ARCHIVED - Transcript, Hearing 29 April 2010
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TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS BEFORE
THE CANADIAN RADIO-TELEVISION AND
Review of community television policy framework
140 Promenade du Portage
April 29, 2010
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
Review of community television policy framework
Konrad von Finckenstein Chairperson
Michel Arpin Commissioner
Len Katz Commissioner
Rita Cugini Commissioner
Marc Patrone Commissioner
Peter Menzies Commissioner
Jade Roy Secretary
Rachelle Frenette Legal Counsel
Aspa Kotsopoulos Hearing Manager
140 Promenade du Portage
April 29, 2010
- iv -
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PAGE / PARA
TELUS 723 / 3782
Citizen Shift/Parole citoyenne (Institut du Nouveau Monde) 773 / 4072
Independent Media Arts Alliance 784 / 4119
Community Media Education Society 814 / 4269
E & N Cowan Communications Limited 821 / 4298
OpenMedia.ca 827 / 4325
Metro Vancouver Board 866 / 4552
Association of Chinese Canadians for Equality and Solidarity Society 874 / 4590
ICTV Victoria 881 / 4622
--- Upon resuming on Thursday, April 29, 2010 at 0903
3778 THE CHAIRPERSON: Good morning. Bonjour.
3779 Commençons, Madame la Secrétaire.
3780 THE SECRETARY: We will start today with the presentation of TELUS.
3781 Please introduce yourself and your colleague and you have 10 minutes for your presentation. Thank you.
3782 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: Good morning.
3783 TELUS appreciates the opportunity to appear before the Commission today.
3784 My name is Ann Mainville-Neeson and I am Director of Broadcast Regulation at TELUS.
3785 With me today is Prem Gill, Senior Manager of Content at TELUS TV. Prem leads the community programming initiative at TELUS.
3786 We considered it important for us to be here today because TELUS is one of the very few BDUs which has launched a video-on-demand-based community programming service, having obtained the necessary licence amendments in 2008. We have since launched this VOD community service in Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary.
3787 We feel we are experiencing success with this model of delivery. As a fully digital distribution service, 100 percent of our subscribers have access to VOD. Our subscribers are generally urban, early adopters of technology and who like the convenience of programming on demand.
3788 Let me now turn it over to Prem to tell you a bit more about the community programming we offer.
3789 MS GILL: Our community programming in each of these cities now features a flagship show. We have sought out prominent local broadcast hosts to establish an immediate relationship with the communities we are serving. I am pleased to say that Simi Sara, Dave Gerry and Tasha Chiu have joined our team as hosts of "myVancouver," "myCalgary" and "myEdmonton."
3790 Simi is a well-known Vancouver-based, award-winning broadcaster. Born and raised in the Lower Mainland she has done everything from hosting a talk show to morning television to anchoring the evening news. She has been a familiar face to viewers in the Lower Mainland for almost 20 years.
3791 Dave Gerry hails from London, Ontario but has spent over two decades as a Vancouver-based television journalist. His efforts at uncovering the hidden tales along British Columbia's back roads have netted more than a dozen provincial, national and international awards for excellence in broadcasting.
3792 Tasha is based in Red Deer, Alberta and covers the local scenes in both Edmonton and Calgary and has hosted local shows over the years on both Shaw community television and Citytv.
3793 We have revamped our community programming in January and to date we have presented over 200 stories, all offered in both HD and SD, covering everything from do-it-yourself tips from local experts to featuring local heroes and uncovering the "undiscovered" arts and cultural events in each city.
3794 Community programming is easy to find on our VOD menu and to give you a sense of how it works, we would like to share the following very short video we created for display on our VOD promotional channel, commonly known as the barker channel.
--- Video presentation
3795 MS GILL: We are actively promoting our community programming service. From mid-March to mid-April, more than 300 hours of community content was broadcast on our barker channel to showcase to viewers the great programming they can find inside the menu of the VOD service.
3796 We expect viewership to continue to increase as we add new incremental programming to the service as well as new genres and new formats. We are also seeking to include more access programming in our library of community programming. We have been outreaching to media training schools, community groups and independent producers to promote the opportunity to produce programming for the TELUS Community Programming video-on-demand service.
3797 We have received a lot of interest from various groups and institutions, including Active Citizens Television, Edmonton Film School, The Art Institute and Vancouver is Awesome, among many others. We expect to have some of their programming on our service in the very near future.
3798 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: TELUS views its community programming service as a natural extension of our philosophy that we should give where we live. This is not just a lofty statement or a sign on the wall at TELUS. In support of this philosophy, TELUS has contributed $158 million to charitable and not-for-profit organizations and volunteered more than 3 million hours of service to local communities since 2000.
3799 TELUS was honoured to be named the most outstanding philanthropic corporation globally for 2010 by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, becoming the first Canadian company ever to receive this prestigious international recognition.
3800 Our community programming budget uses the 2 percent of gross revenues as a baseline for community content but there are many infrastructure, equipment and staffing costs that are not accounted for in this budget. Moreover, we also provide financial assistance for media education and creation as part of our philanthropic activities. For example, our TELUS Vancouver Community Board has funded such projects at the Reel Youth Claymation Program where participants were offered the opportunity to learn filmmaking techniques such as how to create a stop motion animation using clay.
3801 The TELUS Vancouver Community Board also funded another project called B.C. Stories which enabled Aboriginal youth in 20 innercity classrooms to conceive, plan, shoot, edit and screen short animated films that speak about their history, language and culture.
3802 In Calgary, the TELUS Calgary Community Board enabled the Calgary Sexual Abuse Centre to produce video podcasts to provide relevant, accurate and non-judgmental information for youth about healthy decision-making around their sexuality.
3803 We are very proud of our commitment to the communities we serve and we value the opportunity to further strengthen our relationship with these communities through the provision of community programming.
3804 All in all, TELUS considers that the existing community channel policy has served Canadians well. Over the course of the hearing to date, we have heard much praise for the work done by BDU-run community programming services and the opportunities these services have provided to community organizations and local charities. TELUS submits that no fundamental change to the existing framework is needed.
3805 Some small tinkering with the existing policy, however, might further enhance the current contribution of community programming services.
3806 First, in order to better serve smaller communities, the Commission should allow BDUs to direct the full 5 percent contribution to community programming in communities where they have less than 50,000 subscribers. This is up from the current rule which allows BDUs to direct the full 5 percent in communities in which they have fewer than 20,000 subscribers. This increase would enable more local programming to be produced for these smaller communities.
3807 In addition, the Commission should consider opening up commercial advertising on community programming services. We consider this necessary for two separate but equally important reasons: to provide additional funding for community programming and also to provide television advertising opportunities for small local merchants and service providers that have little to no access to local programming for their advertising needs.
3808 These are just two small changes which might enhance the framework, which is otherwise working well.
3809 Thank you for the opportunity to be heard today. We would be pleased to respond to any questions you may have for us.
3810 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you for your submission.
3811 First of all, it is a pleasure to see you here. I think the last time I saw you a Jeanne Sauvé student in front of us. So I am glad to see it worked well for your career.
3812 MS GILL: Thank you very much.
3813 THE CHAIRPERSON: I am delighted to see that you are doing this video-on-demand because you have probably followed the hearing now and I have asked previous intervenors, isn't video-on-demand a more modern way to do community channels, and I got a resounding no from everybody, basically saying that, first of all, people want to watch things in a linear fashion, they want to have a fixed timetable when to see things and things are so hard to find. I mean if I am interested in a cooking show, how do I find it on video-on-demand?
3814 You obviously seem to have overcome these problems. Tell me a little bit how you overcome this perception that video-on-demand is not suited for community television.
3815 MS GILL: Sure. We actually have a really user-friendly platform and I think that is part of the first step of getting people in there and using the service. Much of our -- there are actually really simple things that we have done with the way we present our video-on-demand platform in general and then getting folks in there to try the community programming.
3816 There is one interesting thing that I noticed after I left Ontario and moved back to B.C., is that when you use the TELUS service and you go into the on-demand service you can still see the program you are already watching and you can still surf through the guide, if you choose to, while you are watching the video-on-demand programming.
3817 So it doesn't kick you out into another universe. So it actually is still keeping you within the entire TV platform so you have access to everything you are watching and you can flip back and forth from a program you are watching on demand to a regular show without having to go into a new system.
3818 I think it is actually things like that that keep folks from -- you know, it is less intimidating to use this service, first of all, from just a user-friendly point of view. And we do promote the service throughout our -- on our barker channel. We offer it -- we lay it out on a menu in a really simple form.
3819 THE CHAIRPERSON: What do you do with live events such as city council meetings? Do you show them with a 15-minute delay or something like this or how does it work?
3820 MS GILL: We actually don't do much live stuff or live to VOD. We haven't done any city council type of programming to date. There is some delay. So generally we try to -- you know, our programming is done somewhat in advance and because we are very much focused on the arts and cultural scenes and things that are up and coming it does get archived on the service.
3821 But we do have the ability, you know, if we want to, to produce the programming, upload it onto the service within hours if we need to.
3822 THE CHAIRPERSON: That is what I am talking about, because city council meetings and local political events is one of the -- apparently one of the great uses of community TV.
3823 If my technicians tell me VOD can't do it immediately, there has to be a delay, so what is the minimal delay that you have to have there?
3824 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: Another solution that we are contemplating for any live programming is to use a pay-per-view licence. SaskTel, for example, that is how they have set up their community programming service and as we have partnered with SaskTel to offer pay-per-view on a free basis, it enables us to have live-to-air programming.
3825 So we may, as we continue to add more programming, if we do have programming that will be live that we are likely to offer it in that form.
3826 THE CHAIRPERSON: So explain that to me. I go on your VOD, I look up city council and then it would take me over automatically to your pay-per-view channel?
3827 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: There could be various means of accessing. Certainly, you could get it through the interactive guide, so in the same way as any other channel where you would see the pay-per-view events coming there, or we may also have it on our VOD menu, so that would link you to --
3828 When you have an interactive platform, there are many different ways that you can arrive at the same spot and we are likely to make it as user-friendly as possible and probably having it both on the interactive guide, the channel list, and as a menu item on our VOD community programming because we are certainly hoping to drive people to go to that community programming menu as much as possible.
3829 THE CHAIRPERSON: Now, you mentioned SaskTel. Is this specific to you or could a cable company do the same thing?
3830 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: Well, there were certain licence amendments that were required of SaskTel.
3831 THE CHAIRPERSON: Never mind the regulatory matters. I am talking about technically.
3832 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: Pay-per-view is something that cable could do, I am sure.
3833 MS GILL: Just to add to that, as we continue to develop our platform, our technical folks are working on such things as what we call live-to-VOD where something can be recorded off air or let's say if we were taking a signal or we had a truck outside of the city council meeting, it can be encoded as it is being broadcast or the feed is coming into our head end.
3834 This is a solution we haven't implemented. We are still working out -- the engineer folks can speak to this certainly far better than I can but that is going to sort of be something that helps us get things, live events, as you say, on our service much faster.
3835 THE CHAIRPERSON: You have until May 17th. Do me a favour, explain this because my briefing book from my technicians tells me you can't do it. So therefore, it is very interesting how on a VOD platform we would deal with live transmissions. Thank you.
3836 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: Sure.
3837 THE CHAIRPERSON: Len...?
3838 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and good morning.
3839 I am going to pick up on the conversation you just had with the Chairman with regard to the VOD platform being used for community as opposed to linear broadcasting, which I think you said in your submission of February 1st you believe there is strength and benefits in the VOD platform over linear broadcasting.
3840 I just want to understand why you think the VOD platform is a superior platform for community programming than linear broadcasting is.
3841 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: Well, perhaps I would qualify it to say it certainly was a better platform for us as a new entrant launching a new community programming service where, like many new small BDUs, we would not have been able to create the amount of programming to have a full programming schedule on a linear channel.
3842 This has enabled -- by going directly to VOD, having menu items, not only does it appeal to our subscriber base, as I indicated, which is very apt with technology, likes the convenience, wants to break away from appointment TV, but it also allows us to be able to have a service without having a wheel that either is too repetitive or otherwise has a community bulletin board that just is constantly running. We would not otherwise been able to have a full schedule.
3843 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Do you think consumers are less interested in the appointment TV component of community broadcasting than the average person who is always looking for a television because you can then use your water cooler now, you know, the next day you all go to the water cooler and talk about the program you watched last night or the hockey game you watched last night or whatever?
3844 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: I think generally people are moving away from appointment TV. Overall that is what we are seeing and so that trend is also going to occur in the community programming sector.
3845 You know, to be honest, community programming is never the water cooler type of programming, so it doesn't require that kind of need to see it right now, at least not the type of programming that we are creating, which is really -- it may be topical but it is not necessarily hockey games, which, once you know the outcome, you may not watch.
3846 COMMISSIONER KATZ: How many hours of original programming do you actually do per day on your community channels?
3847 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: On a weekly basis we have about a little over three hours -- on a weekly basis.
3848 COMMISSIONER KATZ: That is different per city, Vancouver versus Edmonton versus Calgary?
3849 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: Yes. And each of those titles -- we also provide small titles. So we will have numerous titles that will be up but they are not all hour segments. We do have these new flagship magazine shows but we also have smaller titles which vary in range. They vary in duration depending on what time is required to tell the story. They are not limited to any schedule, so they may range from five minutes to 25 minutes.
3850 COMMISSIONER KATZ: So if you have three hours a week, the rest of the 165 hours is just on a reel, just repeating the same thing?
3851 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: There is no --
3852 COMMISSIONER KATZ: It is VOD, right.
3853 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: It is VOD. And that is exactly why having a linear station, I think, would have been very difficult for us as a new entrant to be able to launch at this early stage a community programming service. So we are able to offer earlier on in our business launch a service to our communities that otherwise might not be possible if we were stuck to trying to fill a linear schedule.
3854 COMMISSIONER KATZ: And your subscribers in, say, Vancouver who watch "myVancouver," can they access "myEdmonton" or "myCalgary" if they want or they cannot?
3855 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: Yes, they could.
3856 COMMISSIONER KATZ: They can as well.
3857 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: Yes.
3858 COMMISSIONER KATZ: It is all on the VOD. Okay.
3859 You mention in your submission of February the 1st -- actually in the introduction you talk about:
"...BDU-run community programming services now provide, [and you say] along with local Internet expression, an important platform for communities to be reflected in the media..."
3860 I spent about an hour yesterday trying to find "myVancouver," "myCalgary" and "myEdmonton" on your website and I couldn't.
3861 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: We haven't yet fully developed our community programming service on TELUS TV website. We are revamping that site and perhaps, Prem, did you want to talk to that?
3862 MS GILL: Sure. Because we went through kind of a rebrand and a relaunch of our community programming earlier this year, this has been in our development plans and we were hoping to have it loaded this week.
3863 But we will have some programming up there, not a lot because we do want to drive folks back to our VOD platform, but we will certainly have some highlights as well as information on how to submit story ideas and concepts for potential access programming and other things.
3864 So we will -- we will probably have some of that up live before May 17th, so we can certainly send you some more detail on it. But you wouldn't find anything because it is not there yet.
3865 COMMISSIONER KATZ: I just thought it was me.
3866 MS GILL: No.
3867 COMMISSIONER KATZ: I am glad to hear it is not.
3868 You also say in your February 1st submission, and I will quote here, it is paragraph 4:
"...BDU revenues paid into the support of local content are drawn away from BDU income."
3869 Now, is that revenue that, from your perspective, is over and above the 2 percent that you were referring to this morning as well? Because obviously the 2 percent has to be spent on community programming because it is an obligation, it is not an either/or, I can put it in income or I can spend it on community programming, you must spend it on community programming.
3870 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: Right. Well, two things, either we could spend it on community programming or we could simply give the full 5 percent to the Canadian Media Fund, for example.
3871 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Yes.
3872 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: But otherwise, as indicated in our remarks this morning, we do spend money over and above the 2 percent in equipment costs and various other things. When I was tallying up the budget of what it costs to run our community programming service, we have money attributed to content but there are various other things such as Prem's time as an Executive Producer and various other infrastructure costs that go into this that aren't accounted for. So that is money over and above that 2 percent.
3873 COMMISSIONER KATZ: And you do that because you find value in doing that or you feel you need to do that as part of your philanthropy or whatever you call it or because it helps attract customers to your services and is a value added to customers?
3874 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: We certainly see value in connecting with the communities that we serve. That is one of our very important philosophies at TELUS. But it is also a question of once you decide to launch this type of service, you need to create a certain minimum of programming and the 2 percent was enough to create programming but certainly not to start accounting for various other costs, some unforeseen, some simply we are willing to donate in order to make this successful. If we are going to do something, let's do it well.
3875 COMMISSIONER KATZ: You say also on February 1st on page 4:
"Ironically while BDUs now produce more local content than OTA broadcasters, BDU revenues paid in support of local content are drawn away from BDU income."
3876 Do you have statistics to support the statement that "BDUs now produce more local content than OTA broadcasters"?
3877 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: We were looking at the Commission's reports actually on the number of hours of programming created by the BDUs for community programming overall compared to what Canwest and CTV have submitted for their amounts of local programming. Granted, there are -- you know, when you look at just the number of hours, there are more hours of community programming on BDU-run community stations.
3878 COMMISSIONER KATZ: So you are looking at community on community TV versus community on OTA, as opposed to local content, because your reference is local content here?
3879 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: Well, the local content on most OTA stations at this point is really just the news. There isn't a whole lot of local content left on a lot of the network stations.
3880 COMMISSIONER KATZ: All the early morning breakfast shows and everything.
3881 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: Early morning breakfast shows, there are some in big cities but not that much. You look in Ottawa, all that has been cut here in Ottawa, there is not a lot of local programming left. But that is a debate that we have already had.
3882 COMMISSIONER KATZ: If you do have the stats to support that, I would certainly appreciate it.
3883 The notion that you put forward of trying to use all of the 5 percent for community comes obviously at the expense of the CMF, and I guess Michael Hennessy is not here today but he certainly is a strong supporter of the CMF and the CTF as well. Our obligation is to balance all the various interests under the Broadcasting Act, and obviously the CMF and the community are at this point in time being reviewed.
3884 Do you not see a major impact if suddenly the funding for CMF is deferred and moved into a community stream?
3885 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: I don't see a major impact, no. There is no doubt that it is money taken away from the CMF. However, it would be a relatively small amount of money that would be taken away and put towards a very high priority of the Commission to create local content for communities.
3886 COMMISSIONER KATZ: When you say "relatively small," the amount of money going into the CMF is well over $100 million and it is matched as well by government funding as well.
3887 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: Oh, absolutely, but I am not talking about taking away the entire CMF. We are talking about taking away only in those communities where we serve -- where the BDU serves less than 50,000 subscribers.
3888 So, you know, this is not Vancouver, this is not Calgary, Edmonton. And if you look statistically, the large portions of revenues that are going to the CMF are coming from the big cities. So we are talking about the revenues for Fort McMurray, the revenues for Grande Prairie.
3889 COMMISSIONER KATZ: So what percent of your subscriber base in Alberta and British Columbia come from the cities outside of Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary?
3890 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: Well, right now, having not launched in that many cities outside of Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary, it is a very low percentage. I couldn't give you an exact number but we are talking less than 10 percent.
3891 COMMISSIONER KATZ: But if we are going to make a decision, we are going to make a decision going forward and so you have to look at what the ultimate impact is going to be. So I am just trying to understand how big could it possibly become in your territory when you make this proposal.
3892 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: I think if you look at the overall subscribers to BDUs, you will see that the large cities where BDUs have well over 50,000 subscribers are going to be a lot more significant than the rest of those cities across Canada.
3893 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Can I just ask you on your May 17th submission --
3894 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: Yes.
3895 COMMISSIONER KATZ: -- to just quantify how many we are talking about here?
3896 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: M'hmm.
3897 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Do we have a number?
3898 How does TELUS reach out to the community to acquire community content? I know you talked a bit about here an outreach program, but is there general knowledge in the communities that you are looking for content? Do you have an open house? Is it publicized?
3899 It is obviously not on your website, I couldn't find anything there on your website at all. How does the average community initiative, whether it is Kiwanis or whatever, know to come to you for access?
3900 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: Right. So I am going to turn it over to Prem in just a minute. But, first, obviously we are revamping our website specifically to add that kind of information and, second, each one of our programs that we offer at this time zone, "myVancouver," "myEdmonton," "myCalgary," has at the end of that program a request for story ideas, for them to contact us with any ideas they may have.
3901 The specific outreach at this point, we have -- as we launch a new service, obviously we are looking to get subscribers, get viewers to our service, is a top priority, and from that we hope that we will be able to go out and get more access programming.
3902 Just by going out and getting the stories that we have portrayed on our service leads to more recognition and provides the opportunity for that Kiwanis Club that might have been featured in a story to decide, hey, maybe we would like to produce a program on a weekly basis ourselves, you know, with TELUS' assistance.
3903 One of the interesting things that has occurred -- and I am looking at Commissioner Cugini, of course, who was on the Panel when we applied for our licence to -- licence amendments to be able to offer a VOD-based community programming service.
3904 There was at the time in our area a group that wanted to offer an independent television community-based television service and we wanted to partner with them and we wanted to be involved as well.
3905 So, we sought the licence amendments to be able to offer it ourselves and, unfortunately, they were not able to launch their service.
3906 But we would have expected to receive some programming from them. We've reached out to them right from the time that we came up with our own decision to launch a service and we haven't received any proposals or requests of any kind which, to some degree, does beg the question as to whether or not we might be over estimating the demand out there for access to community programming television.
3907 Prem, did you want to add to that?
3908 MS GILL: Sure. By virtue of having some well-known personalities who also act as producers, out in the field, in the communities that we're delivering this programming in, a lot of this has happened, started happening by word of mouth because these are really highly recognized personalities. When they went off the air in Vancouver, particularly, there was like a bit of a public outcry, websites created and Facebook pages trying to get these folks back on air.
3909 So, that's been a real advantage to us, to have these recognizable folks out there and once people have heard where they are, it's certainly driven a lot of interest in our particular programming.
3910 And, as Ann mentioned, we do, you know, absolutely call out every time we have -- we produce one of these shows or a small segment in some of our interstitial programming.
3911 In addition, we actually -- you know, Telus is a big company out west and we are constantly, you know, posting on our Internet and our internal websites calls to our team members that tell us who live in these communities, not to pitch us on stories that Telus is involved in, not at all actually, but tell us about what's going on in their communities and their neighbourhoods and they've actually been an active part.
3912 These are folks who maybe work in call centres or in finance and have nothing to do with the work that we do day-to-day, but they've certainly been a huge support in helping us get the word out that we're here and, you know, we're open to stories and ideas.
3913 We certainly have much grandeur plans with our website launching and as our base continues to grow, so does the awareness of our programming.
3914 COMMISSIONER KATZ: You have taken a position on advertising -- I guess before I get to that.
3915 You've branded your community channel My Edmonton, My Calgary, My Vancouver and it's strictly focused on community obviously as well.
3916 We've heard an awful lot of people come before us and talk about the fact that there's been a professionalization of the community channel to a point where the term community has actually been removed out of the channel and it's now called either Shaw TV or Rogers TV.
3917 As you build up more content and become more mainstream, if I can call it that, are you going to look towards professionalizing your community channel as well and possibly with additional content moving it on to linear broadcasting as well, or are you going to look at this as strictly a community type operation?
3918 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: A few questions in that.
3919 First of all, I don't think any of our plans are to move to a linear station. We really think that we have tremendous opportunity just with the VOD platform, so leaving it at that.
3920 But with respect to the profesionalization of the service. First of all, we do feel that we do have a professional product and that's why it took us a few years before we launched the community programming aspect of our BDU service.
3921 And we don't see a problem with that, to the extent that what we're offering is a product that viewers want to watch and we're out there in the community providing a voice for community members, you know, if we had the opportunity to show you more of our stories, we're providing an opportunity for that small business person who's offering, you know, Baby & Me Dance classes.
3922 People who are not necessarily out there looking to be media personalities, those generally, those folks who wanted to make a name for themselves in the TV business now have the opportunity to do a lot of that on the Internet and, quite frankly, I don't think they're coming to community programming stations any more for that kind of recognition.
3923 Instead, we're out there facilitating the voices of the community to be heard. And the fact that we're doing so in a professional way should not be considered somehow problematic by the Commission, in our view.
3924 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Well, let me phrase that slightly differently may be it will help position what I'm trying to understand here.
3925 And I'll use the distinction of push versus pull. From my perspective, when a BDU creates content for a community they are pushing it out there, they are creating it and they are putting it out there, professional or not, as opposed to going to the community and pulling content from the community and uploading it onto the system.
3926 So, that's a distinction that I see in my mind. And I guess I'm trying to understand whether -- first of all I guess, how much pull is there today, how much community content is coming from the community onto your platform versus you going out there and creating it and putting it on.
3927 And do you see that changing over time as you build out your Telus TV?
3928 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: We certainly see it changing over time to the extent that we've done some major outreach to get the community to give us stuff that we'll be able to then pull from them.
3929 It's not coming on its own, and that in itself is difficult for us. We're not getting access -- there's no -- the community is not coming out there and saying, I can't get access to the Telus platform.
3930 We would be more than open to having all of their -- you know, a lot of content on our service and the VOD platform is the perfect platform for that because we can offer the opportunity to be up there on our menu with our content and there's no scheduling preference, there's no priority, they would be on an equal footing with our content and it's really the perfect equal opportunity platform for this kind of programming.
3931 COMMISSIONER KATZ: So, the Kiwanises of the world have not approached you, the Rotary Clubs have not approached you?
3932 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: No.
3933 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Do they know how to approach you? I guess is the other question, and what are you doing to reach out to them to let them know who you are and where you are?
3934 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: Well, as we've indicated we've done a lot of outreach at this point. We are certainly now, all of our stories call out to have them provide stories to us and then, in doing so, if we had any response to those types of queries and if the response was not only for a story idea but rather for a full show idea, we would be more than open to that.
3935 But that's not what we're getting at this point.
3936 It will help once we have more -- even more general purpose outreach services like our website. But we're finding that we're getting a lot of positive feedback from the outreach that we're doing, you know, all the people that Prem is meeting and perhaps you want to add to that.
3937 MS GILL: Sure. And I can certainly speak a little bit more to that and we kind of -- while our actual individual program's in each city, the flagship show is called My Vancouver, My Edmonton, My Calgary, the overall programming, the way we present it on our platform is called My Community.
3938 So, we did that deliberately because we knew it wasn't just going to be programming produced by us, you know, folks that we're connected to.
3939 And some of the groups, when you sort of talk about the quality or the professionalization of a lot of this content, you know, I look at stuff on YouTube or blogs and some Facebook link or something that someone has forwarded me and the quality of even what used to be, you know, considered access type of programming has gone up, you know, to the equal broadcast quality stuff that we might be producing, because we all know that gear and post-production stuff is so accessible now.
3940 And when it comes to some of the groups that we've been talking to, there's one group in Vancouver, they call themselves, Vancouver Is Awesome, they're a non-profit local group and they decided that -- they launched a blog website just for local writers and young producers who weren't able to get their stuff published in mainstream newspapers or magazines and we're working with them to develop a program that they produce which would be --
3941 COMMISSIONER KATZ: What I hear you saying though is virtually the mass majority of your community information on your My Community channels are all push rather than pull right now, but you are open to other parties --
3942 MS GILL: Yes, absolutely.
3943 COMMISSIONER KATZ: The last question I've got is with regard to advertising.
3944 You've come out loud and clear and asked that advertising be permitted, local advertising be permitted on the community channel.
3945 A lot of folks have come before us, including CACTUS but others as well, who basically laid out a position to the effect that it will compromise the independence of the channel and the direction of the channel as well.
3946 What are your views on that?
3947 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: Well, you know, obviously to the extent that even sponsorship at this point could have the effect of compromising. If you have a sponsor that simply does not want certain editorial views to be seen on a certain program, that could compromise even more than simply someone who's buying air time that has no idea what program it's going to be in. And I'm not sure that that's necessarily a well-grounded concern.
3948 However, there's no doubt that once you have that commercial advertising that there may be some pressures to have advertising in certain programs that may not fit with other programming.
3949 And, of course, at this point our whole determination or business plan regarding advertising has yet to be fully set out because on a VOD platform, simply putting advertising, we're very concerned about turning our consumers off.
3950 So, we would be very careful in the way that we present advertising and we may, in fact, be more looking at the infomercial type of programming where someone might pay to have their programming on our service so that they can, you know, promote their wares, what they do and whatnot.
3951 So, those types of -- you know, there will be different opportunities and, you know, depending on the Commission's decision, we'll explore them further.
3952 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Those are my questions.
3954 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
3955 Madame Mainville, je vais poser mes questions en français parce qu'elles vont être spécifiquement à l'égard de TELUS Québec.
3956 Ce que vous avez discuté avec monsieur Katz et ce que comprend votre mémoire, est-ce que ce sont des plans similaires que vous envisagez pour l'Est du Québec?
3957 MME MAINVILLE-NEESON : Certainement, nous envisageons la possibilité d'offrir des services communautaires à Rimouski et les alentours. À présent, ce n'est pas à court terme. Donc, nous sommes encore en train de développer le service que nous avons lancé dans cette région, et il faut encore déterminer à quel point on pourrait offrir un service à Québec.
3958 Certainement, la situation au Québec est très différente. On est très au courant de la Fédération, de la programmation communautaire.
3959 CONSEILLER ARPIN : C'était ma question.
3960 MME MAINVILLE-NEESON : Oui.
3961 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Ma question suivante : Comment est-ce que vous allez transiger avec l'existence des télévisions communautaires autonomes?
3962 MME MAINVILLE-NEESON : C'est sûr que nos plans pour le Québec vont vraiment tenter de répondre à des besoins spécifiques des communautés que nous desservons au Québec, et la situation est très différente là. Nous le reconnaissons, et à cause de ça, nous devons vraiment prendre une période de réflexion pour déterminer qu'est-ce que nous pouvons faire pour bien servir la communauté, et certainement transiger et peut-être former un partenariat avec la Fédération est une possibilité.
3963 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Évidemment, Rimouski n'est pas à la taille de Calgary, Edmonton ou Vancouver, du moins à ma connaissance.
3964 MME MAINVILLE-NEESON : C'est ça. Alors, ce n'est pas à court terme.
3965 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Mais quand même, dans votre échéancier, est-ce que vous envisagez quand même quelque chose... si ce n'est pas à court terme, avez-vous quand même une date butoir?
3966 MME MAINVILLE-NEESON : Pas à présent, justement parce que la situation, elle est très différente au Québec, et franchement, nous attendions un peu de voir quelle allait être la décision du Conseil concernant l'encadrement réglementaire parce que ça pourrait déterminer ce que nous allons offrir.
3967 CONSEILLER ARPIN : D'accord. Merci.
3968 Merci, Monsieur le Président. Thank you.
3969 THE CHAIRPERSON: Peter.
3970 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Thank you.
3971 I just wanted to follow up on when you were talking about local content. What I was taking from what you said is that community television, as you see it, has essentially become the dominant producer of local programming over the OTAs. Is that correct?
3972 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: Looking at the numbers, there are an awful lot of hours of community programming created by BDUs that seem at this point over the past two years to exceed the number of hours created by OTAs, yes.
3973 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. My other question was, if this is all such a good idea with My Calgary and the community programming and that sort of stuff, why do you want us to mandate the spending in terms of the two percent or the five percent in terms of your proposal?
3974 If it is a good business idea, if it's building audiences and you can monetize those audiences, why do you need the CRTC to say you must spend a certain proportion of your revenues on this?
3975 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: Well, we actually didn't suggest that we could monetize those audiences. We do think it's a good idea, but we didn't indicate that. We view community programming as a public service. We think it's a great idea to that extent, but we can't monetize those audiences.
3976 We really don't think that any of the community programming that is produced, it has high value, but not a monetization value. It has a value to the communities that we serve, but it's more of a public nature -- a public service nature.
3977 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: So, from a business point of view, if we were not mandating the spending, it won't happen; right?
3978 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: Certainly not at the five percent level. We are requesting additional funds that we might be able to direct towards those communities, smaller communities.
3979 But, you know, we'd have to think long and hard whether or not we can put in additional funds over and above that which we would have to provide to the CAMF, for example.
3980 And, you know, it's not a business case, it's not a selling feature, but it is certainly a great public service that we're proud to be involved in.
3981 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. But you want us to make you do that?
3982 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: No, we want the opportunity to be able to direct funds. Instead of directing them to the CAMF, we would like the opportunity to be able to direct to the communities -- specific communities that we serve.
3983 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. Thank you.
3984 THE CHAIRPERSON: Rita?
3985 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
3986 Just one question. Because you are in a rather unique position in terms of the three markets that you're serving and unique because there are other terrestrial BDUs in those markets that provide a community channel, so my question is, do you consider your VOD platform to be a competitive advantage over the community channel of the terrestrial BDUs in those three markets and why?
3987 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: I'm not sure we view our community programming service VOD or even if we offered a linear as a competitive advantage.
3988 We strongly view it as a public service, something that we are very proud to be involved in, but I'm not sure that any subscribers want to switch to Telus TV because of our community programming service.
3989 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: How do you compare what you offer on your community channel with what is currently being offered in those three markets by the BDUs?
3990 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: I'm not sure.
3991 Prem, do you have...
3992 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: I mean, you must pay attention to what they do.
3993 MS GILL: Yes. Oh, sure. Well, I subscribe to Shaw -- oh sorry, Telus at home so I don't see community programming as much.
3994 But certainly, you know, they have, you know, daily programming and some live programming and some sports that they do that we don't.
3995 So, it's not really an apples to oranges, you know, it's a very different comparison.
3996 Sometimes I look at our programming as being able to take something that maybe was featured in a local news program, but as a two-minute news story and we're able to -- whether it's arts or culture related, expand it into a 10-minute profile of something.
3997 So, it's very -- you know, our approach is very different. They have a linear service, they're stuck to programming guidelines. They do have a wheel I think still generally of the same four or five hours of programming daily, and I'm not -- I haven't looked at their schedules recently.
3998 But one of the distinctions is that they do have some live sports type of programming that we don't.
3999 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Is it in your short-term or long-term plan to increase those three hours to something?
4000 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: We will certainly, to the extent that we are looking at -- that's why we're outreaching, we want to partner with the community to be able to offer more programming and, you know, we're adding incrementally to our programming.
4001 As our subscriber base has increased, so do the revenues that we're able to up towards this initiative and the outreach will also lead to additional programming being produced.
4002 So, absolutely we're adding to the programming.
4003 Maybe to add, you know, a bit more in response to your earlier question. There's no doubt that, you know, Shaw has established itself as the provider of some, you know, minor sports leagues and that is valuable programming that some subscribers will, you know, definitely will appreciate.
4004 And if it's not available anywhere else, perhaps that becomes one of the driving forces for their service.
4005 There's no doubt that perhaps it has a place somewhere else than on a community programming service and maybe you should be on, you know, a minor sports channel or some type of channel that might be offered by other BDUs.
4006 But at this point I think that this programming that otherwise was not picked up by any other service unfortunately, so it's great that at least someone is providing it to the public.
4007 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Well, thank you very much.
4008 Those are all my questions.
4009 THE CHAIRPERSON: Marc?
4010 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
4011 And, good morning. I guess the VOD platform allows you to glean the kind of information that you might otherwise not be able to have access to vis-a-vis who's watching what program and at what time. Is that right?
4012 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: Yes. It would -- you know, presumably at any given time we could see how many subscribers are logging in to a certain program.
4013 We don't generally keep any logs of that kind of information, of course, for privacy --
4014 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Oh, okay. So, you're not in the process of tracking, for instance, viewership patterns, particular show -- the popularity of certain shows and use that information, of course, in your programming production decisions?
4015 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: Perhaps not to the granular -- you know, as to what times that people are watching certain shows, but certainly we have maintained aggregate data with respect to the popularity of certain shows, so what's working and what's not.
4016 We have noticed -- and I'll let Prem speak to that -- trends of what people are really -- you know, what programming seems to resonate because there are more orders for that type of programming.
4017 So, Prem, did you want to speak to that?
4018 MS GILL: Yes. I mean, certainly our programs themselves, the local -- the shows rise to the top, so we don't know if at what point somebody has stopped the VOD. you know -- we call them the asset, stopped the program, but we also have three other buckets of programming in each city which we call Do It Yourself, Lifestyle and Heros, and after the shows which are the most popular.
4019 The individual programming and segments within those that rise to the top are often things that are kind of the, you know, things that improve your lifestyle, information, snacking I call it, where it's, you know, how to learn how to use a knife properly or how to cook with local vegetables, you know, how to hang a photograph or a painting in your home properly.
4020 Like, it's actually those kinds of tips that people seem to gravitate to.
4021 And then, you know, less so on the -- not that they're not watching them, but less so on the, you know, profiles of individual community members. So, it's trying to either change up sometimes the style of the programming or just offer people more of the --
4022 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Okay.
4023 MS GILL: You know, they want to see more local cooking segments and we'll do that.
4024 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: But you have a supper hour newscast?
4025 MS GILL: No, no.
4026 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: You have a news type of -- a news magazine type of program?
4027 MS GILL: Our magazine show is very arts and culture focused, arts, sports, culture, but local sports feature, you know, learn how to speed skate, you know, how to winterize your bicycle in Edmonton if you are so inclined.
4028 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Are you able to share your viewership numbers with us? Like, do you know, for instance, how many people have been watching, having been taking part in your VOD --
4029 MS GILL: Sure. We have -- we were looking at the numbers last night. We think that at this point we have approximately 1.5 percent of our base is accessing the community programming on video-on-demand service. So, people who are using video-on-demand, about one to two percent of those folks are going in and sampling the free programming.
4030 Where we see actually higher usage and certainly it's going up is with HD, is more and more of our customers are turning on their HD. Every box we put out there is an HD capable box, so once they've bought their TV and they're ready to subscribe to HD services or they want to sample what HD might look like before they actually pay for an HD content. Our programming is all produced in HD right now, so they can go in and look at that.
4031 So, because of the curiosity factor of certainly new users of HD, we see some interesting -- you know, higher numbers on that end.
4032 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: So, just so I understand, one and a half to two percent of your base, meaning the number of customers that you have?
4033 MS GILL: Yes.
4034 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Of your total customer base logs in, if you were --
4035 MS GILL: Going into VOD.
4036 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Or takes advantage of the VOD shows in any given week, month --
4037 MS GILL: Of the community programming shows, not just -- I mean, more of the base is using the VOD itself.
4038 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: So, for example, the 1.5 comes from looking at the total number of people who accessed our VOD service in the month of March and how many of those downloaded a community program.
4039 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Have you already supplied all this information to the Commission in the way of numbers and all this sort of thing?
4040 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: We've not been requested to provide that, but we certainly --
4041 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: I would be interested in seeing those figures just because there's, you know, a lot of BDUs rely on surveys and that sort of thing and this is about as technical and perfect a way of --
4042 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: Right.
4043 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: -- getting a gauge on who's watching what, when -- maybe not so much when I guess, or --
4044 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: Yeah. We can certainly provide some of those numbers to the Commission. We would request to do so in confidence, of course.
4045 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: I'd appreciate that.
4046 Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
4047 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
4048 Before I let you go, later on this morning, I'm going to question the Community Media Education Society, they say in their submission:
"In 2007 we underwent a CRTC hearing to offer community programming service in B.C. and Alberta but Telus said it had no plans for community TV." (As read)
4049 THE CHAIRPERSON: You now have community TV. You are obviously -- you just told Commissioner Cugini you didn't do it because it gives you a competitive advantage.
4050 Why did you bring community TV in if it's not a competitive advantage and, you know, before clearly you had no plans to do this?
4051 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: We obviously wanted to offer a public service and that's -- it's not for competitive advantage, but merely because of our view that this is a public service that we're offering.
4052 We had no plans when we initially launched, not because we did not intend, but we just hadn't set those plans. We were launching a competitive BDU service and that was not our top priority.
4053 When the CMES application was made we realized that if we don't do something now we'll be in the uncomfortable position of potentially not being able to launch something that we will want to launch, or -- and or having them -- having to take away something that they've already established and built infrastructure to be able to launch their own independent television service and then we come in and launch our own service and take that money away, because their entire application had been based on our funding.
4054 And so we didn't want them to go in, start something and then have us pull the plug out, that would have been...
4055 So, we did launch earlier than we intended, but we certainly are happy that we've done so.
4056 THE CHAIRPERSON: You call it a public service. Is this a money loser for you?
4057 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: I'm sorry?
4058 THE CHAIRPERSON: Is this a money loser for you?
4059 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: Well, to the extent that this money would otherwise have gone to the CAMF, it's not a generating --
4060 THE CHAIRPERSON: No, no.
4061 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: But it's not --
4062 THE CHAIRPERSON: No, no, the two percent that you're using for it, is that sufficient to pay for it or do you have to subsidize it?
4063 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: We are subsidizing with infrastructure and, you know, Prem's salary. Various costs are not included in that budget, but otherwise --
4064 THE CHAIRPERSON: If I said community is separate -- it has to pay for itself -- it's got an income, two percent of our gross revenue, could you run it on the basis that you're running it now or not?
4065 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: We could but we might have to reduce a bit of the programming in order to be able to pay those other infrastructure costs.
4066 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thank you.
4067 We'll take a 10-minute break.
4068 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: Thank you.
--- Upon recessing at 0957
--- Upon resuming at 1013
4069 LE PRÉSIDENT: O.k. Commençons, madame la secrétaire.
4070 THE SECRETARY: Thank you. We will now proceed with the presentations of CitizenShift/Parole Citoyenne (Institut du Nouveau Monde) and the Independent Media Arts Alliance. We will hear each presentation which will then be followed by questions.
4071 We will begin with the presentation of CitizenShift/Parole Citoyenne (Institut du Nouveau Monde). Please introduce yourself and you have ten minutes. Just open your mike. Thank you.
4072 MS LEVINE: Good morning and thank you for giving us this opportunity to participate in these hearings.
4073 My name is Reisa Levine and I am here today to represent CitizenShift and Parole Citoyenne two citizen media Web platforms currently running out of the Institut du Nouveau Monde based in Montreal.
4074 The two programs I am representing here today are not TV based, but rather currently exist on the Web. Nonetheless, we do consider the internet as a broadcast medium and we are broadcasting community programming over this medium. And, therefore, we are very interested in putting forwards our ideas on what the future of community media might look like.
4075 I also feel the need to mention that we are taking an independent position here today and do not wish to be automatically presumed as unequivocally supporting CACTUS or La Fédération des télévisions communautaires du Québec.
4076 While we are on close conversation with both these groups and applaud their important work on the issue, we also have some differences of opinions. We are nonetheless keen on collaborating with both groups in order to bring in fresh ideas from a new media and Web based perspective.
4077 CitizenShift and Parole citoyenne are happening communities. Since our inception in 2003, we have served hundreds of thousands of hours of media content to several million viewers. We average around eight hundred thousand unique visitors per year for the two sites together, averaging about 1,500 unique visitors per day, per site.
4078 Just to give you a small taste of our activities, we are currently working on a number of featured dossiers: including the Olympic Footprint; the Future of Farming and Mixed Race and Hybrid Cultural Identities, to name but a few.
4079 We have recently partnered with McGill University Freire Learning Centre on a series of workshops entitled: From Story board to YouTube. We have run a video contest in conjunction with the CSN and we are working on three different youth oriented media projects.
4080 Last summer, we organized a citizen media rendez-vous at the Société des arts technologiques in Montreal, which was a huge success with over 500 people in attendance and it was streamed over the Web with a Twitter feed for interaction.
4081 We are now organizing our second edition for this summer to correspond with the International CIVICUS Conference and we are in talks with other organizations to take the citizen media rendez-vous to other cities across Canada.
4082 When the Government Film Commissioner and Chairperson of the NFB, Mr. Tom Perlmutter presented to the CRTC back in February 2009, he spoke of a digital revolution, which is radically changing the way we interact with media. Now, over a year later, we are even further down the path of changes that are affecting us now and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
4083 I am mentioning this because I see an important connection between a proposed national digital strategy and any changes to the Broadcast Policy that may come of these hearings.
4084 If we are going to delve into the larger issue of media creation and dissemination in this country, and I believe this is the CRTC's mandate to do this, then we must also consider the role of community media within a broader national digital strategy.
4085 We are all here this week because the medium of television is in flux. If there is one thing we all seem to agree on from the cable companies to the Quebec National Assembly to all the various lobby groups, it is that community media is an important service that we want to maintain and see thrive.
4086 If we are now looking at changes to the Broadcast Act in order to better serve these communities, we had better be sure that the changes will take us into the future.
4087 Big changes are still coming to TV and they will be partially driven by hardware and technology developments. Several major brand manufacturers have announced internet capable TV's coming out later this year. However, it seems that there will be an increasing level of control on what internet content we will be able to see and how we will pay for it.
4088 If you follow the tech news, you can see that the deals that are currently being made between TV manufacturers and the big almost exclusively American video streaming sites, such as YouTube, Amazon and Netflix, now show exclusive Web content on your TV.
4089 These are the kinds of things that broadcasters will have to compete with or be smart and join the wave and TV broadcasters are being smart and turning their attentions towards new media and multiplatform models. They know their future depends on it.
4090 Where is community TV going to live in this new media landscape? Could some sort of community programming component be injected into these deals as well? This is not a new idea. Community components are sometimes legislated in the eCinema distribution models that we are now seeing in Europe.
4091 When Cathy Edwards from CACTUS called me up close to two years ago when CitizenShift and Parole Citoyenne was still at the NFB, my initial reaction was: we're a Web platform, why should we be concerned with TV?
4092 But since leaving the NFB, we have come to understand that this is actually very important for us. Why? Well, partly because as community oriented projects, it is in our interest to expand our reach to people who aren't on the Web. But the main reason is because whoever controls the channels of distribution controls the message, the audience and the revenue stream.
4093 This is why the TV networks are definitely not considering abandoning the airwaves for the internet, far from it. Instead, they are now aggressively trying to control the internet as well as broadcast TV. We are no longer in either/ or universe, but an and equation: TV and internet and mobile and game consoles and social media, et cetera.
4094 I find this somewhat ironic that cable companies who have argued that communities are best suited for the Web because, of course, we agree with them here. CitizenShift and Parole Citoyenne have been saying this for over five years, well before the broadcasters took any interest at all in the Web, but times have changed and now broadcasters are actively developing their own cross platform production and distribution strategies and, in our opinion, community media has to do the same, independently of cable companies and broadcasters.
4095 And even though we are Web based, we now recognize the importance of having some sort of TV broadcast channel in addition to an internet presence. It is no longer about the carrier. It is about an identifiable branded community channel.
4096 We are platform agnostic. We use the Web, Facebook, YouTube, Texting, Mobile, whatever. It is the content that counts and the context in which we produce it. We want to touch people, work collectively to reach out and to involve a wide range of citizen voices wherever they watch. And they certainly still watch TV.
4097 So, we also need to take this into account and the best way to do this is to collaborate with others who are already doing TV and form some sort of entity around the physical space.
4098 It is through people coming together that ideas thrive, training can take place and production can be oriented collectively to meet the needs of a multiplatform universe.
4099 Although community TV producers are now also beginning to integrate new media components into their strategies for a multi-platform approach, the reality is that many TV community operations have a long way to go in order to actually achieve this.
4100 For much of what I have seen of community TV's Web presence, there is still a lack of understanding of how to maximize this platform as a broadcast medium and even less success with the Web 2.0 or social media approach.
4101 On the other side, there are lots of new voices shining out online. People have a deep understanding of how to mobilize communities over the internet. Web based community media organizations are being completely ignored by this debate. How unfortunate that these disparate media creators are fragmented by their choice of broadcast medium when many of them share a common community driven mandate. Clearly, there is enormous potential for partnership opportunities.
4102 CitizenShift and Parole Citoyenne are well positioned to bring these two worlds together because of our years of media expertise, we could help community broadcasters adopt a multiplatform approach to production and distribution.
4103 By working within a multi media centre, we can bring together community TV and Web broadcasters to form powerful collectives that will help people learn new media and television production, all the while continuing to benefit from newly produced materials to be broadcast over various platforms.
4104 The notion of local communities coming together is a crucial starting point, but there is also an opportunity to share content with other communities. A Pan-Canadian network of media centres could share work, even syndicate popular programming, but all within a community driven perspective. And internationally, there is nothing wrong with showing off our work to the world. People are interested in what's happening in other places.
4105 There is no reason why we can't have a strong local and Pan-Canadian and international reach within a community model. One does not necessarily exclude the other.
4106 Earlier this week, we attended an information session hosted by the Canadian New Media Fund. A presentation slide of participating contributors to the Fund, almost exclusively the major broadcasters in this country, made it's easy to see what the goal of this new Fund is: to stimulate production of new media elements for the television industry. And there is clearly no reminiscent fund for anything even remotely community-oriented. It's like the sector doesn't even exist in the eyes of most funding agencies.
4107 CitizenShift and Parole Citoyenne are currently not eligible for the Canadian Media Fund. Not for profits cannot apply. Small scale commercial production companies can apply, as long as they have a TV component and broadcast agreement from the CRTC, from a CRTC licensed BDU. Oh! but community TV licences don't count.
4108 So, even with a community broadcast licence, perhaps some arts council funding, and some private money in there, we still wouldn't be eligible for this Fund. There is an experimental section of the Fund allowing for new media creation without a TV broadcast, but it still has to be commercially driven.
4109 Indeed, almost all the funding models for new media production and distribution are now based on this approach. The Bell Fund need a TV licence. Telefilm has to be commercially driven and community TV licences are not eligible. Federal and provincial arts or communications agencies mostly don't fund ongoing or recurring Web sites, startups, sometimes.
4110 Canadian Web based community media producers are starving for money, desperately seeking new funding models or ventured capital in order to keep going. Why is this? It seems like a funny kind of class system that continues to keep community media confined to the sidelines, regardless of the broadcast medium.
4111 So, how can Web based community media survive this without going commercial? Well, they can't and so, they are going commercial.
4112 THE SECRETARY: I'm sorry; you will have to conclude. You have about one minute left.
4113 MS LEVINE: Okay. We are pragmatists who know that there would probably be not enough money in a new broadcast policy to finance our organizations at 100 per cent. As new media makers, we are used to putting together a financing model that include the three level of government, local sponsors organizations and foundations.
4114 I just want to conclude. Any new policy that comes out of these consultations should be forward thinking and flexible enough to allow for new models. Because the landscape is rapidly changing and the community sector will need to grow with these changes, we need to build new -- we need new models to build on and should not be tempted to fall back on outmoded habits of traditional community broadcasting nor cater to the control of traditional broadcasters.
4115 This will be a challenge for community broadcasters as it is for cable operators, the public sector as it is or major networks. However, if we are given the space and resources to emerge into the multiplatform reality, community media can remain strong and grow to truly represent Canadian communities, to reflect local interests and make connections across the country and to represent Canadians to the rest of the world.
4116 We urge the CRTC to be forward thinking on these issues.
4117 Thank you for your time and consideration.
4118 THE SECRETARY: Thank you. We will now hear the presentation of the Independent Media Arts Alliance. Please introduce yourself and you have ten minutes.
4119 MR. DALLETT: Thank you, madam secretary, Commissioners and CRTC staff.
4120 Nous sommes reconnaissants d'intervenir aujourd'hui et de participer à cet important processus de révision que la Commission a entrepris et de partager avec vous le point de vue du secteur des Arts médiatiques indépendants canadiens sur l'avenir des médias et de la radiodiffusion communautaire.
4121 My name is Timothy Dallett, Interim National Director of the Independent Media Arts Alliance. I am here today to lend our organization's support to the proposal advance by the Canadian Association of Community Television Users and Stations, CACTUS, for the renewal of community broadcasting in Canada.
4122 The IMAA and its Board of Directors strongly supports the submission made by CACTUS and endorses the proposal for the creation of a Community Access Media Fund.
4123 I will make several points in support of the impressive and detailed plan put forward by CACTUS and will paint a picture of our media to talk about the importance of local, physical sites as hubs for the creation of meaningful community dialogue.
4124 I will address the misperception that for-profit services on the internet such as YouTube somehow constitute a credible substitute for community expression.
4125 Lastly, I will describe the infrastructure our membership represents and what it can offer to the CACTUS CAMF proposal and to communities seeking to develop broadcasting initiatives.
4126 L'AAMI est un regroupement national qui compte plus de 80 centres d'artistes en arts médiatiques à but non lucratif établis dans chacune des provinces et des territoires, à l'exception de Nunavut. L'ensemble de nos organismes membres sert et représente plus de 12 000 cinéastes indépendants, vidéastes et artistes des multimédias à travers le Canada.
4127 Plusieurs de nos organismes membres sont en activité depuis plusieurs décennies, offrant des programmes et des services auprès de leurs communautés et de leurs régions.
4128 En tant que regroupement incorporé à but non lucratif, nous existons nous-mêmes depuis plus de 30 ans.
4129 Our member organizations are diverse, ranging from film and video production facilities, to Film Festivals, to arts galleries, to new media centres. Their common focus is on artistic expression in film, video and electronic arts.
4130 The typical IMAA Production Centre is a non-profit incorporated organization with a democratically elected volunteer board of directors and registered charitable status. Our centres have employees serving public membership of individuals who produce independent, non commercial film, video and new media artworks by accessing subsidized training, equipment facilities and technical support.
4131 Funding is primarily derived from public sector arts councils at federal, provincial and local levels and accounted for an extensive and transparent reporting, including the CADAC Canadian Arts database.
4132 Examples of productions include independent, non commercial films and videos of all genres and lenths, sound art and interactive new media art. Innovation, experimentation, artistic expression and creativity are all facilitated by the programs and services offered by our members.
4133 Most importantly, these activities happen locally with screenings, presentations, exhibitions, workshops and demonstrations that bring artist and public audiences together in a shared space of experience and dialogue. This involves a physical place that people can access.
4134 Our sector has evolved separately from the broadcast system because of the need for artists to have relevant feedback and dialogue and they don't find it there under its current model. Local creators need physical places where they can congregate, meet each other, learn how to do things, get feedback and the advice of their peers on how to respond to contemporary social issues and to developments in technology.
4135 While there are individual examples of interaction between our members and the current community broadcast system, the way it is now organized is simply not compatible with artists' needs -- as a cultural space it's a disincentive. Our sector has certainly never been the focus of any concerted outreach or accommodation by cable-run community broadcasting.
4136 We see a totally different vision in the CACTUS model since it is based on individuals and communities shaping their own representations and context and this is primary.
4137 We have heard the contention that the internet somehow makes community broadcasting obsolete. The fact is that commercial content aggregation services offered over the internet are not free. They are someone's business model, the goal of which is to maximize revenue by attracting users from whom content, information and value will be extracted.
4138 That a service like YouTube provides a convenient repository for submitted content obscures the fact that users permanently sign over the copyright to what they upload.
4139 The future users to which uploaded material may be put and the manner in which it is displayed are completely outside the control of the users who have created the content. Simply saying "All you have to do is put it on YouTube" is naive and misguided, demonstrating a lack of understanding of Copyright Legislation and of the very terms of service of these platforms.
4140 To assume that internet prosting by isolated individuals replaces public discourse and interaction and communities trivializes the work of people who have invested their time and effort to create their own expressions.
4141 The audio-visual industry is going to great lengths today to assert its intellectual property rights. Why should the producers of independent community expression be expected to surrender theirs to achieve access to the mass media distribution envisaged in the Broadcasting Act?
4142 Someone has to run internet services, provide the infrastructure and enter into maintenance and development. The link between local expression and Web-based multimedia services should be made at the local level through community control and a non-profit mandate. The connection between community expression and internet media is forward looking and should be made.
4143 The CACTUS proposal for a network of multimedia access centres corresponds in several important ways to the infrastructure that our members have built across the country over the past four decades. When CACTUS contacted us to describe their plan, it was immediately apparent that we had many things in common. The IMAA milieu is a natural collaborator with a CAMF funded access centre concept.
4144 For decades our member organizations have been focal points for local training, equipment access and individual expression in film, video and electronic media. In the process, we have helped our communities build skills and competence using media tools, engage and retain young people in regional centres and focus people's contribution to their local culture.
4145 Our community is an important potential resource for both the governance and operation of the kind of centre CACTUS is proposing. Our milieu is proof that communities across Canada have the skills, experience, human resources and creativity to found, manage, operate and govern sophisticated media production and post-production facilities.
4146 Our sector has a solid track record of incorporated non-profit organizations with democratically elected volunteer boards of directors, managing budgets, supervising employees, delivering ambitious programs and providing substantive reporting and transparent accountability on their operations.
4147 The IMAA's Board of Directors is pleased to accept a proposal by CACTUS that the IMAA be recommended as one of the organizations with community stakeholders, interest and expertise that could participate in the governance of the Community Access Media Fund and make the vision of a revitalized community television sector a reality.
4148 The following is a list of IMAA members and other groups who have expressed an interest since Public Notice of Consultation 2009-661 was posted in developing community broadcasting initiatives, either on their own or in collaboration with other community partners, if the appropriate funding and programs were made available.
4149 MediaNet in Victoria; Alternator Gallery, Kelowna; Yukon Film Society, Whitehorse; Western Artic Moving Pictures; Yellowknife; University Television and Calgary Society Film Makers, Calgary; PAVED Arts, Saskatoon; Flash Frame, Thunder Bay; Near North Mobile Media Lab, North Bay; Ed Video, Guelph; Island Media Arts Coop, Charlottetown; with other potential collaborators, including W2, Vancouver, CitizenShift in Montreal and a coalition in Fredericton.
4150 Giving access to funding channels and guidance, these organizations could restore community television access to over seven million Canadians. We anticipate that as this idea gains momentum, with your support, that there will likely be more of our members and similar organizations with relevant experience to get on board.
4151 You have heard from our members PAVED Arts in Saskatoon at this hearing on Monday and you will hear form NUTV in Calgary on Friday. An additional eight of our members submitted written comments to this process.
4152 While many of our members are experimenting with their own Web-based distribution activities a broadcast mandate would be something new.
4153 With a few exceptions our milieu does not have this experience. Adding broadcast mandates to our member production centres, increasing public access and developing collaborations with the community partners to create the access centres proposed by CACTUS is going to require additional resources, advice and guidance.
4154 For this reason, the involvement of CACTUS and CAMF is essential in helping our members evolving to or collaborate with other local groups to achieve multi-platform community broadcasting.
4155 Broadcasting, its regulatory environment and the CRTC's processes and procedures are daunting and intimidating to organizations unfamiliar with them. If you want to enable this proposal, it should be fully implemented to give it a running start. Dedicated channels, dedicated facilities and dedicating funding will maximize the potential of communities to organize their own expression.
4156 Avec l'apport de nos artistes et de nos organismes, nous voulons soutenir la vision de CACTUS pour un secteur des médias communautaires vibrant. Nous faisons partie d'une communauté qui produit un contenu et offre un point de vue original canadien.
4157 Nous croyons que l'expression artistique locale est essentielle à la culture canadienne et que la proposition de CACTUS présente un plan solide et réaliste pour le renouvellement du secteur de la radiodiffusion communautaire.
4158 Thank you for the opportunity to make this presentation and I would be pleased to answer any questions you may have.
4159 THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Ms Levine, I was quite interested by your presentation. I liked your approach of in effect moving forward, not being stopping and trying to put, as you've suggested, put together the very broadcasting, internet, mobile, et cetera. But you express this as a wish.
4160 Your submission does not have anything sort of a concrete to suggest for us what we should be doing, a sort of hint that your are sympathetic to the CACTUS proposal. But short or other than the CACTUS proposal, how do we put some flesh on the bones? How would we operationalize your very clearly stated goal?
4161 MS LEVINE: Well, I think we have to begin with funding models. I mean, we have to look at ways to actually finance Web-based media groups so that they can come together or initiatives that would bring together community based initiatives in the TV and Web-based worlds.
4162 I mean, I think the centres would be a good way to do that, the W2 Centre in Vancouver seems to be an emerging model of groups that are coming together to do media, regardless of the distribution platforms.
4163 So, yes, I mean country models --
4164 THE PRESIDENT: So, the country takes some of the two per cent that's presently spent by broadcasters and dedicated to the protection of local media centres?
4165 MS LEVINE: Yes.
4166 THE PRESIDENT: And you say something here, which I do not understand so, you say:
"There is no reason why we can't have strong local and Pan-Canadian and international reach with community medium at all."
Is the community medium or -- to me, there seems to be a contradiction of terms. The community model, by definition, is local. It's supposed to concentrate on local.
4167 We have an awful lot of national and international connections, et cetera. Why are you trying to take this vehicle which is designed to give expression to local people about their local concerns and try to nationalize or internationalize it? I don't get this.
4168 MS LEVINE: I guess, yes, it's important to start with local communities, but I mean, I think the definition of community being local, it's a bit outloaded and we are seeing real communities of people coming together over the Web and people sharing, you know, very deep and significant experiences over large geographical locations.
4169 We are no longer limited to our own backyards, although it does start with our own communities locally.
4170 THE PRESIDENT: But that is not local, that is not community. I mean, if you have people come together on an issue, nationally or internationally, that's wonderful, but that's what normal in technology, but that is not local communities the way we -- I mean local community can participate and clearly it does, but this part of the --
4171 MS LEVINE; Well, what if we had --
4172 THE PRESIDENT: Communication is try to make sure that the local people are not forgotten and that they have a way to self-express themselves. But it seems to me by making this national international pursue, you --
4173 MS LEVIN: I guess I see it as just making connections. If we start with local initiatives, local programming, why couldn't I, in Montreal, share my experiences with somebody, you know, in Vancouver who probably are dealing with maybe some similar issues on certain things, so we can create networks there, start speaking over the same issues and these are -- there are connections of communities.
4174 THE PRESIDENT: Of course you can do that, but why should we finance it? That's the point. We are talking here about money, let's face it, that's that. And your funding, you want to create this new -- but then you're telling these community centres are not going to concentrate on the local areas, they are also going to do this nationally.
4175 MS LEVINE: Well, I think the starting point certainly would be local, local in the sense of a geographical local, but I do think that the notion of community as necessarily geographically based is a bit -- it's changing. And we see this all over the Web and this is sort of a new look at communities -- well, communities of practice or communities of interests and it's also about sharing experiences more broadly.
4176 You know, the old adage «Think globally, act locally», I think that's very much true here.
4177 THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Dallett, you mentioned in your paragraph 18 the very same organizations that are willing to get together and work on this idea. What's stopping them from doing it right now? Why do you need a regulatory fee and financial support?
4178 MR. DALLETT: Our members have their own mandates that they've evolved and their funding is based on executing their current mandates.
4179 We are serving the artistic community and that accounts for a certain segment of the population in any given town. If you expanded that to include the entire population of citizens in the city, you would need an offering of full public access mandate to those, you would obviously need more resources.
4180 Furthermore, if they don't have -- they have never really thought about broadcast as something that was integral to their mandates. And so, what we saw in the CACTUS proposal was the idea to add this and to leverage the possibility of their expressions to go into distribution platforms that are more mainstream, which they are not really accommodated right now.
4181 THE PRESIDENT: Is that regulatory? I mean PAVED, to take one example, PAVED Arts from Saskatoon was here. They've told what they are doing and I am not -- and they have also told us they are accessing every level of government for funding and I did not hear anything in their description that they are not focusing on broadcasting.
4182 MR. DALLETT: Oh! Well, they are not currently a television station.
4183 THE PRESIDENT: No, no, no.
4184 MR. DALLETT: And they have a very interesting innovative Web platform for their artists and people who work for them to place their productions and content on the internet, but that's a very small scale. And what we are talking about here with this CACTUS model is a much larger -- much larger engagement.
4185 So, I guess that financing, I could answer your question by saying that you have a current mandate with a current level of resources and if you want to increase the mandate, you need more resources.
4186 THE PRESIDENT: Merci. Rita, do you have some questions?
4187 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Thank you. Yes, just a couple and they are along the lines more or less of defining some of the things that are in your presentations.
4188 And so, Ms Levine, I'll start with you, first and it does follow up with the conversation you've just had with the Chair, because throughout your presentation, both your written submission and your oral, you do use the word "community media".
4189 Can you give me your Webster's definition of "community media"?
4190 MS LEVINE: That would be coming from the greater community citizens at large, madame et monsieur tout le monde, who would be able to submit to this site, who would contact us, who do contact us and say: Hey, there is something happen in our community, how can we put this together?
4191 We've gone to help people with production skills if they need that, if they don't have those skills. We have gone into small communities all across the country to help people put together their media presentations and/or we just totally accept them over our platform, it's a free upload.
4192 It's moderated and so we do have a certain control and we make sure it's on topic and it's not, you know, irrelevant or explicit, but it's pretty much open to anybody.
4193 So, yes, I am talking about not necessarily professionally produced, but open and I don't mean poor quality. We are striving for quality and I think people, citizens are now working within a very high quality production value. So, it really is -- it's opened.
4194 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: And it brings me to the question of: Why do you leave that regulatory intervention by the CRTC is required at this point to further your objectives?
4195 MS LEVIN: I guess my big fear is that we are losing a community or what's happening is community is falling out of the regulatory body. It's you can't squash community. It's going to come out and wherever it's going to come out, but what will happen or what is happening is it's coming out somewhere else, completely aside of the whole mainstream media paradigm.
4196 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: And you're contributing to that.
4197 MS LEVINE: We are, but how unfortunate, how unfortunate if we lose this.
4198 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Fortunate then.
4199 MS LEVINE: Maybe, but isn't it kind of a loss to Canadians if we lose kind of -- first of all, some sort of funding for this because it just makes it extremely difficult to actually do it and to do it, to continue like to value real community to not go commercial, you know.
4200 So, I think that's the risk. Yes, people are doing it, yes, you know, we are funding new models, but they tend to go more commercially because we don't have much of a choice.
4201 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: And you know that other participants in these proceedings are saying that one of the problems with community television currently is that it's becoming much more professional and, therefore, competitive with over-the-air broadcasting and you're kind of saying the same thing?
4202 MS LEVIN: Yes, I am not --
4203 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: I guess the point is, where do we strike the balance between providing or enabling the provision of a quality product that isn't competitive with linear broadcasting? So how do we strike that balance?
4204 MS LEVINE: I guess it is to really look at what is going on out there on all mediums of community production and see how the CRTC might get involved in helping to fund and create models that would bring these groups together to actually produce community media, true community media.
4205 Because a lot of what I am hearing from or what I see from the cable companies, they do good work and it is of interest, but let's not call it community, it is mainstream media and it is serving their commercial interests.
4206 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Now, you said that there are some aspects of the CACTUS proposal that you do agree with and others that you disagree. Can you tell me what you disagree with?
4207 MS LEVINE: I think some of the advertising things. You know, we are just trying to get by and sometimes advertising may be a necessary evil. And I think there are ways to do advertising with an ethically oriented approach. You can have guidelines, you can only go with like-minded advertisers that won't alienate your user base.
4208 Yes, over-the-air, I am not sure, I guess that is sort of necessary, because a lot of the cable channels and -- Monsieur Morin, vous avez parlé l'autre jour, un exemple de St-Donat, une télé communautaire à St-Donat. Moi, j'ai une maison à St-Donat, puis, je n'avais jamais entendu parler de ce cablôdistributeur communautaire.
4209 Donc, oui, over-the-air, I guess we are more in agreement of that, but not quite sure.
4210 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: You are both based in Montreal, but you do have members across the country?
4211 MS LEVINE: Yes, well for the English site more, for the French site less, although they are in the francophonie across the country.
4212 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Now, have you on behalf of your members or do you know if your members have ever approached cable companies in their area to help them fulfil their access programming requirements?
4213 MS LEVINE: Yes, some of them do, some of them -- well they pose to cable companies, they don't always get it. You know, there is a pretty stringent selection process and a lot of people are actually refused their programming from the community cable channels.
4214 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Mr. Dallett, do you have any experience in this area, either yourself or on behalf of your members, or knowledge of your members approaching cable companies?
4215 MR. DALLETT: I don't have extensive experience, but I would say that the point made by Ms Levine about the mainstream media focus is a real disincentive. You know, I guess what we are talking about is the notion of expression and community control and self-expression. And if people want to feel they need an artistic context to put something out in, it is not something that they are seeking in a milieu that is very mainstream.
4216 So there are examples where some of our members have produced shows and had relationships with distributors. But it is not as if they are being sought out, you know, it is not -- and I would see the notion of coverage versus creation kind of the distinction that Commissioner Katz was making between push and pull. It is not about having coverage, it is about making your own productions and having your expressions disseminated.
4217 So I guess to generalize a lot, I would say that that space is not found or we don't see that space.
4218 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: I was going to ask you to explain further what you meant on page 3 of your oral comments when you said that, "As a cultural space the community broadcast system provides in fact a disincentive." And I think you are touching upon that now, but I was just wondering if you had anything else that you wanted to share with us in that comment?
4219 MR. DALLETT: Right. I mean, if you wanted to use branding terminology, it is not an artistic space.
4220 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Have you ever considered applying for a licence to run a specialty channel on behalf of members?
4221 MR. DALLETT: We are a service organization, we are not coordinating their programs, we represent them in forums like this. But as an association, we are not here to organize their activities per se like that. So as an association, we have not. And maybe I could say again that this notion of a broadcast mandate is something new for our community with one or two exceptions, NUTV being the primary one.
4222 And the whole notion is that this is a new context that is being proposed by CACTUS that would provide a showcase and a pathway for our artistic productions to get out to wider audiences, of taking on the challenge of creating that whole infrastructure from scratch is something that just hasn't been on the front burner for our organizations. They have their own -- you know, some of them are film festivals, it is not really about broadcasting on television, or they work with sound art, so it is not about visual media.
4223 So you know, I guess then answer is no.
4224 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: So your support of, your wholehearted support, of the CACTUS proposal for the network of multimedia access centres, you see that as a way in which your members can contribute by providing content to these multimedia access centres?
4225 MR. DALLETT: Absolutely. And when you look at the description that they provide of what they see as a multimedia access centre, if you separate off the broadcast plan and everything to do with the distribution, the structure is very similar.
4226 If you look at the video co-ops in many many cities, and it is a non-profit organization, it has public access, it does training, provides education, facilitates productions. So it is nature that there be some kind of relationship.
4227 And what this seems to be is an opportunity to add this new distribution mandate and come together either -- you know, some centres may want to take this on themselves, others might want to partner with community groups. And because, as I was saying before about the notion of access, if you expand from the artistic community of interest which, you know, I don't have population percentages of how many people are artists, but it is not the entire town that is coming for access and training, it is people who are specifically interested in making media art.
4228 If you want to open and enable the entire community, the entire population of residents, you need a bigger operation. You need an additional staffing structure to deal with all those people coming and to train them and to provide that kind of support and evolve into producers of their media.
4229 It is easier for us to operate in artistic media, because people are already motivated to be producers, they are makers, they go to art school, they want to create, that is their first instinct. When you have someone who has an idea, their first instance is they have an idea the might want to make something and show it to people, but they're not hands-on makers necessarily, and that is what the training and access would be for.
4230 So it is a larger pot of money, a larger resource and an larger infrastructure to help than happen, and that collaboration could be a way to do that.
4231 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Well, I want to thank you both very much for taking the time to come here today and speak to us.
4232 Those are all my questions.
4233 THE CHAIRPERSON: Peter?
4234 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Thank you.
4235 I just want to touch on the area where you talk about being open to the whole community and that sort of stuff.
4236 I know you are not endorsing the CACTUS proposal entirely, and it maybe would have been fair to ask them part of this question, but it just didn't happen. What do you do to make sure that you represent all segments of the community?
4237 Like, you spoke very passionately about being an alternative to mainstream media, and that really is the role of community television. And it might be a narrow channel, but outside of the mainstream there are lots of different groups. And this is public spectrum, it belongs to all of them.
4238 So what do you have in place to make sure that all groups have a voice and that you don't end up creating, one way or the other, and I am not suggesting that you would set out to do so, but by accident sometimes, a relatively narrow band that is alternative and effective, but isn't entirely exclusive to the full community?
4239 MS LEVINE: Well, we have people on staff whose job it is to do outreach and they go into communities, all kinds of communities, where there are issues happening and they actually try to stimulate dialogue and get people to contribute. And when people understand that they actually have a voice and then access, they are usually pretty interested in getting that voice out there.
4240 And we worked with small native communities, handicapped kids doing break dancing, we have worked with -- oh, like a huge variety of different types of people. So you know, we try to be as open as possible, but it takes work. You know the idea that you just open it up and they will come, that is not true.
4241 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: No, I know.
4242 MS LEVINE: You really have to go out and stimulate communities, you have to get right in there. You have to go to their meetings, you have to go where communities are happening.
4243 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: So do you have anything, procedures in place, where you monitor yourself and say, okay, are we being fair if we are getting, you know -- not political terms, but philosophical terms -- if we are getting certain views from one philosophical perspective, are we making sure we are balancing it out? Do you have any procedures in place to make sure you are inclusive of the whole community?
4244 MS LEVINE: Well, we were born out of the National Film Board of Canada, right, and spent most of our lives in the Film Board, so it was very important that we were considered balanced and open to all communities.
4245 I think, you know, you probably touched on something, we will have to be sure to do that, to continue to do that now that we are the Institut du nouveau monde and seeking independent status as well. So thanks for the reminder, that is a good point, and we will make sure to do that. It is crucial if we want to keep a really open community dialogue going.
4246 And people also, you know, they are free to dialogue right on the site. So if things are going off -- and that is the part that gets actually most interesting, when discussion starts getting heated about various issues, that is when things actually, you know, are the most interesting.
4247 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Yes, but you get the wrong sort of attention too quickly, yes.
4248 MS LEVINE: Sometimes. It is not easy, yes.
4249 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Thank you.
4250 THE CHAIRPERSON: One last question for Mr. Dallett, but also for you.
4251 If you are talking about multimedia centre this is money from cable subscribers. We are taking it away from people who pay it in order to get their cable TV. And what do I say to them saying, listen, I paid -- those 2 per cent, I paid that to get community TV and you are now using that money to do multimedia centres. That may enrich the community, may give it self-expression, and part of it will flow back to TV, but only part of it. A lot of it might find itself into new media, et cetera.
4252 I am a TV customer, I am paying for TV, why am I subsidizing other forms of expression?
4253 MR. DALLETT: I would say that that same model is used for the Canada Media Fund and that is a very significant precedent here, is that the entire emphasis on multiplatform is being embraced and institutionalized in this apparatus that relates to that.
4254 To me, I was aware of this seeming contradiction, you know, this also occurred to me, why does that makes sense? Because this is a structure that is in place with the mandate to promote community expression and it kind of changed the environment. It is about how to evolve into that multiplatform idea.
4255 THE CHAIRPERSON: In defence of the fund, the government puts in quite a bit of money for new media themselves, you know, it is not all money taken from television subscribers.
4256 MR. DALLETT: Sure, but some is going there. And the notion of how is the community expression going to be facilitated, it would be strange and anachronistic I think to insist that there be no web dissemination of something that was funded under this model. That is just a reality.
4257 THE CHAIRPERSON: I fully agree with you, I am just trying to find out ways -- if ever it should go there, how I justify it, you know. Pointing to the Canadian Media Fund to me is not really an answer because, as I say, it is partially funded by the government, while this money comes all from subscribers.
4258 MS LEVINE: Perhaps also, turn the question on its head a little bit and think if I am an internet user, why should I be paying for TV? I mean, from a lot of our constituents --
4259 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, you are not right now.
4260 MS LEVINE: No. Well, you know, for cable TV, yes. But a lot of our constituents sort of look at this and, you know, they are sort of puzzled at why we should have to be with sort of herded into a TV model if we are really into a new media. But the answer is because that is where the money and the power and the -- you know, that is where it is.
4261 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, well thank you very much for your presentation.
4262 MS LEVINE: Thank you very much.
4263 MR. DALLETT: We appreciate you taking the time.
4264 THE CHAIRPERSON: Madame la Secrétaire.
4265 THE SECRETARY: Thank you.
4266 We will now proceed with the presentations from CMES, Community Media Education Society, E&N Cowan Communications Limited, and OpenMedia.ca. Please come to the presentation table.
4267 THE SECRETARY: We will begin with the presentation of CMES Community Media Education Society. Please introduce yourself, and you have 10 minutes for your presentation.
4268 Thank you.
4269 MR. WARD: Mr. Chairman, Members of the Commission, my name is Richard Ward and I am a Director of CMES, Community Media Education Society, formed from the Vancouver east neighbourhood TV office after the shutdown by Rogers in 1996. Since then, we have intervened several times in support of participatory public access community television.
4270 In 2002 I appeared along with other CMES members before Parliament's Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, and we were quoted several times in their report, our cultural sovereignty often referred to as the Lincoln Report.
4271 Our submission here emphasises the importance of community television to our system of government, an neighbourhood platform where all candidates get to speak to voters. Unless we accept that elections are going to be bought by the biggest TV advertising budget, we need to keep a not-for-profit platform where our government policies can be fully explained and examined.
4272 We are pleased to see Metro Vancouver taking a strong role in these proceedings. If there is one time when the community channel tops the ratings, it is during a municipal election.
4273 Some speakers assume that community television attracts insignificant audiences. I believe I saw a BBM rating of 0.1 per cent printed. But when I was a producer in Kitsilano our dozen Vancouver area neighbourhood offices had 1,200 volunteers, which simple arithmetic shows is .1 per cent of the entire population. And I am sure we had more people watching than just our own volunteers.
4274 Today, Shaw claims a daily reach of 300,000. In Vancouver we always assumed shows averaged around 30,000 viewers judging by how often our guests and hosts were recognized on the street, which is a pretty good intuitive test of the importance of community to the neighbourhood.
4275 We believe that the community channel is an important public institution. That is why it is included in Canada's Broadcasting Act. It is a mistake to allow any business to claim ownership or political control over what must be a participatory medium. We believe community channels should be licensed in order to make this perfectly clear.
4276 We can see this imbalance when the Heritage Committee in the Lincoln Report states its dismay that no accounting of community channel spending exists, and then is simply ignored. The Lincoln Report becomes one of the most underreported stories of 2003. Here, you can see the power of concentrated media ownership.
4277 BDUs say that no one complains about their stewardship, but that is simply not true. Just one current example is Campbell River, B.C. where CMES intervened against the Shaw takeover last fall. Recent newspaper coverage points out that the Shaw purchase there, with CRTC approval, predicated on preserving the same level of community access TV, has within months led to an idle studio and the studio foyer turned into a business office.
4278 Gathered within comment 3002 are 2,080 letters opposed to the BDU model which, if you read the PDFs, are actually quite diverse, as diverse as most of the individual letters posted on the CRTC website.
4279 Comment 3003 has a further 430 letters opposing the BDU model. Some of Canada's largest creative organizations, public service associations and municipalities have decided to support CACTUS. That said, you as Commissioners have inherited a system where BDU operation of Canada's community channel has become an accepted business practice. You are going to have to disappoint someone.
4280 For more than a decade this dispute has been growing. Finding a resolution will be challenging. Many letters on the CRTC website show widespread fear that the purpose of these hearings is to shutdown community television in Canada.
4281 When we look a little deeper at all the letters, it is evident that people writing in are looking for the kind of things that any adequately funded service provider, not-for-profit or corporate, should be able to provide. The largest category, 617 comments, simply want a local channel, access 315, local information 213, 231 letters describe volunteering as reporters or technicians or interns from school and university media programs, 219 charities are grateful for community TV, arts, sports, youth, multicultural, and small business promotion add a further 516 comments.
4282 Of course, many letters touch on several topics and choosing the main one is subjective. So these figures can all be seen as minimums.
4283 Council meetings are central for 98 writers, revenue, how the channel should be funded is the main theme for 77 comments, 130 writers say the community channel is important for access to government generally. Within these three categories 107 letters are from city officials, nine from MPs, and 39 from representatives at the provincial level.
4284 BDUs say they will shutdown their channels if they lose the levy money. But what they are producing right now should be financed out of their advertising budgets, and we don't believe BDUs are going to stop advertising.
4285 CMES believes the CRTC should create a separate licence for cable-branded channels and encourage them to continue operating as promotional vehicles for their parent companies.
4286 In its submission, Rogers says it owns the community channel, and programming certainly reflects that opinion, particularly in light of the CRTC audits from 2002 to 2005.
4287 CMES regards ownership as central to understanding the community channel and believes that ownership vests in the Crown. Otherwise, the levy to support Canadian programming, currently 5 per cent of cable revenue, would be voluntary. In fact, what we have here is businesses using their taxes to have virtually total control over a public service. Licensing the community channel is the only way to make ownership crystal clear.
4288 Of course BDU channels aren't community channels, they never were. Fear of government manipulation combined with regulatory encouragement for cable companies as national corporate champions created a bad compromise in the formative days of participatory access TV. Now, today, we see our elections trivialized, our economies unbalanced and our neighbourhoods overlooked.
4289 CMES believes the 2 per cent community channel levy share recently estimated at $116 million annually in Canada should go to a community access fund.
4290 While CMES doesn't think the internet can be a replacement for community television, we do believe that media centres, like libraries, will be able to provide access for people who are unable to afford high-speed internet service from their BDUs. It is important to have a physical place for people to come together in their neighbourhoods. DTH operators will be able to contribute funding without aiding their competitors.
4291 You have an excellent proposal in front of you for multimedia centres that will retain traditional media, often centred in municipal buildings along with open access to new media with active involvement from established community organizations.
4292 Groups who have written comments supporting CACTUS include ACTRA, the Directors Guild, CTV, CanWest, The Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, the Canadian Conference for the Arts, the Independent Media Arts Alliance, the National Community Radio Association and NUTV in Calgary.
4293 Multimedia centres are supported by the City of Burnaby, Metro Vancouver, the Canadian Media Guild, the Documentary Organization of Canada, Open Media, Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, and the Canadian Library Association.
4294 CMES supports the CACTUS vision for multimedia centres. Community television, rather than competing for consumers, should let us hear the wisdom of Canadian citizens.
4295 Thank you.
4296 THE SECRETARY: Thank you.
4297 We will now hear the presentation of E&N Cowan Communications Limited. Please introduce yourself, and you have 10 minutes for your presentation.
4298 MR. COWAN: Commissioners, my name is Ed Cowan. The title of this hearing is a Review of Community Television Policy Framework. I am going to confine my few minutes of comments to my personal views on Canadian community television as it relates to the emerging issue of local television.
4299 Cable has managed to deliver 1960s amateur community television in a 2010 world because they were mandated to do it by you, the CRTC. The only real public cost of acquiring their licences. Very few consumers watch these channels. It is an idea that is long past sell-by date.
4300 The recent licensing of a multitude of specialty and digital channels of all stripes and colours and the advent of a very active internet community removes any really serious need for local public access.
4301 What then exactly in this digitally hot-wired 3D, thousand-channel universe should be community/local television and how, where and by whom should it be delivered to Canadians?
4302 In 2008 139 cable companies who had been running community channels collected $116 million and spent it on community television. What did we, the consumers, get for it? It seems to me that the first mission for all of us should be to clearly redefine what is now considered local television and what is now considered community television.
4303 I would suggest that it is almost the same from the consumers' point of view, they tend to be interchangeable. Unfortunately, the internet has kind of captured the word "community" but their community are communities of bird watchers or communities of Hot Rod car owners. They see community in a horizontal sense rather than a vertical sense.
4304 So then what is the best way to what I call logical local? It is to first seriously discuss and discuss what in this 2010 communication universe is real, vital, focused and entertaining local programming and what must start of course with the word "local."
4305 Dictionaries are a wonderful and a natural place to start thinking about local and community. Pick what words and images you want, they are all relevant, pertaining to a small town, district, city, rather than an entire province or a whole country, let alone the world. With its local time, local heroes, local trains and busses, local government, local options, local shopping, local dances, branches, local stores, local residents, local papers, local doctors and dentists, local difficulties, local personalities, local political issues, local stations, and even local area networks.
4306 When you begin applying these simply everyday words and phrases to the potential for real useful entertaining and thoughtful local television programming the ideas fall like quarters from a winning slot machine spin.
4307 Who then should have the responsibility to deliver this local content to Canadian homes? The exiting network broadcasters? No, they have already shown their local colours by jettisoning local stations and local programming responsibility after giving every assurance to the CRTC that they would defend local programming.
4308 Now, if that is the way they really feel, then why not consider relieving them of all the cost of doing local programming?
4309 With this saving, together with potential new cable access revenues and the imminent return of recently lost national television advertising, this idea would more than satisfy their bottom lines and maybe make more money available for major Canadian content initiatives.
4310 The cable companies? No. Never. Last January Rogers Cable organization struck the final blow to local programming by announcing that their recently acquired Citytv network would no longer produce local newscasts in Edmonton and Vancouver and cut Toronto severely back, eliminating 60 jobs, again, after giving every assurance to the CRTC that it would defend local programming.
4311 If that is what they really want, then these cable companies should be relieved of their community channel responsibilities, save over $100 million, and therefore offsetting any monies lost from potential payments for conventional carriage, and voilà, the specious "tax on consumer" propaganda is eliminated.
4312 With these two rational changes, the Local Broadcast Improvement Fund then could be put to proper creative use.
4313 Then, in a creative and innovative act of Canadian broadcast renewal, the CRTC should begin a process of licensing local must-carry commercial broadcasting undertakings to be financed through a combination of three revenue sources:
4314 - one, the sale of local and regional commercial advertising and commercial sponsorships;
4315 - two, specialty channel type local access fees from the cable companies and satellite carriers; and
4316 - three, full and exclusive access to the now unlocked Local Broadcast Improvement Fund.
4317 Clearly, we need a new vision and paradigm from the regulator, new economic players in the industry, new creative ideas from our actors, directors and producers, and exciting new employment for hundreds of recently laid-off local television production personnel, and, finally, an employment opportunity for the many hundreds of fearful students pouring out of our nation's third level television, film and digital content educational facilities.
4318 The advent of now low-cost technical production and broadcast equipment, added to the new evolving multi-channels of content delivery, plus these three levels of potential income funding should provide more than enough wherewithal to sustain any creative, highly focused and profitable local television enterprise.
4319 Does this approach solve the current conventional network and cable conundrum? No, but hopefully, it attempts to take the spurious deflection of "save local television" out of the current chaos and places it where it belongs, in a more positive context of the real needs and wants of the local television viewer.
4320 A reordering of the current television broadcast system, together with the licensing of hundreds of new local television stations dotted across the nation, will more than meet the current government's desires, satisfy the existing broadcasters' and cable operators' financial needs and usher in a major creative rebirth of community/local television for Canadians living in cities, towns and villages of this nation.
4321 I thank you very much and I will take your questions.
4322 THE SECRETARY: Thank you.
4323 We will now hear the presentation of OpenMedia.ca.
4324 Please introduce yourself and your colleagues and you have 10 minutes for your presentation.
4325 MR. ANDERSON: Thank you for inviting us to present to this historic and timely hearing.
4326 I am Steve Anderson, the National Coordinator of OpenMedia.ca.
4327 We are here on behalf of a network of organizations that represent nearly 700,000 people from across Canada who want diverse and democratic media in Canada.
4328 I am joined by Michael Lithgow, Research Associate at OpenMedia.ca, and David Skinner, who is the Chair of the Department of Communication Studies at York University.
4329 Michael has a long history as a community media practitioner. He also completed a study of a Community TV centre in Nova Scotia, which we attached to our original submission.
4330 In addition to his post at York University, David Skinner has also contributed to several books covering independent and community media.
4331 This February, Trina McQueen from the CFTPA asked you, Konrad, what you still hope to do before your mandate is finished. You said you hope to change the media policy environment from one of protection and of giving people special rights and privileges to one of enabling cultural producers.
4332 I think that you are right, when we have a public internet enabling cultural producers to succeed, that is the best approach.
4333 If there is one thing that the CACTUS plan for community access centres is about it is enabling citizens to become cultural producers. It is essentially a plan to create a network of media and cultural innovation hubs. The centres will help citizens gain skills needed to be successful digital citizens and cultural producers for a digital age.
4334 If you wish to focus less on protecting and more on enabling, the CACTUS plan is an ideal way to move decisively in that direction.
4335 The issue at hand is similar to other issues that have come before the Commission before, such as Net neutrality, where we are in a situation where there are literally a few companies on one side of the issue and the rest of Canada on the other side of the issue.
4336 It is clear that liberating the community media funds is in the interest of the cultural creator community, local business, innovation, marginalized people like at-risk youth and Canadians in general.
4337 In whose interest is it to let the cable companies operate this public resource, while also delivering a commercial for-profit service? It is clearly only the cable companies that benefit from this scenario.
4338 This hearing is an exciting opportunity. As someone who has organized media policy forums in several cities across the country, I can tell you that local media centres would tap into an immense excitement and enthusiasm concerning new media right now.
4339 The Commission has the ability to provide a spark that I am sure will ignite an explosion of imagination, creativity and innovation. I am not sure what the benefit is to the alternative. We have already seen it and, quite frankly, it is quite underwhelming.
4340 I would like to make one point clear before we move on. The money in the public trust that we are talking about is not an asset of the cable companies. It is public money that is supposed to be put towards community expression.
4341 It is clear, especially from Cogeco's testimony yesterday, that the cable companies see this public trust as "a business advantage" or "a product." Cable companies have shown that they are either unwilling or unable to adequately provide this community service, so it is time for something new.
4342 With that I will let the rest of our panel proceed, starting with Michael.
4343 MR. LITHGOW: These hearings come on the heels of a number of important public conversations and decisions about the changing state of the Canadian broadcasting system. Recently we have seen the creation of the Local Programming Improvement Fund, the Digital Media Fund, and recent decisions acknowledging the impact of internet production and distribution on broadcasting and the importance of Net neutrality in maintaining an open, vibrant and innovative cultural milieu in Canada.
4344 The Commission and Canadians are lucky in these hearings to have before them a proposal addressing the community television sector that is equally far-reaching in its vision and understanding of how these networked changes are transforming Canadian society. There only rarely comes an opportunity for public officials to take advantage of new ideas and changes, not to catch up to them but to harness their potential to create opportunities for a future that is still unfolding.
4345 We believe that the CACTUS proposal to use community access funds to create and fund community media centres is just such an innovative and far-reaching idea. Without any new costs to Canadian taxpayers or corporations, 90 percent of the Canadian public could have access to the opportunities, skills, equipment and facilities to participate in the very part of the broadcast system that so bedevils the commercial and public sectors: local programming.
4346 The CACTUS proposal takes what has been the cornerstone of community television regulation since its inception -- public participation -- and re-envisions it for a networked, digital and interactive age. It is the only real innovative proposal in these hearings to fundamentally expand the reach of community access opportunities in Canada and to address the many changes that digital and online technologies are presenting for the community channel sector.
4347 It is important to remember that the CACTUS proposal offers communities a way to participate in cultural expression with the kinds of resources and training and facilities that are required to create programming with even a baseline of sophistication. We are talking about studios with proper lighting, sound recording facilities, multi-camera set-ups and control rooms and attractive sets. These are resource demands beyond most individual consumers.
4348 The community production model creates opportunities for communities that would otherwise not exist, not even with digital and internet technologies: mentorship training, large production crews required for studio shoots or live multi-camera coverage, collaborative productions such as locally created dramatic television or local news coverage.
4349 To suggest that these access programs are no longer needed because we have the internet is to suggest that making a video in my basement and posting it on YouTube offers the same cultural opportunities for expression as CBC programming or CTV or any of the other large media producers. Such a comparison defies the obvious gross differences in what kinds of programming can be accomplished in the two models.
4350 Perhaps the most important policy change needed in the community television sector is that community access funding must be managed by a not-for-profit entity at arm's-length from the cable companies. Community channel spending is like a public trust: funds mandated by regulation to be spent in the public interest. Whoever manages these resources should be held to high standards in meeting the public objectives set out in the regulations. The CACTUS proposal for Community Access Media Fund addresses this concern.
4351 The CACTUS proposal is premised on the principle that we want Canadians to participate in culture not only through the professional and monetized channels that the private and public sectors manage but through other means. The local library is a clear demonstration of how deeply Canadians believe in access to culture.
4352 The 21st Century presents us with a new cultural landscape where who we are is not only defined by what we consume but also by what we create and share through the opportunities of interactive digital networks. The CACTUS proposal for community media centres offers these opportunities.
4353 Community access programming was a far-reaching vision at a time when cable technologies were new and their impact on Canadian culture and its industries little understood. And it still remains so today. There is no nostalgia in this but a continuing recognition of the importance of cultural participation to citizenship and democratic ideals.
4354 The importance of local information to communities in Canada cannot be overstated. And who better to determine what information is of importance than the community itself? Witness the many submissions from municipal councils in support of community access.
4355 I turn the microphone over to my colleague David Skinner.
4356 DR. SKINNER: Great.
4357 Thanks for this opportunity to speak with you. My comments are somewhat general in terms of the larger policy treatment of community TV and provide support for some of the basic points that underlie the CACTUS submission.
4358 My first point is that despite being listed as one of the central elements of the broadcasting system, community broadcasting has never been given an opportunity to meet with its potential as a vehicle for broad-based community expression and I think the central reason for this is that in Anglophone Canada these channels have almost exclusively been under the direct control of cable companies.
4359 Certainly, while I appreciate that most of the evidence for this charge seems anecdotal and that there may be exceptions to the idea that cable companies have not been supportive of wide-ranging community expression, there are many firsthand accounts in this regard. And these accounts aren't just third-party hearsay, they are actually firsthand evidence that there is a problem.
4360 I also have had experience in this regard, particularly regarding how Shaw revamped the community channel in Kamloops and Kelowna in the early part of this decade. At the time I was teaching journalism and communication studies in the area and my experience was that they just weren't interested in any broad community input into the channel. Rather, they were trying to develop a business model for the channel and I actually had a student in the program I was administering at the time whose job it was to basically do that.
4361 I'm afraid that the firsthand evidence of many of the people who have worked in community channels is that this is the general attitude among the big cable operators and that as long as production at these channels is under the control of cable companies, they will have very little chance for being an outlet of wide-ranging community expression. It is simply not in the interest of cable companies to run them that way.
4362 A second problem has to do with the issue of finance. It is unfortunate that very few people have come forward to take advantage of the changes that were made to the community television policy in 2002, but I think the fact is that very few people have the resources to avail themselves of this opportunity. There needs to be infrastructure and funds to help train and support people and facilitate their participation. That is why I think the Community Access Media Fund is so crucial to the larger enterprise of developing community media in Canada.
4363 A third point has to do with the idea that one hears from time to time, one covered by my colleague and particularly ably by people in the previous panel, and that is that there is no need for the community channel because we now have the Web and particularly YouTube. As the CACTUS proposal illustrates, community television should be distributed on the Web as well as through more traditional modes.
4364 But the Web is not a substitute for such things as access to production facilities, training, mentorship, et cetera. Moreover, on the consumption side, simple Web-based video is unorganized, poorly advertised, hard to find, has poor production values and is often of indeterminate length. In other words, it is generally difficult to find and watch for a host of reasons at this point.
4365 Hence, to relegate community programming to the Web generally, without a clear plan on how to produce, present and organize it, I think, is to relegate it to relative obscurity.
4366 THE SECRETARY: I am sorry, can you conclude?
4367 DR. SKINNER: Yes. That is the problem of being third on the panel.
4368 DR. SKINNER: I also had another point about distribution, the necessity of putting community television sort of front and centre on the basic tier or basic programming package on all distribution elements.
4369 In terms of production I had a point that it was important to have community media centres. It is a bold and innovative idea that certainly will, I think, help, as the previous discussant mentioned, provide an avenue for hundreds of people graduating from journalism and communication programs every year, an avenue for them to develop their skills.
4370 Anyway, to sum up, I think the CACTUS proposal provides a particularly innovative place to start talking about building a vibrant community media element in Canada today.
4371 Thank you.
4372 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, thank you for your presentations.
4373 You heard me on Monday saying the first question is: Are the current funding mechanisms for community television working? Are the amounts currently dedicated to the sector appropriate? Is there adequate access to community programming and are there improvements needed? Is there sufficient accountability regarding the amounts the cable companies are allowed to direct to community television?
4374 I heard from all three of you a resounding no to all three of these questions and your proposals all embrace CACTUS. Mr. Cowan goes further and says, you know, there is no difference between local and community and start redevising the whole thing. These are very revolutionary ideas that all of you put forward.
4375 Let's go back to where we started off with, that access to a community television system shall be the third tier of the system. To put this into place, we set up this present program and we said, cable companies, you have to operate a community channel, and we put in provisions regarding access and exposure.
4376 Now, you have all made the point that there is not sufficient accountability. You know, on Monday I tabled a request for the cable companies to give us very detailed information by the 7th of May and you will have it and you can use it in your final submissions.
4377 But besides the accountability -- that is the relatively easy part of things -- the whole idea, of course, is cable companies have the means. They get 2 percent of their subscription revenues that they can use for this purpose. They are in the business. They should enable, they should outreach, they should work with the community to have the community reflect itself. Essentially, it is an idea of trying to marry the expertise of the cable companies, their facilities, their ability to mentor the talent in the community which wants to express itself but doesn't have access to this.
4378 Why isn't it working and is there not a way that we can make it work, rather than going to the very radical proposals that each one of you is proposing? I mean is the central idea dead on arrival or did we just not implement it in a proper manner?
4379 Let me start with you, Community Media.
4380 MR. WARD: I think the issue of accountability should not be slipped over quickly. This is the reason that I am looking at public involvement for this. I think originally the cable companies were in the position of managing the channel because they were seen as having the resources, the financial resources. If someone were to libel someone else, they could pay for this.
4381 But what we have -- what I am saying is that this ultimately is a political issue, that public bodies should have access through the community channel, through some form of television without having it be a commercial form. So can the cable companies do it? Let me give you a historic example.
4382 There was a time when fire departments were private and everybody put a badge on their house to say whether they were covered or not, and if they weren't covered, their house burned.
4383 I don't think this works. I think there are some things that have to be public. I think there are some things that have to be accountable to our public system and I think the community channel, from the start, has that role within our broadcasting system.
4384 THE CHAIRPERSON: Mr. Cowan?
4385 MR. COWAN: Sometimes, you feel like saying: Get real. These cable guys, it is just --
4386 THE SECRETARY: Sorry, could you turn on your microphone?
4387 MR. COWAN: Sorry. Like I said, there are times I feel like saying: Should we get real? It is not in the fibre of a cable operator to do this. He doesn't really want to do it. He wants to make money. He wants to get into other services. He wants reasons to charge consumers more money and to satisfy shareholders.
4388 To answer your question, I think no. I just think it is way past its sell by date. It doesn't make any sense whatsoever and it is something they have to do, the minimum they could possibly get away with.
4389 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, but even if I accept the assumption, which I don't, but for the sake of argument, can't you say, look, fine, you don't want to do this but this is a cost of doing business and this is what you must do, and we set it out and you put in proper accountability, you put measurements, you put standards, et cetera, et cetera.
4390 I do not see why you necessarily have to go the extra steps that C.M.E.S. said, it can't be done by them. I mean that is -- or at least that is why I am asking the question. Do we really have to go so far as what he says, that it has to be a non-profit, if it is run by a for-profit company, it will never work?
4391 MR. COWAN: I agree. I know you are trying to find a way. Is another way, should it be 3 percent, 4 percent, 5 percent if it was done more professionally in a way that would attract some audience within their local communities? I am using "local" now rather than "community." Maybe.
4392 THE CHAIRPERSON: But I mean there are all sorts of public services, ambulance service, medical testing, et cetera, which are run by private companies, but pursuant to very strict government-mandated procedures and outcomes and accountability. I don't see why this is any different.
4393 MR. COWAN: It is much different because there is a shareholder and profitability side to their business and it is the major part of their operation. The fire departments don't have that. The police departments don't have that.
4394 THE CHAIRPERSON: I said ambulance.
4395 MR. COWAN: Well, some ambulances.
4396 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, yes.
4397 MR. COWAN: Some ambulances do.
4398 You know, I have been around the business for a long time and I just can't see it. I think it was not a great decision originally. I think if the money was taken and put into -- taken out of the hands of the cable operator, where the cable operator was only supplying the channel of distribution, which is really the business that they are in, yes, I think that could be done. But to saddle them with something they don't want to do and they don't do very well doesn't make much sense to me.
4399 THE CHAIRPERSON: OpenMedia?
4400 MR. ANDERSON: I think what is radical is letting or asking a big corporation to run a community service like this. If you look at other countries around the world, as CACTUS pointed out, it is radical what we are doing right now. The CACTUS proposal is not. It is a very commonsense solution to the problem.
4401 The main reason is there is a fundamental conflict of interest here. Their main priority is to make profits through commercial television and so they are gearing their community television towards that mandate. That is their mandate for their shareholders.
4402 I would also like to add that we are in a new era now and in that era, in that digital era, it is best to enable communities themselves. That is the best way to do it, to empower citizens in a digital environment. We need Web-enabled community access centres.
4403 THE CHAIRPERSON: What do I say to all -- if we accepted the CACTUS proposal, for argument, what would you say to all the people who have appeared before us this week who are saying community television works, it works very well, it works for us, not the cable companies but in effect members of the communities and there have been lots of them, you have heard them, who are quite satisfied and find that community television actually works, fills a need, gives them the ability to self-reflect or gives them a reflection of the community?
4404 Go ahead.
4405 MR. LITHGOW: They --
4406 THE CHAIRPERSON: Your mike is not working.
4407 MR. LITHGOW: Sorry. They wouldn't be excluded by the CACTUS model. The people that have come forward, as Rick sort of nicely diced out, looking at the kinds of things that they enjoyed about the current system, all that would exist within the CACTUS model, none of that would change. So what I would say to them is those opportunities will still exist, they will be expanded to include more people.
4408 THE CHAIRPERSON: What about the question my colleague Mr. Menzies posed: Those community groups, how do you ensure that they don't get dominated by a particularly well-organized single interest group? You are opening it up to the community and you take one which then sort of tries to dictate its outlook or its small approach to whatever the issue is in the programming.
4409 MR. LITHGOW: I will just answer very briefly. I am sure everybody wants to speak to this.
4410 One, the CACTUS model actually details how this could be avoided by having a very community representative board of directors. But I would start by asking how do the cable companies do it now and do they do it at all, because there are a lot of communities in Canada that are saying they are excluded from those opportunities.
4411 So fair enough, it is a really good question but that kind of accountability doesn't take place now and we think the CACTUS model has taken the time and the research to propose a structure that addresses that.
4412 MR. WARD: My experience is that the more accessible a group is, the easier it is to be part of it, the more exciting it is to be part of it, the more diverse people you get into it and the less likelihood that anyone will dominate it. So the very idea of accessibility will prevent that sort of domination and suppress it when it starts to rise, because I am not saying it won't but I am suggesting it has to be defeated.
4413 Let me, for the sake of argument, just speak to something you said a second ago. You said: What if the cable companies were to continue operating and there were proper standards and accountability and closer scrutiny of what they did? You may have used the phrase "tighter regulation."
4414 In Vancouver we were making progress with ICTV when we had a strong Executive Director of the CRTC. When she retired, she wasn't replaced. My concern over regulation is that your own resources may be somewhat constrained and while you may have every intention of regulating closely, you simply may not be well enough funded to do the job we all would like to see done.
4415 THE CHAIRPERSON: That point is very easy to argue. First of all, you have to establish the standards. Secondly, you have to make sure that there is adequate reporting. And then I rely on people like you to come forward and saying, they are not living up to it, and we then have the means to deal with it.
4416 I mean our system is basically a complaints-driven system but it is difficult for you to complain if you don't have the data and if the standards are unclear. I understand that.
4417 So that is why my question to you is: Assuming there is -- we make the standards clearer and more exact and we make sure that there is more disclosure and more timely disclosure so that you can monitor and see whether they are living up to it or not. I mean the mere fact of us asking for that extra data at the beginning of the hearing is a clear indication that we don't feel there is sufficient data ourselves, so...
4418 But, you know, that's what I said. You talked about accountability and accountability can be strengthened, it can be made better, you can have better disclosure, et cetera.
4419 But you guys all have gone way beyond that, you said no, this isn't going to work, take the funds out of the cable companies and put it into a CACTUS like proposal.
4420 And that's why I wanted to know, do we have to go that far, because it strikes me as a very extreme solution, extreme from where we are right now, you know, not extreme, per se, but extreme to go there and the question is, do we want to go far, do we have to go that far and cannot the existing model be made to work?
4421 Mr. Cowan, you wanted to say something?
4422 MR. COWAN: I wish I had as much faith as you do.
4423 You know, having dealt with the cable operators for all of these years I question trust, I question their ability and what is very important at this stage of the game, whether it's community television, whether it's CACTUS and whether it's our idea, is we have to improve the programming, we have to improve the content, we have to build local audiences with local content.
4424 All of the research and a lot of the papers that certainly I've read on the subject is if you have very good production values with local television it works and it brings audiences.
4425 Local news, we know now, we have always known that local news draws audiences.
4426 Local public affairs hasn't been really given a chance in terms of the kind of funding base, other kinds of local programming has basically disappeared off the television screen.
4427 Is there room for a CACTUS proposal and a proposal like ours? Yes, I think there is. I think there is. I rather like it.
4428 But in response to you wanting to hold onto the present system where the cable operators come under more stringent rules, I just can't see it happening.
4429 THE CHAIRPERSON: You are all making the point of access, that essentially you don't have access or don't have sufficient access, that the cable companies control the programming.
4430 That seems to be, if I understand, one of the key complaints.
4431 MR. COWAN: Yes, I would agree with that. It's -- you know, the word access is kind of, for me kind of a negative, a backward word and as a citizen I'd like to kind of have that turned around.
4432 And access means I have to kind of beg for something, I have to ask them for something and --
4433 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. I'm just making it up right now just to get your thinking on it.
4434 If we said, cable companies, 75 percent of your programming has to be community produced, cannot be produced by you, you may lend them the facilities to do it would have to be their -- conceived, directed and produced by them.
4435 Wouldn't that meet some of the goals that you're talking about?
4436 MR. COWAN: It would meet some of them. It certainly wouldn't improve the quality, all right. I mean, the key here within a community is how do we improve the quality?
4437 Some of the things that CACTUS has suggested would improve the quality because, you know, I don't know how many cable television studios you've been in, but certainly the ones that I've been in are pretty meagre and --
4438 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
4439 MR. COWAN: And --
4440 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. There are three of you. I have to ask the others too, OpenMedia?
4441 DR. SKINNER: I would say, sir, that probably nobody's more familiar with the difficulty of trying to harness the private broadcasters and public interests than yourselves.
4442 A bunch of the history of the Commission is the history of that struggle obviously, the history around Canadian content regulations, history -- current history around the television fund, I mean, it goes on and on.
4443 So, if in fact the project is to better enable community or enable people in a broad sense and what's better in terms of enabling them than enabling communities to express themselves and putting the means of expression in their own hands outside of the hands of the large corporations.
4444 MR. LITHGOW: Sorry, just to add very briefly. I personally have been coming to the Commission and making submissions for 15 years on all of the complaints that are being raised in these hearings.
4445 So, if there's some skeptism on the part of the Canadian public in terms of whether or not the cable companies are interested in or the ways that they're interested in community television, I think it's justified.
4446 Canadians have been saying the same things, accountability and transparency for a long time.
4447 And the model being proposed is to put that money into the hands of an organization that agrees to the public trust aspect, that agrees to the public interest aspect of it, not that you have to pull the teeth out of the organization to get them to comply, which really changes the dynamic of accountability and transparency.
4448 THE CHAIRPERSON: The other question that I have is, why does it have to be linear television, why couldn't content be met by video-on-demand?
4449 It seems to me the very nature of community programming, and you heard from Telus this morning, et cetera, it depends obviously on how they set it up, how can stuff can be found and people can see it.
4450 But why is it necessary to be linear? Why could it not be met by a video-on-demand channel devoted to the community, which obviously is opening a page, a search function, so they can find what you're looking for. You want to see your local sports, you want to see your local council or you want to see a festival, or you want to see how to cook with a cooking show or something, you can find it.
4451 I have not yet heard anybody explain to me why that wouldn't work.
4452 MR. WARD: I ride with a bicycle club in Calgary called the Easy Riders. We ride during Tuesdays and Thursdays during the week so that these people tend to be retired, and we schedule our rides over the computer.
4453 And if there is one contentious issue it's the people who don't have computers. They are retired, they are seniors, they will never have computers. They will listen to their grandchildren talk about them if they have to, but they will watch television.
4454 These people are not going to go to video-on-demand. They want television where they can switch through the dials.
4455 THE CHAIRPERSON: But video-on-demand is on your television, you can look at it.
4456 MR. WARD: The video-on-demand is not on the switchable one. Actually I guess I'm arguing against the computer.
4457 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
4458 MR. WARD: I guess I'm arguing against the computer. Sorry.
4459 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes. I understand the argument about computers, but video-on-demand it seemed to me -- but please enlighten me.
4460 DR. SKINNER: As a community channel addressing the community, I mean, I was going to argue that these things should be on a must carry on the basic tier or a must carry on a basic programming package.
4461 Video -- I don't have video-on-demand, I have --
4462 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. But if it was part of your basic package as a community video-on-demand.
4463 DR. SKINNER: Well, by the same token, I mean, I don't know if you can -- okay. That was a good question, all right. I appreciate your question.
4464 THE CHAIRPERSON: You have until May 17th, but it's one of the questions that I posed at the beginning, you know, I haven't heard anybody really give me --
4465 MR. COWAN: Who's going to fund it? Where's the money going to come from?
4466 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, the same funding committed to programming right now, the two percent.
4467 MR. COWAN: The two percent. And what we're going to get is what we have now, just spread out a little further, that's all, you know.
4468 THE CHAIRPERSON: That's an additional question. I didn't ask you -- I just asked the means of delivery now. I heard you on the first point, so...
4469 DR. SKINNER: Sorry. Even video-on-demand, there's a certain -- to a large degree, I mean, when people watch television there's a whole industry of advertising and promotion associated with television in general that leads people to particular places on the dial, particular places or video-on-demand.
4470 Community television to a large part wouldn't have that facility for promotion and, in some ways, the community television would -- sort of a broad base would be discovered by different people and that's how it would build its audience.
4471 And one of the only ways it could actually work in that regard, I would suggest, would be to be front and centre in a must carry tier where when people are scanning across the channels that are available, they stumble on it.
4472 THE CHAIRPERSON: I said it would be part of your basic tier.
4473 DR. SKINNER: Sorry?
4474 THE CHAIRPERSON: I told you, it would have to be part of the basic package.
4475 DR. SKINNER: But as video-on-demand, is that the way it would work? I'm sorry, I don't quite understand how it would work?
4476 Like, it's not a channel that's readily available now. We have -- like on my cable system I have 60 channels that are listed right there, I run through them one by one, I can see what's on them all the time.
4477 Video-on-demand, how would that technology operate in that respect?
4478 THE CHAIRPERSON: A special presentation, where you put it on, I mean, you can put it -- you place it so that people can find it.
4479 DR. SKINNER: So, how would that --
4480 THE CHAIRPERSON: On your channel right now. Anyway, I'm not proposing, I'm trying to figure out --
4481 DR. SKINNER: No, I know, I know.
4482 THE CHAIRPERSON: I mean, on your video stream right now when you look through the channels your video-on-demand comes after you've gone through the linear channels, but that's just where it's being placed right now, it doesn't have to be there.
4483 DR. SKINNER: So, if you placed it lower and it was funded in a similar way and operated in a similar way to the CACTUS proposal, it would just be presented that way on the --
4484 THE CHAIRPERSON: I didn't say anything about CACTUS.
4485 DR. SKINNER: Well, no, but --
4486 THE CHAIRPERSON: I just said delivery.
4487 DR. SKINNER: I'm with you. Would it be funded, would it be -- could it be operated in a different way and just presented that way; is that what you're saying? Or is that --
4488 THE CHAIRPERSON: In the province of -- I understand we'll hear from them next week, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, SaskTel and MTS have in effect a community channel which they deliver in a video-on-demand format, and you heard Telus this morning that they are intending to do it, in the process of rolling this out and they've rolled it out in part of the country already.
4489 And I'm just asking why it can't be, why we have to dedicate a linear channel to it?
4490 But anyway, if you want to reflect on it.
4491 My last question is direct to homes television, i.e., satellite companies. They will be appearing before us later on and they all want -- most of them want a sort of community of communities channel, they say it is unfair for us not being able to offer this because Canadians want a community channel, et cetera.
4492 And obviously since they service the whole country, we will hear from them, I assume it's a wheel of the main communities that they serve and you can get some programming from them, or we'll hear the details of what they have.
4493 But what's your feeling about this? Is satellite TV and community television really incompatible or is there a way that the two can be married?
4494 MR. WARD: My position is that something becomes community television when you can product it in a town like Nelson or a neighbourhood like Vancouver East.
4495 If it's then beamed up to a satellite and sent to people in Montreal, as long as the people in Vancouver East and Nelson get to produce it, as long as they get the equipment, as long as it's not somebody else producing for them, then I would accept the model, but --
4496 THE CHAIRPERSON: Local production is key.
4497 MR. WARD: Local production for me is key. But that is a hard thing to do. And, again, if I can go back just to what I said today.
4498 If there is a contribution to support an independent operator and the contribution comes to some extent from the cable companies which are contributing now, DTH could also contribute to an independent operator.
4499 THE CHAIRPERSON: Mr. Cowan?
4500 MR. COWAN: I guess as long -- I agree with it's got to be produced locally, but it also has to be viewable locally which is where the difficulty comes with the satellite.
4501 And I don't know technically how the heck they would do that at this stage.
4502 MR. LITHGOW: (off mic)
4503 THE SECRETARY; Your mic.
4504 MR. LITHGOW: Oh, sorry. A thought where technology is being at least experimented with in the United States for spot broadcasting.
4505 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
4506 MR. LITHGOW: So that you could use satellite distribution models to actually continue to do local distribution in addition to the local productions.
4507 So, I think that's an interesting model.
4508 I definitely think, because they're part of the broadcasting system, that their contributions financially to whatever the solution is to this conversation are necessary.
4509 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. We'll hear from them, what they have to say.
4510 But, as I say, you have until May 17th to reflect on my original question, rather than doing a revolution, what would be an evolution here?
4511 Okay. Any...
4512 I'm sorry, Rita, did you...?
4513 I'm sorry, Michel, did you...
4514 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: One question.
4515 First I want to say thank you for your submission because it's really a lot of food for thought and it surely will be very helpful in our deliberation because it covers a wide range of views.
4516 Now, you said -- one of you said, and you were not the first to say that, in 2008 $116-million went to community television and it delivers a .1 market share.
4517 We also were told that market share was really not the way we should be looking at the community channel, we should be looking at reach, and in the case of the story that is in the paper this morning, Rogers rather than have a .1 share has 3.3 percentage of the population that is watching its community channel.
4518 And, by the way, CTV is getting 66.7, so I have difficulty to understand all the fuss that is made around the fact that we have said that they have .2.
4519 That being said, that's my editorial comment.
4520 It's obvious that we don't get significant result for the money invested, but in the model that you're proposing, will it get better market share? Will the people of Canada feel that they have a bang for the buck that they're putting in any of the proposals that are outside of the management of the cable industry?
4521 MR. ANDERSON: I think that we will get more bang for our buck. I think -- like I said, people -- I work with people across the country especially young people and they're really excited about new media and the current model does not facilitate that at all.
4522 They don't enable new media production, they make it difficult for the person that counts, for people to get out cameras. It's not an enabling environment and it's not an environment that empowers local citizens.
4523 And I think the CACTUS model, you will see an explosion of interest and you will see better content and better interest, more interest and I think the viewership will go up a lot because of that.
4524 Because right now it is sort of controlled as a promotional vehicle in many cases by these companies and that's -- and, as a result, the footage is not from the community as much as it could be and it's not as exciting as it could be.
4525 So, I think for sure you would see growth and interest and viewership.
4526 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
4527 THE CHAIRPERSON: Peter, I believe you have a short question.
4528 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: It was basically the same question.
4529 How big do you see that audience being?
4530 MR. ANDERSON: It's hard to say how big it is because we haven't -- I mean, it's definitely going to be bigger than what it is now because, I mean, even when you look at --
4531 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: I don't want to put you on the spot and have to make it up. If you had an answer, let's hear it.
4532 MR. ANDERSON: Yeah, yeah. I'm not going to make it up, but --
4533 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Otherwise I'll let you go.
4534 MR. ANDERSON: I'm definitely not going to make it up, but if you look at Cogeco's appearance yesterday, they said -- they started talking about how they accept certain applications for the community television.
4535 And I started thinking, what an uncomfortable -- like, why should that company be deciding and what kind of exciting programs might we see if there wasn't a bottleneck, like a big cable company.
4536 And I think for sure it has to expand -- yeah, I don't have hard numbers, obviously.
4537 MR. LITHGOW: Very briefly. The question of audience in community television is an interesting question because it's not the same question in other sectors of the Broadcasting Act, because in community television it's where the gap between audience and user is sort of removed because you have communities producing programming for themselves.
4538 So when we ask, how big will the audience expand to, we also need to be asking at the same time, how big will the production participation be expanding to, because the two questions are inseparable.
4539 And, again, the CACTUS model suggests that the current system, 10 percent of the Canadian population has meaningful access to participation opportunities in community television and their model with the 250 community media centres, 90 percent of the population will be reached.
4540 MR. ANDERSON: I just want to say something. In terms of --
4541 THE CHAIRPERSON: Sorry, we really have to -- we're running out of time, so can you please be short.
4542 MR. ANDERSON: Yes, very short.
4543 In terms of, we're talking about the potential here and the potential is obviously huge and we don't even know, but I think the question for you is, in terms of like are we going to reform and have more accountability, that will be better, but the question is, is it the best solution for this?
4544 And clearly not.
4545 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thank you very much. I appreciate your interest in this and I enjoyed our dialogue and if you have anything further to add, as I say, you have until May 17th.
4546 Thank you.
4547 We'll take a 15-minute break, Secretary.
--- Upon recessing at 1206
--- Upon resuming at 1220
4548 THE SECRETARY: Please take your seats.
4549 LE PRÉSIDENT: Madame la secrétaire, commençons.
4550 THE SECRETARY: We will now proceed with the presentations of Metro Vancouver Board, Access Association of Chinese Canadians for Equality and Solidarity Society and ICTV Victoria who are all appearing via video conference from Vancouver. We will hear each presentation which will ten be followed by questions.
4551 We will begin with the presentation of Metro Vancouver Board. Please introduce yourself and your colleagues and you have ten minutes for your presentation. Thank you.
4552 MR. CORRIGAN: Thank you. Good morning Chairman von Finckenstein, Commissioners and Commission staff.
4553 I'm Derek Corrigan, I am a Director of the Metro Vancouver Board and the Mayor of the City of Burnaby. With me are Gordon Inglis, the Division Manager of Metro Vancouver's multimedia services and Marianne Pengelly, the Executive Producer of Metro Vancouver's TV programming.
4554 As a representative of local and regional government in the third largest metropolitan area in Canada, and representing some 24 municipalities electoral areas and one perse nation, I want to relay the importance of the community channel to local government.
4555 Local and regional government rely on the community channel to express the goals and aspirations of its citizens. The community channel is a vital conduit to educate residents about the matters affecting the region and to engage citizens in solutions to create and maintain a sustainable society.
4556 The Commission has requested ways to improve the community channel. I would like to turn the question around and ask what kind of society do we want and how could the community channel help us achieve this.
4557 I would posit that Canadians want a society that is democratic, open, inclusive, empowered and engaged, resilient and culturally sovereign.
4558 What role can the community channel play in helping us achieve these values? It can set a standard of accessibility for all citizens to obtain information, provide opportunities for citizens to engage in their community through voluntarism and to provide them with media literacy and skills training; provide opportunities for the community to discuss local governance; and provide a variety of political programming and consistent municipal council as well as pre-and-post local election coverage.
4559 Local government is the first level of political connection with citizens. Community channel television still offers a direct link to a cohesive, mass, local audience in the Lower Mainland.
4560 Local government has a legislated claim on the airwaves. Council meetings are a cornerstone of the democratic process and must not be abandoned, ignored, pre-empted or shoved to undesirable time slots. The only free access local government has to the airwaves is through the community channel.
4561 I've described our ideal. Now I would like to address how the current manifestation of the community channel is failing local and regional government.
4562 Here are a few examples of how political coverage in Metro Vancouver's member municipalities has deteriorated over the decade of Shaw's stewardship.
4563 In Richmond, the mayor's call-in show was reduced and cancelled; live council broadcasts are increasingly pre-empted; and locally produced and community access programming has been greatly reduced.
4564 In Coquitlam, news magazines and call-in shows have disappeared. Centralized equipment and resources has negatively impacted the community. As an aside, Coquitlam Council noted that volunteers do an excellent job in spite of the shortage of equipment and technical support.
4565 In Langley, live council coverage was reduced to once a month although the council meets twice a month.
4566 In my own community of Burnaby where I serve as mayor, on several occasions there was no crew to produce council meetings. Burnaby council meetings have been displaced by other programming. These programming decisions were made by the cable provide without input from those affected.
4567 In their submission, Shaw touts the fact that they had over 400,000 viewers for the Vancouver municipal election. This illustrates how Shaw's approach is inadequate in providing local government coverage.
4568 They only want to cover the horse race, but not the important discussions that occur in the time between elections. The real value of the community channel is the three years' worth of information, debates, council meetings, mayors' reports, and call-in shows that inform and engage the electorate. Focusing on election results misses the importance of the processes that led to the election outcome.
4569 Shaw has not been proactive in soliciting input from government or the community. In ten years, Shaw has held only one meeting for community input, in December of 2009. A handful of independent producers were invited. At that meeting, Shaw representatives said that they felt that feedback from viewers was adequate community input.
4570 Since the cable operator controls the means of producing programming and distributing it, there is an inherent imbalance of power between the BDU and groups interested in using the community channel. There is no way to redress this in the current framework.
4571 We take issue with Shaw belief that the community channel has less relevance to the public now because the internet is a more effective medium to reach local communities.
4572 This is a specious and self-serving argument. I will provide an example of the difference of audience reach between the community channel and the internet.
4573 According to measurements supplied by Shaw, Metro Vancouver's news magazine program -- The Sustainable Region -- had a cumulative audience reach of 348,000 in 2009. Metro's broadcast of community forums had a cumulative reach of 152,000.
4574 On the other hand, the number of videos downloaded from The Sustainable Region's internet home page was 135,000. The highest number of downloads for a single video story was around 8,000. Even the audience numbers for the videos posted on YouTube -- 3,000 for 2009 -- are low compared to television.
4575 The problem with the internet is that you cannot be sure of the audience you are reaching, they may be from across the continent or around the world.
4576 The reason that Metro Vancouver produces a half-hour news magazine show and taped forums is because the community channel reaches local residents. As a regional government, we know that informed participation demands in-dept and thoughtful coverage of the complex political issues facing our community. This form and level of coverage is simply not possible on commercial television or within the market-based programming decisions.
4577 While Shaw sees the community channel no longer relevant to the community, it is clear that the channel offers a lucrative market for Shaw to find new ways as they say to "... monetize community programming."
4578 Shaw's submission also refers to creating: "... vastly improved constituent access to the local political process, through the development of interactive service delivery at the local, municipal level."
4579 This raises questions and concerns about Shaw's intention. Should a corporation be inserting itself into the political process?
4580 Their proposal flies in the face of the purpose of the community channel under the Broadcast Act. This proposal would move Shaw into the role of a traditional broadcaster. Neither their proposal nor the status quo is acceptable to local government.
4581 As well as providing a voice for political discourse, it is crucial that the community channel provide access for the direct expression of community members.
4582 As a mayor, I understand infrastructure. So, I agree with a recent American report by the Knight Commission on the information Needs of Communities in a Democracy that stated: "An informed community would regard the health of its information environment as being as central to community success as the quality of its water system or electrical grid."
4583 One of the recommendations of the Knight Report is to fund public libraries and other community institutions as centres of digital and media training. It would be worth exploring the feasibility of this model for Canada.
4584 In conclusion, the technological changes occurring today are at least as profound as the changes that inspired the development of the community channel 40 years ago. The primary mandate and the core values should continue to encourage the community to participate in and shape the new media environment. And the Commission should continue to protect broadcast frequency for the community channel and other platforms for use by local and regional government and the community - now and in the future.
4585 Finally, as an aside, a personal aside, I can tell the Commission that both my wife and my son were volunteers in local cable and as a result of the experience that they had in local cable, both have gone to very vibrant careers.
4586 Unfortunately, that voluntarism no longer exists in our communities as studios closed, as there was an after feeding of the system, a gradual degradation of community television, it is reducing its participation in our local community and becoming far less meaningful.
4587 So, as we watch community channel become more and more a object of monetization, as Shaw indicates, we lose the very important element of people in our community being trained in media, people having the opportunity to express individual points of view of a local nature and an opportunity for them to grow into leaders of the future.
4588 Thank you.
4589 THE SECRETARY: Thank you. We will now hear the presentation from Access Association of Chinese Canadians for Equality and Solidarity Society. Please introduce yourself and you have ten minutes for your presentation.
4590 MR. TAN: Well, first, I would like to acknowledge the Coast Salish First Nations on this traditional territory where we are gathered here in Vancouver and I would also like to acknowledge the Anishinaabe First Nations on this traditional territory who are gathered in Gatineau.
4591 Good day, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners.
4592 My name is Sid Chow Tan and it's my pleasure to be appear on behalf of Access for British Columbia registered not-for-profit human rights and social justice society and indeed, a community television corporation with regularly scheduled programming as Access TV broadcast on a Shaw cable community channel in Metro Vancouver.
4593 I feel humble, but I am delighted to appear before you, the regulators of Canada's Broadcasting and Telecommunications systems. As someone who came to Canada as an illegal immigrant in 1950 and was granted amnesty and citizenship in 1964, for the past 25 years, I have contributed to community building and media literacy as a community television volunteer.
4594 With due respect, I'll express freely my own and our Association's experience and insight in community television.
4595 In some countries, this could not happen, mortal risk, mortal danger with such comments to the government and its appointees. It would be risky to criticize powerful media corporations and cable companies.
4596 Such talk could imperil your life and lay ruin to your family, but we live in this big, beautiful land called "Canada", a nation where democracy rules and under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is the fundamental freedom of thought, belief, opinion, expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communications.
4597 Access thanks you for this review of the community television policy framework. We thank all participants, some we agree with, and some we do not, for sharing their experience and insights. Let this public consultation be the beginning of a constructive dialogue.
4598 Access proposes a portion of the cable community channel levy be dedicated to establish dialogue among the many multi stakeholders of community television. Dialogue brings peace, peace thinks prosperity. With this public consultation, the regulators of community television have begun a national dialogue. Now, it is time for cable companies, particularly Shaw and Metro Vancouver, to take some responsibility and begin a constructive local dialogue.
4599 To Access, because we do our production as volunteers and on a budget of less than $20,000 a year, a major issue here is the best use of the public's money. This has been reported to be as much as one hundred million dollars annually.
4600 Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, have cable companies improved their reporting of expenditures for community television since the Lincoln Report of 2003, which noted how frustrated and dismayed they were by the lack of accountability. If so, where are the numbers? If not, is this the time to ask the Auditor General to get involved?
4601 Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, in Broadcasting Public Notice 2002-61, it's stated in effect that Shaw, the licensee in Metro Vancouver will be expected to set out their plans and commitments at licence renewal time as to how they will reflect various communities within their licensed area.
4602 Shaw's 2008 licence renewal application provided a so-called plan without dollar cost and commitments without budget. To the best of our knowledge, there is no financial information available on Shaw's management and operation of the cable community channel in Metro Vancouver. This is over 6 million dollars annually. Where are the numbers?
4603 Would the Commission give Access our society six million dollars with such a submitted plan and commitment for community television?
4604 Access believes that Shaw in Metro Vancouver misunderstands and mismanages the cable community channel. We placed a graphic to this effect at the beginning and end of every Access TV program. Shaw does not broadcast the graphic, claiming it is abusive. We claim fairer comment based on our experience and insight of how Shaw operates.
4605 Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, Access would appreciate your assessments of whether the comment is abusive or fair. We believe that the fundamental freedom of Canadians under the Charter would allow such comment.
4606 On November 23rd, 2009, Shaw initiated a "by invitation only" community television forum at their studio in Vancouver. Invitees were advised by Shaw not to invite guests. At the forum, there were three Shaw staff and nine or so independent community producers.
4607 The meeting lasted over an hour, a little over an hour and was purportedly convene to illicit feedback and establish a dialogue. It was confirmed at the time this was the first Shaw Community Television forum. Shaw represented and stated on Monday, that they have had 16 such forums in Metro Vancouver.
4608 Following the forum Access attended, we wrote to Shaw, arranging a meeting, to arrange a meeting and to discuss how to move forward. No response was received and Access has since written twice again. Shaw has not responded or even acknowledged receiving our post.
4609 Our conclusion is the forum was a genius ploy to blunt criticisms and that there was no sincere effort to establish dialogue.
4610 The other forms, if they occurred, may have been different or not. We get the feeling that these Shaw forums may not have been conducted if they were not for this public consultation.
4611 After repeated requests to Shaw beginning in 2001 to establish community television advisory committees or board, to the best of our knowledge, there is still not one. The previous Program Manager for Shaw in Metro Vancouver said several times he was looking into it. The current Program Manager for Shaw in Metro Vancouver states that Shaw is in compliance.
4612 Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, can you feel that such words and actions sully the spirit of community television. Community television is a vital tool for a robust democracy. An informed and active public is the cornerstone of our democracy.
4613 This is why Access is confused that Shaw states community television is better with just a centralized office and studio overlooking the waterfront of Vancouver and possibly the highest price real estate in the land.
4614 Since broadcasting notice 1997-25, we have seen the dismantling, first by Rogers and then, by Shaw of thousands of strong volunteer networks and the production infrastructure, of physical space and dedicated staff that was community television in Metro Vancouver.
4615 Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, is it believable that community television and Metro Vancouver is better with the loss of so many volunteers and their welcoming, meeting and production spaces?
4616 Our regret is that Access nor I have the talent or eloquence to express our love and hope for the people of this big, beautiful land called "Canada". We try to do so through community television.
4617 At this moment, our hope is that the Commission will make communities, volunteers and public participation, not cable companies the heart of the community element of the Canadian Broadcasting system. This would require as the Quebec National Assembly puts it, a re-balance of the funding accordingly.
4618 Again, I feel humble and I am especially delighted to appear on behalf of Access before you, the regulators of Canada's Broadcasting and Telecommunication systems.
4619 Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, there is some difficult and momentous work before you. May truth and wisdom guide you.
4620 Thank you.
4621 THE SECRETARY: Thank you. We will now hear the last presentation of the day. ICTV Victoria. Please introduce yourself and you have ten minutes for your presentation.
4622 MR. ETKIN: Thank you. My name is Jack Etkin, I am appearing on behalf of ICTV Victoria, which is Independent Community Television Victoria.
4623 And just from what I've heard this morning from my fellow speakers, it sounds that I should be hoping that the CRTC is going to do a better job in the future of taking care of our community television stations on behalf of the people of Canada.
4624 I was watching some of these proceedings on television a few days ago and the question was asked: What is the fundamental difference between your view of community TV and what we have now? And I guess what we have now is run by Shaw and Rogers and the rest of them.
4625 To me, the fundamental difference is that what we have now with Shaw and the rest running community TV, is a totally corporate and undemocratic system. And what, we, Community TV people are doing and propose to do will be more democratic and try to do the job of informing the citizens of our cities and hopefully, this whole country, about the important issues of the day.
4626 That should be the role of a free press, or at least one of its roles, to inform the citizenry about what is going on.
4627 But instead, the job of the Canadian media seems to be the exact opposite of that. And the role of the corporate media and I include Shaw and Rogers and the rest of them in this, is to keep Canadians uninformed about all the important issues of the day and to keep us Canadians out of the decision-making loop, so it's the elites who run this country can do what they want without being impeded by the rest of us. And this is a big problem.
4628 For example, this hearings that we are at right now are vitally important for Canada because if some money is freed up, which I am positive that most Canadians will want to see happen, then we can start to create a real free press in this country.
4629 Imagine what that would mean for Canada, to be able to watch television and find out what is really going on from some point of view that is not totally corporate.
4630 What we have now and we have to face this sad fact, is nothing more than a corporate propaganda machine and our current community TV stations are part of that.
4631 I said that these meetings are vitally important and I believe that they are and, in my opinion, that's why there is nothing about them in the media. The owners of the media certainly do not want Canadians to get involved in this issue and put pressure on the government and the CRTC to begin to fund real community TV.
4632 So, what do they do? They simply give the issue zero coverage and nobody knows about it and so, the corporations and the billionaires and the politicians who rule this country can carry on without having to deal with what the citizens of this country might want. That is a said state of affairs we are in on almost all issues these days.
4633 The media, and I include Shaw run community TV stations never talk about so many of the important issues, about genetically contaminated foods, about our lack of democracy, about our lack of a free press, about the real reasons this nation is in debt and the deliberate undermining of our health care system so it can be privatized.
4634 Should the people of this country have a voice in the television content that is being deemed into their homes? Absolutely, they should. And we in the community TV world represent a lot of those voiceless people and it's your job to give us the tools to help us do this work.
4635 The people who own and run the media in this country have failed us and, in my opinion, they betrayed us and that's why we need real community TV to help regress those wrongs.
4636 I represent ICTV in Victoria. We're a small non-profit with two people doing all of the work and a few more people on our board who are nice enough to do the books and keep the organization going. If we had a $20,000 budget coming into us from the CRTC and this fund, for the next year we could produce four hours of programming every week that would knock people's socks off, programming that would really inform and educate them and make them angry when they hear about what is going on here.
4637 I know we could do that, because that is what we are doing now. Our programs are currently shown four times each, we do one hour a week, so that would be 208 hours of pretty good TV for $20,000. That is a cost of less than $100 an hour. That is the bang for the buck that community TV can provide. And if we were doing that across this country, it could transform us into a much more aware and informed and intelligent and democratic country, and that is exactly what should be happening.
4638 You, the CRTC, should do some polling, ask the people of Canada what they want done. And I am sure they will tell you that they would like money to go to real community TV, run by their neighbours and friends and family. And if that is the case, then it is your duty and the duty of the political system to follow the wishes of the Canadian people and do just that.
4639 Regarding Shaw, first of all, I would like to say that the people I work with at Shaw and that we deal with at Shaw are great; they are friendly, they are helpful and they are pleasant. But Shaw itself, the Shaw corporation is a whole different thing as far as I am concerned.
4640 I am positive that if we did not have these great CRTC rules from Public Notice 2002-61 then we would be off Shaw in the blink of an eye and, in fact, we never would have gotten on in the first place. I am positive the corporation does not want us there, and I am very appreciative and thankful for the great people who put 2002-61 together and gave it some power. I am amazed actually that it could have happened, and I hope some more can happen, which is where we are at now.
4641 About five years ago I was told by somebody, and it is Mr. Sid Tan of Vancouver, who I am sitting next to to be exact, about Public Notice 2002-61. He gave me a copy and I read it over, and I was amazed by how good it was. So a friend of mine in Victoria, the late great David White, filmed a speaker at the University of Victoria, a visiting professor I think who was talking about the issue of nuclear weapons and missile defence.
4642 I called up Shaw and told the person I was talking to that we were going to be filming this speaker and we wanted to show it on Shaw Cable. And I can remember the response as if it was yesterday. The person laughed at me. And I can remember the tone of voice, no no no, they said while chuckling, we don't do things like that here, ha ha ha.
4643 So I said, well, I've got these papers, let me go and find them and I will call you back. So I got the public notice and I called back. And as soon as they knew that I knew what was in it they said, okay, we will show it. In other words, they knew all along exactly what was going on and what we were entitled to, and deliberately tried to mislead me into going away.
4644 So that is the way Shaw operates. But I want to repeat that the people we deal with there are great. The negative entity is the corporation.
4645 So how does the public break into this when we are told by Shaw that all doors are closed?
4646 About eight months ago I met someone from Toronto who is interested in starting a community TV program there, much as what we have in Victoria. I gave him all the information and away he went. I gave him a copy of the public notice. And a few months later I got an email from him saying that the community TV operators in Toronto, and I think he was dealing with Rogers, told him it was impossible for him to do anything and, as far as I know, he gave up.
4647 Of course, by my reading of the rules this is in complete violation, but the corporations don't care.
4648 So to sum up, if the CRTC wants to act in a democratic way, you should ask Canadians what they want you to do. Do the polling, do some focus groups, talk to people and their wishes should be included in your conclusions and, if not, why not?
4649 Number two, we don't have much of our democracy left in Canada and we certainly don't have a free press, and the two problems are completely connected to one another. We need a free press to resuscitate our democracy, and you are the lucky people who can help Canada take a big step in that direction by the decisions you make out of this information session.
4650 Number three, I think the community can do some great things with some money. And when you give us some, there is lots of good and talented people out here who would love to be able to do the great stuff that can be done.
4651 This is important and I really hope that you are going to end up doing the right thing. Thank you.
4652 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, thank you for your presentation. It is very thoughtful and obviously you feel very deeply about this issue.
4653 You are all very eloquent in your criticism of the present system and how it doesn't meet your needs. I would find it very helpful if you could give me some constructive solution of what you think we could do to improve it.
4654 Like, from the last presenter, I gather that our last notice, our last decision on community TV is not well-known certainly not in the community. And you also said that Shaw only held one public meeting. But what I would takeaway, we should force Shaw and other BDUs to publish what the rules are, to advertise them, and also hold meetings with community groups, you know, open-ended, not by invitation only, so that whoever is -- that is a clear obvious takeaway.
4655 But you live this, you know this world, if you have any other constructive suggestions you can make, please go ahead.
4656 MR. ETKIN: Well, a lot of this is about money. As I said, if our group was, in the next year, given $20,000 we could double our programming.
4657 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
4658 MR. TAN: Mr. Chairman, I should clarify that the meeting that Shaw had was not a public meeting, it was by invitation only. That was the meeting I attended. I don't know about the other 16. I certainly didn't hear about them. And I go down to the Shaw Cable production facility at least two or three times a week. So I just wanted to clarify that.
4659 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, I know, I got that. That is why I said, not by invitation, but open to the public. They should advertise that they have this meeting. And, you know, if you consult the public, the public should be able to come, not come by invitation only. So that was my takeaway from your example. But also you told --
4660 MR. TAN: Yes, they said it was public forums, and they were not.
4661 MS PENGELLY: Mr. Chairman, I am standing in for Derek Corrigan, who had to leave. I am with Metro Vancouver Regional District, and I was at that meeting that Shaw invited people.
4662 You can legislate them or force them to have meetings, but you cannot force them to change their attitude about how they deal with the public, how they are not receptive to the community. So you know, it is more than just saying have a meeting, it is an attitude shift, a new way of doing business is required.
4663 THE CHAIRPERSON: And how --
4664 MR. TAN: Mr. Chairman, I would also --
4665 THE CHAIRPERSON: And how do I induce such change of attitude?
4666 MR. INGLIS: Well, if I might interject. It is Gordon Inglis from Metro Vancouver. Ultimately, what we are talking about here is control. And meaningful public participation means that the public has meaningful input, they have effect on the outcome.
4667 You know if you look at the ladder of citizen participation, citizen control is at the top of that ladder, consultation is quite low down on that ladder, because consultation often is just tokenism.
4668 So whatever forum that the CRTC comes up with, you know, it is articulated in the mandate, it is articulated in the Broadcast Act, the community channel is controlled by the community, but unfortunately the policy doesn't seem to be structured in such a way that that is in fact what is taking place. So I think that that is the fundamental question of this entire hearing.
4669 MR. ETKIN: You could place some people from the community on a board with some people from Shaw and that board could have some power to do whatever it wants on an ongoing basis. The public should be involved at least equally with Shaw, probably more equally than Shaw. Put people on the board --
4670 THE CHAIRPERSON: A joint programming board or something like that?
4671 MR. ETKIN: Something like that.
4672 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, good.
4673 MS PENGELLY: Mr. Chairman, there is an inherent imbalance of power even if you do that, because Shaw is a corporation with millions of dollars. It has lawyers, it has all sorts of expertise that the citizens of the community do not have. They do not have the resources. They may be working and have to come and, you know, do their volunteer work in the evening.
4674 So you know, when you are setting up a board it is not just that there is an even playing field between the participants, because there isn't. So some accommodation must be made so that the public have equal access. And how you come up with that kind of justice I am not quite sure, but perhaps it is paying the board members to be there so that at least they are not limited by their resources, because the BDU certainly isn't.
4675 THE CHAIRPERSON: I go from the basic presumption that the cable companies are responsible corporate citizens. If we spell out what the obligations are, what are the costs of doing business, they will do it. They obviously will do it in the way that sort of maximizes their financial advantage.
4676 But surely, it is not beyond our capability to spell out exactly what we want the community TV to produce, what are the conditions that they live up to. And put in the modality, so that at the end of the day we get programming that satisfies the community, but also satisfies the cable companies.
4677 MR. ETKIN: Well, when I phoned Shaw up, as I told you, in spite of Public Notice 2002-61 which says basically that the most important thing that Shaw can be doing is to help the people in the community produce programming. When I called them up they laughed at me. And it was only when they knew that I already knew, that they changed their tune and let us on.
4678 THE CHAIRPERSON: But you are proving that point, exactly that, because there is a regulation which says you must do that and you were aware of it and you were empowered by that regulation that they comply. So obviously, we need to spell things out a bit more precisely and that is what my question --
4679 MR. ETKIN: And enforce it.
4680 MR. INGLIS: I would say that, yes, spelling things out obviously would go a long way. And in fact, simply enforcing what is already on the books would probably have a fairly radical change in terms of the way things are being done. But at the core the structure needs to be changed.
4681 The structure needs to be changed in such a way that there is a meaningful place for the community within the channel, that the channel itself is directed by the community, not by the BDU. The BDU roles in this, the way I view it, is they are the facilitator. They have the infrastructure, they are -- you know, in return for the market that they get to access through the cable infrastructure that they have built they have to offer this public service.
4682 But the people calling the shots in the public service should be the community. That is why it is called the community channel, not Shaw or Cable 4.
4683 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, thank you.
4684 My colleague, Marc Patrone, has some other questions. Marc.
4685 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
4686 I want to thank you all in Vancouver this morning for your comments. A good number of your comments, both in your presentations as well as in your answers to the Chairman, were around the issue of accountability, which I think is where you are all coming from. And I fear that some of your answers may have already been kind of repeated in the body of your comments thus far.
4687 But I was curious, Mr. Inglis, Ms Pengelly, there was some talk by your group about the political coverage and the fact that you would like to see more of it. And I am sure that you can appreciate any kind of inherent difficulty in having the regulator micromanage the content that we see on community TV to that level. But apart from that, how would you like us to help you with that?
4688 MS PENGELLY: Well I would, I guess, ask if you are saying that you don't want to micromanage the content. But we are coming from a government perspective. The federal government and the provincial governments both have access to the airwaves. So you know, we are talking about the cornerstone of our democracy is access to what happens with the council meetings and our governments.
4689 So people have to have access to it. So it is not the same as most community groups. You know, we aren't just a community group, we are representative of how we are running the country. So that is why we feel that, you know, we have been abused by the BDU who can take us off the air at their whim, not even tell us.
4690 So there has to be some kind of accommodation made for local government. This is the local community, this is the local community TV and local government needs to be part of it.
4691 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: To what degree -- and I understand that there has been some contact between your group and Shaw, there was the meeting of course which I believe you attended.
4692 MS PENGELLY: Yes.
4693 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Has there been much in the way of dialogue between your group and the distributor?
4694 MS PENGELLY: Over the past 10 years, we have had meetings with Shaw. Shaw has never initiated anything, so we have contacted them when we have had programming that we would want on the air and had to kind of fight to be able to get it on and get it on at a reasonable time. Our flagship program has been actually moved to a less desirable timeslot.
4695 And I don't think Shaw actually appreciates that they are dealing with government. I think they treat us like we are just some irritating community group.
4696 MR. ETKIN: You are.
4697 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: At the moment, when the Commission receives a complaint, because there is a complaints process, are you aware of that as far as being unhappy with the community television service? Many of the issues that you have raised, I mean, they Commission does have a complaints process. And maybe this is an area which you can address for me, because perhaps there are shortcomings in this process that you can recommend be rectified. But --
4698 MR. INGLIS: If I might make a comment on the complaints process.
4699 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Okay.
4700 MR. INGLIS: That was actually one of the focuses of a thesis I wrote many years ago for political science, where I analyzed the complaints that had been made to the CRTC and sort of tried to get a sense of, you know, what that process was like. And in my own experience where I did make a complaint, and at the time I was doing programming for the City of Vancouver and for Metro Vancouver.
4701 And as you are aware, you know, the complaints process roughly works like I make a complaint to the CRTC, the CRTC sends my letter and my name to the cable operator. The cable operator gets back to me and supposedly we work it out.
4702 If you can imagine for somebody who is -- you know, in my case I wasn't overly worried because I was actually representing the City of Vancouver and I had a little bit of stature I guess. If I was some volunteer or somebody who was engaged in making community programming and I depend on the BDU to let me into the building and give me access to the equipment, I think I would be rather loathe to make any complaints when I know that my name is going directly to that person. So I think there is an inherent power imbalance in the way the complaint structures are processed.
4703 I have been very reluctant and very careful about any kind of complaints that might take place, because it is immediately vaulted into a very high level, a very political level. So I think the complaints process itself is fraught with that power imbalance.
4704 And the second part of that is it is like taking environmental regulations and saying, you know, here is the environmental regulations and we are going to let the citizens monitor the water, we're going to let the citizens test the air. And if you find there is some problem, you make a complaint and we will forward that on to the people that are making the problem.
4705 You know, it just doesn't -- seems like a very robust structure.
4706 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Fair enough. But the second part of that complaints process, which you didn't mention, was that we are copied with the response from the distributor. And also, if the complainant, meaning you, is not satisfied with the response, it comes back to us and our staff considers further action, further investigation and so forth.
4707 Do you think that that needs to be stronger somehow? Do you think that the communications between the distributor and viewers be better as far as letting them know the complaints process, that kind of thing? Does anybody want to tackle that?
4708 MR. INGLIS: Yes, absolutely. If I just might follow-up. I think you do touch on a couple of points. One, is the only reason I knew about the complaints process is because I was very intimately involved in the process. And so your average citizen certainly wouldn't be aware of that. So I think there could be a lot more done on that level.
4709 The second part of that is my particular complaint at the time I was concerned about advertising that I was seeing within the hockey games. And you know, the response was, oh, that was an operator error, we are going to fix it. So you know, really that didn't leave me much, you know, I could do, except to keep monitoring it and, you know, I kept watching. And sure enough, I would see more ads and I felt like it was going to take an awful lot of work on my part to keep on top of that.
4710 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Thank you.
4711 I want to ask the other gentleman a couple of questions. Mr. Sid Chow Tan, is it Mr. Sid, is that how I would address you?
4712 MR. TAN: Sid is fine. My grandfather is Mr. Tan.
4713 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Okay, sure. You say you go to the production facility at Shaw twice a week, is that correct? Did I hear you..?
4714 MR. TAN: Or more.
4715 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Or more. I mean, considering your criticism of Shaw and their facilities and the way that you have been treated, that kind of surprised me a little bit. What do you do when you go there?
4716 MR. TAN: I edit.
4717 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Have you had any issues with access at all? I mean, have they ever said to you, no, you can't --
4718 MR. TAN: Well, I have had many issues with access. I will give you the first one. When Shaw first arrived in Vancouver they cut off all our programming. In other words, they refused to air our programming. That happened, and it was not until 2002-61 that Shaw restored our programming. So that is an access problem.
4719 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Did they tell you why? Was there an issue with the programming itself? Did they say it wasn't broadcast quality or there was problems with the editorial --
4720 MR. TAN: No, they just said we don't want your programming anymore.
4721 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: That is what they said? We just don't want it, that is what they said to you?
4722 MR. TAN: That is exactly what they said.
4723 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Let me ask you this --
4724 MR. TAN: And if I may just add another issue about access. When you talk about access, it is easy to mention all kinds of things and to put in rules and do enforcement. But on the ground here is one access problem that I had. When Shaw first came to Vancouver they allowed me edit time between say 6:00 in the morning until 8:00, when their people would come in and use the edit bays. I never edit --
4725 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Six in the morning until 8:00 in the morning?
4726 MR. TAN: -- before 5:00 p.m. because I know that all the equipment is being occupied by Shaw and their volunteers. So we can't really get in there until after office hours. That is one access problem. Now, it won't be said that way, because every time I book an edit bay before 5:00 p.m. it is not available.
4727 The other access problem, and this will give you an idea of Shaw, is that when they first came to town we had these edit times and we didn't have an access card to get into the building to use our edit times.
4728 And, in fact, it was not until the Regional Director of the CRTC at that time, Marguerite Vogel, called a meeting with the Shaw program manager and some community television volunteers where we mentioned that we have access, but we can't access the equipment because we can't get in the building.
4729 So the other issue --
4730 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Okay. All right, so you had a meeting, you sorted it out, and now you can get in the building. Because, as I hear it, it sounds like you are getting all the access you want except that you can't --
4731 MR. TAN: That is now. That is now, because I have made eight complaints to the CRTC.
4732 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: And now you get to use an editing suite two or three times a week or --
4733 MR. TAN: Pretty much when I want, yes.
4734 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Whenever you want.
4735 MR. TAN: Yes.
4736 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: So the access for you is you walk into the building and --
4737 MR. TAN: After 5:00 p.m.
4738 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: After 5:00 p.m. So you think you should have access anytime you want it?
4739 MR. TAN: I think that I should have access consistent with doing a weekly television program and not necessarily after, when Shaw is not using their equipment.
4740 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Okay. I want to ask Mr. Etkin some questions as well.
4741 MR. TAN: That is, in prime hours, like prime daytime hours.
4742 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Have you done much in the way of volunteering yourself, Mr. Etkin?
4743 MR. ETKIN: In Victoria, we operate completely independent of Shaw. We have a little $200 studio in the basement of the house of the guy who does all the filming for us, and that is where we work from.
4744 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: But have you approached Shaw about volunteering or taking part or producing a show? I know that you went to them and said I have some programming which I would like you to air.
4745 MR. ETKIN: Right.
4746 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Did I hear you correctly? And they said no?
4747 MR. ETKIN: Yes. Well, that was the first approach. Now we do our own programming and we create an hour a week which is -- you can Google on Face to Face with Jack Etkin, and we give it to them and they show it. They show it four times, and we have got half decent times. So our programming we have, you know, basically 200 hours a year. One hour, repeated four times.
4748 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Two hundred hours a year of production work that you do? You do independent production and you approach Shaw and they air it, is that correct?
4749 MR. ETKIN: Yes. We produce let's say one show a week that is an hour long, and each show is repeated four times.
4750 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Because I have heard your criticism this morning or this afternoon about how you can't get any access. But I am hearing that there is a certain amount of access, granted it may involve having certain issues sorted out, like getting access to the building and filing a complaint.
4751 MR. ETKIN: No, we have access.
4752 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: But at the end of the day you produce 200 hours of programming, as I heard it, and they air it for you.
4753 MR. ETKIN: That is right. And there is also another couple of programs on every week similar to ours. So we have probably twice that much time, let's say 400 hours a year.
4754 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: So they air 400 hours of your programming every year?
4755 MR. ETKIN: Ours and a couple of other independent producers. But that is 400 hours. We should have --
4756 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Do they edit?
4757 MR. ETKIN: No.
4758 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: I am just curious, Mr. Etkin, because you have made some comments about corporate media and how you don't trust the corporate media.
4759 MR. ETKIN: Yes.
4760 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: That for-profit enterprises are completely at odds with the democratic content worthy of the community. Did I hear you correctly? But I have also heard you say that you now have --
4761 MR. ETKIN: Well, you put a few words in my mouth but, yes, the corporations are too powerful --
4762 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: I am paraphrasing. But is that essentially what you said?
4763 MR. ETKIN: -- and we should have two or three or four or five times that amount of time. And we should have access to some money, perhaps from this fund, in order to do it instead of having basically to go from hand to mouth, which is the way we operate.
4764 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Mr. Etkin, have they ever taken your content and edited it or taken chunks out of it or told you, no, you can't play this? Have they ever said that to you?
4765 MR. ETKIN: Yes, they have.
4766 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: How many times?
4767 MS PENGELLY: And they have actually done that for us as well.
4768 MR. TAN: And me as well.
4769 MR. ETKIN: And we have gone to the media --
4770 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: So they have edited your content, is that correct? Did they tell you why?
4771 MR. ETKIN: Yes. They said it was -- I can't remember their wording -- but when we went to the local media, especially an independent newspaper in Victoria who was going to do a story, Shaw changed immediately and showed the programming.
4772 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Okay. All right, I have one last question.
4773 MR. INGLIS: Can I make one quick comment before your last question?
4774 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Please go ahead, Mr. Inglis.
4775 MR. INGLIS: Just that I think your questions are sort of highlighting the amount of access that these groups have, but it seems to me that the mandate and the 2 per cent is supposed to go to community access or certainly a good portion of it.
4776 These people are producing it without any help whatsoever. So Shaw claims this time as access, but yet they are putting no resources into that access. So I think that, to my mind, is the issue. I mean, it is great that they are making the time available, but the community channel levy is supposed to go to actually aiding and creating and coming up a diverse range of community expression, not just their expression and a little bit of --
4777 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Fair enough, Mr. Inglis. That actually leads me to my last question. That leads nicely into my last question.
4778 Now, short of a complete overhaul, as has been suggested by CACTUS and by other groups who support that model, do you support any other measures that might mandate a level of access, that might consider mandated levels of hyperlocal content, that might help you get the complete access that you want and would satisfy organizations like yours?
4779 MR. ETKIN: Yes. If you gave our group $20,000 a year and other groups like the ones here and the ones that exist right across the country $20,000 or $10,000 or $5,000 a year, then we could do much more programming, which we are entitled to and which we should be doing and which other groups could also join in the fund.
4780 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: All right, Mr. Etkin, so you want an independent -- part of that 2 per cent should include financing for independent productions like yours. Do I hear you correctly?
4781 MR. ETKIN: Why not? Yes.
4782 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: And does anybody else want to touch that? Not specifically the independent fund area but in answer to the question.
4783 MR. INGLIS: Yes. I would like to quickly touch that. I think that the -- to meet the core mandate of a community channel needs a proactive approach. You know, I work in municipal government and to get informed public participation takes a great deal of effort. It takes a great deal of thoughtful effort, reaching out and engaging the public, and that is what has been lost over the past 10 or 15 years with the way the community channel has been restructured.
4784 Earlier than that, there was a lot more of that active engagement where the community channels would go out and spend their money -- their money -- on engaging the public and helping community groups come and express themselves, and that, I think, is where it needs to head.
4785 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Thank you, Mr. Inglis.
4786 Now, Ms Pengelly, Sid Chow Tan, any final thoughts?
4787 MR. TAN: Yes. What I would like -- because there seems to be an air of hostility that is here amongst the independent community television producers and Shaw, at least I have felt it, and I believe that this forum that they had -- as I said, I have not received a response to my request for a meeting with Shaw to see how we can move forward. This is very disappointing.
4788 So I just think that one of the things the CRTC could do perhaps is dedicate some part of the cable community channel levy to bridging the divide that seems to be there between independent producers and Shaw. I think it does really still come down -- I mean everything, you talk to journalists about a story, follow the money trail, you want to know what is going on, follow the money trail. Then here is a good example of following the money trail.
4789 We are always talking about bang for the buck. We have $100 million a year going to cable companies, from what I understand, and I did not get an answer to whether cable companies are better accounting for how they are spending the money, because in 2003 the Lincoln report said they were frustrated and dismayed. Has that improved? And the fact is if that has not improved, then we are having these meetings for very little. And if it has improved and there are numbers, I would like to see the numbers for Metro Vancouver.
4790 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Better financial reporting, that is what I am hearing you say, sir.
4791 Miss Pengelly, final words.
4792 MS PENGELLY: I think that it would be really helpful to have the kind of support from the CRTC to open up the dialogue so that -- I know that this is your consultation process but we do need some kind of consultation that goes on in the communities so that we can work this out. I mean we don't have that opportunity.
4793 I know that you were thinking that we can just work through the complaint system to see if we can get things enforced, but, you know, most people don't have that time and government certainly doesn't have that time to be going and complaining on every little issue. We have other work to do. So I think that there needs to be a better system.
4794 And perhaps we maybe have a community board with a BDU on the board of directors. Rather than having the BDU run it, the community runs it and the BDU sits on it.
4795 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Understood, Miss Pengelly. Thank you very much. Now, perhaps my colleagues may have questions, I don't know, but those are mine.
4796 MS PENGELLY: Thank you.
4797 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Have a good day.
4798 Thank you, Mr. Chair.
4799 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.
4800 One thing none of you mentioned is training. The other intervenors before us all mentioned that part of what they very much wanted from BDUs is training, not only making access to the facilities but serving as a training ground and imparting skills on them on how to produce, et cetera.
4801 (a) Is this your wish too? And (b) Are you getting any from the local cable company, in your case, all of you, Shaw?
4802 MS PENGELLY: I think, Mr. Chair, that training is essential because the technology is changing so rapidly that many people can get into producing and I think that to have more facilities or a facility where people could get additional training, where they would have editing suites and distribution, would be very helpful and robust and reinvigorate the community channel.
4803 MR. ETKIN: I think that if Shaw perhaps advertised every day, a couple of times a day, advertising that training was available and that they really wanted people to take the training and use their equipment and produce television programming that Shaw would be happy to show, I think that would be a great step forward too.
4804 MS PENGELLY: I have to add here, because that is true, but when we met with Shaw, you know, their sense of reaching the community is really just through their viewers. Their viewership is limited. They need to be reaching the rest of the community. How can we improve the reach is to engage people who are not watching and they need to figure something out around that.
4805 MR. TAN: Mr. Chairman, if I may, one of the great values of community television before Public Notice 1997-25 was the dozens of community offices in Vancouver, Metro Vancouver, and the thousands-strong volunteer network. Having a physical place to meet that is welcoming and convivial, where citizens can come and exchange views and work on diverse projects, is very valuable. People getting together to be informed is very valuable. A place to do that is very valuable.
4806 We have volunteers that have to drive in from Port Moody, a 30-mile drive, to pick up gear at the one community television office that Shaw runs on the priciest real estate perhaps in the country, where you could have an office.
4807 There were four studios and at least 12 community offices before 1997-25. I believe prior to that was pretty much a heyday for community television for citizens. There used to be the annual Christmas party. There used to be the annual Volunteer party. Thousands of volunteers would come out and chat and network and talk about what they were doing.
4808 That is all gone now and I do believe that Rogers, first, made some kind of thing where we could not connect with the other volunteers. We held meetings and started a community media education society here, you know, through phones. We met in homes.
4809 So how is it possible that one office serving Metro Vancouver, and there were a dozen offices and four studios -- volunteers in the poorest troubled neighbourhood perhaps in Canada, if they are going to use a studio, have to go out to Surrey where they can walk five minutes to the studio in the waterfront, but we can't use that studio. That is a denial of access. We have never used that studio. We have asked to use that studio. How is that possible?
4810 And the studio that they do get to use in Surrey, about 20 miles from here, it is basically a storage shed for their mobiles. Equipment is taken in and out of there all the time. I have volunteers asking, can you ask Shaw to put in some lights there?
4811 It is impossible to actually tell you what things are like on the ground. I know the CRTC is dealing with larger issues and all that, but on the ground, very simply, I believe that Shaw misunderstands and mismanages the money that it gets. We are not getting the bang we should be getting for the buck and I believe that community groups should get that opportunity and you can do it in a phase-in.
4812 One of the questions that I was hearing that you were asking, the Commission was asking, is: If we give you 1 percent, to community groups, and set up a fund and ask community groups to match that 1 percent in order to get it -- what I would like to know is if we cannot match, if we cannot get funds, where will that 1 percent go, back to the BDU?
4813 THE CHAIRPERSON: This was an idea that my colleague Michel Morin floated and he wanted to have feedback. It is filed as an official question by him and you can answer it. What you are posing is a very good question. I don't think anybody knows the answer. It was just a question of whether we could revitalize community TV by putting in a matching requirement of dollar for dollar. Obviously, the questions you ask us to be answered in any schema -- but as I say, that was not an official CRTC question as per our Notice but it was an idea that came to Commissioner Morin, which we shared with the audience and for which we all want to see some answers.
4814 Okay, thank you very much for your participation. You certainly gave us a very good idea of what things are like on the ground in Vancouver and I appreciate your taking the time and sharing it with us. Thank you.
4815 Madame la Secrétaire.
4816 THE SECRETARY: We are done for the day. So we will reconvene tomorrow at nine o'clock. Thank you.
--- Upon recessing at 1327, to resume on Friday, April 30, 2010 at 0900
Johanne Morin Sue Villeneuve
Monique Mahoney Madeleine Matte
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