899 Clearly, the end-to-end system, as other intervenors have said, is not this and will have to be done by Public Security and they will, but to the extent that it is within our power, we will have at least put into place something which could serve as a germ of safety information being available and being capable of being distributed by broadcasters.
3900 MR. ENGELHART: I am doing a very bad job of explaining this, sir. If you don't --
3901 THE CHAIRPERSON: No, you are not. You are doing a brilliant job of putting your position forward. I am just testing your position.
3902 MR. ENGELHART: If you don't approve the Pelmorex application and if Public Safety Canada never puts out an RFP, we can distribute the alerts without any difficulty in 2010. The system is there. The system is the issuers issuing messages in CAP Protocol, the distribution through the Internet, and our equipment reading those messages and injecting them automatically onto TV. We can have emergency alerting without Pelmorex and without an RFP.
3903 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Explain that to me. Assume there is no RFP --
3904 MR. ENGELHART: Right.
3905 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- and we deny Pelmorex, how in 2010 is the system there? How do you get your messages, how do you distribute them, who sends them to you? Take the wonderful example of the snowstorm in Barrie. How does it get onto your system?
3906 MR. ENGELHART: I will use this chart, which is the chart from the Public Safety Report. This is a picture of what an alerting system works like.
3907 So here you have the municipality in Barrie.
3908 THE CHAIRPERSON: Correct.
3909 MR. ENGELHART: A big snowstorm coming, big trouble.
3910 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
3911 MR. ENGELHART: Someone in Barrie goes to their computer, he types in a message in CAP Protocol.
3912 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
3913 MR. ENGELHART: He shoots it out to the Internet. That message goes to every single distributor, radio, television, wireless, Internet. It goes to every BDU in the country, including the ones in Nova Scotia, including the ones in B.C. But they all ignore it because their computer looks in the CAP Protocol and sees not me.
3914 There is only one BDU in the country whose computer picks that message up and that is Rogers because we have got the cable system in Barrie. Our computer grabs that message automatically without any human intervention, sticks it in the digital boxes only for the people in Barrie and they get the message.
3915 That system works completely without the RFP, without Pelmorex.
3916 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
3917 MR. ENGELHART: That is how it works.
3918 THE CHAIRPERSON: Let me test some of the assumptions. You say in CAP Protocol. So the Barrie people know how to put something in CAP Protocol is your first assumption?
3919 MR. ENGELHART: Right.
3920 THE CHAIRPERSON: Secondly, you have the means of identifying whether this is Barrie or whether this is some prankster in Winnipeg?
3921 MR. ENGELHART: You have correctly identified --
3922 THE CHAIRPERSON: How do you do that? I thought that was what Pelmorex's function was going to be.
3923 MR. ENGELHART: You have got it completely correct. So we think it would be a lot better to have this dispatch centre. We don't want some University of Waterloo engineering student telling our customers that a tsunami is going to hit Kitchener.
3924 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
3925 MR. ENGELHART: We don't want the people in Barrie accidentally to notify the people in Halifax. So you really should have this system.
3926 The Americans probably won't. The Americans don't have this middleman today and in our discussions with them, they are indicating they might not.
3927 So you can have an alerting system without it but if you do it right, you need that computer program for exactly the reason you said.
3928 The fellow in Barrie logs on and he puts in his password and then there is presumably a drop-down menu and it says, who are you, and he says -- maybe by accident, he says, I am the Halifax Police, and they go, no, no, that is not your password, you can't do that. Then he has to correct it and say, okay, I am the Barrie Police. Then they say, what do you want to alert us about? Well, if he accidentally clicks on forest fire in Saskatchewan, it will say no, you can't do that. Then it will, as you say, translate the message into CAP and send it out.
3929 It is a very handy little thing to have. I am not in any way, shape or form saying we don't want it. We want it but this is not a hugely complex piece of work and it is not the alerting system. It is a $2-million computer program and after it is written, the thing will pretty much operate itself. You will have a couple of guys from Ryerson sitting in a room with blinking lights and watching it all work but it is not a big, big job.
3930 And when the federal and provincial ministers have agreed to do this thing, I can't imagine that a $2-million system, given that they are spending $40 billion in stimulus funding this year, is something that is going to hold it up.
3931 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Let us go back to what you said. You said you agree that it is very desirable to have this.
3932 MR. ENGELHART: Correct.
3933 THE CHAIRPERSON: Pelmorex offers it by 2010. Okay. I don't know whether Public Safety will have it by 2010 or not, all I know is they are going to issue an RFP. So we talked yesterday and I very clearly asked them, you know, surely this should not be infinite, it should be done on a term basis.
3934 So where -- let me put it this way. Where is the damage if we authorize Pelmorex, they develop it, it is up and running by 2010, and we give it -- I said for a term when I asked them what would be a reasonable term -- we say four or five years and we will review whether it is still necessary because we don't know where the NPAS system process is going, et cetera.
3935 By that time they may have issued their RFP. Pelmorex may have won it, in which case all these things are academic. Somebody else may have won it because they have a better computer system up and running and it is clear they are no longer needed. I don't see that it does any harm and I don't see that it interferes with the national alert process that should go forward.
3936 Pelmorex told me they can't see any problem. They are even prepared to put something in as a condition of licence.
3937 I have heard today from two emergency services, yesterday from Ontario, today from Nova Scotia, and you even heard the people from Alberta, all of them making the same plea: Please, you've got a huge perception issue in your communication, this is not an alert system, don't sell it as such, don't advertise it as such, it takes the impetus from the NPAS away.
3938 But they didn't see how it would hinder it, subrogate it or displace it, which is what your position is, and I am trying to understand what leads you to your position.
3939 MR. ENGELHART: So, to deal with your points, first of all, you are not sure the RFP will come out. Well, the federal-provincial ministers said in 2008, we are going to do this system. We never got a memo saying it was cancelled. We got a report in January of this year saying it is all on track, it is all fine. No one from Ontario, Nova Scotia or Alberta suggested to you that the project had been cancelled. They all think the RFP is coming out.
3940 We would be flabbergasted if a $2-million system was not funded when the ministers have said it will be and it is going to be shared between the provinces and the federal government. So it is about $100,000 per province and $1 million for the feds. I don't see this as an issue.
3941 Secondly, you say Pelmorex will have something up and running. The something is a room with a computer and a computer program in it. If it is not the right computer program, of course, you have caused a problem because you either have to throw the thing out and write a new one or you have to learn to live with it.
3942 I mean I described a system with a drop-down menu. I would imagine this will be part of the RFP discussion, should there be drop-down menus or some other user interface. What if Pelmorex decides that they don't like that kind of user interface and they design a different one? I don't know. Everyone just has to live with it because nobody got any say in how it was written.
3943 So I think there is a problem. I think when you design a computer system, the people who are using the system should have some input and it should be designed according to their requirements, and once you have built it, it is a pain to change them.
3944 Third, you say running it for five years. It is worth mentioning that in the documents from Public Safety they don't plan on using a contractor forever. They actually want to migrate this thing internally, probably over five years. They are saying part of the RFP is you have to promise to do knowledge transfer so that they can take the thing over. So I don't know if the contractor is going to be around for much more than five years but I think that, you know, you would want to write the system properly in the first place.
3945 So you ask: What is the harm? I guess there are three things that we see as harmful.
3946 First of all, we are paying for it. I mean there was a 3-cent offer on the table, $4 million a year that the BDU industry could have by getting Pelmorex 9(1)(h) status that we no longer get. Instead of us getting $4 million, Public Safety Canada gets $4 million in year one and then $2 million every year thereafter. So harm number one is we are paying for something that we shouldn't have to pay for.
3947 THE CHAIRPERSON: Excuse me.
3948 MR. ENGELHART: Sure.
3949 THE CHAIRPERSON: That is surely not the case. First of all, it is not you that is paying for it but your clientele, and secondly, they are paying for it already.
3950 MR. ENGELHART: How are they paying for it already?
3951 THE CHAIRPERSON: You are charging $23 right now.
3952 MR. ENGELHART: If you said to Pelmorex today, forget about the alerting thing, if we give you 9(1)(h) status, would you still reduce your rate to 20 cents, they would say yes. There is no doubt about. Their PBIT hasn't gone down from two years ago.
3953 THE CHAIRPERSON: I haven't heard that from them and I don't believe you are authorized to speak for Pelmorex.
3954 MR. ENGELHART: Perhaps not, sir, but I would place you a small wager that they would do it for 19 cents. Their PBIT has been going up since last time. Last time they said that after the 20-cent reduction, their PBIT would be down to 19 percent. So if they gave a 3-cent reduction today, their PBIT would be much higher than 19 percent.
3955 So you have to look at the two applications. In the one case they said, we will go down to 20 cents, we will give $4 million back to the BDUs. In this one they are saying, we don't give anything back to the BDUs, we will give some money to Public Safety and if Public Safety picks another RFP, they said, we will give $2 million to another good cause, I guess the Hospital for Sick Children or something.
3956 So no matter how you slice it, we are paying for it. There is no free lunch. I mean the provinces are saying, well, the thing is free, I guess we should take it. Well, we can hardly blame them for that but you can understand why the people who are paying for it have a different view.
3957 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Sorry for interrupting you.
3958 MR. ENGELHART: So that is harm number one.
3959 Harm number two is, and this is what I think Alberta and Nova Scotia were trying to say, perhaps somewhat inarticulately. They were saying, we are just not sure that this is the right system.
3960 I mean if the CRTC had a particular computer system in mind and Public Safety gave you another one that was free that did most of what you wanted, kinda sorta, it might not be so good. You want these systems, especially when they are not very expensive and not very complicated, to work really well. Why would you not want the best possible system? Why would you not want to figure out exactly how this dispatch centre works?
3961 And I guess the third harm is you could not design a worst governance mechanism than the one that is being proposed to you. I mean I know you have asked Mr. Temple to propose some governance safeguards but I can tell you right now they won't work because he who hires the piper calls the tune and here Public Safety is getting the contractor but they are not paying for it and they are not hiring them. You are hiring them. So there is nothing much that anyone can do.
3962 I mean I don't know how things are for you at the CRTC but at Rogers I am forever having trouble with the IT department and the stuff doesn't work right and it doesn't get fixed and I am on the phone. It is not because they are not really smart people, it is just IT is tricky stuff.
3963 Well, what possible incentive does Pelmorex have to be the most responsive IT contractor in the world? Look, they are terrific businesspeople and they are wonderful people and I like them on a personal level. But what if they said to Public Safety, you know what, we think we are doing enough, please go away? What does Public Safety do then? They can't fire them, they never hired them. They can't withhold their next month's payment, they are not paying them. The only thing they could do is apply to you to revoke Pelmorex's 9(1)(h) status.
3964 So you could not have a more unwieldy governance structure, more designed to lead to frustration. And I know that the Pelmorex people have the best of intentions. It is like when your kids say, if you buy a dog, I will walk it every day. They say that but then you buy the dog and they don't walk it and you are out there in the freezing cold walking that dog. What are you going to do about it? There is nothing, you have already bought the dog, you can't send it away.
3965 Then your final point was that Alberta and Nova Scotia said that this would not interfere with the final process. I am not sure that that was their point. I think they said, this is not the solution we necessarily want to see, we need to see this specified in writing and in detail because if it is not the right system, it is going to cause problems for us.
3966 THE CHAIRPERSON: That is not quite what they said. I actually put it to them as bluntly as I could. I said: Is half a loaf better than none? They said: Absolutely.
3967 And you obviously say no, I want to have the perfect load and I would rather go hungry in the meantime.
3968 MR. ENGELHART: I say half a loaf is better than no loaf but there is no whole loaf here -- there is no "no loaf" situation. This is a cheap, simple computer program that Public Safety Canada will issue an RFP for.
3969 Now, this is a project initiated in 2008 with a conclusion date in 2010. We are in April of 2009 and you are saying, well, it will never get done. You can't decide that now. If for some reason the RFP doesn't come out or if for some reason the 22 bidders can't do it, well, I suppose we should look at the Pelmorex proposal but with the greatest respect, there is absolutely no evidence of that.
3970 THE CHAIRPERSON: Mr. Engelhart, the choice that's facing us surely is assessing which is a more greater likelihood, something to be there in 2010 under the Pelmorex proposal which, since it's voluntary, et cetera, I think even you don't say it will stop Public Safety from doing whatever they want to do and to put a perfect system in place and the likelihood of the process of Public Safety, which at this point in time just is issuing RFP. We don't know whether it will be issued, we don't know who will be selected, when it will perform and whether it will be there by 2010.
3971 If we are of the view that Pelmorex is more likely to succeed than the other and we don't award it -- we don't award it --
--- Test of voice communication system
3972 THE CHAIRPERSON: The point I was trying to make, Mr. Engelhart, is what we all want to avoid in all circumstances that we have, let's say late 2010 or early 2011, a major disaster and there is nothing and we could have had a system which, defective albeit, would, at least on a voluntary basis, make emergency messages available.
3973 That is obviously sort of the nightmare scenario that everybody wants to avoid.
3974 MR. ENGELHART: Well, your first point, I think you said even I'm saying that this initiative won't stop Public Safety from doing what it's doing. I'm not sure I said that.
3975 I think once you have a poor computer program in, that's probably your computer program. So I don't think it will -- there is no way to -- what are you going to do, build a new room and replace those guys with some other guys?
3976 So I think if Pelmorex does what they are doing in a way that doesn't work well for the users, I do think it will mess up what Public Safety is doing.
3977 Secondly, I think you have correctly and fairly stated the issue, which is weighing the probability on the one hand with the probabilities on the other.
3978 When we look at the probability of not approving Pelmorex, we see that the Ministers have all stated that this is what they are going to do. As recently as January they have told you that they are on track, the cost is modest, their timetable is 40 days for responses to the RFP, two or three months for evaluation, they will have the whole thing up in place in six months.
3979 It's, like I say, for $2 million you don't get a lot of computer programming. I think our billing systems at Rogers cost us $800 million and they take two or three years, but this is not that big a deal.
3980 So when I do, as you suggest, weigh the probabilities of the one solution with the probabilities of the other solution, I come back overwhelmingly to the idea that the RFP should be allowed to proceed. There is simply no basis for doing it.
3981 And if we take the Pelmorex approach, I really think it's a bad deal for BDU's. We end up paying -- it's a bad deal for the country. We end up paying $4 million for a $2 million system -- $4 million a year for a $2 million system and I don't think that makes sense.
3982 In terms of the voluntary system, like make no mistake about it, we are going to do this. It is expensive for us to put in the equipment on our headbands, but we are going to do it. I agree with you, our customers want to have this alerting system.
3983 So I'm not worried about the distinction between voluntary and involuntary, we are there.
3984 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes. I guess I mean the basic point, as you so aptly put it, informatics is a tricky business and, you know, get it done and get it done right in this timeframe, et cetera.
3985 That, combined with the vicissitude of our government procurement is what we have to evaluate against the concrete proposal that we have from Pelmorex.
3986 I think I understand your point, you are saying -- I don't where we are going to come out, I'm pushing you because I want to see how it looks from your point of view.
3987 As I say, the one thing I did make perfectly clear to Pelmorex, if we do go around that way, it is going to be time limited.
3988 Let me ask you that, before I turn you over to my colleague, who has a lot of questions for you, too, assume, contrary to your best pleading, I disagree with you and we say "Okay, Pelmorex, you get the green light", what would be, in your view, the appropriate period?
3989 MR. ENGELHART: Let me just comment on the way you described the trade-off before, it was between the vagaries of the government contracting process and a concrete proposal from Pelmorex.
3990 I'm not sure it's fair to put concreteness on the Pelmorex side of the ledger. If you give it to Pelmorex you have now got a contractor without any controls other than yanking their 9(1)(h) status. So if they don't have it done by 2010 what are you going to do then? So I don't know if I would grant more certainty to the Pelmorex proposal in doing that calculus.
3991 Secondly, in terms of the time limit, I mean the thing gets built. In Pelmorex's statement it's about $1 million in the first year and about $1 million in the second year, so with the $4 million that they are saving by not reducing their cost to $.20, they are paid back in a year.
3992 After that they say it will cost him $2 million a year. I don't know how. Like I have asked Scott and Alan, who are computer guys, to say what are you spending the $2 million on? They don't know.
3993 I suspect a lot of it is Pelmorex's own insurance policy to absolve them of liability. We have to pay for our own insurance policy and now we're paying for their insurance policy.
3994 So I mean if they're going to put $2 million into the thing it will pay back in the first year. In the second year they are making a $2 million profit. I would not give them any more than three years, because it's especially at that point that Public Safety wants to start transitioning the thing into their own in-house facilities.
3995 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thank you for that answer.
3996 Michel, you have some questions?
3997 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Yes. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
3998 My question will deal with the 9(1)(h) portion of the application.
3999 In your oral presentation -- and it's when Mr. Armstrong was talking -- it was stated that the 9(1)(h) status has been granted to only niche services. Does weather -- and you are claiming later on that The Weather Channel is rather popular, but it is a niche service, isn't it?
4000 MR. ARMSTRONG: I think, Vice Chairman Arpin, we heard Pelmorex yesterday talk about how their service is visited more than any other specialty service. I'm not really quite sure I could see that as a niche.
4001 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: But it's narrow in scope, it has a very specific mandate, it does --
4002 MR. ARMSTRONG: I guess our reference to "niche" wasn't to scope but rather to the audience.
4003 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: But take my example. If we were to look at it from a scope perspective, what will be your argument not to allow 9(1)(h) status to Pelmorex?
4004 MR. ARMSTRONG: Because it has a narrow scope?
4005 Well, I will point to any of probably 100 Category 2 services with narrow scope, so I don't think we want to get into issuing 9(1)(h) orders for every service that has ever been launched.
4006 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Now, we have received over 1500 letters of support to keep The Weather Channel on basic in the future. We heard and we have letters from Members of Parliament, not only from the federal Parliament but from the provincial Parliaments as well saying that it is a key component of the needs of their citizens.
4007 What will we say to them?
4008 MR. ENGELHART: Mr. Vice Chairman, if I could just respond a little bit to your earlier question about niche and then I will respond to this question.
4009 But I guess we took a look at the test that the Commission has for 9(1)(h) status and, with the greatest respect to the Commission's drafting, it doesn't really narrow down who gets 9(1)(h) and who doesn't. It talks about exceptional circumstances and stuff.
4010 The only thing that we could make sense of was saying well, who has got it and who hasn't got it.
4011 When we look at it, the type of services that get it are, as Mr. Armstrong said, those with a fairly narrow base of customers. So that if you sold it à la carte for example the service would be dead on arrival, it would never have a good business plan.
4012 But the kind of services that have a broad scope, the kind of services that are going to be on a big package, you have not granted 9(1)(h) status to them because market forces will put them on a big package anyway because they are popular. And that's what really Pelmorex themselves says, their services are popular.
4013 So now dealing with your question -- and I know Paul and Pam want to jump in too -- but Pelmorex has told those MPs and those customers that cable companies are taking you off basic. So that's what they are writing in to you to say. They are saying "Gee, we understand that the cable companies have made a decision to take us off basic and that they are going to do it and we are going to pay several dollars a month for the service. We don't like that."
4014 So I don't think you should be as concerned about those letters as you otherwise would, because the question that has been posed to those people has been very unfair.
4015 I come back to something that we have in our in chief remarks about the U.S. Ninety-seven percent of the subscribers in the U.S. get The Weather Channel and there is no requirement there whatsoever.
4016 Comcast took the service off basic and they put it onto extended basic and then Hurricane Katrina hit and did they ever hear from their basic customers. So they had to take it off extended basic and put it back on basic.
4017 That's the way market forces work and I think that if people want it on basic you will find most cable operators will take that into account in their negotiations.
4018 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: But then Pelmorex says "Okay, they have to keep us on basic, but since we have no more benefit from the dual status, then they will pressure us on rate and we will not be able to keep maintaining the quality of the service that we are currently doing, because our rate will go down and we will -- according to their own views, to the extent that they slow down that they will go from a positive PBIT to a negative PBIT.
4019 MR. ENGELHART: Well, that's sort of the way that people make submissions in broadcasting hearings I have found. They say "Let me imagine the scariest possible thing that could ever happen" and then they ask you to regulate so that won't ever happen.
4020 THE CHAIRPERSON: Rogers would never do that.
4021 MR. ENGELHART: No, no. We are in a different standard.
4022 We know there are $.03 on the table. They proposed it last time. They said if we had a long-term deal we would take $.20. I would expect in 2011 them to come to BDUs and say if you want a short-term deal it's $.23, if you want a long-term deal it's $.20 and maybe we sign him up to a long-term deal.
4023 That saves Rogers $700,000 a year. What's wrong with that and why would you not --
4024 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Save Rogers $700,000 a year or the subscribers of Rogers $700,000 a year?
4025 MR. ENGELHART: Sir, I mean you are quite right, all of our costs get translated into our rates. I mean our programming costs are half a billion dollars a year. It's a great source of concern.
4026 So yes, you are absolutely right.
4027 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: But it's also a great source of revenue for you because you are doubling up generally speaking these rates.
4028 MR. ENGELHART: I am saying that the Commission's regulatory plan to date has been not to protect successful specialty services from those sort of commercial negotiations but to encourage them. I don't see any evidence that they haven't worked.
4029 I don't share Mr. Temple's view that we have all the cards in these negotiations. It really doesn't seem that way when you are at the cable company.
4030 So I think the negotiation process works. These doomsday scenarios that BDUs are going to behave irrationally don't make any sense.
4031 And don't forget, you have only licensed one company to provide these weather services. It's not like we can dump them for their competitor. They don't have a competitor. They have a monopoly.
4032 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Well, Mr. Chairman, those were my questions.
4033 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
4034 Len, you had a question?
4035 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Yes. I have a few questions.
4036 Good morning.
4037 You say -- and I think you just mentioned it as well -- that Pelmorex was fear mongering, I think was the word you used, and you cited from a letter that Pelmorex wrote to MPs and there's a quote in here saying:
"...several extra dollars just to continue receiving The Weather Network." (As read)
4038 Can you file that letter, please?
4039 MR. ENGELHART: I think it's on the record of the proceeding already.
4040 No? Okay, we will file that.
4041 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. Next question.
4042 In your model that's up on the board here you talked about possibly having that middle dispatch centre non-operational but yet everything still working according to Hoyle, so to speak.
4043 How does the liability issue work without that? Where is the liability? Who undertakes the liability in case something does go wrong?
4044 MR. ENGELHART: The liability issue is a huge issue which is not being solved by either Pelmorex or by the RFP and it's a concern of ours. I mean Pelmorex says, "Well, we will use some of this money to buy our own insurance policy". But we really think that what Public Safety should do is say "Because you BDUs are voluntarily doing this we will pass a law that says if something does go up you won't get sued, a mistake is made you won't get sued."
4045 They have not done that. I think it's a problem, but it's not a problem that can either be solved or not solved by Pelmorex, it's something that we are continuing to lobby Public Safety about.
4046 MS DINSMORE: In fact, it's an issue that in the report was addressed and what Public Safety has done is talked to the Department of Canadian Heritage who is responsible for broadcasting and they are looking into getting from us risk assessments and moving on from there.
4047 But it is a huge issue in this whole alerting process and the fact of the matter is, as Ken said, while Pelmorex will be underwriting its own liability through the $.03, it won't be dealing with our liability.
4048 COMMISSIONER KATZ: But I heard you say with or without Pelmorex this thing can still get off the ground in 2010 and yet you are saying liability is a big issue and obviously it has to be addressed before this thing goes up one way or the other.
4049 MR. ENGELHART: Well, as you know, we have general liability policies that would probably cover this. We would probably have to pay an increased insurance premium. We don't think that's fair. We think Public Safety should grant us immunity from these lawsuits.
4050 But we are going to go ahead with this thing whether or not the liability issue is solved, but it doesn't seem right to us that Public Safety wouldn't solve it.
4051 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. On the cost issue, you talked a bit about the $.03 differential between the $.23 and the $.20.
4052 What is the cost that Rogers specifically -- I guess I will start with Rogers -- will be incurring as part of this infrastructure cost?
4053 MR. ENGELHART: Well, I'm going to ask maybe Scott and Alan to give you some dollars, but essentially the digital boxes that we already have have the ability to inject a message onto the TV screen -- it doesn't have to be invented, it's already there -- and they can be targeted by area.
4054 So what we have to do is get equipment that will take the CAP protocol messages off the Internet or the satellite backup and shoot them into those digital boxes.
4055 We will be buying that equipment next year and I will see if Scott has an idea what the price is.
4056 MR. LORETTO: The price would be less than $1 million in total to deploy everything that we need. The actual device is actually relatively cheap, anywhere in the area of like maybe $10,000.
4057 COMMISSIONER KATZ: So if Rogers represents 20 percent of the BDUs in Canada, two and a half million out of 10 million, 25 percent, and you are saying your cost would be $1 million, is it appropriate to sort of say that on a national basis we are looking at $4 million?
4058 MR. ENGELHART: It might be one -- I will let Scott jump in again, but it might be one of those things where you pay sort of per "P" hub whether it's covering a million customers or not, but I will let Scott respond.
4059 MR. LORETTO: The actual truth and answer is it really depends on how the final implementation come together. There are still a number of scenarios that we can go through, that is why I carefully said less than a million.
4060 In realistic terms if we follow through with NPAS I would be very surprised if we exceeded $500,000.
4061 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay.
4062 Mr. Armstrong, do you have a view on Bell's side.
4063 MR. ARMSTRONG: Well, I will let Alan jump in here, but I would think our answer is very similar.
4064 I would point out, however, there is software requirements for all our set-top boxes and we have to have that developed through our supplier in the United States and we have 12 or 14 models of set-top boxes out there and every one of them has to be equipped.
4065 We still want to do some very customer friendly coding on those set-top boxes so that for example if you are in the middle of watching or recording a program on your PVR or something like that it would process it correctly.
4066 So there are still some expensive software analysis there, but I have no idea what kind of figures those are.
4067 MR. DAGENAIS: Just to follow up, from a Bell standpoint we would definitely be under the $1 million mark, including our costs for our development of our software and to currently enhance our Phase I approach that we demonstrated at the Council.
4068 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. I'm just trying to rationalize the old application by The Weather Network with regard to the $.28 the $.20 plus the $.08 and saying if they are now at $.23 the Delta of $.05 is what they have come down times the number of customers out there, which is a $6 million piece. What they said yesterday was they are now not putting in the equipment in your headends any more, they are letting you folks do it and they have dropped the price to recognize it.
4069 Based on my math, that price is about $6 million.
4070 MR. ENGELHART: I don't think it was ever $.20 plus $.08. I think their proposal to go down to $.20 was not part of their alerting. I think their alerting -- yes, I think the $.08 -- I think it was $.08 last time and $.13 the first time.
4071 UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: If I can clarify, it's just the last application dealing with the alerting proposal filed I guess in 2006 was that they would maintain their $.23 for the weather services and then $.08 was the Delta for the all Channel alert add on.
4072 Then separately when they applied for 9(0(h) status, pure and simple -- and alerting wasn't on the table at all -- that was when they were discussing $.23 but willing to reduce the rate to $.20 by 2010.
4073 MR. ENGELHART: But I guess the answer to your question, Vice Chairman Katz, is a huge amount of the cost of their old systems is gone with the new system. That's the beauty of the next generation system.
4074 What the old system really was saying was: How do we get these messages from Barrie to end up in Barrie? So they had a great big centre in Ottawa, all of the messages came into the centre and then the message figured out well, this one goes to Barrie, this one goes to Victoria, this one goes to Red Deer. So that was a huge part of their cost originally.
4075 The second part of the cost originally was character generating equipment in our headends.
4076 So all those analog costs are gone. That's the beauty of this, with the Internet, with digital technologies and with the CAP protocol you remove all those costs. So that is one reason why it's a far less expensive system than the old systems.
4077 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. Thank you.
4078 Those are my questions.
4079 THE CHAIRPERSON: Before I let you go one last question.
4080 On paragraph 73 of your written submission you say:
"The 2010 timeframe established by PFC and its FPT counterparts is realistic." (As read)
4081 What makes you say that?
4082 The reason I'm asking is because after 35 years in government I have some experience with public works procurement and how long it takes and just last year when we did our "Do not call" procurement with public works we were so frustrated that we finally did our own and did not employ public works because the delays in the process is really very heavy. I'm not suggesting it's unnecessary, it's just a very difficult process.
4083 So what leads you to believe that this is realistic and can be put in place?
4084 MR. ENGELHART: I guess just parenthetically responding to some of your comments to earlier participants, there's only one RFP. There is no two RFP process, it's just one.
4085 I guess the first thing that gives me some confidence that it can be done quickly is the commitment. We have the federal and provincial governments saying we are doing this thing. I think it's good that the both levels of government are involved because I think that creates a sense of urgency.
4086 The other thing is that if you issue an RFP saying: I kind of have an idea here, I kind of want this system to work, can you give me some help? It takes a long time. If you have an RFP where you say: I know exactly what I want, I know what the requirements are, I know what the rules are, it's a quicker process.
4087 And the work that is being done on this project to date has been precisely that; it has been defining the rules. And once you have the rules written out, coding them into a computer program is not that hard. It's figuring out the rules that's the hard part.
4088 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, yes...?
4089 MR. KOVACS: If I could add just one additional thing, like our understanding of the work that has been undertaken by Public Safety and the stakeholders of the CAP last year was a significant amount of consultation and definition setting of requirements.
4090 A lot of that has already been built in constructing the RFP. It's been over a long course and there has been a lot of feedback in terms of first identifying requirements and then having dialogue with the provincial groups to make sure everyone fully understands each stakeholders needs. So that has already kind of been built into the process.
4091 And then our understanding with Public Safety is that once the RFP is issued there would be about a 40-day period for applications to be filed.
4092 And then the intention would be that provincial emergency management organizations would come together with Public Safety to form evaluation teams, to go through each candidate's proposals in detail, ensure that all these requirements are fully address. So that it will speak to Nova Scotia and other parties that have indicated their concerns in CKUA.
4093 That's kind of built into the process so we don't see this as being something that would take a significant amount of time, I think the process is fully flushed out to work fairly quickly once the RFP process is kicked into place.
4094 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thank you.
4095 Thank you very much for your very comprehensive and frank answers.
4096 I think we will take a 10-minute break before we continue with the next intervenor.
--- Upon recessing at 1125
--- Upon resuming at 1142
4097 THE SECRETARY: I would like to note before we start that we will hear the next two intervenors, and then we will break for lunch and continue with Phase III after lunch.
4098 I would now invite NetAlerts to make their presentation. Please introduce yourselves, after which you will have ten minutes for your presentation.
4099 MR. J. WESTFALL: Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Members of the Commission. My name is Jacob Westfall, President of NetAlerts, a public alerting solutions developer based in Sarnia, Ontario. With me is Peter Westfall, legal counsel.
4100 We are here today to intervene against the Pelmorex application, more specifically with regards to the public alerting aggregator proposal.
4101 We feel that it has already been clearly articulated by the BDU intervenors, and even acknowledged by Pelmorex themselves in their March 9th reply to the Commission, that these are distinct and unrelated services, and should not be considered jointly.
4102 A national alert system for Canadians is a complex and substantive service that should not be considered as a freebie attached to an unrelated application. The cost to the BDUs and the government agencies who are going to be participating are significant, and they are not included in this application.
4103 So while the digital carriage costs for the 9(1)(h) part of the application are very clearly outlined, the public alerting costs for the proposal are vague and undetermined at this point.
4104 We are very much opposed to the idea raised by the Commission Staff that a mandatory temporary aggregator is required, and that Pelmorex would be designated as such until NPAS was available.
4105 To start, I would like to clear up some misunderstandings and provide some background and history. First, what is CAP and what does it do? The way you hear some people talk about CAP, it is this magic pixie dust that you sprinkle on your public alerting problems, and, poof, they are gone. That is certainly not the case. If CAP were the solution to all problems, next-generation systems would have come online five years ago.
4106 A lot of legacy problems still exist, and CAP only provides a path to solving some of those by acting as a common messaging format. Issues like authorization, authentication, the actual delivery of the message, and presentation to the public, so that the public understands and takes those protective actions -- CAP does not speak to those issues and does not provide any easy answers.
4107 Also, CAP is an open standard, and adopting an open standard does require a different mindset, as far as being a vendor. You have to make a commitment to sharing information, confronting interoperability problems, and ensuring open and equal access to information.
4108 It can be very tempting for a vendor to talk about open standards, but it is much harder to walk the walk and resist enforcing proprietary solutions to benefit yourself.
4109 There are some real roadblocks to next-generation alerting, and I would like to quickly go over them.
4110 Here in Canada we are faced right now with a chicken-and-the-egg scenario, which comes first?
4111 Distributors need a source of alerts, and the agencies that issue them need somewhere to send them. It is the case of, "I am not going to put something in my budget if I don't have anywhere to put it," and the distributors are saying, "Well, we are not putting anything in our budget if you are not going to give us something."
4112 It is very much a chicken-and-the-egg scenario right now, and I think that it needs to start with the alert issuers. They already have some infrastructure in place to issue alerts. Whether by fax or press release, they are creating them already. So it makes a lot of sense that they start issuing CAP alerts now, so that we can get the infrastructure in place for this next-generation alerting system.
4113 The distributors need presentation standards. How is the alert going to appear to the public?
4114 It needs to be consistent. It can't differ between Bell and Rogers and every other BDU, it needs to be a standard format, and at the current time there is no standard format for presentation.
4115 They need equipment. They need funding in order to be able to deliver this to the public. And delivery methods are very important. Short-term via the internet is okay, but there are certainly long-term methods, such as satellite backup.
4116 Key to being a BDU is, you need off-the-shelf equipment that has already been tested and meets regulatory approval. You can't, just ad hoc, throw a piece of equipment into your cable head end, it does need to meet certain needs, and it really should be off the shelf, certainly so you can have some competition in the market for who you are going to buy your equipment from.
4117 "Aggregator" is a term that has been used quite a bit, and I think it deserves some definition. An aggregator of CAP messages collects messages from a number of different sources and filters them down in order to present only those messages that are relevant to a particular user.
4118 It is a value-added role, where the aggregator takes a lot of the legwork out of finding the alerts, and it comes into play when you are faced with an influx of too much information.
4119 We have a fair amount of experience in aggregating alerts, because we track most of the public CAP feeds that are available worldwide. We download over 100,000 CAP messages a month. We process them, and sort them by area, and what type, and are they valid or not, and how are they being used, for our testing and development purposes.
4120 In the role as an ad hoc aggregator, we have a fair amount of experience, and we have found that it is really the middleman in the distribution of the alerts, so will do nothing to resolve the roadblocks that I mentioned before. You still need a source for the alerts, and that has to be a government agency, in most cases, and if there are only a couple of sources, there is certainly no need to aggregate them, because you are not faced with this influx of information.
4121 An aggregator is something that is established after a system is already in operation to increase its efficiency.
4122 So developing the alert sources is the critical first step. Government agencies need to begin integrating CAP.
4123 In the U.S., there is a 2006 executive order to do so, and there are now procurement guidelines for purchases by government agencies. They have to have equipment that is capable of supporting CAP.
4124 Here in Canada we do not have this type of direction whatsoever, and we certainly have no funding to cover it.
4125 It is also something that is certainly outside the scope of what the Commission can address. This is a role that Public Safety really needs to take on, through consultation with other agencies, or it should be addressed directly through legislation.
4126 A first step in Canada would be for Environment Canada to begin publishing official CAP alerts. They have a trial implementation in place, but they need the direction and the funding to begin offering authoritative alerts, not just trials. This would cover the vast majority of cases where broadcast-intrusive alerts need to be issued, and it would resolve a lot of the current concerns, on a policy basis, of authorization and authentication for provinces and thousands of municipalities, et cetera. It would be a single source.
4127 I would note that in the U.S., the National Weather Service issues alerts directly into the BDUs' equipment. There is no middleman in the U.S., they issue them directly through the EAS system, and they go to air immediately. They have been doing that for years, with the old system, and under the new system for next-generation alerting, that is their plan. They do not need an aggregator, no middleman, direct to the BDUs. That gives the BDUs something to work with.
4128 At this point it makes sense to remain voluntary, to allow the larger players to develop the equipment and negotiate with the suppliers, so that off-the-shelf equipment will be available to all BDUs when participation becomes mandatory.
4129 And I would like to be clear, we think that the long-term goal is mandatory participation.
4130 But right now it certainly very much makes sense, because the standards aren't out there, to continue working on a voluntary basis, perhaps with some clear milestones that are established on how well the interoperation between a single-source provider such as Environment Canada and the BDUs would work.
4131 Now, the provinces, they really don't issue a lot of alerts. We heard from Ontario yesterday, with its Red Alert Program, which has never been used. And those that do have it in place, such as Alberta, they are typically issuing Environment Canada alerts.
4132 So there really isn't a huge demand at the province level for public alerts, because they just don't issue a lot of them. It is Environment Canada 90 percent of the time.
4133 And they can continue on the NPAS path, because the NPAS path really speaks to their needs, in terms of providing an interface for the FPTs, all the agencies, the municipalities, et cetera, and it can continue on a complementary path, while the BDUs work with a single source, Environment Canada, a small number of receivers, and they can get the system up and running on a short-term basis in something that will be very effective.
4134 There is certainly no need for an aggregator, certainly not a mandatory one, on a temporary basis. The roadblocks can begin to be removed without forcing everyone to use Pelmorex's toll road.
4135 I would like to summarize. We feel that a temporary mandatory aggregator is not necessary, since it would not resolve any of the existing roadblocks. It would allow the aggregator to exert control over the entire system, to their benefit only, and not bring any real added value to the next steps that need to be taken. It is very much against the whole philosophy of an open and interoperable system such as CAP.
4136 The Commission should certainly not designate Pelmorex as the mandatory temporary aggregator without the benefit of being able to review their service offerings in more detail.
4137 The Commission would be, essentially, forcing a service on BDUs, sight unseen, without the benefit of a fair consideration of other service offerings.
4138 There is also the question of how the Commission would monitor whether Pelmorex was living up to its commitments, and intervenors prior to me have mentioned that. It would certainly be a regulatory challenge to ensure that they were following their commitments.
4139 A competitive RFP, administered by Public Safety, would ensure the best selection.
4140 As outlined, we feel that there are a number of steps that can be taken immediately to begin moving public alerting forward here in Canada. A mandatory temporary aggregator is not needed, and any selection of one should be subject to an open and competitive RFP.
4141 The NPAS process, while it is not perfect, still provides the best path forward to creating a comprehensive public alerting solution to benefit all Canadians.
4142 We ask that you reject the Pelmorex application.
4143 Thank you for your time.
4144 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
4145 If there is an RFP put out by Public Safety Canada, I gather that you will bid on it?
4146 MR. J. WESTFALL: Yes.
4147 THE CHAIRPERSON: What would you offer that Pelmorex now doesn't offer?
4148 MR. J. WESTFALL: We would offer the creation interface for the alerts, the actual aggregator that would handle the alerts -- pretty much all of the diagrams that were up here before. All of the targeted parts of the application we would provide as a software application to Public Safety Canada, and they could begin implementing immediately.
4149 THE CHAIRPERSON: But you just said that an aggregator is not needed.
4150 MR. J. WESTFALL: An aggregator is not needed to move the steps forward that I was talking about. The aggregator comes into play when you start getting a whole bunch of different types of alerts.
4151 If you want to move it forward right now, you say, "No, we want Environment Canada, direct to the BDUS." That solves 90 percent of the problem.
4152 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
4153 Michel Morin, do you have some questions?
4154 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Yes. I will ask all of my questions in French, so if you don't mind, use your headphones.
4155 Dans votre soumission du 6 mars, vous indiquez que les délais associés à la réalisation d'un système national d'alerte en urgence sont, en fait, attribués au processus de consultation où plusieurs intervenants participent. De plus, vous indiquez que la demande de Pelmorex nécessitera l'initiation d'un nouveau processus de consultation.
4156 À votre avis, quelles sont les raisons pour lesquelles un nouveau processus de consultation devrait être initié?
4157 MR. J. WESTFALL: Your question is: Why is a new consultation process possibly being initiated through this governance council that is being set up?
4158 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Yes.
4159 MR. J. WESTFALL: The case is that we were looking at the application that was made in 2007, and I don't know that -- that application has certainly been updated accordingly.
4160 So, in terms of a new process to go through the consultation, certainly, if they are designated as the mandatory temporary aggregator, they would have to go to the BDUs and work out the details, but they would be leading that consultation instead of Public Safety.
4161 So there may be some parts of the consultation that Pelmorex has not been privy to, so they would have to, to a certain extent, restart some of that in order to move their governance council forward.
4162 CONSEILLER MORIN : Mais s'il y a ce nouveau processus de consultation, ça serait aussi nécessaire pour NetAlerts?
4163 MR. J. WESTFALL: Yes, but we would be responding to the NPAS RFP, not establishing our own governance council as part of our service offering.
4164 CONSEILLER MORIN : N'est-ce pas que ça serait également vrai que ce processus serait compliqué par la possibilité d'avoir plusieurs services de consolidation et de distribution de messages d'alerte?
4165 MR. J. WESTFALL: No. The idea of having your CAP message in a common format means that you can receive delivery from who you need to receive the messages from.
4166 As a BDU, you could certainly have multiple sources for your alerts. The BDUs can set it up that we will receive alerts directly from Alberta through the EPWS, and we will receive them directly from Environment Canada, and we will receive them directly from someone else. There is certainly no need that you have to enforce this choke hold that every alert has to go through one person, because that is not the design of CAP whatsoever. It is designed to be an open and interoperable format, so you could set up a couple of different channels.
4167 Now, when you start to get 50, or 100, or 1,000 channels, that's when the aggregator can come in and help you out, but if you have a limited number of channels, which is certainly the case in Canada at this point, the aggregator really doesn't play that much of a big role.
4168 With our response to the NPAS RFP, the aggregator is kind of the minor part of it. The real role is the actual interface for creating the alerts.
4169 So we will put an aggregator in place, but it probably won't be used very much in the first couple of years, because the sources are still to be developed. It is something that will come into play down the road, but the initial stages of the RFP are really going to be that generation interface to start getting CAP out there.
4170 CONSEILLER MORIN : Vous avez aussi indiqué que les EDR ou BDU devraient avoir le choix de travailler avec de nombreuses sociétés de services de consolidation et de distribution et que NetAlerts est en mesure d'offrir un tel service immédiatement à faible coût.
4171 Comment proposez-vous de rendre disponible ces messages d'alerte aux petites et aux moyennes entreprises de distribution, les BDU, tout en maintenant la rentabilité du service?
4172 MR. J. WESTFALL: With respect to providing them on a temporary basis -- our company -- we have already been reproducing Environment Canada alerts in the CAP format for two and a half years. We have provided a lot of feedback to Environment Canada on their existing trial implementation.
4173 We have been doing the CAP alerting for Environment Canada for much longer than Pelmorex has, in terms of introducing it.
4174 So it's something that we have already been doing on a trial basis, but that's the concern, it's only a trial at this point, because they are not actually official messages from Environment Canada.
4175 That is key. We can certainly do it, because we have already been doing it, but we would like to see those official alerts.
4176 Now, in terms of speaking to the low cost, that is certainly a case that, I think, Pelmorex -- they really haven't sharpened their pencils when it comes down to the cost of providing this. We can do this for a tenth of the cost that they have suggested.
4177 Again, as referenced by the previous intervenors, this is a data centre and a couple of techies running around to do the aggregation, it is not a significant expense.
4178 In their proposal they do talk about this centre that they are going to set up and that centre, in my mind, ends up just being a technical support centre because that will be what happens, is someone who has never used the municipal alert system in the last five years, all of a sudden there is a big flood coming and they have got to punch out an alert and they are not sure how to do it, so they call this technical support centre in order to get some help on that. That is why the support centre has this 24-hour large complement of staff.
4179 But that doesn't make sense from an efficiency standpoint because if I am in a municipality and I am issuing the alert, I am going to talk to my provincial EMO anyways. So why not every EMO be an expert? They already have a 24-hour centre, they have the experts on how the alerting system works, and that municipal person, they just call their EMO and they get a little help issuing the alerts and the EMO is kept up to date as to what is going on.
4180 So our proposal would not include a large complement of staff offering a 24-hour help line. There is just no need. It is much more efficient to have the provinces deliver it. They have to do it anyways and they have the expertise that they can provide that assistance and then our staff is simply on call and available 24 hours to resolve any technical difficulties. It certainly reduces the cost.
4181 CONSEILLER MORIN : Dans votre présentation écrite, vous avez commenté sur la participation de NetAlerts dans le développement du Protocole d'alerte commun, PAC, ainsi qu'une nouvelle version de ce protocole qui est en conception.
4182 Pouvez-vous m'indiquer quels seront les changements apportés au protocole dans ce nouveau protocole ainsi que sa disponibilité?
4183 MR. J. WESTFALL: Well, the new version of CAP itself is currently 1.2. That is what it is currently titled. I am serving as the author and editor of that particular specification.
4184 We have been working on drafts and we expect to release it to comment in the next couple of weeks and that is typically a 60-day comment period, so two months. And then at the end of that comment period, if there are no major concerns, it then gets voted on by the membership of OASIS and becomes a new standard. So it is conceivable the new 1.2 version of CAP would be out in three to four months.
4185 Now, in terms of the CAP-CP, the Canadian Profile, well, that particular specification specific to Canada has been worked on extensively for the last six months and it is very near completion. It could be out tomorrow except for a little bit of work that needs to take place with Industry Canada and Public Safety on some final wording agreements but it is certainly ready to go out and receive comment and begin using and testing immediately.
4186 CONSEILLER MORIN : Si le Canada, et plus particulièrement les EDR, les BDUs, se voient instaurer un système d'alerte basée sur la version actuelle -- là, vous parlez d'une autre version -- prévoyez-vous des difficultés au niveau de l'adaptation de ce système à la nouvelle version du protocole dont vous venez de parler?
4187 Sinon, pour quelle raison avez-vous indiqué que les EDR auraient possiblement à acheter des nouveaux équipements ou logiciels lors de la disponibilité d'un système advenant du processus du ministère de la Sécurité publique?
4188 MR. J. WESTFALL: The changes that are being implemented in 1.2, they are what is called backward-compatible so that they work with older equipment. However, they are very, very minor.
4189 The changes have been added based on the feedback from the work that was done on the Canadian profile and the IPAWS profile for the U.S. So those profiles are designed to work for that equipment that you are speaking about and so this is just some feedback from that process to correct some of the problems that the equipment manufacturers found and some weaknesses.
4190 So it is really just a cleanup so that this new version of the profile will work perfectly well in that application. So it is very easy, it is a matter of changing a couple of numbers and you can immediately begin using that new version to correct and remove any of those concerns. It is, again, backward-compatible and it is a very simple step to move into that and it has been directly because of the feedback from this profile development.
4191 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Thank you very much.
4192 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, thank you very much, those are our questions for you.
4193 Let us proceed with the next intervenor, Madam Secretary.
4194 THE SECRETARY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
4195 I would now the Canadian Association for Public Alerting and Notification to come to the presentation table.
4196 THE SECRETARY: Please introduce yourself and proceed with your presentation.
4197 MR. ALLPORT: Good morning. My name is Doug Allport and I would like to thank you first for accommodating my schedule.
4198 The Canadian Association for Public Alerting and Notification has asked for this opportunity to speak for the following reasons.
4199 One, we wish to emphasize our support for The Weather Network and MétroMédia remaining on basic service.
4200 Two, should the results of this hearing include a new national regulated public alerting aggregator, we are very concerned that the Commission will adopt NPAS requirements that we believe fall short of that which is required and we would therefore hope to influence the outcome of any system design.
4201 Three, we have and we continue to invest a significant amount of resources to build an institutional solution to many of the challenges ahead of us and we would appreciate the Commission giving consideration to what we have to offer in this decision.
4202 For those not familiar with us we are a new federally incorporated national not-for-profit association. We were formed in 2008 to meet a clearly defined need for national leadership similar to what you would find offered by an industry association. Our goal is to serve the mutual interests of public alerting originators and distributors with a focus on resolving key distribution and bureaucratic challenges that precluded Canada from developing a national public alerting capability to date.
4203 Our business plan was defined by a team of 23 municipal First Nation, provincial, federal and private public alerting originator and distribution experts with the support of noted academics. The writing of this plan followed months of analysis, discussion and debate. Eleven members of that team then stepped forward to serve on the inaugural board.
4204 Since incorporation we have been preparing for a membership drive while supporting efforts associated with the Canadian profile of the Common Alerting Protocol, including additional specifications which support the presentation of alerts and notices on maps. We aim to lead a discussion on the challenge of managing issuer rights in the near future.
4205 We have received financial support from GeoConnections, a federal initiative which aims to make location-based data and technologies accessible and useful to decision-makers in public safety. We have also receiving in kind contributions from New Brunswick Emergency Measures and Communications New Brunswick.
4206 As to why I have been asked to lead CAPAN I note that I am the Project Manager and Lead System Architect for New Brunswick's new multi-agency Situational Awareness and Alerting System, which is based on a version of the CAP Canadian profile that has not yet been published as well as the geographic requirements I just mentioned.
4207 I introduced them to EMnet, which links them and other provinces with The Weather Network and Environment Canada.
4208 I also invented the telecommunications-based Public Alerting Method which was a service offering of Bell Aliant and used around the Point Lepreau nuclear site.
4209 I served as a trustee of the U.S. Partnership for Public Warning and made the motion to endorse and sponsor the Common Alerting Protocol for standardization before making a case for and drafting the first Canadian profile of it. I have been the editor of the latest issue.
4210 I have been leveraged as a subject matter expert by a number of agencies and companies. In this last week I have been in New Brunswick moving from community to community, educating and consulting public alerting stakeholders in municipalities, the RCMP, DND and various provincial departments as we deploy a new system there.
4211 To our first objective, and as noted in our letter to the Commission, we support Pelmorex remaining a basic service. We have identified them as the leading example of what we need from our communications companies and proof that there is a business opportunity associated with the distribution of public alerts, notices and situational awareness information.
4212 Today, Pelmorex distributes provincial public alerts over localized television, localized websites, localized desktop alerting tools, location-based email and text messaging without cost to the issuers. As I see it, no other company or government agency has invested more in the advancement of public alerting to the benefit of Canadians. Wherever we travel, we have a source for locating-based information.
4213 CAPAN suggests that we should be focused on leveraging their investments and use them as a benchmark by which we measure the support of other communications companies.
4214 To my second point, I would like to emphasize that we are not concerned about whether or not Pelmorex can fulfill the requirements of a central distribution system for public alerting. We believe they can and would.
4215 Our concern is that the Commission might choose to have them do so to NPAS requirements that we believe fall short of meeting the national need.
4216 Rather than poke holes in the works of others, I would like to make our point by highlighting key attributes of a new Alerting and Situational Awareness System which was deployed in New Brunswick this past week.
4217 The first key point is that the system design puts the needs of municipalities, police, fire officials, the Red Cross and other first responders, as well as the communications departments which are responsible for communications on behalf of most governments, at the top of our priority list.
4218 This design involved those responders who had faced challenges head-on last spring during the major floods in New Brunswick which involved the Department of National Defence and are expected to have to do so again over the next few weeks during their flood season.
4219 The second key attribute of the system is that it supports alerts and notices for all hazards and all levels of severity as well as public service disruptions. It is not a system just for ringing the bell because when we ring the bell one of the first things people do is seek situational awareness information to mitigate their risk and usually that first step is going to the Internet.
4220 The information they seek includes road closures, public service disruptions, shelter locations. This has the potential to rapidly exhaust resources which are needed to respond to the disaster.
4221 Including public service disruptions in the scope of a national system offers us an opportunity to use the system on a daily basis, build familiarity with the system and a business case for communications companies to meet the demand for supplying content of interest to us when we want it and how we want to receive it through all communications mediums.
4222 The third key attribute is that it is an open architecture and not a closed system. The system offers stakeholders the opportunity to publish content and capture and process content through web services, using their own applications. The importance of this is that it reduces the steps required to issue an alert at a time when seconds count and resources are most scarce.
4223 In the case of New Brunswick Emergency Measures they will publish an alert at the same time as they log it into their Incident Management system.
4224 The Department of Transportation is to publish road closures at the same time as they entered into an existing system.
4225 The RCMP is looking to add such features to tools already found in their operations centres and vehicles because it is a monumental challenge to add a new system to their portfolio of applications.
4226 The fourth attribute I will highlight is that there is a focus on the visual presentation of alerts on maps on TV, Internet and other mediums. Today thousands of people are visiting a Google map created by a local radio station which presents alerts, notices and situational information related to the flooding in Fargo, North Dakota.
4227 I note when this was done in San Diego during the wildfires of 2007 the public demand was so strong that it overwhelmed Google's web services and caused them to reengineer their network in support of this demand. We see this demand being met by companies like The Weather Network.
4228 The fifth and final attribute I will focus on is where the real costs of this system lies. It is a matter of validating the authority to issue an alert. This, we have found, is of significant importance to communications companies, provincial governments and the communications departments of governments that have the final say on what is communicated.
4229 All of these parties want system safeguards which limit the issuer to a list of event types, locations and level of severity, all supported by the CAP Canadian profile.
4230 I emphasize that this will be the most significant cost to the NB system because these rights will change as agreements are made internally to the organizations, mutual aid arrangements are made with adjoining municipalities and provincial laws change.
4231 To our final objective, which has much to do with this last point. We believe the cost of administering issuer rights should be borne by the thousands of issuers to prevent abuse of the system and cost overruns. Left unchecked, we believe that they could challenge the viability of a system.
4232 Our plan is to include rights management as a cost of membership. We believe it can be done for as little as $1 per day per profile and a nominal service fee for additional charges. This data would be available to system distributors for the purpose of validating issuer rights.
4233 There is something more to this approach than meets the eye.
4234 Membership in CAPAN and access to any system we are associated with or build ourselves includes an acceptance of bylaws and policy written and overseen by the membership of originators and distributors to the needs of the membership of originators and distributors.
4235 It also moves decision-making and procurement outside the bureaucracy while respecting laws and the need for influence of public officials. We believe this is a model for governance ongoing.
4236 To ease the concerns of communications companies, I want to note that the membership structure for private companies is targeted at the same rate and for that they would have a single source of authenticated validated content from thousands of content suppliers, which includes daily updates of information being sought by millions on a daily basis.
4237 Our goal is to offer a positive business case for investing in the distribution of public alert notices and situational awareness information, and we would give them a say in every decision along the way.
4238 To summarize, CAPAN supports the Pelmorex application, and we ask for an opportunity to influence the requirements of any national system and any service fee structure which may be defined by the Commission.
4239 We would also ask that the Commission give consideration to what we have to offer as an organization in your decisions moving forward.
4240 We encourage the Commission to act and not wait. We have waited long enough. There will never be a perfect end-to-end solution. Capturing and distributing content in the CAP Canadian profile is the first major step that must be taken now. We can build off of that.
4241 We thank you for addressing this very important challenge and the opportunity to share our support and concerns here today. This concludes my presentation.
4242 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
4243 You have me confused. You urge us to act now, but on the other hand you say, "Don't designate Pelmorex as an aggregator."
4244 MR. ALLPORT: I did not say, "Do not designate Pelmorex," I said that I would be concerned that the Commission would designate them with the requirements of NPAS.
4245 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Now, you mentioned NPAS requirements several times. To an unwashed layman like me, tell me what you are talking about.
4246 MR. ALLPORT: The primary concern is that it is a system set up with the expectation that only provinces will issue alerts. Alerts happen at the local level.
4247 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
4248 MR. ALLPORT: Issues happen at the local level. We need to enable our first responders. We need to give them the tools to support this.
4249 To the last point, with all due respect to the previous speaker, most provinces do not have 24/7 centres. They are not in a position to support the municipalities in that way today.
4250 THE CHAIRPERSON: But if I understand, the Pelmorex proposal doesn't preclude that.
4251 MR. ALLPORT: I agree with that.
4252 THE CHAIRPERSON: Now, Pelmorex also suggests a governance model, and we haven't seen it, and I asked them to table it, but they suggested that there should be various relevant authorities on it, and I believe that you are among the groups that they mentioned that should be sitting on that board.
4253 Or, if not, you would obviously be prepared to sit on that board, and cooperate with them, if I understand you correctly.
4254 MR. ALLPORT: That would be correct.
4255 THE CHAIRPERSON: The Pelmorex proposal makes a specific distinction between directions and advisory, and it sets out what part would be directive. On questioning from me yesterday, they said, "Yes, we will follow the directions of the board," which would include you, "and that board would deal with such issues as NPAS requirements."
4256 Would that not partially address your concern?
4257 MR. ALLPORT: Yes.
4258 I came here with the understanding, by some of the stakeholders in this community, that one of the options you might exercise would be to move this forward with the condition that they meet what has been defined for NPAS, and our concern is that that lacks completion.
4259 THE CHAIRPERSON: Could you repeat that, I want to make sure that I understood you correctly.
4260 MR. ALLPORT: We feel that there are key elements in the design of NPAS -- and I would prefer not to get into all of the specifics, but as per the attributes that I highlighted in the system that was just deployed, there are key considerations that need to be made, and most importantly is the issue of meeting our first responders' needs directly.
4261 The other key element is that alerting is not just about ringing the bell. If we ring the bell and there is no source for additional information for people, as they go looking for it, the demand on Public Safety is huge.
4262 THE CHAIRPERSON: On the assumption that we do designate Pelmorex, could you, in a further written submission between now and April 15th, specify what -- you say that you are not against us designating them, but you want to be assured that NPAS requirements are properly addressed.
4263 Could you give us some additional information as to exactly what it is that you would like to see be included in an order, to avoid the problems that you foresee?
4264 MR. ALLPORT: I would be pleased to do so.
4265 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, thank you. Those are my questions.
4266 Does anyone else have questions?
4267 Thanks very much.
4268 Madam Secretary, I think we should break for lunch before we hear from Pelmorex.
4269 When do you want us to resume?
4270 THE SECRETARY: We will reconvene at 1:30.
4271 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
--- Upon recessing at 1220
--- Upon resuming at 1335
4272 THE CHAIRPERSON: All right, let's begin.
4273 THE SECRETARY: We will now proceed with Phase III, in which the Applicant can reply to all of the interventions submitted on their application.
4274 I would ask Pelmorex Communications to respond to the interventions that were filed to their application.
4275 Please reintroduce yourselves for the record. You will have ten minutes for this purpose.
4276 MR. MORRISSETTE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Members of the Commission. I am Pierre Morrissette, Chairman and CEO. To my right is Paul Temple, Senior Vice-President, Regulatory and Strategic Affairs. To his right is Jean-Pierre Boulanger, Senior Vice-President and Chief Information Technology Officer.
4277 To my left is Gaston Germain, President and Chief Operating Officer; Alysia Charlton, our financial expert and corporate secretary; and Luc Perreault, Vice-President, Affiliate and Government Relations.
4278 I wish to begin, Mr. Chairman, by thanking the many positive intervenors that have filed submissions supporting our application. We would especially like to thank the three groups that presented in support yesterday.
4279 Federal MP Bryon Wilfert, speaking on behalf of over 40 colleagues from all political parties, supports The Weather Network and MeteoMedia as exceptional services warranting continued carriage on basic.
4280 He also recognized the strong public policy elements of our proposal.
4281 Dan Hefkey of Emergency Management Ontario explained that our alerting proposal would be complementary to the NPAS alerting system. He said that public-private initiatives like our proposal are good policy, and represent the prudent use by governments of scarce financial resources.
4282 Don Shropshire from the Red Cross indicated that our alert system would fill a gap in the Canadian system, a gap that experiences in other countries has shown can lead to tragedy.
4283 There is virtual unanimity among the other many appearing supportive intervenors that: (1) our services in English and French are exceptional; (2) we have proven our commitment to offer Canadians in all areas of the country, no matter how remote, the information they need every day, and with ever-improving levels of service; and (3) the programming we offer is simply not available to them from any other source.
4284 These intervenors, together, represent the voice of the Canadian public.
4285 MR. TEMPLE: Let us move on to some of the points that other intervenors have raised.
4286 Pelmorex's alert aggregation and distribution system will meet the standards and requirements of a national alerting system that are being developed through discussion and consultation with a federal, provincial and territorial working group. We have participated actively in those consultations, and have already implemented pilot projects in four provinces.
4287 Alerting authorities and experts like Emergency Management Ontario, New Brunswick Emergency Services and CAPAN have all expressed strong confidence in our ability to deliver a national alerting system, yet without any such alerting expertise, some large BDUs question our ability to deliver.
4288 We would note that TV and radio broadcasters, as involved in NPAS as BDUs, have expressed no concern in this proceeding about Pelmorex's role as a national alerts aggregator and distributor, or that our alert messages will not meet applicable standards.
4289 Quebecor has recognized our expertise and does not object to our acting as an alerts aggregator.
4290 Some intervenors favour the federal RFP process, to the exclusion of our proposal. We are not aware of any announced funding to support the RFP process or any ensuing contract that could be awarded. No intervenor has come forward to provide assurances that funding is available, quite the opposite. Today, both the provinces of Ontario and Quebec have given us verbal permission to make public that they have no funding available for NPAS.
4291 This is information that we were privy to prior, but were not permitted to release publicly.
4292 Moreover, the timeline proposed to conduct an RFP is uncertain, and as the Commission knows, the outcome of an RFP process does not necessarily mean the implementation of a solution right away. If a provider is selected, it is the beginning of negotiating a contract. If a provider is not selected, then you may end up returning to square one.
4293 Our project, on the other hand, is already fully funded from the date the CRTC approves the distribution order, and work will begin as soon as the order is issued.
4294 Emergency Management Ontario made the sensible suggestion that, if our application is approved, one or more RFP processes can continue, and other components of a national alerting system may be developed in the future to enhance the functionality of the system, including reverse 911.
4295 We will cooperate fully with federal, provincial and territorial authorities to deliver whatever enhancements may be considered appropriate, regardless of who develops those enhancements.
4296 There is no merit to the allegation that we have delayed an RFP process. The fact is, as you have heard from the experts, we can be part of the solution. Our system will absolutely be part of a larger alerting solution that authorities may want to implement.
4297 The Weather Network and MeteoMedia will face significant downward pressure on wholesale rates to remain on the basic service once the Commission's new regulatory framework comes into effect. The financial models that we have presented to the CRTC on this issue are based on the realistic assessment of where we are likely to find ourselves starting in 2011. Our assumptions are based on actual discussions with BDUs.
4298 It is not credible for BDUs to seek and obtain, over a sustained campaign of many years, substantial deregulation in the interests of flexibility in competition, and then to claim now, when it suits their argument, that they will not take full advantage of that deregulation and assert their competitive power.
4299 It is also not credible for the large BDUs to say, "Don't worry, your service is so popular, we would never move you from basic."
4300 If that were true, then it would be in the BDUs' interests to insist on long-term affiliation agreements now to lock in the wholesale rate of our extremely popular service.
4301 Of course, this is not what is happening with large BDUs. On the other hand, small BDUs are more than ever willing to enter into long-term contracts to lock in the 23 cents.
4302 Without a 9(1)(h) order, we have been clear that we cannot assume the additional cost and risk that arises from acting as a national alerts aggregator. A national alerts system will be delayed for an unknown period of time. The opportunity for the broadcasting system to move forward with this important initiative will be lost.
4303 A 9(1)(h) order is absolutely necessary for us to maintain our exceptional service and to deliver a national alerts system for Canadians in the no-holds-barred market dominated by BDUs.
4304 I might add that the mere fact that Mr. Engelhart, with such confidence, was able to suggest that we would accept a 19-cent rate shows that he expects to be able to walk in the door -- and that is not even their starting position. If he is that confident that we would accept a 19-cent rate, you can be sure that they are confident enough that we would accept rates far lower to remain on basic.
4305 Mr. Chairman, there is so much information on the file that we can't address everything, but we do hope to be able to answer your questions and ensure that the public record is clear.
4306 We, at least, note and dispute the following claims and point out contradictions made by the BDUs.
4307 They say that Weather is everywhere; now it's a monopoly.
4308 9(1)(h) orders should be based somehow on the unpopularity of a service, or at least excluded from services that are popular.
4309 Designating Pelmorex will not accelerate alerting. The box may be ready in 2010 for cable systems but with no messages the mailbox will be empty.
4310 There is no need for an aggregator in the Canadian system. Yet, experts tell us that such an aggregator is essential.
4311 They say the IT system is simple, then they say it is complicated and that once we have implemented it, we won't respond to needs and that we will somehow have public alerting officials in a stranglehold.
4312 They say our governance system is wrong but they haven't acknowledged the Governance Council or CRTC oversight.
4313 Finally, there is no fear-mongering by Pelmorex to garner support among members of Parliament or anyone else.
4315 MR. MORRISSETTE: Mr. Chairman, in the final analysis there is no doubt that approval of our application is a win-win-win situation.
4316 Canadians will continue to receive our service at the same wholesale rate as the basic services without the need to buy more expensive programming packages.
4317 Distributors of all sizes will be under no obligation to pay any increased wholesale rate for our service. There will be no change there.
4318 Government agencies can allocate scarce resources on activities other than providing the core aggregation and distribution function and Canadians will at last benefit from a National Public Alerting System implemented on a timely basis and leveraging the powerful reach of the entire Canadian broadcasting system.
4319 We would be pleased to entertain your questions.
4320 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
4321 Do my colleagues have any questions?
4322 I have a few for you and then we will let you go.
4323 Number one, the Canadian Association of Public Alerting and Notification appeared before us today. They made a clear issue about what they call the NPAS requirement. I asked them if they would be willing to serve on your board of governance and they said yes.
4324 Do you plan to have them on your board of governance?
4325 MR. TEMPLE: We certainly do now but we know CAPAN and that is not a problem.
4326 THE CHAIRPERSON: Can I have your commitment now to put them on?
4327 MR. TEMPLE: You have our commitment.
4328 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Secondly, and I think more importantly, I asked Rogers about the statement that they put in their written submission, which says:
"PSC will now wait and see if the Commission decided to approve Pelmorex's application and so whether Pelmorex should become the de facto aggregator without a competitive process." (As read)
4329 I said, how can you say that, how do you speak with such authority? They said: PSC told us that.
4330 Now, you are part of the same NPAS process. Have you been told by PSC anything? Have you received a notification by them or anything that they are putting their process on hold, awaiting the outcome of this proceeding?
4331 MR. TEMPLE: No, we haven't received any information to that effect by Public Safety.
4332 THE CHAIRPERSON: Have you been in contact with PSC?
4333 MR. TEMPLE: I called them a couple of times during the public notice period but I haven't been able to connect with anyone.
4334 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, but this whole NPAS process of consultation, of which you are a member and which resulted in a report to us in February, since then there has been no notification from Public Safety that they are now putting things on hold?
4335 MR. TEMPLE: No.
4336 THE CHAIRPERSON: Not to your knowledge, okay.
4337 You mentioned just now that you have publicly been advised by the Quebec and Ontario governments that there is no funding for this.
4338 Can you confirm that as part of your follow-up submissions?
4339 MR. TEMPLE: Yes, I will confirm it in writing. I spoke with Dan Hefkey, who appeared before you earlier, and he told me that -- I mean we have had discussions and known this for sometime but it was not -- I asked him if I could make it public and I will confirm that in writing.
4340 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
4341 COMMISSIONER KATZ: You mentioned earlier -- it just dawned on me -- that work will begin as soon as the order is issued if you are successful.
4342 How much outside approvals or conditions do you need to make this thing work? Like work can begin but the question is: Can you complete and get this thing running by 2010 without anybody else's support or approval or can this thing still be held up a number of times that will be outside of your control?
4343 MR. TEMPLE: Well, the perfect example, I think, a number of people have talked is the CAP Protocol. So if the Government of Canada in consultation with the provinces doesn't finalize the version that they want us to work with for the launch, then we are going to -- that is going to potentially delay us.
4344 Having said that, if we are approved, I would suggest that the pressure on them to get going and approve the version that they have, there will be a lot of pressure for them to --
4345 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay, so that is one. Can you, when you file on April 16th or whatever date it is, give us a list of all the potential bottlenecks or stopgaps that you could face between now and the end, just so we understand, and who you have to get the approval from along the way?
4346 MR. TEMPLE: Yes. I was just asking whether we were already going to cover that in the previous undertaking to show you the workplan but we will make it clear in a separate document.
4347 COMMISSIONER KATZ: It can be part of the workplan as long as you identify where the obligations are.
4348 MR. TEMPLE: Yes.
4349 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay.
4350 THE CHAIRPERSON: Michel, you had another question?
4351 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Le Centre québécois pour la déficience auditive nous a demandé de vous imposer, quasiment comme condition de licence, d'utiliser le langage des signes pour les fins de la diffusion des alertes.
4352 Je ne sais pas si vous avez des commentaires à faire à cet égard.
4353 MR. TEMPLE: Well, to go back to our analogy, we are delivering the mail and we are not opening the letter, we don't know what is in the letter, so it would be difficult for us to provide that service. If others can somehow do that either when they originate the message or when they display it.
4354 I can't speak to their capabilities there but I know in terms of the role we play, if you go back to Mr. Engelhart's diagram, we are just providing that middle service. So we are not altering the content or changing the content of the warning initiated by the public authority.
4355 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: When Rogers appeared, in their comments regarding the support that you have received from various MPs, they said that you had approached those MPs, saying that The Weather Channel will be removed from basic and so we need your support to get 9(1)(h) authorization.
4356 How did you approach the various MPs because you received extensive support from members of Parliament and members of the various legislative assemblies?
4357 MR. TEMPLE: The message we gave -- I am curious as to -- I am almost looking forward to seeing what Rogers files and I suppose we will respond then again.
4358 But when we have spoken with MPs and when we have explained to anyone, what we try and explain is the rules will be changing and that in the past the Commission has decided whether our service would be on basic, and in the future, cable companies and satellite distributors will make that decision and that may result in us being removed from basic, which is absolutely true. We don't say it is going to be moved, we say it may be moved.
4359 When I have met with MPs and discussed this with them, I make the point very clear that there are two outcomes, we could be moved or we could have our rates renegotiated to a much lower number and that would result in cutbacks to programming, typically in smaller markets where we can't recover advertising.
4360 It is the same message we have been telling the Commission and there is no suggestion that we are going to be moved for sure but that is one of the possibilities. I make sure they understand both options when we are discussing it because they understand the market power that the cable operators and the satellite companies exercise. They get it right away.
4361 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Okay. Thank you.
4362 Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
4363 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Back to my list.
4364 You undertook to give us a detailed timetable and a governance model, and basically two timetables, one that is confidential with more details in it. I would like to assure you that it is very important for us that that timetable and the information is as detailed and complete as possible because, as you heard today from Rogers and others, there is considerable doubt in their mind that you can actually deliver by that time, et cetera. On the information that we have so far, this is one of the key ingredients that is missing and I would appreciate it if you would do that.
4365 Lastly, for federal funding, you mentioned now that there is no federal funding in place, to your knowledge?
4366 MR. TEMPLE: That is correct. The announcement that went out in -- I mean I can pull it out but it just said that the federal/provincial partners would be working with the broadcasting industry to develop a National Public Alerting System. There is certainly talk within that group about funding but I don't recall any public announcements that there is funding available.
4367 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Well, that is important. Anything you have on the availability or non-availability of federal financing for this project, I would appreciate it if you put that as part of your reply.
4368 Thank you, I think that is all for you for today.
4369 I think, Madam Secretary, that is it, isn't it?
4370 THE SECRETARY: Yes, this completes the consideration of item 9 on the agenda.
4371 I would just like to note for the record that the intervenors who did not appear and were listed in the agenda will remain on the public file as non-appearing intervenors.
4372 This completes the agenda of this public hearing.
4373 Merci, Monsieur le Président.
--- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 1457
Johanne Morin Jean Desaulniers
Sue Villeneuve Monique Mahoney
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