ARCHIVED - Transcript, Hearing 4 May 2010
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TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS BEFORE
THE CANADIAN RADIO-TELEVISION AND
Review of community television policy framework
140 Promenade du Portage
May 4, 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
May 4, 2010
- iv -
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PAGE / PARA
Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin - Councillor for the town of Gatineau / Buckingham District 1311 / 7078
Bragg Communications Inc., carrying on business as "EastLink" 1328 / 7158
Canadian Conference of the Arts 1370 / 7452
Gabriella Mammone 1397 / 7589
Samir Dossal 1402 / 7609
National Campus and Community Radio Association 1410 / 7651
John Stevenson 1415 / 7677
Tri-Cities Community Society 1430 / 7747
W2 Community Media Arts Society 1437 / 7777
--- Upon resuming on Tuesday, May 4, 2010 at 0901
7070 LE PRÉSIDENT: Bonjour tout le monde.
7071 Madame la Secrétaire, commençons.
7072 LA SECRÉTAIRE: Merci.
7073 Nous commencerons aujourd'hui avec la présentation du conseiller de la Ville de Gatineau, du district de Buckingham, monsieur Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin.
7074 Vous avez 10 minutes pour votre présentation. Merci.
7075 M. PEDNEAUD-JOBIN: Merci beaucoup d'accepter de me --
7076 LA SECRÉTAIRE: Excusez... S'il vous plaît, ouvrir votre micro.
7077 LE PRÉSIDENT: Le micro.
7078 M. PEDNEAUD-JOBIN: Ah! Parfait!
7079 Merci... Merci beaucoup d'accepter de me laisser passer rapidement. Je ne sais pas ce qui se passe aujourd'hui, le 4 mai, mais à Gatineau on a à peu près trois débats fondamentaux auxquels je voulais participer. Mais j'avais décidé d'être ici quand même. Donc, en passant en premier ici, je peux faire les deux.
7080 Je ne me présente pas ici en tant qu'expert du monde des communications. C'est un monde aussi important que complexe et j'ai beaucoup d'admiration pour vous qui oeuvrez là-dedans tous les jours. Je n'ai pas les connaissances nécessaires non plus pour vous donner une opinion extrêmement éclairée de la marche à suivre pour réviser vos politiques, mais je connais l'objectif à atteindre: c'est de consolider les communautés locales en consolidant les médias locaux. Et pour moi, c'était extrêmement important de venir vous le dire aujourd'hui.
7081 Dans son mot d'ouverture, monsieur Finckenstein disait que l'environnement change. Et c'est surtout de cet environnement-là dont je veux vous parler, parce que les changements soulignent l'importance, encore, des médias locaux.
7082 La communauté, à Gatineau -- c'est une grande ville, 250 000 habitants -- est faite de plusieurs petites communautés. Même à l'intérieur des anciennes villes qui constituent Gatineau, il y a des réalités distinctes. Pourtant, si on se fie aux médias nationaux -- je dirais même aux médias régionaux aussi -- nous ignorerions presque toute la réalité des communautés locales, parce que même les médias régionaux couvrent à peine les grandes nouvelles de Gatineau et négligent, faute de temps ou d'espace, les nouvelles très, très locales.
7083 À une époque où les médias traditionnels se concentrent, réduisent l'importance de leur salle de nouvelles, pour moi, les médias communautaires deviennent de plus en plus importants. La concentration de la presse pousse, elle aussi, les médias régionaux à limiter la place qu'ils laissent aux nouvelles locales. Je dirais en fait que dans le nouvel environnement la nouvelle locale elle-même est menacée.
7084 Depuis presque 40 ans, à Buckingham, nous avons une télévision communautaire qui est un miroir qui permet la construction d'une identité locale forte. Nous y voyons nos succès sportifs, culturels, communautaires, et je dirais même nos succès commerciaux. Sans elle, la communauté serait beaucoup moins consciente de ses forces et de ses faiblesses, moins fière d'elle-même, donc beaucoup moins forte. Tout ce qui pourra rendre notre télévision plus solide, renforcera également notre communauté. J'irais même jusqu'à dire que la télévision fait maintenant partie de ce que nous sommes, à Buckingham.
7085 Donc, l'objectif de vos travaux doit absolument être de consolider les télévisions communautaires. Pour moi, il y a même une certaine urgence. Je l'ai dit, la concentration de la presse continue, les salles de nouvelles rapetissent, les antennes locales ne sont souvent plus que des transmetteurs, le contenu est fait ailleurs que chez nous et ce sont des tendances très, très lourdes. Et, une des réponses à ces tendances-là -- en fait, une des rares réponses qu'on voit près de nous concrètement -- c'est notre télévision communautaire.
7086 Mais il n'y a pas que l'environnement des télécommunications qui change, aussi. Il y a l'environnement politique qui continue de changer. Aux dernières élections municipales, le taux de participation était de 38 pour-cent; c'est catastrophique. La tendance vers le bas dans la participation politique est la même dans tous les paliers de gouvernement.
7087 Ce décrochage politique est pour moi la principale menace pour nos institutions démocratiques et je suis convaincu que la solution à ce décrochage politique ne viendra pas du haut, mais du bas. Non pas des gouvernements, mais des communautés locales. Non pas, même, des médias nationaux, mais des médias locaux. Si les gens participent à la vie politique locale, s'ils voient que c'est possible de changer des choses à la base, dans leur communauté, je suis certain qu'ils s'intéresseront à ce qui se fait aux autres paliers.
7088 Et la télévision communautaire rend ça possible. Elle rend possible des débats publics qui n'auraient pas lieu localement ou, presque pire, qui auraient lieu sans que la présence d'un média aide à expliquer, à vulgariser les enjeux. La télévision communautaire a été au coeur de tous les débats politiques locaux depuis des décennies, des débats trop souvent mis de côté par les autres médias.
7089 Lors de chacune des élections municipales, sans la télévision communautaire, nombre d'enjeux n'auraient pas été traités. Les candidats locaux auraient eu beaucoup moins d'occasions de s'adresser directement à leurs électeurs. Moi, les autres candidats aux élections municipales à Gatineau m'enviaient parce que j'avais une réalité médiatique locale à Buckingham/Masson-Angers où j'étais capable de passer mon message. Les autres étaient complètement rayés de la carte par la course à la mairie, ce qui nuit aux communautés locales.
7090 De plus, grâce à la télévision communautaire de la Basse-Lièvre, les séances du conseil municipal de Gatineau sont maintenant télédiffusées. Et à une époque où les citoyens désertent la politique, c'est une contribution importante à notre vie collective.
7091 On se vante de vivre dans un pays dont les institutions démocratiques sont des modèles, pourtant les citoyens décrochent massivement. Et je suis convaincu que c'est en bâtissant des communautés locales fortes qu'on va renverser la tendance. Et pour y arriver, on a besoin de médias locaux forts.
7092 Les solutions qui sont sur la table ont été bien exprimées, je crois, par plusieurs groupes qui représentent les télévisions. Évidemment, la solution de base passe par une meilleure santé financière des télévisions. Je suis personnellement convaincu que les entreprises locales seraient intéressées à participer à l'épanouissement de notre télévision à travers l'achat de publicité. Elles sont déjà très engagées dans les actions que la télévision fait. Cette avenue-là serait, je suis certain, intéressante, même pour une communauté relativement pauvre comme la nôtre, dans la Basse-Lièvre.
7093 Il faut aussi évidemment -- puis là, je ne suis pas le seul à dire cela -- mais mieux distribuer les recettes des câblodistributeurs. Je pense que le local doit être une priorité importante. Et je conclurais en disant que j'insiste sur le « local » parce que ce n'est pas juste la télévision communautaire.
7094 Et il y a des émissions réseau qui sont produites à Montréal qui sont extrêmement intéressantes du point de vue d'une télé communautaire, mais qui ne parlent pas de la réalité locale de chez nous. Et c'est cette autonomie-là locale... pour moi c'est important de la préserver. Et une des façons de le faire, c'est, comme on l'a dit fréquemment, en consolidant la santé financière et en permettant à nos entreprises de contribuer à l'épanouissement de la télévision. Merci.
7095 LE PRÉSIDENT: Merci pour votre présentation et merci d'avoir trouvé le temps de venir chez nous un jour où vous avez trois débats fondamentaux.
7096 Dites-moi, vous parlez de la télévision communautaire à Buckingham. Et c'est une de ces TVC qui est financée par le gouvernement. Et ses émissions sont transmises par VOX à Gatineau?
7097 M. PEDNEAUD-JOBIN: Oui.
7098 LE PRÉSIDENT: Et est-ce que la relation entre eux, entre VOX et cette télévision communautaire de Buckingham, fonctionne, selon vous?
7099 M. PEDNEAUD-JOBIN: Oui. Pour l'instant, ça va bien. Moi, je suis préoccupé par l'autonomie locale, parce que présentement il y a une belle collaboration, il y a un temps d'antenne direct qui est intéressant pour la télévision communautaire de Buckingham. On a nos nouvelles locales; c'est assez extraordinaire. Donc, ça va bien pour l'instant.
7100 LE PRÉSIDENT: Il y a des personnes qui croient que nous devons donner la permission aux télévisions communautaires d'avoir des publicités, de vendre des... Il y a d'autres écoles d'idées qui disent : Non, non, c'est complètement contraire à la vision d'une télévision communautaire. Si vous faites ça, à ce moment-là, la programmation va changer. On va essayer d'attirer des audiences, au lieu de refléter la communauté locale.
7101 Qu'est-ce qu'est votre idée?
7102 M. PEDNEAUD-JOBIN: Bien, c'est un éternel débat, là... Ce n'est pas facile de trancher. Moi, je crois que ça prend un financement de base qui permet une certaine liberté à la télévision communautaire, mais l'avenue de la publicité, pour moi, est intéressante. Je pense qu'il y a des dangers, mais comme n'importe quel outil, il faut savoir le gérer.
7103 Les communautés comme chez nous... On a un événement, nous autres, assez extraordinaire qui s'appelle le Téléthon des Lions. Ils ramassent 70 000 $ dans une soirée, dans un téléthon avec la télé communautaire. Les gens d'affaires sont présents, ils veulent s'engager. Ils savent que la télé communautaire rejoint les gens. Moi, je pense que c'est un outil de plus, pour... Même pour nos commerces, pour se faire connaître, ça prend un financement de base. Mais c'est une avenue qui est intéressante, selon moi.
7104 LE PRÉSIDENT: Il y a une minorité anglophone, à Buckingham. Est-ce qu'ils trouvent l'opportunité de s'exprimer sur la télévision communautaire?
7105 M. PEDNEAUD-JOBIN: Oui. Très peu. D'abord, c'est une communauté qui est rendue à peine à neuf pour-cent. C'est une communauté qui vieillit beaucoup.
7106 Ils ont un certain accès, mais c'est un problème -- en tout cas selon moi, très important -- de rejoindre la communauté anglophone. C'est une communauté qui n'est pas très présente dans la vie communautaire. Et la télé pourrait être un média intéressant, mais je ne crois pas que même la communauté en a fait la demande.
7107 LE PRÉSIDENT: O.K. Et vous avez entendu le projet de mon collègue, monsieur Morin, qui croit qu'on devrait instituer un système où la télévision communautaire doit soulever un peu d'argent pour avoir accès au fonds du câble communautaire et qu'on devrait avoir un système de « matching » dollar par dollar. Qu'est-ce que vous pensez de cette idée-là?
7108 M. PEDNEAUD-JOBIN: Bien, c'est-à-dire que je ne connais pas l'idée en détail. Ça dépend aussi d'où l'argent vient.
7109 LE PRÉSIDENT: O.K. Michel, explique ton idée.
7110 CONSEILLER MORIN: Bonjour. Alors simplement, actuellement les télévisions communautaires autonomes peuvent recevoir de l'argent de Vidéotron ou de Cogeco -- mais ce n'est pas le cas partout. Mais en revanche, recevoir de l'argent sans contribuer au financement lui-même, ça pose un problème. Alors moi, ce que j'ai proposé, simplement, c'est qu'actuellement, pour les contributions des consommateurs, il y a deux pour-cent sur votre facture qui est prélevé pour la télévision communautaire. Et, depuis 10 ans, ça vaut un milliard de dollars.
7111 Moi, je dis : Si les gens à la base, avec les municipalités que vous représentez et sur la base d'un membership individuel, pouvaient ramasser un pour-cent, l'entreprise EDR, l'entreprise de distribution, comme Vidéotron, pourrait donner l'autre pour-cent, ce qui ferait exactement deux pour-cent. Mais la télévision communautaire serait licenciée, aurait une licence de programmation communautaire et serait autonome entièrement pour livrer une programmation communautaire et satisfaire aux exigences qui vont de 30 à 60 pour-cent.
7112 Alors, l'idée, c'est qu'en 2002, le CRTC a dit oui aux télévisions communautaires dans un cadre réglementaire, mais n'a pas donné nécessairement les moyens aux télévisions communautaires de base de se financer. Autrement dit les moyens financiers sont à la bonne volonté des EDR. Alors, ça serait une nouvelle façon et il resterait un pour-cent dans la cagnotte du canal communautaire corporatif. Donc, globalement, si ça fonctionnait, ça pourrait être deux pour-cent plus un pour-cent.
7113 M. PEDNEAUD-JOBIN: Mais pour que ça fonctionne, il faut qu'il y ait une contribution locale?
7114 CONSEILLER MORIN: Il faut qu'il y ait une contribution dont les municipalités. Par exemple, pour suivre la question du président von Finckenstein, est-ce que vous, comme municipalité, vous pourriez contribuer?
7115 On a vu qu'à travers le monde, beaucoup de télévisions communautaires sont financées par les municipalités parce que la télévision communautaire est un média de proximité.
7116 M. PEDNEAUD-JOBIN: Trois commentaires. D'abord, on a déjà un membership. On a déjà une contribution locale importante à la télévision communautaire. La campagne de financement est en elle-même, pour moi, le reflet de l'importance que la communauté donne à la télévision. Chaque année c'est un succès important.
7117 Par contre, on est une communauté pauvre. Est-ce que dans votre modèle il y a une forme de redistribution pour que des communautés qui ont une moins grande capacité de financement puissent... que leur dollar vaille un peu plus, disons?
7118 CONSEILLER MORIN: Pas pour l'instant. C'est vraiment local; on construit la télévision communautaire à partir de la base.
7119 M. PEDNEAUD-JOBIN: Oui...
7120 CONSEILLER MORIN: Chaque communauté a la télévision communautaire...
7121 M. PEDNEAUD-JOBIN: Qu'elle peut se payer.
7122 CONSEILLER MORIN: ...qu'elle peut se payer.
7123 M. PEDNEAUD-JOBIN: Oui. Moi, j'ai une difficulté de principe avec ça, parce que notre communauté étant pauvre...
7124 Puis là, je parle de Buckingham/Masson-Angers/L'Ange-Gardien, je parle de la Basse-Lièvre. C'est quand même, disons, une trentaine de mille personnes. On est à 40 kilomètres de la Maison du Citoyen, on a une vie, un tissu social complet : notre hôpital, nos institutions, et cetera, mais ça reste aussi pauvre que le Vieux-Hull.
7125 Je ne sais pas si vous connaissez Gatineau, mais socio-économiquement ce n'est pas très solide. Et pour s'en sortir, on a besoin d'outils qui mobilisent la communauté comme une télévision communautaire. Donc, si on part d'une base pas solide, moi, j'aurais des inquiétudes.
7126 Un autre élément : moi, je crois dans l'implication des municipalités. Là, je vais peut-être me faire attaquer par mes collègues et par mon maire, mais je crois que dans l'importance des municipalités... de l'implication des municipalités auprès d'outils comme la télévision communautaire.
7127 On est en train d'adopter une politique de développement social. Pour moi, la présence de médias locaux, ça fait partie des outils pour faire du développement social. C'est assez documenté qu'une communauté mobilisée, dynamique est plus, même, en santé physique qu'une communauté qui ne l'est pas. Donc, en principe, oui. On est d'ailleurs en train de voir comment on peut les aider au niveau du local.
7128 Par contre, il y a un danger extrêmement grave. Puis, comme journaliste, vous allez faire écho à ce que je dis, j'en suis certain, c'est que ça nous prend des médias libres. Moi, je... Ça nous prend des journalistes qui nous critiquent, des journalistes qui nous posent des questions, qui nous mettent parfois dans des situations difficiles.
7129 Moi, j'ai une proximité, déjà, qui est presque quasiment de l'intimité avec la télévision communautaire. Je vais les voir tous les lundis matins; pendant 13 minutes, je fais ce qu'on appelle « Parole à l'élu ». Si la Ville de Gatineau finançait beaucoup la télévision communautaire, notre relation changerait du jour au lendemain. Et ça, c'est dangereux.
7130 Donc, l'essentiel du financement, pour moi, doit être neutre, si je peux m'exprimer ainsi. Moi, j'accepte qu'un média -- même un média que je vois tous les lundis -- me contredise, mais disons que dans l'histoire de l'humanité on a eu un certain nombre d'exemples de dérapages de ce côté-là.
7131 LE PRÉSIDENT: O.K. Merci.
7132 Michel Arpin, tu as des questions?
7133 CONSEILLER ARPIN: Oui.
7134 Bonjour, monsieur Pedneaud-Jobin. Évidemment, je peux conclure de vos réponses précédentes que vous n'avez pas nécessairement suivi le déroulement de l'ensemble de l'audience?
7135 M. PEDNEAUD-JOBIN: Malheureusement non.
7136 CONSEILLER ARPIN: Mais on a eu quand même l'occasion d'entendre les représentants de Vidéotron. Et on a spécifiquement, dans le cadre de cette audience-là, parlé de Buckingham, parce que comme c'est moi qui faisais l'interrogatoire, j'avais choisi Buckingham comme un exemple de télévision communautaire autonome et de son fonctionnement par rapport à VOX.
7137 Alors, ce que j'ai compris -- et puis corrigez-moi si je fais... -- la télévision communautaire de la Basse-Lièvre est une télévision autonome et elle a une entente avec Vidéotron pour le canal VOX. Mais elle gère la portion du canal VOX dans le territoire de Buckingham.
7138 Et je vois que vous acquiescez...
7139 M. PEDNEAUD-JOBIN: Oui.
7140 CONSEILLER ARPIN: ...à ça. Et on nous a assuré que malgré le fait qu'on a récemment exempté Vidéotron de détenir une licence pour le territoire de Buckingham, que le service serait maintenu, d'une part, et que l'aide financière qui est apportée par Vidéotron à la télévision Basse-Lièvre serait également maintenu.
7141 Donc... Je vous dis cela pour assurer les... pour vous rassurer, en tant que conseiller municipal, et puis peut-être retransmettre le message aux gens de la télévision communautaire de la Basse-Lièvre, au cas où ils n'auraient pas entendu Vidéotron le dire.
7142 Et puis, c'est dans la transcription et la transcription, c'est la première de la deuxième journée. Et elle se trouve sur le site Internet du Conseil.
7143 M. PEDNEAUD-JOBIN: Je vais m'assurer d'en obtenir une copie. Moi, l'écho que j'ai, aussi, c'est que ça va bien entre le canal VOX et la télévision communautaire. Je veux aussi préserver l'avenir, mais c'est une relation qui est solide. D'ailleurs, c'est l'équipe de Buckingham qui s'occupe de la retransmission du conseil municipal de l'ensemble de Gatineau, parce que nous, à Buckingham, on faisait ça depuis déjà, je pense, 20 ans, au conseil municipal de l'ancien Buckingham.
7144 CONSEILLER ARPIN: Puis est-ce que le conseil municipal de Gatineau est retransmis sur l'ensemble du territoire de Gatineau?
7145 M. PEDNEAUD-JOBIN: Oui.
7146 CONSEILLER ARPIN: Donc... Et c'est produit par la télévision communautaire de Buckingham?
7147 M. PEDNEAUD-JOBIN: Oui. Ça fait partie du partenariat qu'ils ont, parce qu'on avait l'expertise à Buckingham.
7148 CONSEILLER ARPIN: Et puis, est-ce qu'il y a d'autres émissions de la télévision communautaire de Buckingham qui sont présentées sur l'ensemble du territoire de Gatineau?
7149 M. PEDNEAUD-JOBIN: « Émissions », je ne sais pas; reportages, oui. Mais des émissions, je ne sais pas.
7150 CONSEILLER ARPIN: Bon. Donc, je vous remercie.
7151 LE PRÉSIDENT: O.K. Merci d'être venu chez nous et bon jour avec vos trois débats fondamentaux.
7152 M. PEDNEAUD-JOBIN: Il faut que j'y aille.
7153 Mais le pire débat, c'est que c'est l'anniversaire de mon épouse, aussi, ce soir, fait qu'il faut que j'arrive vite à la maison...
7154 LE PRÉSIDENT: O.K. Madame la Secrétaire?
7155 LA SECRÉTAIRE: Merci.
7156 I would now invite Bragg Communications Inc., carrying on business as "EastLink", to come to the presentation table.
7157 Please introduce yourself, and you have 10 minutes for your presentation.
7158 MS MacDONALD: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners and staff, I am Natalie MacDonald, Vice-President of Regulatory at Bragg Communications. And with me here today is Michael Smith, our Director of our community channel known as EastLink TV.
7159 We are pleased to have the opportunity to provide our input regarding the policy review. EastLink provides community channels to communities in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, Ontario, Alberta and B.C. In our view EastLink is fulfilling the objectives of the 2002 community channel policy and we are very proud of the role our community channels play within our local communities.
7160 Our channel is built on community participation, volunteers and the efforts that our company and staff have contributed to its development. Our community channels illustrate this everyday.
7161 MR. SMITH: EastLink TV produces in total more than 4,800 hours of community programming per year and we meet or exceed the access requirements. Our programs span a broad range of diverse subjects and involve the participation from community members of all ages and backgrounds. Programming ranges from local sports to news and magazine shows, call-in shows, documentaries, series programs such as cooking and health shows, informational lectures, live events, festivals, parades and cultural events.
7162 Through access programming and input from local schools, community groups and volunteers we showcase the local talent, diversity and character of the communities we serve, our video provides a glimpse of this.
--- Video presentation
7163 MR. SMITH: EastLink TV provides programming that is not available through conventional broadcasting networks. We contribute substantially to the broadcasting system by providing a training platform for students, schools and future producers, directors, video engineers and television personalities.
7164 These kinds of activities result in an increased interest in television production which builds itself into the fabric of our Canadian broadcasting system. It is with great pride we can say that EastLink TV is a catalyst to developing that interest.
7165 Former contributors to EastLink TV have not only gained personally through career development, but they also provide a valuable contribution to the broadcasting system today. For instance, Mike Clattenburg of Trailer Park Boys fame began as an EastLink TV employee. And Valérie Hould-Marchand, a Canadian Olympic medalist and a former EastLink TV staffer has moved on to work as a producer with the larger networks.
7166 And several of our employees and volunteers have gone onto prominent positions with national broadcasters and specialty channels. Programs that have been locally-produced by community members have gone on to receive expanded distribution, such is the case with Ghost Cases, a 13-episode series featuring ghost stories from Maritime communities which has now been purchased by an international distributor and is finding an audience in other countries.
7167 Our community channels are not only providing relevant local programming to our communities, but the involvement of community members and the access they have had to our channels has created a renewed interest in the broadcasting industry.
7168 MS MacDONALD: Our contribution is not limited to just the programs that our viewers watch. It goes deeper and includes assistance provided to community fundraising initiatives and the development of people to build on the future of the broadcasting system.
7169 We bring relevant and very local programming to our communities, we provide a public service in supporting charity events and fundraising to the tune of millions of dollars in donations for local community groups. We are the training ground for future content providers and distributors.
7170 For all of these reasons, we think the value provided by community channels goes very far in terms of fulfilling the objectives of the policy and the Act. On this basis, we ask the Commission to consider the following proposals in relation to the policy review.
7171 First, retain the 2 per cent contribution. This contribution enables us to maintain the local and access programming we provide in these systems. It stays in our local community in the form of content.
7172 Allow cable companies to share community channel equipment among their systems. Unlike systems in larger urban centres, which may have a huge subscriber base across which to spread the costs of acquiring equipment, our systems have only a few thousand subscribers.
7173 For example, for EastLink the cost of purchasing a $25,000 video editing system may be spread over about 22,000 subscribers. Whereas in a larger system that cost may be spread across a base of 400,000 subscribers. Equipment sharing would allow resources to be focused on the creation and production of programs.
7174 Next, the definition of local programming should be adjusted to recognize community involvement in the content. Community channels operate in very large metropolitan centres with hundreds of thousands of customers as well as in very small system like some of those served by EastLink with just over 2,000 subscribers. The geographical boundaries of cable systems should not dictate whether a program is local.
7175 This is not a request to regionalize content in the manner we have heard CACTUS or Bell describe. This is not about community of interest programming. Rather, it is about recognizing that in many cases our programming includes involvement of a number of communities.
7176 Where a community is involved in a program we should be able to treat it as local even if the program is not produced in that community. A perfect example is in the case of a high school competition between schools in Antigonish, Nova Scotia and Wolfville, Nova Scotia. It may be local to Wolfville, where it is produced, but the program may better serve residents in Antigonish who could not attend the competition in person.
7177 While community channels are not prevented from showing the program in Antigonish, the addition of this relevant programming would require that system to produce even more local programming in order to comply with the rules today.
7178 Finally, we ask that the Commission expand sponsorship rights. Our sponsors are usually smaller businesses in the local community that have a desire to support a particular community event. They are typically not the type of businesses that advertise through conventional broadcasting.
7179 While we do not see this as a huge revenue opportunity, it allows us to recognize the contributions that local business and sponsors play in the community.
7180 Overall, we believe that the existing policy does work and, with some added flexibility, we can continue to offer high quality, relevant local and access programming within our licensed and exempt systems.
7181 Thank you.
7182 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, thank you for your presentation.
7183 I always like it when it's short, to the point with concrete issues. It's much easier to have an intelligent conversation about it.
7184 So, tell me, you bought Persona. Persona is now part of EastLink. When you speak EastLink, it also includes all the various districts that were formerly served by Persona?
7185 MS MacDONALD: Yes. Our presentation we do refer to EastLink TV. In keeping with the time lines of the presentation, we are intending to incorporate our Persona systems as well which also use the EastLink brand.
7186 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right. Okay. Now, your third example, I just want to make sure I understand the definition of local programming.
7187 Take the example that you have on a high school football competition between Antigonish and Wolfville. So, the match takes place in Wolfville, and you say you may show it in Antigonish.
7188 But what exactly more do you want? I'm not quite sure what you are asking.
7189 MS MacDONALD: Well, the way the current rules work is the percentage of access programming and the percentage of local programming that has to be provided in a community is established.
7190 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
7191 MS MacDONALD: So local programming today is defined as local programming, is programming that is produced within the community or by members of the community.
7192 A game that would take place in Wolfville may include members of the community in the form of their participation in the sporting event, but it's produced in Wolfville. So, there it technically doesn't qualify as local to the Antigonish system.
7193 So, what happens is, our Antigonish customers want to see that programming, but it's not access, it's not local and, therefore, when we play it in Antigonish we have additional programming and, therefore, we have to find ways to create new programming within Antigonish to meet the access and local requirements.
7194 So, for very small systems that we have in our operations it becomes a greater challenge because we want to show relevant programming, but then we have to go and find and create other programming with the resources we have.
7195 THE CHAIRPERSON: Basically you want a double count it?
7196 MS MacDONALD: Pardon me?
7197 THE CHAIRPERSON: You want to double count it?
7198 MS MacDONALD: I think --
7199 THE CHAIRPERSON: That's assuming you operate Wolfville too, you want to count it into Wolfville as well as Antigonish?
7200 MS MacDONALD: Exactly. And I know that double counting was an issue in the past, but we're talking about -- in our case, we have a lot more exempt systems.
7201 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
7202 MS MacDONALD: So, you know, those systems aren't mandated to direct funding to the community channels. So, I think in the past maybe the double counting issue had to do with ensuring that certain funds that were directed into those channels stayed into them.
7203 We're talking about channels that can benefit by double counting where it truly is local and local content.
7204 THE CHAIRPERSON: You want to count it for both local and access or only for local?
7205 MS MacDONALD: Well, we wouldn't call that access program because it's not --
7206 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, it depends who produces it.
7207 MS MacDONALD: -- programming...
7208 THE CHAIRPERSON: Depends who produces it.
7209 MS MacDONALD: Exactly.
7210 THE CHAIRPERSON: If the high school coach produces it, presumably it's access too; isn't it?
7211 MR. SMITH: Correct.
7212 MS MacDONALD: Correct.
7213 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes. And are we talking only sports or do you see other examples where this would apply?
7214 MS MacDONALD: Michael can speak, but I wouldn't say only sports, it could be any events or programming that involves multiple communities.
7215 MR. SMITH: That's exactly right.
7216 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, give me another example.
7217 MR. SMITH: It could be a high school debate. If the high school from Antigonish is in Wolfville, it counts for the Volfville system but it might be more practical for people in Antigonish to benefit from that program.
7218 MS MacDONALD: Another example is even local festivals. So, when we were preparing for this proceeding, I sort of made a joke that we, you know, we can drive through three of our community channel systems and not finish a cup of coffee.
7219 I mean, that's what we're talking about in some of our systems.
7220 And, so, there may be a festival in a certain community that actually pulls in adjacent communities and nearby communities and all of those communities are involved in that programming.
7221 THE CHAIRPERSON: I think the concept is fine, we just want to prevent abuse, so we don't want it to evolve into regional programming.
7222 So, I would challenge you to come up with a definition that's tight enough and doesn't involve discretion, so everybody knows automatically if it applies or doesn't apply.
7223 MS MacDONALD: Sure.
7224 THE CHAIRPERSON: I mean, I think the concept for that, like the high school game, you know, how can anybody argue it is not of interest to Antigonishers, it's not local, et cetera.
7225 But as you yourself in your submission put out here, you're not talking about regional. So, where is the boundary of sort of shared community as opposed to regional?
7226 So, see if you can come up with a definition of local.
7227 MS MacDONALD: Sure. And I agree that is the challenge because we are dealing with, you know, systems of varying sizes across the country, but that's where we come up with the word involvement as an attempt to say, you know, the community has to be somehow involved in the programming which goes beyond just relevance, it's involvement.
7228 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
7229 MS MacDONALD; And so that's why we referenced involvement.
7230 THE CHAIRPERSON: Marc, I believe you have some questions.
7231 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Yes, thank you, Mr. Chair, and good morning.
7232 So, if the technical staff of, say, your Antigonish system was involved in the creation of that content in Wolfville, that wouldn't fill the requirement; right?
7233 MS MacDONALD: When we describe the challenges we have, it really does go to the communities' involvement in the content as opposed to the technical staff, you know, in particular creating that content.
7234 We wouldn't say a technical staff that's creating content that doesn't even deal with the Antigonish community would necessarily be included in that definition of local.
7235 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: You operate 34 community channels currently; is that right?
7236 MS MacDONALD: Yes.
7237 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: And how many exempt versus licensed systems do you now operate?
7238 MS MacDONALD: Today we have six licensed systems.
7239 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: And the rest are exempt obviously?
7240 MS MacDONALD: Exempt.
7241 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Are some of your systems that are no longer offering community channels, have they taken that step as a direct result of the exemption order?
7242 MS MacDONALD: We continue to operate the community channels that we operated just before the exemption order. So, we haven't made any changes to that.
7243 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Do you intend to make any changes to that?
7244 MS MacDONALD: We don't have any current intentions to make any changes. In fact, you know, I mean I know the exemption order is fairly new.
7245 We've maintained our community programming in those systems, but what we wanted to do in this proceeding is step back and say, okay, because we have these exempt systems -- and I think the exemption order was actually very helpful and I appreciate that the CRTC recognized the challenges in smaller systems.
7246 Just to speak a bit to that.
7247 We have some very small communities. I mean, we have communities with just over 2,000 and we have hundreds of communities with less than 2,000 subscribers.
7248 So, that exemption order allows us to step back and say, okay, how can we now also contribute to our cable systems, we're operating in very competitive environments, we're losing customers in some systems, and we have some systems with just basic cable. So, we're looking at, you know, focusing on where we can add digital, et cetera.
7249 So, just a comment on the value of that exemption order, allows us to step back and look at that.
7250 At the same time we want to continue to operate our community channels and we want to continue to provide good programming to our customers in those communities.
7251 So, that's why we say, well, if we can look at sharing more programming that is involving those communities, it allows us to more efficiently operate those channels.
7252 And that's another reason why we referenced the equipment sharing. So, it's about creating efficiencies to maintain what we have and to improve on what we can improve on.
7253 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Do you think those efficiencies might translate into the closure of some stations?
7254 MS MacDONALD: We would hope that wouldn't happen. Now, you know, the reality with us is we've got hundreds of systems. We have systems in northern Alberta, we don't have community channels in -- some of these systems aren't systems with community channels, but we face those kinds of issues every day with some of these extremely challenged systems.
7255 We don't have any plans or hopes to face any kind of closure but, you know, at this point, we want to keep those channels operating.
7256 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: And that of course plays into some of the recommendations that you're making vis-a-vis programming and that sort of thing.
7257 MS MacDONALD: Right.
7258 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: That if definitions change, then the flexibility exists within which to consolidate some of your community channels which would mean that, you know, in an area where you now have three you might just have one.
7259 And I'm trying to gauge whether or not that's where you're headed.
7260 MR. SMITH: It might be more consolidating our programming, to be able to share our programming between those systems, rather than consolidate the systems.
7261 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Do you see a competitive advantage now to being able to promote your community channels to customers, say, versus DTH operators, that kind of thing?
7262 MR. SMITH: I think we see that we take pride in what we do in our community channels and we're proud to promote them from that aspect, and if it's a competition advantage, then so be it.
7263 However, it's more about promoting what we do, and anything at EastLink that we do, we like to promote it and get the community awareness of that.
7264 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: You refer in your written submission to advertising, specifically you refer to it as sponsorship, you want expanded sponsorship rights.
7265 Can you clarify for me exactly what that means?
7266 MS MacDONALD: I think from the perspective of our submission, I know we talked -- there's been a lot of discussion around advertising and sponsorship.
7267 And, you know, we framed it as sponsorship to really say, you know, we're not looking to compete with commercial type advertising that, you know, the over-the-air broadcasters are providing. It really is about small businesses sponsoring community events and wanting to be on there sponsoring.
7268 But Michael can speak to some of the challenges that our businesses have when we say, well, you know, all you can do is show the name of your company in a 15-second motion sponsorship.
7269 So, it's really just about expanding their opportunities to engage in the community as well.
7270 MR. SMITH: I think that sponsorship, especially on the community channel, really reflects the same thing we're talking about television.
7271 It's about the community being involved, it's really about small business owners.
7272 And they like to be able to say this program was proudly brought to you by Mary Jo's Pizza, but Mary Jo also has a business and she's a business person and she's looking at getting a little bit more value about it. Her business is about, you know, putting food on the table for her family. And, so, if she can say, you know, this weekend you get two pizzas for $10, she'd like to do that because that gives her added value from sponsoring the programs.
7273 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Are you talking about running 30-second ads though, I mean full motion -- is that what -- and which would entail then a commercial production unit?
7274 MR. SMITH: Thirty seconds aren't really necessary, 15 seconds are okay. It's really about getting the price points and the calls to action out, you know, come down to Mary Jo's Pizza this weekend.
7275 It's not about competing with local broadcasters, it's about giving just extra added value to those small businesses that like to support community television.
7276 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Mary Jo's Pizza can sponsor a community hockey game though; right?
7277 MR. SMITH: Right.
7278 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Currently?
7279 MR. SMITH: Yes.
7280 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: But you want to be able to have a full -- what you would term a commercial? I'm just trying to get a read on exactly what you want to do?
7281 MR. SMITH: I think you're absolutely right.
7282 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Okay.
7283 MR. SMITH: And moving video is what we do, we're television. If you use stills, that's really not our business, our business is video, and so we can go out and provide that value to Mary Jo and she can put her ad on a channel. That's correct.
7284 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: You have no interest in running ads that go beyond that, you know, national ads or regional ads?
7285 MR. SMITH: No. Sometimes there are what might be perceived as national ads, Boston Pizza, but usually it's a local franchisee that comes to us, for example, Boston Pizza.
7286 But really it's small local businesses that are the ones that are interested in community television.
7287 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: I'm trying to gauge where you're coming from vis-a-vis looking for flexibility on the programming front versus advertising front.
7288 So, you have Antigonish versus Wolfville hockey or basketball game or whatever, you're running programs in both those communities, that's what you would want to do?
7289 MR. SMITH: Right.
7290 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: You would want to run that game?
7291 MS MacDONALD: Yes.
7292 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Currently. And the ad that you want to run would also run in both communities; is that correct?
7293 MR. SMITH: Yeah. We don't have the capability of showing it just in one system when we do that.
7294 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Okay. Which might make it advantageous for an advertiser who has a regional -- who runs, you know, four or five McDonald's, or six McDonald's and happens to have some in both those communities, to run, in a sense, regional ads; right --
7295 MR. SMITH: Yeah.
7296 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: -- that go beyond just the community?
7297 MR. SMITH: Correct.
7298 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: We heard from a presenter last Wednesday, Ms Gloria Hill, who's the GM of Telile --
7299 MR. SMITH: Right.
7300 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: -- part of -- one your stable of stations; is that correct?
7301 MR. SMITH: Correct.
7302 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: They're an independent station. They told this Panel that they don't have any, and I'm paraphrasing, that they don't have any kind of relationship with the Bragg system.
7303 And there was a certain expression of concern there. They would like to work together with Bragg EastLink. They felt the need to have the regulator continue to "look out for small stations like that", because they feel somewhat powerless.
7304 They say that they believe there's an opportunity for a relationship with EastLink that currently does not exist.
7305 What are we as a regulator to make of this concern, if anything, from your vantage point?
7306 MR. SMITH: I met with Gloria two years ago when EastLink bought the Rush system and we are working on developing a relationship.
7307 We had a plan that the local station manager would stay in contact with Gloria, however, we had a personnel change so obviously something fell through the cracks where someone wasn't following up with Gloria.
7308 It's sort of like us, you know, it's like in the sea, there's a lot of bigger fish and we're a smaller cable company and they're a small independent over-the-air channel and I'm sure that her feelings are what they are and what she said, but we keep that channel on on the EastLink system and we have no intention of changing that by any means.
7309 And we do have the intention of having a relationship with Gloria and with Telile TV and -- but...
7310 MS MacDONALD: So, if I can also add on the regulatory front to answer that part of the question.
7311 I don't think anything is necessary. They've established a presence through an OTA licence and, as Michael indicated, we're very supportive or we had intended to be supportive and it may have been a situation where that fell through the cracks.
7312 But in discussing the Telile situation, Michael had also described to me that we actually did provide solutions to them on technical fronts that we didn't have to provide in terms of fibre arrangement.
7313 So, we are cooperative in showing that and I suppose there's always more room for all companies to try to move forward with that but, you know, we're certainly willing to cooperate with Telile where there's some opportunities there.
7314 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: So, there were discussions two years ago, there was a personnel change and then nothing happened, there was no follow up?
7315 MR. SMITH: Yeah. The original discussion two years ago was when we first took over the Rush system, and we did go to their grand opening, it happened shortly after that, but you're correct.
7316 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: In paragraph 6(b) of your submission, I have maybe a few more questions before I pass along to my colleagues, but you talk about specific thresholds for access not being necessary.
7317 Can you tell me currently what percentage of your programming, and I realize there are thresholds there, is currently being produced by staff versus -- do you have that number?
7318 MR. SMITH: We don't have that number. We have goals of volunteer participation and community participation. I think we're presently reaching about 50 percent of our programs are with volunteer participation, if not greater than that.
7319 MS MacDONALD: And when we look to our access programming, that programming that is access, so you had asked about staff versus volunteers, but the access programming has -- we have met those 30 percent thresholds and exceeded them quite significantly in other systems.
7320 So, there's an average that's somewhere between, you know, say 35 and 50 percent overall. So, we definitely are meeting those access goals.
7321 I note that the written submissions that we filed that spoke to the thresholds, I'd like to explain a little bit where we were coming from.
7322 This past week we've heard a lot about access, so obviously reading that written submission it would seem very aggressive. We're really speaking about our experience in our systems which, you know, I would say on average are much smaller than a lot of other cable systems we've heard from in the last week.
7323 The challenge with those thresholds is that if we're following the rules and if we're allowing access, my thoughts are that if the framework is in place to require cable companies to allow access, if there's a framework in place to ensure that they're not denying access and there's a mechanism that allows people who have a problem with what we're doing or feel they're denied to take it another step further, then that demand should be met through the cable company.
7324 What we have when we have thresholds that are based on total programming is, you end up having to limit other good programming you provide because it's going to skew your thresholds, and then in a smaller system that is very resource challenged it becomes a challenge to create new programming if you don't have that access demand.
7325 So, it's a great objective to have thresholds, but it just sometimes works a disservice to the overall content of the programming.
7326 And we heard from the CCSA last week at the hearings and they spoke a little bit about the challenges in small systems and trying to meet those requirements as well.
7327 And that's really where we were coming from with the threshold issue.
7328 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: But the bottom line is you don't agree with, say, having a rule, a regulation around having preponderance of access programming on your systems?
7329 MS MacDONALD: I would say that we fully support access programming. We have, since the 2002 policy, increased the number of volunteers by -- you know, we doubled in volunteers.
7330 We engage local schools, we have training programs that we provide to some of the local schools. We do all kinds of things to promote access.
7331 We've continued to do that. So, we feel that we're really doing a good job of trying to bring access in.
7332 So, in some systems, if there's a preponderance requirement, it could be very challenging in terms of if there's no demand to bring it to us.
7333 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: You doubled the number of volunteers. Was that as a result of the Persona agreement, or is that just within --
7334 MR. SMITH: No. I think we're talking since the regulatory changes of '98 and '02.
7335 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: And there has been some discussion during these proceedings about what constitutes access and we had Rogers in here talking about, you know, with the idea originates from something in the community, they come in and there's an agreement, there's schedules put in place and so forth in order to make that happen.
7336 What's an access show as far as your view is in terms of, say, the number of people who have direct involvement, hands-on involvement with the producing of a program?
7337 MR. SMITH: We don't really look at the number of people. It could be as low as one. It's really if the program is produced by the community or with assistance from us.
7338 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: So, if one person out of 10 is involved with the show, that qualifies as access?
7339 MR. SMITH: That's correct. We could have -- we had a recent case of a community member came to us and wanted us to help him build awareness of testing for colorectal cancer, and it was just him.
7340 So, we worked with him to get that program on the air. We would call that access programming.
7341 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Because we've had people come in here and say they can't get access. We've had people say, you know, they're doing their own thing now, we can't get involved.
7342 And when I hear you say that a show that has 10 people in it, one person, you know, being from outside, you know your direct employment, makes it an access program, I can have a certain amount of sympathy for the fact that people can't get access.
7343 MR. SMITH: I guess we'd like specifics if someone said there was denial of access. It's a constant job for us. It's a constant challenge to get access. It's an everyday activity of us to get access programming, receive it from the community, but if it's -- we didn't really say there was 10 people in the program, but if, you know, there could be three or four staff or volunteers and combination of it with the programming.
7344 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: I have one more question concerning the LPIF and your proposal.
7345 You support LPIF funding in terms of community channels where appropriate. And what exactly do you mean, where appropriate?
7346 MS MacDONALD: So, that was in our written submission, and we included it at a time as well when, you know, the issues around the LPIF and the purpose for it were out there and one of the purposes of that was to be directed toward smaller rural communities and to news programming and local content.
7347 So, it's not a strong request or, you know, we're not trying to make an aggressive argument that we want the LPIF, but it's really to put it out on the table and say, you know, in communities where that kind of programming is being provided and perhaps where it's, you know, a community channel may be the sole provider of that programming, we think it has -- you know, it's reasonable to look at it and say, you know, this may be one of those cases that some of the LPIF may work for us.
7348 So, we just wanted to get it on the table.
7349 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
7350 THE CHAIRPERSON: Michel?
7351 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: On a point of clarification, in your oral presentation, I'm drawing your attention to your page 3, section B which says:
"Allow cable companies to share community channel equipment among their system." (As read)
7352 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: We've heard before about programming, but now it's the first time ever that I'm hearing about sharing equipment.
7353 What forbids you to do that?
7354 MS MacDONALD: Well, I think that came from a time when the current rules, but they basically established that the funds going into a community programming system are to be used by that system for that system.
7355 So, it may be that you can take -- borrow content or use content created in other systems as long as you're meeting the local and access requirements, but it's been our interpretation that each system, the money is directed into that system stay within that system.
7356 So, we feel that where there are those kinds of limitations they should be more flexible to allow us to focus on producing more programming among systems.
7357 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: And have you ever checked with staff what was the specific meaning of that section, and particularly when it pertains to equipment -- sharing equipment?
7358 Because it struck me to be something that really I never heard of such an issue.
7359 MS MacDONALD: Right.
7360 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: And I'm sure that all the other BDUs will share equipment if they deem so.
7361 MS MacDONALD: Well, it is based on -- I'm not sure that we've had discussions recently with staff on that, no, but it is based on the interpretation of the limitations on, you know, having the funds directed within each system.
7362 COMMISSIONER ARPIN: Okay. Thank you.
7363 THE CHAIRPERSON: You're talking about usage, you're not talking about accounting.
7364 MS MacDONALD: Pardon me?
7365 THE CHAIRPERSON: You're not talking about double counting here, buying the camera for one system counts for the other system?
7366 MS MacDONALD: No, no.
7367 THE CHAIRPERSON: You're only talking about the usage.
7368 MS MacDONALD: Just usage.
7369 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes. Now, my colleagues have not mentioned Cape-de-la-Madeleine. Tell me what happens there? We are very perturbed about what we hear about it, so maybe you can tell me yourselves.
7370 MS MacDONALD: Certainly. So, the system that we have in the Magdalen Islands it is a former Persona system, it still is a Persona system. That system was -- we were directing our contributions to the Canadian Media Fund and that had been happening for years. When the local community programming operator came to us and said, hey, would you, you know, be okay with directing those funds to us, we said certainly as long as the CRTC rules allow us to do it, we'll do it.
7371 So, they proceeded to do that.
7372 Now, that was only recently with the effect of, you know, the direction of funds for I think two payments or something.
7373 When we had indicated we would do that, we had indicated as long as there's a requirement to direct those funds to CMF or another production -- independent production, we would continue to do that.
7374 So, when the decision did come out that that direction of funds no longer was required, we did provide the notice to the community programming operator there.
7375 The point I want to make, and it really is --
7376 THE CHAIRPERSON: But why? I don't understand. If it goes to the community operator or to the CMF, you don't have the use of that money; so why would you suffocate a local production?
7377 MS MacDONALD: Well, if we had continued -- so if that -- if Diffusion was not operating there that money would have been going to the CMF and when the decision issued we would have stopped directing the funding to the CMF.
7378 The point I want to make is the Magdalene Islands is an extremely small system. We had 2,400 subscribers one year ago and now we have 1,600 subscribers. It's not a system that, you know, is -- it's very challenged, we only have a cable service there.
7379 When that decision came out, we stepped back and we have to look at, you know, how can we deal with the cable services there themselves, I mean with 1,600 subscribers it's extremely challenged.
7380 So, you know, that was the outcome.
7381 THE CHAIRPERSON: But you can do that in any system less than 20,000, that's what bothers me, not the Magdalene Islands as such, that system, you know, the economics may just not have made sense, but we don't want this to become an example across the board that you stop financing local television or local community channels in any area where you have less than 20,000.
7382 So, what -- if I understand you correctly, in this case, it's because there's 1,600 people in the Magdalene Islands and now the two percent that you would -- what happens now?
7383 You're not financing them any more? Basically the money goes into your own pockets?
7384 MS MacDONALD: Well, as I had said, you know, yes, we stopped directing those funds. So, I mean, we're stepping back and trying to figure out what to do with that system.
7385 We have challenges, you know, in bringing fibre to that system to try to do anything to improve the services there as they are. We're facing significant subscriber losses in that system.
7386 So, you know, that's an example of one of the many situations we deal with with some of those smaller systems.
7387 THE CHAIRPERSON: So you likely could do this in other smaller systems too?
7388 MS MacDONALD: I'm not aware of that and I don't think we're in the same situation in smaller systems. I mean, we do have smaller systems that are exempt, where we have maintained a community programming channel and we want to continue to do that.
7389 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, that's precisely my point. You've done it in others, you're not doing it here. What's the difference here between other small systems; or is this the beginning of a trend?
7390 MS MacDONALD: I wouldn't say it is the beginning of the trend. In the particular case of that operator, they operated for, as I understand it, for many, many years without that and there were two payments that were made, you know, until the decision came out.
7391 You know, it was a very recent situation, it wasn't a situation where they had relied on our contribution for a long period of time and suddenly we had pulled it from them.
7392 THE CHAIRPERSON: Len, you had a question?
7393 COMMISSIONER KATZ: I've got a few questions, actually and kind of pick up on this one for a minute though as well.
7394 You've obviously heard the discussions during the last week with regard to stewardship of community funds and the fact that you are stewards of the community money as well.
7395 What the Chairman's question I think was leaning to was, if you're taking that money and re-directing it to your shareholders as opposed to using it for its intended purpose, which is back into the community, then there's a disconnect.
7396 MS MacDONALD: So, to speak to that, first of all, we don't re-direct our money to the shareholders. Our philosophy as a company has always been and always is, we re-invest in building out.
7397 We've done that recently in Newfoundland where customers had, you know, basic cable service and now they have multiple services and improved cable. That is our philosophy.
7398 So, in the situation of the Magdalene Islands we, as I've described, are very challenged. So, for us the issue isn't, oh well, what about the community programming and maintaining it, it's about what about the system itself surviving.
7399 I think, you know, our focus is, how can we keep cable there --
7400 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Yes, but that's a business decision that you have to come up with with your shareholders and your bankers.
7401 This specific money is earmarked for community activity, or CMF activity, one or the other, and when you have taken the initiative of taking the exemption order to the point of saying, we're now going to remove the obligations that were imposed upon us and no longer serving the community with that channel but re-directing the money into whatever funds or needs that you need, maybe it doesn't go back to your shareholder, maybe it goes back into the plant and you've got to try and figure out what part of the plant it goes to, the issue is still the same.
7402 And that is, the intent of the exemption was not to forego community access to community programming and to the BDU, and you've taken it to that extreme.
7403 And I think you're now suggesting it may go beyond just the Magdalene Islands to others as well.
7404 MS MacDONALD: So, two points. I am not suggesting it may go on to others, but the issue about it being specifically earmarked for CMF, over the last decade there have been hundreds of systems across the country that have become exempt and I would say that there's probably numerous of those systems that never provided a community service and, therefore, when they were directing funds to the CMF, when they became exempt, they stopped directing funds to the CMF.
7405 So, those companies would have stopped directing funds and it wouldn't have been as if it was earmarked beyond that.
7406 I think, you know, we interpreted the exemption orders as the Commission's recognition that smaller cable systems do have other challenges and the exemption orders which allowed for them to have more flexibility and also to stop directing those funds, was also about those smaller systems being able to have the flexibility to continue operating and improving and trying to improve the services within the community.
7407 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. Another point that you raised with Vice-Chairman Arpin, with regard to equipment and what qualifies and what doesn't; is it your understanding that equipment purchases do qualify as a cost against the community two percent revenues?
7408 MS MacDONALD: Could you speak to that, Michael.
7409 MR. SMITH: I'm not sure, but we could check on that.
7410 MS MacDONALD: Okay. Yeah, we could check on that. I don't -- I didn't -- I don't...
7411 COMMISSIONER KATZ: You're asking for a broadening of it.
7412 MS MacDONALD: Right.
7413 COMMISSIONER KATZ: I wasn't sure if equipment was even permitted to start with in one market.
7414 MS MacDONALD: Right.
7415 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Let alone broadening it to multiple markets.
7416 MS MacDONALD: Right. Well, we'd have to check on that.
7417 COMMISSIONER KATZ: So, could you check that as well?
7418 In your remarks this morning -- I've got a couple of questions, Mr. Chairman -- you talk about producing 4,800 hours of community programming per year that meet or exceed the access requirements. That's not within the two percent I would imagine of the commitment that you spend.
7419 So, you're producing that with the two percent or are you producing it with more than two percent, I guess is my question?
7420 MR. SMITH: More.
7421 COMMISSIONER KATZ: More.
7422 MR. SMITH: Right.
7423 COMMISSIONER KATZ: So, you're investing additional funds into the community initiative?
7424 MS MacDONALD: We would say that the two percent is used to create that programming. I think when Michael speaks to more, I mean, there's more within our company that, you know, we contribute in the form of resources, et cetera, to the community programming, so...
7425 COMMISSIONER KATZ: We heard from Rogers yesterday saying that they utilize the entire two percent and not any more than the two percent.
7426 MS MacDONALD: Right.
7427 MR. SMITH: That would be accurate.
7428 COMMISSIONER KATZ: That would be accurate for you as well, or --
7429 MR. SMITH: Yes.
7430 COMMISSIONER KATZ: It would. Okay. If I look at the 4,800 hours and divide it by 52 weeks, 168 hours, it's roughly 55 percent of the week that you actually are running your community channel.
7431 Is that all original programming, or do you have repeats on there as well, re-runs?
7432 MR. SMITH: We have repeats.
7433 COMMISSIONER KATZ: What percent of the 55 hours is original versus repeat, or how much of that 4,800 hours is original versus repeats?
7434 MR. SMITH: The 4,800 is original hours and then we repeat those.
7435 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. And you're no different than anybody else who actually played a tape of your community programming to us and everybody, without exception, emphasized sports, local sports, high school sports, community sports.
7436 How much of the community channel is actually dedicated to sports?
7437 MR. SMITH: I talk about viewership for that. Our sports are actually a smaller percentage of the total hours that we produce, I don't have a breakdown in front of me.
7438 However, viewership, 12 percent of our subscribers watch our sports programming, 20 percent watch our series programming.
7439 So, sports -- maybe it's not the right term, is sort of a lost leader for us. It is what we're known for, however, we produce far more series programming than we do sports programming.
7440 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Those are my questions.
7441 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thank you very much. And as I said at the beginning, that definition issue I think is going to be the key, so if you can help us, please submit that.
7442 And I gather you will also submit the detailed data by May 17th that we asked; right?
7443 MS MacDONALD: Yes.
7444 THE CHAIRPERSON: Good.
7445 Okay. Thank you very much.
7446 MS MacDONALD: Thank you.
7447 THE CHAIRPERSON: We'll take a five-minute break.
--- Upon recessing at 1006
--- Upon resuming at 1017
7448 LE PRÉSIDENT : O.K., commençons.
7449 Mr. Pineau, you weren't kidding when you said I will see you next week.
7450 THE SECRETARY: We will now hear the presentation of the Canadian Conference of the Arts.
7451 Please introduce yourself and you have 10 minutes for your presentation.
7452 M. PINEAU : Bonjour, Monsieur le Président, Messieurs les Commissaires, Madame la Commissaire.
7453 Monsieur le Président, je voudrais vous demander, il se peut que j'excède un peu le 10 minutes. Si c'est un problème, j'aimerais le savoir parce qu'il y a des sections...
7454 LE PRÉSIDENT : Madame la Secrétaire est très stricte. Elle va vous aviser quand les 10 minutes sont là.
7455 M. PINEAU : O.K. Parfait! Pour autant que ce qui a été présenté puisse rester officiellement au dossier comme ayant été présenté, je pourrai sauter des sections. Parfait! Je vous remercie beaucoup.
7456 Alors, bonjour. Mon nom est Alain Pineau et je suis le directeur général de la Conférence canadienne des arts. La CCA est le plus ancien et le plus vaste organisme-parapluie du secteur arts, culture et patrimoine au Canada. Son mandat est de contribuer à un débat informé sur toute politique ou réglementation fédérale qui affecte ce vaste secteur d'une façon ou d'une autre.
7457 Comme vous le savez, la CCA est intervenue à maintes reprises devant le Conseil au cours des années, particulièrement depuis 2006, dans les divers débats qui ont porté sur un angle ou un autre du système de radiodiffusion dont vous êtes les gardiens désignés par le Parlement, chargés d'assurer les objectifs établis dans la Loi sur la radiodiffusion.
7458 La CCA est heureuse de participer aujourd'hui dans ce débat sur l'évolution de la télévision communautaire au Canada et de vous faire une suggestion face à ce qui émerge de cette audience.
7459 Le sujet de votre examen est d'une grande importance car, à notre avis, il doit s'inscrire dans le cadre d'une stratégie numérique nationale que de plus en plus de Canadiens demandent et dans les meilleurs délais.
7460 Comme pour vous, nos points de référence premiers sont les objectifs sociaux et culturels inscrits dans la Loi sur la radiodiffusion dans laquelle on trouve la plus claire expression de politique culturelle adoptée par le parlement canadien.
7461 We had understood that the point of this hearing is to determine how, in the current converged universe of communications and broadcasting, the social objectives embedded in the concept of community television in the Broadcasting Act can be best achieved.
7462 The Commission has two models in front of it. One goes back to the very roots of the concept of community television. The second one is the ill-defined result of changes in technologies, concentration in ownership and the ensuing commercial-based approach that has evolved in a context of inadequate accountability, a model which current incumbents ask you to bless without telling you exactly where it is going.
7463 One model proposes that community television be controlled by communities in the same way that private companies control private broadcasting. That model is in close conformity with what we deem to be the intent of the Act.
7464 The other model proposes that private BDUs extend their control and authority over community television, even to the point of demanding that local city councils grant exclusive programming rights to one provider over another. Some community spirit!
7465 Both models must be considered in detail, with all the evidence necessary clearly and squarely in front of us. We submit that this is not the case now and it will not be the case despite the last minute decision of the Commission to ask for some basic accounting on the part of the current operators of community broadcasting.
7466 We are very happy that the Commission, on the first day of this hearing, has asked for some sort of reporting from the currently self-proclaimed stewards of the tens of millions of dollars Canadians pay each year for community television stations. Our concern, however, is that you have asked Canadians to make submissions about this important issue without giving them the benefit of the evidence you now recognize as important.
7467 Moreover, the data you are now seeking still do not provide us with the information we need to assess how well the current community television policy has been working and how well it delivers on the social objectives set by Parliament.
7468 We still will not know, for instance:
7469 - how many original hours versus repeats are being carried by everyone;
7470 - how many cable staff are being paid by cable subscribers to support community television, per community, and whether these staff work on other cable business as well;
7471 - how many volunteers receive training and in what areas: are they simply acting as free Rogers or Shaw employees, for example, or are most learning how to create and produce their own programs;
7472 - how much money is being used to pay for cable companies' own programs?
7473 It is true that you have offered us the chance to raise these concerns in our reply comment. But, with all due respect, this is simply not enough.
7474 I will skip the next section.
7475 Ceci étant dit, nous croyons que la preuve disponible à l'heure actuelle fait pencher la balance fortement en faveur du modèle présenté par CACTUS. Dans son approche multimédia et son retour à une implication réelle des communautés, ce modèle permet de corriger le manque d'accès flagrant du système actuel. Il promet des améliorations considérables dans la poursuite des objectifs fondamentaux de la loi, sans ajouter aux coûts actuels.
7476 Le dossier que vous présente CACTUS est très convaincant et sa proposition centrale, loin d'être un regard nostalgique sur le passé, convient à un avenir dans lequel nous sommes déjà. De plus, ce modèle de centres communautaires multimédias répond en partie, et de façon importante, au besoin de diversité des voix qui a récemment fait l'objet de vos préoccupations et qui est mentionné dans l'appel pour ces audiences.
7477 En dépit de la preuve incomplète et des difficultés extraordinaires à obtenir les données nécessaires à une véritable évaluation du système actuel, la recherche produite par CACTUS établit clairement les problèmes et les lacunes d'un modèle où les services offerts aux communautés ont fondu comme neige au soleil, où la programmation produite par les communautés elles-mêmes est devenue une denrée rare dans plusieurs parties du pays, tandis que les câblodistributeurs transforment ce qui devait être un bien public en une chaîne destinée à leurs intérêts commerciaux et à leur image de marque.
7478 What we have seen over the past decade is the literal hijacking of community television by cable, and now DTH operators want to join in the action. Both want to keep converting community television into business brands, using subscribers' money without accountability and any of the messy business of having to ask for broadcasting licences for local original television stations.
7479 It is highly ironic to see large BDUs come here and ask you to more than double the 2 percent value-for-signal levy they currently raise for their version of community television and to also give them access to local commercial revenue. If we get their drift, this is so they can compete directly with traditional broadcasters, whose call for value for signal they have spent millions of dollars fighting over the past year. These are the same guys who positioned themselves as protectors of the consumer in the previous hearing. Coherence and logic are obviously not prerequisites in the BDU business.
7480 Moreover, how much credibility can we give cable companies' claims that community channels are very important to them? I checked the 2009 Annual Reports for both Shaw and Cogeco and I would invite you to do the same. I have not found a single reference to "community channel" or "community television". BDUs collected millions of dollars over the past eight years for this very important aspect of their companies' work but they don't even mention it in their report to shareholders. How serious is that? And this is public money.
7481 The same BDUs argue they cannot attract new participants from the community and have had to take matters into their own hands, but the evidence in front of you is that they began 'firing' volunteers more than a decade ago. So how many community television coordinators do they hire? How many project proposals do they solicit, receive and reject? What do they do to promote access television? What are the governance models they use to ensure that communities have a say in the community channel they pay for willy-nilly?
7482 This leads us to the importance of community ownership, community control and the impact it may have on the performance of community stations. We believe that returning to the type of grassroots involvement proposed by CACTUS can contribute to greater audiences, particularly outside of very large urban centres. The kind of ownership and the governance model put forward by CACTUS is light years away from the kind of community involvement scantily presented to you by Shaw immediately after CACTUS' presentation.
7483 How can decisions made in Toronto or Calgary reflect communities in Miramichi, Flin Flon or Campbell River? Given the Act's social objectives, what rationale can possibly explain the fact that some Atlantic provinces now have one community channel?
7484 At this point, I would like to raise concerns about some of the language heard in this hearing.
7485 The way we discuss issues covers layers of assumptions and prejudices which need peeling off. On previous occasions, here and in other forums, the CCA has raised concerns about how public debates are framed. We have objected, and still object, to discussing issues of public interest simply in terms of consumers and users, to the exclusion of more appropriate terms like Canadians and citizens.
7486 Similarly, the CCA is very concerned about the way the Commission is leading the current debate or was at the beginning of the week when those words were written. I haven't had the opportunity to follow everything.
7487 We have heard from the panel expressions like "expropriation" or "you (namely CACTUS) want to take their money" or "take the 2 percent on the money that they (the cable operators) generate."
7488 Would "expropriation" not better apply to the fact that my community channel has become Rogers Television? Where did they get the authority to do that? How has community television become Rogers' property?
7489 It is particularly ironic that it should be Shaw acknowledging that cable operators don't own the money they raise with regards to community television. While we object to their establishing themselves as stewards of the public money they collect -- we deem the Commission to be the steward of that -- we welcome the fact that they at least recognize that this contribution, theoretically coming from their gross revenue, is a benefit to Canadians for cable's use of public frequencies, the rights of way, the territorial exclusivity and all other forms of privileges they receive from the regulator to run their business and make it profitable.
7490 THE SECRETARY: I am sorry, Mr. Pineau, you have to conclude. Thank you.
7491 MR. PINEAU: Okay. I will skip and go to page 12.
7492 L'heure n'est pas aux compromis mais à determiner lequel des deux modèles devant vous répond le mieux aux objectifs sociaux de la Loi qui doit guider vos considérations sur cette politique.
7493 Je l'ai dit, d'un côté, on a un modèle qui retourne aux sources, de l'autre, on a un modèle qui a pu dériver sans qu'on puisse évaluer la performance des personnes qui en sont responsables ou des 130 millions de dollars dont ils disposent pour le faire.
7494 We believe cable subscribers and all Canadians are entitled to see a clearly articulated proposal from cable operators, explaining how it meets the objectives of the Act and what clear accountability system they propose for the public money they currently use in a very discretionary way. Cable operators cannot simply come here with a couple of hastily gathered polls or a series of vague and unsubstantiated assertions.
7495 We submit to you that in this case, as we say in French, "il est urgent d'attendre." The important issue at hand cannot be dealt with fairly and completely within the confines of this hearing. We need a much broader public debate on this important cultural and social issue, a debate that must rely on a fact-based analysis of the current system and the alternatives.
7496 So we do suggest:
7497 - that you prepare a report on the state of the debate further to this;
7498 - that you demand, collect and make public all the relevant information and data to assess what is being done currently;
7499 - that you demand detailed reports on what the current model of community television gives and where cable operators want to take it;
7500 - and therefore, that you keep the status quo for the moment and allow all parties to really look at the issue carefully with all the data and for Canadians to really make their minds up about this.
7501 The fact that 7,000 people intervened in this hearing shows the importance of the issue. Admittedly, those interventions were solicited by other parties most of the time. Do they reflect what Canadians want? Is the debate fully open? That is what we hope.
7502 Thank you for your attention.
7503 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, thank you for your submission.
7504 First of all, let me just correct one thing. You take exception to the word "expropriation" used by me. If you check the record, you will see that so did CACTUS, and I then said: CACTUS, let me correct in case you misunderstood it. They, i.e. the BDUs, will regard this as expropriation of their money.
7505 I even went further. I said: I agree technically that "expropriation" is the wrong term. It was just meant to convey what I perceive to be the state of mind of the BDUs. They regard this as part of their income and if you take the 2 percent away, they will regard this as an expropriation. So please don't quote me out of context.
7506 MR. PINEAU: Okay, no. I apologize for that. As I told you, I have not been able to follow the hearings throughout.
7507 THE CHAIRPERSON: That is fine. But we all know it is the ratepayers' or the subscribers' money and it is to be used for communities, their system.
7508 The second one, on due process, you suggest basically that we don't have enough data. We obviously came to the same conclusion, hence, our demand for --
7509 I really don't see why we can't proceed the way we are right now. On the 7th the data, the key data will be there, will be posted on our Web. And then we have asked everybody to make submissions for the 17th, taking into account what they heard here and the data that is there. That, to us, is sort of the best outcome.
7510 Putting the debate off for a year, as you suggest, I don't see how it would enhance the process because the main issues have all been discussed thoroughly here. Some decisions have to be taken. These decisions will be influenced to some extent by the data. The data will be there. Why the extra year? What do you see would happen during that extra year that doesn't happen now?
7511 MR. PINEAU: Well, quite frankly, I guess it was written at the middle or two-thirds of -- at the end of last week actually, and I must say that sitting in this room earlier made me realize that you have enough evidence in front of you to decide which way to go, I think, based on that, just the preceding witnesses. I think there is enough evidence there to show that if we really mean something when we talk about community television, we have to put it back in the hands of the communities.
7512 This is not taking -- if cable wants to be a partner, and they could play a very important role being a partner, but it is the switch of the ownership and the responsibility. This is based on the notion that CACTUS and their networks are able to raise these communities.
7513 I have been to the Magdelen Islands, quite frankly, which was mentioned a bit earlier, and I believe that if there is a community that can have its own community station and run it and needs a multimedia centre, this is really a step towards the future if you feel that you can take that step now, instead of tweaking with the existing model.
7514 I don't believe that regulation or more tightening of the screws, as was suggested earlier, you know, or give us regulation and establish a process where people, if they are not satisfied with access, will be able to appeal. This is not policy. This is regulation to the 10th level, which you don't want to run.
7515 So my plea to you is that yes, if you think you have enough evidence to do it now, forget my call for procrastination. I am not generally in favour of it but I guess this time around it was for fear that the steamroller would run again.
7516 THE CHAIRPERSON: Multimedia centre suggests that the cable subscribers pay for production not only for television which they receive over the cable but also for internet production, for mobile production, which they may not be the owner of.
7517 MR. PINEAU: Well, you know our position with that. I mean all platforms have converged and we have always said that every platform, whether it is wireless or internet, should be called upon to contribute. Currently, we have radio and cable and satellite who contribute, and broadcasters to the system.
7518 All the convergence of ownership and all the convergence of technologies that you evoked when you appeared in front of the Parliamentary Committee for Industry on Foreign Ownership apply in this case. We have advocated for levelling the playing field and applying the basic principles --
7519 THE CHAIRPERSON: But that is not levelling the playing field. You are doing just the opposite. You are making the BDU customers pay for other forms which they may or may not enjoy. I agree the technology brings it about, but you are in effect -- by your suggestion you are instituting a cross-subsidization.
7520 MR. PINEAU: Of culture.
7521 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
7522 MR. PINEAU: Yes.
7523 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
7524 MR. PINEAU: That is exactly the principle of our cultural policy and it has been from day one. Why shouldn't it be extended to others? I pay taxes for schools. I don't have children in school anymore and I don't have grandchildren yet. It is part of the public good.
7525 If the production and distribution of Canadian culture, which I thought was the official policy of the Government of Canada and had been for a long time, was that as Canadians we contribute, I mean, you know, we can argue as to --
7526 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, through our taxes. But here you are talking a specific user charge which is being imposed on the cable user and you are suggesting it be used to cross-subsidize. I just want to make sure I understood your suggestion.
7527 MR. PINEAU: Oh, yes.
7528 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
7530 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Oui. Merci, Monsieur le Président.
7531 Si vous me le permettez, Monsieur Pineau, comme vous êtes la Conférence canadienne des arts, je vais me permettre de vous poser des questions en français.
7532 M. PINEAU : Je vous en prie.
7533 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Dans votre mémoire... parce que dans votre présentation orale, vous ne supportez que la proposition de CACTUS. Mais dans votre mémoire, vous avez supporté également la proposition de la Fédération des télévisions communautaires autonomes du Québec. En fait, je présume que vous savez que c'est deux propositions qui sont peut-être un peu... qui sont distinctes, définitivement.
7534 Quelles sont les conclusions que vous avez tirées pour, finalement, appuyer que le modèle de CACTUS?
7535 M. PINEAU : Je pense que la considération fondamentale, c'est la prudence. Je n'ai pas les moyens ou les ressources de connaître ce dossier-là du côté du Québec aussi bien que j'ai été amené à le connaître du côté anglophone. Je sais qu'il y a des différences.
7536 Je ne me permettrai pas de... généralement, je maintiens l'appui qu'on a exprimé dans notre soumission du 1er février. Aujourd'hui, il me semblait que les problèmes étaient beaucoup plus particuliers du côté... et je voulais insister seulement là-dessus. Mais il n'y a pas de retrait d'appui. Il y a seulement que je ne suis pas assez familier pour m'aventurer sur les données spécifiques.
7537 La Loi prévoit très bien qu'il y a un marché francophone, puis il y a un marché anglophone. Il y a le marché québécois, puis il y a le marché non-québécois, et c'est des données dont vous tiendrez compte certainement dans ce dossier-ci.
7538 La situation, pour ce que j'en sais, est beaucoup moins détériorée, quoique c'est loin d'être idéal, à l'intérieur du Québec, où il y a plus de diversité des voix, où il y a plus de stations communautaires, où il y a des régimes compliqués, plus compliqués. L'évolution du dossier de ce côté-là devrait suivre un peu le même chemin que du côté anglais, selon les modalités spécifiques de l'environnement. C'est tout ce que je veux dire.
7539 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Maintenant, je voudrais quand même continuer à parler du Québec parce que le modèle n'est pas sans intérêt des télévisions communautaires autonomes, qui est un modèle qui existe depuis déjà 20 ans et qui obtient à la fois du financement public par le biais du ministère de la Culture, Communications et Condition féminine, et par le principal distributeur québécois, qui leur permet d'opérer même le canal communautaire comme tel dans plusieurs circonstances.
7540 Cependant, le principal distributeur québécois nous a dit que la reconnaissance que le gouvernement du Québec faisait des télévisions communautaires lui était suffisante pour accepter, sans autre analyse, la concession de son canal communautaire ainsi que la gestion du canal communautaire.
7541 Comme la Conférence canadienne des arts est soucieuse de la Loi sur la radiodiffusion et de ses enjeux, est-ce que vous n'y voyez pas une négation de la responsabilité du CRTC quand on s'en remet qu'à un ministère provincial pour déterminer de la légitimité d'une entreprise?
7542 M. PINEAU : Je m'excuse, je veux juste m'assurer que j'ai bien compris ce que vous me dites. Vidéotron est venu dire que la reconnaissance du ministère québécois de la Culture et des Communications justifiait le fait que Vidéotron gère les stations communautaires?
7543 CONSEILLER ARPIN : C'est-à-dire qu'il leur cède la gestion. Prenons l'exemple de Buckingham. Je ne sais pas si vous étiez ici ce matin. La Télévision communautaire autonome de la Basse-Lièvre exploite le canal communautaire dans le territoire de Buckingham. La TVC de la Basse-Lièvre est un organisme autonome reconnu par le ministère des Communications et de la Culture du Québec, de qui ils reçoivent une subvention, et Vidéotron, en contrepartie, dit : Bon bien, c'est ton canal communautaire, tu le gères et t'en assumes 100 pour cent de la responsabilité.
7544 M. PINEAU : Et qu'est-ce qu'ils font avec le 2 pour cent?
7545 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Ils leur donnent de l'argent.
7546 M. PINEAU : Non, non, mais est-ce qu'ils leur transfèrent le 2 pour cent qu'ils perçoivent?
7547 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Est-ce que c'est 100 sous dans la piastre, je ne peux pas vous le dire, mais les télévisions communautaires qui ont comparu devant nous se sont dites satisfaites des argents qu'ils recevaient de la part de Vidéotron. Mais celle de la Basse-Lièvre n'a pas comparu devant nous.
7548 M. PINEAU : O.K.
7549 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Il y en a deux autres qui ont comparu, celle de Beloeil, notamment, qui se sont déclarés satisfaits du mécanisme de...
7550 M. PINEAU : Pour autant que la perception du 2 pour cent est transférée ou par le biais d'accord de coopération est accountable...
7551 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Mais moi, je ne vous parle pas d'argent. Je vous parle du principe de droit de délégation de la responsabilité du télédiffuseur, du cablôdistributeur à un tiers qui dit, bien, c'est ton canal, sans obtenir l'autorisation préalable du CRTC.
7552 M. PINEAU : Bien, il ne le détient par licence, il est juste obligé d'en fournir un, si je comprends bien le système, et s'il est juste obligé d'en fournir un, qu'il soit fourni par une entité séparée...
7553 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Mais il n'en assume pas la responsabilité.
7554 M. PINEAU : Bien, c'est un peu le modèle que l'on propose du côté de CACTUS, puis, je suis à l'aise avec ça.
7555 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Et vous êtes à l'aise avec ça?
7556 M. PINEAU : Ah, bien, oui. S'il a besoin d'une licence pour une station communautaire, donnez-la à cette...
7557 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Dans le domaine de la radio, on donne des licences de radio communautaire.
7558 M. PINEAU : De télévision communautaire, je m'excuse. Je ne sais pas si... je devrais savoir ça là, mais actuellement, ma compréhension, c'est qu'il y a une obligation d'offrir une chaîne communautaire, mais il n'y a pas de licence attachée à ça là.
7559 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Non. C'est dans sa licence générale d'exploiteur de cablôdistribution.
7560 M. PINEAU : En tout cas, moi, je n'ai aucun problème avec l'esprit de ce qui se passe là de la façon dont vous le décrivez, et puis, je suis mal placé pour savoir si c'est un déni de l'autorité du CRTC.
7561 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Mais c'est un souci que la Conférence canadienne des arts devrait avoir.
7562 M. PINEAU : Oui. Je vous avoue que je crois... Au sujet de l'autorité du CRTC?
7563 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Oui.
7564 M. PINEAU : Si c'est vraiment une enfreinte ou une entorse à votre autorité, Monsieur Arpin, je suis complètement de votre côté. Put me on the record for that.
7565 CONSEILLER ARPIN : C'est déjà inscrit là.
7566 M. PINEAU : Merci.
7567 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Écoutez, votre mémoire est clair, vos arguments sont bien présentés, et je vous avoue que je n'ai pas d'autre question à vous poser.
7568 M. PINEAU : Je vous remercie.
7569 CONSEILLER ARPIN : Bienvenue.
7570 LE PRÉSIDENT : Michel?
7571 CONSEILLER MORIN : Je n'ai pas de question. Je voudrais simplement vous dire que suite à la présentation de ma proposition qui se veut une alternative, je ne veux pas entrer dans les détails, mais il y a déjà sur le site Internet du CRTC un certain nombre de questions écrites. Évidemment, c'est une proposition. C'est pour avoir plus de commentaires autour de cette proposition-là, et on verra qu'est-ce que la Commission décidera.
7572 Mais j'aimerais beaucoup avoir vos réponses écrites à ces questions-là, si ça vous était possible.
7573 M. PINEAU : Bien, je vous remercie de l'invitation, puis, je vais les regarder, puis, dans toute la mesure du possible, je vais y répondre. Merci.
7574 CONSEILLER MORIN : Merci.
7575 THE CHAIRPERSON: I believe those are all our questions. Thank you for your -- sorry, Peter, I didn't see your hand up. Go ahead.
7576 CONSEILLER MENZIES: I just have one question. I am just struggling to understand the link between your membership and your position. I understand your position and, as Michel Arpin said, it is well articulated. But I don't understand how that position advances the economic interests of artists.
7577 MR. PINEAU: Oh, okay.
7578 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Like, as in your advocacy priorities on your website, I don't get it.
7579 MR. PINEAU: No, and I understand why you don't get it. We believe strongly, and I did not have the room to say that quite frankly, but we believe very strongly that the kind of community-based station that is being put forward to you -- and the model can be improved, don't get me wrong. I mean, for example, I have a dissenting opinion as to sponsorship. I think that all the money that we can possibly get to support that sort of multiplicity of voices should be tapped in the appropriate fashion. So CACTUS model can be improved in my view.
7580 But that model of community involvement would be part of a greater scheme of things to value local arts and culture in tandem with the education system. I mean, valuing culture does not happen at the NAC once a year, at the Gala where I met Mr. von Finckenstein to celebrate our artists. It starts in your backyard, in starts in your schoolyards. And those community stations are much more sensitive to developing that.
7581 And I can say that some important elements like, for example, the American Federation of Musicians, has been at loggerhead with the cable community channel for years. They will be ready, I am convinced, because I have talked to them, to sit down in a different environment and see how they can work and cooperate.
7582 So this is why we are here. I am here to defend the social objectives attached to this in terms of democracy and multiplicity of voices. But also behind all of this there is self-interest, self-interest in the promotion of arts and culture in our country from the grassroots up, because that is where it begins. Your MP will pay attention to the kind of things that happen on the community channel.
7583 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Thank you.
7584 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, thank you very much. And I expect to hear from you once we see the data on May 7. Okay, thank you.
7585 Madame la Secrétaire, qui arrive maintenant?
7586 THE SECRETARY: Merci.
7587 We will now hear the presentation of Gabriella Mammone and Samir Dossal who are appearing by videoconference from Toronto.
7588 We will begin with the presentation from Gabriella Mammone. You have 10 minutes for your presentation. Thank you.
7589 MS MAMMONE: Good day. This is Gabriella Mammone from Mississauga, Ontario. I am a loyal resident of Mississauga and my submission dealt mainly with my experience more on a professional, yet personal, area within the city.
7590 I have been involved with the Carassauga Festival of Cultures for the last five years roughly. Carassauga, if you are not aware, is the largest multicultural festival in the Province of Ontario. And I have to tell you candidly, I am not sure what we would have done from a promotion perspective without community television like Rogers. They have provide a diverse awareness within our community.
7591 Carassauga really, just to kind of paint a picture, is a festival whereby when you walk into what we call a pavilion people will experience the food, the music, the dance, the culture of that particular country.
7592 Rogers has been absolutely essential in helping us promote that. They have allowed us to be on their program called Daytime. And when I say "us" I mean they have spent time with the country so they can do some sample dances and cooking and that kind of thing. Some of us from the board, at the time I was on the board of directors, they would introduce us and we would talk about where to get passports, like the tickets to get into the festival and that kind of things.
7593 So they were very very instrumental in helping us sell the festival, bring awareness to the community. And that was really important to us. They saved us money because, let's face it, advertisings are expensive and so we really wanted to use as many avenues as possible.
7594 And it is also important to note that, you know, let's say with daytime, they would air at 11:00 and 4:00 and some people work. But when you know you are going to be on television or when you know someone that you know is going to be on television or the group that you are supporting, you will make a point of potting it in your PVR or set your VCR. And so it was really nice to be able to share that with friends and family, and they would set their PVR.
7595 So it was an exceptional last few years with Rogers, they are essential. And, you know, as I speak, this year we are planning our festival at the end of May, only less than a month to go. And same thing, you know, we approach them, we ask them for the technical, so they provide the studio and the camera.
7596 And, you know, we have a concept of exactly what we want and, you know, they are giving us 10 one-hour segments on Carassauga. And they are allowing our headliner show to be interviewed next week actually on daytime. And so these are things that they have really made a positive impact to our festival in supporting us.
7597 I am going to refer to my letter dated February 28, 2010, Item No. 3. I have already touched on the first couple of points relating to how they have supported us. The third point, Jake Dheer, he is the Station Manager for Rogers in Mississauga and he is a phenomenal individual. This man is the epitome of a philanthropist and he represents the company very very well and, truthfully, that is part of the reason why I am here, I want to give back.
7598 I feel as though I owe it to him and his team, because he has been our emcee at several events; we have what we call our Mix & Mingle, we have networking events, we have banquets, and he is always there to emcee. In fact, it is a three-day festival this year and he is going to be the master of ceremonies on the first evening. And again, I will volunteer and, you know, his crew will come out and tape Carassauga. So again, it is a huge support for us.
7599 And then, because the relationship has been built and, you know, I am understanding more about Rogers Television and the impact that it has had on our community, at my workplace at the time, a couple years ago, we thought, hey, let's participate in the Santa Claus Parade in Mississauga, in Streetsville, and we did just that. And Rogers was there and they taped the Santa Claus Parade and there was a really beautiful segment on the company that I was with at the time that they caught on film.
7600 And so I went to Rogers and I purchased a copy of that video. And being at the end of the year, we had our kickoff meeting to the year in January, so I brought a copy of that video and I opened up the meeting with that video because it was an exceptional piece of footage. And it was wonderful, like it set the tone of our meeting. So I couldn't have done that without Rogers' support, which was phenomenal.
7601 The staff there as well is excellent. They have an individual that works there, Roger Wardell, he has been instrumental as being our master of ceremonies. I have worked with him on several of what we call our preview events at different shopping malls prior to Carassauga's air. We give people a snippet of some of the entertainment that they would experience.
7602 And again, voluntarily his staff has been there. Two years ago he even had one of his staff members be part of our board of directors, her name was Cheryl. So the support that they have offered is phenomenal and all we have to do is ask. We ask for their support and they are there. We tell them what we want to do, we give them the information and the content, and they provide us with I guess the logistics of it all, the camera, the location and somehow they help us make it happen.
7603 Number 5 on my submission, just in general it talks about, you know, I generally enjoy watching local community news. I think it is important to know there was a police constable that had passed away recently, you know, and I was able to attend it that way. Anytime there is some festivals or milestones in the city that I want to watch maybe I can't because I am working or I can't attend then, you know, I can at least record it and watch it after the fact.
7604 So I really strong feel that community television is key. For me personally, as a citizen, I am involved with it. I think the team that works there is fantastic. You know, they communicate newsworthy events in a very professional manner and I feel strongly, we need them.
7605 So those are my two cents. Thank you.
7606 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.
7607 THE SECRETARY: We will now hear the presentation of Samir Dossal.
7608 You have 10 minutes for your presentation, thank you.
7609 MR. DOSSAL: My name is Samir Dossal, and I am a proud resident of the town of Richmond Hill.
7610 I am here primarily because I feel that giving back to the community is such an essential -- really a fabric of Canada. I am Canadian and I have been in Canada for the last 10 years, and I am proud to be here.
7611 My active role in working in the community is that I have been a Rotarian for many many years and in 2007 and 2008 I was the President of the Rotary Club of Richmond Hill. And that led me to do far more work in the community, which otherwise I may not have had the opportunity. It was an amazing platform to give back. Rotary is really a very wide organization of 1.2 million members throughout the world in 32,000 clubs in 200 countries, and I get involved in our club level and our district level.
7612 What I have seen is the partnership that we have had with Rogers Television. This year was our 30th year of doing our live TV auction. Over the many years that we have had this -- we started off perhaps 30 years back, and generated maybe a few thousand dollars. But when you accumulate it, I think around perhaps $1.5 to $2 million have been raised in this live TV auction.
7613 What really happens is that the Rotary Club takes a lead and works with 14 to 15 charities on the first weekend of December; it can start on Friday or between Friday, Saturday and Sunday or between 22 to 40 hours of live online basically TV auction. And what it allows us to do is to engage all these 14, 15 different charities which are part of our own community.
7614 And putting this package together, we are able to averagely raise a net amount of $100,000 each year, $90,000 to $110,000 or thereabouts has been happening for the last many years now. And what it really does is it helps all the 13, 14 charities to sort of continue their good work within the community and that is really the key I think. And I really strongly feel that if it weren't for Rogers we would not have been able to achieve something like that.
7615 Really what happens is that we get that airtime and there may be a little bit of cost involved. But what really fascinates me is the feeling of giving back to the community. And what I also see generated is, even in the staff of Rogers, that several of those people who work in Rogers contribute their time and their time is not charged for. So it really creates that feeling of community and that is what it helps.
7616 Rogers does help us in promoting our community activities, the events that we do, the information that gets passed on. And, of course, the local channel which Gabriella just mentioned I know gives us opportunities to find out what is happening in the community, the food, the restaurants and, you know, local opinions and local sports. I think that is pretty much the reason why I am here.
7617 I feel that I owe it to the wonderful work that Rogers has provided us and that is really, primarily the way I look at it. And I would like to sort of, you know, extend support from my personal self and as part of a Rotarian, I think that if somebody is helping out I personally feel obligated to sort of come up and sort of reciprocate that and let other people know what benefits we have personally had.
7618 So if there is any further response -- but basically, principally, that is what I am here to say.
7619 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, thank you for your submissions. Like many others before us, you are great supporters of Rogers.
7620 If I ask you is there anything Rogers could do better than what they are doing right now, what would you point at? Either one of you.
7621 MS MAMMONE: It is difficult for me to answer because I am very much in a silo, I am involved with this festival. How they are supporting us with the festival is phenomenal, they have exceeded our expectation. So I don't know what happens in the background, I don't know enough about perhaps the other areas, I can only speak of what I am comfortable with.
7622 I am very pleased. I am very very pleased with what they have supported us with. Nothing comes to mind on how they can improve.
7623 I don't know about you, Samir?
7624 THE CHAIRPERSON: Mr. Dossal?
7625 MR. DOSSAL: You know what, that is exactly how it is, that whenever there is a need -- I don't know what you know about rotary, we meet once a week and constantly we are doing some projects, it is either local projects -- we pride ourselves in doing local community projects and doing international projects. And whenever there is a need, and the need is to promote the works that we do, rotary does, each individual stands up and tries to do some good work. So these people, they help us to promote it.
7626 And beyond that, again, I don't have the exposure to be quite honest. I feel that whenever there is a need to go back to them or to approach them to help us support, I have gone there and I have arranged for several of our members to go there and promote our membership drive, for example. It is totally different than just selling this to the community. And they have kind of responded back and there are two or three different events or programs that they do, and we have done that.
7627 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
7628 Rita, I believe you have some questions.
7629 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Thank you, yes. Good morning.
7630 Just a couple and along the same lines, because your passion and your admiration for what the Rogers community channel does in your respective areas is obvious.
7631 So the question is if you take a look at everything that the community channel does and just remove yourselves for a moment on how they impact you directly, what else do you find of value on the community channel?
7632 Ms Mammone, if you want to go first?
7633 MS MAMMONE: Sure. You know, just their segments, you know, they outline in the City of Mississauga the OHL hockey team. You know, my son is young now, but how wonderful will it be to know that when he is old enough to be on a hockey team that I can watch him on TV, you know? So it is things like that that, you know, a proud mother would want to see and can only achieve that with Rogers.
7634 And some of the other things they have, they have great cooking and they have had -- you know, what they do is they have newsworthy topics and some may or may not pertain to all, that is always a very subjective topic. But I just think that they capture, they are always out there. You know, they are always out there and they are always trying to get these programs into place. And I think it is brilliant what they are doing, I really really do commend them.
7635 Yourself, Samir?
7636 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Mr. Dossal, how about you?
7637 MR. DOSSAL: Well, as you can see, I am very very passionate about doing whatever I can do in my community. I really enjoy this, it really gives me self-satisfaction. And this is the partnership that we have created with the media, the press and so on, and whatever help that comes across.
7638 In terms of doing something else, I don't know. The little that I watch TV, I kind of enjoy the food programs.
7639 I would take this opportunity to tell them, you know, recognize and create a program to highlight more community individuals who do some good work in the community. Perhaps that would be my message. And I don't know who is sitting here from Rogers, I have no clue. I don't know who is attending, who is not, I haven't had a chance to look into. But from the smallest level too the highest level there is so much of great community work and that is all that really needs to be done.
7640 But I am very happy with what is going on from the perspective that I need Rogers to promote community activities. From my end, those needs are met.
7641 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: Well, I would venture to say that representatives from Rogers are probably listening to everything that you have said to us this morning.
7642 COMMISSIONER CUGINI: No, and that is a good thing. And I do appreciate your participation. Thank you very much.
7643 Those are all my questions.
7644 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, thank you very much. There don't seem to be any other questions, so I thank you for taking the time to participate in our process.
7645 MS MAMMONE: You are welcome.
7646 MR. DOSSAL: You are welcome.
7647 Madame la secrétaire, let's take a five-minute break and then we will deal with the last one.
--- Upon recessing at 1104
--- Upon resuming at 1112
7648 THE SECRETARY: Please take your seats.
7649 LE PRÉSIDENT: O.k. Commençons, madame la secrétaire.
7650 THE SECRETARY: We will now hear the presentation of the National Campus & Community Radio Association. Please introduce yourself and you have ten minutes for your presentation. Thank you.
7651 MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you. Good morning. I am Kevin Matthews, the outgoing Executive Director of the NCRA. I am presenting with Shelley Robinson, our new Executive Director.
7652 The National Campus & Community Radio Association, l'Association nationale des radios étudiantes et communautaires (NCRA-ANREC) is a not-for-profit group of organizations and individuals committed to volunteer driven not-for-profit community oriented radio across Canada.
7653 Our goals are to assure stability and support for individual stations and to promote the long term growth and effectiveness of the sector.
7654 We represent 77 members in nine provinces and three territories. They are community owned controlled in able public access to the airwaves and deliver high quality community produced programming with financial support from the communities they serve.
7655 We are here today as part of the larger community sector which serves the focus with community television on local content and community access and we are pleased that a number of participants of this hearing talked about our stations as established and trusted sources of local and community produced programming. New media and the trend toward the conversions of technologies makes the links between all forms of community media even stronger.
7656 To that end, we value open dialogue with other community media organizations and think this is essential in moving forward toward developing a national community media strategy in a new media environment.
7657 Discussion has begun, including with CACTUS. In fact, it has been suggested at this hearing that we support their proposal for the Community Access Media Fund.
7658 Additionally, CACTUS' latest proposal implied the NCRA in consultation with the Francophone Community Radio Associations: ARC du Canada and ARC du Quebec, with a point of representatives to sit on the board of the CAMF.
7659 However, we are not prepared to take a position on any particular proposal presented this week.
7660 We are pleased that CACTUS recommends representation from the community radio sector on their Funds Board, but it is premature to say who that representative would be.
7661 The NCRA has not consulted its members on this issue of board representation on a new fund and cannot speak for ARC du Canada and ARC du Québec.
7662 As the Commission already knows, our three associations have focused on getting support for the Community Radio Fund of Canada, a fund from the sector itself. Any involvement in another fund would require further consultation.
7663 MS ROBINSON: Also, while we cannot speak for community television, we do not agree with the Canadian Broadcast Standard Council's recommendation that the same standards process apply to all broadcasters.
7664 The guidelines for developing industry administered standards, CRTC-198813, specifically encouraged industry and related groups, including community broadcasting, to assume greater responsibility for the content they broadcast.
7665 The CBSC standards were created by and for commercial radio. Community radio is not part of the commercial radio industry nor an extension of it. We are a unique sector with different goals, values and motivations than those of commercial media.
7666 We do not believe their standards processes are necessarily appropriate for us. We, therefore, recommend that following public consultation, a community radio broadcast standards process be created.
7667 We have explained this process in more detail in the NCRA areas Code of practice supplementary brief submitted at the policy review hearing dated January 18th, 2010.
7668 So, as mentioned earlier, new media and media convergence increase the overlap between different forms of community media. We are in touch with our members about their new media endeavours, capacities and interests.
7669 Different stations are involved to different extents and for different reasons, but the key is that they are involved. Community radio is already part of the new media landscape.
7670 So, as we suggested during the Commission's 2008 proceeding on new media, we believe community radio needs to be involved in the ongoing discussion of these issues.
7671 We also believe best practices in community media and that includes community television, community radio and community or intended new media involve community control of ownership, facilities and content. We will be pleased to contribute more information about some of those practices as the dialogue continues.
7672 So, more than anything, stable funding for community media of all types is paramount to allow us to fulfil our mandates, work together and adapt to changing conditions.
7673 We also hope to see more dialogue on new media development and the convergence of media technologies that include our sector and address issues like accessibility of new technologies, public access to production facilities, ties to the community and local content.
7674 We look forward to helping build this future with our members, the Commission and other stakeholders.
7675 Thank you.
7676 THE SECRETARY: Thank you. We will now hear the presentation of John Stevenson. You have ten minutes for your presentation.
7677 MR. STEVENSON: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission and the Commission staff.
7678 I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today. My name is John Harris Stevenson. I am a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto's High School, studying new media and public policy.
7679 I'm also a long time community broadcaster currently President of CHUO-FM here in Ottawa and the founding Director of the Community Radio Fund of Canada.
7680 I appear before you today as a community media practitioner, but not as a community television broadcaster, so I will generally restrict my comments to best practice in community broadcasting as they relate to the questions you are considering.
7681 I will focus on three areas: First, the importance of local community ownership of community media; second, the importance of starting where we are and keeping those elements of the community television system network, while changing those that do not, and; third, community medias place in Canada's new media environment.
7682 Earlier in this hearing, I think it was suggested to the Commission that the cable industry invented community television. Any study of the history of the Canadian Broadcasting system shows that the creation of community access television was driven from the grassroots by dozens of Canadian communities concerned about access to local media in a new multi-channel environment.
7683 Cable companies have partnered with communities for decades in the creation of community programming, but changes to the structure of the industry have meant that the level and type of community program we provided now varies considerably. Community access sometimes aligns with BDU business requirements, but sometimes it does not.
7684 During this hearing, we have heard a variety of terms used interchangeably to describe what it is that cable companies do with their branded channels. Many of these channels do provide community access and are an important public service, but to be clear, community broadcasting is defined first and foremost by its community ownership and control.
7685 When the Broadcasting Act lists the three elements of the Canadian Broadcasting system, these elements are defined by their ownership. This is not an abstract academic distinction.
7686 Community broadcasting is successful when it is owned and programmed to the local level by not-for-profit community organizations with active members and deep community ties. Effective community accountability of the kind needed to create truly great community programming is systematically impossible in the for-profit corporate environment. Conversely, community ownership provides the best value for dollars spent on community media.
7687 It would, therefore, be advantageous to the Commission to create a regulatory regime that encourages greater community control of the community channel.
7688 Cable branded channel should be independently licensed and other regulations on cable can provide some benefit, but BDU regulation will be inefficient in the long run, when compared to greater community control.
7689 Communities already have the right to apply for a licence to operate an independent community television service. The current framework could be expanded to allow for both independent video on demand services and community specialty channels and to provide these services access to some portion of the current BDU envelope for local expression.
7690 Earlier, I mentioned the principle of starting where we are. The community ownership should be community driven. The Commission has the ability through its licensing process to determine where and when community ownership is appropriate.
7691 In many cases local partnership between communities and BDUs will be a suitable outcome of such a process. There are a range of working models available that suit different local circumstances. These can be found across Canada, the United States and other communities around the world, but all types of community oriented television should adhere to a number of central principles that can be measured easily, including a majority of local programming, administrative transparency and adequate operational and financial management and volunteer involvement and community centred governance.
7692 The development of community broadcasting should take place as much as possible at the local level. It would be inappropriate for most funding of broadcasting to come from a distant national source whether large, whether that be large BDUs or some other mechanism.
7693 Local financial and other support such as donations and sponsorships are a necessity to establish local relevance. Therefore, the Commission may wish to facilitate agreements that will allow distribution of some or all the BDU funding to independent community television at the local level.
7694 We have heard several times during this hearing that perhaps community broadcasting is no longer necessary in a new media environment. After all, the argument goes: anyone can have a YouTube channel or a Facebook page. I would like to challenge that notion.
7695 We sometimes talk about the Internet some day replacing television. But what we are living through now is not like the shift of network programming from radio to TV in the nineteen fifties.
7696 Unlike traditional broadcasting, the Internet is a medium that can only distribute other media forms. This is why we are not seeing a relatively straightforward movement of broadcasting business models to the Internet.
7697 While community media is extending its services into new areas, we are forced to remain grounded where the bulk of our audience and support remains: radio and television.
7698 At this moment, we have no sustainable business models for local community media that are exclusively Internet based. In order to remain relevant, community media must explore new media, but not at the risk of endangering existing services.
7699 We are currently witnessing the transformation of the Canadian television fund into the Canadian Media Fund. Funding mechanisms for community broadcasting must have similar latitude support for traditional broadcasting and new media forms.
7700 During this hearing, we have been asked if community broadcasting is unaquitted and unnecessary. I can tell you that I have never seen a greater interest in local community media as I do today, a natural outcome of media ownership concentration and fewer meaningful local choices.
7701 What may be unaquitted is a model that depends on the largesse of commercial media to provide community programming when there are others that could provide that service. I think that it is clear that having BDUs fill the community television programming space retards the development of all community media in Canada.
7702 Cable companies enjoy an effective monopoly on local community television. Yesterday, we heard Rogers suggest the competition would be good for community television. I agree, but that competition should come from community television that is community controlled.
7703 Those are my comments and I welcome your questions.
7704 THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Mr. Stevenson, paragraph 7: Effective community accountability of the kind needed to create truly great community programming is systematically impossible in the for-profit corporate environment.
7705 What makes you say that with such -- what makes you say such a categorical statement? Surely, we have all sorts of partnerships between for-profit and not-profit engaged and working towards a common goal. Why wouldn't that be possible here?
7706 MR. STEVENSON: I think that it is possible and it has been possible in past decades, but -- and I am not suggesting that the services that cable branded channels offer are not important to communities because we've heard all through this process that they're very important.
7707 But there is a limit to how far you can go when you're faced with corporate constraints and I think that what we have seen so far from what we are referring to as community television is -- much of it is quite positive, but it will never develop past a certain point because of borderline pass a certain point with corporate imperatives.
7708 THE PRESIDENT: Okay. Well, that to me sounds like it's full of challenges, but it doesn't mean systematically impossible, the way you put it here.
7709 MR. STEVENSON: As a community broadcaster, it's impossible for me to imagine, based on the knowledge that I have that community television can fully develop within a corporate environment.
7710 THE PRESIDENT: Okay. And Mr. Matthews and Ms Robinson, the CBSC standards were created by and for commercial radio, which is -- and you don't want them applied to radio. We are not talking about radio here, but we are talking with community television. Why would the CBSC not be able to judge the complaints about the community challenges programming in terms of whether there was a mis-categorization, whatever, and the usual complaints about being unfair to a particular group or misrepresenting a particular group?
7711 I don't quite understand why the CBSC which administers all sorts of codes could not administer the code for community TV the same way as it does it now for commercial radio?
7712 MS ROBINSON: We are not saying that some other processes might not have some relevance. What we are saying is that they were given the opportunity to develop a code based on their own goals and in the way that they practice as commercial radio.
7713 And so, what we are saying is that we do things differently enough that we would like the opportunity to produce our own processes. That doesn't mean that they are going to be completely divergent.
7714 THE PRESIDENT: Okay. Forget about radio. Talk on TV first of all.
7715 MS ROBINSON: Sure.
7716 THE PRESIDENT: So, if the community TV, community groups developed a community TV Code of conduct or whatever you want to call it, there is no reason, in my view, why the CBSC could not administer it. The Code should be obviously developed by the people who practice the art of community TV.
7717 MS ROBINSON: Whether or not it's administered or and we started to get into community television, I know that this is community TV hearings, so that's obviously the focus, but I don't want to step outside my own expertise and speak for people that I don't talk to regularly, so I don't feel comfortable answering that question.
7718 THE PRESIDENT: Okay. Thank you. Michel Morin, I believe you have some questions?
7719 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Yes. Thanks, Mr. Chair. Good morning. As you know, I pushed forward a model based on partnership. I don't know if you have had the opportunity to follow the hearings, but some questions have been put on the Web site of the CRTC and I would appreciate that eventually you'll answer those questions.
7720 The model I pushed forward is, I will call it a "prudent approach" -- based on a partnership between the community licences that will eventually be granted by the CRTC and the cable operators. And I would like to ask you a specific question about just as a matter of principle.
7721 Do you think that there is room for a compromise here with access programming firmly in the hands of community licensees and the cable operator managing the community channel as it is now, so that the licensees will have full control of their own programming and the cable operator will have, in consultation with the licensee, control of the scheduling of both the licensees and its own programming, in accordance with access programming percentage requirements as we know them now.
7722 So, my question is: we have already this cable, this channel that is available. Now, all the decisions are ultimately made by the cable operator with a new system with a licence that will be granted, the community with the revenues I talk about will have the full control of the programming and if we talk about IPTV or cable operators, they will have to make some decisions to take 100 per cent of the programming or 70 per cent of the programming from the communities.
7723 This is the way or this is the model I propose. It's for me a big step forward if we compare with what is the situation now, but it's a compromise. It's not the CACTUS model with a big bureaucratic structure and funds that will be allocated on a national level. It's a model which is based from the local, from localism, if I say so.
7724 MR. STEVENSON: Thank you for that question. I've attempted in my written and oral presentations to present some frameworks for how we could go forward.
7725 I think that when we discuss these issues, we often forget that community access television has always been conceived in Canada as a service which is provided by cable companies. Unlike community radio, it didn't start out -- these organizations didn't start out as independent entities.
7726 So, I don't see a difficulty with partnerships and future between BDUs and local communities who control the programming. In fact, I think that's a legitimate compromise at this point. To make changes to the system that aren't in tune with what local communities want would be a mistake.
7727 So, without getting into too many specifics about your proposal, I think that that is something that could be applicable in some communities.
7728 There are also instances where there simply isn't any room for an arrangement which includes the BDU because of local circumstances and that must be taken into account as well.
7729 And one thing that I have learned during this hearing is that there are a number of different working models in Canada, they may be quite small, but there is a number already in Canada that are functioning and it's best, as I have said, to start from where we are now and develop those further than to make changes that are -- that might not be in tune with local communities.
7730 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Do you have some comments too about the same question?
7731 MR. ROBINSON: I could probably only say that since you've presented it in part as a matter of principle, it's a question of values. In our sector, we see every day how effective it is to have true community ownership and control of the programming and governance that's accountable to the community.
7732 When it comes to community television, in our opinion, any step in that -- any step toward community control over programming and the governance and volunteer involvement is a step in the right direction.
7733 COMMISSIONER MORIN: The other question is about specifically to the student community channel, but with the licence, I propose they will be based on geography. I mean, would it be possible for your students to work with the larger community in university campuses neighbourhoods if a new model of community programming licensing was put in place on the basis of geography?
7734 With my model, the revenues will be provided by the BDUs to the community licensees, based on the geographical distribution of the BDU or IPTV provider, because the IPTV providers are already licensed by the CRTC.
7735 Do you think that the students will be motivated and able to work with people of different backgrounds with minorities, First Nations, francophones, immigrants and so on? I mean, working in a larger unit with a broader mandate instead of just being focused on the students' interests?
7736 MR. STEVENSON: Thank you. As the Commission is aware, in English Canada, the community radio sector is primarily made up of campus based community broadcasters. They are licensees that came out of a student radio paradigm typically in the seventies or eighties, with a notion of providing a service to students and they have grown to be something that provides a set of services not just to the campus community, but to the community as a whole.
7737 At CHUO where I work, we see people from the community and from campus coming in and out of our studios constantly. It's a sort of service that the university provides in some ways, university community provides in some ways that is inclusive of a broad range of people from the community.
7738 In fact, our radio station couldn't function, it would not be successful unless it had very strong roots in the local community. So, I think that that's a model that can work, we are showing that it does work and in terms of campus based television, it's something that would strengthen both the experience of people working at those stations and also, make a positive contribution to the community.
7739 MS ROBINSON: I basically have to echo exactly what John said. So, we have both used to work at CKDU-FM in Halifax for instance and we're talking about radio, but we're also talking about it acting as the best practice for a model for TV in this case and, absolutely, we have a good blend of students and community and like John says, you wouldn't have been able to have either part without the other half. So, I absolutely think that that's workable.
7740 COMMISSIONER MORIN: That was my last question. I hope that you will answer to my written questions that are already on the CRTC Web site. Thanks very much.
7741 THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Those were our questions and as my colleague said, we look forward to your written answers. Thank you.
7742 Madame la secrétaire.
7743 THE SECRETARY: Thank you. We will now hear the last presenters who are appearing by video conference from Vancouver. They are W2 Community Media Arts Society and Tri-Cities community Television Society.
7744 We will begin with the presentation of W2 Community Media Arts. Please introduce yourself and you have ten minutes for your presentation.
7745 MR. SCOTT: Would it be alright if Tri-Cities Community Television went first?
7746 THE SECRETARY: No problem. Please present yourself. Thank you.
7747 MR. SCOTT: Mr. Chairman, Members of the Commission. My name is Geoff Scott. I am the Board Chair of Tri-Cities Community Society.
7748 Thank you for taking the time to hear our submission. Tri-Cities Community Television Society strongly supports the submissions given to you by CACTUS and the Community Media Education Society. We feel that the community television in Canada is a success story that sadly has some parallels with that of the Avro Arrow.
7749 In 1997, the CRTC decided that the community channel had achieved a level of maturity and success such that it no longer needed to be mandated. The Commission, at that time, felt that opportunities for local expression would continue to provide in the absence of a regulatory requirement.
7750 We submit to you that this trust in the cable companies was misplaced, otherwise we would not be here today at this much overdue hearing. For it was at this time that neighbourhood television offices that once serviced neighbourhoods throughout the lower mainland were systematically shut down. The volunteer network that existed was dismantled by the cable companies because it was considered fiscally prudent.
7751 No attempts were made to engage the community in order to keep these valuable community resources operating, yet the cable companies call themselves the "stewards" of community television. The question indeed has already been asked: If they are the stewards, who are the rightful owners?
7752 I would submit to you that it's the community at large are the owners, the people that we have been working with develop our channel in our community.
7753 And who are we? Well, we started with me. Former trainer and board member with Independent Community Television in Vancouver. In fact, I first started in television production over 20 years ago through the Kitsalino Neighbourhood television office in Vancouver. It was there that I learned the basic production skills that allowed me to work in the industry and to provide for my family.
7754 Five years ago, I started to lay the groundwork for the return of community access television in my community. I began producing a half hour magazine show that aired on Shaw Television once a month. All cost for this production came directly out of my pocket. But my little experiment gathered momentum and today Tri-Cities Community Television Society has a five member board and over 30 active volunteers.
7755 We produce Tri-Cities Magazine once a week and we provide coverage of special events in our community. Special events such as festivals or tonight's all candidates meeting for the upcoming Coquitlam by-election, or even City Town Hall meetings out in the community that Shaw feels they are no longer obligated to cover because they are not held within council chambers.
7756 In fact, we are now working with the Coquitlam Heritage Society in order to cover an upcoming presentation being made by local school children called "What I love about my City". We are working with them to cover this because Shaw now feels that covering city council with a wide shot from the back of the room is adequate.
7757 We had hoped to present a short video of some of our programming, but in lieu of that I will list a couple of quotes from our over 50 letters of support from the community.
7758 Number one comes from MP Fin Donnelly and you will forgive me for quoting an NDP as we are West after all: "We live in a diverse and vibrant community and would like to see those who know our community best, it's the residents, continue to produce what was once called community television. In a recent CRTC decision which allowed community access producers to once again air their programming on Shaw television, it was stated that such programming is "equally valuable". I believe this programming if of greater value to the community and should be financially supported."
7759 I best include the voice of a Liberal Party Members as well. We have the support of all the MLA's in our region. This quote is from Douglas Horn, Labour MLA of Coquitlam, Burke Mountain:
7760 "Geoff Scott, the founder and producer of Tri-Cities Community Television has shown tremendous effort and support to the community over the years. His dedication, commitment, and business acumen have also been recognized by our local Chamber of Commerce where he has been nominated for two awards. I believe this also demonstrates the support he and TCCTV enjoy in our local business community."
7761 I am the answering sitting Board for these guys.
7762 Cheryl McKeever, Society of Community Development: "Through your support, our society and events gained valuable exposure. We have numerous positive responses from our community."
7763 So, there is the answer to the question that has been asked about viewership. At least we have numerous viewers. But while we have no way of determining the exact number of viewers and Shaw does not provide us any numbers, it is my understanding that community channel is intended to be a public service, rather than a business tool, and as such I am lost to understand why there isn't a concern about viewership numbers.
7764 Two more quotes here.
7765 Joan Roberts from Place des Arts which is a Arts organization in the city of Coquitlam.
"Television is such a powerful medium and unfortunately we have not had access to this avenue of communication since the late 1990's. Coverage by Rogers Neighbourhood Television just quietly disappeared. Organizations such as Place des Arts would greatly benefit if funding was in place to allow for programs such as Tri-Cities Magazine to continue to be produced." (As read)
7766 And the last quote, Lynda Baker from the Port Moody Art Centre Society:
"Tri-Cities Community Television has not only produced a television show of our event, they produced a lasting legacy for our archive. What happens in the suburbs of a larger metropolis is rarely covered by commercial media. Tri-Cities Community Television provides us a cultural richness of our community and is a valuable community benefit worthy of our support." (As read)
7767 All right, enough with quotes of praise. I will wrap up here.
7768 Unfortunately, Tri-Cities Community Television is still being funded solely out of my own pockets. My wife informs me that this is no longer a sustainable model. We are at the point where we have rebuilt the volunteer network but we need proper funding in order to continue providing this service to our community.
7769 For the next couple of months we plan to shut down the production of Tri-Cities Community Television and focus on networking with the community. We also plan to build on our community advisory panel. Currently we have representatives from the three city councils, the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce, Douglas College and several other community organizations.
7770 A number of solutions have been proposed during these hearings. Be it the 2 percent, 1 percent, .5 percent, or .0005 percent solution, we implore the Commission to find a way to assist the communities to rebuild this community asset.
7771 We are certainly not opposed to any solution which encourages investment from the community at large, although we do have concerns about smaller rural communities and how this would be factored in. We do not want these funds to be distributed by the cable companies any more than we want them to express our views.
7772 It seems absurd in this day and age when advances in technology have put the tools of media production in the hands of individuals that we have severely limited the ability of the individual to participate in community access television.
7773 Again, I thank you for your time in listening to my submissions.
7774 THE SECRETARY: Thank you.
7775 We will now hear the presentation of W2 Community Media Arts Society.
7776 You have 10 minutes for your presentation.
7777 MR. OOSTINDIE: Thank you very much.
7778 Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Members of the Commission. My name is Irwin Oostindie and I am the Executive Director of W2 Community Media Arts Society.
7779 I am pleased to have this opportunity to discuss with you the growth and resurgence of community access TV in Vancouver. In these few minutes, I wish to present to the Commission the past, present and future work of our Woodward's Community TV station located in Vancouver's downtown East side.
7780 During the proceedings you have heard references to W2 by those familiar with our work, such as our friends IMAA and CACTUS and you have heard from several of our W2 member organizations. W2 is a largely volunteer-run community effort founded in 2004 and our flagship station is soon to open in September 2010. W2 is building a new model for multiplatform community TV by creating an 8,800 square foot facility for people to physically connect in community and create multiplatform media productions.
7781 Since learning about these hearings some months ago, we have had great anticipation about speaking publicly with you concerning our vision and our solutions to the failed community access TV system in Vancouver. We believe the W2 community access TV facility model is the right solution at the right time. We suggest W2 be highlighted as a means to rebalance community access TV.
7782 In regards to its operations, we believe it should be mandatory for Vancouver-based BDUs to direct an appropriate portion of the 2 percent of funding derived from the cable community channel levy to W2's community TV operations and programming. What we lack is funding to sustain the provision of training, production and dissemination so that all of our volunteers and the hundreds of new volunteer community members arriving can do the work.
7783 But I would like to step back for a moment and introduce you to my own experience and introduce you to some aspects of W2's development and business strategy.
7784 I am a former Shaw Cable TV community producer and on-air host. I grew up inspired by community television in the 1980s and started with my own local weekly community arts council program that showcased culture in my community and I interviewed local people of interest. We did this from a local Shaw neighbourhood office which made it possible to volunteer and for our local community arts council to operate a weekly in-depth program.
7785 If I compare to what Shaw TV suggests is community access today, I would need to have a car and if I were a youth, as I was then, supportive parents to travel 20 kilometres on a late Sunday night just to edit and post-produce my community program. Shaw TV does not make it easy for community TV producers in the lower mainland. In fact, they make it very hard. W2 envisions a system whereby youth, seniors and diverse communities all have access to all aspects of community television.
7786 W2's community TV station planning began in 2004 and the W2 Community TV Cluster was formed in 2006. It has representation from ACCESS TV, Fearless TV, Independent Community Television (ICTV), Working TV, Pacifika, Tri-Cities Community Television Society and Vancouver Community Television Association.
7787 Our Woodward's Community TV Station is operated by the W2 Community Media Arts Society Board of Directors and staff, with representative input on the board from the W2 Community TV Cluster. We have an Advisory Committee, a Technical Committee, a Building Committee and a Communications Committee. We have consulted with experts from the private and public sector along the way.
7788 Vancouver City Council recognized the importance of W2's community multiplatform TV model and, in 2006, City Council approved the W2 proposal and we began best-practices research on governance, business planning work and cross-media models. We wanted to create a building that integrated people and production and disseminated via FM radio, fibre optics, satellite, over-the-air and cable.
7789 In 2009, our funding partners Simon Fraser University and the federal government, through Western Economic Diversification, secured $1 million dollars in funding for equipment that would aid W2's and SFU's media production and capacity-building work. Further, the City of Vancouver agreed to invest approximately one-half million dollars to finish our facility and we recently secured a 20-year lease to operate the TV station.
7790 We have also done significant proof-of-concept work and stakeholder development with business development agencies, technology and academic partners. While we wait for construction work to be completed, we are operating from across the street at the 31,000 square foot Storyeum property, with a community media centre producing televised community meetings, conferences and festivals and broadcasting online and on Shaw TV.
7791 Our neighbour at the Woodward's site is the National Film Board, with whom we are partnering to deliver a summer 2010 camp for children and youth in media production. The Woodward's site is emerging as a media hub in Vancouver's innercity and bodes well for future collaboration and growth. We are conveniently located close to Vancouver's massive transportation hub, with buses, Seabus, WestCoast Express and Skytrain within 250 metres.
7792 After creating the cluster we began assessing how Web 2.0 technology was changing the community media landscape with multiplatform strategies. We knew a physical centre was required to connect people to this new Web 2.0 and TV 2.0 world so that they would not be left behind with the digital divide and limited access to producing community television.
7793 More accountability measures for Shaw TV will not work. Shaw has had opportunities for the past eight years to demonstrate some willingness to develop and advance community TV but instead has made it secondary and abandoned it while pursuing its own business interests. Shaw TV no longer has the moral authority to steward community access TV and we believe it should not control $6 million while volunteers are under-resourced and abandoned. Shaw says they want more, but, in fact, Shaw's community access TV boat has already left the harbour.
7794 W2's cluster now represents a major portion of the volunteer-produced community access TV programs airing on Shaw TV. You have heard from some of them this week. Our volunteers need better tools, support and mentoring, and better contact with their audiences. W2 has stepped in with major sweat equity to bring Vancouver's community TV volunteers together. The City of Vancouver had done its part by providing space.
7795 W2 requests the Commission pursue a forward-looking strategy and permit competition in our Vancouver community access TV market. We need fair distribution of the financial resources available for community access TV so we can adequately service the sector.
7796 W2 proposes to invest some of Shaw TV's $6 million for Vancouver into the Woodward's Community TV station for staffing, training, production resources and other operating costs.
7797 W2 volunteers uploaded and cable-broadcasted more than 700 hours in the Vancouver market in the past year. Our community TV volunteers want more guaranteed access to audiences and the resources to improve our work.
7798 Using our multiplatform strategy, just in the last quarter, W2 TV videos were viewed by approximately 450,000 unique visitors on Vimeo, YouTube, CNN iReport, and Ning. Our Shaw TV viewers are not included in that number.
7799 These figures obviously demonstrate the power of the internet to distribute content, but while our online audience numbers are powerful, what we are most proud about is the fact we have 225 volunteers and 1250 members. Many of our volunteers are low-income residents and our other crew members are long-time community TV volunteers, journalists, film students and social media practitioners.
7800 W2 is proving the point that community access TV need not be just another variation of commercial "local" TV but can interface with community by connecting with multiplatform technologies.
7801 In the future, W2 will boost our distribution through 24-hour internet TV and any other opportunities to bypass the local bottleneck that Shaw represents. We are also exploring future carriage delivery, accessing the 600,000 cable boxes in the lower mainland to reach all of our communities effectively.
7802 W2 is honouring the objective of these CRTC hearings by bringing back community TV to ordinary Vancouverites. We need to rebalance funding for community access television so that communities are reflected and we have guaranteed expression by ordinary people.
7803 W2's innovative model will thrive if the Commission supports rebalancing the community channel levy to enable community access. W2 has been a leader in moving community TV in Vancouver forward. We now humbly request the Commission prioritize the aspirations of community TV volunteers in our city.
7804 Thank you very much. This concludes my presentation and I welcome any questions.
7805 THE CHAIRPERSON: You seem to be a singular success story from what you are telling me and you have been very capable of accessing funding from various sourcing, including the City of Vancouver.
7806 Why do you need access to the money from cable subscribers when by your own admission you are multimedia, you are trying to serve all means of communication, all means of delivery, not just cable?
7807 MR. OOSTINDIE: Yes. As Commissioners have pointed out this week, we are in a new media landscape. The point of this hearing also addresses some of the questions the Commissioners are asking. We are entering a new field. We have purposely designed a Web 2.0, TV 2.0 television station. We will be broadcasting on two FM radio signals, CJSF (SFU radio) and Vancouver Co-op Radio. We have been broadcasting out into fibre. Our facilities network around the world.
7808 THE CHAIRPERSON: You are talking here about money that belongs to cable subscribers. If you get a piece of that money, what are you doing for cable subscribers?
7809 MR. OOSTINDIE: While the facility, the bricks and mortar, are taken care of, what we are lacking, as I have pointed out, is the fact that we need support for staffing, training, coordination of volunteers and production support. We have taken the leadership of building the bricks and mortar, but what we need now is the support for the soft tissue, for the ability to sustain the connectivity between the TV producers and to reach an effective market.
7810 What we have done is we have done it on our own. We have been innovative. Certainly, we wouldn't want to be punished for being innovative. We are being innovative because of the bottleneck that Shaw represents locally. The 600,000 cable box subscribers we access, we want direct access to those community TV members, the community TV audiences, and we request that the Commission look at this project of W2 as a forward-thinking new model in Canada. That is how we were being told we are.
7811 It is strange that we have come upon this place because of the Shaw bottleneck, but we also represent a moment in time in this changing media landscape.
7812 THE CHAIRPERSON: I don't dispute anything of what you are saying or where the media is going and the multiplatform. I had asked a very narrow question. What do cable subscribers get out of you if money is made available to you? I don't think I heard an answer.
7813 MR. OOSTINDIE: Yes. They get quality programming, they get more voices, they get more hours of locally produced community access television, significantly more than what they are currently being provided through televised sports games and Whitecaps soccer games. What we propose is actually enhancing our grassroots capacity to connect average Vancouverites with average viewers on the television.
7814 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
7815 And, Tri-Cities, I am amazed by your submission. You said you have been financing this out of your own pocket for the last three years?
7816 MR. SCOTT: Yes, directly out of my pocket, about $1,000 a year. I am not factoring in the fact that about a year ago I had to cut back from full-time employment to part-time in order to keep pushing forward and, in fact, six months ago had to quit my job instructing at Columbia Academy in Vancouver in order to keep moving forward with this project. So that kind of money out of my pocket, I don't even want to think about.
7817 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. What has been Shaw's contribution to this? Presumably you use their studio, right, and their facilities, I assume?
7818 MR. SCOTT: Shaw has been very happy to cooperate by providing anything that has been mandated upon them, which pretty much means they will provide equipment and that is it -- training as well, although, to be honest, we are not really taking advantage of any of their training because we would rather use our own equipment.
7819 A lot of our volunteers find their equipment too intimidating and we are trying to put it in the hands of the average community volunteer. So we have purchased our own cameras and we train our volunteers ourselves and we hope to be a hundred percent autonomous and simply to provide programming to Shaw.
7820 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, thank you.
7821 Marc, I believe you have some questions.
7822 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: I only have a few questions, thank you, Mr. Chair, and I want to thank you both in Vancouver for your presentations this morning.
7823 I just want to make sure I get your name right because it flew past and I don't see it written here. Mr. Gott (sic), is that right?
7824 MR. SCOTT: Geoff Scott. G-E-O-F-F Scott.
7825 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Sorry.
7826 MR. SCOTT: Yes.
7827 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Okay. Now, your "Tri-City" program airs once a week, is that correct, Mr. Scott?
7828 MR. SCOTT: Yes, and we have specialty programming we air occasionally as well.
7829 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: And it airs on Shaw, on the Shaw system; is that correct?
7830 MR. SCOTT: Yes, it does.
7831 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Okay. Have they ever edited your show? Have they ever forced you to make changes that you didn't want to make or anything like that?
7832 MR. SCOTT: There have been requests to make changes. For myself, not an awful lot. I know others have had issues, but our programming is very non-political. We are more out there in the community covering what is happening. So really, there have been very few issues with regards -- most of the ones that have come up have been issues of copyright music being used and whatnot and we have addressed those.
7833 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: So they have offered to provide you equipment to produce your show, is that correct, and you have used that equipment? Have you had any problems with access?
7834 MR. SCOTT: I have used it in the past.
7835 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: In the past? Any problems with access?
7836 MR. SCOTT: Yes, we have used it in the past. Unfortunately, we are located in the Tri-Cities area, which is about 25 kilometres out of Vancouver. So any of my volunteers that want to use the Shaw equipment, they would have to travel 25 kilometres into Vancouver to get the camera, 25 kilometres back home to do the shoot, and then they would have to return the camera, which, of course, would add another 50 kilometres. So it is 100 kilometres to drive. Just the carbon footprint alone has pretty much stopped any of our volunteers from using the Shaw equipment.
7837 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: And I take it you believe that that is part of the shortcoming of Shaw's access service, is that they don't bring the equipment to you or --
7838 MR. SCOTT: Absolutely. A huge part of the shortcoming is that they have closed down the community offices.
7839 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: They should have offices that are closer to your community; is that what you are saying?
7840 MR. SCOTT: Absolutely. Fifteen, 20 years ago, there were a dozen offices in the lower mainland. So you could actually go down and volunteer locally. Now that they have centralized to downtown Vancouver, it is all well and good for those who live in the downtown core, but if you live out in Richmond, Surrey or the Tri-Cities region where I live, it is really almost impossible to participate.
7841 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Mr. Scott as well as Mr. Oostindie, I take it your main recommendation here is that part of the 2 percent be diverted towards independent productions that you both are providing right now; is that correct?
7842 MR. SCOTT: Absolutely.
7843 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: I mean, essentially what you are looking for is that a portion be designated for productions that are, I guess, outside the realm of what they would normally produce in-house?
7844 MR. SCOTT: Yes. And let me reiterate we are not adverse to some sort of structure where, you know, there has to be matching funds from the community. Indeed, I think this would help liberate funds from the community. But we just -- we need help.
7845 MR. OOSTINDIE: And I think also we are looking at a different model of community access television. I think W2's model is a grassroots community-based model from a diversity of perspectives, diversity of immigrant groups, diversity of neighbourhoods. What we find with the Shaw TV programming is it is essentially a slick local-based competitor to the private TV channels in this local market.
7846 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Mr. Oostindie, you said that you have had a lot of experience with the Shaw TV system; is that correct? You trained on their equipment, you have had access and worked on their shows; is that correct?
7847 MR. OOSTINDIE: We are looking about 20 years ago when there were neighbourhood offices.
7848 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Okay. So since those neighbourhood offices stopped operating, then you feel that that is where the shortcoming in access has come about?
7849 MR. OOSTINDIE: That is one of the issues.
7850 The other issue is the bottleneck and limited access hours to training, so limited number of training openings. So there are periods of time when Vancouverites can't access training because there is no training available. It may be also that the access to editing is at midnight, off-hours.
7851 The W2 facility is a 24-hour facility that is designed to encourage access to lower the barriers, reduce the thresholds of entry into this training opportunity which all Vancouverites should be accessing.
7852 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Have you had much --
7853 MR. SCOTT: We, in fact, at -- sorry -- we at Tri-Cities hold W2 as an example of where we want to be actually. They are a very good example of bringing the community together and building a network that -- we have done very similar but with no funds. So we are eying what they are doing.
7854 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Okay. Mr. Oostindie, have you ever raised any of these issues with Shaw's staff? Have you ever complained to them?
7855 MR. OOSTINDIE: Yes. I will just characterize a part of the system that we are working with.
7856 W2 is an umbrella cluster organization, so we have 20 organizations that make up our membership. You have heard from many of our member organizations this week and you have heard directly their complaints about Shaw, so I don't want to repeat all those complaints. But you have heard from those organizations that have adequately expressed their experiences.
7857 My role here is as Executive Director of an organization that is building a new community TV station in Vancouver. My own personal experience is yes, I did attend the rather cynical Shaw open house, that, frankly, the only people in the room were Shaw employees, consultants, our own members and a couple of other community TV producers. So we certainly watched with some frustration about how Shaw manages the access program. We know from our member organizations who report to me directly about those barriers and that is, frankly, why we have built the new system.
7858 The timing of this hearing that you have provided us is tremendously important and we don't want to miss this chance to identify that. W2 is building this infrastructure because of barriers and systemic failures of the community access TV.
7859 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Mr. Oostindie, thank you, but what you are looking for basically, if I hear you correctly, is unfettered access to their resources and training; is that a fair assessment on my part?
7860 MR. OOSTINDIE: No. I would say that, frankly, what we have provided is a much better model for training, a much better model for access. We, frankly, don't support and do not feel that the Shaw TV model is sustainable or in the best interest of the community.
7861 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Last question and you can both tackle it.
7862 Actually, Mr. Oostindie, you said no accountability, no more regulations as far as forcing distributors to be more accountable will work, if I read your submission correctly. In other words, short of a complete overhaul, there is nothing else, there is no middle ground in between that vis-à-vis putting in place measures that would help bring about more accountability as far as programming and access is concerned. Is that a fair assessment of your position?
7863 MR. OOSTINDIE: Yes, only I would say only though for the local market. I do not have direct experience in other Shaw TV markets but I do have the experience here in the lower mainland and our planning is essentially to replace, to bypass the local barriers of access to community access TV.
7864 I am not able to comment on the situation nationally. I am certainly familiar. I have read the CACTUS proposal, I certainly support that in principle, but we really are only looking at a solution for the local market here in Vancouver.
7865 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Mr. Scott, last word to you. Did you have anything else to add?
7866 MR. SCOTT: I would have to agree with what Irwin just said. Really, I think the history of Shaw has proven that they are not really interested in working with the community. They seem to feel that they speak better for the community than the community itself.
7867 I believe that really the best for everybody would be if monies were made available for community groups to open their own production facilities. Certainly, Shaw would be the organization where we bicycle these programs to and they would broadcast them.
7868 COMMISSIONER PATRONE: Those are my questions. Thank you very much.
7869 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
7870 MR. SCOTT: Thank you.
7871 THE CHAIRPERSON: Your last point -- you are both veterans of the Vancouver scene. Vancouver used to be owned by Rogers. Is the problem the system or is the problem Shaw? Did it work under Rogers? Because we have heard this week a lot of testimony to the effect that in Ontario where Rogers principally works, it actually works quite well and people are quite happy with it.
7872 MR. OOSTINDIE: Yes. I think, as you correctly point out, Mr. Chairman, our personal stories, we have both evolved from the neighbourhood-based community TV station model. However, I think that is a part of the history.
7873 We have new environments, we have new means of dissemination, and W2 is proposing that in a way we create a hybrid model where we go back to address the fact that we need community access, we need neighbourhood access, and W2's facility will provide that. However, W2 also takes on the responsibility of desiring to be its own carriage.
7874 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. But would you answer my question, which was, you know, when the local company was under Rogers ownership rather than Shaw, was the situation different? I mean, do we have a systemic problem here or do we have an ownership problem?
7875 MR. SCOTT: I believe the system -- Geoff Scott, Tri-Cities Community Television. I believe the system was a bit better, obviously, when Rogers had the neighbourhood television offices servicing the lower mainland, but let's not forget they were the first to start closing down those offices. Shaw came in and just did a mop-up job and closed the rest that were still open. So I believe both were basically of the same mind, that they would rather move the community out of community programming and take control themselves, in which case, I feel neither is adequate.
7876 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, thank you very much for your contributions. I think those are all our questions.
7877 Madame la Secrétaire.
7878 THE SECRETARY: Thank you.
7879 For the record --
7880 MR. OOSTINDIE: Thank you for your time.
7881 THE SECRETARY: Thank you.
7882 For the record, the intervenors who did not appear and were listed in the agenda will remain on the public file as non-appearing intervenors.
7883 Aux fins du dossier, les intervenants qui n'ont pas comparu et qui étaient indiqués dans l'ordre du jour demeureront dans le dossier public comme des intervenants sans comparution.
7884 This completes the agenda of this public hearing. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
7885 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, and as always, I cannot end this hearing without thanking our staff, especially you, Madame la Secrétaire, but everybody in doing tremendous work in keeping us briefed and up to date and making this whole proceeding work in a very smooth and efficient way. So thank you very much, everybody.
7886 THE CHAIRPERSON: That completes the hearing. Thank you.
--- Whereupon the hearing concluded at 1211
Johanne Morin Sue Villeneuve
Monique Mahoney Madeleine Matte
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