ARCHIVED - Transcript, Hearing 13 May 2010
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TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS BEFORE
THE CANADIAN RADIO-TELEVISION AND
To consider the broadcasting applications listed in Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2010-146
Four Points by Sheraton
Toronto Airport West
6090 Dixie Road
May 13, 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
To consider the broadcasting applications listed in Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2010-146
Rita Cugini Chairperson
Len Katz Commissioner
Candice Molnar Commissioner
Louise Poirier Commissioner
Timothy Denton Commissioner
Cindy Ventura Secretary
Shari Fisher Legal Counsel
Joe Aguiar Hearing Manager
Four Points by Sheraton
Toronto Airport West
6090 Dixie Road
May 13, 2010
- iv -
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PAGE / PARA
Aboriginal Voices Radio Inc. 15 / 90
Sandra Scofield 188 / 1196
Alida Kinnie Starr 196 / 1236
Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres 200 / 1264
Perry Bellegarde 209 / 1302
Aboriginal Voices Radio Inc. 246 / 1539
Corus Radio Company 259 / 1612
--- Upon resuming on Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 0838
80 THE CHAIRPERSON: Good morning, everyone.
81 Madam Secretary.
82 THE SECRETARY: Thank you and good morning.
83 When you are in the hearing room we would ask that you please turn off your cell phones, beepers and BlackBerrys as they are an unwelcome distraction and they cause interference on the internal communication systems used by our translators. We would appreciate your cooperation in this regard throughout the hearing.
84 Now, Madam Chair, we will proceed with item 2 on the agenda, which are applications by Aboriginal Voices Radio Inc. to renew the broadcasting licences for the Native Type B radio programming undertakings CKAV-FM Toronto, CKAV-FM-2 Vancouver, CKAV-FM-3 Calgary, CKAV-FM-4 Edmonton and CKAV-FM-9 Ottawa, expiring 31 August 2010.
85 The Commission is concerned that these stations may be operating in non-compliance with the Radio Regulations, 1986 (the Regulations) and their conditions of licence related to the minimum level of local programming.
86 The Commission will also discuss various issues with the licensee related to its programming orientation and its stations' funding.
87 The Commission expects AVR to show cause why a mandatory order requiring the licensee to comply with the Regulations and its conditions of licence should not be issued and why the Commission should not consider recourse to additional measures, such as short-term renewal, suspension, non-renewal or revocation of the licence in question.
88 Appearing for the applicant is Mr. Lewis Cardinal. Please introduce your colleagues and you will then have 20 minutes to make your presentation.
89 Mr. Cardinal.
90 MR. CARDINAL: Good morning, Commissioners. My name is Lewis Cardinal. I am the Chair of Aboriginal Voices Radio.
91 I would like to introduce, to my immediate right, the CEO of Aboriginal Voices Radio, Mr. Jamie Hill.
92 And following him, I would like to introduce our Legal Counsel Kimberley Wolfe and also Mr. Jason Ryle is with us today.
93 So I will begin my prepared presentation statement.
95 In this presentation, we will outline some of the key challenges of AVR's 10-year history and how these challenges have historically affected the network's quality of service and its conditions of licence.
96 AVR has overcome seemingly insurmountable hurdles to now be poised to become a successful radio network. For the first time in 10 years, AVR is now solvent.
97 Moving forward, AVR is in a position to improve its programming and meet its conditions of licence in a more high quality manner, as long as we do not receive changes to our conditions of licence that may cost more money or decrease AVR's number of listeners.
98 Financial update:
99 AVR's history has been marred by financial challenges that have threatened its existence on several occasions.
100 AVR's Revenues Compared to Commercial Radio Stations.
101 AVR has been operating with revenues that have been 20 to 40 times less than the average commercial radio station in a major market in Canada.
102 For instance, in 2008, the average Toronto commercial station spent $8,127,549 on expenses, whereas AVR had a total revenue of $199,766.86 per station. This information comes from the Radio Market Analysis and AVR's past financial statements.
103 Another example of AVR's challenges, at present, even if AVR were to spend every last dollar it had on programming, it would still have 10 times less money available to spend on programming than the average commercial radio station.
104 Commissioners, we believe that we face the same costs and expenses that commercial radio stations face. According to the Radio Market Analysis published in 2009, commercial FM stations in the markets that AVR broadcasts in had average revenues of $7.8 million and expenses of $5.1 million, with profit margins of $2.7 million or 36 percent.
105 As a further comparison, it is interesting to note that based on the Communications Monitoring Report, AVR's revenues in 2007 were 65 percent less than the average revenue of other Native Type B stations. Roughly 80 percent of their revenues come from non-advertising sources such as band council grants, gaming revenues and government funding. AVR has not had access to such sources.
107 Because AVR cannot access private investment, since the network's founding in 2000, AVR has had to incur vast amounts of debt in order to launch its stations, cover operating costs and comply with extensive conditions of license.
108 Much of the network's past problems can be attributed to its financial limitations. However, as we will demonstrate in this presentation, despite the financial hurdles, AVR is still a broadcasting success story because AVR is broadcasting in five large urban areas and is meeting all of its expensive conditions of licence.
109 Building a strong foundation:
110 In order to address AVR's financial challenges, a number of tough decisions were made in the past, including dramatically downsizing the staff to three people at one point and relinquishing licences. These were necessary steps given AVR's available finances per station.
111 Over the last five years, AVR has virtually eliminated its $1.8 million debt, and for the first time in AVR's history, the network is financially solvent in 2010. These are major achievements accomplished by the current management in a very short span of time.
112 Continued financial challenges:
113 The elimination of the deficit does not mean AVR is financially strong now. On the contrary, we still face financial challenges and remain significantly underresourced in comparison to radio stations operating in major markets.
114 It has been our experience that there is a perception that AVR is financially well off and we want to make it clear that this is simply not the reality.
115 To date, virtually all of AVR's revenue has come from funds pledged by major broadcasters as part of benefits packages approved by the CRTC, and we greatly appreciate the role of those broadcasters and the CRTC in keeping AVR alive.
116 But we still have this situation where from 2002 to 2008 AVR had average revenues per licence per year of $59,570. In comparison, commercial broadcasters in our markets were averaging over $7.5 million per station per year during this same period.
117 During the period cited, on average, AVR was operating with 127 times less revenues than a commercial radio broadcaster. This past legacy explains the circumstances that AVR finds itself in today.
118 The situation is improved in 2010. Now that we have relinquished four licences, we are up to approximately $300,000 per station. But this operating budget in a major Canadian market will still be a challenge, particularly in light of AVR's expensive conditions of license, which most stations, and in particular most Native Type Bs, do not have.
119 The fact that AVR is still in operation despite its immense obstacles is, in our opinion, a broadcasting success story. It may be appropriate in this point in our comments to note that our intention for the future is to focus on advertising revenues.
120 In the past we believe we have been diligent in pursuing funding avenues that, if successful, would have guaranteed the financial viability of the network.
121 These included a pledge from the previous federal government and two plans to monetize our frequencies through CRTC approval, one of which would have netted the network approximately $75 million in financing.
122 In all three cases, the funds would have meant a more financially stable network. Moreover, it would have prevented AVR from having to surrender four licenses in 2009.
123 Unfortunately, in all three cases, despite the opinions of several regulatory lawyers that the initiatives were viable and legal, the plans were turned down after considerable resources were spent by AVR in pursuing these initiatives.
124 The original vision of AVR was one that was based on securing a large investment to ensure that a high quality of service was possible. However, a significant investment did not materialize and AVR's ability to fulfil its vision and long-term plans have suffered as well.
125 We would contend that the founding members of AVR were reasonable in their belief that funding opportunities would be available for an Aboriginal broadcasting entity with a far reach.
126 At the time the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network was granted federal funding and access to subscriber fees totalling millions of dollars. For instance, this funding totalled over $120 million from 2004 to 2008 alone.
127 When AVR was founded, there were no Aboriginal radio undertakings in many of Canada's key urban centres such as Toronto, where the largest concentrated Aboriginal populations reside.
128 Following years of concerted efforts to secure federal funding and pursue revenue opportunities through CRTC channels, AVR was forced to confront the reality of its dire situation and make the difficult but necessary decision to return four of its licences to the Commission in 2009.
129 This decision increased the operating amount available per station and ensured the survival of the network. The difficult but necessary decision is proof of AVR's competent management during difficult times.
130 At previous hearings, AVR has noted to the Commission the ongoing financial challenges it faces. However, we are concerned that this reality is not being fully considered by the CRTC.
131 I would like to turn it over to Jason Ryle.
132 MR. RYLE: Hello, Commissioners. Thank you, Lewis.
133 Regarding the local programming compliance issue, by way of a quick summary, AVR's understanding was that the local news could include items such as sports, weather and the promotion of local events and activities.
134 We took this definition directly from the Commercial Radio Policy and so believed we were in compliance at the time of the monitor.
135 However, in their response Commission staff pointed out that the definition was reworded later to read that local news must include sports, weather and the promotion of local events and activities.
136 The definition of local programming is given twice, once at paragraph 183 under the heading Local Programming, and the other more onerous definition is set out at paragraph 207.
137 The inclusion of two definitions of local programming in the Public Notice 2006-158 was the source of the confusion on our part.
138 After receiving the CRTC staff's clarification, AVR willingly and immediately adjusted its programming to bring it into compliance with the revised definition. AVR is therefore now in complete compliance with its conditions of licence.
139 Regarding newscasts, AVR was required to broadcast local daily newscasts in each of its undertakings starting in February 2009.
140 While AVR complied with the conditions of licence, we wish to point out that we do not have the necessary financial and human resources to produce a robust full-scale daily news service being updated throughout the day, such as that of the CBC and other commercial broadcasters.
141 As the Commission is aware, and as repeatedly highlighted by Commissioner Michel Morin in 2008-222, news and talk programming are the most expensive types of programming for a radio station.
142 I stress that AVR immediately amended its programming to include all of the elements spelled out in the more onerous definition of local programming contained at paragraph 207 of Public Notice 2006-158 as soon as the second definition was outlined as the correct definition by the CRTC staff.
143 We are in compliance therefore with this condition and will continue to be in compliance now that the CRTC has corrected our understanding of this condition.
144 To answer any concerns the Commission may have, I assure you that all of our daily local newscasts now include sports, weather and the promotion of local events and activities on top of at least one national and two local story items.
145 AVR is not only in compliance with its extensive conditions of licence, it exceeds many of them.
146 Three examples:
147 - on average, AVR stations play 3.8 hours over the minimum requirement, which is 2.5 hours, for Spoken Word in an Indigenous Language;
148 - AVR stations play an average of 4.3 hours over the 2.5-hour requirement for Music in Canadian Aboriginal Languages; and
149 - AVR stations play an average of 76.5 percent total Canadian Content, far above the required 35 percent and far more than the average Canadian radio undertaking.
150 On the annual returns issue, we recognize that AVR submitted its 2008 Annual Returns in March 2009. The reason, again, falls squarely on the network being underresourced.
151 At the time, the network's three staff was contending with an office move, daily operations, meeting all our conditions of licence and trying to ensure the viability of a radio network with nine licenses. The administrative burdens on the three staff at this time were immense, to say the least.
152 As a result, the 2008 returns were delayed due to oversight but were promptly submitted as soon as the oversight was brought to our attention.
153 We want to make the Commission aware at this time that the 2009 annual returns, while sent in prior to the November 30th deadline, were officially received by the Commission on December 3rd.
154 Additionally, due to our delayed audit from 2009, which we had no control of, draft financials were submitted with the 2009 returns while the final audit is still pending.
155 In regards to programming orientation, our music programming, marginalization is a huge challenge facing Indigenous musical artists in Canada due to longstanding misconceptions of what "Aboriginal music" truly is.
156 The reality is that First Nations, Métis and Inuit artists in this country are creating all genres of music from hip-hop, country, pop, rock, alternative, traditional, powwow, and blues. AVR plays it all and provides these diverse and highly skilled artists with a home in an urban landscape and gives them the opportunity to be heard by over 11 million Canadians.
157 AVR strives for a contemporary sound, which is the most popular type of programming with listeners and reflects overwhelmingly what Canadian Indigenous artists are producing.
158 Our goal is to ensure that Indigenous artists are heard, as well as to deconstruct stereotypes of what Aboriginal music is. To the best of our knowledge, AVR is one of the world's largest Indigenous radio networks in terms of audience accessibility.
159 To gauge the potential impact of AVR's reach, we offer a comparison to APTN.
160 To our knowledge, APTN can be seen in 10 million households and has total annual government and CRTC-mandated subscriber fee revenues that approach or exceed $30 million per year.
161 Fortunately, APTN is adequately funded. Their funding level compares favourably to the average conventional television station in Canada, which has revenues of approximately $20 million per year.
162 We are extremely happy that APTN has been given the opportunity to thrive and believe that they are an essential component to Canada's broadcast landscape.
163 However, by comparison, AVR, which is Canada's only other Aboriginal broadcasting entity with a cross-country scope and such a wide audience accessibility, has struggled during this renewal period with the types of budgets previously cited. Such budgets directly affect AVR's programming capabilities.
164 We would like to comment on a unique element about AVR's music format. An important part of AVR's programming format is to play artists that many do not know have Indigenous heritage, including such established and famous artists as Chantal Kreviazuk, Jimi Hendrix and members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Black Eyed Peas and the Pussy Cat Dolls. The list of such artists is in fact a long one.
165 Playing these Indigenous artists and other mainstream acts alongside Canadian Indigenous artists such as Derek Miller, Don Amero or Lucie Idlout is not only logical but it sends a powerful message. It says that these Indigenous artists are equal in talent and artistic expression to mainstream artists.
166 Furthermore, the success of the new format has proven itself in Toronto. A recent marketing study conducted by AVR found that the station's listenership increased to over 90,000 in 2010.
167 This marketing study was based on a panel of 2,000 people who were statistically reflective of the population of the Greater Toronto Area, using data from Statistics Canada.
168 This figure is far greater than those posted by BBM in 2008, which showed AVR's listenership to be zero on the scale and again demonstrates that AVR is poised for success if given the opportunity to fulfil its plans.
169 On spoken word programming, the combination of extremely low financial resources and extremely onerous conditions of licence as they relate to spoken word programming have forced AVR to recycle and rebroadcast a series of programs over the past several years.
170 Again, because of our finances and our conditions of licence, AVR is not yet able to provide the volume and quality of service to its listeners that we would like.
171 However, now that we have alleviated our debt, we are more able to focus on advertising revenue initiatives. Also, we are moving to increasing original programming and already have several exciting new shows and series in development.
172 There are two major potential threats to AVR's future and viability:
173 (1) lack of meaningful revenues; and
174 (2) new or modified conditions of licence that will result in increased expenditures or reduction of listeners.
175 Additionally, in our perspective, AVR is struggling against a perception of what the network should be and what should be the realistic expectation of service given the level of financial resources available to AVR.
176 It has been articulated to us by CRTC staff that the expectation is for AVR to be the "Aboriginal CBC."
177 Of course, it is AVR's goal to produce high-quality original talk programming that advances Aboriginal perspectives in Canada and educates Canadian listeners about issues that are relevant to Aboriginal lives.
178 We would love nothing more than to have the capacity to produce 20 hours of fresh high-quality weekly talk programming. However, it is impossible for AVR to fulfil this goal, particularly at a CBC level, without adequate financing.
179 The CBC has an annual radio budget of $329 million and it is well documented that the public broadcaster struggles with their own financial challenges.
180 AVR's current reality is one directly attributed to its lack of financial resources. We have articulated our need in the past through communications with staff and in public at the Diversity of Voices hearing and we are hoping that the Commission will understand that we have a common vision for what this network can be, but we need the CRTC to work with us to ensure it succeeds.
181 The Commission does have the power to ensure that broadcasters achieve adequate financing levels as it has done with commercial broadcasters, with APTN, with FACTOR and as it appears to be doing with community radio.
182 As for AVR, the Commission has the power to strengthen our ability to achieve significant advertising revenues.
183 Why should the Commission do this? Because AVR is helping the Commission fulfil its own legislative mandate and, as we have illustrated, AVR is offering a unique service that provides an Indigenous voice to the large urban markets in which we operate.
184 On our conditions of licence, as indicated in our applications, AVR is not requesting any reductions to our conditions of licence but we are expressly requesting no new conditions of licence or modifications that would or may lead to any increased costs or reduction in the number of listeners.
185 We welcome the opportunity to discuss here today the ramifications of any new conditions of licence or any new modifications or clarifications.
186 We also wish to draw attention to the independent report commissioned by the CRTC by Dunbar & Leblanc.
187 This report states that AVR's conditions of licence are in apparent disagreement with the Commission's Native Broadcasting Policy. According to this policy, Aboriginal stations themselves are best suited to determine their programming.
188 Specifically, regarding AVR's extensive conditions of licence, the report states that:
"...it is difficult to square the particularity of these conditions with the Commission's statement in its 1990 policy that it is the Aboriginal broadcasters themselves who are 'best qualified to determine and meet the needs of their audiences'. Notwithstanding that the Commission's Native Broadcasting Policy calls for the relatively light-handed treatment of Aboriginal radio stations, it would appear to us that AVR has had very detailed conditions attached to its several licences."
189 We also agree with Commissioner Morin who stated that "the CRTC must resist the temptation to micromanage" and we would submit that this is particularly true with respect to an Indigenous undertaking.
190 AVR already has some of the most cumbersome conditions of licence that we know of. While our current conditions of licence are costly and expansive, we agree that a request for reduction is not part of the picture. However, we are requesting that the CRTC maintain the current status quo.
191 Madam Chair, Commissioners, those are all of our comments. Subject to your questions, I thank you very much for your attention.
192 THE CHAIRPERSON: Mr. Ryle, Mr. Cardinal and your colleagues, thank you very much for your presentation this morning.
193 We are not going to let you off that easy, we do have questions for you, and I will ask Commissioner Molnar to start. Thank you.
194 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Good morning. Do I direct my questions --
195 MR. CARDINAL: Just to the panel.
196 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Just to the panel in general. Okay, I will do that.
197 We do have a number of questions. I am going to just begin by ensuring that we are clear what we are talking about here today.
198 As you know, you are here to examine whether and under what conditions the CRTC would renew the licences of AVR, either in total or any particular licences that you hold, and also look at if they are renewed under what conditions we would renew these given what appears to be repeated non-compliance with Radio Regulations and your conditions of licence.
199 Before addressing the specific issues of non-compliance, I would like to ask some questions regarding your programming and operational strategies. I know as well that a lot of your opening remarks as well as your supplementary brief deals with the financial issues and we will also address the financial issues affecting AVR.
200 I would like to begin, however, just talking about the programming of your stations and operations.
201 So let me begin. Just to ensure that we all fully understand the programming that you provide, you right now have five stations that are operational, as I understand, you have six employees and, as you noted, some quite expansive conditions of licence, including a requirement that 25 percent of the programming be local programming.
202 I just want to understand, with the exception of the 25 percent local programming, is all the programming over the five stations the same programming provided across what I think you define as your network?
203 MR. RYLE: Thank you, Commissioner.
204 Just to clarify again, you are asking specifically if each of our five stations broadcasts identical programming, i.e. throughout the day -- throughout the broadcast week?
205 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Right.
206 MR. RYLE: No, we don't. Each of our five stations has a unique and individual broadcast.
207 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Oh, is that right? So as well as the 25 percent which is geared to the local market, the remaining programming is also unique to each of the stations?
208 MR. RYLE: Yes, that is true.
209 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: They are all programmed separately?
210 MR. RYLE: Yes. They are programmed separately, that is correct.
211 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: And do they run a lot of the same programming?
212 MR. RYLE: Yes, they do in regards to the programming beyond the 25 percent local programming.
213 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: But it is not the same programming?
214 MR. RYLE: It is not identical in that on a Monday morning, free songs played consecutively in the Toronto market would be played identically in Edmonton. There is similar programming in that the talk programming that is available for broadcast and the music programming available for broadcast is similar, but the broadcast itself isn't identical.
215 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Okay. Is the spoken word programming, besides the 25 percent, the same programming? Is there any difference in the spoken word programming that is aired on the five different stations?
216 MR. HILL: Commissioner, if I could comment on that.
217 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: M'hmm.
218 MR. HILL: A lot of the spoken word programming library is the same and a lot of it, I would have to say the majority, is programmed in the same time frame in the various markets.
219 The music, you won't hear the exact same broadcast in each city as far as music and local, but they are using similar libraries.
220 For instance, the music library is roughly the same but one of the things that we do with local programming is we try to broadcast a local show which has a lot of local artists. So those local artists would be different in each city.
221 But we also take the local artists, for instance, from Edmonton and we will play them not in a local show but we will play them in Toronto.
222 So the library -- I would say the way to, I guess, understand it as far as how we are doing this is we are using similar audio libraries but we are, I guess, reconfiguring them in what is appropriate for each market. The musical is all different but it is based on the same library.
223 Whenever we get an artist, we play it, you know, at some point in all of the cities but there is a lot of -- and I can say that there is a similar situation with the spoken word programming. It is coming from the same library but it may be played at different times in each city.
224 I hope that clarifies it a little bit.
225 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Okay, thank you. I think it is very important that we really do understand what you are providing in each of the markets where you operate.
226 MR. HILL: Yes, I agree.
227 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: So just following on that, do you have active recording studios in each of the markets where you operate?
228 MR. HILL: No. We have never really had the resources to do that, but we have just recently -- now in 2010 that our financial situation is improving, we have been able to put together two small spoken word recording facilities.
229 We have a very tiny room, which we have treated acoustically and put the microphones and recording equipment in, where we can actually for the very first time bring people in and start to conduct interviews and try to make talk programming.
230 This is what we were referring to when we were saying we have some things that are in development right now.
231 So for the first time we can do this in Ottawa and Toronto, but we do not have such facilities in the other cities and we haven't had the financial resources to even maybe go and rent them.
232 So one of the things we do, for instance, is we have been able to do what I call an audio book on the Royal Commission of Aboriginal Peoples. We were able to record it with the permission of the Canadian government and that is something that we do use in our spoken word quite extensively.
233 So you can tune into our station and hear the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples' report in audio book form.
234 But that is not the type of thing -- I guess we were able to get funding to record that in a small studio. This is recently. But we haven't had, I guess, over the course of AVR's history, been able to do studios in all of the cities. We are predominantly, I guess, doing the programming from Toronto.
235 As far as the local programming, there was a clarification regarding our ability to do this. When we had a discussion with the Commission regarding the structured enhanced spoken word programming, they said, we agree, we will allow you to be able to do these types of things from Toronto, looking at the financial situation.
236 But we would like to have the ability to have studios in every city or to be able to rent such facilities to be able to increase our original spoken word content in those markets.
237 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Just following up, you mentioned that right now you program from Toronto. You have six employees.
238 All six employees, as I understand, reside in Toronto; is that correct?
239 MR. HILL: Yes, Commissioner.
240 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: And they have responsibility for all five of the stations you currently operate?
241 MR. HILL: Yes, that is right.
242 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Okay. Can you tell me which of the employees -- when I look at the information you provided, those six employees include a COO -- which is believe is yourself --
243 MR. HILL: Yes.
244 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: -- a General Manager, an Operations Executive, a Technical Director, a Director of Strategic Development and a News Director?
245 MR. HILL: Yes.
246 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: So which of these employees is responsible for programming the stations on a daily basis?
247 MR. HILL: Well, we don't do the programming on a daily basis because it is automated and what we are doing is trying to get ahead because we have such a small staff and if something were to happen, let's say someone were -- a couple of people were to be ill, we would not be able to really get our things on the air on a daily basis.
248 So we are programming it and the computer is able to schedule all of the recordings that we have. So it is all prerecorded. All of our programming is prerecorded and we are able to put it onto the computers in each city and schedule it on the computer and the computer plays it and then it goes into the broadcasting -- into the tower and so forth and it is broadcast in that way.
249 So we are not really doing it on a daily basis. We have tried to get ahead of it and program it as much as the day before to, you know, a couple of weeks before. It depends upon what the programming is.
250 But we, I think, did a very good job in getting our music into our transmission facilities on the computers and programming the computer prior to broadcast the music programming on each on a daily basis and each day it broadcasts differently.
251 But we program the computer to be able to, you know, get the music service up and running every day. So it is pretty automated.
252 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Okay. Just to follow up and to clarify. I understand you don't program it the day of, is what I understand, with perhaps the exception of the 25 percent local that must include daily local news.
253 So who is it in your organization, who is responsible for doing that programming?
254 MR. HILL: Well, I would say we have three people. One of the things we have tried to do because we don't have too many people is to try to train people to do, I guess what you would say, multiple jobs.
255 So we have tried to always make sure that there is more than one person who does this and I would say it is shared really between three people at any time. Depending upon what the challenges are of the organization at any one time, it actually shifts to different people.
256 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Would you mind telling me which positions, not names but I gave you the positions?
257 MR. HILL: Yes, the COO, General Manager and our technical person that we have.
258 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: And which of these positions have on-air roles? Who are your on-air employees?
259 MR. HILL: We have used all three voices but we don't have the ability to have DJs. So we have very limited, I guess, talk programming as far as when the music programming is playing.
260 We have tried to introduce musicians in a very limited way, in a prerecorded way, and we do use those three positions for voice-tracking but we use others for voice-tracking as well in addition to those three.
261 I think that everybody in the organization at some point has done voice-tracking, all positions.
262 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Okay. I also noticed in your supplementary brief that you mentioned if financial resources were available you would wish to hire clerical help. It struck me, frankly, that given the limited amount of resources currently available for on-air programming and programming, it was surprising to me that the priority would be for clerical help and support.
263 Can you tell me why a priority would be for clerical, given the limited amount of resources that are available for on-air?
264 MR. HILL: Well, we need clerical help because we are all doing the clerical work and the administrative work.
265 I would say that one of the things that we are not able to do is really focus on pursuing fundraising and putting advertising initiatives together, which would allow us to get better revenues overall for all the staff.
266 We also do all the clerical work and we would like -- according to these positions, we think it is probably appropriate that they get into more strategic development and revenue -- I guess looking for revenues because they are management positions. So the management is doing clerical. We are also looking after bookkeeping. We are doing a number of things.
267 I guess we said clerical. You might use the word "administrative." So it is administrative help. That was the intention of what we meant.
268 MR. RYLE: Commissioner, if I might add as well, because our team right now currently wears a lot of hats, including music programming and talk programming hats, one of the reasons to hire additional administrative help is to free us up to pursue -- to develop that programming ourselves.
269 It is an interest that we have and it is something that we have been doing. I myself executive-produced the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples program that we did, which was 200 hours in both English and French of the unabridged report.
270 So we feel that having additional administrative support would free us up to help pursue more programming.
271 MS WOLFE: Just to follow up, Commissioner. One thing I would like to highlight as well -- you were asking a lot about the programming -- over the past renewal period, AVR was successful in reducing its debt by $1.8 million.
272 By the end of this year, they will be debt-free and that will go further in more new programming efforts and local programming efforts because the amount of available resources is now not being used toward the payment of debt but can now be devoted toward other initiatives, including more specific local programming.
273 So on a going forward basis, AVR is certainly in a better position than it has been in the past.
274 Then secondly, on the issue with respect to administrative and/or clerical -- I would call it administrative as well -- assistance, one of the things that AVR has been before this Commission a couple of times about is minor delays in filing its financial returns and it is again today before this Commission with that issue.
275 Assistance on an administrative level will assist to ensure that those issues are taken care of in a more concerted fashion so that we won't have that problem again.
276 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Okay, thank you. I have two follow-up questions.
277 First of all, perhaps I have been struck by the titles of the employees of AVR versus the functions, the functional requirements of the employees there, because it does look, as you pointed out, that it is an all executive team and it is hard to run a station with all -- it is like an army with all generals and no soldiers, is what it appears to me.
278 So perhaps it would be better if you would just explain to us who is doing the work of this station.
279 MR. HILL: And really, we thought that it was a good strategy to be able to do that because the skill sets are more diverse.
280 Management typically has a lot of skills that speak to the strategic survival or an organization. They may be skilled more than administrative personnel in, for instance, how do you pursue more funding to make sure we can get administrative personnel, in addition to having -- you know, a lot of managers come up through organizations and they have gone through the different positions of let's say recording audio and they did that earlier in their career.
281 So typically, they do have, I would say, I would contend, a more diverse set of skills than someone who's focused particularly on an administrative job or a programming job or a production job.
282 So that was the idea. Typically, the management just can be as able to do all of these diverse things as we need them and that is how that played out, Commissioner.
283 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Okay. I want to follow up with the comment by Ms Wolfe that as you move forward there will be resources available to enhance the local programming and the other programming and put resources to that.
284 Can you give us some specific examples of what that means? Are you looking at -- you know, just give us details as it regards what those future commitments would be.
285 MS WOLFE: I'll let Mr. Ryle answer the specifics in terms of the financial picture but just as an overview, devoting funds toward the payment of debt necessarily reduces the funds that can be devoted obviously toward programming.
286 But beyond that, with AVR's more increased focus on -- having given away four licences, as opposed to focusing specifically on launching those licences --
287 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: I'm sorry, I maybe need to rephrase my question.
288 MS WOLFE: Yes.
289 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: I'm not asking about the financial situation in the past. I believe you said to me that: Going forward we will have more resources to devote to the creation of local programming.
290 MS WOLFE: Okay, perhaps I can then rephrase. What I am trying to explain is specifically the resources that had been in the past devoted to other things will now be redirected toward those efforts.
291 Beyond that, AVR's focus going forward is also to increase its advertising revenues and it is our express hope that that initiative is going to take place.
292 As a matter of fact, just as a clarification, we recruited yesterday one more person to assist in advertising sales in a volunteer basis as well. So we are moving toward that issue.
293 I will let Jason Ryle explain the specifics of revenue that AVR has already put in its projections to the Commission.
294 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: We will hold off. We are going to deal with the financial projections in some detail a little later. I was just trying to get some understanding of what future local programming commitments you were talking about when you spoke about enhancing the local programming but we can leave that for now.
295 One more question.
296 MR. HILL: Commissioner, I can probably just make a comment about that.
297 What we anticipate is if we have more resources we are going to be able to make more local talk programming and to make more music programming relevant to those local markets.
298 So as far as specific plans we don't have a specific program that we have planned for yet. We are coming up to that. We expect to get into that this year.
299 We have some things that are national in scope that we have planned as far as talk, making talk, but generally we want to get into planning more local programming as our financial position improves.
300 As far as the types of programs that we can do, we have many ideas of how we can do that. We haven't sat down yet. Frankly, we have been doing a lot of preparation for this hearing to make sure that we can move forward with the licences this year and doing that this year.
301 Moving forward we want to start to spend time, now that we are solvent, in how are we going to do this. We know we are going to attempt to do it. We are going to get into detailed planning shortly.
302 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Okay. One more thing on staffing before I move away.
303 It appears -- I believe you had a strategy or put forward when you were initially licensed to operate AVR a strategy of using volunteers.
304 Do you still expect to involve volunteers? It appears you haven't in the past. Is that a strategy that you have moved away from or what is your strategy related to volunteers going forward?
305 MR. HILL: Thank you, Commissioner.
306 We have used volunteers throughout AVR's history. We don't have specific volunteer positions listed in the response to the personnel because it seemed to us that the question focused on staffing levels.
307 But at this small of a staff level -- the last time we appeared before you in a renewal hearing, our Chief Operating Officer Mr. Roy Hennessy had said: Ideally, we would probably like to, at a minimum, move up to a staffing level of 40 to 45 people in order to operate the radio network. At the time, you know, we had at least seven licences.
308 So we would like to get to a core level of people who are being compensated for their work on a daily basis before we would be able to spend the resources to manage a volunteer initiative where we are getting a number of volunteers, recruiting the volunteers, making sure they know how to do what we are asking them to do, then continuing forward with the use of volunteers. You know, it does take time to manage people and recruit volunteers.
309 One other comment about volunteers is that, you know, as far as where we are at in the staffing level, they do have to go make a living and we would be lucky to find someone who would be able to put the time in that is required for AVR at this level of our operation.
310 We do have one volunteer now helping us with programming. His name is Bob Phillips and he has been with us for a number of years and we are really grateful for what he has been able to contribute to AVR.
311 But beyond that, because we have such a small staff and because we were in a situation right from the beginning of AVR's history of not being able to attract private investment, it has always been financially strapped. We have had to survive with a limited amount of financial resources and we focused our efforts on that as opposed to trying to build up a volunteer base, because we were in survival mode.
312 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Sounds like a bit of a catch-22. You threw out a number of 40 to 50 people to effectively run the network of stations that you have. Today you have six. I understand volunteers who could help to support that are not viable because it requires your resources to manage and administrate those volunteers. So it does sound like a bit of a catch-22 there.
313 MR. HILL: Yes, Commissioner. I appreciate you noting that. I like to refer to it as the chicken and egg situation in business.
314 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: M'hmm.
315 MR. HILL: You need people to help you make money and you need money to help you get people to help you make money. I call it the chicken and egg and it is the reason why over half of businesses, new start-ups in North America fail, because they can't get past the chicken and egg situation.
316 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: M'hmm.
317 MR. HILL: I know that when you examine licences on the commercial broadcasting side and other broadcasting initiatives, one of the things that I have noted is you ask those people, are you going to be able to get enough funding to be able to start this station adequately. So I see that you recognize it as well.
318 I call it the chicken and egg. You have to get past the chicken and egg situation in business.
319 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: M'hmm.
320 MR. HILL: So we have been challenged in that regard.
321 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: M'hmm. I am going to move on to some questions related to programming.
322 When AVR's first station was licensed in CRTC Decision 2000-204, the decision spoke about AVR offering a variety of music, open-line programs, round table discussions, spirituality and teachings, language and cultural lessons as well as news programs from an Aboriginal perspective.
323 So we are now essentially 10 years later. How does your current programming relate to that initial vision of what AVR would deliver?
324 MR. HILL: In my opinion, Commissioner, we believe that it is inadequate and we are not happy about it.
325 I would like to say that as I read what the original founding team had said is they had anticipated that they would have received by now certainly, 10 years later, a much more substantial level of funding assistance, you know, from whatever source and there are several sources being pursued.
326 But they certainly anticipated a much larger revenue situation than what we have faced over the 10 years and I think that was really what they anticipated. That much larger level of funding would allow AVR to be able to find and make and broadcast all of that type of programming. We still aspire to that.
327 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: M'hmm.
328 MR. HILL: Moving forward we are still going to be very dedicated to try to achieve that.
329 MR. RYLE: Commissioner, may I add something on that point too?
330 In the past 10 years we have produced programming in each of those categories in some capacity and, as Jamie mentioned, it may not be to the quality that we would necessarily like and we have had to recycle a lot of that programming that we have produced, but under each of those categories we certainly have made efforts to produce talk programming to that end.
331 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: I am going to try and do something here. You know, not over 10 years, but over a broadcast week if we look at the different elements that were to form part of your programming, can you tell me which of these elements are available in a broadcast week?
332 There is a variety of music?
333 MR. RYLE: Yes.
334 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Open-line programs?
335 MR. RYLE: Could you please provide a definition of "open-line program"? From what I understand, it is a call-in show.
336 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Yes. Yes.
337 MR. RYLE: No, we do not have live capabilities with our current technological equipment. So we do not have live call-in shows, no.
338 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Round table discussions?
339 MR. RYLE: Again, yes, we have shows that are panel talk shows.
340 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Over a broadcast week?
341 MR. RYLE: Over a broadcast week.
342 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: How many of these kinds of discussions and round table programmings would be available?
343 MR. RYLE: Again, it depends on which programs might be rebroadcast or re-aired. Is it a new panel discussion each week? No, it is not. So I would say one.
344 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Spirituality and teachings?
345 MR. RYLE: Yes.
346 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Maybe you could just help me by telling me what you provide.
347 MR. RYLE: In terms of spirituality and teachings specifically?
348 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: M'hmm.
349 MR. RYLE: We have several shows in several Indigenous languages by elders who are speaking about spirituality. And again, we have had a series in the past from Elder Voices across North America who speak about culture and spirituality specifically.
350 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Okay. So each broadcast week when you are programming your stations, you are programming elements that include spirituality and teachings?
351 MR. RYLE: Yes.
352 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Language and cultural lessons?
353 MR. RYLE: Yes, again. We have language lessons that play each week, and again, as I mentioned, we do exceed our minimum requirement for Aboriginal language broadcasting.
354 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Okay. And news programs from an Aboriginal perspective?
355 MR. RYLE: That is correct, yes. We do provide a daily news service and, as I mentioned in the presentation, it is not as robust as we would like it to be but it is certainly written by us and written by Aboriginal people from our perspective.
356 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: From an Aboriginal perspective.
357 So the news program -- and I am going to get into the news issue a little bit more later -- but if I was to listen to the news program, it would be different, it wouldn't just be a headline, it would be a news element that is particular from an Aboriginal perspective?
358 MR. RYLE: It would be from an Aboriginal perspective, yes. It may not necessarily have overt Aboriginal content in it. However, we feel that the content that we have in our news program is of relevance to Aboriginal people.
359 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Do you have some guidelines or something to tell me how -- how do you establish that this is from an Aboriginal perspective?
360 I mean if I am in Edmonton, the news item of the day is going to be particular from an Aboriginal perspective. What sort of guidelines do you have to establish that?
361 MR. HILL: I think there are two approaches.
362 One is there are specific news about something happening that directly affects Aboriginal people. For instance, let's say there was something happening regarding what Indian Affairs might be negotiating with Aboriginal people, for instance. That, we could say, is regarding the Aboriginal community.
363 Because we are all Aboriginal people and we have all been influenced by our heritage, we have people in our organization who are fluent in their language, which means they are quite aware of, you know, predominantly what is happening in their culture. We have people with degrees in native studies.
364 So what we have done, for instance, from an Aboriginal perspective, we have quite a bit of news that speaks to the environment and we can all agree that as far as many of the cultures, most of the cultures, First Nations, Inuit, Métis, across the country, they are very concerned with what we refer to as Mother Earth and its care and the fact that Mother Earth cares for us.
365 So the fact that we have, I would say, probably more -- I mean we haven't done a survey of all the other newscasts across the country of the other broadcasters, but it seems to us that we have a lot more environmental news, which we believe would help protect the earth. That is the type of thing from an Aboriginal perspective where our news differs.
366 Anyone who is coming and listening to our news will get a sense that this is not really the conventional type of news that you will get from other broadcasters. That is one example. And it is informed and influenced by our culture, the types of things that we select to report to the Aboriginal community and the Canadian public.
367 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Can you just help me understand -- and I'm going to use Edmonton as the example again.
368 What are your sources for identifying the news, you know, the relevant -- and to this point it has been one news item per day that is running in Edmonton.
369 So what are your sources? Without any personnel in that market, how is it that you in Toronto know what is the most relevant news item to run in Edmonton from an Aboriginal perspective for that market?
370 MR. HILL: Well, because of the level of resources that we have, in order to operate this many licences when we only have a few people -- we actually have more licences or we did -- we have to -- we have assigned one person to go into each market and basically it is an internet search of what is going on.
371 We don't really have the capability to have a person in Edmonton, to be able to hire a person in Edmonton who is specifically devoted to news.
372 I can tell you that we would like to. We would love to be able to do that. That is part of, you know, what we are informing the Commission that we would like the Commission to work with us to ensure that we would be able to have the financial resources to do that.
373 But basically we are going on the internet and doing a survey and the news person is spending their entire job surveying news that is relevant to Edmonton.
374 Now, I would say, Commissioner -- I wouldn't argue with you that that is not the minimum level that we could provide, that someone could provide. Our resources really dictate to us that all we can do is the minimum level and we don't like that. We would prefer to be adequately financed so that we can do really what everybody aspires to.
375 MR. RYLE: Commissioner, I would like to add as well on that regard, aside from internet searches, there are specific -- not necessarily new services but online bulletin boards or whatnot or press releases that are issued from Native organizations across Canada that do also feed into our news.
376 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Okay. You have mentioned already that you have no live programming on your stations.
377 Can you tell me how is it that without any live programming you are able to, first of all, address issues such as emergency alerts and notifications and so on, you know, things that are up to the minute and relevant to the audience within those markets?
378 MR. HILL: We couldn't do that, Commissioner, at this level of funding. It would be impossible for us to do it. As we have indicated, we have, you know, many, many times less money than any commercial broadcaster. We have less money that a Native Type B.
379 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: M'hmm.
380 MR. HILL: We just don't have the capability. This is, in my opinion, solely a function of the financial resources that are available to us.
381 We would like to be able to do that, of course, because we would like to achieve a level of quality that other broadcasters achieve and we would like to be able to have the financial wherewithal to be able to do that.
382 So I agree with you that we would love to be able to do that but the financial capability just is not there at this point.
383 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: M'hmm.
384 MR. HILL: Now, moving forward we do have plans to improve that, and which, as you mentioned, we will talk about later.
385 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Okay. It is a difficult situation, but live programming is certainly considered a fundamental element of a vibrant and relevant radio station that provides interaction with the audience. It is there and it is current. It is there and current in the morning. It is there for the morning traffic. It is there and current in the afternoon traffic.
386 It is able to deliver emergency notifications and alerts as they go and it is, once again, considered really a fundamental of radio programming and to have a vibrant operation, a vibrant broadcast that is responsive to the audience that it is intended to reach.
387 I am aware of your position as you put it forward in your supplementary brief and also today regarding increased conditions of licence, but I still need to ask you.
388 If we were to renew these licences and make it a condition of licence that you provide live programming at each of your stations, tell me what would be your response.
389 MR. HILL: My response would be that I think it would be appropriate for us to have these conditions of licence based upon adequate funding levels to bring us up to the same type of quality that the commercial broadcaster has.
390 They are working with millions of dollars, they are spending millions of dollars in expenses to operate these types of undertakings in one city, and I think it would be appropriate when we have such a funding level to ask us to do that.
391 But, you know, what we have said and the reason we put this in there is these conditions of licence are very expensive. You know how many people we have, you know how much money we have.
392 I would say I agree with your characterization and its importance, Commissioner. We totally agree with that, and we would like to be able to do that, but that is going to really present a financial burden to AVR, which could potentially threaten AVR's existence.
393 MS WOLFE: Commissioner, if I could add to that, going back to -- and you did touch upon it a couple of times -- AVR's original vision, we do want to keep moving toward that original vision.
394 At the time when AVR was founded, the Native Broadcast Policy had come out about a year prior, and in the Native Broadcast Policy that touches on the issue of news specifically with respect to a Native perspective, the Commission recognized that that form of programming --
395 First of all, when the CAB proposed that every news item have an Aboriginal perspective specifically, the Commission recognized that that would be an onerous condition to apply to Native Type B's and specifically said that, under the circumstances -- and I quote -- for example, "It would be unreasonable to require or expect news programming aired by Native radio stations to serve as a tool to preserve Aboriginal culture."
396 AVR exceeds the expectations in that respect, because we do try to provide news from an Aboriginal perspective, but it does speak to the position that the Commission recognized a long time ago, that providing programming from an Aboriginal perspective is quite expensive.
397 And, to that point, recently, in the Astral decision, which was reconsidered at the instance of the Governor General, one of the comments and remarks made by the CRTC in allowing Astral to redirect its funds that were originally devoted to AVR was that AVR did not need the funds because it had given away these four licences.
398 That is an unfortunate situation, because that $500,000 would have gone a long way to answering some of these problems.
399 But, ultimately, again, our goal is to increase these funds through advertising, in order to meet some of the issues that you are raising.
400 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Once again, we are going to get into the financing later, but I just wanted to ask myself, before, about the funding of AVR. Do you see that as a Commission responsibility, or do you see it as your network's responsibility?
401 Because the requirements of what a radio station should deliver to its audience are -- I am a bit confused by your answer, which says: If we had the funding, we would do it.
402 And some would look at it and say: To operate a radio station that serves this audience, on what are, frankly, very valuable frequencies, in the major markets of Canada, the audience deserves certain things.
403 And yet I hear you saying, "If we had the funding --"
404 I just want to know, do you see that as, somehow, the Commission's responsibility, the funding?
405 MR. HILL: I wouldn't characterize it like that, Commissioner. I think that it is probably the Commission's track record that it ensure that broadcasting initiatives are financed properly to be able to fulfil their obligations.
406 And I just want to clarify, I am not saying that the Commission is in the business, with every broadcaster, of issuing funding to them, or mandating funding from some source that goes to them, but there were instances in the past, particularly in Aboriginal broadcasting, where the Commission did mandate funding, and APTN is the example. We have used that example, and it is within the power of the Commission to do that.
407 We understand that when commercial broadcasters apply for a licence, you ask them about their financing levels to ensure that they are going to be able to deliver what they are delivering, and I would say that you probably, in the informed opinion of the Commission, believe that when you give them conditions of licence, they have given you an explanation that there is enough funding to be able to do that.
408 Now, I would like to go ten years back and talk about when these licences were issued.
409 There was a funding plan, and I would submit that the aspirations of the original, founding members have not been achieved, for whatever reason, and it was in line with Native Type B's, which are 80 percent funded through various types of grants and gaming initiatives, and they don't have the expenses that we have.
410 For instance, we have tower rent in one city -- and this is typical for cities -- that is $60,000. They don't have these types of expenses.
411 They are receiving only 20 percent from advertising revenues.
412 And we saw APTN get funding, we see that FACTOR has been mandated to receive funding, and other Aboriginal organizations are funding, such as the AFN, and we thought that because it was migrating toward a national scope, as far as the radio broadcasting initiative, we had a very good chance of receiving funding.
413 And, as we mentioned, the previous federal government had given us many indications that they were going to help us and they were going to give us some funding.
414 Now, over the ten-year period it hasn't played out the way everybody had thought, and I am sure that the Commission, as well, had thought this was probably how this was going to be adequately financed. But because it hasn't worked in ten years, we want to move to advertising.
415 What we are saying is, it is within the Commission's, I guess, power to ensure that our ability to increase our listenership and to gain advertising revenues can be strengthened.
416 So what we are asking is, please, allow us to determine what our programming is, so that we can pursue enough advertising revenues -- we mentioned our marketing study -- so that we can pursue enough advertising revenues moving into the future to be able to deliver the types of things as far as programming that we aspire to.
417 And I would add, Commissioner, that in each city there are several commercial -- it is different in each city -- there are several commercial broadcasters who are achieving, on average, $7 million to $10 million in advertising revenues, even during a recession.
418 We are not hoping to achieve such levels, but certainly levels that are much, much higher than what we have been able to do to this point. We believe and hope that the Commission would support us in trying to achieve those levels of advertising in order to support making and broadcasting the type of programming that we would like to do.
419 But we do want, I guess, the Commission to consider that until we achieve those levels of revenues -- you know, we are forced into a position of delivering a minimum amount of programming. That's just the situation we are in, because the programming levels and the ability to do the things that you have mentioned, that I totally agree with -- and we all talk about this, and aspire to this, and try to plan for it -- they are directly dependent upon the amount of money and financing that you have available to work with.
420 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: I suppose it's another one of those chicken and egg situations, because it's hard to imagine that -- you know, you need to generate the audience, you need to be responsive to the audience. Not having something like live programming available would seem to make it quite difficult to garner the kinds of audiences that would support an advertising revenue base, as well.
421 I am going to let it go, we will be talking about your finances later.
422 I want to deal with the issues of compliance over the past licence term.
423 You mentioned that you are very aware of the definition of local programming now, and that it does include that local programming must incorporate spoken word material of direct and particular relevance to the community; that local programming must include more than just the local news.
424 You are aware -- you have given the reference to the paragraph in the policy.
425 You have also said that you now comply with that.
426 Can you explain what it is you are doing now to ensure that you are including all of the required elements, including weather, sports coverage, and the promotion of local events and activities?
427 Explain your local programming that exists now.
428 MR. RYLE: Explain our local programming in relation to the newscasts?
429 Am I understanding that question?
430 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: I am saying that local programming includes more than just local news, and that is what you reflected in your opening statements, that you are aware of the different elements that must be included in local programming, which includes not just local news, but weather, sports coverage, and the promotion of local events and activities.
431 And you say that, at this time, you do include all of these elements.
432 MR. RYLE: Yes, we do include them. We include them currently with our daily newscast. Following the daily newscast we do have sports, weather, and the promotion of local events and activities as part of the daily broadcast that we put together with the news.
433 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: And that is run on a wheel, is it?
434 MR. RYLE: Yes, that's correct. There is one daily newscast per day.
435 I'm sorry, not one broadcast; there is one newscast that is produced per day, which is run several times per day in each market.
436 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: How long is this newscast that you produce?
437 MR. RYLE: It varies, again. It is usually, probably, about four to five minutes.
438 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: For each station?
439 MR. RYLE: That's correct, yes.
440 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: And it runs over and over, to make up 25 percent of your broadcast schedule?
441 MR. HILL: Commissioner, the 25 percent of the broadcast schedule is achieved with those newscasts, the promotion of local events, weather and sports, as well as the local music program that we have, that is aired 25 percent of the time.
442 It is predominantly local artists. We have a local artist music show, where we play many artists from that local market.
443 So all of that comprises the local programming.
444 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Okay. I want to deal with the specifics, once again, of the local programming, and particularly the elements of local programming that were missing, which is an apparent issue of non-compliance with your licence.
445 One of the questions we must ask you -- you have stated that you are now in compliance and meeting all of the elements, but let me ask the question. Do you understand what is meant by a mandatory order, if the Commission were to issue a mandatory order to assure ourselves that you are in compliance moving forward, and remain in compliance with that condition of licence?
446 Do you understand what is meant by a mandatory order?
447 MR. HILL: Yes, Commissioner, our lawyer, Kimberley Wolfe, has advised us of the ramifications of that.
448 To tell you the truth, we would prefer to avoid a mandatory order. We think that the situation could be ensured; if you were to monitor us more often than what you do, you would find that we are in compliance on a weekly basis.
449 As a matter of fact, we implemented this immediately.
450 We found out about the clarification from the staff late in the week, back in time when this happened, and after the weekend we had deployed the change. So it was immediate.
451 As soon as we understood the clarification, we immediately responded, across the network, in all stations.
452 We were talking about this yesterday, and we said: If they had monitored us right after this, they would have found that we were in compliance.
453 So if you were to monitor us more often, you would find that we are in compliance.
454 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Outside of monitoring, normally one of the things we look at is policies or procedures.
455 And I understand that you are a small organization, you are six people, you have three people who program the stations, but are there any policies or procedures, or something upon which we can state that we don't have to monitor you to know that you are in compliance?
456 There are processes and procedures in place, and you do your own checks and balances internally to ensure that you continue to meet your requirements on a go-forward basis.
457 MR. HILL: Commissioner, I think that the way we ensure that these situations don't occur -- in the past -- is what I call redundancy.
458 Or, to use a term from the computer industry, fault tolerance.
459 It is directly related to your financial and technical -- your financial capabilities and your technical capabilities, which, again, falls back to, if you have the finances, you can hire very talented people to ensure that there are redundant systems in place.
460 For instance, the last time we had an issue with our loggers. We have now moved to trying to place at least three loggers in every city. We have tried to overwhelm it with fault tolerance and redundancy.
461 The same would apply in staffing levels. If you only have one financial person -- you know, human beings make mistakes. If we were to have a core of three to five financial people, and they could ensure, individually, that financially what is supposed to happen is happening -- because you have more than one person examining what is happening.
462 So if one person makes a mistake, someone else is checking to make sure that happens.
463 If we were to have enough financing to ensure that we had increased regulatory legal help, we would be able to have the person devoted to ensuring that and checking all the time.
464 So the situation, to me, is a funding situation. It goes back to redundancy. If we were able to put redundant systems in place, we would be able to ensure that these things were met.
465 We have such a small staff, and we try to do it. As I said, we have tried to spread the skill levels around amongst management, so we have tried to ensure that people are checking.
466 But we are, with this small amount of resources, very challenged in these extensive conditions of licence that we have in ensuring that we are able to, also, do the broadcast, which is why we can't do it daily, we have to pre-program it, just because of the personnel.
467 But we want to be able to ensure that we are meeting all of these requirements, and we now have more than one person watching everything that goes on, to make sure we are able to do it.
468 But, as I said, as soon as we found out about this, we made the programming change immediately. We implemented immediately this programming change, according to the clarification -- and it has been running in every city -- within a matter of days after we were informed that this is really what you are supposed to do, it's not what you had read and you thought.
469 They clarified it; we immediately changed it.
470 MS WOLFE: Commissioner, if I could also address that, looking back at some of the previous issues of non-compliance, AVR has had a history of, literally, to put it blatantly, jumping as soon as the Commission says jump.
471 One of the conditions, or one of the criteria of looking at a mandatory order is if the Commission thinks that AVR will not comply, and I think that AVR has shown itself to be very willing and open to comply as soon as any discrepancies are pointed out to it.
472 And, particularly, this is a growing initiative, so it takes time for a station, particularly with low funds and low staff, to learn from its mistakes.
473 I think we are at a stage now where the conditions of licence are adequately understood. The financial returns issue is being addressed. As a matter of fact, throughout the year, AVR actually let go its previous auditor because the auditor was taking too long, and that has given rise to a condition that will be completely rectified with the new auditor, who is more responsive to AVR's needs.
474 And the spoken word programming condition of licence has been clarified by the CRTC. As a matter of fact, before the CRTC's staff letter came back to AVR, AVR complied, even though it had clarified its misunderstanding, even before the CRTC made that a mandatory condition -- or made their mandatory clarification.
475 So as soon as the CRTC pointed it out to AVR, before they had even received their formal, final response in January, AVR immediately, the very next day, brought itself into compliance with what the CRTC's understanding of the condition was.
476 So I think they have shown themselves, very much, to be learning in the process, but very willing to adjust their programming and adjust their expectations of what their conditions of licence are, according to clarifications made by staff.
477 And now, I think, we are at a sufficient level of understanding that these issues, going forward, will not repeat themselves.
478 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: I just have one more question, and then I am going to move off this topic. There has been in the past -- and AVR is not new. It's ten years old. There has been in the past, I believe, significant staff turnover.
479 Is there something that you have done internally, corporately --
480 I mean, it's one thing every time CRTC staff tells you that you are not complying to say, "We are responsive and we want to fix it quickly, the next day," it's another to say, "We have measures in place. We have written it down. We have posted it on the board. This is what we require, and if new staff come in, this is how they are going to know it."
481 What are your internal procedures to tell us that this is not going to happen again?
482 MR. HILL: Commissioner, our internal procedure is that, throughout the organization, our priority is compliance with our conditions of licence. Everybody is schooled on that, and is schooled with an explanation to everybody of the seriousness of complying with the conditions of licence, and we always tell everyone in the organization.
483 I mean, you know, we have written this down -- not in a formal policy, because it seems to us so basic and fundamental to our responsibility that everybody knows that we have to comply with the conditions of licence.
484 So we don't think we need a formal policy to tell us to comply with our legal requirements regarding the conditions of licence, everybody is schooled on that in the organization -- in our small organization.
485 We have extensive conditions of licence, very little funding, and predominantly we are meeting them. We had a misunderstanding, it was clarified, we fixed it.
486 We had a misunderstanding because we don't have a regulatory lawyer.
487 We read it, the staff read it, and once it was clarified to us that, you know, "You are not understanding this correctly," by the staff, we said, "Okay, we are changing it immediately."
488 And then we go and consult a lawyer and say, "It looks like we didn't understand this correctly," and the lawyer advises us -- the regulatory lawyer -- "Okay, here is what it means."
489 So, to me, once again, this is a resource level, related to our financial difficulties, but the primary goal that we have in staff and on the Board is compliance with our conditions of licence, and we understand that very clearly.
490 To tell you the truth, we don't think that we need a formal policy to understand that.
491 If you want to say that we can write a formal policy, and everyone reads the formal policy, we are willing to do that, but we think it's very fundamental to what we have to do that we have to comply with the conditions of licence. We have said that before.
492 And I can tell that you the effort and the dedication to complying with the conditions of licence is here throughout the organization.
493 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Okay. Then let's discuss the other issue of apparent non-compliance, and that is, for the second time, you did not file your annual returns by the deadline.
494 Can you tell me the reason that these were not filed on time?
495 MR. RYLE: Again, the reason for the non-submission of the annual returns in 2008 was an oversight on our part.
496 Again, at the time that the submissions were due, there were three of us on staff, and we were contending with the office move and operations of the station.
497 So it was an unfortunate oversight on our part.
498 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: The last time this occurred the reason was because of staff turnover. There was new staff. That's why I was asking the question about procedures and so on, because the last time the annual return did not get filed on time, the reason given was that there had been staff turnover and, as a result, this kind of fell through the cracks.
499 Now, this is the second time that it has fallen through the cracks because it hasn't -- you know, you have been dealing with office moves, or whatever you are doing, but this requirement was not met.
500 MR. HILL: Commissioner, if I could clarify our understanding of what happened -- I don't recall that statement. Someone may have said that, but we had a new group of people, there was some Board turnover in 2004, and the new Board and new management moved into 2005, trying to get started up and understanding, you know, how broadcasting works and so forth.
501 Where the financial reports were not submitted prior to that, as we said in the last hearing, that was the previous, if I could use the word, administration. It is the group that came in there that fixed that. We found out that the previous guys had not submitted the financial reports, and we put together the financial reports and submitted them.
502 So we didn't realize when we came into the organization that they hadn't been submitted, and this became an issue, and we immediately tried to put them together and submit them.
503 When we came in, I would say that the financial reporting inside the organization was not very strong, and we moved to fix it over a period of time. It actually took us a period of a year, I think, in order to strengthen the financial management inside the organization.
504 Once we began to understand that this was one of the things that we have to do, we put them together and submitted them.
505 But, Commissioner, I would say that we had a very talented group of founding members, but maybe we could say that there weren't enough people with the experience at that point, in this regard, of understanding the challenges that they were going to face in light of the funding levels. They were meeting, attempting as a new group -- you know, in a new radio undertaking, trying to achieve these things that they had wanted to achieve.
506 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Mr. Hill, just to be fair, you don't have to speak for the activities of the group in the past licence term, perhaps maybe just focusing on this group and this licence term, and the fact that, in this licence term, once again, the annual reports were not filed on time.
507 So the reasons why that occurred, and how is it that we could have any assurance that that is going to not occur in the future.
508 MS WOLFE: Commissioner Molnar, I think I can address that. I have been in the process of compiling a document that sets out AVR's -- and it's not complete because I am a recent add-on to assist AVR with these issues.
509 So I am in the process -- and I hope this does appease you -- of compiling a list of AVR's requirements, including all deadlines, so that there is that failsafe that you are talking about, a document that allows AVR to know well in advance what its requirements are, in terms of financial deadlines, for filing its financial returns and things like that, so that there is a quick summary to ensure that this doesn't happen again.
510 I am very new in the process, but that document is in the process of being compiled, and I will make sure that AVR is made aware of it and that everybody understands when those deadlines are.
511 I put in place, myself, what we call, as lawyers, a tickler system. I can help to assist AVR in developing that same system.
512 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Given that this is the second instance of non-compliance related to the filing of annual returns, can you tell us why the Commission should not consider issuing a mandatory order, if the licences were to be renewed?
513 MS WOLFE: AVR is before you today providing you with the promise of performance that they will comply with the filing of financial returns going forward.
514 They have hired a new auditor, and I can tell you from my review of the previous performance of the auditor that it took them a year and a half.
515 I sit on three different boards and I have never seen an audit take a year and a half to compile.
516 The new auditor is not taking that long, so things are certainly at a different state now.
517 With my assistance, I will ensure that AVR is very well aware of when their deadlines are, and put a tickler system in place.
518 Given AVR's willingness to comply, and their eager attempts to answer any issues that have been brought by the Commission, I don't think a mandatory order is necessary to ensure that AVR will comply. They have hired assistants, myself included, to assist them with ongoing, future compliance.
519 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: I have just one more question. While we have been talking about the programming and operational issues, financing continues to come up over and over and over, to be, sort of, the elephant in the room, essentially.
520 What we know right now is that you are operating five radio stations, with six people, and there is no live programming. All broadcasts are pre-programmed. There is no ability to respond quickly in markets to emergencies and so on.
521 There are not even live programming capabilities in any market, outside of Toronto, and perhaps Ottawa.
522 Tell me, given all of that, why should the Commission consider renewing your licences in any or all of these five stations?
523 MR. HILL: Commissioner, I think that the Commission should consider renewing the licences because, I think, we have done an outstanding job, in light of the lack of resources.
524 As I said, at one point over a period of time, we operated with -- I think the number was 127 times less money than a commercial broadcaster.
525 Now, I don't want to -- I would like the Commission to consider the gravity of that situation with us.
526 In the past, not today but in the past, AVR had to assume great levels of debt in order to try to get the network up to as many licences as it did, and the Commission was very, very helpful in that regard with AVR, and we do appreciate it.
527 But the plans for funding, according to, for instance, what Native Type B's do, 80 percent of grants and gaming revenues -- where they are funded like that, that has not played out in AVR's favour, so we want to shift to advertising.
528 We know that if we focus our efforts on advertising at this point, with the acquiescence of the Commission, that -- for instance, commercial broadcasters are achieving revenues of $7 million to $10 million per year, per station. We have five stations. We think it is very reasonable to assume now, if we move to an advertising model, that we will be able to get the appropriate finances to deliver, at a much higher quality, all of the conditions of licence that we have.
529 We haven't been in this situation up to this point. We have had debt for ten years, and that debt has been very significant.
530 And we have been very diligent in meeting our financial obligations, as far as paying our suppliers, and I think we have been very diligent, at the levels that we have been faced with, in meeting our conditions of licence. I think we have been extremely diligent, with this many people -- with the small organization that we have, including the Board members that we have, in meeting the conditions of licence.
531 I actually think that we have done almost the impossible, if you were to ask me, in light of the resources we have.
532 I think that speaks to why you would want to grant our organization renewal, because we are now solvent. We now have a model, an approach, that will bring us the revenues we need, and we are very confident of that.
533 And the evidence is what other broadcasters are doing in advertising. We believe that we can move our revenue levels much higher, very quickly, now that we are focused on this, and we are solvent, and we have paid our debt down.
534 MS WOLFE: Commissioner, if I could add to that, beyond that, AVR is broadcasting in five urban markets a unique Aboriginal voice. They do provide spiritual teachings, they provide cultural languages, they provide an Aboriginal perspective that otherwise, if the Commission were not to renew these licences, would be lost in the Canadian urban market.
535 It is a much needed service, and as an Aboriginal person myself, I can say to you that, absolutely, it would be a loss to the Canadian broadcasting system to lose AVR, because there is nobody willing to step up to the plate and assume five licences that provide Aboriginal programming, in five networks, with very little funding.
536 It is a valued service in Canada, and it speaks to the legislative policy, as well as the Native Broadcast Policy.
537 AVR fills a unique role, and under the circumstances, it is primarily for that reason that the CRTC, I think, should look to renewing the licences, because it is a needed Aboriginal voice in a market that doesn't otherwise have a concentrated Aboriginal voice.
538 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: You speak of the licences, and there are, as you pointed out, five urban markets. It is sitting on very valuable spectrum in each of those five urban markets, delivering, frankly, what you folks have yourselves said is not high quality programming into those markets, because of limited resources.
539 If there was a decision to match your revenue capacity to a certain market, so that you could deliver a quality product into one or other markets, could you give me an idea of, in the order of priority of your licences, which ones would you propose -- if there were some that were not renewed because we didn't have assurance, or didn't feel confident that the revenues would support the delivery of high quality programming into those markets, which of these markets would you propose, maybe, be renewed, or not be renewed, if the financial situation didn't support it?
540 Can you put these in order of priority in your five markets?
541 MR. HILL: We would probably put them in the order of priority according to the population in those metropolitan areas.
542 It's a matter of reach. We would like to reach the most people --
543 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: The Aboriginal population in those markets?
544 MR. HILL: The Aboriginal and the Canadian population. AVR is a bridge between the Aboriginal population and the non-Aboriginal population, so it's the entire population.
545 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: For example -- and I have the Aboriginal populations in front of me here, in the five markets you have -- Edmonton, by far, has the largest urban Aboriginal population of the markets where you serve.
546 But you would propose that you would go with Toronto, because it has the largest overall market presence, the largest audience reach?
547 MR. HILL: Yes.
548 I am not sure what figures you have, but I would say that they are all very close. I am not aware that Edmonton has a significantly larger Aboriginal population than Toronto has.
549 They are very close. There are statistics --
550 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: I will give you the numbers that I have.
551 MR. HILL: Okay.
552 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: They say that Edmonton has just over 52,000 and Toronto has 26,500.
553 So Edmonton's is twice the size --
554 MR. HILL: Commissioner, I am not sure where those numbers come from, but there are discrepancies in those numbers, from various surveys that have been undertaken regarding the populations in the urban centres.
555 That is the first time I have ever heard such a low number for Toronto.
556 I had actually heard a number in Toronto that is 60,000 to 80,000, previously.
557 Is that Status Indians, because the Aboriginal People's Survey allowed Aboriginal people to self-identify, and Stats Canada, in the census, does not -- it has a different method of counting, it's not self-identification. They are counting Status Indians who are listed on government rolls as being Status Indians, and that would not comprise the entire Aboriginal population.
558 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: It is Statistics Canada, the 2001 and 2006 census. The 2006 census numbers are what I provided you.
559 So you are saying that those are self-identified?
560 Is that what you are saying?
561 MR. HILL: Yes. The Aboriginal People's Survey allowed Canadian people to self-identify as Aboriginal people, and, if I recall, the numbers jump significantly once people are able to say, "I am an Aboriginal person."
562 Because there were many situations, historically, where all of the Aboriginal people did not end up being counted, according to status -- according to the government. There are many more Aboriginal people than just Status Aboriginal people.
563 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: What source do you have to identify your target market, the Aboriginal populations within these five urban markets?
564 What is your source?
565 MR. HILL: We have various sources. I have seen various surveys.
566 To tell you the truth, I don't recall those titles right now, because I have seen them throughout my career.
567 We could try to provide additional sources.
568 But I would like to add, Commissioner, that my understanding of Aboriginal Voices Radio is that it is meant to communicate, via radio, to not only the Aboriginal population within the cities, but also to be a bridge for the Canadian population in those cities, so that there is a further understanding between Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people.
569 I am not aware that AVR was only meant to broadcast to only Aboriginal people, and I would like to add that APTN -- my understanding of how they have been licensed is that -- the idea is that they are going to broadcast to the Canadian people regarding Aboriginal people and Aboriginal culture.
570 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: So your criterion, then, would be the full population within a market?
571 MR. HILL: Yes, and it would also be our, I guess, understanding of where we think we can financially survive on advertising, since we are moving to an advertising model.
572 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Would you be able to put these into priority for me right now?
573 I assume, given where you are moving, and the timing for which you are looking to move to an advertising model, that you have done some planning. You understand these five markets.
574 MR. HILL: Yes.
575 Commissioner, if the Commission would allow, we would like to consider such a question. To ask me this question, which markets we would be willing to give up, I did not anticipate that you would ask me that.
576 I assumed that the Commission was going to discuss with us ways that we could hold onto those five licences. We gave up four. We determined that we can live with five, and we can make a go, financially, of five stations and deliver higher quality into these markets.
577 That is very specifically why we have already relinquished four licences.
578 To tell you the truth, I did not entertain the thought that I would be here considering that we are going to be relinquishing more licences.
579 My colleagues would like to comment, as well, Commissioner.
580 MS WOLFE: As a representative, I always need, obviously, to get instructions, but, as Jamie pointed out, the reality is that nobody here considered the option of relinquishing additional licences of stations that had already been launched, so this is a new question and a new consideration.
581 The reality is, the intervenors themselves -- I think, when it comes to the quality of service provided, whether it's local live programming or rebroadcast programming that is not local live, the reality is that AVR is providing quality programming.
582 We have goals of being better, but that is not to say that it is absolutely -- and we don't want to be misunderstood to suggest that our programming is not quality programming.
583 There are several intervenors here today, who come from the markets you are speaking of, i.e. Edmonton --
584 Our Chair today is from Edmonton.
585 So, as a result, there are several intervenors who speak to the quality of our service in those markets and are requesting the Commission to renew these licences.
586 So to suggest that AVR's quality is not providing a valued service to the Aboriginal community in those markets, I think, would be an overstatement of what we were trying to say, of bettering the goals of AVR to provide even better quality.
587 It doesn't mean that our quality is substandard. As a matter of fact, we are applauded Canada-wide for the quality programming and the unique service that is provided to the Aboriginal community.
588 And I don't think that it would be appropriate to relinquish any of those licences, other than to give AVR an opportunity, for those five stations that are launched, that funds and resources, government and private, have been devoted to, to continue operating and to move forward.
589 THE CHAIRPERSON: Mr. Hill and Ms Wolfe, I do want to take issue with your surprise that we would ask this question, and I will give you an opportunity to respond in writing, if you so choose, but please note that in the Notice of Public Hearing for this hearing, there is a paragraph that says:
"As part of its licence renewal AVR will be required to show cause why the Commission should not issue a mandatory order requiring the licensee to comply with the Regulations, 1986 and its conditions of licence and why the Commission should not consider recourse to additional measures, such as short-term renewal, suspension, non-renewal or revocation of the licence in question."
590 So this question should not have come as a surprise to you. But, like I said, we will allow you to respond in writing.
591 I do have a couple of follow-up questions to the exchange with Commissioner Molnar before we move on to a break, and to other questions from my panel members, I am sure.
592 I would like some clarification on the 25 percent local programming per week commitment.
593 As you know, each of your licences has this COL, but what I heard this morning was that your spoken word and local programming component is made up -- comes from the same library, I think were the exact words, and that "the library" means that the spoken word is produced in one market and broadcast in other markets.
594 Is that true for all five licences?
595 MR. RYLE: Yes. We produce the local programming in Toronto. Again, it was a really generous provision that the CRTC provided in our last hearing -- I believe the last decision, that would allow us, in deference to our finances, to produce our local programming for each of the stations from Toronto.
596 THE CHAIRPERSON: I see, so it's not one program that is repeated -- it is not just one element of spoken word and local programming that is broadcast in each of those markets, it is produced in Toronto, but is the programming specific to each market?
597 MR. RYLE: Yes.
598 MR. HILL: Yes. It is specific and different, Commissioner, in each market.
599 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. I heard you, throughout the morning, talk about onerous and expensive conditions of licence. I heard you say that you don't want us to micro manage, and that we should allow you to do the kind of programming that is viable for your operation.
600 But, in essence, aren't you essentially doing -- you are doing that on your own. You are providing that kind of programming from Toronto for each of those markets. I understand that.
601 You have chosen not to have studio facilities in those five markets.
602 Quite frankly, I don't know what else we can do. I don't know which of these conditions of licence are that onerous, are that expensive, and what we could possible eliminate, to make you less relevant to the Aboriginal community, because these conditions of licence are there to ensure that you do remain relevant, and that you serve your core audience.
603 The removal of these, or the lessening of these -- and I know you haven't asked for them, but you continue to say that they are onerous and expensive. You are already an automated station, why not become an internet radio station? It's a heck of a lot cheaper.
604 Because that is essentially what you would become if we were to eliminate any of these COLs.
605 MR. HILL: I think you have two questions there --
606 THE CHAIRPERSON: I do.
607 MR. HILL: -- one is the reduction --
608 MR. HILL: I want to speak to the first one, Commissioner, and my colleagues will remind me of the second question if I start to wrap my head around your first question, because we will have to go back to the internet question.
609 What we are essentially trying to inform the Commission of is, we would like you to appreciate -- we are not asking for a reduction, we are only asking for an appreciation of our situation.
610 In a word, it's kind of like empathy, I guess. We want you to consider that we don't have the revenues to improve the quality to a higher level in a way that we would like.
611 For instance, we have to rebroadcast some of our talk program over and over. We would ideally like -- and we said this in our opening statement -- to make fresh programming every week, in 20 hours of talk radio.
612 We are simply alerting the Commission -- and the Commission is aware of this -- that talk and news are the most expensive components of manufacturing radio, and what we are saying is, we are not at a level to be able to, let's say, do more at this point in time -- or, I should say, in the past we haven't been able to do more, but we believe that our financial situation is going to improve now that we are going to be focused on advertising, and it is reasonable to expect that, in light of the advertising revenues that are taking place in these markets.
613 We previously thought that we would get funded over this ten-year period. We have pursued many initiatives to get us up to that level. They haven't played out, so now we have to shift gears and we have to focus on advertising.
614 We want the Commission to appreciate that we are very challenged in meeting these conditions of licence, but I want to reinforce this, Commissioner, we do aspire to these conditions of licence and we are going to make a concerted and dedicated effort to bring quality to these conditions of licence.
615 And I personally -- and I know that all of the people in the organization agree with me -- I really believe that these conditions of licence can help our community and help Canadian people understand Aboriginal people further. I believe that personally.
616 So that's what we have tried to do here, working at AVR in this challenging situation, because we believe in it so wholeheartedly -- to be able to produce high quality talk, which is going to help the situation with Aboriginal people and the understanding of Canadians regarding Aboriginal people.
617 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. So my advice to you is, for the remainder of the morning, stop calling them onerous.
618 MR. HILL: Okay. I did pick that up when we were doing -- how many times, Commissioner -- how many times we had put that in here.
619 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
620 MR. HILL: So, thank you.
621 THE CHAIRPERSON: So why not be an internet radio station, produce your spiritual teachings and all of your spoken word as podcasts, for example?
622 MR. HILL: We would like to supplement what we do with that, but, frankly, radio is a very inexpensive way for our people to hear audio programming. I mean, it is so inexpensive to be able to get a radio.
623 And we are able to reach people in their vehicles and in their homes. Just about every home that I know of has a radio already.
624 Some Aboriginal people do not have access to the internet, just because, as we are aware, Commissioner, they have the highest levels of poverty in Canada.
625 We believe that the best way for this type of programming to reach Aboriginal people in the markets we are in is through the conventional radio.
626 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. The question regarding the population in the markets you serve, I was a little bit troubled with your answer, Mr. Hill, when you said that, of course, your audience is the community at large.
627 But, surely, the Aboriginal community within those markets is your core audience.
628 MR. HILL: Yes, Commissioner, I would agree with you.
629 THE CHAIRPERSON: And, assuredly, your top priority should be to best serve that core audience, and with luck, and with hard work, and with perseverance, that will spill over to the community at large.
630 Please, reassure us that your core audience is the Aboriginal community.
631 MR. HILL: Yes, of course, the core audience is the Aboriginal community, but we also agree with the idea, like APTN, as we have read their -- you know, why they were licensed. Part of the problem is a misunderstanding regarding Aboriginal culture and what Aboriginal people face, you know, within the fabric of Canada -- a lot of the challenges they face. You know, they are extensive, and we believe that helping the Aboriginal people is also informing -- properly informing the Canadian people about who Aboriginal people really are, as opposed to some of the types of things that they may be getting through other outlets of information.
632 THE CHAIRPERSON: And I agree. You and APTN and others like you are the best resource to be able to do that.
633 One final question before I let everybody go on a health break. In your oral presentation this morning you referred to a marketing study conducted by AVR. Have you filed that marketing study with us?
634 MR. HILL: Not yet.
635 MR. RYLE: No, we haven't.
636 THE CHAIRPERSON: Can you?
637 MR. RYLE: Absolutely.
638 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, and I believe we have set June 14th as the date by which everyone can file additional undertakings that we request.
639 So is it possible for you to do that by June 14th?
640 MR. RYLE: Certainly.
641 THE CHAIRPERSON: And the answer to the question posed to you by Commissioner Molnar?
642 MR. HILL: Regarding statistics, Commissioner?
643 THE CHAIRPERSON: And the markets.
644 MR. HILL: We can try to find more statistics regarding the markets.
645 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. We will take a 15-minute break now, and resume with AVR at 10:45. Thank you.
--- Upon recessing at 1030
--- Upon Resuming at 1100
646 THE CHAIRPERSON: Order, please.
647 Vice-Chairman Katz has some questions for you.
648 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Thank you, and good morning.
649 I'm going to start by echoing my fellow Commissioners Molnar and Cugini earlier and so I will start by, I guess, with a question and ask you to comment on it.
650 The reason we are here today is because this is a show cause proceeding. The obligation is on you, the licensee, to explain to this Commission why AVR should have its license renewed. I do not believe you can pass that obligation onto this Commission, which is what I hear you saying and what I read.
651 The financial situation you find yourself in is yours and yours alone and everything that I am hearing seems to imply that because the CRTC hasn't done something, you don't have the financial wherewithal in order to comply and grow your business. I think you have to understand that you are the ones who have to convince us, as opposed to the other way around.
652 And we are not taking the situation lightly as well. We will do what we can, but at the same time the obligations are yours.
653 MR. RYLE: Thank you, Commissioner Katz, for the comments.
654 I would start by saying the financial issues that we highlighted in our presentation and in the past were really to illustrate a past situation that we dealt with that may have contributed and did contribute to where we are today.
655 But today is a different day from the past. We have reduced our debt, which was almost $1.8 million to nil, this year. So we are in a different situation in that capacity. So moving forward we do expect to have more revenues available to us to devote to the quality of the programming.
656 Similarly, in terms of taking an initiative to increase our own funding, we do have five people on hand who are going to be our sales team in terms of our advertising nationally. And we do hope that sort of -- we are expressing, despite highlighting the past challenges, that we are taking it seriously in terms of trying to increase our own revenue and do what we can within our resources to achieve the vision.
657 COMMISSIONER KATZ: I don't want to undervalue the work that you have done in the last 10 years, but when I look at your financials and look at how you have evolved, what I come to conclude is that the benefits that have been aspiring to you over the last number of years has basically flowed to your bottom line in order for you to repay your debt.
658 I'm not saying you haven't done other things as well, but when I look at your last two years' financials, for example in '07 and '08, clearly the money that flowed right down to the bottom line presumably went to pay off your debt and did not go into those things that we, the CRTC, have already enunciated to you should be going in the way of broadcasting for the benefit of the audience, your audience that you are trying to reach.
659 MR. HILL: Commissioner, if I could just say that we also used money to operate our licenses. We are talking about the debt.
660 And what that is referring to is we are not able to get private investment like a commercial broadcaster who, if they are operating an initiative that may require an expense of $7 million per year, that there is an initial investment upfront in order to operate in those early years.
661 What we are saying is we didn't have that but we were still able to broadcast over the 10-year period with our conditions of license as far as the music programming and other programming. We also got stations on the air with the money. So we were fortunate to be able to get the funds, a lot of it through debt, but not only through debt, to be able to get all of these undertakings broadcasting in all of those markets.
662 What we are trying to highlight is that because we couldn't get private investment and we had to go towards some debt, that we very skilfully managed to get the licenses up in broadcasting and get them broadcasting according to our conditions of license with very little resources.
663 So we are just trying to highlight the skill, Commissioner. That's our intention, that we have been very diligent in trying to do this in a very skilful way, to get them all broadcasting and get them broadcasting according to the conditions of license.
664 So when we highlight -- and we have used the word onerous -- all we are trying to highlight is there is, you know, a significant financial component to this which we have managed to overcome moving through the 10-year period. So we are trying to highlight with the Commission that we have done this in a skilful way which would hearken back to why we would get the licenses, because, you know, we have some skill to be able to do this with very little sources and we also can get additional resources through advertising and be able to increase the quality from the current good quality that we have to even get a better quality moving forward.
665 COMMISSIONER KATZ: But that's the piece that I am missing that you are going to have to educate me on.
666 What skill did you employ in downsizing your operations down to bare bones in order to take the money that comes from the benefits to pay off your debts without looking further downstream when you had this opportunity to build a revenue stream that would provide some continuity and some growth in the future?
667 You are now saying you are going to do that. I'm saying why didn't you do that three years ago, four years ago?
668 We are not looking at a brand new applicant here who has put an application in and basically said, "Look, I'm going to do all these things, trust me, and we don't have a track record". So we look at the applicants and we decide who is best to serve the Canadian public.
669 In your case, you have been licensed for 10 years. You have gone through some tribulations and turmoil. But at the end of the day you do have a license. You do have grants that came through the public acquisition process for benefits that were used hopefully to create a basis for you.
670 And what I'm seeing is that basis went to pay off your debt, but did nothing more than providing a track record and an opportunity for you to grow a business and a viable economic environment.
671 MR. HILL: Well, Commissioner, we were operating these licences and meeting the conditions of licenses, say, for we had labour report. But we did -- we turned the report in. We turned the report in.
672 There was an item regarding the local programming that was confusing. It provided confusion to us and it was clarified and we immediately moved to compliance.
673 So we have used the resources to deliver the service, to acquire the licenses, to get them broadcasting and deliver the services, Commissioner.
674 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Who is your audience today?
675 MS WOLFE: Commissioner, if I can just add one more thing?
676 When initially the licenses were granted AVR -- and what was put forward to the Commission and what the Commission expected were 10 licenses up and running. AVR for a long time was moving toward that goal, but the problem is 10 licenses proved to be too expensive. But in the original application the view was 10.
677 We ended up -- they ended up with nine licenses and monies were spent that are not necessarily reflected on a per station revenue toward getting those nine licenses and toward getting Montréal, Kitchener, Waterloo up and running. So when you're looking at the monies that were being spent, they were necessarily also going to launching those stations.
678 But unfortunately AVR had to face the harsh reality that in order to provide the programming that it wants to provide, it eventually had to curtail itself back to the five licenses so that it can rebuild the network to move forward again.
679 It's a reconsideration. It's not necessarily that the taxpayers' money was not being spent towards the original vision. As a matter of fact it was. Unfortunately in today's market, inflation and everything else, it just proved to be too expensive.
680 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. I interrupted you. I apologize.
681 Who is your audience today? Who is listening to AVR today?
682 MR. RYLE: We mentioned the marketing study that we had done in Toronto. It was the first marketing study of its kind that we did across our network and currently it's the only marketing study that we have in terms of understanding who our audiences are right now.
683 We have also met the marketing report, as I mentioned to the Chair, for the 14th and it gives detailed information about it.
684 Our audience today is a diverse one in terms of -- are you asking specifically about --
685 COMMISSIONER KATZ: I want to know to what extent in your data -- and I'm sure I will read it as well, but I would rather hear from you now so I can follow up with some questions -- what cities, what population, what demographics, what age group, what social background in terms of the types of people that are listening to it?
686 MR. HILL: We don't have that at our fingertips. It's in the report, Commissioner. We just completed the report very recently. We are not --
687 COMMISSIONER KATZ: And you don't know what it says?
688 MR. HILL: Well, we undertook that report to try to determine if there was potential to get advertising. We did not undertake the report to -- I mean we can do another report, and they are expensive.
689 If where you are going, Commissioner, if I could try to anticipate this, are you specifically asking us how many aboriginal listeners we have? I'm not sure.
690 COMMISSIONER KATZ: What types of people are listening to AVR today in the five cities?
691 You are talking about growing an advertising base. Are you selling diapers on the radio? Are you selling automobiles? Who are your listeners? What types of people are you going to be going after in order to generate this advertising revenue?
692 You have just completed a study. You must have that information readily at hand.
693 MR. RYLE: We do have the information. Unfortunately we don't have the marketing study with us here today.
694 Generally in terms of -- not citing specific numbers or statistics, the marketing study did inform us that our audiences in Toronto are generally younger than other markets. It's pretty much split, 50:50, between male and female.
695 In terms of other areas, we know that they spend more money on entertainment, they spend more of their disposable income on things like electronics, like movies, going to restaurants, on technology. So we do --
696 COMMISSIONER KATZ: I could have told you that without a study. I mean younger people all have electronics and are into gadgets and everything else as well. You don't need a study to do that, to find that out.
697 MR. RYLE: In terms of our sales people, we were told from advice from people in the industry that having concrete data and statistics in terms of the audience is helpful to achieve advertising goals.
698 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. Is this study just for Toronto or did it include all five markets?
699 MR. RYLE: This study is just for Toronto.
700 COMMISSIONER KATZ: So you have no plans to look at advertising in the other four markets?
701 MR. RYLE: We are. We certainly are looking at other four markets and we do plan to have marketing studies done in the other markets. Again, it is just a matter of funding.
702 MR. HILL: Commissioner, we are operating all of the license so efficiently at this point with our resources that one city, just getting advertising revenues from one city is going to elevate our budget to be able to disperse the findings across five radio stations.
703 We are operating extremely efficiently right now, Commissioner, and just one city would probably -- if we were to be successful in one city it's probably going to provide enough money to operate the five licenses and to improve the quality and not have to be rebroadcast things over and over, but be able to provide us for instance with a studio in these cities.
704 COMMISSIONER KATZ: I'm going to ask the Secretariat to hand each one of you a sheet of paper which reflects the data that you have filed both in the way of the financial summary for 2007 and 2009 which is confidential -- so it will not be distributed to anybody else in this audience or put on the public record -- as well as your financial projections for 2011 to 2015, which is on the public record. It also has your benefits on there.
705 So I would ask you to take a look at this page first and digest it. I will give you a couple of minutes to make sure you can remind yourself as to the source of data and where it came from.
706 If you have any questions in that regard we can answer them first before we get into it.
707 MR. RYLE: Excuse me, Commissioner Katz.
708 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Yes.
709 MR. RYLE: You mentioned there were projections included in this document that was handed out. We don't see any.
710 COMMISSIONER KATZ: The one that was handed out is ours. It is sent to you, right?
711 Has he not got a copy of this?
712 MR. PYE: They only have the statements.
713 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Can we hand this out to them, please? I thought we had copies of this.
714 THE CHAIRPERSON: Just give us a couple of minutes.
715 MS WOLFE: Commissioner Katz, while we are waiting for the statements just one note of clarification. On the 2009 amounts that are shown, that financial statement is actually unaudited and so the numbers were not -- and the financials are before the auditor at the moment so all of those numbers are not finally confirmed.
716 COMMISSIONER KATZ: This is the one dated April 2008 through March 2009?
717 MS WOLFE: Correct.
718 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. So it is unaudited still and it is 15 months old now.
719 MR. RYLE: That's correct.
720 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Let me ask you another question while we are waiting for the copies to come back.
721 I have a copy of the 2007 which was signed by KPMG.
722 Just give it to them, nobody else.
723 The 2008 one, year ending March 31, 2008, the auditor's report is dated July 15, 2009. There is an underscore here of "licensed public accountants". Is that your auditor? Is this an audited statement signed by the auditor? There is no signature on this at all.
724 MR. RYLE: Commissioner Katz, that document is in this package that we received?
725 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Yes.
726 MR. RYLE: Okay. Give me one moment to have a look, please.
727 COMMISSIONER KATZ: I'm looking at the one titled "Aboriginal Voices Radio Inc., Financial Statements Year Ended March 31, 2008". Page 2 of it is an auditor's report and at the bottom left-hand side it is "Toronto, Canada July 15, 2009" and on the right-hand side it says "Licensed Public Accountants".
728 This is an unsigned audit report. So what I want to know is, this an audit report signed by an auditor and, if so, why is there no signature on this?
729 MR. RYLE: Yes, it is signed off by an auditor and there must have been an oversight, Commissioner, in terms of the document that we submitted. We do have signed copies of our audits.
730 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Who is "licensed public accountants"? Are they a firm and where they located?
731 MR. RYLE: It is KPMG, Commissioner, and the KPMG LLP is the signature under which their title -- I'm assuming is chartered accountants, licensed public accountants.
732 COMMISSIONER KATZ: So the 2000 and -- this one here, March 31, 2008 year ended statements, are from KPMG as well?
733 MR. RYLE: No, that was from another -- from KPMG, yes.
734 Oh, that's right. No.
735 No, they are not, sir. The 2008 financial statements were prepared by another auditor.
736 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Who is that auditor?
737 MR. RYLE: The name is SF Partnership.
738 COMMISSIONER KATZ: SF Partnership.
739 MR. RYLE: That's correct.
740 COMMISSIONER KATZ: So why does it say here licensed public accountants?
741 MS WOLFE: What page are you looking at?
742 COMMISSIONER KATZ: I'm looking at the auditor's report.
743 MS WOLFE: Mr. Commissioner, if we can be provided the ability to respond to that? We clearly don't have the original documents in our hands -- for why it's not signed. But we can certainly bring back a formal response to that question.
744 COMMISSIONER KATZ: And provide us with the signed audited report as well?
745 MS WOLFE: Yes, Mr. Commissioner.
746 COMMISSIONER KATZ: By the same date as whenever the other reports are due?
747 Madam Chairman...?
748 THE CHAIRPERSON: June 14.
749 MS WOLFE: Yes.
750 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay.
751 MR. RYLE: We should also expect to have the 2009 statements completed by that date as well and if they are we will certainly submit those as well at the date.
752 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Great. Thank you.
753 So you have that one page in front of you?
754 MR. RYLE: Yes.
755 COMMISSIONER KATZ: What it reflects is the 2007 to 2009 financials from these financial statements, audited and unaudited on the right-hand side, which are confidential -- so we will talk to them in somewhat of a general sense unless you are prepared to be more specific. I will not be -- and the financial projections on the right-hand side, which are 2011 to 2015 which are public documents and public information. They all come from you. Okay?
756 So my first question is a somewhat obvious one. We have 2007-2009 on the left-hand side, 2011-15 on the right-hand side.
757 There is no projection for 2010. Do you have a budget for 2010?
758 MR. RYLE: Yes, we do. And I remember the projections that were requested for the 2011 and 2000 team component requested a five-year projection. Clearly, we sent in one starting from 2011.
759 We do have projections in terms of revenue for 2010, yes.
760 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. Could you file that with us as well?
761 MR. RYLE: Absolutely.
762 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. Let me ask you this question.
763 In 2010 -- do you have in front of you or can you recall from -- I don't want specific numbers, but can you recall from memory whether you started to execute your advertising plan and, if so, do you have revenues being generated for both local advertising and national advertising in 2010?
764 MR. RYLE: Yes, we do, sir. We are -- well, 2009 we had -- anticipating again -- they are unaudited statements from 2009 -- but we are anticipating approximately $62,000 in advertising, both from local and national markets. Again, 2009 was the unaudited year.
765 We would have projections again for 2010. 2010 is -- well, this year is the year that we are really launching our advertising push. So I hope at the very least to keep the same level of advertising we have received. It has been pretty consistent, largely because it's advertising largely generated from either the federal or provincial governments that we operate in and advertising that is targeted specifically, primarily to aboriginal people.
766 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. So could you provide that information to us as well as part of your budget?
767 MR. RYLE: Certainly will.
768 COMMISSIONER KATZ: When I look at the left-hand side, the actual summary for 2007 and 2009, and if I direct your attention to near the end of that section there is something called PBIT, profit before interest and taxes, and profit of -- there are two lines there, one is in dollars and one is a percent.
769 Can I direct you to those numbers in 2008 and 2009? You are looking at those numbers which have somewhat of a substantial component to them. Can you explain what those numbers represent?
770 MR. RYLE: This is the profit before interest and taxes.
771 COMMISSIONER KATZ: So you generated that amount of profit in 2008 and 2009 from your operations that you said were skinnied down because you needed financial assistance in order to run your operation.
772 MS WOLFE: Mr. Commissioner, this is exactly what I was speaking to you about earlier, that the revenues that AVR was using were not only being used to pay down the debt, but beyond that they were actually -- particularly in 2008 through 2009 being used towards getting those other stations or trying to getting those other stations launched.
773 So those excess funds were used towards those efforts which successfully in Montreal and Kitchener-Waterloo were launched, but we didn't have enough excess revenue to continue with those stations.
774 COMMISSIONER KATZ: I don't understand.
775 If you incurred some expenses to launch those stations they would be included under your total operating expenses in one of the lines above; programming, technical, sales and promotion or admin in general. They wouldn't have been profit. Profit means profit after all your expenses, including those for which you may not have generated income or the business.
776 MS WOLFE: Mr. Commissioner, no. The statement from my understanding when the auditors were looking at these, were addressing the operating stations. They weren't addressing all nine of the licenses.
777 So the additional funds that went toward the other two, if I understand correctly. And I can clarify that with the auditor too of that understanding, but they weren't factored into this number.
778 COMMISSIONER KATZ: When I look at your 2008, I guess, unaudited statements that we were referring to a minute ago, I believe the notes would say it includes all your costs including those costs for the closing of Kitchener and Montreal and the non-opening of Regina and Saskatoon.
779 It's in your notes, and I will direct you to them.
780 COMMISSIONER KATZ: On page 11 of that audited report there is something called "subsequent event" and in there it talks about a relocation of Type B native radio licensing in Montreal and Kitchener and also the amount of transmitter equipment that was incurred, the costs incurred. A subsequent note then says the company has not sold or disposed of any of the assets as of the reporting date.
781 So those are expenses that are incurred that show up, I would think, in your financials as a cost because you haven't sold them off and you haven't written them off. Presumably, they are still transmitters that are still operational, I guess, but not broadcasting.
782 MS WOLFE: This is the unsigned version of the report. Perhaps there is a difference because our financial statements do not show the same numbers that I have in my hand as what is being shown in this unsigned auditor's report. So I can't reconcile the differences without speaking to specifics.
783 I could hand up for your benefit, Mr. Katz, the version of the revenues that I'm looking at. But again, these are unsigned.
784 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Well, I guess we will have to wait for the signed ones, but you do understand what I'm looking at?
785 So when you respond on June 14 in your final submission, whether you want to file it in confidence or not, I would like the specifics as to how this money, this PBIT was deployed and used. And if there is a PBIT there when you come up with your audited statements, why it wasn't turned back into investment for the broadcasting purposes for which you were licensed.
786 MR. RYLE: Okay. We are confirming.
787 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay?
788 MR. RYLE: Yes.
789 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Now, when we look at 2011 to 2015, and you have some very aggressive growth in your local advertising and national advertising, can you tell me what assumptions were made in order to garner that level of ads? What is it you are going to be doing? How are you going to be doing it? What assumptions did you make?
790 What audience levels are you assuming that would generate as much as, in 2015, $342,000 of local ads and $1,025,000 in national ads?
791 MR. RYLE: Mr. Katz, I will speak to this and ask one of my colleagues to speak further in terms of the advertising projections that we have.
792 In conversations with other broadcasters and people in the industry, they have expressed to us the valuable nature of our frequencies that we have in the markets that we do have and have, by comparison made to other stations in these markets, their levels of advertising revenue, which led us to believe that we had an encouraging chance; possibilities to get to these levels that we have in these projections.
793 In terms of achieving those potentials, as I mentioned, we have hired or this year not necessarily hired, but are working with five salespeople who we will be using for example as a tool, our Toronto marketing study, to generate sales. Similarly, we are looking again at funding from agencies such as Aboriginal Business Canada, or the like, to fund the further studies that we have in our other markets.
794 COMMISSIONER KATZ: I think it was in this morning's opening comments on paragraph 67 you talked about your recent marketing study. Is that the one you are referring to?
795 MR. RYLE: That's correct.
796 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. And you are looking at a listenership in Toronto of 90,000. Is that correct?
797 MR. RYLE: That's what we were told our results indicated. That's correct.
798 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. And that was your audience and you have taken that, you have taken a look at advertising revenue in your major markets that are generated by other commercial broadcasters and came to the conclusion that 90,000 listeners would generate that level of advertising revenue from advertisers.
799 Is that how you generated that number?
800 MR. RYLE: Again, it was a long-term investment in terms of building both an audience and advertising dollars concurrently, again armed with data from things like our marketing study and working with people who do have experience selling ads for radio stations or, at the very least, selling advertising.
801 COMMISSIONER KATZ: My experience in selling advertising is predicated on a basic principle. If you have an audience and you know who your audience is and you can target that audience, you could get substantial advertising revenue, I have no doubt about it.
802 But I'm trying to understand and I haven't heard yet who your target audience is. You told me you have only done a study in Toronto and you haven't done one in the other four markets yet and you are looking at a forecast of revenues that is quite substantial that is based on commercial advertising revenue with large commercial audiences, much more than 90,000.
803 So I guess it begs the question, how are you going to generate $1 million of revenue on an audience of 90,000?
804 MR. RYLE: Thank you, Commissioner Katz.
805 And again our revenue of $1 million we are projecting for 2015.
806 For 2011 we are projecting revenues from advertising to the tune of $150,000.
807 As I mentioned, from the 2009 year we are anticipating revenues of about $62,000 from advertising. The one mentioned there again is an unaudited amount, the $58,000.
808 So we are hopeful and optimistic that using the tools that we have, the tool that we have, again in the Toronto market for our marketing study, would help to generate double the amount of advertising we have received in 2009.
809 Again, we have never had a concerted push to pursue advertising in the way that we are doing now. The advertising money that we have received to us has been -- the vast majority of it has been -- we call it advertising that would have come to us.
810 COMMISSIONER KATZ: But this was the point that I was getting at in my opening remarks. You have to convince us that you have the skills and the experience in order to get that advertising revenue.
811 Because from what I see in the bottom box at the bottom of that page that you were handed, which again is your data, the amount of benefits that have been attributable to AVR starts to go down quite dramatically. And if you don't have the capability and the skills to augment it, it questions the long-term longevity and viability of AVR.
812 MS WOLFE: Mr. Katz, I believe earlier in Mr. Ryle's statement he mentioned the fact that we are anticipating and moving toward conducting those same studies that has been done for Toronto in the other four markets.
813 Toronto was the first. It's not going to be the only study of what our market is and who we need to advertise to. So as a result it's a growing project.
814 The projection over the five years is by the end goal. So those studies will have been done and we will be focusing on those advertising.
815 Further, AVR is and has hired -- well, sorry, correction, hired -- is working with five new advertisers, five new individuals to focus on advertising sales that didn't exist in the past.
816 Beyond that, AVR has plans to advertise its own station to the market in an effort to grow the population in the market that it is currently servicing as well.
817 COMMISSIONER KATZ: But you are asking us to buy into a set of numbers here with no assumptions, no rationale; no market research that generates these numbers. They are numbers that you, in your wisdom, have come up with that seem to balance a business plan that results in breakeven and allows you to operate.
818 But behind the assumptions there has to be some credibility. It's up to, I think, the Commission to look at the credibility of those assumptions and of that business model to make sure that you can in fact and indeed continue this way, so we don't find out in a year or two years from now or three years from now, that you are in dire straits when the benefits dry up and now you have more obligations, more commitments that can't be met.
819 MR. RYLE: Right; point taken, Commissioner Katz.
820 Again, part of our projections were based on data from I believe the Communications Monitoring Report, the most recent one that came out last year that broke down the advertising revenue for all native Type B undertakings in Canada. The average for each undertaking was approximately $145,000 per undertaking.
821 Again, that gave us hope again or a reasonable expectation that we could at least achieve the same result, which would net approximately, I think, $700,000 per year total for AVR's five networks.
822 COMMISSIONER KATZ: But yet in 2015 you have $1.4 million. You have twice that number. You have $1.4 million, not $700,000.
823 MS WOLFE: That's on the basis -- the excess amount is also on the basis of the community being served, being an urban market. Therefore, the numbers are increased from the standard native Type B markets that are served.
824 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Why would that be?
825 MS WOLFE: That is based on assumptions made after receiving the marketing study.
826 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Can you file all your assumptions that went behind this as well, how you arrived at each one of these numbers?
827 MR. RYLE: Absolutely.
828 COMMISSIONER KATZ: And let me ask you this question just related to the sales and marketing component. You talk about hiring five people, all this research, all these dollars to be spent to drive this focused area and yet when I look at sales and promotion from 2011 to 2015 the number is flat at $100,000.
829 I will direct you to what it says on the left-hand side, the actuals, and simply say that it's lower than that and yet you are going to be generating multiples of advertising revenue, building an advertising strategy and component to your business that doesn't exist today with less money than you have spent in the last three years on sales and marketing.
830 That number seems to be an odd number. It is the same number right across the board, and it is a rounded number. So can you explain to me how you generated that $100,000 in sales and promotion?
831 MR. RYLE: At this point, Commissioner Katz, I would ask that we submit that information with the other assumptions on June 14. It does seem an incongruous number in regards to these other sales ones in terms of the previous years.
832 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. Let me direct you to the total operating expenses for 2011 to 2015, which again is public, and direct you to that line as well as the one above it, "admin in general".
833 When you look across the board, take 2011 as an example, your administration and general expenses are $854,322. Your total operating expenses are $1,573,315, which is roughly 55 percent of your total expenses and it is pretty well consistent across the board.
834 So what that tells me is you are spending more than 50 percent of your total expenses on administration in general which is much higher, if you looked at our monitoring report, of any other broadcaster not only in Canada but in North America to my knowledge. And I guess it begs the question, if you are a broadcaster and you are trying to serve an audience you should be investing your money in programming and technical in order to garner an audience which would then be used to generate sales and marketing opportunities.
835 I'm just trying to understand what all is in the administration and general expenses that rolls up to that size of a number.
836 MS WOLFE: Mr. Katz, can you point us to the information that you are referring to with respect to how much other commercial radio stations spend on their total programming?
837 COMMISSIONER KATZ: I don't have it with me here, but you have the CRTC Monitoring Report that you referred to. If you look in there you will find that data.
838 MS WOLFE: I do. I'm trying to find the page at the moment where based on the last time I looked at this report, it stated that the average commercial radio stations spend 30 percent or 31 point something percent of its total revenue on programming, leaving the remaining 70 percent of the revenue expenditures to be spent on other expenditures.
839 That's why I'm just trying to figure out or to reconcile what we are discussing.
840 COMMISSIONER KATZ: I'm looking at CRTC Radio Market Analysis Summary Report. I don't know if the staff can direct you more closely to it. It basically indicates that in Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver the sum total of all the broadcasters spend approximately 23 to 26 percent of their total expenses on administration in general and you are at 54.3 percent.
841 So I mean all I can tell you is that is what the report shows.
842 MR. HILL: Commissioner...?
843 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Yes.
844 MR. HILL: If I could make a comment, a great -- there is an administrative burden in meeting even the conditions of license and though the percentage may be higher, the actual amount that they spend, the actual dollar amount that they spend on administration is much higher than what our actual dollar amount is.
845 Now, we do have a higher percentage, so what you are saying is you should scale up according to their same percentages. So one of the things --
846 COMMISSIONER KATZ: No, what I'm saying is, a prudent business person running a radio station would invest his money based on the experience of all other radio stations, at least in Canada --
847 MR. HILL: Right
848 COMMISSIONER KATZ: -- proportionately into programming and technical in order to generate and sustain a viable business --
849 MR. HILL: Yes.
850 COMMISSIONER KATZ: -- as opposed to in advertising in general. All I'm trying to understand is why are you such an outlier in that regard?
851 MR. HILL: Because I'm saying there are minimum thresholds in certain areas that do not appear in the data that you are referring to. Though they have these percentages, they have minimum floors that they must overcome before they go higher into the percentages over there.
852 These are very successful operations and are working with millions of dollars and they have achieved that particular set of percentages. But when you get into a much lower funded organization the percentages are not necessarily the same.
853 COMMISSIONER KATZ: But you are --
854 MR. HILL: What I learned in a business when I was younger is that there are fixed costs that you first have to achieve before you get to some variable costs, and there are minimums in these fixed costs that you have to climb over the top of before you can start to move into an area of generating profits.
855 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Well, perhaps --
856 MR. HILL: So we are saying that there is a lot of administration.
857 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Perhaps when you file on June 14 you can tell us what all those fixed costs are.
858 MR. HILL: Okay.
859 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Also, I will suggest to you that if a lot of that is consulting fees that you can layout for us what the consultants are for, what they are doing and file with us any contracts you have for consulting.
860 MR. HILL: Yes, we can do that, Commissioner.
861 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Thank you.
862 Now, I'm going to ask a question that my colleague asked you with regard to prioritizing the five markets that you are going to prioritize.
863 I'm going to do it in a little different way. If in fact this Commission decides to issue a short-term license in order to see whether you can actually do something in the short term, I need to understand what it is you think you can do in a shorter timeframe that would prove to the Commission that you can grow and develop a viable business.
864 So when you come back to us on 14 June -- I'm not asking you to do it now -- could you think about if we issued you a one-year license, what do you think you could achieve in one year that could convince this Commission that you have the skills, the experience and the business acumen to make this a viable business?
865 MR. RYLE: Yes, we will.
866 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Let's move on.
867 How critical is third party funding to your future operations? You have here an awful lot of dollars, as we talked about, in national and local ads and obviously, as I mentioned earlier, your benefit line is dropping down.
868 How critical is third-party financing to you -- funding, not financing. Sorry.
869 MR. RYLE: And again to confirm, CCD funding would fall into third-party financing. So over the next few years it is critical because, as you can see from our projections, it does make up the bulk of at least all of our revenue streams until the end of 2013.
870 COMMISSIONER KATZ: If there was nothing more coming after 2000 and whatever it is, 15 or 13, you believe that you can continue to make a viable business out of these five licenses without a dollar of grant money or benefit money from other parties?
871 MR. HILL: Commissioner, that is what we would like the opportunity to prove because, yes, we do believe that. We do believe we will be successful in increasing the advertising revenues, now that we have moved away from the idea that there will be some type of significant you know grant financing of the organization over a period of time.
872 We believe that we will be able to get advertising revenues down the road, not immediately but down the road, in order to sustain the network. We will continue to supplement that for applications with other sources of funding in the way that other natives Type Bs do.
873 But yes, we do believe that when the CCD -- now, we may come and request -- I mean if someone comes and, you know, offers to give us CCD benefits of course we are going to say "Thank you very much and we hope that gets approved".
874 But we are aware of the fact -- I think Commissioners, where you were going with this, is there is a limit to the CCD benefits and AVR needs to have a plan on how to overcome that.
875 And we are submitting to you today that we believe that we can achieve this through advertising revenues. It hasn't been the focus over 10 years, but now that we are getting into this and going in this direction, we are seeing and believing that we will be able to do that and achieve that.
876 COMMISSIONER KATZ: It would have been nice if you came before us with some proof already that you have started that process and you understand the market and you understand what drives the market, which appears that you are just on the cusp of starting.
877 MS SWANSON: Excuse me, Commissioner, I think I can also speak to this.
878 As the Director of Strategic Development I have also been brought on specifically to raise third party funds and have already secured potentially $100,000 in funding from third party organizations since I have started three months ago.
879 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. As part of coming back with a short-term plan, could you also let us know because I think your financial statements, whether they are correct or not -- and you may amend them -- indicate there is contingencies and commitments that go beyond the next couple of years as well.
880 Can you let us know exactly what they are for and to whom they are for?
881 MR. RYLE: Yes, we will.
882 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay.
883 The benefit money that you have been receiving to date, are there any conditions attached to them, or do you just get the money based on the benefit package that was out there and you are free to use the money for whatever purpose you deem necessary as AVR?
884 MR. HILL: We understand, Commissioner, that the Commission has weighed in on this question previously.
885 I can't recall the exact spot where it was, but the Commission said that AVR, in light of their situation, would be able to use the expenditures to operate the radio licenses and it was left in a very general way that you would leave it up to AVR to determine how to do that so that you are able to survive.
886 We did bring this to the attention of the CRTC some years back that we would like a bit of consideration regarding being able to take our benefits' revenues and operate our network. So my recollection is that the CRTC is allowing us to do that.
887 MR. RYLE: Commissioner, there was one instance in terms of CCD money that we did receive from Newcap approximately $700,000, again I'm not sure on the exact figure, that was earmarked specifically to open up a news bureau in Ottawa, which we did.
888 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. If I refer you to the KPMG audited report for 2007 -- I think it is 2007 -- and refer you to page 6 under "Significant Accounting Policies", subsection 2(c) Revenue Recognition, it reads:
"The organization received certain funding that is restricted in its use..." (As read)
889 Then it goes on. Can you elaborate on what those restrictions are?
890 MR. RYLE: Again, I would undertake to say that again this funding at the time referred to that money from Newcap that I mentioned in terms of your marking it to open the Ottawa Bureau.
891 Additionally that is restricted in use. I wouldn't say it was CCD benefits --
892 MR. HILL: Commissioner, I'm not sure that the auditor was referring to CCD benefits. I think that he is referring to grants that are very specific in nature.
893 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Could you let us know what those are?
894 MR. RYLE: Yes. We received $250,000 from Sirius Satellite Radio to fund the recording of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the unabridged edition, which we did. It was a project to record over 100 hours of programming through that money.
895 COMMISSIONER KATZ: So it was used for that purpose and it has now been fully utilized?
896 MR. RYLE: That's correct, yes. We have since gone on to record both versions unabridged in English and French and these are available on our website for free of charge to download or to listen to.
897 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay.
898 Can I just refer you to that same annual report on page 7, section 4 "Bank Indebtedness"? There is a sentence right at the end of that page, the last sentence, talking about certain irrevocable guarantees.
899 MR. HILL: Commissioner, you are referring to the $750,000, correct?
900 COMMISSIONER KATZ: That's right.
901 MR. HILL: That was a guarantee. We had a bank overdraft with the Bank of Nova Scotia that was guaranteed early on, very early on in AVR's history. As a matter of fact, that was the start-up funding for AVR and it was guaranteed through the payment from a specific broadcaster over the seven-year period that they would cover the overdraft through the CCD benefits.
902 So that's how AVR was initially financed and that comprises part of the debt that we have been referring to. It has since been driven down to zero.
903 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. So it's no longer in force? There is nothing there anymore?
904 MR. HILL: No.
905 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. My last question is going back to -- I guess it is the unaudited report for 2008. I apologize for taking you back to it.
906 But in the "Subsequent Events", page 11, paragraph 11, there is a reference to those markets that were revoked, Kitchener, Montreal and the others. The last sentence there that I read earlier says:
"The company has not sold or disposed of any of the assets as of the reporting date." (As read)
907 I seem to recall, and I don't have my finger on it to be honest, a reference to conditions that you have that you can't sell any assets or dispose of any assets as well. I don't know if it's a bank requirement or whether it was somebody else.
908 Does this ring a bell to you?
909 MR. RYLE: I'm sorry, Commissioner, it does not.
910 COMMISSIONER KATZ: I will find it for you. Bear with me a second.
911 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Well, I will let some of the other commissioners ask questions and I will come back once I find it.
912 Thank you very much.
913 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner Molnar, you have some follow-up questions to the Vice Chairman's questions?
914 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Thank you. I do, and really follow-up to some of the stuff we were speaking of before our break
915 For example, we spoke about the quality of programming and the need to enhance the quality and looking forward and that we would be looking to enhance the quality -- or it was your goal to do so.
916 So looking now at the financial projections that you have for the next -- for the period 2011 to 2015, if I look at the costs associated with programming, I do not see the costs assigned to programming increasing.
917 Can you rationalize some of the responses you gave me earlier about seeking to improve the quality of local news, trying to provide live programming, open active recording studios outside of Toronto and Ontario? Where do the costs of those plans fit into the financials that you have presented us with, the forecasts?
918 MR. RYLE: What AVR had done in the past in regards to our financial statements, and again which on recommendation from our current auditor who is starting -- who has worked with us since March of this year -- was because of the structure and the number of employees that AVR had -- and I do hope this sheds some information or gives you some kind of an answer, is we wore a lot of hats.
919 So a lot of the cost for administration in general in the past might have been higher because -- or rather, the programming costs might have been lower due to some programming costs being embedded in administrative costs.
920 Looking at the projections for the years coming up, I would say definitely that that is an oversight. We are -- I mean we share the vision with the CRTC in terms of developing our resources and our time to developing the programming. We have said that it's not at the level that we would like to be.
921 We certainly do believe that we do have a quality of programming that we are going to continue to adhere to, to develop and to commit to.
922 Again I mentioned that regardless of -- well, not regardless rather, but in addition to the conditions of license that I mentioned in my presentation that we exceed, if you will allow me the chance to speak to that again further in terms of our commitment to quality programming --
923 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: No, perhaps -- I'm just talking about the discussion we had earlier this morning where there was discussion about moving this forward.
924 Some of the financial obligations, the indebtedness you held in the past had been addressed and so now we were going to see the quality of the programming within the AVR network improve. It was the discussion we held this morning and we had a discussion about many things, the fact that it needs approximately 40 to 50 people to run a network, a quality network of this size.
925 We spoke about live programming within all of the various markets, not just -- not just in Toronto, but in all of the markets. We spoke about opening recording studios in the various markets. It was what you had said you planned to do moving forward. You know, the first 10 years was difficult. It wasn't -- there was hope for the future.
926 So all I want to do, is I want to look at these financials and I want to see where the costs of improving on the programming and the quality of broadcasting is reflected in the forecast that you have in front of us.
927 MR. RYLE: Absolutely. And we will certainly reflect our vision more accurately in the projections that we will submit on the 14th. We are and have been consistently developing our programming and committing our resources to programming.
928 In terms of producing programming, new programming, we are doing that now. We have several shows in development and --
929 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Yes, that's fine.
930 When I look at the programming over the period of this forecast it is, as you know on the sheet, not a marked increase from the past and not a significant increase over the five years.
931 MS WOLFE: Again --
932 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Are we going to -- have you reflected in the financial forecast an investment in the on-air product that would be delivered over your network? If you have, through your undertaking identify where that is.
933 I would like it if you could, based on -- be very specific because we did speak of specifics when we were talking earlier. We spoke of opening recording studios outside of Toronto and Ottawa. We spoke about live -- you know, live programming, those sorts of things.
934 I would like to know based on the discussions we had earlier where the costs are related to those, those quality improvements within this financial forecast.
935 MR. RYLE: In terms of the forecast, we have mentioned that we do have a very small team right now. In order to really grow we do need a larger team.
936 In terms of this forecast, the cost for additional human resources that would be brought on to develop things like programming to look for things like third-party funding and to again help push our vision forward, is reflected in the admin and general cost. Perhaps that's not the right place to put them in regards to reflecting the true nature of the types of tasks that they were doing, but in light of how we operate where we do wear a lot of hats currently, we do, as we look for it and grow in terms of our staff, we will target people in specific areas.
937 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Okay.
938 MS WOLFE: Commissioner Molnar --
939 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Will you provide us with -- as an undertaking, please provide us with the details of that in sufficient detail that I can also see from that what you have forecast as it regards expanding your employee base outside of Toronto.
940 MS WOLFE: Commissioner Molnar, we will give that undertaking and break it down in sufficient detail to elaborate on exactly what expenditures will be made to our programming in the greatest detail possible.
941 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Okay. So that admin in general, which is not a fixed cost -- and I will say as an accountant myself, it's not a fixed cost and the fact that it increases significantly over that period isn't itself an indication that it's not fixed.
942 But that entire category, split out as to type of cost and where geographically that cost is and what of that is related to on-air programming, quality, what is -- right? We are going to get the full details.
943 Thank you.
944 MS WOLFE: Yes, Commissioner.
945 MR. RYLE: Yes.
946 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Thank you.
947 Just a couple of more questions. I'm sorry, I should -- you are Director of Strategic, Ms Swanson.
948 MS SWANSON: Yes.
949 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: You mentioned that you have since generated $100,000 through initiatives that you have -- just for clarity, is that advertising-related or is that other than advertising?
950 MS SWANSON: No, this is other.
951 So I was brought on primarily to raise government and other third party investments. We have confirmed -- as an aboriginal organization we do have opportunities to pursue various funding opportunities as a not-for-profit --
952 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: So it is non-advertising related.
953 MS SWANSON: Exactly. Yes.
954 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Is it an annual commitment for a specific period of time?
955 MS SWANSON: Yes, they are. So everything I am pursuing at the moment would be for a duration of one to two years and much of it is directed at programming, specific programming initiatives.
956 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: And it is not reflected in this forecast right now?
957 MS SWANSON: No.
958 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: I see other revenue grants as being less than $100,000 --
959 MS SWANSON: Yes.
960 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: -- so that revenue is not reflected in the forecast you have provided us with?
961 MS SWANSON: No. As I said, I started recently and I think now there is a better indication of the money that can be raised and it is much higher.
962 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Okay.
963 MS SWANSON: But it's important to note that this is an important or crucial element of our revenue strategy.
964 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Not according to what is in front of us, right?
965 I mean that's the problem. We have been provided with a forecast as to what you see your business being in going forward. And what you are telling us is very different than the financial forecast that's in front of us.
966 I don't see the programming -- you know, I have had some trouble trying to match what we discussed in improving the quality of programming to what I see in front of me. I have some trouble trying to match the revenues that are in front of us with the strategies I'm hearing you folks present to us right now.
967 So if it is a vital strategy that you secure non-advertising related revenues that is not obvious to us. We don't see that.
968 So tell us, how vital is it? What percentage? As you go forward what percentage do you see as being from these non-advertising-non-CCD commitments?
969 Do you have a strategy? Do you have a target? You have some personal objectives that have been set for you as to what you need to generate annually?
970 MS SWANSON: Yes, of course I have personal projections and also I come with a great deal of experience specifically in government fundraising.
971 But having just started -- like I said I just started in January -- it was difficult to project what those funds could or might be. So having just recently had some success, I think it will be easier to revise these projections moving forward.
972 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: But these are the projections you understand that you have provided us with upon which to assess the relevance, the appropriateness of renewing the licenses for these five stations.
973 MR. RYLE: Yes, Commissioner, your point is well taken and we hope that our specifications from the additional information we will submit on June 14th will help to clarify any of those concerns that you have.
974 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: And you have revised strategies and revised forecasts, is that correct?
975 MR. RYLE: We do, yes.
976 MR. HILL: Commissioner, if I could just comment? We have actually engaged in a lot more strategic rejections since we submitted these.
977 This is something that was submitted early on and we do appreciate the chance to provide additional information. We will be re-examining these figures and adjust them as what we are aware of now, which is more than what we were aware of when they were submitted, because we have been going over our strategy since these were submitted going into the future.
978 So we will attempt to improve them and we appreciate the opportunity to submit figures to you.
979 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: So can I ask at this time, is advertising -- does it continue to be one of the key strategies for you, moving forward?
980 MR. HILL: Yes, Commissioner. We think it is the key strategy in light of the history.
981 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Okay.
982 MR. HILL: We think that that is going to be how we are going to survive.
983 But I would like to add that we have been afforded a period of time through the CCD benefits to achieve this over a few years. So that's what we had projected.
984 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: I need to ask you something.
985 MR. HILL: We appreciate that we have been asked for one year to provide more evidence over a one-year period, if that's where this will end up. That we will endeavour to demonstrate to you that, you know, it is going to reflect over a period of what we are projecting.
986 We are confident, Commissioner, I have to say that.
987 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Right. I want to --
988 MR. HILL: And we have not really focussed on this approach yet.
989 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Okay. And that's my question.
990 If advertising is a viable option for your network -- and we spoke this morning about -- you know, you folks explained how your quality of programming, the quality of product that you were delivering to your audience was limited by the resources you had available. For 10 years now -- you have been in operation for 10 years. You have struggled. You yourself have spoke of the struggles you have had financially to put forward the product you would like to deliver to your audience.
991 So if advertising is a viable option, why has it not been pursued in the past in order to supplement the CCD money that you have had in order to deliver a product -- you know, deliver that product you would want to, to your audience to be able to provide live programming, to be able to enhance the news programming, to have active recording Studios outside of Toronto and Ottawa, have somebody in Edmonton?
992 Why have you not done that in the past and what sort of assurance would we have, then, to say that that is a viable strategy moving forward if it has never been for the past 10 years in the past?
993 MR. HILL: Commissioner, again, we did start out with the idea and we were trying to -- from the beginning AVR started out the idea was; what is the potential for funding AVR?
994 As we looked around we thought that -- and this is reflected in native Type Bs as well -- the approach is the appropriate approach based upon other native Type Bs and other broadcasters such as APTN that we thought the successful approach was to go after grant types of funding. So that was pursued for several years and there was -- actually, we were told by a previous federal government that we were going to try to put something together.
995 So in undertaking the broadcast operation and trying to get the licenses, which we understood would be gone if we did not attempt to get these licenses -- so there was a massive undertaking of trying to procure the licenses in addition to operate the licenses and get them started as well as try to find a grant type of resolution to this.
996 So we pursued the federal funding for a number of years thinking that that was going to materialize. And then when it didn't materialize we looked at other ideas, realizing the significant amount of capital that would be required to operate this of the quality that we aspire to.
997 We went into AM/FM exchanges. We actually worked on that for a couple of years. With the limited amount of people we had devoted a lot of resources, as well as financial resources, to try to achieve that. Now, that didn't work out either.
998 So this actually played out over a number of years when we thought that this was the way to go, and we thought because we don't have the money yet to put into an advertising initiative. Frankly, we were advised by some people that we wouldn't be able to pull it off. So they said, "You should focus on the funding initiative with grants. That's your best bet". So that's what happened.
999 So now that we realize that the thing that we have left is advertising, that is where we are now going.
1000 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: I have just one more question and I'm complete.
1001 But what I find a bit confusing is you have recently -- you run a network with six people and it sounds to me effectively you run a network with five people and you have recently hired a sixth, being your Director of Strategic Development who is focused on grants. After saying for 10 years that strategy didn't work, your latest hire is focused on grants versus focused on the revenue opportunity that you show us is going to put you into the future.
1002 Have I misunderstood this?
1003 MR. HILL: Well, let me characterize it a little clearer. She was hired to focus on grants, but everybody in the organization understands that at this level we have to do other tasks. So she has also helped us with this preparation and with trying to work through what our strategy will be going forward.
1004 All of us are involved in that. In addition to running the daily operation we are also involved in strategic planning beyond just grants. So I wouldn't like to characterize what she does as just grants.
1005 Now, we have said that is the primary thing that she focuses on, but in an organization this small weekly and daily priorities are moving around based upon what we were facing as far as threats or opportunities, so we do reposition her to help us with other things. But we do have other people focused on advertising.
1006 Now, you asked for staff levels. We do have other people involved, you know, in trying to move AVR forward. We have commission-based advertisers. We have hired two companies to help us look for advertising, just in the advertising area.
1007 As a matter of fact, we have hired another consultant that I can think of to advise us on advertising, so that is not reflected when you ask us for staff levels. We are thinking employees and these other people are not employees, but there are other people on the outskirts that are certainly moving in to help AVR.
1008 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Thank you.
1009 Those are my questions.
1010 COMMISSIONER KATZ: So I found it and it was only a page away.
1011 THE CHAIRPERSON: I think you need to remind them what you were looking for.
1012 COMMISSIONER KATZ: I will direct you back to the unaudited 2008 statement on page 10 and 11.
1013 On page 11 we were looking at the reference to the fact that:
"The company has not sold or disposed of any assets as of the reporting date, notwithstanding the fact that the licenses for Montreal and Kitchener were revoked." (As read)
1014 Then on page 7 under "Bank Indebtedness", the second last paragraph talks to the conditions for your compliance with your line of credit, I guess, and it says:
"The company and its subsidiaries are not to sell or dispose of assets, permit any change of ownership or change in capital structure, cease to carryon business currently being carried on or make any other capital expenditures beyond a certain level." (As read)
1015 I'm trying to understand to what extent those conditions are still applicable today because I believe I heard you say a minute ago they are no longer applicable.
1016 MS WOLFE: Out of the November CHUM payment, i.e. November of this year, that amount will be paid off.
1017 It is typical among any bank loan to put in a condition that prevents you from disposing of assets because it affects their financial security. So under the circumstances that will -- once that loan is paid off -- be alleviated in terms of that restriction.
1018 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. So by November that will be gone?
1019 MR. RYLE: That's correct.
1020 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. At which point in time you can then sell off the assets that you refer to in Kitchener and Montreal related to the subsequent events, Clause 11?
1021 MR. RYLE: That is my understanding, yes.
1022 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. Thank you.
1023 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner Poirier...?
1024 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Yes. Maybe I would like to clarify one thing because the more we are asking questions the more information we are getting and it is on advertisements.
1025 At the beginning I heard there was one person hired to sell advertisements. Then I heard there were five people. I don't know if they were hired or volunteers. Finally, I learned that there has been a company or two companies engaged to sell advertisements.
1026 I would like to know a little bit more on this. Clarify the situation, will the salespersons be located in the markets or will they be located in Toronto?
1027 MR. HILL: We had hired a company in Alberta and we have hired a person in Ontario to try to address Ontario. This happened over a year ago. It was commission-based, which informs the response because they are not being paid anything unless they produce the advertising.
1028 We understand there are various ways to do this and many companies I know pay base salaries and then they top it up with a commission as an incentive for performance. But the way we have approached it is to get companies and individuals who are interested in operating on just a commission basis so you won't see, you know, monies allocated to that.
1029 Many people have -- as far as the five -- have agreed that they are interested in doing that. So it's commission-based. So there is no money allocation to them unless they produce the ad.
1030 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: And we won't see it in your financial summary?
1031 MR. HILL: That would only appear after they produce an ad and there is a commission paid out.
1032 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Okay. And I think I heard that in 2010 we will see an increase in your ad revenues. That's what you mentioned.
1033 MR. HILL: Yes, Commissioner, we do believe that. As a matter of fact, we are getting positive indications now from the commission-based people.
1034 We have been told by a person who had worked many years pursuing advertising radio sales that there is a cycle when you initiate this that could take up to three months before you will achieve revenues. We have already started that so we are anticipating some revenues within a matter of a couple to a few months that will indicate this.
1035 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Okay. So you haven't signed contracts with companies? You haven't sold anything?
1036 MR. HILL: Yes, very small companies we had an agreement.
1037 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Okay. Could you, on a confidential basis, provide us with those contracts?
1038 MR. HILL: Yes, we can, Commissioner.
1039 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Thank you very much.
1040 Well, the other question is very simple. It maybe wraps up many of the elements you told us.
1041 You have five licenses in five major markets. You compete with major commercial radios everywhere. You aim to increase your ad revenues and listener base is not proved yet. There is only one report done in Toronto. And you want to increase your revenues by 10 times with this plan.
1042 You have to convince me and you have to convince us the plan you have is going to work, because I agree with everybody, the numbers you provided us with are not sufficient and the plan is not clear. Is there a real plan and how is it going to work?
1043 Can you react to this, because you have competitors in all those major markets --
1044 MR. HILL: Yes.
1045 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: -- and you don't have the base of listeners. And you seem to have a very poor, I would say, strategy to improve your advertisement and it plays a key role in your financial summary.
1046 MR. HILL: Yes, Commissioner.
1047 We appreciate the opportunity to provide more information regarding our plan and we would provide it according to the date that you have indicated.
1048 So there is more and it's unfortunate that we haven't provided more information, but we will and we are able to do that, keeping in mind that this is -- this type of initiative is new to us, but we are trying, being diligent to get people who are expert in this area to help us put this together.
1049 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Okay. And I would ask also Ms Swanson to provide us, on confidential basis, the agreements you have already made for some grants, I don't know with whom. Because you tried for many years to get some and finally you got some and we are very happy you did, but we would love to see that.
1050 MS SWANSON: Yes. I would just like to add as well to what Jamie was saying earlier, even though grants are part of the strategy, a necessary part of the strategy, why would an organization turn its back on money that is accessible and available to them? They are not the key part of the revenue strategy and they are more modest sums than what had been projected from the outset of AVR's original license.
1051 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Yes. But in your report today at paragraph 10 you mentioned roughly 80 percent and you are talking about the native Type B station. Roughly 80 percent of their revenues come from non-advertising sources such as Band Council grants, gaming revenues and government funding.
1052 So then I would ask, why can't you do the same thing?
1053 MS SWANSON: We do not have access to Band Council money or to gaming revenues. It's only government revenues that we would be seeking.
1054 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Okay. But why haven't you been able up to now to provide --
1055 MS WOLFE: I will answer that.
1056 From a legal perspective in terms of access to Band Council grants as an urban original station we are not affiliated to a particular Band Council and so we don't have access to those funds. Similarly, gaming revenues from Casino Rama, things like that.
1057 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: And bingos and things like that?
1058 MS WOLFE: The Casino Rama, particularly when we are referring to gaming, those are devoted to specific bands. Again, as an urban aboriginal radio network we have no access to those funds.
1059 So in terms of volunteer bingos, that, at a time when AVR looked at it and the strategy at the very beginning of this license in 2000, the Commission recognizes in its decision that AVR had indicated that it would not be seeking bingo funds. That decision might be revisited, I'm sure, but ultimately that was originally the position taken by AVR in 2000, that it wouldn't be pursuing bingo funds.
1060 It will be up to the panel before you as to whether or not perhaps that might be something to consider in the future as well as the advertising revenue, but right now the advertising revenue is the focus.
1061 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Yes.
1062 MS SWANSON: When I first started at AVR one of the first things I did was research all of the opportunities that were available to us and bingo funding was one thing -- one of the first things I looked into and determined that it was not a viable solution, even though it is something that works very well for other aboriginal radio stations, particularly those based in smaller communities or on reserve where you have isolated communities.
1063 We determined quite quickly that this was not a viable revenue solution for AVR.
1064 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: And, Madam Chair, my last question.
1065 What about fundraising from the listeners? Community radio does that. Why don't you do it?
1066 R. HILL: Because we are in urban markets and Band Councils have limited funds as well. They are more specific to Indian reserves and they are trying to fund their radio stations.
1067 We are aware of native Type Bs who are trying to access Band Council funding and are achieving difficulty in their communities and on the Indian reserves.
1068 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Yes, but I'm asking from your listeners, okay. You could do some kind of activities using the airwaves to provide you with donations and so on.
1069 MR. HILL: Yes. Yes, Commissioner, we have tried that in the past.
1070 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: And it is not successful?
1071 MR. HILL: It was not successful to the level of, you know, the types of money that we need. We did get some money, but, you know, it's nowhere near close to what we need.
1072 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Is it because you don't have enough listeners?
1073 MR. HILL: It was thousands, not tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands.
1074 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Yes.
1075 MR. HILL: At that point, as we have indicated, the BBM told us that we had zero listeners. So we managed to improve it by trying to improve our programming. We have gone from zero to 90,000 listeners, which informs some of our advertising plans.
1076 If I could make a comment on the funding that you asked earlier regarding funding, we did get a provincial grant that I think was in excess of $200,000 some years back, but there was a sunset on the grant.
1077 And we also tried to get federal funding. We were told for various reasons that wasn't in the cards for us. So we did over a multiyear period attempt to get federal funding.
1078 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Thank you very much. I am done, Madam Chair.
1079 THE CHAIRPERSON: Vice Chairman Katz...?
1080 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Just one more question. I may have failed to hear it when Commissioner Molnar was asking you.
1081 There are six full-time employees at AVR. How many of you are of those six, two, four?
1082 MR. HILL: Three, sorry, three.
1083 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Three?
1084 MR. HILL: Three of us are here.
1085 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. So you are all full-time employees paid on salary?
1086 MR. HILL: We are full-time but we are contracted. Some are employees and some are contracts, but essentially it's the same thing. We are full-time working on AVR and compensated to do that.
1087 COMMISSIONER KATZ: So when you are contracted, you got a contract with the Board of Directors of AVR --
1088 MR. HILL: Yes.
1089 COMMISSIONER KATZ: -- for your employment?
1090 MR. HILL: Yes.
1091 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Are there goals and responsibilities assigned to that contract?
1092 MR. HILL: Yes, of course, Commissioner. Yes.
1093 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Can you file that in confidence with us as well, please?
1094 MR. HILL: Yes. Yes, we can.
1095 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Thank you.
1096 THE CHAIRPERSON: Before I pass you onto legal, we have given you over the course of the morning a very long list of undertakings and, Mr. Hill, I heard you say how much you appreciate the opportunity to re-file your financial projections.
1097 I also hope you understand that the reason we have asked you for this long list of undertakings is because of deficiencies in your renewal application and we are giving you an opportunity that is not often afforded to essentially re-file your renewal application. So I certainly do want to put that on the record.
1098 I understand that, you know, you have a lot of work to do between now and June 14th, but it is because there was stuff missing.
1099 MR. HILL: Okay. Thank you, Commissioner.
1100 THE CHAIRPERSON: And Commissioner Molnar nailed it when she said be specific.
1101 MR. HILL: Okay.
1102 THE CHAIRPERSON: Because your renewal application lacks specificity, something that we -- something concrete and something that we can say, here is proof that this is a viable business going forward, the way we evaluate all applications before us, both new applications and renewal applications.
1103 MR. HILL: Okay. Thank you, Commissioner. We are very grateful for that.
1104 THE CHAIRPERSON: Legal counsel...?
1105 MS FISHER: Thank you, Madam Chair.
1106 I just have a couple of questions to follow up on some things that the commissioners raised with you and then I will try to go through the laundry list of undertakings in the hope of recapping all of them.
1107 My first question relates to something that Commissioner Molnar raised about the day-to-day functions of the staff employed by AVR. You have said there are six employees -- they may be employees or on contract.
1108 But we would like to clarify on the record, what are the day-to-day functions of AVR staff, of those six people?
1109 MR. HILL: Are you asking us to respond now or in our submission that we are supposed to?
1110 MS FISHER: If you have a response now you can put it on the record or if you would like to undertake to file that that would be good, too.
1111 MR. HILL: If we could undertake to file that, we would appreciate it.
1112 MS FISHER: Okay.
1113 MR. HILL: We just want to make sure, in light of the fact that we want to get this right that we have the opportunity to sit down and write it out so that it properly reflects what you are asking.
1114 MS FISHER: Certainly.
1115 The second question is essentially who is in charge of programming? You had identified in your discussion with Commissioner Molnar that there were three people who were kind of involved in programming at various levels.
1116 But I guess what we are wondering is which of those staff members that you have identified are essentially accountable for the quality of the program, accountable for any complaints that may be made against the station, and accountable to the Commission on questions of programming?
1117 MR. HILL: I would say that is predominantly out of the three shared with the Chief Operating Officer and the General Manager.
1118 MS FISHER: Thank you.
1119 And then following up on some comments that were made about not being affiliated with a Band Council, we are just wondering, where are your offices is located? Are you on the Six Nations Reserve or are you in Toronto?
1120 MR. HILL: We have recently been able to get an office in Toronto. We were in the past couple of years on Six Nations.
1121 In our contract just -- we have actually reduced our rent because previously we were paying a lot of rent. So in an effort to take down the debt and be fiscally responsible we went to one office that was just -- I guess it was maybe five times cheaper on Six Nations. And then we were doing a lot of work out of our home.
1122 But because, for instance, Jason lives in Toronto so for a couple of years we were working out of our home in addition to the office. But we have been able to have an office in Toronto recently.
1123 MS FISHER: So you no longer have the office on the Six Nations Reserve?
1124 MR. HILL: Yes, we still do. That's our headquarters.
1125 MS FISHER: Okay. Are you able -- because your office is located there, is there any way to obtain grants from the Six Nations?
1126 MR. HILL: No, that's not possible because really the revenues at an Indian reserve with Band Council, they really focus it on that community located geographically there on the Indian reserve. That is predominantly what they are doing with their money.
1127 We are aware of that, just because all of us come from Indian reserve communities, most of us, and we are aware that's not really an option for us to do. We wouldn't be successful with that.
1128 MS WOLFE: If I can also address that, under the circumstances when it comes to Band Council structures and where the funding comes from Band Council structures, AVR is a broadcast network that broadcasts in Toronto. AVR station doesn't even reach the Six Nations. It's not an initiative that was launched by Six Nations per se in the sense that although it is resident on reserve that doesn't necessarily mean that it is a Band Council initiative.
1129 And when you are looking at Band Council initiatives for funding purposes, those are the subjects often when Band Council funds are devoted to those initiatives. Those are the subjects of directed funds that is similar to a municipality where you go through hearings at a municipal council meeting that resolutions are passed; things like that.
1130 So it's funding whenever a Band Council initiates funding for any particular initiative. Generally speaking, it was initiated by the Band Councils.
1131 So AVR is resident. It has an office on reserve, but that doesn't necessarily mean in the true sense of the word that it is quote/unquote "affiliated" with the Six Nations Reserve in that respect for Band Council funding.
1132 MS FISHER: Okay. Thank you for that explanation.
1133 Okay. So now I'm going to try and take you through the undertakings. Obviously the specific details can be found in the transcript when it is available on the web.
1134 I think the undertaking for all of them was to file by June 14th. So if there is anything different, please confirm that.
1135 So the first one from Commissioner Cugini, was an undertaking to provide the priority of markets if some of the licenses were not renewed.
1136 Do you undertake to do that?
1137 MR. RYLE: Yes. Yes, we do.
1138 MS FISHER: The second was the marketing study that you have referred to.
1139 MR. RYLE: Yes.
1140 MS FISHER: If you have that available already, if you can file it with us before the 14th that would be great, too.
1141 Then Commissioner Katz provided us with a bunch as well, to provide the signed auditor's report. He had requested a number of explanations of certain things in that as well. I think that was the 2008 auditors report.
1142 MR. RYLE: That's correct. And we volunteered that.
1143 If also ready by that date, we will also submit the 2009 audited financial statements.
1144 MS FISHER: Great.
1145 The financial projections for 2010.
1146 MR. RYLE: That's correct.
1147 MS FISHER: Assumptions at arriving at the projections in your financial projections.
1148 MR. RYLE: Yes.
1149 MS FISHER: The fixed costs, including details on consulting fees and those types of things.
1150 MR. RYLE: Yes.
1151 MS FISHER: Commissioner Katz had also asked you a question, if we were issued a short-term license, and he gave the example of one year, what do you think you could do to prove the viability of the operation?
1152 MR. RYLE: I would like clarification on this particular point.
1153 Would the Commission like a one-year time frame or a two-year timeframe and, if multiple time frames, if we could specify exactly how many years?
1154 MS FISHER: Commissioner Katz, what would you like?
1155 COMMISSIONER KATZ: I was looking for one year to see what it is you can actually achieve and accomplish in that one year term.
1156 MR. RYLE: Okay. Yes, we will confirm it now.
1157 MS WOLFE: Mr. Katz, I do actually have another clarification.
1158 For that one year projection, is it a projection or is it going to be used similar to a promise of performance?
1159 COMMISSIONER KATZ: I want to understand if you had a one-year licence what you would do during that one year to provide the CRTC, this Commission, with evidence that you do have a going concern.
1160 MR. RYLE: Thank you.
1161 MS FISHER: The next undertaking was with respect to the financial statements and the issue of contingencies and commitments, and to clarify what they were for and whom they were for.
1162 MR. RYLE: Yes.
1163 MS FISHER: The details of funding that is restricted in its use that was in the 2007 financials, just I guess if you had anything further to add. I know that you did respond to that a little bit on the record, but if you have anything to add to that.
1164 MR. RYLE: Okay. Insofar as you want us to respond to this particular point, should we reiterate what was stated here, if there is nothing more to add?
1165 MS FISHER: If there is nothing more to add, then don't worry about it. I think that you did respond to the question on the record, but if you had something to add after-the-fact, then you could undertake to provide that.
1166 MR. RYLE: Okay.
1167 COMMISSIONER KATZ: I just caution you that we will be taking that information into deliberation to make our final decision, so be as complete and as inclusive as you possibly can be.
1168 MR. RYLE: Thank you, Commissioner. That's understood.
1169 MS FISHER: Commissioner Katz had also asked for copies of the contracts with the employees.
1170 MR. RYLE: Yes.
1171 MS FISHER: So those who are on contract.
1172 Commissioner Molnar asked for where you have details of programming improvements and where they are reflected in the financial projections, so particularly where the administrative costs were and how you would break those out to reflect the programming improvements that you were talking about.
1173 M. RYLE: Yes. We will, I understand, include this in the more detailed financial projections that we will be submitting.
1174 MS FISHER: Okay.
1175 She also asked for the revised forecast and strategies to reflect the changes that have been discussed since the submissions. So that is probably part of the same thing.
1176 MR. RYLE: Yes.
1177 MS FISHER: And Commissioner Poirier had asked you for the contracts for advertising.
1178 MR. RYLE: Yes.
1179 MS FISHER: To clarify your plans or strategies going forward.
1180 MR. RYLE: And clarification in point to advertising?
1181 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Yes.
1182 MR. RYLE: That's correct, yes.
1183 MS FISHER: And Ms Swanson had agreed or undertaken to file the agreements that were already made for the grants.
1184 MR. RYLE: Yes, that's correct.
1185 MS FISHER: Okay. And all of this will be filed by June 14th.
1186 Thank you, Madam Chair.
1187 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Sorry. There was also the 2010 budget numbers as well, that I don't think I --
1188 MR. RYLE: Yes, we have that.
1189 COMMISSIONER KATZ: I apologize.
1190 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, that does conclude our questioning of your renewal application and show cause.
1191 I do appreciate that it has been a long and perhaps at times difficult morning for you, but I would be remiss to say, if I didn't say, I hope you understand that it is not an easy job and it is not something we enjoy, bringing you or any other broadcaster to a show cause hearing. So if you didn't have any fun this morning, we didn't have that much either.
1192 We will now break for lunch before moving on to Phase II. We will be back at 1:45, so an hour and 15 minutes. Thank you.
--- Upon recessing at 1230
--- Upon resuming at 1350
1193 THE SECRETARY: Thank you. We will now proceed to Phase II in which the intervenors appear in the order set out in the agenda to present their intervention.
1194 For the record, the intervenor Cheri Maracle listed in the Agenda has informed us that she will not be appearing at the hearing today. I would now call Sandra Scofield, Alida Kinnie Starr, the Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres and Perry Bellegarde to appear as a panel and present their interventions. We will start with Sandra Scofield.
1195 Ms Scofield, you have 10 minutes for your presentation.
1196 MS SCOFIELD: Just for the record, it's Scofield.
1197 It's a tremendous honour to be here, I have to tell you that. This is a really important thing to have been asked to come and speak to.
1198 I don't personally know any of the people on the Aboriginal Voices Radio so it has been very informing.
1199 I will introduce myself by saying that I am a music artist and I am expecting that none of you have heard of me. Is that correct?
1200 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Maybe at the Olympic Ceremony, some of your music.
1201 MS SCOFIELD: Can you leave the room? No, I'm kidding.
1202 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: I just want you to know that at least one Commissioner knew that.
1203 MS SCOFIELD: You blew my point.
1204 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Yes, too bad for you.
1205 MS SCOFIELD: All right. Well, yes. I was going to say that was my point. Yes.
1206 Speaking of the Olympics, wasn't that fantastic? So I got to write that song that introduced our first people and what was historically groundbreaking about it was that the Olympic Committee -- what does this all have to do with AVR? Well, I'm getting there.
1207 The Olympic Committee partnered with the four host nations and that was historically groundbreaking. Every aspect of those Games had to be approved by the four host nations. And myself, I was tempted to sell my $1,100 tickets. Who the hell paid $1,100? Well, a lot of idiots obviously. But I had to witness it and it was absolutely astounding that the world was introduced to Canada first by its first people.
1208 And you know, it just reminds me of a little story. I had all this stuff prepared, but now, after sitting here this morning, I just want to talk to you like I know you all.
1209 So this woman used to sing with me and she is Cree. She went over to Italy on her honeymoon and this guy comes up to her -- it sounds like I'm telling you a joke. This guy comes up to her and he asked her, "Where are you from? Are you from the Philippines?" And she said, "No, I'm Cree. This is the truth". He said, "No, you can't be. They were all -- they are extinct".
1210 So the importance of the Olympics and the fact that the world was introduced first by our first people coming out, you know, I think it's safe for me to speak on behalf of the other aboriginal people in this territory, Mississauga territory in this room, in this country, that it was -- it was a moment of sincere reconciliation.
1211 On that note, given that our federal apology only happened in 19 -- I'm sorry, 2008 -- again, I have never met these people on the AVR. But what I'm trying to stress to you is that we have -- inherently our value system is very different than dominant society. I don't even say Caucasian people. I live in Vancouver. It's like 40 percent Asian people.
1212 So there are some of us like myself, I am a Masters candidate in music for Carleton this fall and Mr. Cardinal over here is working on his PhD. We are the ones -- you know, other people like Kinnie, Chief Bellegarde at the end, all of us here today, you know the lawyer, Jason, we are all here trying to work in this mould that is entrenched in colonization that we have zero reference for.
1213 As a matter of fact, just for conversation, because that's what my presentation is. It is conversation -- many English words don't translate in our language because they are entrenched in colonization. A very small example would be "I'm sorry". That's not part of our culture. It's a different cultural thing. "Goodbye." We don't say goodbye because we believe in the continuum of life.
1214 So what I'm trying to get at, living in Vancouver where there are over two million people, there is a huge audience there. You know, we were commenting at lunch about, you know, the necessity for there to be satellite offices where these other -- where the other licenses are operating because -- so they can have more factual information to present to you, right.
1215 I know firsthand in my career, the non-aboriginal people -- I have a good friend who is a producer at CBC, Richard Champagne, who listens to AVR all the time and the guy works for CBC, you know.
1216 So I suppose my point in all this was just to say that I am going to only speak for me. I personally feel the quality of broadcasting is acceptable because there are two templates going on. There is this cultural one here and then there is the template that you guys are operating from when you are awarding these very important licenses, right?
1217 So I'm not trying to make excuses for AVR in its shortcomings this morning, whether it had the correct information to present to you or not. I'm just trying to stress the importance of a cultural difference.
1218 Now, I look good for my age. If I told you how old I was, I'm really near death. No. I'm old. I'm considered a veteran musician in the aboriginal community. So when I first started performing there was no native scene. My point is, within the last 10-12 years we have this dynamic. It has exploded; the talent.
1219 I'm going to use a term that I suspect you have never heard, and correct me if I'm wrong, "Indian Country". Amongst us people we talk about "Indian Country" which is all the country. However it is marginalized. It's not visible to you.
1220 And so we have another little thing we call "Moccasin Telegraph" and it's our networking system. So I do -- I want to challenge the concept of better broadcasting or better quality, because when something happens in one of our communities it is known quickly because that is what matters to our aboriginal people, is this reclamation that is really technically on the books since 2008. The people have been here from time immemorial, right.
1221 So again, I'm not trying to apologize for the presentation this morning. But I am trying to stress that, you know, our aboriginal learners, the success rate -- for example, I did put a few years in with Indian Affairs and even though I am not an artist and I am not employed by AVR, I will gladly cite a reference for this and give this to you. The success rate of aboriginal learners is critically lower than that of non-aboriginal people and, you know, they say it takes seven generations to change.
1222 The last residential school only closed less than 10 years ago, so -- no, no, no, I'm sorry. It was in the nineties.
1223 So it takes time and we are willing and we -- I daresay I want to challenge -- again I'm going to reiterate -- the quality of broadcasting in dominant society, "Come on, dynamic; come on". Everything is like right now. Consumer, let's satisfy everything right now.
1224 So we have to have all these dynamic things going on, live broadcasts, blah, blah, blah. But for our people what these people are doing right now is -- you know what? It may not be according to your standards and the work that you have to do in administering. You said it is valuable airtime licensing, but for our people it's hitting the market.
1225 It's, you know -- I'm going to repeat, there has only been a native music industry for the last 10-12 years and --
1226 THE SECRETARY: Ms Scofield --
1227 MS SCOFIELD: Yes...?
1228 THE SECRETARY: -- I just wanted to let you know you have one minute remaining in your presentation. Thank you.
1229 MS SCOFIELD: Okay. There was just one more quick little thing I wanted to say. And what was that?
1230 Oh, just the change in the music industry. You know, you are talking about the podcasts. We can't afford -- a lot of people can't afford the internet.
1231 The change in the music industry, people don't buy albums anymore. They download tunes. And that's what they are doing with us as well. So I don't think podcast is a viable thing and probably one of the key things would be having satellite offices.
1232 But I beg to differ about the quality of broadcasting. I think it is successful as is. It may not be according to your standards, but you guys are operating at a much higher competitive level and we are accessing non-aboriginal people. I know that from living in Vancouver with over two million people.
1233 Can I tell you a joke? No, I'm kidding.
1234 THE SECRETARY: Thank you.
1235 We will now proceed with Alida Kinnie Starr. Ms Starr, you have 10 minutes for your presentation.
1236 MS STARR: Thank you.
1237 My name is Alida Kinnie Starr. I have been making music professionally for 12 years, 13 years. I have sold -- I have made five records.
1238 I just released my last record through Last Gang Records, which puts out Metric "Death Cab for Cutie", "Death From Above"; some commercial artists that are doing quite well. I am proud to be in their company.
1239 I would like to emphasize just at the beginning that Aboriginal Voices Radio, one of its main -- one of the main things that it provides to Canadians, both native and non-native, is access to popular culture side-by-side with native culture. That is something that can't be undervalued. To the best of my knowledge, though, I know other stations in this country that are providing that service and I think that needs to be valued.
1240 We are out of time of cultural change right now in our country, we can all see that. Native and non-native, we can all see that. And I think that Aboriginal Voices Radio represents that cultural change.
1241 I am fully aware of the deficits in the paperwork that was presented to your body this morning. I can't speak to that because I am not educated in that manner, but I would like to say that I don't -- I don't -- if Aboriginal Voices Radio, AVR, were to have their licenses removed, I would like to ask each one of you if you have a solution at hand on how to make sure that Canadians, both native and non-native, received side-by-side popular music, native music and current native events through radio.
1242 So I would say if you have a solution at hand easily accessible, I would like to know what the solution is. If AVR were not to receive their licensing -- you don't have to -- I'm not asking you to give that to me right now, but you are in a position of power where you can, you know, facilitate and make sure that those voices are heard. And I think that as responsible Canadian citizens you need to know -- you need to have a solution. If those licenses are removed there has to be a solution to make sure that people still receive those voices.
1243 I would also like to stress the importance of oral history. I believe that song writing has a place as the continuation of oral history and I think that AVR does a very good job of continuing our history. And popular music, as we can see with the way our culture is exploding as a consumer culture, popular music it's what young people look to.
1244 So if -- like I can see that there are faults. As I said earlier, I can see there are faults or shortcomings in the paperwork that was presented, but as a Canadian citizen of aboriginal heritage I don't think that there is a fault in the overall presentation of music, music and content coming from AVR.
1245 The reason I say this is because I have been told time and time and time again, "Oh, wow. You are Kinnie Starr. I heard your stuff on AVR". This is from native and non-native listeners.
1246 To the best of my knowledge there is not a lot of stations, especially native radio stations, that are mixing popular culture with native voices. I think that as we move forward as a country that that integration is essential.
1247 I would also like to ask you all sitting on the CRTC if you are native or anybody in your family is native? That's a question.
1248 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Well, we are not here to answer questions, but --
1249 MS STARR: Okay. So am I not -- am I not --
1250 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: -- just to be -- just to be polite I will tell you in my family we all say that we have Indian blood.
1251 MS STARR: Okay.
1252 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: I don't know how much.
1253 MS STARR: Okay.
1254 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: And you know how it is treated for women.
1255 MS STARR: Okay.
1256 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Okay?
1257 MS STARR: So in other words, the position that I have here sitting on -- at this table, no questions are to be asked. Okay. Well, then I will just leave that with you because I think it is a relevant question in the position that you are in, to err on the side of ensuring that native voices are continuing to be heard.
1258 I mean this is my first hearing that I have been on. So I didn't know that I wasn't allowed to ask questions. I had primarily questions, because I saw all the question and answering going on.
1259 So then I will change my question into a statement, which is one of the things that I hear in the questions towards AVR in regards to daily news programming is, you know, how much local news programming is being offered in their broadcasting? And my question to myself is how much native news is being offered in commercial broadcasting?
1260 So once again, if AVR's voice is removed from the public how much access does the public have to native news? That would -- that's all I have to say.
1261 Thank you.
1262 MS VENTURA: Thank you.
1263 We will now proceed with the Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres. Please introduce yourself, after which you will have 10 minutes for your presentation.
1264 MS MARACLE: I am --
--- Native language spoken
1265 I am a member of the Mohawk Nation. I have an English name, which is usually how I sign my letters, Sylvia Maracle.
1266 And I am the Executive Director of the Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres. It's kind of awesome being the Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres. I have worked in the Federation for 30 years and I have yet to be "it" as a single entity, so I appreciate that recognition.
1267 I too, like my colleague, want to acknowledge first the people whose territories we are on. Right here where this Commission is sitting of course are the lands of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nations. It is appropriate for us in our cultural diaspora to acknowledge when we are on other people's territories.
1268 I do want to thank you as well for accepting my request to address you to support the application of Aboriginal Voices Radio to extend their license and continue.
1269 I want to take a quick opportunity to introduce not only myself but the organization who I work for. So I have told you I am a Mohawk. I am from Tyendinaga, which is a First Nation about two hours from here. And I arrived in Toronto in the early seventies to go to school and attend Ryerson, then called Polytechnical Institute, the School of Journalism.
1270 When you graduate from university you need a job. That's the nature. And it's a big jarring periodically for young aboriginal people to think we can't just go through school and something happens.
1271 I had the good fortune to be involved in Friendship Centres and have been the Executive Director, as I said, for more than 30 years.
1272 Friendship Centres themselves were created by aboriginal people and non-aboriginal people, to help the migration from remote communities and First Nations, Métis communities into large urban areas. A fundamental notion of that support and the creation of Friendship Centres was a notion that we are distinct, different; was the notion that in order to understand, to learn, we needed to communicate with each other. We need to share experiences with respect to what happened.
1273 We all wanted to arrive -- I am of an age where we wanted Dick and Jane's existence. If you remember how culture is transmitted through readers and the social mores that go with it. And we didn't find it. We were too light, too dark. We had accents. We weren't equipped. We didn't know how to do a variety of things and Friendship Centres created that role.
1274 In some respects, through the cultural changes that some of my colleagues have spoken to, Aboriginal Voices Radio is helping, is facilitating the kind of change that we are seeing occur in this generation at this time.
1275 Friendship Centres, besides providing direct services and things like employment and education and violence against women and parenting and child welfare matters, also have provided cultural and educational programming; have provided a physical place in urban centers for the aboriginal community to come together and people who support the aboriginal community and who want to understand and improve that relationship.
1276 The Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres is made up of 30 Friendship Centres just in this province. We are a network of 118 in Canada and umbrella groups like mine exist in seven provinces and territories, the Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres being the largest. I can say that glibly, because none of my colleagues are appearing before you.
1277 I want to take a moment as well in terms of that experience of urban to talk to a little bit about some population data and some service usage that you have raised. I can, and publicly will, indicate that both the 2001 and 2006 Census are flawed, that not all people of aboriginal ancestry have been identified nor want to be identified.
1278 There are some very small or seemingly small issues given a population who suffers from extreme poverty. People who are homeless don't identify. Women who are fleeing domestic violence and looking for anonymity in shelters; young aboriginal people who have left First Nations communities as a result of their sexual orientation, people who have had historical challenge and have been told as if you can pass. There have been an increase and there are lots of people who do identify, but who are not always in venues where that information would be correct. There are also some who as a result of both cultural and political notions elect to not identify in that process.
1279 Our population; at minimum, 65 percent live off reserve. That is relevant to you because Aboriginal Voices Radio is targeting an urban population. Here in Ontario statistics will prove to you that 80 percent of us live out of our first Nations communities out of northern communities and out of remote areas in urban areas.
1280 We are young. 40 percent of our population is under the age of 16, which is why some of what Aboriginal Voices Radio offers is important in cultural transmission and is important in answering the question of identity: Who am I?
1281 When we look as well at issues, 52 percent of our population, or almost, is women. Of that -- of urban families is 80 percent -- I'm talking about in Ontario. 27 percent are headed by single aboriginal women; single households. That is relevant because that speaks to the issue raised this morning of poverty. They do not have all of the computers and iPods and laptops and iPhones and other kinds of things where people get their communication from.
1282 And radio, particularly radio because it is free in Canada, is accessible and people choose and elect to react, relate and pursue that.
1283 The last sort of bit that I will talk about is that increasing numbers of our population are coming for health determination issues, because First Nations cannot meet chronic health issues and, of course, to pursue education. So there is a mass and it is -- the largest mass of the aboriginal population in Canada live in urban areas and live in some of these and all of these communities would be in the top 10 that Aboriginal Voices Radio services.
1284 Clearly, you have recognized the need to ensure that aboriginal issues are addressed. Your website, your reports to the minister last year and in other places, you constantly suggest that a special -- that your mandate recognizes a special place of aboriginal peoples in our society.
1285 Yet in nothing that I could see did it say that we had to be a carbon copy of what mainstream Canada says. So I will look this morning -- and I sat and I listened to the questions. I hope that you reflect on the issue and that perhaps there is some caution that Aboriginal Voices Radio, in wanting to extend your mandate and to meet the address of it being directed by us, will not necessarily be a carbon copy of what mainstream -- whatever mainstream means to you in Canada.
1286 We have a history of trying to define ourselves. We have been externally defined for centuries by church, by government, by other people's curricula and periodically by ourselves. We being in my lifetime, Indians, native people, aboriginal people, indigenous people. The only thing -- and very recently gender has come into question as well.
1287 Defining our community Aboriginal Voices Radio plays an increasing role and if we were able to address some of the issues in operation, the ongoing licensing renewal issue and some of the conditions of that, we might be in a better position to do it.
1288 There are reports, Commissioners, that speak to these matters. Very recently a report by Environics called the "Urban Aboriginal Peoples Survey", in fact raised the issue of communication identity and the creation of community in its report. Environics Research, as you know, is not an aboriginal organization. It is well known for the kind of research and polling that goes on in Canada.
1289 It specifically raised a notion, a nuance that was new to me about the future, that we are not looking at aboriginal issues from historical imbalances or mistakes and stereotypes, but looking at a future that can be if we make a concerted effort. And they talked about associational communities, communities of urban aboriginal people who gather around the creation of non-profit, nongovernmental organizations. Aboriginal Voices Radio not only is having an impact now, but will continue to.
1290 Who listens to Aboriginal Voices Radio? Well, I do and I'm comfortably middle-class. I can honestly look you in the eye and say I haven't ever had welfare, haven't ever taken employment, pay taxes and have contributed.
1291 I can tell you as well that these young women and older women who are fleeing violence, who live in urban areas who are isolated also seek comfort from listening to aboriginal voices, be they in song --
1292 THE SECRETARY: Excuse me, Ms Maracle. I would like to advise you that you have one minute remaining.
1293 MS MARACLE: Okay. Thank you.
1294 I can tell you that young people looking for their identity; I can tell you that mainstream media does to understand perspective; and I can tell you that teachers and students, regardless of their ancestry, do.
1295 We need to continue. We need to help them. We need to address issues whether we like it or not of systemic racism. Institutional racism and the historical processes that have resulted in an un-level playing field we absolutely need to improve.
1296 But this Commission can help by assuring the aboriginal community that there will be Aboriginal Voices, that it is not a one year or a three year or seven years, because everything in the federal relationship and provincial relationships with the Crown shows us that we get something for a little while and it's taken away.
1297 If you really believe in your mandate of the special and unique needs of aboriginal people of this country, then stand up, demand that we have better performance.
1298 We respect; as well as the Federation, some of the performance issues you have identified, but that does not mean we throw the aboriginal voice out with the radio licensing ending. It means that we work to improve it and ensure that the aboriginal community continues to have its needs met in a magnificent manner that if we all commit to, we can do.
1299 Thank you for listening.
1300 THE SECRETARY: Thank you.
1301 We will now proceed with the last presenter, Mr. Perry Bellegarde. Mr. Bellegarde, you have 10 minutes for your presentation.
1302 MR. BELLEGARDE: Thanks, Cindy.
--- Native language spoken
1303 My friends, my relatives, I greet you all in a humble, respectful way.
--- Native language spoken
1304 MR. BELLEGARDE: I speak some Cree. So I acknowledged you all in a respectful way and greeted you all in a humble way and said it's a good day to be here to talk and share.
1305 I said I'm from Little Black Bear First Nation. It's in Saskatchewan. As well, Perry Bellegarde (Native language spoken). I said that's my name in English but as well I referenced my Cree name as well.
1306 Today, I am Chief of Little Black Bear. I am Chief of my community back home and I've been involved in First Nations politics for over 25 years, Tribal Council Chief, FSIN Grand Chief, AFN Vice-Chief. I sometimes think there's too many Chiefs and not enough Indians.
1307 MR. BELLEGARDE: But having had that experience, in the terminology, you know, that we go through as Indigenous peoples, I too must recognize the Mississaugas of New Credit and their traditional territory here.
1308 The demographics in Canada, you have 633 First Nations communities, you have 58 different Tribes, 58 different Nations, different languages, very important and vital to our survival as Indigenous Peoples.
1309 We've constantly said we have our own land, our own languages, our own territories, our identifiable population, our own right to self-determination as Indigenous peoples.
1310 The demographics are such that in my community there's -- you've heard -- it depends who you talk to sometimes in terms of what are the demographics. You know, there's migration of our people from our communities, no question. You know, some say it's 50 percent, some say it's 60 percent.
1311 But there are push factors. There's push factors why people leave the communities. There's not enough housing. There's not enough jobs. There's not enough economic development opportunities. There's no educational opportunities.
1312 So they leave and they migrate to the centres. They migrate to Edmonton, to Calgary, to Regina, to Saskatoon, to Vancouver, to Toronto. All over they migrate, our people migrate.
1313 The issue for us now becomes one of connecting and communicating with our membership. That's an issue for us.
1314 How do you get in touch with these people? How do you get in touch with these Indigenous people, these First Nations people, these Indian people, these Native people, these Aboriginal people, these off-reserve Indians, these Bill C-31 Indians, these Status Indians, these Non-Status? Like the terminologies go on and on. But to get connected.
1315 There is a need for communication and there's a need to get involved. That's why I'm here to speak about the importance of maintaining the licences for Aboriginal Voices Radio. There's a need to get involved in all industries as Indigenous peoples.
1316 The broadcasting industry is just one because the overall issue plaguing Indigenous peoples in this country is one of marginalization and poverty. No question.
1317 So investments in education and training are key. Investments in economic development and economic self-sufficiency are key and getting involved in boards and institutions and commissions where these decisions are made for our people.
1318 We have to get involved and this broadcasting industry is just one industry. We say we need to be involved in the mining industry, the tourism industry, the forestry industry, the manufacturing industry, right across the board.
1319 And the message is simple. When First Nations people win on any front, all Canadian people win because the cost of poverty is too high. The cost is too high and so alleviating that poverty is by investing in these different industries and opening the door so that we can play on a level playing field.
1320 Granted, I really opened -- it opened my eyes this morning listening. I have a degree in business, an undergrad. I don't have a master's but I have an undergrad in business. I haven't been involved in business, I've been involved in politics of First Nations at least for about 25 years.
1321 But revenues, expenditures, having a strategic plan, having key strategic measurable objectives, you know, all of those things are fundamental to running a business, making it viable, you know, the bottom line.
1322 Those are the challenges now -- and I really respect and feel that June 14th is definitely D-Day. I'm hearing that loud and clear, you know. But to urge you to work with and keep that level playing field open.
1323 To me, there should be an expansion. If AVR had the necessary financial resources to get the human resources to put all of these effective programs in place, you know, so that it meets the needs of the urban Aboriginal population, that can be done, you know, but because they're not funded, core funding like CBC, there's a difference there.
1324 Because they're starting to focus on advertising and marketing, you know, as a key strategy -- not totally reflected in their operational plan this year is what I'm hearing, but they're working on that, you know. If that's going to be a key source of revenue, fine.
1325 Then what target market are you going after, you know, in terms of getting revenues back into the organization to bring about that effective change in the programming?
1326 Level the playing field. It's a huge industry. It's a multimillion dollar industry. But looking at the operational budgets, they pale in comparison to mainstream, you know, and I question why is that.
1327 And why do we have 25 non-profit organizations? I don't know. Shouldn't they be for profit? Shouldn't there be economic wealth creation? Shouldn't there be employment opportunities created? That's just questions I had in my mind, you know. Why are they always non profit?
1328 We want to be part of society and integrated because we worked to civilize the Indigenous peoples, assimilate the Indigenous peoples, terminate the Indigenous peoples, and now it's integration. And that's fine. Integration is fine but level the playing field and allow that opportunity to grow. Allow AVR to grow.
1329 I'm kind of upset because Saskatoon and Regina were cut back, you know. Kitchener is not there. At one time they were operating and then they were granted back. So to me, there should be an expansion, not a cutback.
1330 But at the same time if you're going to expand, ensuring that there's a viable business plan in place, sustainable business plan long term so it meets the needs of the target market, the group.
1331 And getting involved in this one industry, you know, is going to be key for all the people in Canada.
1332 I sit on a number of boards. I sit on the APTN Board. Just recently I got appointed. I'm on the National YMCA Board. I'm on different boards regionally but everything talks about governance and transparency and openness and accountability.
1333 Those are principles we live by and abide by, you know, given the opportunity. And that's something I live by to bring about an effective change now in this country now called Canada.
1334 All these issues that face Indigenous peoples, we need a mechanism, a communication mechanism, whether it be TV and/or radio.
1335 You heard the point that not all Indigenous peoples have access to computers, technology. They don't. So radio becomes a vehicle, a very important mechanism to get the message out.
1336 There's issues in Canada.
1337 What are we doing about the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples? People need to know.
1338 What are we doing about the MacGyver decision in terms of citizenship, membership?
1339 What are we doing about Caledonia and the whole land issue there?
1340 All these things, radio can be used as a tool for bridges not only between Indigenous peoples and the Chiefs and leadership but as well our non-Indian brothers and sisters to communicate, to work together to bring about principles of peaceful coexistence and mutual respect between our peoples.
1341 I'm from Treaty 4. Little Black Bear entered into treaty with the British Crown and that was a basic fundamental principle: peaceful coexistence and mutual respect between our peoples. That's what we have to keep working towards.
1342 So to me, this AVR is a mechanism or a vehicle to help with that, with that vision and that plan. We have to coexist and work together and I want to see a level playing field granted.
1343 I'm listening and I talked to the staff. I didn't know anything about AVR at all. I'm here to support that principle, that principle of getting First Nations people, Indigenous peoples involved in a very key industry in this country.
1344 That's what I'm supporting. That's what I'm speaking for and keeping to work towards that.
1345 So again, my friends, my relatives, I appreciate the time to address the Commissioners, to come here to Toronto and to speak to you in a very open way, in a very honest way, a frank way.
1346 I know you have a difficult job in front of you as well, so I wish you best of luck and the Creator to guide your decisions in a good way. --(Native language spoken).
1347 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, I would like to thank you all very much for taking the time to share your views with us today.
1348 I think that one thing that -- well, I'm hoping one thing that has become abundantly clear is that the Commission, AVR, and now with your participation, there is one objective here and that objective is to ensure that the Aboriginal community, which is, as I said this morning, the core audience of AVR, is in fact served by a medium that is relevant, responsive and reflective and respectful of that community. That is our primary objective as well.
1349 With that, I will ask Commissioner Poirier to ask -- would you like to comment? Please.
1350 MS SCOFIELD: Yes, I just wanted to say further that in a sea of broadcast out there, both radio, internet and television, the two avenues, the only two voices we have are through this radio and APTN.
1351 I want to reiterate we are the first people here, you know, not that that makes us better but they are small little pieces towards reconciliation, right. That's all.
1352 Meegwetch. Thanks.
1353 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
1354 Commissioner Poirier.
1355 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Thank you, Madam Chair.
1356 So thank you for coming from three different provinces of Canada. Thank you and it's a vibrant pledge for AVR. We do appreciate your comments.
1357 Again, congratulations, Miss Scofield, for your welcoming song for the 2010 Olympic Opening Ceremonies in Vancouver.
1358 I was going to say what the Chair said. Aboriginal people deserve as good quality radio programming as any other Canadian and that's why we are here.
1359 Frequencies are a public good and we have to make sure they are used properly by whoever gets a licence -- by whoever gets it. A minority-language community in Saskatchewan, a big community in the North, wherever you are, you have to follow the same rules.
1360 I'm happy to see that we agree that AVR needs to provide us with a viable business plan and they have a month to do so.
1361 You understand that AVR has been found for the second time non-compliant with the Regulation and their conditions of licence. This is quite important.
1362 You mentioned that the quality of programming is acceptable. "Acceptable" is the word you used. I wonder if it is enough and I will give you the opportunity to answer that.
1363 So I will ask general questions and whoever wants to answer, please do so, but we have limited time, so please be as precise as you can.
1364 First, let me ask the question and then you can answer.
1365 How many hours a week do you listen to an AVR radio station in your community? It's a short answer question.
1367 MS SCOFIELD: I listen to it while I'm driving my car, so I drive every day.
1368 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Okay.
1369 MS MARACLE: I listen to it a couple of hours a week, usually on the weekend.
1370 But I have to tell you that we play it in a number of our activities. So that the babies, for instance, where we have childcare or prenatal programs or the young people's programs or whatever we have, we often have AVR on, particularly when it's music.
1371 I wasn't raised this way. I have to be honest, I was born and raised on an Indian reserve and I wasn't raised with music, our social songs, our ceremonial songs or any of those things playing around me.
1372 So it's a generation of mine that has had to catch up and we make sure where we do programming where we can that we do play it. So I could be in a meeting or visiting or cutting a ribbon or doing something and be exposed to it more often.
1373 MS STARR: I don't listen to any radio at all.
1374 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Okay. It's honest.
1375 MR. BELLEGARDE: We don't get it in Saskatchewan, so I don't listen to AVR.
1376 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Okay. So for the two answers that you listen to your AVR radio station, how much of it is in an Aboriginal language? How much of it is in Cree, Iroquois or whatever other Aboriginal language? Is it all in English or can you listen to your mother tongue?
1377 MS SCOFIELD: There are many artists who are doing music. It's fundamentally a radio program, right.
1378 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Okay.
1379 MS SCOFIELD: There are many artists and the curious thing is while there's only licences in certain regions, we have artists in -- you may or may not have heard of Tanya Tagaq who's doing throat singing. We can hear her throat singing. We can hear Art Napoleon singing in Cree. We can hear Florent Vollant singing in Innu -- not Inuit, Innu.
1380 We can hear, you know -- again, I want to reiterate we've only had a music industry for about 10-12 years.
1381 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Okay, so it's mostly in the music that you can hear your mother tongue, not in the spoken language portion of the programming?
1382 MS SCOFIELD: Well, I tend to just be driving listening to music.
1383 You know, I don't speak any language but I have heard some Cree. I've heard -- I've mostly heard Cree spoken but you hear a lot of artists doing their work in their language, which is very important, especially -- I live in British Columbia, I said that in my letter of support.
1384 The threat of loss of language is paramount in British Columbia because we have such a high concentration of diverse First Nations there and now we have artists that are coming up, that are, you know, working in this language.
1385 There's a lot of language reclamation programs going on in British Columbia as the elders are dying off with the language, and the language is inherent in the culture, right.
1386 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Yes. And what about you, Miss Maracle?
1387 MS MARACLE: I speak enough Mohawk so I'll never go hungry and I won't get lost. But could I listen to an entire radio show and understand what was happening? No. But I'm of a generation where there was encouragement and extinguishment activities where we weren't encouraged to speak them.
1388 On the other hand, I have nieces and nephews and great-nieces and great-nephews now who are fluent in the language.
1389 So I am aware, again, that, you know, if I were listening to a program in Mohawk, I would not know what it is.
1390 I can tell you, however, that AVR has periodically come and interviewed me for English comments on a variety of things, including culture, not in this most recent election of National Chief, but they asked me for comments before. So I mean I can tell you that I am aware that it exists.
1391 If it were on and it was a time that I tuned in, in all honesty, I might listen to it for a while to make myself feel good but I wouldn't understand anything and I would move on to something else.
1392 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: M'hmm. Well, in the radio business, I believe that local programming is the basic of survival of a radio station.
1393 You need to be able to know what is the weather unless you have other means to know what is the weather for the day, the forecast. You need to be able to get to know what are the activities in your community. You need to hear from the other communities.
1394 So it's very important to get local news from your area. Do you get that?
1395 MS SCOFIELD: Okay. That's a cultural thing that I was trying to speak to earlier when I was speaking about Indian country. So there's a core -- a difference in a core value thing going on right there.
1396 In terms of local news -- we'll talk about the weather in a second -- a roadblock happening in Nova Scotia with the Mi'kmaq people is of interest to the Vancouver urban people. Whether they receive that information today, tomorrow or the next day, that is what they want to know about and they have two avenues, AVR or APTN, because chances are the mainstream may or may not even touch on it, right.
1397 So in terms of news, we want to know -- we don't want to know necessarily -- information about our people, that is what we're most interested in.
1398 If I was pursuing a career as a politician, I may be listening to CBC. But I'm saying the people that are listening to AVR, the Aboriginal people -- and that is not exclusive to our audience because I've had non-Aboriginal people come up and tell me --
1399 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Yes. Even if it's repeated every day the same thing or even if it's repeated the same way, the same week, the same programming, you don't mind that?
1400 MS SCOFIELD: Well, I don't think they repeat their -- you guys don't do that, do you? Like you run the same news show --
1401 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Well, I'm asking you if you mind having always the same news the same day or having to listen to the same program --
1402 MS SCOFIELD: Well, you know what, Louise?
1403 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: -- the same week? Yes?
1404 MS SCOFIELD: I'm sorry, I'm being rude.
1405 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: No, no, no.
1406 MS SCOFIELD: You know who we should be going after, and then we'll get her broadcast thing, is that Nancy Grace. She'll go on for a month about the --
1407 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Okay. Well, Mr. Bellegarde, what would you improve in the programming at AVR if you were in charge?
1408 MR. BELLEGARDE: Just listening to the conversation today -- and I can see your COLs speak to that issue of local programming. You speak to the issue of clear objectives, your 13 requirements.
1409 Our follow-up, just listening, speak to each of those points about -- you know, instead of using the dollars that were there to improve the quality of programming, it was used for a deficit, to take down their debt. But that's still a requirement of business operations, you know.
1410 I don't know -- this is my first time in terms of AVR listening and learning about their operations, you know. You have to try to find balance but you're comparing apples and oranges here if you start -- like it's not a level playing field, you know.
1411 That's what I'm going to say. I'm going to say that very openly and honestly. It's not a level playing field. If you expect AVR on their minimal financial resources to improve all of these lists here, it's almost like you're setting them up for failure. That's what I'm seeing.
1412 This is my very first time here and if you're going to put new COLs on the licensing, it might be a requirement or a restriction, it's almost, again, setting it up for failure.
1413 So unless there's new financial resources identified either in core funding and the marketing advertising --
1414 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: M'hmm.
1415 MR. BELLEGARDE: -- you know, the improvement on those requirements, on those COLs, may not happen. There has to be a new alternate source of funding whether that be core funding or having access to the marketing revenues and advertising revenues that should be generated.
1416 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Yes. And what about the ad revenues they presented to us? It will increase by at least 10 times in the next five years. Do you think it's feasible in those big markets?
1417 MR. BELLEGARDE: It's feasible. If you have a very key direct marketing strategy, advertising strategy, anything is possible.
1418 You can't deprive people of hope. We were taught to always leave more hope in the room than when you walked in and that's what we're trying to do today, is to try to provide some hope and they have till June 14th to come up with that.
1419 I'm urging you as CRTC Commissioners to keep with the licensing. To me, there should be expansion. There should be another comprehensive strategy regarding core operations and core funding because, again, our people are migrating to urban centres. We have to be connected, you know.
1420 It gives a platform. It gives a table for our artists to showcase their talents and their music and all their artistry. It provides that opportunity and it's a key thing. So it's a good thing.
1421 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: M'hmm.
1422 MR. BELLEGARDE: Hearing today there's work to be done, no question. But again, that age old saying: You don't throw the baby out with the bathwater, you know.
1423 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Yes, okay. So my last question, Madam Chair, is --
1424 MS MARACLE: Excuse me, could I address that?
1425 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Yes. Yes, you can.
1426 MS MARACLE: If I were in the moccasins of AVR what would I do?
1427 What I want to take is a different perspective because I think it is a cultural nuance that is different between the community and the culture that I come from.
1428 I'm not sure how it came to my attention that this hearing was going on. I did ask to meet with the AVR staff and asked them what was going on and I have to tell you that as a consequence I have behaved in a certain way.
1429 I have colleagues across the country who are housed in many of the communities that you are raising as well and on April 17th I had an opportunity to meet with them all. They threw a gathering of executive directors like myself of the National Association of Friendship Centres.
1430 And I said: Aboriginal Voices Radio is up for renewal and the last time they got renewed for three years, which I, frankly, would have commented on then had I known. They asked me: What is normal? And I said: I understand seven. And we went through the stuff.
1431 I'm simply trying to tell you what I have done to explain this cultural dichotomy that exists.
1432 So the perspective that you're speaking from says, well, what will they do, what will Aboriginal Voices Radio do? But the culture that I come from says, what will I do?
1433 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: M'hmm.
1434 MS MARACLE: So I've had a meeting. I've talked to my colleagues. I got them to concur that we in Friendship Centres need to do a better job of providing information and opportunities to Aboriginal Voices Radio, that we need to suggest that there are ways to capture better stories from Edmonton, where the Provincial Association of the Alberta Native Friendship Centres is, and indeed from Saskatchewan Chief Bellegarde and other places.
1435 And how do we input that and how do we deal with this notion of it being ours and that we have a collective responsibility.
1436 So while I understand, having worked in mainstream for a very long time, that we often put the pressure on the individual, it seems to me that as a collective I have a responsibility now to go to other people in the Aboriginal community to raise this issue and I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that Aboriginal Voices Radio will respond to things that aren't going to cost them great amounts of money and will absolutely open the door for those kinds of conversations to occur.
1437 But the obligation is not solely theirs to come and say, hey, we need this. We should have seen that and we didn't and we now have. And at least from where I work and this conversation I've had with the rest of my colleagues in the country, we are prepared to do something about that, at least in terms of content and information and getting the word out.
1438 I would hope that that alone would be a positive outcome of this hearing.
1439 It doesn't have a whole bunch to do with AVR having to do something but us collectively saying, how do we do what we're doing better then, and the response in this instance coming not only from the Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres -- and I'm sure my friends go back to other networks -- but in this case the Friendship Centres across the country.
1440 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: So it leads to my last question. Are you willing to get involved with AVR to make sure it improves its business plan, its programming and so on, and do you feel they are open to your suggestions?
1441 MS MARACLE: Yes and yes. I answered it.
1442 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Yes, I know you answered it. And are you willing to file a document on what you said?
1443 MS MARACLE: Assuming it's by June 14th, I would be delighted to file a document.
1444 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Okay. Yes, it is.
1445 MS STARR: I would love to be involved with AVR as an interviewer, a host, a researcher, a writer or on any level.
1446 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: As a volunteer or paid staff?
1447 MS STARR: Either.
1448 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Okay.
1449 MR. BELLEGARDE: The answer is yes and yes as Chief of my community.
1450 Again, I think there's a role for even the Assembly of First Nations to get involved in terms of networking and lobbying but as well even more -- like I mentioned before, First Nations people have to get involved in both the public and private sector at all levels where decisions are being made.
1451 I would love to see a First Nations person on the CRTC Board.
1452 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: M'hmm.
1453 MR. BELLEGARDE: I would love to see a First Nations person on the Supreme Court of Canada.
1454 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: M'hmm.
1455 MR. BELLEGARDE: I would love to see them sitting around the boards of major corporations where these decisions are being made. I would love to see more First Nations people around the Cabinet table.
1456 You know, like that's what we have to get involved with. We have to be involved in the public and private sector and getting around those tables where these decisions are being made. That's the challenge.
1457 So the answer is yes and yes but even at a more senior level.
1458 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: M'hmm.
1459 MR. BELLEGARDE: At a more senior level, not just getting involved in the day-to-day management and operations of AVR. That's fundamental and that's key.
1460 You put in place a good CEO, strategic plan, strategic vision, but you don't do it for one year, you do it for three years, you do it for five years, you do it for seven years, you do it long term.
1461 That's the kind of support and vision that is required for AVR to be turned around. And I support that. I support the concept, that concept of communicating and networking with Indigenous peoples throughout Canada. That's what I'm supporting.
1462 That's what I'm here to support and even again on a larger level in terms of getting people involved at a very senior level where these decisions are made. And at some point we're going to get there.
1463 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Any other comment on that?
1465 MS SCOFIELD: I just wanted to say yes, I was just thinking while we were sitting here of a First Nations business consultant who I've worked with personally who helped me access, well, some federal funds in the past to make a recommendation to assist them with pulling this together for the 14th.
1466 So my answer to your questions are yes and yes.
1467 COMMISSIONER POIRIER: Thank you, Madam Chair.
1468 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
1469 Vice-Chairman Katz?
1470 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Thank you.
1471 Good afternoon and thank you for coming as well.
1472 As the Chairwoman said we're all here for the same reason and that is to find a win-win scenario here as well. I think we talked this morning -- and many of you were here this morning -- about the need for audience and some of you are in the industry as well, so you know how important audience is and audience drives business through multitudes of ways as well.
1473 I'm glad to hear that each one of you has said you're prepared to step up and help AVR because that's obviously one of the components that they're lacking and that is an audience, and part of that comes from promotion and money, which we heard this morning they may be lacking at certain points in time, but at the same time it is readily available through the powers of yourselves.
1474 Each one of you are powerful people in your own communities and have an audience around you as well that can be levered. I think it's important coming out of this and between now and June 14th to start, and then beyond as well hopefully, that you can generate that audience to support AVR, because with that audience will then come the opportunity to generate the revenues to not only produce the minimum amount but produce whatever is necessary to serve the audiences that AVR is looking at, both Native as well as non-Native.
1475 I can honestly tell you that my wife is a strong, strong supporter of APTN because she has fallen in love with it and enjoys the programming. But that is what it takes. It takes good quality programming and content to drive an audience, and once you have the audience, the rest comes naturally.
1476 So I think it's important that you all step us as well and we will all try and find a solution here.
1478 MS SCOFIELD: Please forgive me, Commissioner, because I don't mean to be disrespectful but I do believe we have an audience already. It may not compare with the audiences of the other radio stations that you are looking to grant licences to but we do have an audience in our demographic.
1479 COMMISSIONER KATZ: From what I gather, unfortunately, it's not an audience that can sustain the investment required to maintain the business without getting financial support either through a third party, a government grant of some sort, which they have tried and failed to do.
1480 So they're now at the point and they have come to us and said: We want to go into the classical business model, which is driving advertising revenue, to support our business.
1481 And the only way to drive advertising revenue is to have an audience, as far as I know.
1482 MS SCOFIELD: M'hmm.
1483 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Thank you.
1484 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner Molnar.
1485 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Thank you.
1486 You know, as many of my fellow Commissioners have noted, we are all supportive of ensuring that there continues to be an avenue for First Nations people to hear themselves within the broadcasting system.
1487 We are not here to challenge that. What we are doing is looking at the licence of a particular broadcaster and we have other examples within Canada that, frankly, are very successful.
1488 Chief Bellegarde, you are from Saskatchewan and so am I, and we have Missinipi -- I live in Regina -- you know, Missinipi Broadcasting.
1489 I also represent Manitoba, that has NCI, the Native Communications, which is a very successful broadcaster which has managed to achieve sustainable funding and managed to achieve high quality programming that garners a large audience.
1490 So what I need to understand, what we need to understand is, you know, there are models that work. Is the model that is here before us, the model that is presented by the Aboriginal Voices Radio Network, a model that is not achievable and should we be looking at something else?
1491 It isn't a matter of saying, you know, we are not supportive of the notion, it is the business model, it is the licensee itself.
1492 So I want to know, for you folks in front of us, because I expect that those of you who are musicians also are played on some of the other Native radio stations such as NCI or Missinipi, for example, are you here representing the licensee or are you here representing a concept that says we need to continue to have a space within the broadcasting system for our music and our language and so on?
1493 MS SCOFIELD: I think for me, you know, to be totally honest, it would be the latter, if I'm totally honest. I don't know the people of AVR and just hearing -- sitting through this morning and hearing the issues that you took with them, I felt personally embarrassed.
1494 This is nothing against anybody personally but, you know, it would be like going to do a presentation at school and you leave your book at home. You know, it's like that, right. So it's kind of like, oooh, that they didn't have all their "i's" dotted, et cetera.
1495 As Chief Bellegarde said, I feel hopeful. I feel that, you know, we need to give them a second chance.
1496 Again, I don't know them personally, so I don't know if there's one albatross in the group that is holding them back but it seems, with our collective input, we can make some suggestions and put them in touch with some things to facilitate this June 14th deadline that you have set before them.
1497 But yes, back to your question, I am in support of there being a viable national -- these things that you are citing are provincial. I don't know necessarily. Are they national broadcast, the NCI?
1498 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: And there are not many besides CBC. There are not national radio broadcasters.
1499 MS SCOFIELD: Right.
1500 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: It is a local -- in fact, it is always within our system the desire to make radio local, relevant to the local community, and it is what sets radio apart in many ways, is its local content.
1501 So no, the two I gave are examples. One is within Manitoba, one is within Saskatchewan.
1502 MS SCOFIELD: Oh, I see!
1503 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Both are high quality broadcasters who have a lot of content, a lot of content in various Aboriginal languages, and both actually broadcast virtually, well, in the largest part of the provinces that they serve.
1504 So they are examples of what I would consider very successful -- we call them Native broadcasting -- licensed under the Native broadcasting licences. But they are out there and they are successful both in being able to fund it and to deliver high-quality content.
1505 So that is -- again, if I'm asking are you here to support a licensee or the concept that there should be high-quality broadcasting access available?
1506 MS SCOFIELD: You're qualifying it. I'm here to support AVR.
1507 MS STARR: I'm here to support both AVR and a concept of national airwaves that represents both Indigenous and non-Indigenous musicians.
1508 I'm not a big radio listener or a big music listener. In general, I prefer to make music than listen to it but I hear so many people talk about AVR. My brother is a banker and all his friends are like: I heard you on AVR! I heard you on AVR!
1509 I know that as a musician who does alternative music and tried to find a way to make a living, it's a really important station. And like CBC, it's one of the stations that reaches people. And that's just word-of-mouth. That's all I have. But I think word-of-mouth is relevant.
1510 MS MARACLE: Not being one of the musician performers in the group, because I am the person sitting up here who actually comes from -- who has been living for more than 30 years in an urban area, having come from a First Nation, I'm here to support AVR. I agree that an Aboriginal presence in this country is important.
1511 I can take you back to the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples report, 11, almost 12, years ago now, that one of the things holding us back collectively as a people was we were actually doing all kinds of great work all over the place but we didn't know it. We don't have the means to communicate and talk to each other.
1512 So in a national urban sense, that kind of information, if they are doing fantabulous work in Vancouver, we'll hear about it on the radio and can do some things. So that kind of sharing, that kind of basic call to consciousness, I don't always know what's happening given the nature of our interaction.
1513 The other thing is that we have systemically as a people -- an eclectic people, on reserve, off reserve, Aboriginal men or women, young or old, Métis, First Nations, Inuit -- have been taught and have had all kinds of processes that have essentially led us to divide and conquer, and frankly, it's one more notion.
1514 So Aboriginal Voices Radio in different regions, in an urban market, actually is one of those places that we may be -- we may not be moving as quickly as we can but it breaks down this historical learning and stereotypes that we've had.
1515 And not only can we share but in fact maybe we actually can think about working together instead of being, in every social policy legislative process, pitted against each other.
1516 If we don't have that kind of conscious discussion and the opportunity to do that except with more of this tunnel vision, it's another example in my mind about how our understanding of our development and the cultural perspective we bring is different than often the institutions that mainstream reflects because they don't know how to do those things because historically you've always done it that way.
1517 I think this is good for everybody and I could argue groups of people who might be interested in doing that as well and using the model and we frequently find people do refer to us.
1518 You know, it didn't take -- Rodham Clinton wasn't the first one to know it takes a village to raise a child. Come on. She's the one who went to the publisher and got all the money.
1519 Notions of lifelong learning, notions of getting the desk out between you and somebody you're counselling, these are all things that have existed from our point of contact forward, and yet, they are learnings now that mainstream holds to be true.
1520 I will argue that us getting out of local and regional battles will hold to be true to create a stronger identity, and if a little wee tiny organization like Aboriginal Voices is the first one to be brave about it, then support that courage.
1521 MR. BELLEGARDE: Just a quick comment on it, definitely supporting both in terms of the concept of a national broadcasting radio system.
1522 You mentioned the two and they're regionalized, right? So MBC does a good program. They were the first in the North for the Northerners and they spoke in Cree and Dene. Now, they've expanded down South into Regina, which is a good thing.
1523 But in terms of a national system, it's still not there, right, and so you have to look at a national perspective, national opportunity that can go through AVR. I just call a spade a spade. Yes, there are some management challenges and I think they're going to rise and meet those challenges by June 14th.
1524 Again, that's the challenge, to come up with a business plan, a viable, long-term, sustainable business plan that's there, and I think if there's support around this table and this room, things can be done. Things can be done.
1525 So that's where I'm at with it in terms of why am I here. To support that whole national perspective. Again, getting First Nations people involved in all industries.
1526 This is just one. This is just one industry. We have to be involved in a meaningful, substantive way in all industries and all sectors of this country at all levels, both public and private sector.
1527 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, those are all the questions we have for you this afternoon. Once again, thank you very much for your contribution to these proceedings. We really do appreciate it. Thank you.
1528 Madam Secretary.
1529 THE SECRETARY: Thank you, Madam Chair.
1530 This completes Phase II for item 2 on the agenda.
1531 MS SCOFIELD: Thank you.
1532 MR. BELLEGARDE: Thank you.
1533 MS STARR: Thank you.
1534 THE SECRETARY: We will now proceed to Phase III, in which the applicant can reply to all interventions submitted for its item.
1535 Aboriginal Voices Radio Inc. have advised us that they will not be appearing in Phase III.
1536 THE CHAIRPERSON: We will take a five-minute break.
--- Upon recessing at 1505
--- Upon resuming at 1515
1537 THE SECRETARY: For the record we have now been advised that Aboriginal Voices Radio Inc. will be appearing in Phase III.
1538 Please reintroduce yourselves for the record, after which you will have 10 minutes for your presentation.
1539 MR. CARDINAL: My name is Lewis Cardinal. I'm Chair of the Aboriginal Voices Radio.
1540 To my right is the COO Jamie Hill, our Legal Counsel Kimberley Wolfe and our Manager Jason Ryle; and Kerry Swanson, to my right.
1541 MS WOLFE: I will begin. A couple of issues that were raised, particularly on the interventions, that we would like to address.
1542 One of the most important from our viewpoint happens to be with respect to Aboriginal languages, Indigenous languages that are presented on AVR.
1543 Originally when AVR first applied for its licence, one of the commitments that were made was that AVR would string the Indigenous languages throughout its programming. That's somewhat of a vague commitment in terms of what does exactly that mean but the reality is this.
1544 Moi, je parle français -- et je vais vous expliquer en anglais dans un moment -- mais la raison que je parle français, c'est parce que... ma famille, elle parle seulement anglais. Ils sont des États-Unis. La seule raison que je peux parler français, c'est parce que ma famille a décidé de me mettre dans une école qui était concentrée en français.
1545 What I just said was that I speak French. I learned to speak French through concerted efforts, not sporadically learning little bits and pieces of language. My entire family, my entire background is English, solely English.
1546 Learning a language, retaining a language requires a concerned focus. AVR puts together that concerted focus throughout their weekly programming and what they do is they broadcast specific times where the language can be heard, where audiences who want to focus on their Indigenous language can tune in at a set time to pay attention to that particular programming.
1547 If AVR is to accomplish the goal it originally set out during the very beginning stages of this entire undertaking of language retention, AVR, upon cultural reflection and after hearing from its listeners, has sought out what I would say would be the wisdom of what most language instructors would agree to: You have to be able to focus on the language.
1548 So under the circumstances, that was heard today through the intervenors and that was a question raised by the Commission as to can you hear it throughout the day of your programming, the reality is if somebody wants to hear it, they have the opportunity of finding out when that programming is, it's posted on the website and they can focus in on listening to their Indigenous language at the time that it is posted.
1549 Jason is going to touch on some of the other successes that we haven't heard of, one of which he's pointing out to me right now is the fact that AVR plays well over its stated mandate of Aboriginal languages.
1550 On average AVR stations play 3.8 hours over the minimum requirement of spoken word programming in Indigenous languages.
1551 So I think that's a very -- when we speak of quality and what AVR is providing to not only Toronto, Edmonton, Vancouver, Ottawa and Calgary, we have to consider these things. Broadcast or rebroadcast or not, the reality is all of those city centres, even when it's broadcast from Toronto, are getting that focused language programming.
1552 The second issue that I think is very important to highlight that I will speak to is the notion of the Native Broadcast Policy adopted by the CRTC in 1990, 10 years prior to AVR's inception.
1553 At the time when that policy came to be, one of the things that the CRTC was looking at was opening up advertising to Native Type B stations, and the CRTC, much like today, faced some pushback on the notion of opening up advertising to Native Type B stations because they're under, first of all, different criteria and, secondly, they would be potentially -- and this was the concern of private radio broadcasters -- they would be competing with the private radio broadcasters.
1554 When the Native Type B licence was applied for, one of the things -- and staff had communicated this as well but it's also contained in the Native Broadcasting Policy -- is that Native Type B stations were to be, were conceived of to be as "akin" -- and that's right in the policy -- "akin to CBC programming."
1555 That is a very difficult hurdle to get over without proper funding. I don't think that anybody in this room could disagree with that.
1556 What we heard today from our intervenors was that it's very important for Aboriginal identities to not only have a local focus but to have a national focus.
1557 The condition of licence breach at this stage -- although we are absolutely in compliance, AVR is in compliance with the modified version of what it now understands to be its condition of licence. It had a confusion, no doubt about it.
1558 But in response to the Commission, when that was pointed out, one of the things that AVR tried to communicate -- and I would say that it was very well communicated by the intervenors today -- is that Aboriginal identities very much focus on national issues, not so much local, and although it's important to know what's going on locally, I do think that the focus from a cultural perspective is quite different.
1559 And the CRTC needs to be attuned to that, that when we look at what our focus should be in terms of what do our listeners want to hear, national news is more important.
1560 So that is something that we did communicate in writing to the CRTC as a matter of explanation. We can continue now what we do, is provide both local and national news. So we're meeting both sides of the coin now.
1561 Then finally, in terms of the minor variances and/or issues that have been raised with respect to compliance on the conditions of licence, it is AVR's goal to not only maintain its conditions of licence -- and I'm going to pass it over to Jason shortly -- but to continue to exceed those conditions of licence, which it is doing.
1562 MR. RYLE: Thank you, and thank you again to our intervenors.
1563 Again, to reiterate, yes -- and Kimberley summed it up quite nicely -- we would like to leave you with some statistics in regards to where we do exceed our conditions of licence because we do feel it's an important point and believe that it does show our willingness to improve our quality and to fulfil this vision for what we want to be.
1564 Again, on average AVR stations play 3.8 hours over the minimum 2.5-hour requirement for spoken word in a Canadian Aboriginal language and we play an average of 4.3 hours over the 2.5-hour requirement for music in a Canadian Aboriginal language.
1565 Again, AVR stations, in total, play approximately 76.5 percent Canadian content from Categories 2 and 3, far above the required 35 percent for Category 2, and far more than the average Canadian radio undertaking.
1566 MR. HILL: Commissioner, if I could conclude, I would just like to say that there has been a concerted and dedicated effort to comply with the conditions of licence, and in some cases we have exceeded them, where we can do it, because we agree with the conditions of licence.
1567 I want you to keep that in mind, that we are really trying to exceed the conditions of licence, not only comply with them.
1568 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : J'ai une question que je vais poser en français.
1569 MME WOLFE : Parfait.
1570 CONSEILLÈRE POIRIER : Alors, votre audience est surtout composée de personnes autochtones qui vivent dans les grands centres urbains, et, bien sûr, vous visez aussi les autres Canadiens.
1571 Vous êtes un organisme sans but lucratif, et il y a des gens tantôt qui sont venus parler en votre faveur, qui recommandent aussi... qui sont prêts à vous aider, qui sont prêts à travailler avec vous.
1572 Alors, je me demandais de quelle façon vous êtes en lien présentement avec des groupes qui représentent votre clientèle cible, et êtes-vous prêts à recevoir des offres comme celle que nous avons reçue de certains groupes, pour travailler à faire en sorte que votre programmation reflète encore plus les intérêts et les besoins des communautés que vous desservez?
1573 MME WOLFE : J'aimerais vous répondre en français, mais parce que je suis la représentante d'AVR, je dois leur laisser répondre. Un moment.
1574 MR. HILL: Commissioner, we are absolutely willing to work with many groups, and we think that it is imperative we do that moving forward.
1575 We were previously asked, a few years ago, about outreach in another public hearing, and we explained that we totally agree with it. We can't really obtain and sometimes manufacture talk programming without going into the community and doing that. That is really the aspiration of Aboriginal Voices, is that it is going to reflect the community, as far as what they are saying. Hence, the name Aboriginal Voices.
1576 All we are saying is that we have been financially challenged in the past, but that is our aspiration moving forward.
1577 As we talk about increasing the programming, that is precisely what we want to do. We want to get involved with the community.
1578 They have offered to help us and, for sure, we have not, that I am aware of, turned down someone when they said, "We want to help you," unless -
1579 For instance, if someone had come to me last week and said, "We want to come and help you do something," then I would have had to say, "Well, really, we are focused on preparing for the renewal."
1580 All of us have been focused on preparing for the renewal.
1581 So what we say is, "Come and talk to us after we get through this part. Then we would love to talk to you about seeing how you could help us."
1582 That has happened in the past. Over the ten-year period, there is a history of people coming into AVR and helping, for various periods of time, and we have appreciated their help and welcomed it.
1583 And if you asked us, we could, as well, bring these people forward to tell you, "Yes, we have helped. We enjoyed it, and it was important for us to do that, and we did it at a certain time, and in this way."
1584 So, yes, we would like to do that, Commissioner, if we could. We appreciate their help and we will accept their help, however they choose to give it.
1585 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Can I follow up on that?
1586 It was my understanding that, several years ago, when you appeared before the Commission - and I don't think any of us were on that panel - you were offered assistance from APTN.
1587 Can you tell us what work you did do in the last three years with APTN, and how their assistance, if there was any, helped you, or not?
1588 MR. HILL: What I recall - I am not sure what you are referring to as far as offering assistance, but we haven't been formally offered assistance with APTN. I am not aware of that.
1589 COMMISSIONER KATZ: My understanding was that a question was asked of your panel - I don't know if you were there either - as to whether you would be interested in receiving assistance from someone like APTN, and our understanding was that APTN had indicated their interest in supporting you and helping you in some way.
1590 I don't know whether it was in towers, I don't know whether it was a business plan, all I know is that they did offer assistance, and I am just wondering to what extent that was manifested in something concrete.
1591 MR. HILL: In light of you saying that, Commissioner, I would like to approach APTN and ask them, once again, if you are aware of that, that they would offer us assistance, and how can we, you know, be assisted in any way from APTN.
1592 We did ask APTN for a letter of support when we were pursuing federal funding, and we did not get a letter of support from APTN.
1593 COMMISSIONER KATZ: Okay. We will dig up our records again. Thank you.
1594 MS WOLFE: What I believe, Commissioner Katz, you might be referring to is that, in the original decision that granted the licence, there was some discussion with APTN about cross-advertising each other's stations. That certainly is formally on the record.
1595 I am not quite sure, is that what you are referring to?
1596 COMMISSIONER KATZ: No, this was more recent than that. The initial application was ten years ago, I imagine. This was three years ago.
1597 We will take a look at our transcripts.
1598 MS WOLFE: One other issue that I did want to address, finally, is that, going back to the original vision of AVR being a national, akin to CBC, it was a tremendous loss to AVR to lose the Saskatoon and Regina licences, because that did hurt that national vision.
1599 But, again, it does reinforce the point that this is not your typical, standard, local radio station in the sense of a - with a local focus only. AVR was always, conceived of, came before the Commission originally, and is still before the Commission, hoping to have a more national focus.
1600 THE CHAIRPERSON: I think that completes our questioning for the day. It has been a long day. I said before lunch that it was a long morning, but now it has been a long day for you.
1601 We have no further questions.
1602 Once again, thank you for your presentation. Thank you for the frankness with which you delivered your answers.
1603 Madam Secretary, I think we will take a 10-minute break and resume at 20 to 4.
1604 Thank you.
--- Upon recessing at 1525
--- Upon resuming at 1540
1605 THE CHAIRPERSON: Madam Secretary...
1606 THE SECRETARY: We will now proceed with Item 3 on the agenda, which is an application by Corus Radio Company to renew the licence of the commercial radio programming undertaking CFNY-FM Brampton, expiring 31 August 2010.
1607 The Commission is concerned that the licensee may have failed to comply with the Radio Regulations, 1986 (the Regulations) and its condition of licence relating to its Canadian talent development contribution for the 2009 broadcast year.
1608 Specifically, it appears that the licensee may have contributed to a non-eligible initiative for CTD funding. The funding in question relates to the Son House Productions initiative.
1609 The Commission expects the licensee to show cause why a mandatory order should not be issued requiring the licensee to comply with the Regulations and its condition of licence relating to CTD contributions.
1610 Appearing for the applicant is Chris Pandoff.
1611 Please introduce your colleague. You will then have 20 minutes to make your presentation.
1612 MR. PANDOFF: Thank you.
1613 Good afternoon, Madam Chair, Commissioners and Commission Staff. My name is Chris Pandoff, and I am the Vice-President of Ontario for Corus Radio and Corus Entertainment.
1614 With me today is Sylvie Courtemanche, Vice-President of Government Relations for Corus Entertainment.
1615 CFNY, 102.1, "The Edge", is one of Canada's and, indeed, the world's most influential rock station. Our over-the-air signal is received throughout the GTA and the Golden Horseshoe, and our online stream reaches tens of thousands more listeners around the world.
1616 "The Edge" is dedicated to the development of Canadian music. We have a highly visible presence in the Toronto music scene, with strong support for local talent. We regularly feature live performances by young Canadian artists.
1617 "The Edge" is also a strong supporter of both local and national charitable causes. One of our most important initiatives is "The Edge Electric Christmas", a major fundraiser held every December in support of The Daily Bread Food Bank.
1618 Throughout the year we provide airtime for PSAs, valued at half a million dollars annually, for a variety of community initiatives.
1619 We are here today, since during CFNY-FM's last licence period it was issued a four-year short-term renewal, given its failure to comply with the provisions in the Radio Regulations, 1986, relating to the broadcast of Category 2 Canadian music selections.
1620 During the present licence term, the Commission is concerned that the licensee may have failed to comply with the Radio Regulations of 1986 and its condition of licence relating to Canadian talent development for the 2009 broadcast year.
1621 In particular, the Commission has asked Corus to address CFNY's 2009 Canadian content development contribution of $20,168 to Son House Productions.
1622 Several other Corus stations also participated in this initiative, for a total CCD contribution of almost $32,000.
1623 Before we address the issue of whether the CCD contribution to the Strombo Show should be considered as an eligible CCD initiative, Corus wishes to note that during the current licence period we have been in complete compliance with the Radio Regulations of 1986 relating to the broadcast of Category 2 musical selections.
1624 We are also pleased to note that in a letter dated January 5, 2010, the Commission's performance evaluation for the station confirmed that our Canadian content levels for Category 2 music were 35.7 percent for the broadcasting week, and 36.2 percent between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.
1625 As one of Canada's leading media players, Corus takes its responsibilities as a licensed broadcaster very seriously. Indeed, Corus' core values are accountability, teamwork, innovation, initiative and knowledge. As such, accountability is not only part of our core values, it defines the parameters of our day-to-day activities.
1626 The Commission has questioned whether the Strombo Show should be considered an initiative that is eligible for CCD funding. We believe that it is. Allow me to provide some detail.
1627 Son House Productions is the production company owned by George Stroumboulopoulos. George, of course, is a well-known Canadian media personality and host of late-night show "The Hour" on CBC Television.
1628 In November 2007, we contracted with Son House Productions to provide a weekly three-hour show, to be hosted by George Stroumboulopoulos. The Strombo Show was designed as a showcase for the new music of independent Canadian music artists, and would include interviews with the artists and call-ins from listeners.
1629 George has an extensive knowledge of pop culture and the latest trends in the Canadian music industry, and especially the music of new and emerging artists. As such, we believed that he would be an ideal host for this show. With his high profile, he would provide an outstanding opportunity to promote the development of emerging Canadian talent.
1630 The Strombo Show was produced in the studios of CFNY-FM and broadcast on Sunday evenings from November of 2007 through August of 2009. It was carried by "The Edge" in Toronto, and by Corus stations in Hamilton, London, Winnipeg and Vancouver. This gave a broad exposure across the country to the artists featured on the program.
1631 Since August 2009, this show is no longer broadcast by Corus.
1632 The CCD contribution relates entirely to payments made by Corus directly to Son House Productions for shows broadcast during the 2008 and 2009 broadcast year. The contribution covered the professional services of the host of the show, George Stroumboulopoulos. Costs associated with distributing the show to the other Corus stations were assumed by Corus and not included in the CCD contribution.
1633 It should also be noted that George Stroumboulopoulos is not an employee of Corus Radio. As the principal of Son House Productions, he was engaged as a private contractor in connection with this particular initiative.
1634 While the Commission has questioned whether this initiative is eligible as a CCD contribution, let me assure you that Corus has made this contribution in good faith. We believe that the focus of this show complies with the Commission's policy and the objectives pertaining to Canadian content development, which look to support CCD contributions to third parties for high quality audio content that promotes Canadian music talent.
1635 Finally, this show would not have been produced and broadcast without Corus' CCD contributions.
1636 For all of these reasons, we believe that the Strombo Show was an eligible initiative, and the Commission should be able to conclude that CFNY-FM fully complied with its condition of licence respecting CCD contributions.
1637 At the same time, we acknowledge that with many CCD initiatives there is room for interpretation and judgment. The 2008-2009 year was the first year of the new CCD regime. We have been informed that several other radio licences, not just Corus, have had some CCD interpretation issues during this transition period, reflecting some of the uncertainty associated with the new policy.
1638 We would urge the Commission to take this into account in its deliberations.
1639 If, notwithstanding the information we have provided today, the Commission determines that the Strombo Show should not be considered as an eligible CCD initiative, we would suggest that the Commission consider the following facts.
1640 Our contribution was made in good faith.
1641 There, necessarily, was some uncertainty respecting eligible initiatives during the first year of the CCD regime.
1642 And, the underlying objective of the show was consistent with CCD objectives.
1643 Taking into account these factors, we would urge the Commission to adopt a non-punitive remedy, whereby our CCD contribution to Son House Productions for the 2009 year only would be grandfathered as an eligible initiative.
1644 However, should the Commission ultimately conclude that the Strombo Show was not eligible, and that the 2009 contribution to this initiative should not be grandfathered as we suggest, Corus will of course accept the consequences of the decision. We understand our obligations, and as a responsible licensee we will ensure that an equivalent amount, that is, the total amount directed to this initiative for all Corus stations involved, is directed to an eligible CCD initiative, should that be the Commission's direction.
1645 In addition, Corus has taken steps to ensure that on a going forward basis issues relating to CCD contributions do not reoccur. We have instituted a practice whereby we consult with the Commission prior to taking any new CCD initiatives.
1646 We have already consulted on a number of such initiatives, and Commission Staff has been very helpful in providing guidance, and we sincerely appreciate their assistance.
1647 Accordingly, Corus respectfully submits that it is unnecessary to impose a mandatory order in order to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Radio Regulations of 1986 relating to CCD contributions.
1648 Corus has met its CCD contributions in terms of the amount spent, and the issue stems from a good faith judgment made in relation to the eligibility of a particular initiative.
1649 On a going forward basis, Corus will consult with Commission Staff in order to ensure compliance with the applicable regulations.
1650 Madam Chair, Commissioners, that completes our opening remarks. Thank you for your attention. We would be happy to answer any questions.
1651 THE CHAIRPERSON: Mr. Pandoff and Ms Courtemanche, good afternoon, and thank you for your presentation.
1652 I only have, maybe, a handful of questions for you. It is a one-issue item, so that is why we only have about a handful of questions.
1653 You say in your opening remarks that several other Corus stations also participated in this initiative, for a total contribution of $32,000. Are those other stations the ones you list on the following page, that is, Hamilton, London, Winnipeg and Vancouver?
1654 MS COURTEMANCHE: Actually, if I could answer that question, there were seven stations which included as a CCD initiative contributions made to the Strombo Show: of course, CFNY-FM Brampton, CFOX-FM Vancouver, CFPL-FM London, CFHK-FM St. Thomas, CKDK-FM Woodstock, CISN-FM Edmonton and CILQ-FM North York.
1655 I could list for you, as well, the amounts that were claimed in relation to each of those stations, if you want.
1656 THE CHAIRPERSON: Then what is the relationship to the Strombo Show with the Hamilton and Winnipeg stations?
1657 MS COURTEMANCHE: There was no direct relationship, other than for the purposes of meeting CCD - certain stations had a portion of CCD -
1658 As you know, it is 60/40 percent, so we spread the 40 percent across seven stations.
1659 So it was done from an accounting perspective. It wasn't necessarily directly related to the broadcast, it was just an accounting procedure.
1660 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Now, if I understand your submission correctly, you maintain that it does qualify, particularly because it is an initiative that promotes local music, local musical artists, particularly emerging artists.
1661 Is that correct?
1662 MS COURTEMANCHE: Yes.
1663 What we did was, we looked back at the criteria that is contained, obviously, in the Commercial Radio Policy of 2006, and the underlying criteria for an eligible CCD contribution is set out in paragraph 107.
1664 If you would permit me, I will just read it into the record.
"Contributions should be dedicated to initiatives that will provide high quality audio content for broadcast. All CCD initiatives must involve direct expenditures and must be allocated to support promotion, training and development of Canadian musical and spoken word talent, including journalists." (As read)
1665 When we looked at that, we thought: We think the Strombo Show fulfils those criteria -- because, first of all, we were looking at a direct expenditure to a third party, and we believed that the Strombo Show provided high quality audio content for broadcast, and it provided an excellent forum for the promotion of emerging Canadian talent.
1666 So when we looked at that, we said: Okay, that fulfils the objective of what the Commission is trying to accomplish in its policy.
1667 As far as the eligible initiatives, those are listed in paragraph 108 of the policy, and we thought that the Son House Productions initiative met the fifth criterion, which is audio content initiatives that would further advance the fulfilment of specific objectives of the Canadian broadcasting system, as outlined in the Act.
1668 So we went back to section 3, and we thought that, under subparagraph 3(1)(d)(ii), where it speaks of - "The Canadian broadcasting system should encourage the development of Canadian expression by providing a wide range of programming that reflects Canadian attitudes, opinions, ideas, and displaying Canadian content..."
1669 I won't go on, but you get the gist.
1670 Subparagraph 3(1)(i)(v) - the programming provided in the system should include contributions from the independent production sector, which is - Mr. Stroumboulopoulos is an independent producer.
1671 And, finally, section 3(1)(s)(i), where private networks and programming undertakings should, to the extent consistent with the financial and other resources available, contribute significantly to the creation and presentation of Canadian programming.
1672 So that's the interpretation and judgment that we made, and that is how we came to conclude that we thought this was reasonable as an eligible CCD initiative.
1673 THE CHAIRPERSON: I guess what it really comes down to - I mean, let's synthesize this. All of that may be true. No one is questioning the quality of the Strombo Show. Where I believe there is a little bit of a grey area is when you say - and you said it today, and you wrote it in your written comments - the show would not have been produced and broadcast without Corus' CCD contributions. Why not?
1674 We aren't talking about a large sum of money.
1675 MR. PANDOFF: Sure. Actually, it helps if I answer the question in the context of two elements. The first is the show itself and what it was designed to do, and then, secondarily, the financing side.
1676 As Commissioner Poirier pointed out earlier, radio stations, by their very nature - their strength is their local application and capability. So when we looked at doing this particular show, because it was going to run across a variety of stations, we essentially were looking at something that would ultimately break format, being national in scope.
1677 We also thought at the time that, since George is as well known from CBC as he is, and the fact that he had a long history on MuchMusic with Canadian artists - we thought that would be able to trump the fact that it wasn't a pure Toronto local show. Therefore, we thought that we would be able to do it from the standpoint of good quality programming.
1678 On the financial side, when you look at the allocation of resources on radio stations, generally, evening and weekend represents more intensive music and less announcer, surveillance kinds of material in the programming.
1679 So, from a cost standpoint, you generally allocate more of your funds through 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, and less through the evenings and weekends.
1680 Of course, with an expenditure of this size, we said: That's not the kind of money we would normally invest in the evening. However, George trumps the capability of it being a national show. If it qualifies for CCD, then it makes good sense for programming.
1681 And probably the driving factor for "The Edge" was that it continues to maintain consistency with the radio station's promotion of new artists and the fact that it's a new music rock station, and it just sort of seemed to fit all the way around.
1682 THE CHAIRPERSON: But the show History of New Music fits that bill, fits that definition. The only difference is, Alan Cross is an employee of Corus, whereas George Stroumboulopoulos isn't.
1683 MR. PANDOFF: Correct.
1684 THE CHAIRPERSON: When you say, "Taking into account these factors, we urge the Commission to adopt a non-punitive remedy...," is that you asking us to not issue a mandatory order?
1685 MS COURTEMANCHE: Absolutely, and a non-punitive remedy was - to the extent that there is room for interpretation and judgment, because it is just for a single year and we no longer broadcast that show, we thought that it would be appropriate to just grandfather that particular year as an eligible CCD initiative.
1686 We understand that we were not compliant in the previous licence term, but that non-compliance related to Category 2 music. That is no longer an issue. We are compliant in every other respect.
1687 So we just thought, on that basis, if that particular initiative - because it is a transition year, it is a new policy, we thought that if that could just be grandfathered for that particular year - it won't reoccur again. We have taken steps to ensure that on a going forward basis CCD initiatives do not become an issue.
1688 I can assure you that Mr. McGuire here will confirm the fact that he is now on my speed dial, and this will not reoccur.
1689 THE CHAIRPERSON: I do appreciate the steps you have taken to ensure that it doesn't.
1690 You do talk about, of course, that if we disagree with everything you have said to us this afternoon, you will accept the consequences.
1691 What I would also like to know is, what impact will that have on those other radio stations that you mentioned.
1692 MS COURTEMANCHE: If the Commission determines that this particular initiative is not an eligible initiative, because there are a number of other stations which contributed to it, we will make whole the entire amount.
1693 The amount is $31,794. So we will re-spend that amount before August 31, 2010.
1694 And, if you wish, we will present you with the specific initiative that we will spend that money on, and the budget, within - I would say by Friday, May 21st, if that is -
1695 THE CHAIRPERSON: So you haven't identified what those other initiatives -
1696 MS COURTEMANCHE: Actually, we do have an initiative that we have identified. We were hoping that the Commission would accept our arguments with respect to eligibility, or at least grandfather this particular initiative.
1697 But if you feel that that is inappropriate, and finally the decision is, "No, we are not prepared to entertain that," then we have identified an initiative, we just haven't fully gotten the whole details of the budget firmed up. But we can do that within a week.
1698 I will let Chris speak to what we would like to spend the money on.
1699 MR. PANDOFF: Basically, what we would do is, we would create a Canadian concert in one of the clubs in Toronto, sometime between now and the end of August, and we would recruit a number of Canadian acts.
1700 Actually, if you go to our website now, we have an initiative called "The Edge - On The Edge", where we bring bands in and shoot them and stream them live on video, provide airplay, provide interviews, and those sorts of things, to be able to get some exposure.
1701 It works out very well from the standpoint of promoting talent, but, also, it lends itself really well to the main strategy of "The Edge".
1702 So what we would simply do is, very much like "Edge Fest" or the "Casby Awards", or some of those other events that we are involved in, we would create another one this summer, likely at a club, a smaller venue rather than an outdoor venue, and hire some Canadian bands. The cost would go toward any production or stipends for the bands, things of that sort, and we would fully produce the show.
1703 THE CHAIRPERSON: I do appreciate that additional information. As you know, we don't issue decisions from the bench, so any additional information that we have to make our decision is very helpful.
1704 MS COURTEMANCHE: We will provide that by next Friday, May 21st.
1705 I would just add that, although I am not trying to minimize the importance of the possible non-compliance, what this does is, this provides us an opportunity to make the system whole, so that there is no shortage at the end of the day.
1706 I just wanted to put that on the record.
1707 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
1708 THE CHAIRPERSON: You are done. Thank you. That concludes our questioning of you.
1709 Thank you for your presentation.
1710 Madam Secretary...
1711 THE SECRETARY: Thank you. This concludes Phase I of Item 3 on the agenda.
1712 We will now proceed to Phase II, in which intervenors appear in the order set out on the agenda to present their intervention.
1713 For the record, the Commission received no requests to appear from intervenors for this item.
1714 This, therefore, completes Phase II for Item 3.
1715 We will now proceed to Phase III, in which the applicant can reply to all interventions submitted for this item.
1716 For the record, Corus has advised us that they will not be appearing in Phase III.
1717 This, therefore, concludes Phase III, and Item 3 on the agenda.
1718 Thank you, Madam Chair.
1719 MS COURTEMANCHE: Thank you for your time and attention.
1720 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.
1721 We are, therefore, adjourned for the day, and will resume at 8:30 tomorrow morning.
1722 Thank you.
--- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 1605, to resume on Friday, May 14, 2010 at 0830
Beverley Dillabough Sue Villeneuve
Monique Mahoney Jean Desaulniers
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