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TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS BEFORE
THE CANADIAN RADIO-TELEVISION AND
Call for comments following a request by the Governor in Council to prepare a report on the implications and advisability of implementing a compensation regime for the value of local television signals
140 Promenade du Portage
December 11, 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
Call for comments following a request by the Governor in Council to prepare a report on the implications and advisability of implementing a compensation regime for the value of local television signals
Konrad von Finckenstein Chairperson
Michel Arpin Commissioner
Len Katz Commissioner
Rita Cugini Commissioner
Timothy Denton Commissioner
Elizabeth Duncan Commissioner
Suzanne Lamarre Commissioner
Peter Menzies Commissioner
Candice Molnar Commissioner
Michel Morin Commissioner
Marc Patrone Commissioner
Louise Poirier Commissioner
Stephen Simpson Commissioner
Jade Roy Secretary
Valérie Dionne Legal Counsel
Donna Gill Hearing Manager
140 Promenade du Portage
December 11, 2009
- iv -
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PAGE / PARA
Center for Research-Action on Race Relations 1098 / 6101
Youth E-mage Jeunesse 1110 / 6189
Ottawa Food Bank 1126 / 6268
Salvation Army 1132 / 6292
YWCA 1143 / 6365
Mediac Inc. 1149 / 6391
Doug Assis 1168 / 6503
Peter Lowry 1173 / 6535
Barb Johns 1177 / 6562
Michael Peacocke 1185 / 6605
Dennis Watson 1192 / 6648
--- Upon resuming on Friday, December 11, 2009 at 0900
6095 LE PRÉSIDENT : Madame la Secrétaire, commençons.
6096 THE SECRETARY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
6097 For the record, Yellow Pencil just informed us that they will not be appearing today.
6098 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yellow Pencil, okay.
6099 THE SECRETARY: We will start with the presentation from Center for Research-Action on Race Relations appearing from our regional office in Montréal.
6100 Please introduce yourself and you have 10 minutes.
6101 MR. NIEMI: Thank you very much.
6102 My name is Fo Niemi, I am the Executive Director for the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations.
6103 Good morning, sir, Mr. Chairman.
6104 THE CHAIRPERSON: Good morning.
6105 Go ahead. Make your presentation, please.
6106 MR. NIEMI: Yes. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and Members of the CRTC for allowing us this opportunity to present to you.
6107 We come to you today to talk about this issue from perhaps a unique perspective with regard to the issue of the importance of local television programming for the English-speaking community of Montréal and, to a certain extent, for the English-speaking community of Québec.
6108 We believe that this is an issue that has an added significance to the debate because of the importance of the unique place that English-speaking television in Québec plays for the development of the English-speaking groups and for Québec society as a whole.
6109 A little bit about our organization. Since our inception in 1983 we have maintained very close working productive relationships with local television, both French-speaking and English-speaking, namely CTV, CBC in Montréal, Global TV and TVA, and we have developed over the years not only a community working relationship, but also as an organization that produces a lot of activities the local television stations, particularly the English speaking-ones have been a very important source of information and news and public affairs for the kind of work that we do.
6110 We are here to support the broadcasters, particularly CTV, Global TV, and we need to add as well CBC in this debate, because we believe that these broadcasters are more than just television stations and they are an integral part -- they are integral institutions of the community.
6111 And, as you know, one of the particular dynamics of official languages communities in Canada is numbers. When the number is small the market is a little bit more competitive and therefore the issues of revenues, issues of income and issues of vitality, both economic, operational and technological and cultural becomes much more important for broadcasters.
6112 We believe that local broadcasters, more than cable companies in our case, are indispensable to the social, cultural, economic and technological fabric of Montréal.
6113 We need also to add that within each of the official language communities, in our case the English-speaking community, racial and ethnic diversity plays a very important role.
6114 So local television, as national television, provide to many of the members of ethnic groups a sense of community, a sense of belonging and full citizenship and what we call a sense of national connection. Even though it's about local programming, but it gives people a feeling not only being reflected in local television, but also in a broader national landscape.
6115 So that's why we are very concerned to know that many of the broadcasters face going into financial hardship and we are coming out to support.
6116 We believe that market equity will provide -- should provide to broadcasters an opportunity to renegotiate the situation with the local cable companies.
6117 We must also add that throughout the years we, at least in Montréal, in Québec, we do not have a very active relationship with cable companies for different reasons. We believe that even cable television in Montréal does not serve the English-speaking constituencies of different racial and ethnic backgrounds, or of all ethnic backgrounds, very well. This is why we support a compensation regime for the value of local television signals.
6118 We believe that the principle of market equity and the principle of the true reflection of Canadian society, both at the national, regional and local levels dictate there should be a flexible framework to allow both broadcasters and cable companies to work out a regime that will allow for greater vitality of the broadcasters.
6119 We are not here to get into the specifics and the numbers, but we just want to testify to the importance of maintaining a very dynamic, viable and competitive television broadcasting industry at the local level, and of course at the national level, with a special emphasis on news and public information and public affairs, because this is the source of information for a market that is very small and may be getting smaller due to migration and immigration.
6120 So we would like to thank the CRTC for allowing us to bring on this additional perspective to the debate. We believe that it's a matter of not only fair share for the industry, but also a greater and more responsive package for consumers.
6121 Within the concept of consumers and group of consumers we have to take into account the fact that consumers come from different languages and ethnicities.
6122 So we thank you very much and we hope that our views will be taken into consideration.
6123 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, thank you for your presentation.
6124 I'm not quite sure I make the connection between local TV and reflection of Canadian society.
6125 As Canadian society becomes more multiethnic and multiracial, wouldn't Canadian programming by definition reflect that fact?
6126 Why do you think it --
6127 MR. NIEMI: Yes.
6128 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- is particularly important at the local scene?
6129 That's what I guess I'm asking you.
6130 MR. NIEMI: Well, we have mentioned in our written representation that local programming is more than just what we see on the TV screen.
6131 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
6132 MR. NIEMI: Vibrant local broadcasting offices and companies in a city provide also, first of all, economic opportunities for English-speaking Montréalers of different backgrounds, in terms of jobs, in terms of other economic spin-offs.
6133 But with regard to the question, it's about connecting local development, local information and news with the rest of the national broadcasting and information landscape.
6134 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
6135 MR. NIEMI: Have I answered your question?
6136 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes. I see what you mean now.
6138 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and good morning.
6139 MR. NIEMI: Good morning.
6140 COMMISSIONER KATZ: You live in Montréal and I guess both Bell Canada and Vidéotron are the providers, and Cogeco I guess outside of Montréal.
6141 Specifically looking at the Vidéotron product, they offer a community channel.
6142 Are you familiar with that community channel at all?
6143 MR. NIEMI: Yes. We are, yes.
6144 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Do they provide any services that address a lot of the race relations and local concerns of people in and around Montréal?
6145 MR. NIEMI: Well, first of all in terms of language to begin with, we don't see much of -- any programming in English by the cable company you mentioned.
6146 And also, on different other issues of local pertinence, local affairs, in relation to our mandate, we don't see much as well.
6147 This is why we have mentioned very diplomatically that our relationship with cable companies at the local level is not as productive and is not as fruitful as that with the local broadcasters.
6148 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Have you approached Vidéotron to try and get some airtime?
6149 MR. NIEMI: No. No, we have not.
6150 We have worked more because -- well, actually in the '90s we have approached Vidéotron, both as employer as well as a cable company and distributor, and in the '90s we felt that we did not have a kind of receptivity that we would have with local broadcasters.
6151 COMMISSIONER KATZ: But the '90s are over.
6152 MR. NIEMI: The attitudes it's like -- I'm sorry...?
6153 COMMISSIONER KATZ: The '90s are a long time ago. I mean it's hard for you to --
6154 MR. NIEMI: Yes, but --
6155 COMMISSIONER KATZ: It's hard for me to accept the fact that you are saying that they don't provide English-language community opportunity when you haven't even knocked on their door.
6156 Mr. NIEMI: Well, you know, in the '90s, up until the late '90s we -- you know, when you knock on the door so many times sort of you give up. You go and knock on the doors that are more accessible and more open.
6157 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay.
6158 My last question --
6159 MR. NIEMI: As a matter of fact, we did discuss with one English-speaking group representing the cultural -- the arts community of Montréal, and this is something that I believe will be brought also to your attention as well, that the cable companies by next year -- about the need to be much more accessible to, among other groups, the English-speaking community.
6160 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay.
6161 Those are my questions, Mr. Chairman.
6162 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
6164 COMMISSIONER POIRER: Only one question, Mr. Chair.
6165 Good to have you here so early in the morning, Mr. Niemi.
6166 My question is considering that you do appreciate local TV and that you support the broadcasters, would you be willing to pay $2.00 more per month to keep so vibrant the local television in Montréal?
6167 MR. NIEMI: Well, we discussed about the question of additional dollars. It depends on the -- if you ask $2.00 a month most consumers, including the people we talked to, would not object, but when you look at the $2.00 a month within a broader context of the overall revenues and expenditures of the cable companies compared to the broadcasting companies, and then when you look at what the cable companies -- how they reinvest back into the community, then the question would be looked at very differently.
6168 So the $2.00 question has to be looked at in the broader context and particularly the social and economic as well as cultural context of Montréal or the local community where these companies operate.
6169 COMMISSIONER POIRER: Thank you very much. It's a very interesting perspective.
6170 Thank you, sir.
6171 THE CHAIRPERSON: Michel...?
6172 MR. NIEMI: Thank you. Merci.
6173 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Bonjour, monsieur Niemi. Vous allez bien?
6174 M. NIEMI : Oui. Bonjour, Monsieur Arpin. Très bien, merci.
6175 CCONSEILLER ARPIN : Vous avez parlé, évidemment, de la télévision anglaise à Montréal, mais qu'en est-il de la télévision de langue française, parce que le Centre de recherche sur les relations raciales est aussi actif avec les télévisions de langue française?
6176 MR. NIEMI: We do have also good relations with RCN, TVA and Radio-Canada. Well, except for the recent episode, but in general what we find that of course the French-speaking broadcasters also are in a very tight bind because in Québec, as you know, Francophones constitute a small market within the broader Canadian and North American context and there may be other additional costs.
6177 The needs of the French broadcaster for local programming are as important, but we would choose this time to focus more on the English-speaking community because of the question of markets and the question of defining who the viewers are.
6178 If one looks at the consumer market for English-speaking television products, maybe you are talking maybe about 1 million consumers as opposed to about possibly 6 1/2 million French-speaking consumers for Radio-Canada and RCN and of course other local television stations.
6179 But overall, even though we focus on the English-speaking stations, we do want to keep in mind that the entire broadcasting industry in Québec, French and English, face the kind of hardship.
6180 We try not to get into the fact that one is a public broadcaster and one is also owned by a company that may own cable companies, that's more of internal business operation, but we do want to keep in mind that when it comes to production of local programming that there should be a fair share to ensure a greater redistribution of the fees for all broadcasters.
6181 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Merci beaucoup.
6182 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for your presentation.
6183 MR. NIEMI: Thank you very much.
6184 THE CHAIRPERSON: We appreciate you taking the time to share your views with us.
6185 Madame la Secrétaire, le prochain, s'il vous plaît.
6186 THE SECRETARY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
6187 J'inviterais maintenant Youth e-mage Jeunesse à venir à la table de présentation, s'il vous plaît.
6188 LA SECRÉTAIRE : S'il vous plaît vous présenter, et vous avez 10 minutes pour votre présentation. Merci.
6189 M. LÉVESQUE : Voilà! Désolé. Alors, prise 2.
6190 Mon nom est Claude Lévesque. Je suis directeur-général pour Youth e-Mage Jeunesse.
6191 Youth e-Mage Jeunesse est un organisme à but non-lucratif qui utilise les nouveaux médias comme moyens de dynamiser et de permettre aux jeunes d'aller chercher le maximum de leur potentiel et de s'impliquer dans la communauté.
6192 La présentation que je vais vous faire aujourd'hui, elle est quand même assez succincte et assez simple. En fait, ce que je voudrais faire aujourd'hui, c'est remettre le débat peut-être dans une nouvelle perspective.
6193 Jusqu'à date, jusqu'à présent, le débat s'est fait sur deux points.
6194 D'abord, d'un point de vue monétaire, il y a de l'argent à faire dans la télédiffusion. Les cablôdistributeurs, jusqu'à présent, veulent maintenir ou garder les revenus qu'ils ont. Les télédiffuseurs, eux, veulent s'assurer des revenus et aussi avoir une part du gâteau.
6195 Et de l'autre côté, ce qui est peut-être votre préoccupation à vous, c'est au niveau administratif, comment maintenir le système et lui permettre d'être performant, économiquement parlant.
6196 Cependant, ce que j'aimerais faire aujourd'hui, c'est reprendre tout ça, puis vous présenter ça d'une autre manière, de présenter le débat non pas en termes de gains ou de pertes économiques, mais plutôt vous présenter le débat comme étant une approche d'obligation et de droit, en prenant la perspective du public canadien.
6197 Ce que je vais faire aujourd'hui, c'est vous présenter trois éléments dans ma présentation.
6198 Le premier, je vais vous parler du contenu présentement disponible à la télévision et ce que... selon notre organisme, ce qu'on voit un peu sur le terrain, ce qui devrait être disponible.
6199 Par la suite, je vous parlerai un peu de la collectivité et de la communauté et du terme " local " -- en anglais, plutôt, local -- qui a été utilisé à plein de sources, mais que je ne suis pas tout à fait certain si on parle tout le temps de la même chose. Alors, je vais vous présenter un peu, pour nous, ce que ça représente, ceci.
6200 Et finalement, je vais vous présenter un petit vidéo à la fin qui résume mon troisième point, qui est l'importance d'une télé qui nous ressemble, donc, qui ressemble au public canadien, mais aussi un public... une collectivité locale.
6201 Alors, si vous voulez bien, on va commencer avec le point au niveau du contenu.
6202 La réalité est que le contenu canadien en 2009 n'est pas nécessairement... n'a pas la même priorité en termes d'espace dans la programmation qu'il y a cinq ou qu'il y a 10 ans.
6203 Pourquoi cette réalité-là, elle est différente aujourd'hui, comparativement à 10 ans?
6204 Je vous laisserai tirer ces conclusions-là, mais reste le fait que cette réalité-là, elle existe et que le contenu canadien n'est plus aussi mis de l'avant, que ce soit dans les cablôdistributeurs ou au niveau des télédiffuseurs, et une grosse partie de ça, c'est le côté économique.
6205 Il est nécessaire de mettre en place des obligations quant au contenu canadien. Dans tout le processus que vous allez prendre, dans toutes vos réflexions au niveau législatif, au niveau administratif, il est important de garder en tête que ce qui est important ici, c'est de s'assurer qu'un contenu canadien soit continué, qu'il doit continuer à être diffusé sur les ondes. Que ce soit à travers les télédiffuseurs et les télévisions locales ou du point de vue des cablôdistributeurs et de la programmation qu'ils offrent aux consommateurs, le contenu canadien est important.
6206 Le dilemme en ce moment, c'est, évidemment, le côté d'une économie de masse, c'est-à-dire d'aller chercher des productions, payer un seul coup, par exemple, les productions qui sont populaires américaines, et de là, de les diffuser à travers le pays versus le dilemme de créer un contenu à la fois canadien et régional, qui, évidemment, peut engendrer des coûts plus importants ou qui vont demander une créativité au niveau des dépenses, qui n'a pas été encore fait en ce moment. Et une des raisons pourquoi ça n'a peut-être pas été encore fait en ce moment, c'est parce qu'il n'y a pas eu nécessairement les incitatifs nécessaires à pousser à la fois les télédiffuseurs et les distributeurs à aller chercher du contenu canadien.
6207 Donc, dans votre processus de réflexion, il faut penser, justement, à trouver des manières d'inciter ces deux grandes catégories d'acteurs à présenter du contenu canadien.
6208 L'autre chose aussi qu'il faut se rappeler, c'est que plus de choix ne veut pas nécessairement dire plus de variété, et ce que je veux dire par ça, c'est que si -- puis là, je vais prendre un exemple typique de marketing -- le fait d'avoir plus de choix de produits ne veut pas nécessairement dire que le consommateur va essayer différents produits. Habituellement, il va rester avec les produits qu'il connaît.
6209 Et ça, ça veut dire que pour pouvoir, d'une part, mettre le contenu canadien de l'avant, il ne faut pas simplement s'attendre à ce que... à dire aux télédistributeurs et aux télédiffuseurs, produisez des produits canadiens, il faut aussi trouver des manières de promouvoir ces produits canadiens là et aussi se rappeler que, pour beaucoup de Canadiens, le premier réflexe, c'est aussi la télévision locale, c'est-à-dire la télévision... les télés de sa région. Donc, je pense que c'est important de garder ça en tête.
6210 La télévision locale a un minimum nécessaire. Par ce point-ci, en fait, ce que j'essaie de dire ou ce que nous essayons de dire, notre organisme, c'est qu'il est important que, peu importe la manière dont on va établir le schème de distribution des revenus puis tout ça, il faut s'assurer qu'il y ait une perspective locale dans la télévision que les gens vont pouvoir regarder.
6211 La télévision locale, c'est bien plus que des nouvelles. Très souvent, les télédiffuseurs vont dire que, ah, on a des nouvelles locales à 5 h 00 ou à 11 h 00 le soir, on a accompli notre travail. Mais nous, ce que nous vous proposons, c'est, en fait, de faire plus que juste uniquement des nouvelles, c'est aussi des interactions avec le public, c'est aussi des partenariats qui peuvent être faits, et, à la fin de ma présentation, je vais vous donner un exemple de partenariat qui peut être fait, qui dépasse le monde des nouvelles simplement.
6212 La télévision locale, comme je vous dis, c'est une opportunité de partenariat avec la collectivité, et il faut faire attention... puis là, dans le prochain point, en termes de collectivité, quand on parle ici de la collectivité comme source de contenu grâce à des partenariats, on parle, d'abord... parce que, d'un côté, les télédiffuseurs locaux ont les infrastructures déjà locales, alors que les cablôdistributeurs, ce n'est pas nécessairement le cas, pas dans toutes les régions à tout le moins, peut-être dans certains centres, mais ce n'est pas toujours le cas.
6213 Deuxièmement, tout à l'heure, je parlais de l'élément de plus de choix ne veut pas nécessairement dire plus de variété. Eh bien, étant donné que le public a déjà une certaine confiance avec les télévisions locales, je pense que ça peut être un acteur clé qu'il ne faut pas négliger dans tout ça.
6214 Je ne vous dirai pas comment faire votre travail, vous êtes beaucoup plus experts que moi en ce qui concerne tous les processus administratifs, toutes les conséquences fiscales et juridiques qui peuvent être prises en compte, mais ce qui est important de se rappeler, c'est qu'il y a déjà quelqu'un qui est sur le terrain -- quand je dis sur le terrain, on s'entend, qui sont déjà placés localement -- et ça serait dommage de ne pas utiliser ces ressources-là. Donc, encore une fois, l'important ici en termes d'incitatif, c'est de maximiser les ressources qui sont déjà existantes.
6215 Faire vibrer une communauté, c'est lui donner une place sur le spectrum de la télévision. Ça, ça veut dire... et là, tout à l'heure, vous allez voir, par exemple, que ça ne veut pas nécessairement dire uniquement des nouvelles, mais ça veut aussi dire permettre à ce que les gens voient... puissent se représenter.
6216 Je crois qu'il y a certains autres organismes qui ont fait des présentations par rapport à l'élément multiculturel. Ça, c'est un exemple en termes de, par exemple, des personnes qui présentent, qui sont les porte-paroles pour ces télédiffuseurs locaux. C'est important que ça puisse représenter non seulement au niveau ethnique, mais au niveau des âges aussi. Dans mon cas ici, je représente les jeunes.
6217 Le coût pour la collectivité doit être très simple : zéro. Et quand je dis zéro, c'est que je veux dire... c'est que je crois qu'à l'intérieur du système, tel qu'il existe déjà, à travers les fonds qui sont déjà en train de se déplacer entre les télédiffuseurs et les cablôdistributeurs, il existe des manières de pouvoir redistribuer cet argent-là sans avoir à augmenter les coûts pour la collectivité et pour les consommateurs.
6218 Il est clair que depuis plusieurs années, les cablôdistributeurs ont profité d'un certain avantage dans la manière dont la législature a été faite et dont le processus administratif a été fait. Ma présentation ici n'est pas de dire qu'il faut enrayer cet avantage-là ou l'enlever, mais, en fait, de trouver une manière de permettre qu'à travers ce qui existe déjà, en établissant des seuils, par exemple, minimaux de diffusion de contenu canadien, en mettant des plafonds sur les maximums que les consommateurs devraient payer, il est possible de permettre à l'industrie canadienne de rester performante, sans nécessairement augmenter les coûts pour la collectivité.
6219 Et ça, c'est une part qui doit être importante, parce que là, d'un côté, vous avez les cablôdistributeurs et, de l'autre côté, les diffuseurs, qui, eux, veulent avoir accès à cet argent-là qui existe, parce qu'il y a de l'argent en ce moment qui est en train d'être fait. Il ne faut pas se tromper sur ça. Les chaînes de télévision spécialisée sont un exemple très clair de tout ça.
6220 Ce que moi, je vous soumets, c'est de réfléchir à comment on peut utiliser ce qui existe déjà pour pouvoir enrichir le contenu canadien et donner des obligations de collaboration avec la collectivité.
6221 LA SECRÉTAIRE : Je suis désolée, vous devez conclure, il vous reste une minute.
6222 M. LÉVESQUE : Parfait!
6223 Écoutez, alors, je vais conclure avec la vidéo, qui vous présente un exemple, justement, de ce que ça peut être une collaboration. Ça s'appelle " News Rap ", qui a été fait en collaboration avec CTV Montréal, qui nous ont, en fait, prêté les locaux et le contenu visuel.
6224 Alors, je vous laisse regarder.
--- Video presentation
6225 M. LÉVESQUE : Donc, merci d'avoir pris le temps de m'écouter, et puis, je vous souhaite bon succès avec vos délibérations.
6226 LE PRÉSIDENT : Monsieur Lévesque, ce sont des audiences pour donner un avis au gouvernement sur la question de l'abordabilité, et s'il y a un système de valeur pour le signal, est-ce que le consommateur va être capable de le payer ou non.
6227 Qu'est-ce que vous voulez que nous suggérons au gouvernement sur la question d'abordabilité d'un système de valeur pour le signal? C'est vraiment la question que nous avons proposée.
6228 M. LÉVESQUE : Pardon, en fait, excusez-moi, je n'ai pas très bien compris ce que vous avez dit, j'ai manqué quelques mots.
6229 LE PRÉSIDENT : Nous avons fait ces audiences ici à cause d'un ordre en conseil du gouvernement. Le gouvernement nous a posé deux questions. Il veut que nous lui donnions des conseils. La première question, c'est l'abordabilité. S'il y a un système de valeur pour signal négocié entre les radiodiffuseurs et les EDR, quel va être le résultat pour le consommateur, est-ce que c'est abordable ou non. Avez-vous des vues sur cette question-là?
6230 M. LÉVESQUE : Oui. En ce qui concerne l'idée de permettre aux télédiffuseurs de négocier avec les cablôdistributeurs, je crois que c'est possible et que ce n'est pas une mauvaise idée, mais ce qu'il faudrait faire si on leur permet de faire ce processus de négociation là, c'est, en fait, d'établir, à mon avis, des plafonds maximales pour offrir des services de base.
6231 Puis si vous me permettez, je vais faire la deuxième partie en anglais.
6232 I think one of the things that's very important is to ensure that local TV -- and when I say local TV, I don't just mean the local television networks but also something that represents the collectivity -- to make sure that it's available as at least a basic element of what customers have access to.
6233 So in terms of permitting negotiations between broadcasters and with the industry, I think it's very important that if we do decide to do it that way, it's to ensure to create ceilings in terms of what can be paid to offer at least minimum services for all customers.
6234 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, thank you.
6235 MR. LÉVESQUE: You're welcome.
6236 LE PRÉSIDENT : Louise, tu as des questions?
6237 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Oui, j'ai deux questions, Monsieur le Président.
6238 Merci beaucoup pour votre excellente présentation et la belle vidéo. Vous féliciterez les jeunes, c'est très bien fait.
6239 M. LÉVESQUE : Merci.
6240 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Dans un premier temps, vous avez dit ce matin, le premier réflexe, c'est de regarder la télé locale.
6241 Considérant que vous représentez des jeunes de 12 à 25 ans, puis considérant aussi qu'on cherche à trouver une solution pour régler les problèmes dans le système de la radiodiffusion, de trouver des solutions pour le futur, êtes-vous à même de me dire que c'est vraiment le réflexe des jeunes de 12 à 25 ans de regarder leur télé locale, plutôt que d'aller sur Internet, et est-ce qu'ils tiennent vraiment à leur télé locale?
6242 M. LÉVESQUE : Bien, en fait, dans votre question, vous présentez deux choses qu'il faut peut-être juste clarifier.
6243 D'abord, il faut comprendre que la télévision et l'Internet sont deux plateformes média différentes. C'est clair que l'Internet est une plateforme que les jeunes connaissent très bien.
6244 Ce que nous, on vous présente, en fait, ce qu'on vous soumet, c'est que dans une approche la plus simpliste de base, lorsque ça vient à la télévision comme telle, et on parle de l'écran de télévision qu'on allume, la première des choses que les gens vont regarder ou qu'ils vont voir, ça va d'abord être la télévision locale, parce que, en ce moment, tel que le système, il est fait, on n'a pas besoin de câble pour écouter la télévision locale, et donc, ce réflexe-là est naturel de ce côté-là.
6245 Et là, ensuite, quand on décide de s'abonner à un cablôdistributeur et que là, on veut regarder les chaînes spécialisées, voir les chaînes américaines puis tout ça, ça, c'est une autre pair de manches. Mais ce que moi, je vous dis, c'est qu'une personne qui veut regarder la télévision puis qui achète tout simplement une télé, la première chose qu'il va voir, ça va être la télévision locale.
6246 Et peut-être que... en fait, dans votre question, il y a peut-être une partie de la solution, c'est peut-être d'obliger les télédiffuseurs et les cablôdistributeurs à aussi offrir un contenu canadien local sur d'autres plateformes média, que ce soit Internet ou, par exemple, les technologies avec les cellulaires.
6247 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Merci.
6248 Ma deuxième question, c'est dans le fait que vous supportez, effectivement, la compensation pour la valeur du signal, et vous dites, par contre, qu'il serait judicieux et important d'y associer une condition. Une condition, c'est celle de travailler en lien avec la communauté.
6249 Est-ce qu'elle ne le fait pas déjà, la télé locale, de travailler en lien? Est-ce que vous avez peur que le fait qu'ils aient plus d'argent, cet argent-là n'aille pas avec les organisations comme les vôtres, avec lesquelles elle semble déjà travailler?
6250 M. LÉVESQUE : Oui, tout à fait. Je pense qu'avoir plus d'argent ne garantit pas nécessairement qu'il va être dépensé de façon judicieuse, et Dieu seul sait que les télédiffuseurs ont plein d'autres endroits où est-ce qu'ils peuvent mettre cet argent-là et qui sont peut-être des besoins pour eux qui sont considérables.
6251 Mais de notre point de vue, c'est important que si on permet d'avoir accès à cet argent-là qu'il faut mettre des conditions, parce que s'il n'y a pas d'obligations, il n'y a pas nécessairement d'exécution.
6252 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Merci beaucoup, Monsieur Lévesque.
6253 LE PRÉSIDENT : Suzanne?
6254 CONSEILLÈRE LAMARRE : Merci, Monsieur le Président.
6255 Monsieur Lévesque, j'aurais une question de précision pour vous.
6256 Dans votre présentation quand vous dites que la réalité est que le contenu canadien a perdu sa place à la télévision, l'évaluation que vous en faites, est-ce qu'elle est la même pour la télévision anglophone que pour la télévision francophone?
6257 M. LÉVESQUE : Évidemment, quand j'ai dit ça, j'ai parlé de contenu canadien at large, si vous me permettez l'anglicisme. C'est clair qu'en termes... puis là, évidemment, si on compare les télévisions et anglophones locales et chaînes spécialisées, c'est clair qu'il y a une différence en termes de contenu canadien par le fait que, du côté francophone, il y a moins de contenu, si on veut, original... pas original, mais, en fait, il y a plus de contenu original francophone qui vient, par exemple, du Québec ou des communautés minoritaires francophones.
6258 Par contre, ce qu'on remarque beaucoup, et qui a changé depuis plusieurs années, qui est triste, c'est qu'on a de plus en plus d'émissions américaines qui sont présentées dans les chaînes francophones, qui des fois ne sont même pas traduites... non, pas traduites... qui sont même... comment est-ce que je peux dire ça... qu'il n'y a pas de traduction en français, mais qui vont être sous-titrées simplement en français, parce que les gens n'ont pas... les sous ne sont pas là pour pouvoir avoir quelque chose de complètement en français.
6259 Donc, de ce côté-là, c'est clair, que ce soit en français ou en anglais, il y a une diminution du contenu, mais qu'elle est peut-être beaucoup plus marquée du contenu américain... anglophone à cause de la présence américaine.
6260 CONSEILLÈRE LAMARRE : Je vous remercie.
6261 Merci, Monsieur le Président.
6262 LE PRÉSIDENT : O.K. Merci pour votre présentation.
6263 M. LÉVESQUE : Merci beaucoup.
6264 LE PRÉSIDENT : Madame la Secrétaire, procédons.
6265 LA SECRÉTAIRE : Merci, Monsieur le Président.
6266 I would now invite the Ottawa Food Bank and the Salvation Army to come to the presentation table as a panel.
6267 THE SECRETARY: We will start with the Ottawa Food Bank. Please introduce yourself and your colleague and you have 10 minutes for your presentation. Thank you.
6268 MR. TILLEY: Mr. Chair, Mr. Vice-Chair, Commissioners and other members of the CRTC hearing committee, my name is Peter Tilley. I'm the Executive Director of the Ottawa Food Bank.
6269 I'm accompanied today by our volunteer Treasurer of our board of directors, Barbara Carroll. Ms Carroll is also the Coordinator of the Debra Dynes Family House, one of our programs in our community.
6270 We want to thank you first off for the invitation to speak before you today and assure you that we're here to let you know that local TV matters and is of critical importance to an organization like the Ottawa Food Bank.
6271 I know you've had a long week, so I assure you I didn't bring food here to feed you but I have here beside me a 10-pound bag of food and in it are items like cereal -- that doesn't weigh much -- spaghetti noodles, beans, tuna and many other items.
6272 Why that's important is at this moment, as I'm speaking to you, 60,000 pounds of food is currently being unloaded at our Michael Street warehouse doors and this food has come in as the result of yesterday's 'A' Morning - Bob FM Food Drive, along with $20,000 in financial support. We could spread this out 6,000 times and that's how much food came in as the result of a local food drive just yesterday.
6273 It was suggested to me that perhaps I bring an itemized list of the number of times that one of our local television stations has been there to assist us, but I assure you if I have to do that and go into detail about each and every time and each and every experience where we've been assisted, we would be here for five to seven hours, rather than the seven minutes you've allotted me to speak today.
6274 I do have one other example that I would like to share with you that I believe could only happen as the result of the interest, concern and initiative of local television.
6275 It was back in the morning of December 5th, 2006, when an 'A' Channel reporter, Annette Goerner, was in the Ottawa Food Bank warehouse to do a small story on one of our volunteers. The cameraman, Mike, commented to me that he had never seen the shelves so bare at the Food Bank in December. We had been concerned ourselves at the Ottawa Food Bank that we might not be able to meet our commitment to the people in need in our community.
6276 By midday, that instead was the story that was running on the 'A' Channel news and by 3 o'clock that afternoon, CTV Ottawa news anchor Max Keeping called me himself to see if he could help. I was interviewed live from the warehouse floor by Mr. Keeping that night on the 6 p.m. news and a reporter from the Ottawa Citizen called me at home that evening, who had seen that broadcast, and the story appeared on the front page of the Ottawa Citizen's City section the very next day.
6277 Over the course of the next few days, cars, vans, and truckloads of food poured into our warehouse. Within just five days, $80,000 in additional online and phone-call donations came in as a result of the awareness suddenly generated. In many ways, not only was December and beyond saved for us at the Ottawa Food Bank back in 2006, but more importantly, we could now be there for the 43,000 people per month that we must feed, 16,000 of whom are children.
6278 These instances that I've mentioned are only two of the many examples I could give you in which local television has impacted on our organization. There are countless others and I would be willing to summarize these for you at any time should you request that but at this time I would like to pass the microphone over to our volunteer Treasurer, Barbara Carroll.
6279 MS CARROLL: Good morning. Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you this morning.
6280 As Peter mentioned, I am the Treasurer of the Ottawa Food Bank. I also coordinate an agency in the city that is feeding 1200 to 1500 people a month, so a very grassroots organization.
6281 The reality is that, as a large non-profit organization in the City of Ottawa, providing emergency food assistance to over 135 agencies, the Ottawa Food Bank needs the support of local television and other media and telecommunications partners. We simply cannot manage without them. Their support directly and indirectly is key in helping the individuals, families and children that we assist. However, they do this in very different ways.
6282 Local TV has an immediacy. It is a trusted resource for information and has often demonstrated its ability to respond quickly and efficiently to crisis situations.
6283 Local television is a community hub that increases awareness and education on issues that are important locally and can significantly impact on the lives of those in a particular area or region.
6284 Local television is multifaceted in its ability to engage and gather responses from its viewing audience.
6285 Local television, on a daily basis, connects to its audience and brings its message to the general public through live broadcasts, in-depth interviews, news items and partnerships with local radio and leverage with local newspapers.
6286 In this city, local television is a trusted and accessed resource for the community that cannot be replicated.
6287 In our 25th Anniversary year at the Ottawa Food Bank we have much to be grateful for in our partnerships with telecommunications companies and our local television partnerships. However, the direct contact and trust with the community that has been built by local television cannot, in our opinion, be replicated or easily replaced.
6288 Local television is a unique partnership and a resource for the Ottawa Food bank and its member agencies. There is nothing, in our opinion, in the current diversification of media in Canada that replicates it or is as effective in reaching across all sectors locally.
6289 Thank you again for this opportunity to speak to you. It is our hope that we have been able to bring a perspective to these hearings that is reflective of the value and impact that local television has in the lives of people in our communities that need our support. Thank you.
6290 THE SECRETARY: Thank you.
6291 We will now proceed with The Salvation Army presentation. Please introduce yourself and you have 10 minutes.
6292 MR. MURRAY: Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Members of the Commission. My name is Captain John Murray and I am joined this morning by my colleague Michael Maidment, The Salvation Army's Federal Government Liaison Officer who is based here in the National Capital Region.
6293 The Salvation Army is grateful for the opportunity this morning to present to the CRTC Commission in support of Local Television, and certainly at the outset please accept our thanks for your time today and for this opportunity.
6294 I thought it would be helpful just from the outset to share a little bit of the background of The Salvation Army so you can understand the context of how local television is important to us as an organization.
6295 The Salvation Army was established in 1882 in London, Ontario and since that time our organization has grown to become the largest non-governmental provider of direct social services in Canada, helping more than 1.5 million Canadians annually in 400 communities across Canada. So when you take that into consideration, you can understand the importance and significance of local television to our organization.
6296 As part of our commitment to people in the communities in which we work, The Salvation Army operates one-third of all shelter beds in Canada, providing more than 2.6 million bed nights per year. Similarly, The Salvation Army provides more than 2.3 million meals to the hungry through community feeding programs.
6297 The Salvation Army's brand promise is quite simple, it is "Giving Hope Today." It is one that conveys the essence of the immediate and it also provides encouragement to clients and supporters alike as together we work toward building stronger communities and a brighter future.
6298 Many of the clients that The Salvation Army serves are the marginalized, the working poor and new Canadians, and the element of hope and immediate impact to those who are suffering is significant.
6299 The Salvation Army is a direct service provider and certainly not a funding agency, and as such we rely on personal, government and corporate/community partnerships as we seek to reduce poverty and eliminate homelessness across Canada.
6300 I respectfully suggest to you today that local television stations need to be financially viable because community organizations like The Salvation Army would lose a very real and close connection to the general public if they were forced to close.
6301 Canadians today are interested in their communities. We understand that because as an organization, we work in 400 communities across Canada. Those communities are the places that that they live, the places that they work and raise their families, and local television stations under the significance of community partnerships and investment in the lives of those in the communities in which they broadcast.
6302 Having lived in the Maritimes, British Columbia and Toronto, I know personally of the local community impact of local television in the Maritimes with the Christmas Daddies program, having lived and worked in Sydney, Nova Scotia, and the partnership of newscaster Bill Good in CTV in Vancouver, local community partnerships that help build stronger communities by engaging viewers in the work of organizations like the Salvation Army.
6303 But I think a very unique perspective for all local television stations are their on-air personalities. They have a unique two-way relationship with their viewers and those people devote countless hours and resources to many charities and cultural institutions in the communities where they live and they work.
6304 But let me give you a very specific example here this morning.
6305 For 14 years CTV has partnered with the Salvation Army in Toronto to provide thousands of families and children with the Christmas experience through the partnership of the CTV Toy Mountain campaign.
6306 In 2008 CTV on-air personality Tom Brown and the CTV Toronto team and their viewers help to raise over 103,000 toys with a value of $2.4 million in the GTA. Toys were distributed to single parent families, the working poor and new Canadians, families that otherwise would not have enjoyed a Christmas experience.
6307 Throughout December for example the CTV team does live nightly hits from Oakville right through to Oshawa. Locations vary from schools and malls, theatres and corporate and family Christmas parties. They are right into the community, into the social fabric of their viewers.
6308 Through these events, viewers are engaged in the work of our organization and the lives of the marginalized of their community.
6309 But this is about local television, it's not just about CTV, of course.
6310 The Salvation Army partners with Global, when we think of the work that they do for us across the country as they help us advertise our Santa Shuffle, which is a family fun run that we do every year in 35 cities across Canada, engaging 10,000 runners from coast to coast helping the Salvation Army raise $500,000 to invest in the lives of people right here in community.
6311 When we think of course of Focus Ontario and that show on Global that helps raise the issue and keep in front of people the matters of poverty and homelessness, sexual and human trafficking and addictions. Those are ways that local television helps to keep those important issues top of mind with the Canadian public.
6312 And of course CBC television and radio, again they help us continue to communicate those top of mind messages to a very broad and wide-ranging audience.
6313 In all, local news coverage, be it Global or CBC or CTV, inform community about our programs and services, advising viewers about the significant work of organizations and our organization in the area of poverty reduction, homelessness and addictions.
6314 We believe that the lack of availability of local television services would have a negative impact on consumers, not only from a news perspective, but also with respect to their awareness of local charities and community events.
6315 Canadians today are keenly interested in their community and the loss of community television would be detrimental to keeping communities informed and connected.
6316 As the largest non-governmental provider of direct social services in Canada, the Salvation Army relies on local television, those local television partnerships to communicate a message of hope and help to those in our communities who daily struggle to survive.
6317 As a faith-based not-for-profit organization, the Salvation Army must also self-fund many of the programs and services that we provide to Canadians. As such, we rely on local television to assist us in publicizing our fund-raising initiatives and community events throughout the year.
6318 Local stations assist us in ensuring that members of our community are informed about Salvation Army fund raising events and encourages their participation and support.
6319 Mr. Chairman and Members of the Commission, in closing I would suggest to you that the Salvation Army believes in community and we understand firsthand the importance of local television. We believe that local television helps keep people connected, helps to build stronger communities and it is a bridge to those who have capacity and interest in partnering with cultural and charitable organizations like the Salvation Army.
6320 Local television does matter to the Salvation Army and to those that we serve.
6321 Thank you.
6322 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you for your presentations.
6323 You both make a very eloquent case for the need for local TV and how it contributes to your efforts to help the marginalized.
6324 MR. MURRAY: Thank you.
6325 THE CHAIRPERSON: As you know, we have been asked by the Order in Council to focus on the affordability, so let me put that to you because that is the other side of the coin.
6326 We are talking here about value for system and something to be negotiated between broadcasters and cable companies or satellite which will result in a fee which undoubtedly they will pass on to the consumer, it goes without saying. If you are in business and you have a cost you pass it on to your end customer.
6327 Nobody quite knows what that is. The argument basically goes that conventional television is compensated in kind through many things such as the substitution of commercials, mandatory carriage as part of basic, et cetera. They claim it's not enough and we need more, we want to be like specialty channels get, like Home and Garden or Food Channel. So nobody knows what the fee is.
6328 If you look at the fees that the specialty channels get, which ranges anywhere from $.07 to about $.75, it seems to me it is going to be somewhere in that range. Let's assume for argument sake it's $.25, which means how many local signals do you have, multiply that by $.25 and, you know, it is going to be a charge anywhere from $1.00 to $2.00, depending where you live.
6329 Is that something that would be affordable? I am thinking particularly of your clientele, you know, the marginalized, the people who are struggling, et cetera.
6330 What does that mean for them?
6331 MR. TILLEY: Do you want to take this one?
6332 MR. MURRAY: Well, certainly from the Salvation Army's perspective, we don't want to see anything impacting those we serve negatively in any way but to, be quite honest with you, the loss of community television to Canadians I think would have a much more significant impact to those that we serve.
6333 As an individual I certainly don't want to pay any more already then I pay for subscriber services. That said, if I know that that perhaps $2.00 additional cost to my monthly bill could help reinvest in the lives of people and keep the partnerships alive that we have, absolutely I would pay that $2.00.
6334 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
6335 Food Bank...?
6336 MR. TILLEY: Well, again, as an individual myself I will answer your question directly, I would pay that.
6337 I am an avid TV viewer, I have a 14-year-old daughter, but I am not here to speak as an individual, I am here to speak on behalf of the Ottawa Food Bank and we feed 43,000 people a month in this region and, trust me, we have seen how they struggle to make ends meet.
6338 Nobody wants to go to a Food Bank, nobody wants to go to the Salvation Army, they are already facing demands, so to add $2.00 onto their plate is certainly a challenge that I don't think any of our beneficiaries want to see.
6339 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
6340 Listening to you it struck me, you know, when you point to the figures you raise in the amount of food and money you raise, and obviously there is a great need for it, what is going to happen in a city like Brandon which lost their local TV. The Food Bank of Brandon, what are they going to do?
6341 So that's what one has to put into perspective and I gather you say if that's the draconian choice that you face, you would rather pay the $2.00 than to see the local station close?
6342 MR. MURRAY: Absolutely.
6343 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, okay.
6344 Thank you.
6346 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: I have no additional questions.
6347 I thought that your presentations were very effective and obviously a very serious subject.
6348 Thank you very much.
6349 MR. MURRAY: Thank you.
6350 THE CHAIRPERSON: Steve...?
6351 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: I also have no questions, Mr. Chair.
6352 I would just like to say that I also thought they were very effective presentations and I commend you both on your work across the country. It is very needed and very well done.
6353 MR. MURRAY: Thank you very much.
6354 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you for taking the time and bringing this very eloquent message to us. We appreciate it.
6355 Thank you.
6356 MR. MURRAY: Thank you.
6357 MR. TILLEY: Thank you.
6358 THE CHAIRPERSON: Let's take 10 minutes before we go on with the next one.
--- Upon recessing at 0954
--- Upon resuming at 1009
6359 THE SECRETARY: Please take your seats.
6360 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Madam la Secrétaire, commençons.
6361 THE SECRETARY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
6362 I will now invite YWCA Edmonton who is appearing via videoconference from Edmonton, Mediac Inc. and Canouma Cable Systems Ltd. to make their presentation as a panel.
6363 We will hear each presentation which will then be followed by questions by the Commissioners to all participants. We will begin with the presentation of YWCA Edmonton. Please introduce yourself and you have 10 minutes.
6364 Thank you.
6365 MS NIEMEIR: Thank you.
6366 Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Vice-Chairmen and Commissioners. I'm speaking to you from Edmonton.
6367 My name is Amber Niemeir and I'm here representing the YWCA Edmonton. We are a non-profit agency that's been providing vital services and programs to the people of Edmonton for over a century.
6368 I take great pride in the longevity of our organization and this endurance is due in large part to the YWCA's ability to adapt to the changing needs of our community evolving, just as this city and its people evolve.
6369 We take exceptional pride in being innovative, efficient and proactive when it comes to the issues facing our community. We also take great care to listen to local voices as this is essential to fully understanding an issue and in developing an appropriate solution.
6370 We also understand that the solution proposed to address an issue in Edmonton may not solve a similar issue in another community. This is why accurate local information and clear local opinion is so important to the YWCA and those we serve; a local voice, a local perspective.
6371 Our city has received these necessities from our local television stations for many years and not just a single perspective but many, as we have several local stations in our market. Having several strong stations in our city provides a good measure of accountability and competition, ensuring that the product Edmontonians receive is of the highest quality with each station striving to best represent the uniquely Edmonton point of view.
6372 This is evidenced by the fact that the top two most-watched shows in our city are Global's News at 6:00 and CTV's News at 6:00.
6373 Now, as a person of the digital age I am one who embraces new technologies. I'm always seeking to exploit these in a manner that best benefits the WYCA Edmonton and those who need our services. I know how to find almost anything online, how to connect with social media, how to optimize a website so it's easily found by a search engine, how to develop an effective outdoor advertising campaign, and much more.
6374 I'm a lover and connoisseur of all means of communication and this passion has led me to understand that no medium is as universally friendly as television and there are still many people who rely on local television programming to understand current affairs, to find help or to enjoy a sense of community and longing.
6375 More than this, though, there are those who would face consequences if they were to be discovered reaching out for help. The YWCA Edmonton is a cornerstone agency in our city when it comes to breaking the cycle of family violence. Many of the women who arrive at our doors have lived for years in constant and heart-wrenching fear for their safety and the safety of their children.
6376 I have had an opportunity to speak with some of these women, and in speaking to them many of them have said that they dared not turn to the web for help for fear that using search terms such as domestic abuse or family violence on the internet would leave an electronic trail that their partners might discover. Instead, our local television stations offered them the information they desperately needed without risk to themselves or their children.
6377 So our local television industry provides vitally important information and services to the public in Edmonton.
6378 However, these stations are not just an industry. They are more. They are the mainstays of our community. Local stations support countless non-profit organizations by providing visibility where there would otherwise be little or none, by providing invaluable information to the local public on services available for those in need, and by employing personalities who have become mentors to thousands, encouraging our public to get involved, to give where they live, to dig deep, to strongly support dozens of causes.
6379 And when push comes to shove on the issues the YWCA believes so strongly in, our local broadcasters have been more than willing to put their money, time and talent where their mouth is. A good example of this is the enough is enough campaign that evolved into a campaign entitled "Flight Violence".
6380 After a spate of senseless violent crimes in the summer of 2007 local television stations became deeply involved in helping the City of Edmonton and the Edmonton Police Department develop a campaign to bring this issue to the forefront of the community. Featuring local celebrities and leaders in our city, the campaign was conceived, produced and on the air in no time, all done for free.
6381 Local broadcasters provided all of the production, coordinated the production of print ads and radio ads. This campaign brought the topic of violence in our community right to the forefront.
6382 The level of attention and focus that was placed on this issue played a large part and led to the development of a major taskforce or crime prevention in our city which in turn led to the development of a far-reaching set of recommendations on how our city will address crime prevention in future generations.
6383 Local stations are pillars of our community. They are the venues through which we can express and promote our values. They are the trusted authority we turn to when critical issues arise in our city. They are the personally invested and firmly-entrenched sources of accurate and relevant information to Edmontonians. Their deep-rooted commitment to serving our community gives agencies like the YWCA Edmonton the opportunity to keep abreast of developing concerns in our city and to prepare appropriate responses to support our community.
6384 If local stations continue to be financially non-viable, local organizations like the YWCA would lose this necessary connection to the public. A lack of local services would have an impact on our city not only with respect to local news and information but also to the awareness and donations to local charities and community events.
6385 And the YWCA uses local television as one of the many tools to help shape its direction and the local stations in turn are invaluable in helping our agency provide support to the community.
6386 In listening to the various presenters and panellists this week, it's become clear that local television is more than just a TV signal. It's a part of our community identity and a cherished one at that.
6387 We have heard several solutions put forward to this Commission to address the issue at hand and the YWCA Edmonton urges the Commission to be courageous in their decision making and consider these concepts or others as a fair mechanism through which our local stations and all the many tangible and intangible benefits they bring to our communities can continue in a functional and profitable manner.
6388 Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak today.
6389 THE SECRETARY: Thank you.
6390 We will now hear the presentation of Mediac Inc. Please introduce yourself and you have 10 minutes to make your presentation.
6391 MS MILLIGAN: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners and Commission staff.
6392 As this is the last day of the hearing, allow me to wish all of you the best for the coming holidays. My name is Beverly Milligan.
6393 Thank you for inviting Mediac Inc. to speak today on the impact and opportunities the CRTC recommendations for implementing a compensation regime for the value of local television signals.
6394 But first a bit about Mediac Inc.: Mediac specializes in policy analysis, standards and best practices, marketing and research in the area of all broadband activities related to the creation and delivery of accessible content. By accessible I'm referring to broadcast content that can be understood by Canadian consumers with hearing or visual impairments as well as by those learning English and French as a second language.
6395 As the President and CEO of Mediac, I have 25 years of working first as an accessibility advocate, then as the head of an on-air captioning, sales and brokerage firm, as a creator and owner of the existing captioning standard from which the CAB currently works and, finally, now as a business-to-business consulting firm with the broadcast expertise in accessibility which is needed by one-fifth or 20 percent of the North American population.
6396 My main purpose in wanting to appear before you is to emphasize the importance of continuity of enforcement by the CRTC in its regularity approach to broadcasting. More than 30 years ago in mid-July 1971, the Commission concluded that broadcasting cannot survive by technology alone and that the most perfect electromagnet signal into every Canadian home is without value unless it bears a message. And based on this conclusion you set the priority carriage requirements for cable system's basic service.
6397 In particular, you said that while cable television operators may argue they are really only selling an antenna service sophisticated as it is, the subscribers are buying not antennas but programs and that cable systems should pay program suppliers because one should pay for what one uses in one's business.
6398 But in the 1970s the CRTC did not enforce its user pay policy because TV stations earned more than three times as much as cable companies. But with the precedence of pass through and non-pass through fees in more recent years and the financial strength of our BDU sector, you are well placed to re-evaluate this decision.
6399 To Mediac, the issue is not whether BDUs should pay TV broadcasters but whether you should enforce your own previous decisions while ensuring that the rates subscribers pay are fair and reasonable.
6400 In the coming years, our broadcasting system needs regulation that is not just based in public policy serving the public interest but that is also actually enforced. Regulation that is not enforced or that is enforced to the benefit of one sector alone will weaken our broadcasting system.
6401 As matters now stand in 2009, the tables have turned between BDUs and TV stations. BDU revenues are more than twice as large as the country's TV station's revenues and the stations inability to access a revenue source you promised almost four years ago is now affecting their very existence.
6402 Imagine then, how this will affect the industry to feed into these larger TV companies whose existence is threatened.
6403 We begin our impact analysis with some facts about accessibility in the context of existing CRTC policy and then move onto opportunities.
6404 First, to state the obvious, you have recognized without accessibility mandated through conditions of licence and decisions like 2009-430 Canada's broadcasting industries do not voluntarily provide accessible content to consumers. Without regulation we have negligible levels of descriptive video on SAP, poor quality of accessible content and, just to drive home this point, currently the lack of accessible content functionality on websites of broadcasters and BDUs for programs previously broadcast with accessible content.
6405 The wonders of broadband and wireless technology have inevitably created a disruptive innovation where industries, associations and business models either collapse or change significantly to address the rapidly-shifting economies. We should also acknowledge that approximately 95 percent of all accountability for accessible content rests with a Canadian broadcaster directly or through the Canadian Association of Broadcasters.
6406 Unfortunately, consolidated media ownership is changing the priorities of industry associations like the CAB, the Canadian Satellite Users Association and others. As these organizations change, their ability and mandate to address accessibility will also change.
6407 Similarly, your decision to deregulate advertising time has devalued commercial airtime, including the value of accessible content sponsorship airtime like closed captioning brought to you by. While allowing broadcasters to sell more advertising time probably seemed like a good way to grow their share of the advertising pie, the counterintuitive effect was to reduce the value placed on each advertising minute. And while organizations such as the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association will pickup some of the work previously done by the CAB and others, these organizations have little experience in broadcaster's approach to accessibility issues.
6408 Without thoughtful regulation founded on our past achievements Canadian consumers risk losing many of the gains that took so much effort to achieve. We therefore ask that your recommendations to the government ensure that visually or hearing-impaired consumers' access to their own broadcasting system is improved rather than diminished.
6409 Opportunities do exist for the CRTC to ensure accessible content continues to be solidly grounded in the coming years. The CRTC can invite the government to direct that if any sector of the broadcasting system obtains access to new revenues whether through advertising or compensation for value regime, a small percentage of these revenues can be allocated to a trust or a fund which would create, monitor and report on the implementation of best practice standards for accessible content, which would act on complaints and work with consumer accessibility organizations, and which would support the growth of an accessible content production industry through certification, workshops, dialogue and referrals.
6410 By adopting this recommendation the government could maintain and improve accessibility of content to one in five Canadians with visual or auditory issues like -- sorry, I have got a typo here -- times like these offer the best opportunities for change to benefit all Canadians and all industry sectors.
6411 Mediac therefore invites the CRTC to use this proceeding to report and recommend to the government the fundamental necessity of policies, standards, compliance, methodologies, liaison and support that consumers and producers of accessible content require.
6412 Supporting our no-cost proposal for funding and accessibility monitor will help the CRTC and the government ensure that all Canadians, not just those with excellent hearing and vision, can access our broadcasting system.
6413 Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today, and I would be happy to respond to your questions.
6414 THE SECRETARY: Mr. Chairman, I think that the next presenter, Canouma Cable Systems Ltd., is not here.
6415 Thank you.
6416 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for both your presentations.
6417 This is a hearing mandated by the government to inquire about affordability and the impact on the industry of migration to new digital environment. Obviously, you are both addressing the first point.
6418 Let me ask the question that I have asked basically everybody else. What is affordable here and what could people -- you both feel that local television is very important to your organization, to your clientele, et cetera. We have suggested there should be negotiations for the value of the signal and so far there has not been much uptake by the BDUs on this. But assuming there is you will have to come up with a number and where would that be.
6419 And just to illustrate it, what we have suggested is clearly the conventional television have some benefits right now, like clearer signal. They are part of basic so it means they have a huge number of customers and also that they enjoy the advantage of simultaneous substitution of Canadian ads for foreign ads for programs that are being shown at the same time.
6420 So there is really a question of what is the difference between the market value and what they get by compensation in kind right now; no idea where they come out. By way of some guidance we looked at some specialty channels who do not have these advantages, and their fees range from 7 cents to 79.
6421 So if argument's sake we say these negotiations come out at a quarter and then you would have to pay in each market by the number of local stations that you have that have local programming -- in Edmonton, for instance, I think it would be four stations and so it's a buck or it's a buck fifty, somewhere in that neighbourhood. Is that something that's affordable? Is that something that you feel we should report to the Minister is an amount that Canadians would or should be prepared to pay in order to retain their local TV?
6422 You go first.
6423 MS NIEMEIR: Okay. Mr. Chairman, I think that I speak on behalf of the non-profits and our view is -- so doing a little bit of quick math here -- it's early in the morning, but I'm coming up with a dollar twenty-five for five of our stations here if that's the case for argument's sake.
6424 I would suggest that if that's something that is agreed upon from the non-profit standpoint the amount of benefit to our community far outweighs the $1.25.
6425 As a personal consumer I think I might be -- I might be slightly irritated to find it on my bill but I would certainly realize that if that was what it was for, for supporting our communities and supporting the local television programs then I would not have a problem with that.
6426 But certainly, as a non-profit, the benefits far outweigh the cost of paying for local signals.
6427 THE CHAIRPERSON: So what's the bottom line; yes or no?
6428 MS NIEMEIR: Yes.
6429 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
6430 MS NIEMEIR: Yes, I would pay that amount. Yes.
6431 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, thank you.
6432 MS MILLIGAN: I would like to wear two hats; first the Mediac hat and then I will jump over to a consumer hat.
6433 The Mediac hat is, yes, absolutely $1.25, less just a little bit allocated to ensuring accessibility as a recommendation.
6434 As a consumer and on behalf of consumers, talking about that particular sector they are probably the most disadvantaged sector in terms of job opportunities, in terms of the ability to even access television in the first place through -- you know, having to go through multiple clicks in their hand unit to get to a described program or to ensure that the quality of the captioning is actually understandable and legible.
6435 Having said all of that, I think it's fairly safe to say absolutely yes if it means access, more access and better access for this particular consumer group, being the deaf and hard of hearing and the visually impaired.
6436 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
6437 Marc, you have some questions?
6438 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Good morning.
6439 Ms Milligan, your written and oral submission essentially frames its recommendations around the issue of enhancing accessibility requirements including descriptive video which, as you know, was the focus of a proceeding earlier this year. And I thank you for those.
6440 Can you tell me a little more? And I know you touched upon this in your answer to the Chair's question about the potential impact that a value for signal regime might have on consumers with special needs?
6441 MS MILLIGAN: Certainly. I guess what we're hoping is that as part of this value proposition that is put forward to government through a series of recommendations that part of that -- effectively what we have is we have two different industry sectors, the BDUs and the broadcasters who are on opposite sides of a position and that is where a certain amount of revenue is going to go, to which side of these industries.
6442 And, so, someone is going to win in all of this. Somebody will either not be giving -- will be able to keep the current revenue that they have, or they're going to -- somebody's going to get some new revenue.
6443 And it's within this context that the opportunity presents itself for something like accessibility which inevitably -- or accessible content, which inevitably is a difficult thing to look at from a broadcast perspective, from a business perspective. It costs and it's an add-on and there's still this misunderstanding that it's not providing information to 20 percent of the population, which is a big chunk of consumer group.
6444 So, the opportunity there is to make a recommendation that a small piece go to some kind of fund or trust where, in fact, whoever benefits that this fund be created and can deal with all of these issues.
6445 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: So, this fund or trust or pool of money would be specifically directed towards consumers with special needs, as far as their affordability needs are concerned?
6446 MS MILLIGAN: No. I think that it's -- no, it's actually -- this fund would be directed specifically to taking in complaints from consumers and working with them, educating consumers, supporting consumers, one thing, but it would also just as much be looking at things like best practices for closed captioning, a monitor from time to time to report.
6447 It would navigate through the convergence of telecom and television from an accessibility point of view and it would report to the CRTC on activities going on.
6448 It would --
6449 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Like a watch dog group; in other words?
6450 MS MILLIGAN: Yeah, absolutely, but it would also do a lot of support work, it could participate on standards.
6451 The consumer groups are consumer groups, they know very much what they need.
6452 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Yes. In looking at your written presentation I was a little unclear. You appear to be advocating for regulating cable and DTH rates; is that correct?
6453 In other words, you don't want any value for signal compensation regime passed on to consumers?
6454 MS MILLIGAN: Well, that would -- I think --
6455 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Do I read your submission correctly?
6456 MS MILLIGAN: If my submission said that I didn't mean to be that --
6457 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Well, it wasn't blatant, but I need to kind of figure out where you're going with this, so that's why I'm asking.
6458 Where do you stand as far as that's concerned?
6459 MS MILLIGAN: Well, I've just answered that $1.25 seems -- you know, yes to $1.25, but I also --
6460 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Where does that go, I guess, Ms Milligan; in other words --
6461 MS MILLIGAN: Does it go -- where...
6462 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: That $1.25, assuming that that's the number that you're discussing anyway?
6463 MS MILLIGAN: Well, it would go either to the BDU, I think there's precedent there in this particular area, or inevitably if -- it would have to be passed on to the consumer.
6464 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: So, you're not entirely opposed to the idea that this is passed on to the consumer, even those whom you represent as being particularly vulnerable?
6465 MS MILLIGAN: To be clear, I am not here to represent the consumer groups in general, I'm here to -- because I have an expertise. They would be at this table to represent themselves, and I guess that's another point, why it's an opportunity to have this fund.
6466 But to address your question quite specifically, which is what I think you're asking for, I think that let's just make up this number of $1.25, I think that the best thing for those that require accessible content would be that it wasn't passed through to them, absolutely, that would absolutely be in their best interest, and that the BDU absorb that cost, that said.
6467 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: All right. Assuming that there is something that passes on this to consumers, are you advocating some kind of protective measures as far as those with special needs are concerned whereby they might be protected from any increase to their own --
6468 MS MILLIGAN: No, not at all.
6469 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: -- ability to pay this?
6470 MS MILLIGAN: Not at all.
6471 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Okay.
6472 MS MILLIGAN: Just to -- if I could just take a moment to address why.
6473 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Sure, okay.
6474 MS MILLIGAN: Accessible content is part of the broadcast system and there's all kinds of -- I mean, deaf people don't use captioning as much as hearing people. Hearing people are using more closed captioning than deaf people just because the larger population of usage is used -- a larger population is using closed captioning.
6475 This is part of our broadcast system. It is systemic, it needs to be thought through in any policy decision which is what brings me here today. This is a big decision and I'm just flagging, let's think about accessibility.
6476 So, no, they don't -- they're part of the system, not to be excluded and silo'd.
6477 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Okay. Thank you, Ms Milligan, I appreciate you answering my questions.
6478 Mr. Chair.
6479 THE CHAIRPERSON: Candace?
6481 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Yes, I have a question for Mrs. Niemeir in Edmonton.
6482 You had a very dynamic presentation considering it's very early in the morning. Thank you very much. Yes.
6483 The Chair already addressed the theme of affordability, but I want to go a little bit deeper into it because you are willing maybe to pay $1.25 more, you as a person, but considering you are representing women also, okay.
6484 MS NIEMEIR: Yes.
6485 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: And that the notion of affordability could be different if you consider women as a group.
6486 Do you think that women have a different notion of affordability than men?
6487 MS NIEMEIR: Whoa, oh. So, you start out with a tough question. Thank you.
6488 Do I think that there's a different notion of affordability? No. Do I think there may be a different notion of value? Yes.
6489 I think that working for a women's organization and being part of sort of a global women's group, I do find that women hold in higher value some things than men and men hold different things in higher value.
6490 So, I would suggest -- and the reasons the YVCA is here to is because part of this local signal and part of that local information is all part and parcel of community and I think that both men and women, but women specifically do rely on the community to provide them with support when it's necessary.
6491 And, so, when you ask about value for signal, I would suggest that women absolutely believe that the value is there for these particular signals.
6492 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: And the affordability, the same thing for women and men even though sometimes women are in charge of the family and are single parents?
6493 MS NIEMEIR: That's true, and also because statistics show that women still traditionally make less per year than men and they do tend to manage household affairs, I would suggest, speaking on behalf of the YWCA Edmonton and the women that we strive to represent, that they would find this particular $1.25 not only affordable but a great bargain for the amount of support that they can garner through local television.
6494 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Thank you very much.
6495 MS NIEMEIR: Thank you.
6496 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you both. Those are all our questions. We appreciate your participation.
6497 Madame la secrétaire.
6498 THE SECRETARY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
6499 I will now invite Doug Assis, Peter Lowry, Barb Johns, Michael Peacocke and Dennis Watson.
6500 Our three first participants will be appearing via video conference from our Toronto Regional Office.
6501 We will start with Mr. Doug Assis.
6502 Good morning, Mr. Assis, and welcome to this hearing. You may now proceed with your seven-minute presentation.
6503 MR. ASSIS: Okay. Mr. Chair, first I'd like to thank the Chair, Vice-Chair and The Commission for this opportunity.
6504 My Name is Doug Assis and I work as a multimedia designer and editor for A London and Windsor which is one of the Broadcasters that will be affected by this Commission's recommendations.
6505 But today I'm here speaking as an Ontarian, a father, an immigrant and a consumer of television, and I will start by saying how appalled I am with what may happen to television in Canada if local stations are forced to go off the air.
6506 When the subject of this hearing came up a few months ago I felt embarrassed for not being aware that our local TV station did not receive any financial compensation for the content delivered by the carriers.
6507 I believe that I share this ignorance with most Canadians that use cable or satellite as source for television.
6508 Mr. Chair, I pride myself in being an informed consumer, one that avoids using companies whose commercial practices I disagree with. But in this matter this is not possible. The carrier signal is more than a commodity, it is a necessity and right now where I live I do not have a large diversity of suppliers.
6509 Okay. Pondering on this issue I quickly realized that for the 20 years that I have lived in Canada, my small family, as a group, have paid more than $20,000 to cable and satellite and not a single cent of this money went to pay for our local television where news represents more than 25% of our family viewing habits.
6510 The refusal of the carriers group to negotiate, and the to charge the consumer additional costs for this made me more eager to get involved in this process.
6511 I came from Brazil, a country where for political reasons intense media concentration happened in the 60s and 70s. A plethora of independent television stations and small networks were forced to conglomerate in three networks -- three or four networks.
6512 This caused cultural havoc and loss of national identity. Shows and news were generated in one city and broadcast to a population of more than 100- million souls living in an incredible variety of environments, culturally and geographically diverse.
6513 Suddenly the Amazonian girl and the boy from south Pampas were dreaming with the same life in Ipanema, and to boot they were speaking with the same accent.
6514 Twenty years later I'm witnessing the same concentration process happening in my new country and this is troubling.
6515 The forces acting here, as far as I can see, are economic pressure paired with corporate greed and arrogance, but the inevitable result will be the same: pasteurization of mass communication in Canada.
6516 With television reduced to two or three networks operating from a few large centres, lacking any financial incentives, networks will generate local content only if forced by law.
6517 Television in this context becomes a machine of social disintegration.
6518 To prevent such scenario, cable and satellite must pay local stations for their signals. This, plus the financial incentive already in place can make local stations more autonomous and then they will become laboratories for new media and fresh solutions for the whole industry.
6519 This will benefit all parties involved, more innovative and creative programming is what viewers want, and more viewers is what all the players in this game need in order to grow.
6520 Just to conclude the Brazilian saga, soon after what I'd described for happened, popular demand and pressure from intellectuals and educators in Brazil, forced a revision of licensing groups. It allowed for more local TV and more autonomy for that local TV and the opening of new independent stations and networks.
6521 Nowadays Brazilian television displays a wealth of nationally produced content that's a source of export revenue. It is my hope that we never have to reach such breaking point in Canada.
6522 Mr. Chair, this all may seem disconnected from the issue that this Commission is discussing, but I want to emphasize the importance of this industry to culture in Canada.
6523 Local TV with locally produced content is part of the glue that keeps our communities together.
6524 It gives us a sense of belonging, of sharing wealth and sorrow, helping each other in moments of crisis and celebrating our achievements. To exchange all of this for the convenience of on-demand programming or for Internet-based television, will only create a bigger and deeper problem.
6525 Internet video, that was proposal solution, demands an expensive connection, which in most cases comes from the same cable and satellite providers. It also requires an added appliance: a computer of some sorts and skills that not all members of our community have.
6526 This will create a new group of disenfranchised citizens.
6527 Cable and satellite have to consider local television as part of the cost of doing business in Canada. Good programming and sales creativity from all sides can balance any additional costs these new obligations may generate.
6528 Canadian consumers are demanding the right of their local TV and also they are saying that they should not pay a cent more for this.
6529 I believe they have already paid for this, now it's time for the industry to make a small contribution and keep our TVs doing what they do best: informing, entertaining and engaging our communities towards our common goals.
6530 Thank you again for this opportunity and I wish you good luck with the task that lays ahead.
6531 Thank you.
6532 THE SECRETARY: Thank you.
6533 Our second presenter is Mr. Peter Lowry.
6534 Mr. Lowry, please proceed with your seven-minute presentation.
6535 MR. LOWRY: Mr. Chair and Commissioners, thank you for this opportunity to speak.
6536 You asked four questions and these are addressed in October's written submission, but today in the few minutes allowed I would like to address these questions again in light of what has been happening at these hearings.
6537 First is affordability. You have been discussing whether people will be willing to pay 25-cents more or 75-cents more for their cable or satellite service.
6538 Some fail to understand why that is such a big deal. It is a big deal, and it's a very common one. The consumer is constantly nickelled and dimed. Things go up 10-cents here, another 30-cents there, it adds up.
6539 Consumers do not deal in the millions of business, they deal in coffee money. A loony here and toonie there is something we can all understand.
6540 The person who wrote the Order-in-Council might not know about coffee money. If they look up the 1980 election they will find that the Joe Clarke government was defeated in 1980 over a matter of 18-cents. It was coffee money.
6541 You ask about availability, but at no time in these hearings have I heard a proper definition of local television. It appears to mean something different depending on who is speaking.
6542 And then an inadvertently amusing presentation by a gentleman from Saskatchewan yesterday made the point perfectly clear that only his community cable people can really be called local.
6543 In terms of adapting to digital television, I am absolutely astounded that nobody in the Toronto area, for example, has figured out how to capitalize on the frustration people have with Rogers Cable.
6544 If I lived in Toronto today I would be engaged in building digital boxes to enable people to record over-the-air broadcast signals for probably less than six months of the rental of what Scientific Atlanta personal video recorder.
6545 I would provide a system that will let you record better quality signals on your high definition television than Rogers can send you, and the over-the-air signals are free.
6546 In terms of evolving business models, times change, technology changes, attitudes change and I guess the role of the regulator changes.
6547 The only thing I know for sure about your Commission's role at this time is that you are not responsible for television networks making money, nor would you want to stop the industry from evolving.
6548 You know, the Aspers never ask the Commission for advice when they maxed out their credit cards buying publishing companies as well as Canwest Global.
6549 You didn't tell CTVglobemedia to pay $153-million to grab the Olympics away from the CBC.
6550 It appears to me the only real power left to this Commission today is the allocation of spectrum. It appears to be your role.
6551 The best answer, therefore, to this fee-for-carriage request from the broadcasters might be for you to tell them to start living within their means or you will give those broadcasting licences to people who can.
6552 Another option is to tell them that if they want to charge the carriers for their signal, then you will not insist that the carriers carry their channels on basic service.
6553 If they want to be treated as specialty channels, please accommodate them.
6554 You seem to wonder why carriers such as Rogers and Bell ignore you. You license those carriers and then you let them pipe inferior television signals to their customers, charge whatever they want to charge and ignore their customers' complaints. And you call it deregulation.
6555 You really should decide whether you want to regulate them or not. Your half measures do not appear to be working.
6556 Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, your job is very interesting, but not all that complex. Technologies change and the players change. The business people you're supposed to regulate win some, lose some. Governments come and go. You are an independent body paid to look after the public interest. That is all Canadians can expect of you.
6557 Thank you.
6558 THE SECRETARY: Thank you, Mr. Lowry.
6559 We'll now proceed with our third presenter, Ms Barb Johns.
6560 Ms Johns, you have seven minutes for your presentation.
6561 Thank you.
6562 MS JOHNS: Good morning, Mr. Commissioners and to the Chair.
6563 My name is Barb Johns and I am a Canadian citizen and I reside in Ontario.
6564 I recognize that there is a problem with how funds are currently distributed to cable companies and to local and national television networks.
6565 I don't know what the solution is, I don't pretend to know, but agreeing to allow an increase of any amount to fall on the shoulders of Canadian citizens is not the answer. And this is about affordability. Find the money somewhere else.
6566 I'm a Rotarian in Oakville and I've had the pleasure of hearing the Honourable David C. Onley speak on two separate occasions when he's addressed Rotarians. Mr. Onley has stated that:
"Accessibility is that which enables people to reach their full potential."
6567 MS JOHNS: I believe the proposal of an increase in our cost of television is an accessibility issue for those with disabilities, accessibility to quality of life, because for many Canadian citizens television is the primary tool which enables these citizens to connect with the outside world and to continue to learn and remain stimulated while they pursue their dreams, their ambitions and strive to reach their potential.
6568 In his speech to Rotarians, Mr. Onley stated that there are one-million Ontario adults who are disabled and unable to find meaningful employment. He asked that Rotarians do their part to help these one-million Ontarians find meaningful employment.
6569 What do these people do when they're job hunting unsuccessfully, they watch television.
6570 For most of these Ontario citizens, this is their only form of entertainment and ongoing education.
6571 These stats are a matter of public record. According to the Ministry of Community and Social Services website, as of December 7th, '09 approximately 4.4-million people in Canada have disabilities, representing 14.3 percent of Canada's population and approximately 1.85-million people in Ontario representing 15.5 percent of Ontario's population have disabilities.
6572 I would like to speak on behalf of these disabled persons in Ontario and across Canada.
6573 I am a single mother of four children. Three of my children have recognized disabilities. My sons are 14, 15 and 17. They each have an autism spectrum disorder. Two have Tourette's Syndrome, one is hearing impaired, two have sensory integration disorders, two have obsessive/compulsive disorder. All three have battled depression and anxiety disorders.
6574 I receive funding to help with our household costs and I am grateful for this, but I am unable to work because I care at home full time for one of my sons.
6575 Even with special funding, our monthly income never outlasts our monthly expenses.
6576 My annual taxable income is about $22,000. My cable costs at this time are approximately $660 annually, that's the cost of basic cable plus some educational channels. I do not have movie channels, sports channels or digital receiver boxes. This represents over three percent of my annual income.
6577 The average adult on a disability pension in Ontario receives about $850 per month. The cost for basic cable as it stands now, where I live in Oakville, is approximately $35 per month. This represents at least four percent of their monthly income.
6578 To put this into perspective, 1.85-million disabled persons in Ontario must pay for their rent, utilities, phone, TV, transportation and food out of $850 a month. Increasing the cost for television for these individuals by even $1.20 and where I am it's going to be more like four to $6, for families with disabilities, for seniors on fixed incomes and for new immigrant families is not acceptable because this will be a financial burden that many cannot afford.
6579 As it is, many of these Canadian citizens are already marginalized and need to rely on food banks just to eat. Are you really suggesting that any annual increase can be absorbed by them?
6580 This may translate into three fewer days with food in their households, or having to forego the necessary security of a telephone, or maybe the ability to be able to get transportation to get to food, their medical appointments or job possibilities and so much more.
6581 Maybe you feel it's more acceptable to tell these people to stop watching television. I point out again that these Canadians do not have anything else to do. They cannot afford the newspaper, may have disabilities which prohibit them from reading, they cannot afford to go to the movies, they may not be able to get to their public library, public parks and certainly museums and theatres are out of their financial reach. Taking away their only form of entertainment and their only form of ongoing education is not the answer.
6582 I would suggest that funds need to be acquired through some other means or re-allocated by some other means.
6583 I do not have the answer to the problem, but I know that passing the cost along to those not able to pay is not the answer.
6584 For my three sons with disabilities, television is a God send. Just last week my 15-year-old said to me, I love TV, I learn so much, I learn lots, I learn tons from it. Will you take this away from him?
6585 We already use our local food bank, we accept hand-me-downs for clothing, we use our public library. Due to physical and emotional limitations, our time outdoors is minimal and my sons do not participate in organized sports. When my sons are not at school, we stay home.
6586 While we do other activities, there's always someone in our household who's watching television. Our favourite channels are the Weather Network, Discovery Channel, Family Channel, HGTV, History Channel and newly the Comedy Network.
6587 Every program we watch leads to a learning opportunity, every single one. As it is none of these channels are included with basic cable. Whenever we watch carefully selected mainstream television network TV my sons are able to increase their social awareness and learn valuable social cues as to how to act. Will you take this away from them?
6588 Twice monthly I take a shut-in senior with mobility issues to the bank and to do her groceries. She lives on a strict fixed income. She has basic cable, basic phone service and she pays for her living space. She scrimps and she saves over an entire year to be able to purchase Christmas gifts for her son, her daughter-in-law and her grandson. Her entire Christmas budget is a hundred dollars.
6589 As with so many other Canadians, her only form of regular entertainment and education is her television. An increase will mean less food in her cupboards or no presents for her family. Will you do this to her and countless other senior citizens in her same situation?
6590 Television is also a primary tool immigrants can use to help them to improve their English or French as a second language. They also use TV to become accustomed to our uniquely Canadian culture. There may even be programming available in their first language, if they're lucky.
6591 And last time I checked, we are a multi-cultural country which prides itself on accepting and including everyone. Will you take this educational tool away from them?
6592 Please consider carefully the impact your decision will have on those who may not be able to come forward and advocate for themselves.
6593 Please consider the needs of Canadian citizens over the needs of the cable companies and the networks.
6594 In a developed country such as Canada, television should be a right and not just a privilege for the wealthy. In particular, public television should be available to all.
6595 It's my understanding that with the introduction of digital television by 2011, it will no longer be possible to watch any TV without subscribing to cable or to a satellite service. This is not equitable.
6596 Please consider the one-million adults living in Ontario with disabilities who are not able to find work. Please consider the total number of Canadian citizens living with disabilities, 4.4-million people, 14.3 percent of our entire population.
6597 Please consider senior citizens living in our country on fixed incomes. Please consider new immigrants who need to become familiar with our culture and our languages.
6598 Please consider families with children with disabilities and please consider my sons, who will soon become adults. Please make your decision with these people in mind.
6599 Please put 4.4 million disabled Canadians, seniors on fixed incomes and new immigrants around the table with you as you investigate other methods for obtaining the funding required. Your decision will have a lasting impact on the quality of life for many, many Canadians.
6600 Thank you so much for your time.
6601 THE SECRETARY: Thank you.
6602 I would now invite Michael Peacocke to make his presentation.
6603 You have 7 minutes.
6604 Thank you.
6605 MR. PEACOCKE: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, thank you for the opportunity to appear at this hearing.
6606 My name is Michael Peacocke and I live in Ottawa.
6607 I have subscribed to satellite TV for several years now. Previously I was a cable subscriber for decades.
6608 I oppose forcing cable and satellite companies to pay local TV stations for their signals. My reasons are as follows.
6609 As a pensioner now for close to five years I have discovered that you pay more attention to your costs of living. The more costs that are under your control, the easier it is to live within your means.
6610 Many costs however are not subject to your control. These are often costs imposed by governments. Municipal taxes are one glaring example. They are going up rapidly, with no respite in sight.
6611 Pensioners do not want more government mandated costs imposed on them. If the cable and satellite companies are forced to pay for local TV signals, those costs would be passed on to consumers. As the Chairman said, it would be naive to think otherwise.
6612 Recently a 1.5 percent fee for the CRTC's Local Programming Improvement Fund has been added to my monthly bill. As I understand it, this is in addition to a 5 percent levy that is embedded in cable and satellite bills which is used to collect money to pay for Canadian programming and the cable community channel.
6613 As well, cable and satellite subscribers are forced to pay for many programming services, for example The Weather Network, whether they watch them or not.
6614 The mandatory fees and payments for programming services imposed by the Commission hit pensioners hard. If the Commission is truly interested in maintaining affordability it should not add to these by forcing cable and satellite subscribers to pay for local TV.
6615 The Ottawa metropolitan area is Canada's fourth largest in terms of population. There are three local English-language stations in the market that provide local programming, CBC, CTV and the 'A' Channel. The local programming that they offer is virtually all news and information. Their local programming hours have been declining and much of what remains is not really local at all.
6616 Take CJOH, the Ottawa CTV station as an illustration.
6617 In the evening local news hour the anchors introduced numerous stories that are national and international in nature. Further, the weather segment includes much more than local weather. As for sports, the majority of the reporting has nothing to do with local teams, if indeed there are any local teams included in the sports segment.
6618 CBC Ottawa claims that it recently expanded its evening news by 30 minutes to 90 minutes. Well, as a long-time viewer I can say that the reality is they have actually cut it to 30 minutes, which is then repeated twice, albeit live.
6619 The 'A' Channel eliminated its suppertime news hour earlier this year.
6620 The little local news that is on local TV in Ottawa can readily be found elsewhere.
6621 Local newspapers have much more comprehensive local news and sports coverage. They also provide it on their websites and increasingly those websites have videos of local news, once the sole domain of local broadcasters. Now the newspapers are giving us local news video on the web.
6622 Other websites provide the same weather and sports as the local broadcasters and much more.
6623 In addition, local radio stations provide local news and information.
6624 To be blunt, there is currently nothing unique or of special value in local TV programming.
6625 The local news coverage is essentially the same on all local channels. If there is a major fire, crime or traffic accident, all the local stations will have their news crews in attendance.
6626 Since local TV is really only a small amount of local news, and since that local news is basically the same on all the local channels, consumers, if they are given the choice, would never pay for all the local channels to see exactly the same news and yet that is what the broadcasters are proposing, compulsory payment for all local channels.
6627 There is a fundamental difference between local TV and the other programming services available from cable and satellite companies. Local TV is and will remain free for reception over the air.
6628 Why should cable and satellite customers have to pay local broadcasters for a service they provide for free?
6629 The local broadcasters recognize that if they are paid for their signals cable and satellite rates will have to increase.
6630 To address affordability questions that could arise because of these price increases, they have proposed that the Commission force all distributors to offer a small package of Canadian services, including all local signals at a regulated price. That price of course would have to include all of the new fees that would be received by the local broadcasters, as well as all of the other costs incurred by distributors to provide the basic service.
6631 In truth, the regulated small basic would simply create the illusion of affordability.
6632 Consumers spend much of their viewing time watching programming services that would not be part of the regulated basic. To continue with their viewing patterns they would have to buy the regulated basic and then other programming packages. The net result is that the vast majority of subscribers, including many low-income subscribers, would pay all of the additional costs incurred by cable and satellite companies if those companies were obliged to pay for local signals.
6633 Put another way, increasing the price of a small part of someone's diet and then regulating that price will not prevent that person from paying more to eat as well as he or she did previously.
6634 Mr. Chairman, you mentioned earlier this morning that the Commission is facing the dilemma of deciding whether to impose a value for signal regime and the resulting affordability issue versus the possibility of losing local TV programming.
6635 I think, however, as has come up sometimes in this proceeding, there are other options.
6636 As noted, local TV provides only a small amount of news and information that is truly local. Rather than force all cable and satellite subscribers to pay for this, why not pursue other options that would actually increase the amount of truly distinct local programming.
6637 If the major broadcasters will not continue to provide local programming for free, let others take their place. Those others will no doubt take up the very good work for the community that the local broadcasters are currently doing and, one might say, having watched some of this proceeding, it's apparent that the local broadcasters would not walk away from local programming in all markets.
6638 I recall seeing Mr. Asper here earlier in the week saying in Calgary they provide 30 hours of programming and they make money on it. So much of their local programming presumably will remain, even if there is no value for signal regime.
6639 Here is one suggestion -- and I think it builds on what has been mentioned to the Commissioners in this proceeding -- you could expand the community channel model, starting with making it more independent of the incumbent cable companies and then making it available to competing distributors, thereby increasing its availability.
6640 As several have already noted in this hearing, the community channel have much more local programming than do the local broadcasters.
6641 Once that's done, more of the 5 percent levy built into all cable and satellite monthly bills could then be directed to the community channel to increase the level of local programming.
6642 A low power over-the-air transmission of this enhanced community channel could also be considered to distribute the community channel to those without cable or satellite.
6643 In conclusion, I urge the Commission to recommend to the government that it not implement a regime whereby cable and satellite subscribers are forced to pay for local TV broadcast signals.
6644 Thank you for your attention to my presentation.
6645 THE SECRETARY: Thank you.
6646 Our last presenter is Mr. Dennis Watson.
6647 Mr. Watson, you have seven minutes for your presentation.
6648 MR. WATSON: Chair, Commissioners, good morning and thank you for the opportunity to participate in this very important hearing.
6649 My name is Dennis Watson and I have spent 37 years in the broadcast business.
6650 During my career I have worked at or consulted with almost 60 Canadian television stations in large and small markets from coast-to-coast. This work experience gives me a unique perception of the problems facing the broadcast business. but I am here today at my own expense as a consumer of television services and a resident of A community that can't imagine itself without a local television station to serve it.
6651 Commissioners, I have always felt that the main role of the CRTC was to ensure that all Canadians had the ability to share their stories and stay informed of the happenings in their community. I have always believed it's your job to protect and ensure that every community has a local voice.
6652 Isn't that what the Broadcast Act is about and isn't that what these hearings should be about.
6653 Like many, I watched the November hearings with great interest. A number of those who appeared tried to value a local TV station on the amount of programming that it produced. As broadcasters we learned years ago that it was more important to produce an hour of Canadian programming that people actually watch than 10 hours that no one sees.
6654 Many people were nostalgic for the good old days when stations produced numerous local shows to fill their schedules. But the reason TV stations stopped producing these types of shows is quite simply the public stopped watching them. I would argue that that is still the case and you need look no further than the lack of tuning to the cable community stations to prove this.
6655 The station that I manage produces over 16 hours of local programming per week, most of which is news. In addition, we produced or co-produced with community partners specials and features that we air at different times of the year.
6656 Despite the distribution issues we face, we are the most-watched station in the area that we serve and the local viewers spend 2.5 million hours watching us every week, and almost a third of that time, 785,000 hours, is spent watching local news.
6657 The consumers spend more time with us than the next four over-the-air stations combined and more time watching our local news than they spend watching the entire CBC schedule sign-on to sign-off seven days.
6658 But you can't measure a local station's contribution to the community on just the hours of programming that it produces. It is much more than that.
6659 Again, the station that I manage spends almost $10 million in the local community. We pay good wages and benefits to the staff of over 100 full and part-time employees. We pay property taxes, we buy goods and services, as do our employees. All of that $10 million is spent locally helping other businesses in our community survive.
6660 And those local commercials we produce and air, well, ask the local businessperson who advertises on our station and they will tell you the ability to advertise their product locally in highly viewed programming is critical to their success.
6661 But I think the biggest thing we bring to the community is that our station and staff last year alone supported over 700 community organizations. We donated our airtime as well as our personal time and our expertise to help make our community a better place for our fellow citizens. That is what local TV is.
6662 The loss of local TV would be a devastating blow to these organizations and to the community and I would ask you to just look at the thousands of letters that community leaders from coast-to-coast wrote to you asking you not to let their local station fail.
6663 Peter Drucker, the famous Harvard University professor who was considered by many to be the father of marketing, once said there is only one reason for a business to exist and that is to make a profit. If we accept that that is a given, we also have to accept that no matter how good the intentions of a broadcast company are, if they can't find a way to make money then sooner or later they will cease to operate.
6664 The business model on which the OTA broadcasting system was created is now broken and outdated and while it may have made sense when Ed Sullivan was popular, and maybe even made sense 20 years ago, it no longer works and if we don't update it to deal with the reality of today's world, then get ready to deal with the fallout as local TV stations are forced to close.
6665 The BDUs have destroyed the old business model which allowed TV stations to achieve profitability on advertising revenue alone. Many stations have no carriage on DTH and local consumers must forgo Amber alerts, weather warnings and local news while the DTH companies overstep the program rights of the OTA stations in favour of distant signals and masses of U.S. football packages and pornography.
6666 Cable companies now sell consumers distant signals in order to compete with the DTH services who have been allowed to blatantly disrespect territorial rights by making our local stations available right across the country. And in the end the BDUs increase revenue while the local station is pushed out of business.
6667 Commissioners, one quarter, one out of every four hours of viewing to the CTV programming in southwestern Ontario now goes to CTV stations from distant markets. We didn't lose our audience to a competitor, we lost it to cannibalization by our own stations at the hands of the BDUs who profit from it while we wither and die.
6668 Perhaps the best example of the current imbalance in the system is to look at Hamilton, where CHCH television with its rebroadcasters covering the province of Ontario was sold for $12 and shortly thereafter Mountainview Cable, which covers only a portion of Hamilton, I think 40,000 subscribers, was sold for $300 million.
6669 There is something terribly wrong when the company that makes and owns the product is given away, while the company that distributes what others own is sold for hundreds of millions.
6670 Having made my living selling time I understand how short seven minutes can be, so rather than rehash all the reasons why the OTA television industry is in crisis I hope we can just agree that it is.
6671 It is time for a new business model, one which reflects the reality of today's marketplace. TV stations must be allowed to negotiate fair payment for the product from the BDUs and the program rights of the OTA stations must be respected by all BDUs.
6672 TV stations are only asking for the rights to negotiate and to be fairly compensated for the product that they make and the programs that they own the market rights to. If the BDUs cannot recognize the contribution that the over-the-air television stations have made to their business success and pay them a portion of the fees that they already collect from the consumer, then the time has come to change how BDUs charge for local TV channels and for their own delivery service.
6673 Personally -- and I want to emphasize the word "personally" because this opinion that I'm about to give is different than the company I work for -- I would suggest an à la carte pricing system where the BDU would receive a monthly fee for running the fibre to the door of the satellite dish to the roof and then the consumer is given the choice of which stations they want based on a complete à la carte menu. Each station would be free to determine their asking price and the consumer would make the ultimate choice.
6674 The only proviso would be that the program rights owned by the terrestrial television stations must be respected in the areas they are licensed to serve.
6675 A system such as this would give the consumers the choice of which stations they wanted and how much their total cable or satellite monthly charges would be.
6676 A system like this would be fair to the consumers, fair to the broadcasters who produce the local news and own the program rights, and to the BDUs who distribute the products.
6677 Commissioners, the public could acquire the top 20 shows in Canada by buying as few as three Canadian stations and they wouldn't need to buy any of the U.S. networks in order to gain access to these shows, which brings me to my next point.
6678 Why do we as a country allow the importation of foreign signals? What value do they add to the Canadian broadcasting system?
6679 Perhaps at one time it could be argued that they gave the viewer choice, but that was long ago in a far different time when there were only one or two Canadian OTA signals to choose from. We now live in the 500-plus channel world and the choice is no longer a problem.
6680 It may be time to examine the relative value of having these signals as part of the Canadian system. Cable companies talk about the cost and the problems associated with simulcast and react with horror at the challenges associated with non-simultaneous substitution or blackouts. DTH companies have no room for local Canadian stations, but can carry multiple U.S. network signals.
6681 It's fair to say that all these problems would go away if NBC, CBS, ABC and FOX were not imported into our country.
6682 When you consider that the vast majority, if not all of the top 30 programs in the United States are already available on Canadian stations, that if paid to license and import these programs, you have to wonder what exactly would Canadians miss.
6683 Commissioners, my time, like that of conventional television, runs short. I believe that my community is a better place to live in because of the voice that local TV brings to the issues, challenges, tragedies and celebrations that we collectively experience.
6684 Frankly, my community will be impacted in a very negative way if the station that I am privileged to manage goes dark.
6685 I am confident that if given the choice consumers will continue to pay for their local station just as they do today, except in a new world where some of that money they pay will go to the broadcaster who provides the content, not simply into the pockets of the distributor. If I'm wrong then we turn off the lights, but the consumer, not the BDU, must be the one to make this decision.
6686 I look forward to your questions.
6687 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, thank you for your presentations.
6688 The five of you sort of cover the spectrum and you can see -- or I hope you can appreciate it's not an easy decision that has to be made because there are some very valid points addressed by all of you.
6689 But this hearing is actually not on the decision, as you know, but it is on the report that we should make to the Minister on two issues, affordability and digital transition.
6690 If I understand you correctly, you were very clear on that point.
6691 Ms Johns, you feel whatever the charge is it's not affordable and consumers should not pay it.
6692 I understood the last two gentlemen -- I don't know Mr. Assis and Mr. Lowry, where do you stand on the issue of affordability?
6693 What should we advise the Minister?
6694 Mr. Assis, you first.
6695 MR. ASSIS: I don't believe consumers should pay. I believe the cable companies, the carriers, built already enough capital that they should pay local TV as part of the cost of doing business in Canada.
6696 I believe the --
6697 THE CHAIRPERSON: That wasn't quite my question.
6698 MR. ASSIS: Sorry.
6699 THE CHAIRPERSON: Not whether they should pay, but can consumers afford to pay an incremental charge to maintain their local TV.
6700 That's really the issue.
6701 MR. ASSIS: Yes, I believe they can. They shouldn't, but they can.
6702 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
6703 Mr. Lowry...?
6704 MR. LOWRY: Well, unfortunately, Mr. Chair, I live in Barrie, Ontario and the local station is irrelevant. We are part of the Toronto market and I don't want to pay for all your Toronto stations, no.
6705 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
6706 I don't know why you say "you", I'm in Ottawa.
6707 THE CHAIRPERSON: Anyway, I think on the view of Mr. Peacocke and Mr. Watson I am quite clear.
6708 Len, you have some questions?
6709 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and good morning.
6710 I want to ask each one of you your views on the community channel.
6711 I know Mr. Peacocke has made a point of suggesting it's a viable alternative and before I ask him a specific question I thought I would ask each one of you how you feel about the value the community channel provides today and whether it in fact can be an alternative for local programming, local expression?
6712 So we will start with the folks on the video, any one of you.
6713 MR. ASSIS: I believe it's negligible. I don't watch. And the rare times that I try to watch it was just selling houses. It was basically very -- hours of selling houses. I believe it cannot substantiate.
6714 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Ms Johns...?
6715 MR. LOWRY: I believe the --
6716 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Oh, I'm sorry. I'm sorry.
6717 Go ahead.
6718 MR. LOWRY: I believe the community channel -- we have Rogers Cable 10 in Barrie -- and they do far more local community programming than any of the over-the-air broadcasters.
6719 I would really wish sometimes they would get some quality to their programming, but at least they are trying, despite the poor quality. But we can get our local hockey games, we get our local council, we get our local news.
6720 For what it's worth, I would put more money into that.
6721 MS JOHNS: I actually agree with that. I think that our local television -- in my case it's Cogeco 23 -- I think it has a place and I think people do tune into it. They tune in to take a look at what the local events coming up are and they do watch the hockey games for the teams and they watch rotarians pitch about, you know, upcoming auctions and other service organizations.
6722 I think it has a place. So I think it's important to keep it because I believe it provides a perspective on Oakville that, again, as part of the Toronto market I am saturated with Toronto things but not with Oakville things.
6723 So I think it has a real place, but again it goes down to affordability and if in the end you are going to ask all of those people who are marginalized and who have difficulty making their budgets meet now to pay for that, then no, I don't think we should have it, which would be a real shame. I think that's a real shame.
6724 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Thank you.
6725 Mr. Watson...?
6726 MR. WATSON: I think I implied -- I don't want to cast aspersion on the community channel, but in our market 90,000 people are the average core audience to our 6 o'clock news. The half-hour show that the community channel runs gets 300 viewers.
6727 Further, there is an issue in many markets across Canada, particularly the small to medium-sized markets, on DTH. There is no community channel on DTH and never can be.
6728 There was a gentleman from Cogeco here earlier this week who talked about North Bay. Let me spend a moment on that. I have some knowledge of that particular market.
6729 CTV regionalized news for the North largely out of necessity. We were able to get Sudbury onto DTH at considerable expense to backhaul the signal from Sudbury to Toronto on fibre, but North Bay, Timmins and Sault Ste. Marie have no DTH coverage, with a population -- I think in the case of North Bay it's 47 percent in the extended market are relying on satellite.
6730 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Mr. Watson, you are here as an individual citizen not representing your firm and you are getting into specifics as to --
6731 MR. WATSON: I'm trying to answer your question by giving you statistics and data.
6732 But to answer your question, through DTH there is no local and community stations haven't been able to deliver a quality product that people watch.
6733 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Great. Thank you.
6734 Mr. Peacocke, you seem to advocate that there is a role for the community channel to play.
6735 MR. PEACOCKE: Well, I'm in the interesting situation of having been a cable subscriber for decades and, as I mentioned in my comments, I moved to DTH several years ago and it turns out I miss the community channel.
6736 As I understand it, part of the sort of fees based in your cable and satellite bills go into programming on the DTH site, if I understand it correctly, that 5 percent goes off to other things; whereas in the cable companies a part of it, two points I think, or something in that effect, goes into the cable community channel.
6737 I think it would be nice to have that community channel made available so DTH companies could put it up on their services and then bring it to more people, because I think now whatever -- maybe 20 percent of the people subscribe to DTH -- and they could perhaps do it.
6738 I can't run their businesses, but they could do it as we see CTV local news here in Ottawa on those channels where, you know, they pick segments and then bring those segments. Perhaps they can devote more of those to bringing us more community business.
6739 Because I guess my main point of my presentation is there is so little local TV programming, certainly in Ottawa, that when you watch it and you realize within the hours that they count as local programming, very little of it is actually local.
6740 So I think someone else should get to try it, if the broadcasters don't want to do it as they currently do it, for free.
6741 COMMISSIONER KATZ: One more question to you, Mr. Peacocke.
6742 On page 4 where you talk about the community channel model, you say one suggestion. The Commission:
"... could expand the community channel model, starting with making it more independent of the incumbent cable companies..."
6743 Are you suggesting we force them to sell off their community channel?
6744 MR. PEACOCKE: No, not at all.
6745 I know their facilities are an important part of it, but I would think if I was ever going to get it on my satellite company they wouldn't want it branded Rogers. I mean I doesn't seem to make sense.
6746 Most of what they do is the community channel programming so I would say if it was a model to be considered that they could allow some of that branding they currently put on it to disappear, but still have a role behind the scenes.
6747 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay.
6748 My last question is for each one of you and I think it's a pretty simple yes or no answer.
6749 You are obviously all subscribing to basic cable plus something else as well and within basic cable are the conventional TV channels. You use different service providers, Cogeco, Rogers and whoever else as well, satellite.
6750 If you lost an over-the-air conventional station because it went dark, unfortunately, would you expect a reduction in your basic cable bill? So whatever channel it is on there.
6751 MS JOHNS: Yes.
6752 UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Yes, I would.
6753 COMMISSIONER KATZ: One yes. Two yeses.
6754 MR. LOWRY: No.
6755 COMMISSIONER KATZ: No?
6756 MR. LOWRY: I would think of something.
6757 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Would you expect it though, is the question, not whether you would get it.
6758 You would not? Okay.
6759 MR. LOWRY: No.
6760 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Mr. Watson? Mr. Peacocke?
6761 MR. WATSON: Yes.
6762 There are so many other stations that provide the same programming, I guess I wouldn't expect much to happen, probably nothing.
6763 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. Thank you.
6764 Those are my questions, Mr. Chairman.
6765 THE CHAIRPERSON: Marc...?
6766 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
6767 I want to thank all the presenters.
6768 I only have two questions.
6769 Mr. Watson, do you feel that a significant amount of fairly popular online content would be lost in situations where a local station unfortunately went dark?
6770 In other words, being that those who produce online -- or produce conventional television content, like news content for instant, also produce content for online distribution?
6771 MR. WATSON: Yes. We have one of the most popular websites in our area and we populate it with our staff. So if we aren't there, it's not there.
6772 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: I ask because there is talk about having the Internet replace many of the local stations, and being that oftentimes you have producers who handle both content on both platforms I wanted some clarity around the fact that losing one means losing the other.
6773 I also want to address that question to Mr. Peacocke because I believe you also raised the issue of Internet content and being able to access that as a replacement, if I heard you correctly, for some of the online content that you have seen -- or television content rather.
6774 MR. PEACOCKE: Definitely, Commissioner.
6775 Again, when I was preparing my remarks I started to take a hard look as to what I watch on local news and, as I mentioned, I was a regular watcher, still am, of I guess CBC local news during the week. They don't have any on the weekend so I watch CTV. I used to watch the 'A' Channel, but that disappeared.
6776 But then when I started taking a closer look at what else is available I realized -- I was at the Ottawa Citizen website just the other day, they had sort of some video from what it was like to operate a snowplough during the recent snowstorm we had. They have interviews from people at City Hall.
6777 I said geez, I used to be able to get that from my local broadcaster. My local broadcaster seems to be providing less and less, maybe others like the newspapers are going to step in and provide more video.
6778 So yes, I think for young people in particular, as you read more and more about how much time they are spending with their smartphones and getting access to on-demand video, then other sources of local news, video programming will be through the Internet.
6779 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: But do you access much local content from the conventional media sites like CTV, like Canwest Global, like CBC?
6780 In other words, do you go to those sites in order to try and access local content?
6781 MR. PEACOCKE: I must say I don't. I would go to the newspaper sites. I find the newspapers, as I mentioned in my remarks, provide much more comprehensive news coverage, more investigative in-depth reporting, so I would go to those as my sources for online video.
6782 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Yes. But of course if you are on the Citizen site, for instance, you are accessing Canwest Global infrastructure as well and --
6783 MR. PEACOCKE: Fair enough. Fair enough.
6784 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: -- Globe and Mail --
6785 MR. PEACOCKE: Yes. Fair enough.
6786 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: -- and all those things.
6787 MR. PEACOCKE: Fair enough.
6788 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: So do you understand the correlation between providing local content to those sites?
6789 MR. PEACOCKE: I do and I take my seatmates' comments about how they put a lot of video onto their website and certainly that is valuable to the community, there is no question.
6790 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Those are my questions.
6791 Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
6792 THE CHAIRPERSON: Michel Morin.
6793 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Thanks, Mr. Chair.
6794 I have just one question and those who want to answer it, please do. It's a hypothesis.
6795 But if the Commission decides to put in place or to order the BDUs to have a skinny basic service -- I mean right now we have in every province a deluxe basic service. It has the name, but it's not basic because every BDU can add every channel on this basic and you pay for it.
6796 But if at the end of the hearing we will have a skinny basic service with, for example, TVO, Télé-Québec, the 9(1)(h) services -- the CBC, if the Commission doesn't recognize the value for its signal because it is financed by the taxpayer -- and those OTA broadcasters who can get value for the signal won't be in the skinny basic service, so the consumers won't have to pay for the deluxe basic service we have right now, because on this deluxe basic service CTV, Canwest and the other OTA broadcasters would end up with a value for the signal, so the skinny basic service will be, of course, cheaper than the one we know now.
6797 So what do you think about this skinny basic service which has been proposed by many intervenors here?
6798 MR. LOWRY: Thank you for the question, Mr. Morin.
6799 I would agree with you absolutely.
6800 The way you described it -- I don't believe it will happen, but the way you described it sounded very good.
6801 MR. ASSIS: I agree. I agree with you.
6802 MS JOHNS: I agree as well. I think a skinny basic service is going to allow disabled Canadians to more affordably at least watch some television and at that point they can make consumer decisions as to what networks or what programs in particular they could add to their skinny basic service. But I think that would help alleviate some of the affordability issues that I'm concerned with.
6803 MR. PEACOCKE: I would say a few things.
6804 On a pragmatic level I think it would require the Commission and the distributors to spend a lot of time sorting out what goes into that in each market --
6805 UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: It sure would.
6806 MR. PEACOCKE: -- working on the costs, because if these value for signal charges go into place, then those costs presumably have to be built into the skinny basic, then you have to figure out well, presumably the rest of the basic has to earn a profit for the distributor, so you have to figure out what all of that is.
6807 If the negotiations change the value of the skinny basic over time, you have to sort of reset the price and then what about inflation and all those sorts of things. So on a pragmatic side I would say there is a reasonably complexity there for the Commission and distributors and I guess those costs eventually get pushed back to consumers or taxpayers.
6808 In terms of would there be a take for it, hard to say definitively, but my sense is the viewership for the local broadcasters has continued to fall as more and more programming choices have been brought to Canadians through cable and satellite in terms of specialty.
6809 Many specialties of course, Canadian, and I think that's a big success. I watch lots of Canadian specialties, History Channel, Discovery Channel, it's great programming. It's Canadian, so I like that but, to be frank, will that take up the slack for many people, I was struck by -- I think her name was Marjorie Lemieux, when she was here on the BDU panel, she simply said, you know, she doesn't watch local and she would have to pay more or cut back if she was forced to take a skinny basic.
6810 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Because she wasn't interested.
6811 MR. PEACOCKE: She wasn't interested. So my sense would be if you go down that path -- and then I remember Mr. Asper quoting the example of EastLink where he said they offer a relatively small basic at $22, so he said you could cut that into Canadian at $18 and then the 4+1 at $4.00, so that's $22, but as I understand the model that $18 isn't going to be $18 any more, it goes up because of the value for signal charges.
6812 So if you want to get back to where you were in your old basic, you take $18-plus dollars, and then the $4.00 and you get to a higher number to get back where you were. So my sense, I don't think it's the right way to go.
6813 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
6814 Thank you very much.
6815 THE SECRETARY: Please open your microphone.
6816 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for having taken the time and shared your views with us.
6817 I think that terminates our proceedings.
6818 Right, Madame la Secrétaire?
6819 THE SECRETARY: No.
6820 THE CHAIRPERSON: You have some --
6821 MR. WATSON: Do I get to answer that question?
6822 THE CHAIRPERSON: Oh, my apologies. I looked up and I thought you were all finished.
6823 Go ahead, please.
6824 MR. WATSON: I'm feeling marginalized.
6825 THE CHAIRPERSON: You are not. You have the floor to yourself.
6826 MR. WATSON: Commissioner Morin, could I just get a clarification there?
6827 Did you say the skinny basic you talked about included the OTAs?
6828 COMMISSIONER MORIN: It will include the OTA if they don't get or they don't bill a value for the signal to the BDU. They will have to be carried on the basic service as it exists today, the basic we know, but this new basic, this new skinny basic service, if they don't charge any fee to the BDU, they will be under skinny basic service because it will be free.
6829 MR. WATSON: Okay.
6830 Obviously my proposal is the skinniest basic you can get, because there is just a charge for the pipeline and then you pick what you want.
6831 So to understand you, it's basically the broadcasters would make a choice between mandatory carriage or a fee?
6832 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Exactly.
6833 MR. WATSON: Okay.
6834 I can't speak for the company, but as a person that seems reasonable to me.
6835 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Thanks.
6836 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. I don't want to cut anybody else off.
6837 That's all the questions and responses?
6838 Thank you very much for participating in our process.
6839 Madame la Secrétaire, le dernier mot appartient à vous.
6840 LA SECRÉTAIRE : Oui, merci.
6841 Pour les fins du dossier public, le Conseil a contacté 46 citoyens qui ont demandé à comparaître à cette audience pour la province de Québec. Aucun d'entre eux n'a accepté notre invitation à comparaître à cette audience pour ce panel aujourd'hui.
6842 Nous notons que d'autres intervenants pourraient participer via la consultation en ligne du CRTC, qui se trouve sur le site web du Conseil. Cette consultation en ligne se termine le 21 décembre 2009.
6843 For the record, the intervenors who did not appear and were listed in the Agenda will remain on the public file as non-appearing intervenors.
6844 This completes the Agenda of this public hearing.
6845 Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
6846 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thank you.
6847 I want to thank everybody who participated in it. As you know, this is a hearing in order for us to answer the questions the Governor in Council posed to us and I think we are now very well equipped to do it.
6848 As I mentioned before, those of you who want to make additional comments on the two questions have until the end of next week. There is also the electronic.
6849 I also want to take the opportunity to thank my staff for having done as usual, a magnificent task to manage this. We had over 160,000 submissions on this issue, an unprecedented number of interventions, and it caused enormous work for all of you and I thank you for having mastered it so effectively.
6850 That's it. Thank you, everybody.
--- Whereupon the hearing concluded at 1138
Lynda Johansson Jean Desaulniers
Monique Mahoney Beverley Dillabough
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