ARCHIVED - Transcript, Hearing 8 February 2011
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Volume 1, 8 February 2011
TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE CANADIAN RADIO-TELEVISION AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
To consider the broadcasting application by Pelmorex Communications Inc., listed in Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2010-826 and 2010-826-1
140 Promenade du Portage
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 Contents.
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 Telecommunications Commission
To consider the broadcasting application by Pelmorex Communications Inc., listed in Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2010-826 and 2010-826-1
Konrad von Finckenstein Chairperson
Peter Menzies Commissioner
Michel Morin Commissioner
Cindy Ventura Secretary
Peter D. McCallum Legal Counsel
Jeff Conrad Hearing Manager and Senior Engineer
140 Promenade du Portage
February 8, 2011
- iv -
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PAGE / PARA
Pelmorex Communications Inc. 5 / 33
Nova Scotia Emergency Management Office 90 / 591
Emergency Management Ontario and Canadian Council of Emergency Management Organizations 118 / 770
Shaw Communications Inc.
Quebecor Media Inc.
Bell Aliant & Bell Canada 136 / 884
New Brunswick Department of Public Safety 188 / 1242
- vi -
PAGE / PARA
Undertaking 88 / 576
Undertaking 89 / 583
Undertaking 201 / 1319
--- Upon commencing on Tuesday, February 8, 2011 at 0904
1 THE CHAIRPERSON: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.
2 Bonjour, Mesdames et Messieurs. Bienvenue à cette audience.
3 Je vous présente les membres du comité de cette audience: Peter Menzies, conseiller régional de l'Alberta et des Territoire du Nord-Ouest; Michel Morin, conseiller national; et moi-même, Konrad von Finckenstein, président du CRTC.
4 Je présiderai cette audience.
5 L'équipe du Conseil qui nous assiste se compose de: Jeff Conrad, coordonnateur de l'audience et ingénieur principal, Politique sur la convergence; Peter McCallum, avocat général, droit dees communications; et Cindy Ventura, secrétaire de l'audience.
6 At this hearing, we will consider Pelmorex Communications Inc.'s application to renew the licence of its national specialty services, The Weather Network and Météomedia.
7 The panel will review Pelmorex's plans for its next licence term, including its request to extend the mandatory order requiring the distribution of The Weather Network and Météomédia on digital basis beyond August 31, 2015.
8 We will also examine the effectiveness of its National Aggregation and Dissemination Service, which was launched in June 2010 to provide Canadians with timely warnings of imminent peril.
9 In particular, we will discuss what steps have been taken, or need to be taken, to ensure its use by the authorities that issue alerts, as well as broadcasters and broadcasting distributors.
10 J'invite maintenant la secrétaire de l'audience, Cindy Ventura, à vous expliquer le déroulement de l'audience.
11 LA SECRÉTAIRE : Merci, Monsieur le Président, et bonjour à tous.
12 Before beginning, I would like to go over a few housekeeping matters to ensure the proper conduct of the hearing.
13 When you are in the hearing room, we would ask that you please turn off your cell phones, beepers, and blackberry as they are an unwelcome distraction and they cause interference on the internal communication systems used by our translators.
14 We would appreciate your cooperation in this regard throughout the hearing.
15 We expect the hearing to finish tomorrow.
16 We will begin tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. as well.
17 We will let you know of any schedule changes as they may occur.
18 Please note that the Commission Members may ask questions in either English or French. Simultaneous interpretation is available during the hearing; the English interpretation is on channel 1.
19 You can obtain an interpretation receiver from the commissionaire at the entrance of the Conference Centre.
20 We would like to remind participants that during their oral presentation they should provide for a reasonable delay for the interpretation while respecting their allocated presentation time.
21 Veuillez noter que les membres du Conseil peuvent poser des questions en français et en anglais.
22 Le service d'interprétation simultanée est disponible durant l'audience. L'interprétation en français se trouve au canal 2.
23 Vous pouvez vous procurer les récepteurs d'interprétation auprès du commissionnaire à l'entrée du Centre.
24 Nous désirons rappeler aux participants d'allouer un délai raisonnable pour la traduction lors de leur présentation à vive voix tout en respectant le temps alloué pour leurs présentations.
25 There is a verbatim transcript of this hearing being taken by the court reporter sitting at the table to my right, which will be posted daily on the Commission's website.
26 If you have any questions on how to obtain all or part of this transcript, please approach the court reporter during a break.
27 For the record, Gordon Brown, M.P. Leeds-Grenville has been added to the agenda and will be appearing in Phase 2 of this hearing.
28 Now, Mr. Chairman, we will begin Phase I of this hearing, in which we will hear the application by Pelmorex Communications Inc. to renew the broadcasting licence for the national, specialty television service known as The Weather Network/Météomédia, expiring 31 August 2011, under the same conditions as those set out in its current licence.
29 The Commission will also examine its system to distribute emergency alert messages to ensure that Canadians receive timely warnings of imminent peril.
30 Appearing for the applicant is Mr. Pierre Morrissette.
31 Please introduce your colleagues and you will then have 20 minutes to make your presentation.
32 Mr. Morrissette?
33 MR. MORRISSETTE: Good morning.
34 My name is Pierre Morrissette and I am the Chairman and CEO of Pelmorex Communications Inc., the licensee of The Weather Network and MétéoMédia.
35 I would like to introduce our panel.
36 To my right is Luc Perreault, Vice President, Affiliate and Government Relations.
37 On my left is Paul Temple, Senior Vice President Regulatory and Strategic Affairs. Beside him is Mitch Charron, our Vice President, Television. To Mitch's left is Eliane Larouche, directrice de la programmation at MétéoMédia.
38 In the second row, starting at the left, are: Jean-Pierre Boulanger, Senior Vice President, Special Projects; Kirsten Wells, Director and General Manager, Public Alerting; Robert Lombardi, Vice President, Finance; and Tawnie McNabb, Corporate Controller.
39 Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, we are here today for the renewal of The Weather Network and MétéoMédia broadcasting licence and to seek an extension of the distribution order requiring the carriage of our services as part of the basic service to the full seven year licence term.
40 I would like to start by thanking the thousands of Canadians who supported this application.
41 We are proud to review with you the many improvements we have made to our programming at The Weather Network and MétéoMédia in the past licence term that have earned such overwhelming public support.
42 They include numerous programming enhancements and our contribution towards a national public alerting system through the establishment of our National Alert Aggregation and Dissemination System or NAAD System.
43 We do things very differently from other media companies.
44 In a consolidated media environment, we bring diversity to the broadcasting system as an independent with our intense and narrow programming focus, our unique culture and leadership in technology.
45 Since our last renewal, we have built on our track record of innovation, and brought Canadians many new programming features on The Weather Network and MétéoMédia.
46 We steadily raised the bar by introducing: our local 14-day weather trend; our local precipitation forecast; our popular local hourly forecast, so Canadians know when snow or rain will fall, or temperatures will dip; and our local Driving Hazard Index, which is a life-saving road forecast.
47 Ces services uniques sont offerts à travers le Canada et sont des innovations développées par Pelmorex.
48 A titre d'exemple, les informations relatives à la sécurité routière ont augmenté de 25 pourcent au cours des trois dernières années. Nous avons aussi amélioré notre contenu environnemental.
49 Nos deux services ont remporté de nombreux prix internationaux pour la qualité de nos présentations météo et pour la l'excellence de notre programmation.
50 Je suis aussi très fier du fait que nous avons reçu une reconnaissance nationale pour nos réalisations dans le domaine de la diversité compte tenu du fait que nous avons reçu de façon constante les plus hautes notes pour notre contribution à la diversité à l'antenne et derrière les caméras.
51 Nous sommes aussi devenus un leader canadien dans le domaine de l'interactivité au cours de notre dernière licence, tant dans le domaine du câble et du satellite, en développant des services interactifs avec Vidéotron et BellTV.
52 We have made major advances in the quality of our service through improved localization.
53 That's our ability to customize and broadcast local information for more than 1,000 communities simultaneously, something no other broadcaster does.
54 We pioneered this technology in Canada, and it also underpins our alerting services.
55 We've produced a short video to explain how we profile each community individually and localize information, making us Canada's number one local broadcaster.
--- Video Presentation
56 M. PERREAULT : Pour de nombreuses communautés, nous sommes la seule source d'informations relatives à la sécurité publique telles les alertes, les prévisions météo locales et les informations sur la sécurité routière.
57 Par exemple, la station de radio la plus proche de St Pamphile se situe à 50 kilomètres dans la ville de La Pocatière sur les rives du St-Laurent.
58 De par sa situation géographique, La Pocatière est située dans une zone météo différente de St. Pamphile.
59 La station de radio de La Pocatière est par ailleurs reliée en réseau avec celle de Rivière-du-Loup qui est située à 130 kilomètres.
60 Comme il est d'usage dans les petits marchés de 4000 personnes, la station de radio de La Pocatière diffuse une programmation réseau après 21 h le soir et durant les périodes de faible écoute.
61 Nous sommes donc une source d'information vitale pour St-Pamphile, La Pocatière et pour des centaines de communautés similaires où nous sommes le seul radiodiffuseur local en mesure de fournir des informations essentielles, continuellement mises à jour, sept jours sur sept.
62 Nous avons reçu l'appui d'un nombre considérable de téléspectateurs, d'associations représentant les distributeurs telles La Fédération des Coopérative de Câblodistribution du Québec et la Canadian Cable Systems Alliance, de députés du fédéral et du provincial, de municipalités rurales et d'organismes représentant les agriculteurs.
63 Tous ces appuis soulignent la valeur exceptionnelle de nos services pour les marchés ruraux éloignés, qui reçoivent les même services de qualité que les grands marchés urbains, et ce, au même tarif.
64 Par ailleurs, il est important de noter qu'aucun autre radiodiffuseur d'un grand marché ne peut rivaliser avec la fréquence et le niveau de détail des informations météo et des conditions routières locales diffusées sur les ondes de MétéoMédia et The Weather Network.
65 MR. TEMPLE: Two years ago we asked for a 9(1)(h) order to support the business case for a national public alerting service leveraging the skills and expertise of The Weather Network and MétéoMédia.
66 You agreed that this exceptional contribution warranted mandatory basic carriage, if we delivered an operational system by June 2010.
67 With that mandatory order, the CRTC enabled the greatest progress in national alerting to date in Canada.
68 In return, we have delivered in full. Where national alerting had been stalemated for years in jurisdictional issues and standards debates, we now have a fully functional backbone system up and running.
69 Our Governance Council of public and private stakeholders has been key to this progress.
70 Government representatives from every province and territory participate in Council discussions, as do the CCSA, Bell TV, the CBC, Astral and CanWest.
71 MS WELL: In the past year, we built and now operate two fully redundant bilingual alerting Operations Centres in Oakville and Montreal.
72 These centres receive emergency messages from authorized government agencies and authenticate the messages.
73 Then they make them available to last-mile distributors and broadcasters through redundant Internet and satellite feeds.
74 Our centres also monitor the full operation of the system in real time and the successful operation of each alert.
75 We have signed User Agreements with the governments of Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba and the Yukon, and each has full access to the system today.
76 We are working with the remaining governments to finalize agreements.
77 We are now conducting demonstrations with independent Canadian radio and television broadcasters, and with members of the CCSA.
78 These successful demonstrations, from Cochrane in Northern Ontario to small market radio in Nova Scotia, show the system effectively delivers emergency alerts in text and audio without delay.
79 They show that voluntary participation can work, and if the smallest distributors and broadcasters can manage the technology then so can larger ones.
80 And The Weather Network and MétéoMédia broadcast the alerts we receive to the appropriate community.
81 One year ago, communities in the Yukon, PEI and Nova Scotia could not receive real-time localized alerts for such emergencies as floods, forest fires, chemical fires, or Amber Alerts.
82 Now, in the space of one year, with the full operation of the NAAD System, citizens in these provinces can see these alerts on The Weather Network and MétéoMédia.
83 And we expect that other broadcasters will soon be full participants too.
84 Nova Scotia is a great example of the NAAD System's progress and potential.
85 Since signing on as a partner, it has conducted successful demonstrations with Pelmorex and radio stations in Yarmouth and Port Hawkesbury.
86 Now its goal is to provide alerting equipment to every radio broadcaster in the province.
87 MR. TEMPLE: Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, this is the CRTC's success as much as it is ours. You created the conditions under which we could deliver, and we have.
88 Just two weeks ago, after a meeting of the federal provincial and territorial ministers responsible for Emergency management, the Ministers issued a press release noting the progress toward the development of a robust national public alerting system.
89 They recognized the contribution of public and private sector partnerships that allow for the timely delivery of warnings.
90 Now the critical next pieces are needed to achieve a full national public alerting system.
91 The next step in the roll-out is to complete access agreements with remaining federal and provincial alerting partners.
92 Then, with the Commission's encouragement, BDUs and broadcasters must come on board.
93 Alerting stakeholders have made it clear in their letters of intervention that they need certainty before they can invest in equipment and public education programs.
94 As things stand now, our mandatory carriage order is scheduled to be reviewed in 2015.
95 We are asking you to end any uncertainty and to extend the Order to be concurrent with a seven-year licence renewal, so that they both come due in 2018.
96 The Commission has already determined that The Weather Network and MétéoMédia merit mandatory basic carriage. We met the 9(1)(h) criteria two years ago and will continue to in the future.
97 First, we make an exceptional contribution to Canadian expression with 100 per cent Canadian programming in both English and French.
98 Second, our NAAD System and regular weather and road safety programming make an exceptional contribution to the objectives of the Broadcasting Act, safeguarding Canadians as you have already acknowledged.
99 Third, all of our programming is first run, another exceptional commitment. Every cent of our programming expenditure supports first-run identifiably Canadian programming.
100 Fourth, the need for our service is demonstrated by some 43 hundred letters of support in this proceeding and over fifteen thousand more during our earlier request for mandatory basic carriage.
101 Our request to stay on the basic service and our alerting system, have broad and enthusiastic support from individual Canadians, federal and provincial elected representatives, and dozens of key emergency organizations, first responders, and groups and municipalities representing thousands of rural and urban Canadians.
102 Fifth, our application also shows that our business plan is dependent on mandatory basic carriage.
103 Without it, we will not have sufficient revenue to support the NAAD System, much less our continued quality service at a low price to small communities in both English and French.
104 If even one large distributor moved us to a tier, the results would be devastating and would require dramatic adjustments to our small market pricing and operations.
105 Sixth, there will be no impact on our affordable wholesale fee with this request.
106 It will continue at the same 23 cents per subscriber per month since 1993 for both services in every community.
107 Seventh, we have evidence to support our requested timeframe for the Order.
108 By extending the Order to the end of a seven-year licence term, you will give an unequivocal commitment to our NAAD System partners, broadcasters, and BDUs that the system has your ongoing support.
109 Emergency organizations, elected representatives, broadcasters, equipment suppliers and small cable systems have written to ask you for this timeframe and the certainty it will provide.
110 It is critical to the investments they must make to participate in the system.
111 The continued roll-out of a national public alerting system depends on this timeframe.
112 MR. CHARRON: We look forward to continuing to serve Canadians for the next seven years.
113 Our vision is to continue to relentlessly innovate, to ensure The Weather Network and MétéoMédia remain vital and relevant in every community across Canada.
114 We will be implementing HDTV, which is far more complicated and expensive for us than other broadcasters.
115 We must install millions of dollars of new equipment at cable head-ends across Canada to provide HD localization, and we have already begun the massive job of upgrading thousands of weather graphics.
116 We will undertake this HD investment and implementation twice, because we operate two networks in two languages.
117 And that's all in addition to operating our standard definition networks.
118 We also have plans underway to provide more hosted regional forecasts and more localization.
119 Our long-term goal is the personalization of weather information through interactive television.
120 There are forecasts for five times as many communities on our websites, and it is our vision to have all that rich content accessible in English and French through ITV and the set top box.
121 These improvements are essential to keeping our television services relevant and accessible.
122 MME LAROUCHE : Nous recevons beaucoup de commentaires positifs quant à notre couverture des petits marchés.
123 A titre d'exemple, MétéoMédia diffuse deux programmations simultanément : une pour desservir la grande région de Montréal et l'autre, une couverture régionale.
124 Nous avons des journalistes dans la région du Saguenay, de la ville de Québec, de Rivière-du-Loup et de Moncton.
125 Par ailleurs, nous dépêchons une équipe de reportage trois fois par année pour couvrir les régions du Canada.
126 Nous prévoyons ajouter davantage de correspondants régionaux et nous comptons aussi augmenter le contenu généré par les auditeurs à l'écran.
127 Les services que nous rendons aux communautés des régions éloignées seront rehaussés via des bulletins régionaux améliorés, davantage d'interactivité et une localisation à plus petite échelle.
128 Cette stratégie s'applique également à The Weather Network.
129 MR. MORRISSETTE: Mr Chairman and Commissioners, when Pelmorex makes a commitment we deliver.
130 We are committed to continuing to improve and enhance the programming we broadcast to Canadians.
131 We are committed to serving francophone communities with the same quality of service we provide to English Canada.
132 We are committed to providing the same level of service to small communities across Canada as we do to large urban centres.
133 We are committed to continuing and improving the NAAD system and to meeting the alerting needs of our government partners.
134 We are committed to all of the above at the same low rate to all distributors large or small.
135 In order to make the necessary investments to meet these commitments, Pelmorex requires a seven-year licence term and ongoing distribution on the basic service.
136 Thank you for your attention.
137 We would now be pleased to answer your questions.
138 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. I am delighted to see you here.
139 If you remember, when we had this hearing about two years ago, it was very controversial. The broadcasting community sort of, as one, opposed us giving you this 9(1)(h), our initial allotting.
140 I remember, Mr. Temple, I told you particularly: "I expect you to be here. I expect you to account, and I want to see it up and running."
141 You have delivered, and I commend you for that. I am delighted that this is happening because the lack of a national alerting system is something that we had highlighted before on what needs to be done.
142 The NAAD System, you have it up. It is running. I have seen from the various comments people call it robust, working, etc.
143 Is there anything on the technical side that still needs to be done, or is this all done?
144 MR. TEMPLE: There is always going to be emprovements and enhancements.
145 The system nmow is fully operational.
146 As we have mentioned, a number of jurisdictions have issued messages, and have been received and broadcast by not just ourselves but other broadcasters.
147 But I think, as we discussed at the first hearing, there is always going to be new standards, new changes, enhancements, and that is something that we are prepared to support and do.
148 But the basic system is up and running now.
149 THE CHAIRPERSON: So, let us say, for argument's sake, that Rogers or Shaw said: "We embrace it; we want to co-operate with you." There is nothing standing in the way from them using your system and putting your message out in the format that you send them?
150 MR. TEMPLE: Nothing that we are aware of. Nothing that they have communicated to us.
151 THE CHAIRPERSON: The same thing applies in terms of multimedia, in terms of hand-held devices, tablets, iPhones, whatever you want?
152 MR. TEMPLE: In terms of new media, I mean the information, the data streams in the alerting system, it's a standard, they may have to develop some software to take those messages and put them on there, text messages or send out emails or whatever the case may be, but there is nothing terribly complicated about doing that if they wanted.
153 THE CHAIRPERSON: You mentioned that you furnish it free of charge to any broadcaster, small or large, et cetera.
154 MR. TEMPLE: That's correct. In fact, anyone.
155 THE CHAIRPERSON: Does the broadcaster -- let's say a small member of CCSA in some remote part of Canada, do they have to buy anything in particular, do they have to have upgrades, a system or do anything to be able to receive you?
156 MR. TEMPLE: Yes. We provide the data and the data streams, they can access all the information by satellite or Internet. They must, whether they are a cable company, a small cable company or a radio station, or over-the-air broadcaster, they will have to purchase some equipment to receive that data stream and insert it into their broadcast signal.
157 THE CHAIRPERSON: But this is off-the-shelf equipment you are talking about? It doesn't have to be specially engineered for you?
158 MR. TEMPLE: No. Fortunately, the United States is basically following the same standards that we are using so the major U.S. equipment manufacturers are in fact supplying the equipment used now for the tests in Ontario and Nova Scotia and so it's readily available.
159 There are some minor modifications to accommodate the Canadian market because, for example, we use different ways of classifying geographical areas, but I mean they are all minor modifications and they are easily accommodated.
160 So the equipment is off-the-shelf.
161 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Now then, you make the distinction between last mile deliverer and broadcasters. I have read that you again used it in your video. What is the distinction? To me they were the same.
162 Isn't the last mile deliverer a broadcaster?
163 MR. TEMPLE: The last mile distributor we tend to -- is broader. I mean obviously when we are talking with the Commission we focus more on the broadcasting industry, but a last mile distributor could be anyone. It could be a website, it could be Google, it could be a wireless public mobile, it could be anybody. Anyone who is going to take that information and pass it on to the public at large, we call that a last mile distributor because obviously our government partners want to make sure that this is available to anyone. Our focus here obviously is on the broadcasting industry.
164 THE CHAIRPERSON: I look at you as sort of the middleman. There is the alerting authority who issues the warning, the police or the local weather office, Environment Canada, then you package it obviously through your NAAD system and then there is the last mile deliverer.
165 At the front end is there any issue left with the alert issuing authorities or are those basically -- I mean you have a protocol as far as I understand, et cetera, so have you signed up with them? Are some not signing up and, if so, why not?
166 MR. TEMPLE: We have a number of provinces and territories that have signed up and, as we mentioned, they have full access. As to whether they would like further changes or enhancements, I suspect if and when they come up they will have suggestions, but there is nothing -- I would call that fine-tuning, whether they want something formatted this way or displayed in that way, but in terms of being able to use -- you know, the core functionality of being able to get an alert out is there right now.
167 In terms of those who haven't signed, I think obviously one of the biggest issues that we have with them is the matter of full responsibility for the alerts and messages they take. So it often boils down to an issue of liability and indemnification.
168 I don't think there is really any substantial technical issues.
169 THE CHAIRPERSON: Explain that to me. I don't understand that.
170 Here is the national -- it's an alerting authority, they think there is a problem coming and they want the world to know, and yet at the same time they want to be kept whole for issuing that alert?
171 That doesn't make sense to me. Surely if you are an alerting authority you want that message out so people know about it and can receive it.
172 MR. TEMPLE: What we ask for is that they indemnify us for the content of their messages or the failure for them -- in other words, because we are the middle man, as you said, every action, whether it's frivolous or not, we are going to get dragged in.
173 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
174 MR. TEMPLE: So we have just simply asked them to indemnify us.
175 If we are negligent or at fault in any way, we don't ask for any legal protection or indemnification of any sort. It's only for actions arising out of their issuing a message or their failure to issue a message. That's all we ask.
176 THE CHAIRPERSON: I'm sorry, I have a real problem with this issue.
177 There is a rail derailment, there is poisonous gas coming out, the police issue the notice evacuate in a radius of 50 miles, otherwise people might -- you put that out. It turns out there is huge traffic chaos and also unnecessary damage. It turns out it wasn't poisonous gas, et cetera. Why should you be responsible? Surely the person who issued the message, who wants the world to know about it, has to take the consequence of issuing that message. I just don't -- it just defies my understanding why on the one hand you want the world to know and react, on the other hand you don't want to be responsible for what you are saying.
178 Can you explain that position to me?
179 MR. TEMPLE: Mr. Chairman, if we were negotiating with you we would have all the provinces signed up, but we are of the same mind.
180 Obviously six already have. I don't want to give the impression that the others aren't going to, it's just a process that has to be worked out, often by their respective legal or financial departments to evaluate this.
181 For some of the others we are quite close to completing agreements.
182 THE CHAIRPERSON: But are you asking for something unreasonable, because I just don't understand that.
183 I can understand that people negotiate from different points of view, I just don't understand the opening position of the alerting authorities, you are saying, who issue alerts but we are not responsible for the contents of our alerts. That is just --
184 MR. TEMPLE: Well, they are taking responsibility for the content of the message, they just don't want to indemnify us. We don't want to get dragged into every action, spend a bunch of money on legal fees and get, you know, nickelled and dimed every time someone wants to bring an action.
185 Because we are the apex we will be involved in every action, so any individual -- I mean in many ways it's almost hypothetical we hope, because I don't think there has been any history of people bringing an action. But once you put words on a contract then everyone seems to get real uptight and things slow down.
186 THE CHAIRPERSON: So it's really the terms of the indemnity that's the issue, if I understand you correctly?
187 MR. TEMPLE: That's the biggest issue. There are some other minor issues in the agreements, they want to be comfortable with the standards we are using and things of that nature, but I think that's easily accommodated.
188 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
189 MR. TEMPLE: They are all on the council, they all participate in our discussions as to what standards we will follow. We are not trying to be unreasonable. It's for them to use, so we have to meet their needs.
190 THE CHAIRPERSON: Environment Canada falls under this category, too?
191 MR. TEMPLE: Environment Canada falls into this category as well.
192 THE CHAIRPERSON: I have in front of me a letter from them saying that you have developed a wonderful system, et cetera, but at the same time they don't want to subscribe to it you are telling me.
193 MR. TEMPLE: Well, I think they -- well, we are still working. I mean, we are working very closely with Environment Canada, so it's not that anyone has given up or we are not trying to move ahead.
194 We continue to talk with them in terms of the agreement and we definitely don't let that hold us up in any ways in terms of our discussions with them on the technical matters. So we are talking to them all the time because they will have their own feed, we want to make sure that technically we can incorporate that into our system. So those technical discussions are ongoing.
195 THE CHAIRPERSON: What is the difference here? Environment Canada issues a lot, "Major snowstorm to hit Ottawa", okay. It's going to be on every weather forecast. Forget about the national weather network, it's probably on CBC, it will be on CTV, et cetera. If it turns out to be wrong, et cetera, presumably they may get sued, so may CBC, so may CTV, et cetera.
196 Now, you are putting it on your National Alert System. They don't have -- as far as I can see there is no indemnity there, but if it's going on the National Alert System there is supposed to be an indemnity?
197 What are you doing the message that they feel that they need this indemnity?
198 MR. TEMPLE: We are not doing anything to the message, other than passing it on.
199 THE CHAIRPERSON: I thought that was the very point of your system, that you will not touch the content. You will verify this is the content and you will then --
200 MR. TEMPLE: That's correct.
201 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- retransmit it exactly in the form in which it is furnished to you.
202 MR. TEMPLE: That's correct. If they have a spelling error, that's the way it --
203 THE CHAIRPERSON: That's the way it goes out.
204 MR. TEMPLE: -- it shows out.
205 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
206 MR. TEMPLE: So the only thing we are doing is making sure that it's from a legitimate authorized user, to make sure it's not some kid in a basement somewhere.
207 The other thing we do is to make sure it meets the standards and if it doesn't meet the standards that everyone has agreed to, then in our system a message is -- I mean the user knows right away they can't even send the message, it will explain to them that there is a problem that they have not met the standard. Then they can correct that and send the message.
208 THE CHAIRPERSON: Unfortunately, Environment Canada is not appearing before me, because I really would like to understand that position. I just find it incomprehensible.
209 But be that as it may, tell me of BCE, what is the issue there? If I understand it, they don't want to do it on a provincial basis, they want to do it on a regional or local basis and do a whole myriad of agreements with you rather than one global one.
210 Did I get that right?
211 MR. TEMPLE: I haven't got into that specific issue, but we are happy to accommodate whatever they want.
212 Each province is a different strategy or approach. I think we all understand that we are not going to have exactly the same system in every province, they all have their own particular needs.
213 So in some provinces they are quite happy to delegate alerting authority within certain limits to municipalities or police forces. For instance, in the case of Ontario I had a meeting a short while ago with the O.P.P. because they are interested in issuing Amber Alerts and it would be up to the Emergency Management Operations for Ontario, because they have full control.
214 When you sign up -- when a province signs up they have full control over that jurisdiction. We can't get in the system for security reasons, we can't do anything. They are now the boss. So if the Province of Ontario decides that it wants the O.P.P. to issue Amber Alerts, that's under their complete control.
215 New Brunswick, if they want to permit regional municipalities to issue certain types of alerts, that's under their complete control, I have no say in it. It's not my business to go and tell New Brunswick or Ontario how to run their Emergency Management System.
216 So if B.C. wants to let their municipalities issue them or their police force or anyone else, all that flexibility is there.
217 THE CHAIRPERSON: I'm trying to find something I saw in my briefing from staff. It was the issue with BCE was that they wanted -- the various regional organizations wanted to do it on a regional basis and you insisted doing it on a provincial basis.
218 MR. TEMPLE: Well, what we try and do is enter into an agreement with the province so that they can then set up their system. If the Province of British Columbia didn't want to do an agreement at all --
219 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
220 MR. TEMPLE: -- and just said, "Go talk to the municipalities", then we would go talk to the municipalities.
221 THE CHAIRPERSON: I see. So you just basically react to whatever the policy --
222 MR. TEMPLE: Right. I mean, we start at the top. We are not going to kind of go around the province and start talking directly to municipalities or police forces. That would be bad faith. But if they --
223 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, but my assistants point out to me that the province of B.C. indicates that local and regional authorities, as opposed to the province, must be permitted to become authorized users prior to executing the agreement, as these authorities have the mandate and responsibility for issuing alerts in their province.
224 MR. TEMPLE: No problem.
225 THE CHAIRPERSON: That doesn't cause you any problem?
226 That's why I am asking the question, because --
227 MR. TEMPLE: Perhaps they don't fully understand the flexibility that they have. We may have done a poor job in communicating that, but I think that our alerting partners generally understand that concept.
228 They are in control, so if British Columbia wants their regional municipalities --
229 But the difference is that, then, the province is taking responsibility, and then they are delegating.
230 If the province of British Columbia doesn't want to enter into a master agreement, then we will enter into regional agreements with each municipality. I have no problem with that.
231 THE CHAIRPERSON: I hope they are hearing you say this, because, obviously, that is not their understanding right now.
232 Now, your governing council -- I remember that we had a long discussion about that the last time you were before me. It's up and running, et cetera, and I see that you have participation from Bell and from CCSA, et cetera, but a lot of the other broadcasters are not on it.
233 Have they told you why they are not participating?
234 MR. TEMPLE: Under the proposed governance council, it would include -- we have proposed -- and I think the Commission amended it slightly in the order -- that we would include a large distributor serving English Canada and a large distributor serving Francophone Canada.
235 We sent letters to the four large cable operators immediately upon the Commission issuing the order, as we did, also, send letters to every province and territory, inviting them to participate on the board.
236 At that time they wrote back and indicated that they were not prepared to participate because they had concerns, particularly regarding issues surrounding cost and liability.
237 So that would have been in June -- or the summer of 2009.
238 We went forward with the governance council and we wrote to the four large cable operators again in January, I believe, of 2010, with the same invitation, because there had been progress. The council had met several times, and I think we were all engaged in very constructive discussions.
239 So we wrote to the cable operators again to invite them, and again they declined to participate, I think primarily -- I don't have the letter in front of me, but I could get it, but it is primarily because of matters related to liability and cost.
240 THE CHAIRPERSON: But, on the other hand, Bell, representing the DTH carriers, and CCSA are on the council, as I understand it.
241 MR. TEMPLE: Yes, they both participate, and they make a valuable contribution, because they are able to bring these very issues of liability and cost to the attention of all of the provinces and territories.
242 We haven't necessarily solved all of those issues, but at least, I think, the provinces and territories have a better understanding of the broadcasting industry's issues. They are not just hearing it from us. So I think it has been quite productive.
243 THE CHAIRPERSON: But participation doesn't obligate you to anything. They may still hold out for the indemnity, et cetera.
244 Just bringing the issues to the fore -- at least, that is my understanding, and please correct me if I am wrong -- participating in the council, like Bell does, et cetera, does not mean that Bell has to carry your messages. All it does is, it, in effect, brings its policy point of view and its policy consideration and preoccupations to the consideration of the council, if I understand it correctly.
245 MR. TEMPLE: That's correct. As the Commission has indicated, participation by the broadcasting industry is voluntary, but they are there, at least, to raise their issues and concerns, and also to provide us with --
246 We don't control the issue of liability and we don't control the issue of the cost of their equipment, but there are issues that they can bring forward at the council that enable us to make the system better for them.
247 We are trying to make it as broadcaster-friendly as possible, so there are certain things -- Bell TV has given us comments in terms of -- I don't want to get into all of the technical details, but including attachments in the data feed, which we do, which makes it easier for them.
248 So we are getting feedback from them, as well.
249 Also, I think it is worth mentioning that the broadcasters -- CBC, Astral now, and Canwest -- have all participated, and they are able to raise issues, as well.
250 So that's helpful.
251 THE CHAIRPERSON: What is the issue of official languages? Why has that been raised?
252 First of all, you operate bilingually, obviously, with The Weather Network and Météomédia.
253 Secondly, if I understood you at the last hearing, you will receive the message, however it originates, and pass it on that way. If it comes in bilingual form, you will pass it on in bilingual form. If it comes unilingual, you will pass it on unilingual, if I understood that.
254 What is the concern here?
255 MR. TEMPLE: You are quite right, we pass on and support both official languages, in text, audio, and any images that --
256 Well, I guess that images aren't in either official language, an image is an image.
257 We fully support that.
258 There was some talk, a long time ago, when Public Safety was working on their NPASS -- the idea was that messages might start in English, and then include French text or audio after. In other words, it would be one message with both languages in it.
259 But I believe that the provinces, the territories and the federal government have agreed that they will make their own respective decisions on how they want to issue those warnings. So, if a province wants to issue warnings in English only, then that's what they will do. It's not our job to tell them how to operate. If they want to issue messages in both languages, they can do that.
260 But the system -- just to make it clear, the system that we have developed fully supports it. We regularly send out test messages that include English audio, French audio, English text and French text, in the same message.
261 So there is no constraint in our system, it is whatever policy the province wants to follow.
262 THE CHAIRPERSON: Now, 9(1)(h) -- we gave you five years, and you say that's not enough, that you need seven. Why? What has changed between when we gave five and now?
263 We had a long discussion about this. You will remember the 23 cents versus 19 cents, et cetera. I certainly remember it.
264 I also remember that there was a lot of testimony saying that even 19 cents would be more than generous, et cetera.
265 Our decision was quite clear. We gave you five years, so that you would have plenty of money to do the start-up costs and get the system up and running. Why now, after two years, do you already know that that's not enough?
266 MR. TEMPLE: You ask what changed. What has changed is, we have a system. It's up, it's running, we delivered. Maybe people didn't think we would be able to do it in time, or as thoroughly as we have, but it's there, and that is the most fundamental change between now and almost two years ago, when we were here before you.
267 So now the uncertainty of whether we could deliver has been removed, but it has been replaced with another uncertainty; that is, how long will the system be here.
268 We are certainly committed to providing the service as long as we have basic distribution, because that allows us to fund it, but if there is uncertainty by the rest of the constituents, then we are going to create a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure, because people will not want to invest or participate if they think it is going to -- if there is a chance that it will stop in 2015.
269 THE CHAIRPERSON: What portion of the 23 cents goes toward the National Alert System?
270 MR. TEMPLE: In our financials -- and Robert can get into the details, if you wish, but, roughly speaking, we are spending about $1.5 million in operating costs, which will grow to probably about $1.75 million a year in costs to operate it, as well as capital expenditures.
271 We don't sit down and say that, of our 23 cents, you know, this much is attributable to alerting --
272 THE CHAIRPERSON: But, Mr. Temple, we specifically and explicitly stated when we gave you this -- we gave it in order that you could put the system up and get it running. There was a start-up cost, which clearly wasn't -- you know, was over and apart from your regulated business, and you needed it, we realized that, et cetera.
273 And you are now talking about operating costs. Your operating costs, obviously, are less than the start-up costs.
274 We were not convinced that you met 9(1)(h) per se; we gave it to you because of the National Alert System, which clearly was something that only you could deliver immediately, in that time period, and we were very concerned that Canadians would be without that system.
275 And that has started. I commend you for living up to your promise. You have put it up, it's running, it's running well, there are lots of compliments, et cetera. But why should we then pay you -- ensure that you have a guaranteed source of income for the operating costs?
276 Even if you convince me of that, surely it should be only for the operating costs of the NAAD, not for the entire network.
277 MR. TEMPLE: I think that you have to look at our business plan in its entirety and not any one segment. The only way we can afford to provide the service, support it on an ongoing basis, and have a reasonable return, is to have the certainty of being carried on basic.
278 You have to look at the whole undertaking, not just a little part of it.
279 I don't know if Pierre wants to add anything.
280 MR. MORRISSETTE: Yes, if I may; I guess when we look at the mandatory order, 9(1)(h), until 2015 -- I guess the issue today is twofold.
281 Number one, our request is to extend that mandatory order to coincide with our requested licence term. That is one issue, and it's the timing of extending it. We can get into that particular discussion.
282 The second element is whether the mandatory order gets extended at all, and that is a totally separate discussion.
283 Let me deal with the latter. The entire business nature of our service hinges on reach and frequency. Our ability to distribute our services to all Canadian households via cable and satellite has been fundamental to our service since Day 1. It has enabled us to operate a service which cross-subsidizes small communities across Canada, in both languages, and also the French service, and we have mentioned this fact on a number of occasions in previous hearings.
284 The implication of not extending 9(1)(h) at all for us implies that there is a very high probability that at least one major distributor would make it very difficult for us to carry on on basic, potentially go on it here, or secondly, stay on basic at the existing rate.
285 The downside for that for us is extremely material and would have a very major impact on our ability to maintain our business model, which cross-subsidizes small communities and the French service.
286 So that issue alone is of extreme concern for our company, and if that downside did materialize, and we expect it would because we've had ample experience in that regard for the last 10 years, then that would impact our ability to offer a number of services that we currently offer.
287 So as it relates to the timing of 9(1)h to extend it to coincide with our licence term, in that regard, what we are seeking is to send a very strong signal to all participants that NAADS is here to stay right to the end and that it's a strong signal that, you know, this service will happen.
288 THE CHAIRPERSON: Let's go through this one by one because you're making a huge number of points and you've put them all together and they really are not necessarily related.
289 No. 1, you want to be on basic. That's what you're saying. That's why you want 9(1)h, so you're on basic, you're on that tier so everybody has it, et cetera. Correct?
290 MR. MORRISSETTE: That is correct, and to qualify for the 9(1)h in the first place we had to demonstrate that we were an exceptional service that merited that status and --
291 THE CHAIRPERSON: I'll remind you, you did not pass the test the first time around. You only passed it the second time around because the NAAD, so I mean, as I'm pointing out, we gave the 9(1)h up to 2015 because you convinced us very logically that we would not get a national alert system unless you were also asked to do it. And we did do that.
292 MR. MORRISSETTE: Yes, that's correct. And that status continues today, will continue in 2015 and 2018.
293 THE CHAIRPERSON: The second one is the rate. What should be the rate?
294 You say it should stay at 23 percent, 23 cents. We -- you're a very profitable corporation. You make a lot of money on your Weather Network. You also have income under -- outside the income that you make from the 23 cents.
295 The authorization from us was in order to take up the start-up costs, which clearly were considerable. They were also a very short time period, as you mentioned it. And you now are going to have guaranteed operating costs until 2015.
296 By all rights those operating costs should go down, not up, because as you -- as the system gets up, as you have negotiated all these agreements, et cetera -- and we're only talking about fine-tuning, et cetera. It should -- I can -- hopefully it will go down or not. But we will see that in 2015.
297 But you're saying you need it now and you need it for the extra two years in order to put predictability in.
298 Isn't this an issue that we should look at in 2015 when we see with four years under your belt or so having gone through the start-up phase, hopefully having by that time solved the issues of liability and having signed up, you know, what is the reasonable cost here because what we are clearly convinced is that the national alert system is something that should be there, et cetera.
299 Whether you should be on basic tier as a weather network or not is something that is -- you tried to link the two, but I'm not so sure that they are inextricably linked.
300 MR. TEMPLE: There's a couple of points there, and I'll try and address them each.
301 One, there may be a slight disagreement in terms of what we applied for the last time. When we came before you, we proposed to undertake to create and operate a system, and to do that as long as we were on basic. And at the time, I think you may recall that we were fairly firm in our view that it should be for a seven-year period because we tie the operation of the system.
302 Not -- we don't view it as we're on basic for a short period of time just to recover the start-up costs and get things settled down. We're going to be continuing to operate it and incur those incremental costs which we would not otherwise incur.
303 The second thing is, we have a fairly good understanding of the operating costs now, and they're not going to go down.
304 We have two fully operational centres which are staffed. Those people's salaries are not going to go down.
305 We are distributing the signals, the data by satellite on two different satellites and over the internet. Those communication costs are not going to go down, so nothing is going to go down. And if anything, we run the risk of incurring additional operating costs because of possible changes in the future in terms of standards of requirements of our alerting partners, so we know the costs.
306 So in our view, our application was to establish and operate the alerting system as long as we were on basic.
307 There's no -- I don't want this to be -- sound negative. We're very supportive of alerting. But it's an incremental cost, and the only benefit is being on basic.
308 We don't need NAADS. We were doing just fine getting all our alerts and putting them on our channels. We don't need two operation centres. We don't need satellite communications to -- we're doing this as an additional way of showing the exceptional nature of our service.
309 We may, in the past, have not done a great job of convincing everyone that we are exceptional. We believe we're exceptional without the alerting service, but I'll take your point that we haven't successfully convinced you.
310 But without basic distribution, there's no -- if we're going to rely on market forces, then we have to accept the consequences of market forces. And we don't make any money out of NAADS.
311 THE CHAIRPERSON: So you're telling me 2015 rolls around you don't get an extension of 9(1)h you're going to drop the national alert system?
312 MR. TEMPLE: Unfortunately, if -- there will be an impact on our revenue, and the first thing we're going to have to do is go back and reduce our costs.
313 You know, the -- if one distributor moves us, which, you know, people say, "Oh, that'll never happen", but it happened five years ago. It represented hundreds of thousands of dollars every month. Well, it was a million dollars in total.
314 It was a substantial -- it had the potential for a substantial impact on our operations. We can't just all of a sudden have five million dollars disappear.
315 And you can say we're a profitable company, but it's all relative.
316 THE CHAIRPERSON: But you're like every share category, a specialty, right? You have a duel income. You get the 23 cents and you get whatever you can get from advertising.
317 MR. TEMPLE: But if we're moved on a tier, we lose that. As Pierre mentioned, part of the strength -- part of what we put in our filing to try and explain the nature of our service is that people have to have easy access.
318 If you go and read the letters that people sent in, they were quite adamant.
319 THE CHAIRPERSON: I am not arguing you about your popularity and I --
320 MR. TEMPLE: No, it wasn't --
321 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- have received those emails, so --
322 MR. TEMPLE: -- popularity. It --
323 THE CHAIRPERSON: Canadians love the weather service. There's no question about it. And it's vital for the country and it's important, et cetera.
324 The question is whether you're the only one who can deliver it or not. And when we made our decision on 9(1)h, we said, you know, you're a great service, you have a great reputation, bilingual, 100 percent Canadian. Everyone said that. And also you provide this unique feature, the national alert system. That's why we gave the 9(1)h. Our decision made that quite clear.
325 And the question is whether this is -- whether -- you say 2015 is not enough. You need to 2017 or '18.
326 MR. TEMPLE: Well, there's two issues here.
327 There's our issue, and then there's the bigger picture of alerting.
328 You could say, well, I'm not very sympathetic to Pelmorex, but then the issue is, if there's uncertainty as to whether it's going to continue past 2015, who's going to do anything.
329 If I'm an over the air broadcaster or radio station, I'm not going to go buy a bunch of equipment and then find out that Pelmorex isn't doing it and I've got a $10,000 piece of junk.
330 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, it's not going to go away. I mean, if you're not operating it, either the government will take it over or some other -- somebody else will buy it from you and operate it. I mean, let's be realistic here.
331 You're not going to dismantle a national alerting system.
332 MR. TEMPLE: We -- we're not going to be able to afford to provide that, whether -- how or if it continues, I don't know, but that sends a chill through the whole system. And for what gain?
333 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, the other -- well, for what gain? Because you only have been in operation now for, what -- how long have you been doing it? A year and a half, or a year?
334 MR. TEMPLE: Well, since June.
335 THE CHAIRPERSON: Since June. Okay. Even less, then, six months, seven months.
336 You're still partially in a start-up phase. You still have to negotiate with various provinces. The issue of liability has to be solved, et cetera, and so forth.
337 Once all of that is done, and we're only talking about the operating cost of keeping it up and improving it, and you're absolutely right. It won't have to be improved, et cetera. We'll have a much better handle on this, et cetera, than right now. Isn't this premature?
338 MR. TEMPLE: No. We know exactly -- you've set out the scenario exactly. If our application is approved as we've proposed, then there's no roadblocks, there's no doubt in anyone's mind. There's a clear signal to everyone to get on board and let's get going.
339 It's full steam ahead.
340 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, it still is, presumably. We're now in 2011. It's full steam ahead for the next four years.
341 MR. TEMPLE: For us, it is, because we do what we say we're going to do. But anyone else, why -- if you're going to revisit it, then they'll revisit it. They'll just wait and see.
342 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Let's switch tacks. Let's talk a little bit about New Media.
343 You have undoubtedly followed our hearing last week on BCE, et cetera, and the whole issue of exclusivity, et cetera. Is that something that concerns you?
344 MR. TEMPLE: The issue of exclusivity?
345 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yeah.
346 MR. TEMPLE: Well, we --
347 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, this will be front and centre in June. I expect you will be there.
348 MR. TEMPLE: Yes, sir.
349 Well, in terms of the alerting service, there's no exclusivity. We make it freely available to everyone. That's our plan, that's our commitment, and our government partners wouldn't have it any other way. They want that information made available to everyone, and we make it available.
350 Even individuals. Even people in their home can get an RSS feed. They don't even -- they can get it directly from us, so we make it -- there's no exclusivity in terms of the alerting.
351 THE CHAIRPERSON: And can we separate from there?
352 Let's say that a distributor, whether cable or satellite, they have their own weather service in competition with yours and they carry, you know, the cable company's weather service. They then can superimpose upon that your national alert system.
353 ~They don't have to carry The Weather Network's technology to do that. There's no linkage here.
354 MR. TEMPLE: Well, now if we're on basic, if there's an order in place, they're carrying us and presumably they're putting the alerts on every channel.
355 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yeah, right. As long as you're 9(1)h, obviously they're carrying you and no question. But when you're talking about mobile devices, you're not required to carry you.
356 So here I am an operator of mobile telephones, a mobile service. I carry the national alert service because -- but I superimpose it on my own weather service or some other weather service that I'm carrying. That's possible, right?
357 MR. TEMPLE: That's possible if they had an unregulated or an exempt weather service on a new media service and they put it on their cell phones or smartphones and they -- I'm not sure how they could refuse to put us on if a customer just wanted to look at our application.
358 THE CHAIRPERSON: No, no. But right now, for instance, I happen to be a BlackBerry owner. On my BlackBerry I have your application and I look at it the first thing in the morning to see what is the weather in Ottawa.
359 Presumably there could be somebody else's weather application on there.
360 MR. TEMPLE: And they could --
361 THE CHAIRPERSON: I like that better because I think it is more in depth than you, for argument's sake, and I look at that. Now there's a national alert. You put that out. Whoever operates this --
362 MR. TEMPLE: They can put it on their application.
363 THE CHAIRPERSON: They can put it on theirs?
364 MR. TEMPLE: No problem.
365 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
366 MR. TEMPLE: Ours would still be better, but --
367 MR. TEMPLE: Because we will have the alerts and better weather.
368 THE CHAIRPERSON: I'm being hypothetical, Mr. Temple. I'm not making any judgment here.
369 So in terms of the exclusivity of broadcasting content -- and yours has broadcasting content for the new media -- what is your concern there?
370 MR. TEMPLE: In the new? To be honest, we haven't focused on that at all. We have been a little preoccupied with preparing for this proceeding and haven't focused on the issues on vertical integration and whatnot. So it would be a little early for --
371 THE CHAIRPERSON: No, but obviously, here at this point in time, at least in terms of national alert, you don't see any issue?
372 MR. TEMPLE: We are going to make it available to everyone and they can do whatever they want with the information.
373 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
374 MR. TEMPLE: We don't even know who takes it because we don't require them to sign up. They don't have to do anything. They just get the feed.
375 It's like broadcasting. It's just there and they can do whatever they want with it. So if they want to put it on their own weather application or put it on their website or start an e-mail service or issue text messages, they can do whatever they want.
376 THE CHAIRPERSON: Is there any implication at all upon you for the digital transition, which you are going to see at the end of August of this year?
377 MR. TEMPLE: Well, because the mandatory order extends to 2015 now, hopefully there is not too much impact.
378 The Commission has issued a number of proposed changes to the Regulations and we are going to be studying those carefully because we want to understand the impact on our carriage on the basic analog service. So that is a concern.
379 But, you know, that is still a proceeding before the Commission and we will be filing comments on that, I guess it is next week.
380 But in an immediate sense there should be no impact on the transition. Once the mandatory order expires, then yes, there could be a significant impact.
381 THE CHAIRPERSON: Now, this harks back to your 9(1)(h) issue. I mean we are in a period of tremendous flux. We are seeing convergence. We are seeing content moving from one platform to another.
382 On top of it, now in September we have this mandatory transition for the television industry from analog to digital, which undoubtedly will have some impact.
383 And you want us now ahead of time to give you certainty for 9(1)(h). From a business point of view I understand that.
384 On the other hand, would it be much wiser that we look at you, the same way as we look at everybody else, once we have been through this transition, once we know what the situation is, once the whole landscape overall is a bit clearer and a bit easier to predict rather than doing it at this point in time?
385 MR. TEMPLE: I think we need -- in our particular case, I think we need -- we know everything we need to know now.
386 We have a good sense of the costs of operating the system. We know everybody -- we all collectively want it to continue and improve. We know that we are going to increasingly face competition from unregulated --
387 It's not like there is a big windfall and in three years it is going to happen. If anything, it is going to get tougher for us, which would just make it more compelling to ensure that we are distributed on basic.
388 So I am not sure what we need to -- you know, what uncertainty exists that would really alter this.
389 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, to quote Rumsfeld, "We don't know what we don't know."
390 MR. TEMPLE: Well, we know we can try and set the stage for ensuring that this is a success and I think by doing that is to create as long a period as possible that there is certainty that the alerting system will be there and will be meeting the needs, and that is a powerful message from you to the rest of the industry.
391 MR. MORRISSETTE: If I may add, extending our licence term to 2018, coupled with an extension in the 9(1)(h) during that entire period, nothing changes. No one loses.
392 We continue to provide our exceptional service in virtually every subscribing household in Canada in both languages, serving thousands of communities.
393 We continue to provide the NAADS service. This is a long-term project, by the way. In six months since we launched we are exceptionally proud of what has been accomplished in that short period of time.
394 We do have half of the provincial and territorial jurisdictions on board, with more to come, very advanced stages of discussion/negotiation. I mean very soon we will be -- you know, we are over 50 percent of the household now subject to it and very soon there will be, you know, in excess of 75 percent.
395 But as I say, nothing changes. Our rate would continue to be identical. We continue to invest in all of the commitments that we have said we would.
396 We would provide our HD service, which is way more expensive for us than any other specialty network. We would provide enhanced localization and regional services by creating regional feeds.
397 We constantly reinvest in our networks to meet the needs of Canadians coast to coast.
398 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, but you do that for your own business reason. You do that to be competitive, to be ahead of the crowd and be the best weather service in Canada. And that's perfectly normal.
399 I mean I don't know why we have to have a 9(1)(h) order, you know, forcing Canadians to buy it. Because that is what 9(1)(h) basically means. They have to pay 23 cents for your services, and of those 23 cents, I think one cent covers the NAAD cost, somewhere along that line.
400 So that is the issue I am struggling with.
401 MR. TEMPLE: I think, to look at it differently, if it is not extended then there is uncertainty. You were asking, well, you know, we will have to wait and see. Well, if the order is extended, we have certainty. If it is not, that is what is creating the uncertainty.
402 It creates uncertainty in terms of our costs, financing, things of that nature. We have no idea in terms of our planning whether we are going to have the revenues that we are projecting or not, whether there is an alerting system or not that will be operating.
403 One of the things that we wanted to help the Commission understand is that, you know, our example in the video, we are a channel of 1000 channels but we can turn some of those channels off.
404 THE CHAIRPERSON: I understand that, but I mean assume we give you a seven-year licence, assume we say the 9(1)(h) is there till 2015, we would like to see how the various events in the industry are unfolding and we will revisit the 9(1)(h) issue in 2014, so you certainly still have certainty until 2015.
405 I understand your issue of uncertainty. On the other hand, you know, I don't want to give you a free ride when you don't deserve one. It's as simple as that.
406 MR. TEMPLE: I understand that and you have to make us -- you have to ensure that we are not getting a free ride and I guess what we are trying to explain is we are not getting a free ride.
407 If you look at our broadcasting obligations and our plans to improve the nature of our programming to maintain our ability to provide that same level of service to small communities and Francophone Canada, to do all those things, to do HD and alerting, if you look at the business plan it is very reasonable and it is not -- we are not getting a free ride. There is no free ride there.
408 If the order is extended, no one loses. If it is not extended, then we have created a bunch of unknowns and problems.
409 THE CHAIRPERSON: And you feel obviously that you meet the new heightened criteria of 9(1)(h)?
410 MR. TEMPLE: Yes.
411 THE CHAIRPERSON: I saw your submission and I see how you addressed every point specifically, so I don't think I need to -- whether we agree or disagree is a different issue, but I think you very cogently laid out your argument.
412 I think my colleagues have some questions for you.
414 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: How do you see this developing in the future with NAAD?
415 What I am getting at is do you see a point in the future where you are the perpetual operator of the system or do you see a point in the future where NAAD would issue RFPs and seek contractors to operate the service for them, as is done, for instance, in Alberta, where the government Emergency Services contracts with a broadcaster to operate the service for them?
416 MR. TEMPLE: That is a good question. We would certainly love to be the perpetual operator of the NAAD system.
417 Our focus has been on the next seven years because it is still early days. So we haven't really looked beyond that, to be honest, and I think part of that decision will rest with our government alerting partners and what their plans are.
418 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Will there be a process in place or is there a process in place for them to look at that down the road?
419 Because obviously our main interest has to be the public good over a private operator. You could make a bad real estate investment or something and the company could fail, but the system needs to be in place.
420 MR. TEMPLE: There is no formal process. They have not indicated to us in our discussions that, you know, they want to -- that they are going to issue a tender or have any plans to do that. I think their focus, their primary focus is getting this system up and running and working successfully.
421 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Would that be something we could expect clarity on in the years ahead?
422 MR. MORRISSETTE: If I can --
423 MR. TEMPLE: Go ahead.
424 MR. MORRISSETTE: If I can just add.
425 I mean when we came before the Commission a few years ago, you know, what we proposed and committed to was to operate a NAADs system long term at our cost, at no cost to the government agencies, both federal, provincial and municipal, and this was available to all levels of government.
426 And so far we have met our commitment and we continue to embark on long long term. In my own view, beyond the next licence term is our horizon to meet that commitment of providing this fundamental exceptional service at no cost to the various government agencies, and as long as that is working I would not see any reason why, you know, there would be cause for change in that regard.
427 We layer this over our entire infrastructure, which is to provide very targeted and localized information coast to coast in both languages. We have completely redundant facilities in both languages, Montreal and Oakville.
428 And so in terms of -- we have put together a council that involves every meeting -- we meet several times a year -- every province and territory is represented.
429 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Right. But surely you recognize that you can't be the owner of the service.
430 MR. MORRISSETTE: No, but we are the operator of the service and it seems to --
431 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: But who gets to decide that in the future? I know you are now and there is an arrangement in place and you have been encouraged and you Have done a good job setting it up, but I'm just saying down the road how are we going to be able to manage this?
432 MR. TEMPLE: I think if we are not meeting the governments' collectively -- if we are not meeting their need, then (a) they will make that known and if they want an alternative service then that will be pretty clear and they will create an alternative service or fund an alternative service. So it will be pretty clear, if you don't like what we are doing they won't use it.
433 If we are successful in our proposal to the Commission, in seven years then we will have a clear picture of whether we are meeting those needs and I'm sure that they will make it clear -- the provinces and the federal government and whatnot will make it quite clear to you whether we are meeting their needs, and if we are not it won't get extended past 2018.
434 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: But what I don't think any of us want is for five or four or seven years from now is you holding all the cards and the operation of the system so that you come in here and say, "Give us $0.50, give us 9(1)(h) for 10 years, otherwise the nation's emergency services fall down.
435 This is one of the difficulties and complications in having a commercial operator manage these things.
436 MR. TEMPLE: Well, that is certainly not our intent and certainly nothing in our past would suggest that that's how we would act.
437 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: I'm just -- I'm not --
438 MR. TEMPLE: No, I understand.
439 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Don't take this personally.
440 MR. TEMPLE: No, I understand.
441 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Hopefully the system will be in place long after we are all gone.
442 MR. TEMPLE: It's a legitimate question to raise.
443 I guess we could do that -- we could try and do that at any time, but if we try and come back and say, "It's going to be $0.50, it's our way or the highway", the Commission has the ultimate -- they can not renew the order.
444 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: My other question is, how much would liability insurance cost for you to accept the liability in this process?
445 MR. TEMPLE: Which liability? We already insure for our own acts, so we already buy insurance.
446 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: But if you were to accept the liability for the messaging going through the system, how much would that cost?
447 MR. TEMPLE: We have no idea.
448 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: You haven't checked?
449 MR. TEMPLE: To accept the liability for all of governments', I mean government self-insures so it would be a big number I suspect.
450 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Have you asked the governments' to provide that protection legislatively?
451 MR. TEMPLE: For us?
452 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Yes.
453 MR. TEMPLE: We ask them to enter into an agreement with us which spells out everyone's duties and responsibilities respectively.
454 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Right. And liabilities would be part of that.
455 MR. TEMPLE: Liability would just be one of those issues.
456 The problem with legislation is that it typically doesn't exist and the time to get it in place, it's a lot quicker to do an agreement.
457 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: I think in Alberta there is protection inside the Act that governs the Emergency Warning System there. There is protection against being sued essentially. That's my information anyway.
458 If they have managed it there I'm just wondering what efforts you have made to just ask people to see if it's possible to duplicate that.
459 MR. TEMPLE: Oh, it has been the discussion and it has been raised at our council meetings by the other broadcasters and distributors.
460 So each jurisdiction has looked at that issue, I think generally speaking it's something they are looking at, but there is no specific plans for them to implement it. I think there may be one or two provinces that have some kind of legislation in place or legislation in place that they might be able to amend, but as best I know there is no movement afoot to bring legislation.
461 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Right. What I'm trying to get a sense of is if you are looking for more certainty is that we have some kind of certainty that this process is moving along and that, like I said, five, six, seven years from now, four years from now, whatever it is, we are not still in the same boat because there doesn't seem to be a lot of momentum in favour of that.
462 Anyway, I will just leave that there.
463 MR. TEMPLE: Well, I would like to speak to that, though, if I may.
464 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Sure.
465 MR. TEMPLE: The issue of liability I think we really have to separate our liability from that of a last mile distributor. The liability -- the risk faced by a last mile distributor is not anywhere as significant as the risk we face because we are that central part in terms of passing on those messages.
466 A failure by us is a failure of the system. A failure of a radio station to not broadcast a message doesn't necessarily mean that the message isn't getting out. If our system fails then the message didn't get out.
467 So the risks involved are significantly different and, as I mentioned earlier, because we are providing this service nationally, any action will involve us. If there is an action, hypothetically, brought in Saskatchewan because of some failure or error, it doesn't affect any broadcaster in the rest of the country, but it will affect us. So those issues are quite separate.
468 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: I understand that. You are the only one that has a commercial advantage from the system right now through the 9(1)(h) status, right, and that's why I don't understand why you don't accept the responsibilities that come with -- seeing as you are the only one who has the commercial advantage, wouldn't you just assume that that would have some risks?
469 MR. TEMPLE: Right. And we insure ourselves for those risks that we control, but if a government authority issues the wrong message, or miscodes it and sends a message for Regina and codes it and it ends up in Saskatoon, we can't -- we have no control over that.
470 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Right.
471 MR. TEMPLE: So we are just simply asking them -- or if they should have sent a message for Regina and they didn't and there is an action, we are just asking them to take full responsibility for that. That's all we are asking.
472 If provinces want or can implement legislation to also protect broadcasters and distributors when they pass on these messages, that's great and we are fully supportive of that.
473 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay.
474 MR. TEMPLE: That's wonderful, but we don't control that. If Ontario decides not to do that, there's not anything I can do about it, other than encourage them to make that kind of legislation. But I can't make them do it.
475 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: I know you can't. I guess there would be some expectation that you would be working hard to encourage them.
476 MR. TEMPLE: Oh, we are. It's discussed at every council meeting.
477 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay.
478 I have a question that you can perhaps help me with for in terms of where I come from in Alberta where an Emergency Warning System has existed for about 20 years, set up after I think it was the '87 tornado in Edmonton.
479 That system the government contracts to CKUA -- and I believe Shaw may be involved as well at some point, not necessarily as a contractor but as a distributor. That's my information anyway -- and that annual contract is $700,000 and that provides for an Emergency Warning System that interrupts radio broadcasts, et cetera.
480 You are getting $0.23 from every subscriber in Alberta, which I'm going to guess is about $2.4 million, $2.3 million, somewhere in there, from Alberta and Albertans are paying that every year. They are not really getting anything extra for that, but for $700,000 a year they have had an emergency warning system.
481 How do I answer that when somebody says, "What are we getting from this in Alberta?" I know that's a parochial question but it is one that gets asked, "How is this working for us and who are we subsidizing?"
482 MR. MORRISSETTE: I can start to answer that.
483 Since we acquired The Weather Network and MétéoMédia in 1993 we have operated both networks coast to coast -- not just Alberta but both networks coast to coast -- in both languages at a rate of $0.23 since that time.
484 So this past year we have added a NAADs service, a NAADs operation at our cost. So it's not any part of the $0.23 is attributable to NAADs, this has been our rate since we have been involved in this business.
485 Just going back to an earlier point, our view long-term, and very long-term, is maintaining -- while we are on basic, mandated on basic, maintaining a rate stability of $0.23 despite the fact that costs go up and that -- well, I don't want to get into the forecast right in this answer, but I just don't want you to have the impression that we would come back in 2020 and say, "Okay, now it's going to $0.50, otherwise NAADs is off the table." Not at all. That's not the way we do business.
486 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Well, yes, but 10 years from now you might not be the guys at the table. That's my concern in terms of that.
487 I think I have just one more question.
488 I'm still not clear on the value that Albertans are getting from the mandatory.
489 MR. TEMPLE: If I could speak with that?
490 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: I understand, people don't mind paying for what they need or what they want, but I think people do mind paying for something that they don't need.
491 MR. TEMPLE: Exactly. I think in the case of Alberta, Alberta participates and is with us on the council in all our meetings. They are in fact overhauling their system, they are moving to the same standard that we are using and the plan is that we will take a feed of their alerts and incorporate it into our feed and include other alerts so that we will be able to provide kind of all the alerts in one package, not just Government of Alberta alerts.
492 So in fact that would be a more economical solution for broadcasters because they will get all manner of alerts from our feed, not just Alberta alerts, and it may be an opportunity because it doesn't cost Alberta anything, they may have an opportunity to save $750,000 for taxpayers.
493 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: What kind of alert would there be that would be of more than a local nature? I mean surely the most --
494 MR. TEMPLE: Well, Environment Canada.
495 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: -- important alert is a toxic spill --
496 MR. TEMPLE: Environment Canada.
497 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: -- or, where I live, a tornado. At the Big Valley Jamboree there is a fuss about alerts not being sufficient when they come up and they happen really quickly.
498 But my point is, if it's a national issue, surely the entire broadcasting system is out there. If there is an event that large certainly news organizations, all kinds of channels, if there was a terrorist attack. It's not like you would need a -- would you need a national alerting service to let you know that? There is an entire broadcasting system that is set up to let people know that.
499 MR. TEMPLE: Well, I don't think Alberta issues Environment Canada warnings, Environment Canada issues Environment Canada warnings.
500 Alberta may issue a warning about a chemical spill, Environment --
501 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: You are talking about a national organization issuing a warning for --
502 MR. TEMPLE: Exactly. Health Canada --
503 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: -- an event of a local nature.
504 MR. TEMPLE: Health Canada issues warnings and advisories, Environment Canada.
505 If it was a terrorist attack, I presume it would be some other government agency who would do that.
506 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay.
507 MR. TEMPLE: So certainly local issues that are in Alberta's jurisdiction, they would be issuing those warnings.
508 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay.
509 MR. TEMPLE: But there is more to it than that.
510 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Why is compliance, full compliance with the CAP, or the Common Alerting Protocol, an issue for you?
511 MR. TEMPLE: It is not an issue for us. We discussed that at our council and agreed that the system would be compliant with CAP and with the Canadian Profile.
512 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: And you are committed to that? That is not an issue in the hands of a commercial operator?
513 MR. TEMPLE: No. I think it works fine.
514 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Are there any extra costs involved for you that you hadn't anticipated?
515 MR. TEMPLE: Extra costs? I don't know if there's extra costs. To the extent that CAP is changed or updated as we go along there will be costs, but we built the system based on CAP and CAP-CP as it existed at the time.
516 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: In the future is that the sort of thing that should be part of a condition of licence for 9(1)(h), those sorts of details regarding the --
517 MR. TEMPLE: I suppose so. I mean certainly we are --
518 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Or are they better to contract them through NAAD?
519 MR. TEMPLE: Well, it is part of what we discuss at the council because we have to meet their needs. So if they want -- you know, if there is something we have to do, I mean I can't think of an example where we are trying to meet their needs and wouldn't be compliant with CAP or CAP-CP.
520 It is important to understand that the standard is somewhat flexible and that modification and customization is allowed. So people may customize in different ways but still be compliant with CAP and CAP-CP.
521 But I don't -- we have no -- I mean we specifically brought to the council a motion, which was accepted, and it is one of our policies. It is posted on the website so everyone knows exactly what version of CAP and of CAP-CP that we are operating under.
522 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay, thank you.
523 THE CHAIRPERSON: Michel?
524 CONSEILLER MORIN : Merci, Monsieur le Président.
525 Au paragraphe 32 de votre présentation écrite, vous plaidez pour un engagement non-équivoque.
526 Vous ne trouvez pas que vous l'avez déjà cet engagement-là? Vous avez cinq ans. Dans un monde très incertain, vous avez déjà cinq ans. Vous avez un appui incroyable de 4 000 personnes, des ministres, des gouvernements.
527 Quand viendra 2015, ça sera un gros débat de vous enlever sur le 9(1)(h). Je pense que vous aurez toujours ces appuis-là, peut-être davantage si vous améliorez l'ensemble du portrait.
528 Ma question est la suivante.
529 On a reporté l'examen des autres statuts 9(1)(h) en 2012. Vous êtes déjà en 2015, vous autres.
530 Est-ce que vous ne trouvez pas que d'un point de vue réglementaire, ce serait injuste à ce moment-ci de vous donner justement cette extension de trois ans, alors que les autres, une dizaine et plus, qui demandent, eux, un statut 9(1)(h), on ne les considère même pas, on va les considérer seulement en 2012?
531 Alors, c'est ma première question.
532 MR. TEMPLE: On the issue of fairness, the Commission in its policy has been clear that it will review 9(1)(h) orders at the time of a licence renewal, and so this is the appropriate time for this issue to be resolved, not later.
533 I think it is also the appropriate time for practical reasons because this is when we do come to the Commission to review our plans for our licence.
534 So in terms of fairness, I guess we could say well, we don't make the rules, so whether they are fair or not is not an issue of our making.
535 I am somewhat sympathetic to my fellow services who are anxious to have 9(1)(h), so I am not going to argue against that, but we are following the Commission's policy and so I don't think really the fairness either way should be a determining factor.
536 CONSEILLER MORIN : Actuellement, on est dans un univers qui évolue extrêmement rapidement. Pour l'instant, j'ai toujours mon vieux BlackBerry avec mon Weather Network pour aller chercher... mais peut-être que dans un an, j'aurai un Dell Streak, et peut-être que vous pourrez me vendre beaucoup plus de choses que vous me vendez actuellement.
537 Peut-être vous aurez beaucoup de publicité et toutes les tablettes de ce monde. Vous allez avoir beaucoup de choses où vous allez pouvoir associer vos messages à de la publicité.
538 Est-ce que, à ce moment-ci, puisque vous nous donnez des chiffres après 2015, si jamais un grand distributeur décidait de ne plus vous offrir sur le service de base, est-ce qu'on peut vraiment, en 2015, après, prévoir tous les revenus qui possiblement pourraient être générés par toutes ces nouvelles applications, qui pourraient être des revenus commerciaux pour vous, que, actuellement, il vous est difficile de prévoir?
539 M. MORRISSETTE : Monsieur le Commissaire, nous participons de façon très agressive dans ces nouveaux marchés. Il n'y a aucune question que ces nouveaux marchés, il y a beaucoup, beaucoup de concurrence, surtout provenant de l'étranger, des services météo de l'étranger, qui font partie de tablettes, téléphones portables, sur des ordinateurs avec leur site Web.
540 Alors, on participe dans ces marchés-là, et oui, il y a beaucoup de concurrence. Mais nous participons dans ces marchés-là de façon complètement éloignée de notre service réglementé. Il n'y a aucune cross-subsidization.
541 Ce sont des entreprises qui opèrent d'eux-mêmes, avec leur propre équipe de gestion, propre équipe de ventes. Ils paient tous leurs services techniques. Ils paient une grande partie des contenus en fonction de règles très normales comptables.
542 Alors, ils opèrent d'eux-mêmes, et ça n'a aucune influence. D'ailleurs, ça aide à distribuer des coûts qui seraient strictement MétéoMédia et The Weather Network, ça repartit ça sur les nouvelles entreprises de façon très normale en fonction de normes comptables.
543 Alors, on investit considérablement, on encourt des risques dans ces nouveaux marchés-là, on va perdre de l'argent dans plusieurs de ces nouveaux services pendant des périodes d'années, on n'a aucune certitude de récupérer ces fonds, et c'est complètement à part de nos services réglementés.
544 CONSEILLER MORIN : Éventuellement, est-ce que ça pourrait faire une vraie différence en termes de nouveaux revenus?
545 M. MORRISSETTE : Oui, mais ça, c'est comme si on achetait une entreprise complètement séparée, non-réglementée et gérée de façon autonome, ça aussi, mais ça n'a aucun rapport à la rentabilité et la performance de nos services réglementés existants, parce que c'est complètement séparé.
546 CONSEILLER MORIN : On a eu une tempête, la semaine dernière, assez importante du côté américain, mais qui est passée aussi par l'Ontario et les Maritimes.
547 A Oakville, est-ce que vous aviez un reporter sur place pour décrire la situation on camera, avec un montage approprié?
548 Est-ce que vous aviez, dans les Maritimes, un reporter qui pouvait nous montrer des images de ce qui se passait vraiment et de les interpréter sur place?
549 M. MORRISSETTE : Une de nos forces, ce sont des reportages d'art de météo active dans des régions du pays.
550 Je vais demander à monsieur Charron, à Mitch Charron et Eliane Larouche, qui dirigent nos entreprises de télévision, pour commenter.
551 MR. CHARRON: Mr. Commissioner, we pride ourselves in covering the whole country. It is a big country out there.
552 We have on staff four reporters at the moment in Vancouver, Oakville, Montreal and Moncton.
553 We have a freelance base of over 40 reporters scattered across the country, from small cities to the larger ones as well.
554 We have numbers of Canadians who love to talk about weather and report on weather. We have created an extreme weather team and these are volunteers, Canadians who donate their time by providing us the information that we need about what is going on in their area, and this extreme weather team consists of over 1,000 members at the moment and is always growing.
555 And user-generated content has become so popular that Canadians love sharing their weather footage with us from all across Canada and we get thousands on a weekly basis, enabling us to actually, you know, show Canadians all across the country what is happening.
556 Did we broadcast from Oakville during the winter storm? Yes.
557 Did we broadcast from Moncton? Yes.
558 So wherever there is active weather, we make sure that we get out there and cover it.
559 And using technology, as well I am really, really proud of the way we have been able to use things, use technology, you know, to stream live footage from events that are happening or using Skype, broadcasting live from different areas.
560 So we are not kind of constrained from a technical standpoint. We can move around at will and we have equipped all of our bureau camera people to be able to move around and stream or broadcast live from anywhere.
561 I mentioned we have four reporters. We have plans to add two more this year as well in Calgary and Winnipeg.
562 So I think we do a very, very good job of covering the whole country.
563 Eliane, is there anything you would like to add?
564 MME LAROUCHE : De par la nature du Québec aussi, en ce qui nous concerne, c'est un petit peu plus facile de se déplacer lorsqu'un événement survient. Comme, par exemple, on a eu une tornade du côté de Mont-Laurier l'année dernière, et assez rapidement, on a déployé une équipe qui était sur place.
565 Il faut dire que dans une autre vie, j'étais, moi-même, journaliste. Alors, c'est un aspect qui m'est très cher.
566 Et j'ajouterais aussi que la collaboration avec The Weather Network est quand même très importante.
567 Vous parliez de la tempête de la semaine dernière. Alors, durant cette tempête, on a eu aussi quelques centimètres à Montréal. Alors, les équipes sont bilingues, donc sont capables de fournir un contenu également à The Weather Network. Donc, tout au long de la journée, il y avait des gens de MétéoMédia qui intervenaient sur les ondes.
568 Alors, c'est une collaboration qui existe autant pour nous aussi du côté maritime. La personne qui est en place parle français, est capable de nous fournir des clips en français et aussi, bon, des vox pop et des choses comme ça. Donc, il y a quand même une belle collaboration à ce niveau-là.
569 CONSEILLER MORIN : Si vous aviez trois ans de plus sur le service de base, est-ce que ça changerait vos plans de couverture et comment? Peut-être que c'est difficile de répondre tout de suite, mais je vous pose la question.
570 Est-ce que vous pourriez ajouter, si vous aviez plus de prévisibilité dès maintenant ou selon un plan précis au cours des sept prochaines années, plus de reporters, plus de reportages, plus de vidéos, si vous aviez sept ans au lieu de cinq?
571 M. MORRISSETTE : Je vais initier la réponse, et je vais passer encore une fois à monsieur Charron et madame Larouche.
572 Dans nos plans, nous prévoyons l'introduction de trois réseaux additionnels régionaux -- jusqu'à trois -- et puis ça, ça inclut des bureaux de reportage additionnels.
573 Je vais demander à monsieur Charron de commenter.
574 CONSEILLER MORIN : Si vous préférez aussi, on peut peut-être attendre la période de réplique, c'est comme vous voulez, pour me préciser ou nous préciser qu'est-ce que vous feriez de plus que vos plans actuels, dont vous venez de nous faire part, si vous aviez sept ans au lieu de...
575 LE PRÉSIDENT : A la conclusion de l'audience demain, il y a une période de réplique, et on peut avoir une réponse plus élaborée à ce moment-là.
576 M. MORRISSETTE : D'accord.
577 CONSEILLER MORIN : C'est tout, Monsieur le Président. Merci.
578 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Speaking of the reply period there are two things I would like to hear from you tomorrow.
579 Following up on my colleague Mr. Menzies, if the government said to you, this is a wonderful service but we don't see why it should be run by a private company, run it for us on a cost-recovery basis, how much would it cost? It certainly wouldn't be 23 cents per subscriber. So what is actually the cost of running this on an ongoing basis?
580 And secondly, the issue of insurance. I think you are exaggerating the cost of that. The government or the originator of the alert messages is going to be primarily responsible.
581 I agree with you, you will be a third party, you will be involved. There will be some legal costs. But after all we are talking about government agencies there with unlimited liability. So they will be the primary target.
582 So if you ask for insurance to cover you regarding the liability that you may attract by being the innocent carrier of messages from A to B, what would be the coverage and how much would it cost?
583 I understand you haven't looked into it yet, but it would be appreciated if you could look into it and let us have that, whatever your findings produce, maybe not by tomorrow, in a follow-up.
584 Okay. Those are our questions for today. Let's take a 10-minute break. Thank you.
--- Upon recessing at 1101
--- Upon resuming at 1114
585 THE CHAIRPERSON: Madam Secretary...
586 THE SECRETARY: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
587 We will now proceed to Phase II, in which intervenors appear in the order set out in the agenda to present their interventions.
588 We will begin with a presentation by Nova Scotia Emergency Management Office.
589 Please introduce yourself for the record, after which you will have ten minutes for your presentation.
590 Thank you.
591 MR. MYETTE: Thank you very much.
592 My name is Mike Myette, and I am here representing the Emergency Management Office of Nova Scotia.
593 Good morning. Our office spoke at the hearing in April of 2009 on Pelmorex's original application. While many of the concerns we expressed then no longer exist, some still do remain.
594 Firstly, I want to point out that it is clear to us that Pelmorex has diligently completed the work associated with its undertaking to build a national public alerting system. As would be expected from any public safety system, it appears to be both reliable and fault-tolerant, with processes, controls, trained people and secure facilities in place to ensure that it works as designed, when needed.
595 The reason I say that it appears to be so is because I don't believe there are a sufficient number of users in place, nor is there evidence to suggest that sufficient system testing has occurred at this point in time.
596 There has been much progress on alerting policy for Canada. All of the emergency management agencies in the country have collaborated with Pelmorex and representatives of the broadcasting industry to develop practices for public alerting.
597 The emergency management community in Canada has produced comprehensive criteria for broadcast-intrusive alerts, which is, in itself, a first for the country.
598 Although a lot of effort has gone into creating these documents, the work is not nearly complete, because a lot more effort is going to be required to solicit the support of the broadcasting industry.
599 At the hearing in 2009 you asked for input regarding voluntary versus mandatory participation of broadcasters -- and I am choosing to use the word "broadcasters" collectively, to refer to LMDs and BDUs and everything, if you will.
600 The most significant challenge to broadcaster participation that we have seen thus far is that there is no central association that we can use to engage in dialogue with the industry.
601 We would suggest that this is contributing not only to the slow pace of participation by broadcasters, but, more importantly, it is inhibiting our ability to promote to broadcasters the significant benefits of participation, and there are many.
602 Fortunately, ours is a small province and we have been able to sit down and meet with all of the 19 full-time broadcasters in the province to ensure that they really understand the benefits of participating, benefits not only to the public, but to the broadcasters as well.
603 As a result of those discussions, 18 out of the 19, or 95 percent of the radio broadcasters, have committed to participating in the NAAD system. The 19th broadcaster is citing two issues, the lack of nationally ratified broadcast-intrusive criteria, and liability exposure, as reasons for not participating.
604 As I have already pointed out, national ratification of the broadcast criteria is problematic because of the lack of any national association to work with.
605 That said, we are participating with Pelmorex and some other provinces and some broadcasters on a task force, and we hope to identify a process to engage the wider broadcast community and work toward resolving any outstanding issues.
606 We are confident that we will get there eventually, but it is going to take time.
607 On the issue of liability, we understand that broadcasters would be concerned about a message being broadcast in error. Broadcasters are also concerned that someone may sue them because an incorrect message was broadcast by their station. For the purposes of this discussion, I am referring to broadcast-intrusive alerts only when I talk about broadcaster liability.
608 We share those concerns. Every emergency management office in Canada operates in a high-risk environment every day. It is simply the nature of our work. Over time we have adopted tested and time-proven risk reduction measures to reduce and manage exposure to risk, and we have assured the broadcasters that we plan on applying those same measures to our use of the system.
609 This won't guarantee that a mistake is never made, but it is guaranteed to reduce the risk to a minimum. Recognizing that some degree of risk will always exist, we know that we need to deal with the liability issue. We plan on offering indemnity to broadcasters under certain reasonable circumstances. Those would be that the broadcaster not alter or interfere with our message in any way, and, of course, the indemnity could only extend to matters over which we have direct control.
610 We have explained our proposal for managing risk to the broadcasters and our plan for offering indemnity, and again only the one broadcaster remains unsatisfied.
611 We suggested in 2009 that allowing broadcasters to participate voluntarily would create risk, because messages won't reach the greatest number of people unless all broadcasters participate to the same extent. That risk still exists.
612 In Nova Scotia we are working very hard to engage radio broadcasters, but if, despite all reasonable efforts, that one broadcaster still refuses to come on board, our system won't be complete and there will continue to be a risk that a portion of the population will not receive their emergency alert. To us, this is simply not acceptable.
613 In 2009 we expressed a concern that some of the smaller broadcasters -- again, radio -- would not be technically capable of participating in the system. Today we can confirm that small radio broadcasters are indeed capable of participating.
614 With the help of Pelmorex and a Canadian equipment distributor, we have conducted trials with two radio stations, using commonly available broadcast-intrusive equipment. We have proven that those stations can receive an alert message and have that message automatically inserted into the broadcast stream and distributed to the listening public.
615 Indeed, we issued our very first direct-to-air test message with this equipment yesterday afternoon in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, at around four o'clock local time.
616 The fact that we can send alert messages direct-to-air is good news because, based on our research, there isn't a single radio broadcaster in Nova Scotia that operates with live personnel every hour of every day.
617 We all know that disasters are not respectful of anyone's business hours, so the ability to transmit alert messages when a station is not staffed is critical to the success of this or, for that matter, any public alerting service.
618 It is also good news that the equipment is reasonably inexpensive. It would appear that a radio station could be equipped at a cost of less than $3,000.
619 In 2009 we said that what Pelmorex was proposing was certainly of benefit to emergency management, but it was not, and is still not, a true end-to-end solution for public alerting. It still only delivers a message to broadcasters and makes it available for them to receive it; it does nothing to provide the equipment to stations to enable messages to be broadcast direct-to-air.
620 We said that there were some important pieces missing that needed to be added before the system can be relied on as a true end-to-end public safety system that will function equally well at all hours of the day or night.
621 Again, not much has changed. Those pieces are still not in place today.
622 We have been told that for many small radio stations an investment of $3,000 in equipment to enable broadcast-intrusive alerts is significant. Indeed, we have been told that it is significant enough so as to create an impediment to their voluntary participation in supplying this equipment.
623 The province of Nova Scotia has, therefore, made a policy decision to acquire the equipment at public expense and supply it to every radio broadcaster in the province. This will ensure that the public alerting system is, at least so far as radio is concerned, a true end-to-end public safety system in Nova Scotia.
624 We are focusing our efforts on radio, as opposed to television, simply because battery-operated radios are still universally available and remain reliable during a disaster impacting electrical power supplies. It is also a convenient first step.
625 There are a number of important public policy reasons why our having a controlling stake in this equipment makes a lot of sense in terms of managing risk and managing expectations for the broadcasters, for the emergency management office and for the public.
626 We believe that our approach to engaging the broadcast community in Nova Scotia is pivotal in demonstrating that the system can and will work as designed, to enhance public safety.
628 Rest assured that everyone -- the applicant, the provinces, the territories and the federal government, as well as some of the broadcasters -- is working hard to make this system a reality.
629 As we said in our written response, there is much work being done, but there is much more that needs to be done.
630 We would like to point out that the long-term viability of the NAAD service is important to us, as is the ongoing ability for Pelmorex to continue supporting it.
631 We believe it is still early days with the system, and that the broadcasting industry has not yet had the chance to fully understand the benefits of the system. We need to get to the point where broadcasters are not asking themselves "Why should we participate", but rather "Why shouldn't we", and we aren't there yet.
632 Frankly, with only five provinces and one territory currently signed up, we believe that governments have yet to demonstrate full support for the system and must do so before we fault the broadcast industry for not participating, and we have made that feeling known to our provincial and territorial colleagues.
633 To sum up, the NAAD system represents significant and positive progress on public alerting in Canada; in fact, more progress in the last 18 months than in the past 18 years. More progress is needed, however, in terms of engagement with the broadcasters, the testing of the system, and, indeed, the engagement of more users, in the form of provinces and territories, and, of course, below that, municipalities.
634 We have already invested, and we are willing to invest much more in terms of time and effort to engage the broadcasting industry and convince our colleagues across the country that haven't signed on that they should do so.
635 Frankly, however, there is a risk that Pelmorex will stop supporting the system, or turn it off, because they can't afford to keep running it. If there is a risk, I am concerned that all that effort might be wasted.
636 In your consideration of Pelmorex's licence renewal and extension of the mandatory distribution order, we urge you to consider the fact that having Pelmorex's continued support in the development of the service is essential to making this service the national success story that it deserves to be.
637 Pelmorex has told us that a mandatory carriage order is essential to their ability to continue supporting and developing the system. We urge you to view your decision as a much needed opportunity to bring long-term sustainability and permanency to the system and to reassure both users and distributors alike that the system is here to stay.
638 The equipment we have just purchased, at public expense, has an expected lifespan of between 12 and 15 years, and we would like to know that our return on investment could be spread over that same timeframe.
639 It concerns us that others who, at this very moment, may be considering making an investment, whether they be provinces, territories or distributors, might rethink that decision if they perceive that a risk exists that the system won't be here beyond 2015, when the mandatory distribution order expires.
640 The assurances that the Commission can bring in that respect would, I am sure, be welcome to all.
641 Thank you for the opportunity to make these comments, and I would be happy to respond to your questions.
642 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. I must commend the province of Nova Scotia for taking such an initiative. I like, particularly, the idea of buying the equipment for small radio stations, to make sure that the message goes end-to-end, as you point out.
643 We can only hope that, thanks to this hearing and the publicity we are giving to this issue, other provinces follow your lead.
644 On page 2 you say that the 19th broadcaster is citing two issues, the lack of nationally ratified broadcast-intrusive criteria, and liability exposure, as reasons for not participating.
645 What is the issue on nationally ratified broadcast-intrusive criteria?
646 MR. MYETTE: In my opinion, there isn't really an issue. All of the EMOs in the country got together and developed a list of the nature of the events and the criteria that applied to those events, and I think there are 31 or 32 incidents on the event list.
647 What we said, in terms of national ratification, was that, if it does get ratified nationally, then, when it does, we will simply amend it to fit what was nationally ratified.
648 We want this to be a true national system, and if that's what is required, then let's get there.
649 THE CHAIRPERSON: Isn't this a bit of a case of perfection standing in the way of progress?
650 I mean, you have criteria, you have a system up, you have the message there, and you are not going to send it out because you haven't got a uniform code of what is intrusive and what is not?
651 MR. MYETTE: We fully expect to with at least 18 of the 19 broadcasters, sir.
652 THE CHAIRPERSON: In terms of liability, as you said, you have eschewed liability, to the extent that the message comes from Nova Scotia alerting authorities, as I understand it.
653 MR. MYETTE: Our plan is to offer indemnity. Rather than by legislative means, our current plan revolves around an operating agreement, a contractual liability indemnity offer, if you will.
654 THE CHAIRPERSON: What happens if a station in New Brunswick that carries a Nova Scotia message -- because, after all, the storm will cross provincial boundaries -- gets sued? Are they covered by your indemnity or not?
655 MR MYETTE: Again, I think I mentioned earlier that, in my view, the liability really pivots around the broadcast-intrusive events, and I won't be putting any broadcast-intrusive equipment in New Brunswick.
656 THE CHAIRPERSON: Say that again? I missed it.
657 MR. MYETTE: I said the liability pivots around broadcast-intrusive equipment and we won't be putting any broadcast-intrusive equipment in New Brunswick stations.
658 THE CHAIRPERSON: Oh, it's the equipment.
659 MR. MYETTE: That's right.
660 THE CHAIRPERSON: Not the message per se. I mean, if the Nova Scotia provincial police issue something and it happens to be erroneous, you're not going -- you won't stand behind it?
661 MR. MYETTE: We will under the terms of our operating agreement with the broadcasters. Most certainly we will.
662 THE CHAIRPERSON: That's what I thought.
663 MR. MYETTE: Yeah.
664 THE CHAIRPERSON: But that broadcaster happens to be out of province broadcaster. That's my whole point.
665 MR. MYETTE: The -- I guess the point that I'm making is that they won't get the same message in New Brunswick because they won't have the -- they may not have the broadcast intrusive equipment.
666 THE CHAIRPERSON: I agree, but -- I understand your position, but on the other hand, we both know that disasters don't respect provincial boundaries, you know.
667 MR. MYETTE: Absolutely.
668 THE CHAIRPERSON: There is an issue here. Okay. Peter, questions for you?
669 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Hi. Do you live in Halifax?
670 MR. MYETTE: Yes.
671 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Did your power go out last week when the snow came through?
672 MR. MYETTE: Mine didn't, no. Well, I actually live a little further outside the city.
673 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: It was good of you to -- I was noticing that you'd said you were concentrating on radio instead of television because I have family in Halifax and the power goes out frequently enough that we bought her a crank radio for Christmas.
674 How, currently, are Nova Scotians alerted regarding impending or current emergencies? How do you manage that?
675 MR. MYETTE: Currently there's a -- we use our communications arm of government called Communications Nova Scotia. We issue press releases. They're sent out on the wire and broadcasters pick them up voluntarily.
676 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. So -- and how well has that worked?
677 MR. MYETTE: It's worked well. The issue is not so much around effectiveness of the message as it is around timing of the message. To get a message out within minutes or seconds, as I understand, is the greatest benefit of the system.
678 We probably wouldn't be able to do that today.
679 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Right. So right now if something comes up, you're kind of -- you're dependent on there being somebody at the radio station picking up the press release and intervening in the broadcast, which is often ---
680 MR. MYETTE: That's the other piece. If an emergency happens in the middle of the night, then without the equipment in place nobody will be getting the message.
681 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Do you see in the future the system developing more away from a broadcast alerting system to a system that works through the telecommunications system more in terms of alerting people with text messages to their cell phones, for instance, that sort of stuff?
682 In the long run, would that be a more effective system than one that's dependent on whether or not people have, you know, their radios or televisions on?
683 MR. MYETTE: Well, I think as -- you know, I think as we migrate towards mobile devices I think it absolutely makes sense. And I've been heavily involved in the development of a reverse 911 service for the province, which is still years out. And part of the challenge there is about getting messages to mobile devices.
684 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Right. But the -- you'd be able to like send a message to -- just through one particular cell tower; right?
685 MR. MYETTE: I guess I'm not really aware as ---
686 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: You can be that local about it?
687 MR. MYETTE: Yeah. I'm not really aware as to how well that technology's been proven currently, but that would be the ideal way, is to send it through and everybody that has a mobile that can receive from that tower would get the message, yes.
688 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: And do you see that being an alternate system, or do you see the sort of NAAD system as it's developing encompassing or moving on towards that?
689 MR. MYETTE: Well, actually, in our presentation in 2009 we spoke to the linkage between NAADS and reverse 911 because when we're sending a message out to people, whether it be on a mobile device or a land line, we have literally, you know, seconds to give them a very compact message.
690 The message I'd like to give them, the most important message, is tune to local broadcasting for more information.
691 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Right.
692 MR. MYETTE: So if we sent the message on NAADS, they -- at 3:00 in the morning they tumble downstairs and turn on the radio, the message should be there.
693 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Right.
694 MR. MYETTE: That's the linkage between the two.
695 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Complementary like that.
696 MR. MYETTE: Yeah.
697 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: How do you see this evolving in the future? On page 5, the third -- on my copy it's the third paragraph down when you said:
"Frankly, if there is a risk that Pelmorex will stop supporting the system or turn it off because they can't afford to keep running it, I'm concerned that all effort might be wasted."
698 That's a concern, too, because we -- this -- with this system being as it is developing through a private operator because we don't know, it being a private operator, whether the company -- I mean, the company certainly is today, but that 10 years from now the company will be -- will not want to retreat from the process for economic reasons.
699 Do you see a system developing where NAADS would contract -- ask for bids, contract the system out in the way that Pelmorex is functioning right now but that that would be a competitive process in the future?
700 MR. MYETTE: Well, that more or less takes us back to where we were before Pelmorex applied for the order. There was an RFP intended to be issued, and if memory serves, several provinces backed out of the RFP for financial reasons. They simply couldn't bring the money to the table.
701 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. So does then Pelmorex -- are we putting ourselves in a position where Pelmorex is, in effect, the owner of a public emergency warning system?
702 MR. MYETTE: I guess it's difficult to answer in the legal sense of an owner. They're the operator and I think, you know, fiscal realities have brought us to that situation because could we -- Nova Scotia was prepared to contribute an amount, and I can't even remember what it was now, but many provinces just didn't have the money to contribute to what went into the system at the -- you know, a short three years ago or two years ago when this idea was created.
703 Economies change and things change, so if you're asking me to predict 10 years down the road or five down -- years down the road whether government could have money to fund the system, that's not something I can answer.
704 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Right. Now, you've confirmed that the government is protecting the broadcasters from any liability.
705 Why is -- what are the reasons for the 19th of the -- you've got 18 out of 19 signed up. What are the reasons the 19th is giving you for not signing up?
706 MR. MYETTE: Well, I guess all I really have is an email that said because of the lack of nationally ratified criteria and the liability issues we won't participate. And other than that, they won't return my phone calls or emails, so that's all I can tell you.
707 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: So why do we care about the 19th person -- 19th business?
708 MR. MYETTE: Well, because, you know, we're promoting what's called an all-channel alert system that means to the travelling public and the way that I want to endorse it is that it doesn't matter which radio station or TV station you're listening to, you'll get the alert.
709 So if that radio station doesn't participate and it's 3 o'clock in the morning and I'm relying on broadcast intrusive equipment to deliver that message to the public, the public's not going to get it.
710 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Does this broadcaster function in a market that was the sole broadcaster?
711 MR. MYETTE: There are some, yes.
712 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: There's some markets that ---
713 MR. MYETTE: There are some areas, yeah.
714 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: --- (inaudible) the sole broadcaster?
715 MR. MYETTE: Yeah.
716 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Would you be intervening on this point in their licence renewal, bringing it to our attention?
717 MR. MYETTE: Well, it's entirely possible that if we can't -- you know, we're hoping to work with them and bring them on board collaboratively as we have with everybody else, but if that -- if all reasonable efforts fail, that would have to be our -- we probably would appreciate having that option, yes.
718 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. But 18 out of 19 is certainly progress from where you were before.
719 MR. MYETTE: Absolutely.
720 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. A couple more questions here.
721 What is your perception of the role Environment Canada has played in the process so far? Has it been as supportive as you would like, or as fully engaged as you would like?
722 MR. MYETTE: Well, I've certainly -- at the Advisory Council meetings I've engaged with the people from Environment Canada.
723 My understanding, at least earlier on, is that there were some legacy issues with how their equipment would interface with the NAAD system, and I don't know whether those issues have been resolved on the technical side.
724 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: So it's a technical issue in ---
725 MR. MYETTE: Yeah.
726 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: --- in terms of that.
727 What was the primary barrier in the past that prevented Nova Scotia from implementing its own system, its own provincial warning system in the same fashion that, say, Alberta has for the last 20 years?
728 MR. MYETTE: Well, we ---
729 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: I'm trying to get my head around why it's taking people so long to get ---
730 MR. MYETTE: We had the research all completed, and there certainly was a commercially available system that would do what this does on a province-wide basis.
731 The -- you know, the Chair pointed out some issues with border stations that if we did it ourselves wouldn't be covered.
732 And when we looked at the numbers for participating in a national system, they were somewhat less than what we could build it ourselves for, so, you know, there was interest in participating nationally.
733 But we could do it. Technically, we could do it provincially without technical challenge. Just at some greater cost.
734 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Did you ever fix a cost on how much that might be to do that?
735 MR. MYETTE: It seems to me that we were pivoting around the 350 or 450 thousand dollars, and 100 and some thousand dollars a year operating. And that, at that point, wouldn't have included the additional 200,000 that we're investing in the broadcast in terms of equipment, so it probably ---
736 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: So say half a million dollars to get the system set up.
737 MR. MYETTE: Sure, yeah.
738 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: And there's a one-time cost. There's a capital cost, and then $100,000 a year for operating?
739 MR. MYETTE: Something like that. Licensing fees, yeah.
740 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: 100,000 is -- that's about 12, 15 cents per Nova Scotian per year for operating costs for an emergency system? That's a pretty good deal, right, I would think?
741 MR. MYETTE: Well, we actually -- I think our population census is about 960, just under a million people, so ---
742 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: So less than that; 10 cents ---
743 MR. MYETTE: Yeah.
744 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: --- something like that per year.
745 But it was more cost efficient to go with a national -- participate in a national system. Is that ---
746 MR. MYETTE: Yeah. It seems to me the numbers that we were -- see, initially there was -- again, there was an RFP and there were numbers floating around on a per capita basis for some provinces to participate, and our numbers were substantially less than that, so -- at that point in time.
747 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: In your press release accompanying your submission, you said you were the second province to supply auto broadcasting equipment to all radio stations.
748 Which was the first?
749 MR. MYETTE: Our understanding is that Alberta is the first.
750 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: So that was ---
751 MR. MYETTE: They actually supply that group as well.
752 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: That was the one proceeding that's ---
753 MR. MYETTE: Yeah.
754 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Don't you think -- I understand your position that the extension of the 9(1)h order, in your view, reduces the risk of Pelmorex abandoning the system, as you said in your last page.
755 It could be argued that by just maintaining the status quo it maintains a certain level of not intrusive, but appropriate pressure to finish the job earlier rather than later.
756 Would -- don't you see some -- there being some risk to extending -- if you add a couple more years to the order, that it's just going to take two more years to get the system set up?
757 MR. MYETTE: Well, I suppose that risk exists, and not knowing a lot about Pelmorex's financial situation, it's difficult to comment. I think, you know, we want to get the system set up and from Pelmorex's perspective in terms of what they've developed so far, I think fundamentally they're in waiting mode.
758 They're now waiting for more people to sign -- more users to sign on and then there's a testing cycle that goes through. And that testing cycle may well indicate some development needs and some costs.
759 But I think at this point we're sort of in a -- Pelmorex -- I don't want to speak for them too much. I think they're probably in a waiting mode, let's get some users on board. Let's get the system tested and then identify what it needs from that point.
760 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: If you get this set up even with your 18 out of 19, how many blind spots will there be in Nova Scotia where broadcasting signals don't reach? Or do you have 100 percent coverage?
761 MR. MYETTE: No, we certainly won't have 100 percent coverage. And we haven't done that, that math yet. But the issue there more pivots around public education because for all of the listeners of that 19th broadcaster, in order to make the system work we're going to have to convince them to switch off that station to one of the other stations, which is something fundamentally we don't want to do.
762 So it's -- in terms of the gaps, we haven't done the math to identify what, in terms of population, it would be, but we know there are some.
763 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. Thank you.
764 MR. MYETTE: Okay.
765 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, thank you. Those are all question, and I commend you for your initiative and keep pumping out that line in the last 18 months we made more progress than in the last 18 years.
766 MR. MYETTE: Thank you.
767 THE CHAIRPERSON: It's very true. Thank you.
768 We'll deal with the next intervenor now, Madam Secretary.
769 THE SECRETARY: I would invite Emergency Management Ontario and Canadian Council of Emergency Management Organization to come forward.
770 MR. HEFKEY: Thank you.
771 Good morning.
772 THE CHAIRPERSON: Good morning.
773 M. HEFKEY : Monsieur le Président, Commissaires, mon nom est Daniel Hefkey. Je suis le commissaire responsable pour la sécurité civile en Ontario.
774 I'm also here as the Chair of the Canadian Council of Emergency Management Organizations to speak with you on the topic of Pelmorex's license renewal.
775 By way of background what I wanted -- and again, appreciating what I was hearing this morning, I would like to kind of just add some points as well.
776 You should be aware that we, the provinces and territories -- so not only Ontario but the provinces and territories who I represent this morning -- are supportive of a robust public alerting system that can significantly limit, in our opinion, social, economic and human losses incurred by Canadians during emergency events.
777 I, in Ontario, we, the provinces and territories, need a national public alerting system. That public alerting system has a backbone and that backbone is the National Alert Aggregation Distribution. That is why we believe this private-public partnership. I will get to in just a bit one of the questions that Commissioner Menzies had with respect to why it we have gone down this road.
778 As senior officials responsible for emergency management, we welcome any and all efforts to get citizens to first understand the hazards, but then from there assess their risks and then taking those risks and taking some form of action to better prepare themselves or to protect themselves from whatever that hazard brings to their communities and to their households.
779 Now, the provinces and territories -- and you heard my colleague from Nova Scotia speak to this -- but the provinces and territories have been working towards a national system, a National Public Alerting System, over the last number of years.
780 I came onto the scene in 2007 and we were talking on this issue. I was there when we were considering developing an RFP. I deployed staff to work on the development of that RFP, to considerable cost to my organization.
781 At the end of the day, when we put it before our Ministers Responsible for Emergency Management the Ministers were faced with the fact that there were a number of jurisdictions who said that financially they could not support the estimated costs that were being presented to them with respect to the request for proposal. They then looked to us senior officials responsible for emergency management and asked that we look to low to no-cost options.
782 At that point in the RFP there was one such option and that was the Pelmorex proposal, which is was low -- or actually no cost. So we therefore entered into that private-public partnership and began to work on the National Public Alerting System, and then again, through your Commission, on June the 9th Pelmorex launched the National Public Alerting Aggregation and Distribution System.
783 Now, that too had its governance council. We had representatives from each and every province and territory as well as from various broadcasters, writ large.
784 In presenting, I think what was interesting or what was important for me to get across was we strongly need a sense of permanency to this system. You have heard from both Pelmorex, you have seen -- in some evidence as well and from Nova Scotia -- that there are six of us who have signed onto the National Alert Aggregation Distribution System. There remains seven.
785 We hope, and it's my job as Chair, to encourage my provincial, territorial and federal colleagues to actually enter into these agreements. But appreciate that they are their own jurisdictions. They must do their own assessments as it relates to the bilateral agreement between themselves and Pelmorex.
786 We, the provinces who have signed, do assist those jurisdictions who have not in helping them understand what the hurdles were for us and how we were able to address them. But we still have only six jurisdictions.
787 Now, for us in terms of operational imperatives what is important is widespread alerts. You heard this back when we testified a couple of years ago on this matter and it continues to be an operational imperative.
788 When I say "widespread" think of it in actually several ways.
789 One is geographically. We had had things like the snow squalls along the 402 that happened in December; we have had tornados that touched down from one county to another township to another county in Ontario.
790 We have also had instances where we have had hazardous spills where the plume moves from one area to another. While it is limited in its immediate effect, it is the reverberations or the repercussions, the consequential effects, if you will, that also requires us not only to get the message to that particularly impacted community or municipality, but also to those folks who are entering into that area.
791 If I use the 402 as my example, my case in point, I not only want to talk to the folks who are sitting stranded on the 402 between London and Strathroy or Sarnia, but I also wanted to get to the motorists who are actually driving towards London or travelling from somewhere towards Sarnia.
792 But there is also the issue of widespread alert, meaning getting to as many folks as we can. That's what this is all about. That also means that for myself getting the message out in various means. So we use the NAAD, but I also in Ontario use a number of other means by which to get my message out.
793 So we have and continue to exercise the agreement that we have with the Ontario Association of Broadcasters and we use them to get the message out to their members.
794 We also use CNW. We use the News Wire Service and the reason for that is we know that it will get to a number of print media and others, but we know that it can get to many folks.
795 We also, additionally, get the message out using our own subscriber services. So today you can go to our website and you can subscribe for our alerts and our advisories and in that way we try and make it widespread. Hence the reason why that is one of our operational imperatives.
796 Our second operational imperative is the issue of permanence.
797 You heard my colleague from Nova Scotia speak to this and I want -- and I think it's worthy of repeating. For me the issue of permanence is so important because I need for the citizen of Ontario to know that they are going to have a public alerting system and that the message that they get is going to be a similar message in the years to come, because the NAAD is simply the backbone, it is not the National Public Alerting System. That requires other things, like public education, like the training, like exercising of our staff, and the engagement of others to get the messages out.
798 But that permanence brings certainty, which then begets confidence amongst the public, but it also breeds confidence among those who are going to invest time and money into the system.
799 Again, I appreciate the fact that there are certain organizations, CHCH is the example I can give you. They have stepped up to the plate in Ontario and have taken up our cause of public alerting. They have not come to us and said "We will not do this unless", it has been unconditional.
800 THE CHAIRPERSON: Who is CH?
801 MR. HEFKEY: CHCH is -- I'm sorry, my apologies.
802 THE CHAIRPERSON: Oh, it's a station?
803 MR. HEFKEY: Yes, it's a station.
804 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thank you. All right.
805 MR. HEFKEY: Channel Zero is, I think, their common title.
806 As well as the CBC. But it's that kind of permanency that again breeds the confidence and then allows for our system to expand.
807 Because one of the other operational imperatives here is the engagement of as many broadcasters, BDUs, LMDs, as possible. If we can get a good number of them, that will allow me and the duty officers who staff my provincial operations centre to, instead of doing things in triplicate, literally, having to send to CNW, then having to send to OAB and Pelmorex, they would only need to hit that one button and they would be able to send it to all in a number of different media formats.
808 So that's why for us these three operational imperatives are very important.
809 Now, in terms of our current state I thought it important that I share with you what has been done. We now have a backbone, that's the Pelmorex piece. Six provinces, as I said, have signed, and territories have signed.
810 We have partnered with the folks like CHCH and CBC and what that has allowed us to do is to test. While the backbone is good and it works, what the testing has taught us is that there are a number of small technical issues that need to be resolved. They are not insurmountable, they are achievable, but we need to have folks to step up to the plate to say, "You know what, we want to participate in the NAAD, in the NPAS as well."
811 So through our testing we are able to see, for example, that the length of the crawler that was going along the bottom of the CHCH channel was in fact too short. We actually got to test and then correct it. But then we got to test also our audible alert as well. So there is a tone alert at both beginning and end and we got to test that. Then with the CBC we got to test the bilingual capacity.
812 To answer also one of the questions that came up earlier this morning, in Ontario the position is -- and we have spoken with our French-language services, and you can tell I'm a Francophone so this is very near and dear to my heart -- is not all of my duty officers are bilingual.
813 So as a result, the message goes out -- because of the timeliness and the time criticality we send it out in English first, we use our translators to do it properly and make sure that the translation is done perfectly and then we sent it out as quickly as that translator can get it to us. Translators are available to use 24/7. We have that kind of capacity within government.
814 But, like I said, testing has allowed us the ability to flag technical issues and these issues will continue, we are sure of them, but it's only through testing and the years of testing we have been doing on our own system that we can achieve as close to perfection as possible.
815 We participate and will continue to participate in the governance council. It is absolutely critical that we be there.
816 And I can tell you as the Chair of the Canadian Council of Emergency Management Organizations, there is not a territory or province who is saying they don't want to participate. As recently as the break I was speaking with Alberta, Colin Lloyd from the Alberta Emergency Management Organization, and I asked him, I said, "Is this working for you? Just to clarify, can you confirm?" Because he was on this conference call yesterday.
817 The answer is yes, they do find value, they do see value in -- as, Commissioner, you were asking -- in making sure that their system, their Made in Alberta system, plugs into the National Alert Aggregation Distribution System.
818 So in terms of going forward we do want to get other provinces and territories signed on. That is an absolute must. And, as you heard from Nova Scotia, we feel very strongly that that happens. Then we go after the BDUs and LMDs and get them to participate.
819 We want absolutely for all of us -- we need for the system to continue to be there and that it be robust. That robustness is only going to be done if we test it.
820 Provinces, territories and the federal government, private sector interests and Pelmorex must be provided with additional time to develop essential supporting components.
821 We have talked about this before and we continue to talk about it, not only at the governance council but at our federal-provincial-territorial meetings, and that is the notion that it's all nice to have a backbone, but you need to ensure that individuals out in those communities understand what an alert is, when it's going to be issued, under what circumstances and what can they expect.
822 In Ontario, our system is very simple. We have a significant event that is going to cause a major -- has major risk to health and life, and there is a protective action that can be given, an instruction to the public.
823 Those are our criteria. That's what we use, and we, again, layer that on top of the CAP-CP.
824 But the need for permanence in the development, governance and implementation of the national public alerting system is paramount and essential to all who are going to invest in this, and that includes citizens as well as private undertakings.
825 There are also, for my colleagues from the Northwest Territories and the Yukon -- there are, in fact, unique situations, and we hope -- and they want to continue working with us in order to bring the NAAD to their territories and their unique circumstances.
826 I will leave it at that, and I am open to questions. Thank you.
827 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you for a very persuasive case.
828 Tell me, what is the issue on liability that the broadcasters put forward?
829 You signed up, and you are not providing any indemnity to broadcasters, are you, in Ontario?
830 MR. HEFKEY: That is correct, I am not.
831 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right. But CHCH and CBC are participating in any event.
832 MR. HEFKEY: They are.
833 THE CHAIRPERSON: From your point of view, why are they doing it and Rogers is not doing it? What is the distinguishing factor?
834 MR. HEFKEY: I don't know, I haven't spoken with Rogers. You would have to speak with Rogers to find out why they --
835 THE CHAIRPERSON: I will ask them after lunch, don't worry.
836 MR. HEFKEY: I am looking forward to that.
837 For us, the position has been -- and, again, I look at the agreement that I currently have with the OAB. There is no indemnification of the OAB, and they have, for the last four years, been delivering our red alerts.
838 THE CHAIRPERSON: OAB being the Ontario Association of Broadcasters?
839 MR. HEFKEY: That is correct.
840 They, in fact, worked with us in developing our red alert program in Ontario, and we continue to value their contributions. Hence, the reason why we continue to work with them and send them messages.
841 THE CHAIRPERSON: And, presumably, those messages are the same that are passed on by Pelmorex.
842 MR. HEFKEY: That is correct, Mr. Chair, they are exactly the same. As I said, they are in triplicate. We simply copy and paste. The message that is sent through the NAAD is the same message that we give to CNW, is the same message that we give to the OAB, is the same message that you would see on our website.
843 THE CHAIRPERSON: I guess we will get an answer after lunch. Thank you.
844 Michel, tu as des questions?
845 CONSEILLER MORIN : Merci, Monsieur le Président.
846 Vous avez livré un vibrant plaidoyer pour le système, mais il n'y a quand même que six qui ont signé jusqu'ici.
847 M. HEFKEY : Oui.
848 CONSEILLER MORIN : Vous avez aussi... à moins que j'aie mal lu, vous ne parlez jamais du statut 9(1)(h) pour jusqu'en 2010.
849 Je peux présumer de votre réponse, mais c'est quoi votre position exactement?
850 M. HEFKEY : La position est tout simplement que, pour nous, on parle de la permanence, que nous, on a besoin de ce système.
851 CONSEILLER MORIN : Jusqu'à... permanent sur la distribution 9(1)(h)?
852 M. HEFKEY : Bien, là encore, ce n'est pas notre décision pour nous, les provinces et les territoires. Tant qu'à nous, ça serait à vous de décider à ce point-là. Nous, tout simplement, on a besoin de cette permanence pour qu'on puisse investir dans nos systèmes et développer nos systèmes pour qu'on ait un système d'alerte public national.
853 CONSEILLER MORIN : Et si la distribution 9(1)(h) n'était pas accordée, on ne sait pas exactement jusqu'à quel point le système national pourrait fonctionner.
854 Simplement de votre point de vue... vous dites que, par exemple, en Alberta, vous avez eu des discussions et elles vous semblent prometteuses.
855 Mais si je vous demandais dans combien d'années pensez-vous qu'il y aura une entente entre toutes les provinces et les territoires, est-ce que vous pourriez me dire ça? Est-ce que vous pourriez répondre?
856 M. HEFKEY : Je ne peux pas vous donner des dates exactes, mais je peux vous dire que ce n'est pas des années. En parlant avec la Colombie-Britannique, avec l'Alberta, c'est tout simplement, encore là, des mois. Ils parlent de mois. Même chose au Québec, même chose en Saskatchewan.
857 CONSEILLER MORIN : Ce sont mes questions. Merci.
858 M. HEFKEY : De rien.
859 THE CHAIRPERSON: Peter?
860 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: What is your estimate of the national operating cost of the system, once it is established?
861 I know that Alberta contracts out for $700,000 a year. Nova Scotia mentioned that the operating cost, not counting the cost of, maybe, amortizing the front-end costs, would be about $100,000 a year. Do you have any sense of, once this is fully operational, what the annual operating costs would be?
862 MR. HEFKEY: What they would be nationally or to the province?
863 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: To the province. Let's speak to the province.
864 MR. HEFKEY: To the province -- actually, the quick answer is no, I don't know how much it would cost every year. But what I can tell you is that, from our perspective, what we have done is invested in our costs related to our provincial emergency operation centre.
865 It's a 24/7 operation. Our investment is seven full-time equivalents, who are housed in a room, in an operations centre, and they receive from our various municipal partners and ministry partners information relative to an alert and other issues, but alerts, amongst other things.
866 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: That is your current cost, right?
867 MR. HEFKEY: That's our current cost.
868 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: What would be the incremental cost of engaging the broadcasting system to be the ultimate delivery vehicle for your message?
869 MR. HEFKEY: At this point we are not committing, as Nova Scotia has. We are not committing any money to pay for the technology that would enable a broadcaster, such as CHCH, to receive -- enable it to receive the message from the national alert aggregation distribution system.
870 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: That's a capital cost. I am trying to think of, going into the future, what would be the annual operating cost.
871 MR. HEFKEY: For us, Commissioner, there is no operating cost, other than what we have already sunk into our full-time equivalents. Other than that, we aren't being charged anything by Pelmorex or anyone else.
872 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. Let me try it one more time. I am not expressing myself.
873 What do you suppose Pelmorex's cost might be for operating the system in Ontario?
874 If Pelmorex wasn't doing it, how much would it cost -- operating cost?
875 MR. HEFKEY: Let me go back, then, to a known; that is, when we were doing the RFP, when we looked at that particular system, we in Ontario were looking at a cost of $2.4 million. That was going to be our chunk of what it was going to cost to develop a national public alerting system.
876 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay, thank you.
877 THE CHAIRPERSON: Those are our questions for you. Thank you very much.
878 We will break now for lunch and we will resume at 1:30.
--- Upon recessing at 1208
--- Upon resuming at 1333
879 THE CHAIRPERSON: All right. Let's continue, Madam Secretary.
880 THE SECRETARY: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
881 We will now proceed with a presentation by Shaw Communications Inc., Rogers Communications, Cogeco Cable, Quebecor Media Inc., and Bell Aliant and Bell Canada, The Companies.
882 Please introduce yourselves for the record, after which you will have 15 minutes for your presentation.
883 Thank you.
884 MR. ENGELHART: Thank you very much.
885 Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. I am Ken Engelhart from Rogers Communications. With me today are Paul Armstrong from Bell Canada and Bell Aliant, Yves Mayrand from Cogeco Cable, Peggy Tabet from Quebecor Media, and Jean Brazeau from Shaw Communications.
886 In the second row are Geoff Wright from Bell, Scott Loretto from Rogers, Mike Ferras and Bob Hamilton from Shaw, Richard Lalonde from Videotron, Suzanne Blackwell with Giganomics, and Greg Kane from Stikeman Elliott.
887 We are pleased to have this opportunity to discuss specific issues raised in Pelmorex Communications Inc.'s application to renew its broadcasting licence for The Weather Network and Météomédia.
888 In response to the areas of focus identified by the Commission, we submit the following.
889 First, we support Pelmorex's application for a seven-year licence renewal, on the same terms and conditions as set out in the current licence.
890 Second, we regard any extension of the current mandatory distribution order as unnecessary and inappropriate. The extension of the mandatory distribution of The Weather Network and Météomédia is independent of a national alerting system.
891 Finally, we remain fully committed to the implementation of a national alerting system.
892 While there may be slight differences in timing, most distributors will be capable of delivering short alert messages by the end of the year.
893 The BDUs that we represent are dedicated to seeing a national public alerting system up and running in Canada. In addition to the collective steps taken by the BDUs, as described in our written submission, individual distributors have made significant progress toward developing their own alerting capabilities. We will give you a few examples.
894 At Rogers, we went to senior management last fall and requested funding to build an alerting system. Management stated its commitment, that request was approved, and the work is well underway. We continue to work with Pelmorex and the other alerting stakeholders on the Common Look and Feel Committee. By the end of the year, at the latest, we will have installed all of the equipment required to implement our alerting solution across all of our cable systems.
896 MR. ARMSTRONG: Thank you, Ken.
897 Bell Canada is developing alerting solutions for both our IPTV and satellite operations. On DTH, we have already conducted a live test on our system. We have some equipment on-site and more on order.
898 For both Bell Canada and Bell Aliant terrestrial systems, we are developing software enhancements to our Microsoft Media Room operating system. We are confident that these enhancements will be available soon.
899 Because Bell Aliant is in the midst of a software upgrade to its distribution system, its implementation will follow in 2012.
901 MR. MAYRAND: Thanks, Paul.
902 At the present time, Cogeco is in discussions with equipment provider Trilithic on different scenarios for our Motorola system, which is different from the Cisco system used by several other cable operators.
903 Cogeco currently has the Trilithic equipment in the lab, and testing is ongoing. There are still some technical hurdles to overcome, including the targeting of different geographical areas and ensuring that the system is reliable.
904 Once we are satisfied that the technical solution is sound, we expect deployment of this equipment to take approximately six months.
906 MS TABET: Thanks, Yves.
907 At Videotron we are working with Pelmorex in a controlled laboratory environment, using Pace and Cisco set-top boxes. The technology we have chosen allows us to enable the scrolling of alert messages as an overlay on digital channels, without interfering with the personal video recorders that some of our customers use.
908 Some practical problems remain, however, such as the issuance of dual-language messages, the spacing of written messages, and the duration of the audio version of an alert message.
909 Separately, during the summer of 2010, we modified the Trilithic EAS software to support French characters.
910 We will complete the implementation and testing on our qualification environment within weeks; however, we need several months to implement the system on our live production environment.
912 MR. BRAZEAU: Thanks, Peggy.
913 At Shaw Cable, we are focused on the seamless integration and delivery of alerts to both our cable and satellite operations. To the greatest extent possible, our goal is to provide alert messages to all Shaw terrestrial markets, regardless of size, and to DTH subscribers, in a crawl and visual overlay format.
914 Shaw Cable has been conducting testing of alerting receivers from several equipment vendors. We must also create the mapping translation software to align the coordinates used by alerting sources to Shaw's infrastructure. Together, the software and receivers will receive and process the alert messages for insertion into our internal video distribution network. This involves directing alerts to the appropriate hub sites, and, finally, to digital set-top boxes of affected customers.
915 On Shaw Direct, a targeted messaging system called "Open TV Notify" will be adapted to receive and process alert messages from the aggregator and prepare them for uplinking and distribution, based on postal codes, to affected customers.
916 Software solutions will need to be developed, licensed and implemented for receivers to receive and display alert messages.
918 MS TABET: Thank you, Jean.
919 It is important to remember that a national public alerting system has three components: first, the originator; second, the aggregator, who is responsible for the collection, authentication and dissemination of alerts; and, finally, BDUs or last-mile distributors.
920 In our capacity as carriers, we will receive alert messages and distribute them without any interference with or control over their content.
921 Consistent with the BDU regulations, in the absence of an agreement, BDUs are only authorized to distribute alert messages in the category of an imminent or unfolding danger to life.
922 It is unclear whether the Pelmorex system will require BDUs to alter or select alerts. We need assurance that only alerts of imminent or unfolding danger to life will be forwarded. At a minimum, we require a broadcast-intrusive flag to be associated with these messages.
924 MR. BRAZEAU: This leads to a discussion of indemnification. BDU participation in a national alerting solution is voluntary and indemnification to BDUs should be provided through legislative or contractual measures.
925 We are not asking for an unprecedented level of protection here. For example, the Criminal Code already holds harmless carriers that assist law enforcement agencies when they lawfully intercept telecommunications. Voluntary assistance in providing data to law enforcement agencies will receive similar protection under a provision currently before Parliament in Bill C-51.
926 Indemnification has also been provided at the provincial level, in the Alberta Emergency Management Amendment Act of 2010.
928 MR. MAYRAND: In its licence renewal application, Pelmorex has also asked for an accelerated and wholly unwarranted three-year extension to its time-limited mandatory distribution order, which will expire in 2015.
929 If the Commission's determinations are to be respected, then there is no basis for Pelmorex to make this extension request, or for the Commission to approve it.
930 The issue is quite straightforward. We participated in a full public hearing in 2009. The result was a Commission decision to give Pelmorex a time-limited order, expiring in 2015, and none of the circumstances has changed relative to the merits of giving Pelmorex this time-limited order.
931 At the time the order expires, and not before, Pelmorex will have an opportunity to file an application if it wants to renew its 9(1)(h) status. If an application is forthcoming, then the Commission, as it has told Pelmorex, will evaluate the impact of the changes in the broadcasting environment, the emergence of new technologies, the digital transition and consumer impact.
932 Also, as stated, the Commission will re-evaluate the need for Pelmorex's emergency alerting system.
933 Following the evaluation and re-evaluation of all of these issues, the Commission will be able to make an informed decision on the continuing value and necessity of the mandatory order.
934 Pelmorex will not suffer any harm as a result of having to respect the Commission's decision to wait until 2015 to possibly apply for an extension. Its broadcasting interests are profitable, and will remain profitable for the foreseeable future. Genre protection and four more years of 9(1)(h) generated cash flow make that abundantly clear.
936 MR. ARMSTRONG: Finally, we would note that several other issues exist at the front end of the alert distribution chain, and remain as outstanding concerns. Until they are resolved, it will be difficult to implement a truly national public alerting system across Canada.
937 The outstanding issues include:
938 the absence of Environment Canada, which is expected to be the primary source of emergency weather alerts;
939 design deficiencies that could result in situations which threaten Canada's national security system, should an unauthorized party access the alerting messaging infrastructure;
940 the lack of definition for audio formats;
941 and, finally, the issuance of dual-language messages.
942 Despite the lack of resolution of these issues, we remain committed to implementing the systems necessary to distribute alert messages to our customers.
943 We appreciate this opportunity to provide comments on the application before the Commission today. We support the renewal of the specialty service licence of The Weather Network and Météomédia; however, we do not support Pelmorex's premature, unnecessary and improper application for an extension of the current mandatory order.
944 We reiterate our commitment to distributing alert messages to our customers.
945 Thank you.
946 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you for your presentation.
947 Shaw, I notice that everybody else makes a commitment of some form or another as to when they will be ready and capable. You are not -- neither Shaw Cable nor Shaw Direct's submission here contains a date.
948 Why is that?
949 MR. BRAZEAU: On the cable side, I think the time frames that the other cable companies have committed to, I think we can meet those similar time frames.
950 On the DTH, we can meet similar time lines for the new boxes that we're putting out. For some existing boxes, it will take a little bit more time and effort in order to provide the necessary feeds for the older boxes that we have in the system.
951 THE CHAIRPERSON: Any time frame?
952 MR. FERRAS: It will be early in 2012.
953 One of the other issues, Mr. Chair, is that we're developing some new software enhancers to the guide, et cetera. Those are scheduled to be implemented around January 2012, so we're kind of in the same boat as Bell, that it's more efficient to be able to do this at the same time.
954 THE CHAIRPERSON: I'm delighted to hear your change of tune from 2009. You all welcome what Pelmorex has done and you all are obviously investing heavily in your infrastructure in order to be able to continue.
955 By the same token, I notice you all very carefully say you will be capable of doing it. But from what you heard this morning, some of you don't participate, for instance, on the government's council right now and don't try to configure, shape, steer things so that you can seamlessly operate with them.
956 Why is that? For instance, Rogers, why aren't you on that council? Shaw, why aren't you on the council?
957 MR. ENGELHART: Well, I agree with your comments, sir.
958 The two things that we really think need to be fixed from our perspective as carriers are we want only the messages concerned with imminent danger to be passed through. So there's some confusion on this, but we're worried about a situation where we have to put some on the TV screen and some we don't.
959 That's a problem. We would rather be carriers. We'd rather just pass them through.
960 At a minimum, if there was a broadcast intrusive flag, that would be helpful. Liability is a problem, and it goes with the -- together with the first issue.
961 Most of what the governing council does seems to us to be dealing with the front end, the relationships between the issuing authorities and the NAAD.
962 I guess we don't feel that that's our problem. That's for the issuing authorities and the NAAD to work out together.
963 To the extent that there are issues that affect us like liability, we've made our position crystal clear. People keep talking about it at the governing council, but nobody's doing anything about it.
964 So I'm not sure what it accomplishes for us to be on the governing council. I think our part of the bargain is the carrier part, and we will be ready to do that.
965 THE CHAIRPERSON: So are you having a watching brief?
966 I mean, I don't understand your position at all because if this is coming your way one way or another, let's say for arguments' sake the liability issue gets absorbed by legislation or so. Then this is up and running.
967 And I would have thought for no other reason than foresight you would want to make sure this is something you can live with, you can help shape it and do it. And all of the issues that are discussed, maybe they are relevant, maybe they are not, or maybe there is an aspect to it that actually impacts on you, and here you have a front-row seat to implement and you're not taking advantage of it.
968 MR. ENGELHART: I mean, I'll let my colleagues, I think -- they might not disagree with this, but I think the reason that the liability issue hasn't been solved, the reason that Environment Canada isn't on board, the reason that all the front-end problems aren't there is because nobody's running this thing.
969 The governing council won't solve any of those problems. It's just an opportunity for everyone to keep repeating the same things over again.
970 And Mr. Armstrong, who is on the governing council, has been kind enough to send me some of the minutes that I've reviewed, and I'm not sure that it's really going to solve problems until there's some person who takes responsibility for running this thing.
971 THE CHAIRPERSON: So what do you envisage?
972 MR. ENGELHART: Hmm?
973 THE CHAIRPERSON: What do you envisage?
974 MR. ENGELHART: I think Public Safety Canada has to step up. They have to run this thing. I think it's not something that a committee can run.
975 THE CHAIRPERSON: Two years ago, you were sitting in there that very same chair and telling me Public Safety Canada is just about to issue an RFP, notwithstanding there was no funding available, notwithstanding that no committee to evaluate the RFP is there.
976 You therefore ordered us to at least get the train moving, and it has moved, as you've heard from others.
977 What makes you think that Public Safety is going to do this right now? Isn't it more important that it protect Canadians rather than we point the finger at bureaucratic entities?
978 MR. ENGELHART: I'm not going to revisit the decision that the Commission made two years ago. The Commission made that decision and we are working with the NAAD, at least for the first five years. But I still think that until somebody steps up and runs this thing it's going to be problematic.
979 You've now got a weather alerting system with no weather alerts. You've got the NAAD. At the end of the year you'll have the cable companies and the satellite companies, but you won't have any weather alerts on the weather alerting system because Environment Canada's not signed up.
980 This, to me, is a problem, but, you know, we -- no one will be able to blame us at the end of the year because we'll be there.
981 THE CHAIRPERSON: Not interested in blaming you or anybody. That's not -- this is not a blame game. I'm trying to figure out what's the problems.
982 Environment Canada, explain this to me. They haven't signed up.
983 Like you, I am completely dumbfounded by it. But what's the other -- right now, they issue weather alerts and watches on every news or show. I'm not trying to pick anybody.
984 You are a broadcaster as well as a distributor. When you put a -- you give weather information, presumably it's based on what you have from Environment Canada, et cetera. So why is it so necessary that they sign up?
985 You use that information that they have right now when you pump it out by a weather report. What makes it different when you pump it out by way of alert?
986 MR. ENGELHART: Well, I guess someone has to decide whether imminent danger to life is involved, so that decision has to be made and then we just simply pass it through.
987 When a radio station puts on their weather report, they will put on things that aren't imminent dangers. It's going to rain; there's going to be a high UV; there'll be lots of pollen. There's lots of things there.
988 But this interrupts our customers when they're watching TV. There's a crawl across the bottom. There's an audio alert. So you want to restrict it to things that are imminent danger to life and that's, in fact, what the regulations confined us to.
989 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Well, you gave me the key words, "regulations".
990 So it's our own BTU regulation, our -- I mean CRTC, which require that you can only distribute alerts if there's an imminent and unfolding danger to life. Is that it?
991 MR. ENGELHART: That's true, but I also think that as cable operators we don't particularly want to interrupt our customers' TV viewing just to tell them about pollen.
992 THE CHAIRPERSON: Stay with the regulations.
993 MR. ENGELHART: Yes, sir.
994 THE CHAIRPERSON: So the regulations stipulate that. Do the regulation stipulate who defines what's imminent and unfolding danger to life?
995 MR. ENGELHART: No.
996 THE CHAIRPERSON: No. So it's left up to the broadcaster.
997 MR. ENGELHART: Well, I suppose it is, but it's not something that we want to take on as cable operators.
998 THE CHAIRPERSON: But you do it right now, don't you?
999 MR. ENGELHART: No.
1000 THE CHAIRPERSON: Didn't I just hear Ontario saying that when you -- you're undoubtedly a member of the OBA. And they said -- OAB, sorry.
1001 That when they -- the same message. When they send it out to the members of the OAB, it's respected and it will be pumped out. So I don't -- I'm curious, when it comes from Pelmorex, you have a problem with the same message?
1002 MR. ENGELHART: I don't think our TV stations are pumping through emergency alert messages today, no.
1003 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, you were here before lunch. You heard ---
1004 MR. ENGELHART: I was.
1005 THE CHAIRPERSON: You heard the man testify.
1006 MR. ENGELHART: I'm pretty sure we're not. Just one second. I don't believe we are.
1007 The TV stations will be hooked up at the end of the year as part of the same system that hooks up the cable systems.
1008 THE CHAIRPERSON: You and I heard the man from Ontario testifying and his frustration. The same message will come when I send it to the members of the OAB, they accept it. When it comes out of Pelmorex, they won't. Which is that's what I heard him to say.
1009 I'll call him back to the stand to clarify.
1010 MR. ENGELHART: I've got with me the fellow who's in charge of this at Rogers, and I understand that our TV stations don't have crawls going cross the channel today.
1011 THE CHAIRPERSON: But that's ---
1012 MR. BRAZEAU: Mr. Chairman, I think he did mention a Hamilton TV station, if I remember correctly. Yes. CH Hamilton. I don't know if that's what you were referring to.
1013 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Are you still here? Who was it? Who was the person who was testifying? Mr. Hefkey, are you in the room?
1014 Would you please for the elucidation of everybody take the mike and tell us exactly what you said -- told to me? I obviously misunderstood you, so clarify.
1015 MR. HEFKEY: No, you didn't misunderstand me.
1016 What I said was we send the message and, as you just quite correctly -- the same message that we put and we send to Pelmorex is sent to the members of the Ontario Association of Broadcasters.
1017 Now, I will agree with one of the gentlemen, whoever said that it isn't on a crawler. Agreed. However, the message is sent to members of the OAB. Again, voluntary system.
1018 THE CHAIRPERSON: And the members of the OAB then use that -- in your experience, he takes that message and makes it available to the ---
1019 MR. HEFKEY: To the membership.
1020 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. That's exactly what I picked up, too.
1021 And that -- I could not quite understand why it is a different -- obviously you in that case makes a decision there's imminent unfolding danger to life and the public should know it. And I commend you for it.
1022 I just don't understand when it comes from them it's okay; when it comes from Pelmorex, it's not.
1023 MR. ENGELHART: If I understood the gentleman, it is being used as part of, say, a news broadcast or a weather report and so naturally people want to know all the different aspects of the news and weather and that -- the people in the newsroom make that decision.
1024 But when it's a crawl across the screen, and particularly when it's associated with an audio tone, as it will be, I think it's intrusive to people's TV watching and I think in that situation you want to restrict it to situations that are imminent danger.
1025 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, we all agree with that, that it's like motherhood. Obviously you want to only do it when it is true danger and it has to be done.
1026 But if I -- I'm trying to figure out here on your page 5 of your submission here today, you make the -- so in the absence of an agreement, it seems to me you would -- that agreement doesn't exist right now, but you exercise that responsibility. You now decide whether something is imminent or unfolding danger to life and you pass it on.
1027 MR. ENGELHART: I don't think so. I think the news people in the newsroom will talk about things that are imminent dangers. They'll talk about things that are not. They'll talk about pollen reports.
1028 But what we're talking about is different than a newscast. We're talking about a crawl on the TV screen.
1029 THE CHAIRPERSON: So it's interruption of the programming that you're talking about.
1030 MR. ENGELHART: Yes.
1031 THE CHAIRPERSON: Mr. Hefkey, would you please come here and stay here because I want to get to the bottom of this because I'm hearing opposites and I just want to know what the facts are.
1032 MR. HEFKEY: Sure.
1033 THE CHAIRPERSON: Are you telling me that when you send it to members of the Ontario Association of Broadcasters they do not interrupt the program? They put it in the news service as Mr. Engelhart says, or do they interrupt the programming? And depending, obviously, on the case, and pass the emergency message.
1034 MR. HEFKEY: Sure. So if I can just kind of give the -- a caveat.
1035 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
1036 MR. HEFKEY: We send what we call red alerts.
1037 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
1038 MR. HEFKEY: That's what we call it in Ontario. Those red alerts have three criteria, as I stated.
1039 Number 1, there has to be a call to action, so whatever it is. It has to be of a significant nature. And there has to be -- as was stated, there has to be a threat to life and property, okay.
1040 So there has to be those three things. That's when we send and we issue the red alert through to the OAB.
1041 At that point, members of the OAB then decide how best to get that message across. Some have, in fact, interrupted -- I look at and, again, I apologize. I don't know if CP24 is part of the OAB, but they have, in fact, interrupted not through a crawler, but just they speak to it.
1042 So they will have received it and say, "According to our Emergency Management Ontario, this is what's happened". There's been a tornado, for example, in Midland.
1043 THE CHAIRPERSON: But the initial decision, if I understand it, is made by you and you send it out, your red alert? You, in effect, have made the decision there is an imminent or unfolding danger to life?
1044 MR. HEFKEY: That is -- sorry. What was that? I'm sorry. What did you say, the last?
1045 THE CHAIRPERSON: An imminent or unfolding danger to life.
1046 MR. HEFKEY: That is correct, yes.
1047 THE CHAIRPERSON: So you make that decision when you send it out and the broadcaster, when you send it, then interrupts or puts it at the next opportunity as they see fit?
1048 MR. HEFKEY: Correct. That last part, it's as they see fit.
1049 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
1050 MR. HEFKEY: We have never, ever stated to them -- again, given it's a voluntary system --
1051 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
1052 MR. HEFKEY: -- that they must intrude broadcasting.
1053 THE CHAIRPERSON: All right. Well, stay here, please.
1054 Mr. Engelhart, if I understand it right now, then, what is the situation, in effect he takes the decision under the regulation whether there is imminent or unfolding dangers and you, the members of the OAB, pass it on.
1055 Your point here is, if I understand you correctly, nobody has made that decision. The message is made available by Pelmorex from the alerting authority, but there is no such decision. Is that what you are saying?
1056 MR. ENGELHART: Well, I think what the gentleman said was that if it's like a 24-hour news service like CP24 they would probably go right on-air and say, you know, "There is a tornado coming your way." If it's the hockey game or something, they might not.
1057 So what we are talking about, both for BDUs and for broadcasters as part of this alert system is a crawl across the bottom of the screen and a tone. As far as I know no one is doing that yet, or at least the Rogers companies aren't doing that yet, but we will have that capability.
1058 THE CHAIRPERSON: I understand that. I am trying to figure out what the problem on this one is. There is an alerting authority, wherever that is, in Kent County or something, they put this thing out, it goes to Pelmorex, Pelmorex verifies yes, this is what you want, and they make it available to you.
1059 MR. ENGELHART: Yes.
1060 THE CHAIRPERSON: Now, obviously the alerting authority issued it because they think there is a danger there and it has to be out. Now, you don't want to put it out because you are telling me under the regulation it has to be imminent or unfolding danger to life and I have no assurance that there is imminent or unfolding --
1061 MR. ENGELHART: As long as Pelmorex says to us, "I'm only going to send you the imminent life threats" we are good to go. We are happy, with the possible exception of the liability issue.
1062 The concern we have is, the materials that we have seen -- and we made it clear that we need this, and some of the alerting authorities have as well -- the materials that we have seen make it unclear to us whether we are just supposed to put them all on the screen or whether we are supposed to screen out some of them and allow some of them. So we would prefer the system that you just described where it is sent to us, it is an imminent danger, we put it on the screen and we are simply passing through the message.
1063 THE CHAIRPERSON: Why wouldn't you be then on the council to make exactly this very point that you are making to me? You just told me it's a talking shop, it's of no use, yet here you have a major concern which would be the logical forum to address it and you are not there.
1064 MR. ENGELHART: There are other forums and we have been to those forums.
1065 THE CHAIRPERSON: Such as? Such as? What forum will solve this issue?
1066 MR. LORETTO: Sir, I have been attending the Look and Feel Committee and I have worked alongside Public Safety since the initiative began and this was an issue that was raised right back at the beginning with Public Safety and has always been on the table.
1067 It certainly was our understanding when it was handed out to Pelmorex that they would adopt those documents and take forth the request and requirements with the BDUs. Many of those things have been left behind.
1068 THE CHAIRPERSON: But that doesn't answer my question why you wouldn't deal with it. If this is such a big concern, if this is one of the stumbling blocks, I mean it seems to me that --
1069 MR. ARMSTRONG: If I may, Mr. Chairman, I am referring to the minutes from the governance council meeting November 19th. I wasn't there personally, but one of my colleagues was. At that point -- this is November of last year -- there still wasn't a clear definition of what those imminent intrusive alerts would be.
1070 In fact, action items coming out of last November was two challenges, come up with a list everyone agrees to and then implement it. The first step to seek consensus of the council members; second, to outreach to other broadcasters; review; reissue; make a decision; implement.
1071 So these things are being worked through. It's not like nothing is being done. They are being worked through in the governance council. I have passed this message on to my colleague.
1072 THE CHAIRPERSON: You are just making my point. That's why I'm saying --
1073 MR. ENGELHART: SO it's isn't --
1074 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- why is Rogers not there, why is Shaw not there if that is such a big concern to them? You are telling me it's being worked on and the governance council, he says why should I waste my time, it's a talk show. I don't get it.
1075 MR. ENGELHART: I don't think it's that confusing. We have made our requirements really well known, they know that this is an issue, they know they have to solve it. I'm not sure what we contribute by being on the council.
1076 THE CHAIRPERSON: I won't beat a dead horse. You know my views on this point.
1077 What about he was mentioning if the requirement comes from the regulations. If we altered the regulation and said any alert given by a public alerting authority to Pelmorex for distribution on the system by definition meet the criteria of imminent or unfolding danger to life, would that not resolve this stumbling block for you?
1078 Excuse me?
1079 MR. ENGELHART: I mean I think --
1080 THE CHAIRPERSON: Nobody has ever raised this issue with us. This is the first time I have heard about it.
1081 MR. ENGELHART: Well, as Mr. Armstrong said, it's been an issue.
1082 Look, that would work. I just think the messages that come through should truly be imminent threats.
1083 THE CHAIRPERSON: Nobody disputes that and obviously somebody has to make the decision, et cetera.
1084 MR. ENGELHART: Right.
1085 THE CHAIRPERSON: I understand the principle, I'm just trying to push the solution forward because you now have the NAAD system and let's find a way to make it work.
1086 MR. ARMSTRONG: For clarity -- excuse me, Mr. Chairman -- but what we have been told so far is that we are going to get all alerts, including there may be a frost alert tonight and cover your tomatoes.
1087 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
1088 MR. ARMSTRONG: So there has been some concession in the last couple of months that they would put on the intrusive flag. Our preference is, we don't want to see grandma's tomatoes messages --
1089 THE CHAIRPERSON: All right.
1090 MR. ARMSTRONG: -- we want to see the important ones.
1091 THE CHAIRPERSON: I understand the --
1092 MR. ARMSTRONG: That way it will slide through the system.
1093 THE CHAIRPERSON: We all agree that it should be --
1094 MR. ARMSTRONG: Thank you, sir.
1095 THE CHAIRPERSON: Mr. Hefkey, since you are here, how do you solve that problem? Obviously that issue must be on your table constantly.
1096 MR. HEFKEY: It does. Again, thank you, Mr. Armstrong, because what he stated was in fact the minutes do truly reflect what was stated.
1097 What has been done thus far is the provinces and territories have sat down and looked at a list of the hazards and from those decided on what amongst those hazards would in fact constitute a broadcast intrusive message to meet, again, what the broadcasters are asking for now.
1098 At that point what we have tried to do, though, as provinces and territories, is together agree. We as a group had to reach consensus. We have that now amongst -- since that meeting. We have that consensus.
1099 Now what we would like to do is take that list to the folks who ultimately are going to deliver the message for us to members of our communities and our provinces.
1100 THE CHAIRPERSON: Who is "we" in this case?
1101 MR. HEFKEY: "We" meaning the provinces and territories.
1102 THE CHAIRPERSON: You have agreed on this list?
1103 MR. HEFKEY: We have finally agreed on a list. There were some small issues on it and what we did is we based it on the cap CP.
1104 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. So this, then, is an issue that is just about to be solved, if I understand you correctly?
1105 MR. HEFKEY: Yes.
1106 Mr. Chair, I guess for me the other point is, now we would like to be able to take in to, again the broadcasters, to ensure that they agree with where we are going for.
1107 So again, not to sound too bad, but we agree that grandma's tomatoes --
1108 THE CHAIRPERSON: I know. But if for some reason the broadcasters have trouble with that, as I mentioned in our regulation if you have that list, if our regulations incorporated that list then that issue could go away.
1109 MR. HEFKEY: Okay.
1110 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thank you.
1111 Now let's go to liability. Explain to me, Mr. Engelhart, what is the issue on liability because you heard me this morning, I am somewhat perplexed here?
1112 MR. ENGELHART: I mean, it's a question of risk.
1113 We are doing this thing as volunteers, we are spending a bunch of money, we think it should be done as they did it in Alberta where they relieve the distributors of liability through legislation or as they are doing it in Nova Scotia through contract, we think it's the right thing to do. And we have to make a decision as companies if we don't get that indemnification or absolution of liability whether we go ahead or not. There is a certain amount of risk involved.
1114 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. No question there is a risk. Anybody showing the originating alerting authority will throw you in for good measure. That's the exposure that you are worried about.
1115 Is that not -- how dissimilar is that to any other time when you report news or something like that, that you may -- you have liability insurance presumably, et cetera, and to have that covered is this not something that -- I asked Pelmorex the same question, is it really necessary to have legislation here, can you just not be covered commercially?
1116 MR. ENGELHART: We all were talking about this yesterday and we have all gone back last week and asked our various insurance people. Some people say it's covered, some people say it's not, some have big deductibles, some say it will increase their premium. So it's an insurable risk, for some easier than for others, there is some cost involved.
1117 I am just here speaking only for Rogers, I hope that when I go to senior management this is not a deal-breaker, but it still seems to me to be the proper thing if they would indemnify us.
1118 THE CHAIRPERSON: So you are looking for legislation?
1119 MR. ENGELHART: Either legislation or contractual indemnification from the issuers.
1120 THE CHAIRPERSON: So in effect it's the provincial governments in each area or the federal government if we are talking about Environment Canada?
1121 MR. ENGELHART: Yes, sir.
1122 THE CHAIRPERSON: Now can I hear from the other members of your group?
1123 MR. MAYRAND: Yes. I can certainly speak for Cogeco, Mr. Chairman. Our position is pretty much the same.
1124 We see our role in this whole equation as being a carrier of alerts that are provided by a variety of issuers through an aggregator.
1125 So I think Ken referred to the fact that there is a tie-in somewhat between the clarity in which the process unfolds and whether there are choices or alterations along the line, including in the last mile when we distribute.
1126 Our position is, we will be ready to pass as carriers, but we want to pass only imminent or unfolding danger of life messages and we do not want to be involved at all in making any decisions or selecting alerts or modifying them in any extent.
1127 THE CHAIRPERSON: No, that is not the issue. We are talking about liability.
1128 MR. MAYRAND: And therefore in terms of the liability, our liability should be one only and strictly as a carrier of messages issued, selected and modulated by others.
1129 MR. ARMSTRONG: Speaking for Bell -- first, though, I would like to add a clarification.
1130 The messages don't go through automatically. There are some things that we have to do. We have to translate the geographic code into something that our set-top boxes understand. You can appreciate with the DTH we are national.
1131 So there is a possibility there that there won't be a proper mapping. Somebody puts their postal code as P-O-T instead of P-zero-T, the postal code problem, that those people won't get the messages. So there are some things we have to do.
1132 So provided we are not negligent, we have gone to our primary insurers and we are advised we can get coverage for many aspects of the service.
1133 We haven't had specific dialogue on additional premium, but our liability insurance has two major exclusions which may be relevant.
1134 First, we are told that our general liability insurance does not cover Bell for issues related to nuclear events or pollution-related events. So I used a couple of examples.
1135 One example I used was one you used this morning, a train travelling and tips over and issues noxious fumes and would that be what would be considered a pollution-related event and therefore would our insurance cover us? The response that I received was, "We aren't certain that our liability insurance would cover us for those events." So we feel we do have an exposure.
1136 And on the nuclear side it would be, for example, if there was an accident at Pickering or Darlington.
1137 So we feel that the indemnification should be straightforward by government, they want it and it should be fairly easy.
1138 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
1140 MR. BRAZEAU: We have similar concerns, Mr. Chairman.
1141 I mean it's additional risk, that's what this is. We will be ready in six months to pass on the messages, we will be there, but we have that concern.
1142 Our senior management, we have consulted our insurance companies and we had similar response, nobody is ready to commit to a number or to say that they can deal with all of these circumstances. So there is additional risk there.
1143 And we think, as Ken pointed out, can be easily resolved through either contractual or legislation.
1144 THE CHAIRPERSON: Who would be the contractual partner?
1145 MR. BRAZEAU: It would be the provinces.
1146 THE CHAIRPERSON: I see.
1147 MS TABET: If I may add on what my colleague said, at Vidéotron we don't see why we cannot get indemnification if other provinces are giving it. So it is just a matter of if Alberta gave indemnification, Quebec should get indemnification as well. It's only fair.
1148 THE CHAIRPERSON: But that would only -- that would not cover Environment Canada, would it?
1149 MS TABET: Well, if Environment Canada is sending the messages, we shouldn't be liable for that.
1150 THE CHAIRPERSON: I am not saying you should. We are talking about indemnity. You said you don't need an indemnity from the provincial government. I presume it is not only provincial government. You also want --
1151 MS TABET: Yes.
1152 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- Environment Canada to indemnify in case they send you a wrong message.
1153 MS TABET: Yes.
1154 THE CHAIRPERSON: And without that -- I mean you have heard, for instance, your competition in Toronto, CHCH from Hamilton feels that is a risk that they can live with.
1155 Are we going to hear later on or not?
1156 THE CHAIRPERSON: No, unfortunately, but they obviously think it is part of their public duty to transmit these messages.
1157 Are you telling me collectively here that until that legal liability issue is solved, notwithstanding your investment, notwithstanding that you are technologically capable of resolving it, and assuming we resolve that issue of alert and danger to life, you still won't be transmitting messages from Pelmorex?
1158 MR. MAYRAND: Well, if I may answer that, Mr. Chairman.
1159 First of all, let me, I think, in fairness, draw a difference between the operator of one television station, over-the-air television station, deciding to put or insert certain messages on its programming.
1160 When you are considering BDUs such as Cogeco Cable, we don't operate any TV stations. We operate distribution systems and we have a whole raft of video channels out there and we are talking about a system that will automatically send alerts throughout the universe of our basic subscribers and throughout the fees that we provide. So it is not the same situation.
1161 THE CHAIRPERSON: Technically not, but in terms of liability there is no difference.
1162 MR. MAYRAND: Now, in terms of liability, I can only reflect on the emphasis that Pelmorex took this morning to say that they needed indemnification just as an aggregator of alerts from those who are the actual originators of these alerts.
1163 The discussion we are having right now, if the aggregator needs some form of indemnification, whether statutory or contractual -- and we have said that as well in our presentation, it can be either statutory or contractual -- I think it is only fair and reasonable that distributors, who will be possibly intruding on the viewing experience of a whole bunch of viewers in a variety of situations and configurations, ought to have some form of indemnification. We don't think that is at all unreasonable.
1164 THE CHAIRPERSON: But you agree with me, Mr. Mayrand, that the primary liability is obviously in the originator of the news, not the transmitter, whether it be Pelmorex or you? You are just going to be sort of an innocent bystander who gets hit by the lawsuit.
1165 MR. MAYRAND: Well, Mr. Chair, I would agree with you that it seems logical that he or she who has the authority in the public interest to issue an alert should bear the responsibility of the contents of that alert and the extent to which it is distributed.
1166 THE CHAIRPERSON: I am sure you have been involved in litigation. At the end when you sue somebody you want to make sure you sue somebody who can pay and that is the simple rule number one.
1167 And here, clearly the originator is the public authority, so there is clearly somebody who can pay the transmitters of that message, whether it be Pelmorex or whether it be the broadcaster or whether it be the BDU, a secondary source.
1168 Yes, you will throw them in in order to make your action good, but you really want payment from the originator of the news and there this is unqualifiedly somebody who has the resources to pay. So therefore, your liability is secondary and it is not quite the same. I mean it seems to me it is self-evident.
1169 MR. ARMSTRONG: Sorry to interrupt, Mr. Chairman. There may be situations through, you know, human error where the exact correct message doesn't get to the exact correct household at the exact correct time and those would be the issues that we have.
1170 We do the best we can with the situation we have as long as we are not negligent. As I said, we make an honest effort to make sure we get the message out, but it may be that Mrs. Jones doesn't get the message and her house gets swept away by a flood.
1171 The emergency alert originator, the Province of Ontario, can say: I sent the message out. And we would say: Well, we did the best we could to deliver the message, but we couldn't.
1172 And some people think Bell has lots of money and therefore --
1173 THE CHAIRPERSON: As I understood from the Province of Ontario, when they now send it out to a broadcaster in Ontario, the broadcaster will transmit it and will pass it on to the public.
1174 And clearly, the Province of Ontario is responsible for having sent it to you, as Mr. Hefkey said, and you may get sued on it anyway.
1175 MR. ENGELHART: I think the problem, sir, is what if we screw up, okay. If Ontario or whoever sends the right message through and we screw up, I would like to think we never do, but as Mr. Armstrong said, what if the translation is wrong, something like that.
1176 In Alberta, you know, the way the legislation is worded, no action lies against a person. Like the claim would just be barred even if we made a mistake. So in Alberta, we would be covered.
1177 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
1178 Now the other issue is the 9(1)(h) issue.
1179 I heard you loud and clear and you basically said -- I understand that you say deal with it in 2014, don't deal with it now because let's see if it is still needed.
1180 What do you say to Pelmorex's argument, which you heard this morning over and over again, that that creates uncertainty, that really deters people from investing in the whole national alert system because they don't know whether we will be there and we will be able to run it?
1181 MR. ENGELHART: I think that is Pelmorex's interpretation. I don't think it is what any of the alert people are saying.
1182 If you look at the letter that Environment Canada sent to the Commission in this proceeding --
1183 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
1184 MR. ENGELHART: -- they identified three problems.
1185 Problem number 1:
"The NAAD is only one element of the system." (As read)
1186 Okay, I don't understand why that is a problem.
1187 Problem 3:
1188 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Neither did I when I read it.
1189 MR. ENGELHART: Problem 3:
"The BDUs aren't hooked up yet." (As read)
1190 So fair enough. So we will be at the end of the year.
1191 Problem 2:
"There are issues that remain to be resolved before MSC can agree to use the NAAD as implemented by Pelmorex, including matters respecting allocation of responsibilities and accountabilities. Some of these issues have been complicated by the fact that the NAAD system is operated by a private enterprise." (As read)
1192 So I am not sure what they are saying there, but they are not saying, gee, if only Pelmorex had 9(1)(h) status for another three years, we would sign up for sure.
1193 So you have the risk here if you gave them 9(1)(h) status for three more years, they might have the NAAD system running till 2018 and Environment Canada wouldn't even be part of it.
1194 So, you know, for that reason and for a bunch of other reasons, your decision will be much easier in 2015 because you will know how all these things have played out.
1195 THE CHAIRPERSON: I mean, like you, I find the letter from Environment Canada very unhelpful.
1196 You know, it doesn't really -- other than endorsing Pelmorex for starting it, I don't understand what is there and I do not understand why they have a problem being responsible for the messages that they themselves emanate.
1197 It seems to me that is what they are there for, to advise people of weather issues, and so, therefore, they should take responsibility for it.
1198 Unfortunately, they chose not to appear before us.
1199 But you as a group collectively decide we really should -- this is a well-financed system until 2015 and there is no reason to revisit it before we come close to there, if I understand you correctly?
1200 MR. MAYRAND: I think that this group feels that the rules in the process have been clearly laid out by the Commission and you have -- and I think, Mr. Chair, you referred to that during the question period this morning with Pelmorex.
1201 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
1202 MR. MAYRAND: You made it very abundantly clear at the outset that there was going to be a mandatory order with a view to ensure that the start-up of the system could take place.
1203 Now, I don't recall seeing anywhere any reasonable expectation that there should be any further assurances and certainly not at the expense of a process that the Commission has set generally for the consideration of 9(1)(h) applications by any number of parties.
1204 I think we really addressed very clearly our concern in our written intervention and particularly in paragraph 28 of that intervention.
1205 And we have noted some interventions that are on the record of this proceeding where other parties are looking at the request by Pelmorex and saying, hey, you know, Commission, if you are going to grant this extension, you might as well, in fairness, vary the rules for us and allow us to apply immediately for 9(1)(h) status.
1206 And frankly, that is a big concern for our industry. The Commission has laid the rules. There is a question of transparency and predictability, and you have referred to that earlier this morning. The whole environment is in a state of flux and there's going to be a lot of changes in the system.
1207 We think that there is plenty assurance with the remaining four years of the mandatory order for Pelmorex to sustain its business model.
1208 In fact, I would venture personally to say that what Pelmorex is asking you is for an extra insurance policy for future years. It is not even an option, it is an absolute certainty, you know, that in four years time they would not be exposed to any particular risk, and I submit to you that they have demonstrated absolutely no credible risk.
1209 THE CHAIRPERSON: Now, if you noticed, I asked Mr. Hefkey to come forward and I found his intervention very useful.
1210 Tomorrow, Pelmorex, at the end, will do a rebuttal and I don't know whether issues will come up or not, but I hope you still will be here so that if need be I can ask one of you to come forward and respond to some of the --
1211 I find this end of process back and forth between the parties extremely helpful.
1212 MR. ENGELHART: I will be now.
1213 THE CHAIRPERSON: Good, thank you.
1214 Peter, you have some questions?
1215 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: No.
1216 THE CHAIRPERSON: Michel?
1217 CONSEILLER MORIN : Une question.
1218 Nonobstant tout ce qui a été dit sur les réserves, sur les choses qui ne sont pas encore solutionnées, on a quand même beaucoup plus de réponses, avec ce qui a été dit ce matin.
1219 Vous avez, plusieurs d'entre vous, beaucoup plus d'expérience que moi-même au CRTC et pour les règlements et tout ça, mais quand je regarde tous les appuis que Pelmorex a actuellement pour son extension de trois ans, 60 000 lettres, des ministres, des associations, des organismes voués à la sécurité, qui tous demandent une distribution obligatoire -- non pas en 2015, ils l'ont déjà -- mais qui disent, pour la pérennité du système, nous voulons que ce soit jusqu'en 2018.
1220 Je suis d'accord que c'est une assurance plus une autre assurance sur déjà une assurance, mais c'est quand même un témoignage, qui m'apparaît à moi, en tout cas, très éloquent.
1221 Vous souvenez-vous d'une circonstance semblable, avec un éventail d'appuis, autant dans le secteur de politiciens, de députés, et caetera, pour un service que vous, vous distribuez? Moi, je ne m'en souviens pas. Je vous pose la question.
1222 M. MAYRAND : Écoutez, Monsieur Morin, je vais essayer de répondre à votre question.
1223 Je pousserais l'argument un peu plus loin et je vous dirais, mais si c'est vrai alors, ce que vous mentionnez comme phénomène, est-ce que les questions de politique fondamentale, de politique d'attribution et de renouvellement de licence et politique relative aux ordonnances de distribution obligatoire doivent être gérées uniquement sur la base du nombre de lettres d'appui à une demande?
1224 Je pose la question. Moi, je pense que la réponse, c'est non. Il y a un peu plus profond que ça.
1225 Mais surtout, poussons la logique à l'extrême, que diriez-vous si toutes ces mêmes personnes -- et elles seraient probablement parfaitement disposées à le dire -- vous suggéraient que, en fait, ce n'est pas trois ans de plus qu'il faut à l'ordonnance de distribution obligatoire, mais ça devrait être permanent, ça devrait être indéfini?
1226 Parce que c'est un peu de ça qu'on parle. On parle d'une situation où il y aura une perpétuation d'une ordonnance de distribution contraignante qui forcera toute l'industrie de la distribution au Canada, satellite ou câble, à distribuer le service en question, qui n'est pas le service d'alerte, qui est le service MétéoMédia/Weather Network.
1227 C'est bien important de se souvenir de ça, et je ne suis pas sûr que tous les intervenants ont bien compris la nuance, mais qu'importe, donnons-leur le bénéfice du doute.
1228 Est-ce qu'on doit admettre que c'est une porte ouverte à une distribution obligatoire à la base du service MétéoMédia/Weather Network ad infinitum?
1229 Fondamentalement, d'après moi, c'est de ça qu'on parle, et le groupe de distributeurs ici présent vous dit, il y a un sérieux problème avec ça.
1230 Et nous vous disons, votre propre décision à fixer une période de cinq ans, commençons par voir où nous en sommes rendus au terme de cette période de cinq ans avant de nous engager dans d'autres termes pour une ordonnance qui devrait être de nature exceptionnelle.
1231 CONSEILLER MORIN : Je vous ai bien compris, mais vous n'avez pas répondu à ma question.
1232 Vous souvenez-vous d'un service spécialisé qui a eu une aussi forte demande, aussi diversifiée à tous les niveaux politiques et des associations et des organismes voués à la sécurité publique, qui vous ait fait une telle demande?
1233 Ça peut être pour autre chose, mais moi, je n'ai jamais vu ça, et je vous demande, vous qui avez beaucoup plus d'expérience que moi, donnez-moi un exemple.
1234 M. MAYRAND : Écoutez, il faudrait sans doute comparer des centaines de demandes, et, malgré mon expérience, je ne suis pas en mesure de le faire, séance tenante.
1235 Tout ce que je vous ai dit, c'est que, à mon point de vue personnel, il n'y a pas qu'une question de nombre de lettres d'appui à une décision importante de cette nature-là, il y a des considérations de fond, qui sont la justice réglementaire et la prévisibilité réglementaire.
1236 CONSEILLER MORIN : Merci.
1237 Ce sont mes questions, Monsieur le Président.
1238 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, those are our questions. Thank you very much.
1239 I gather the next intervention is by video, so we will take a five-minute break. Thanks.
--- Upon recessing at 1432
--- Upon resuming at 1441
1240 THE SECRETARY: We will now proceed with the New Brunswick Department of Public Safety. That will be appearing via video conference.
1241 Please introduce yourself for the record, and then you will have 10 minutes for your presentation. Thank you.
1242 MR. MacGILLIVRAY: Thank you. We should do a send check.
1243 Is this okay?
1244 THE SECRETARY: Yes, it is. Thank you.
1245 MR. MacGILLIVRAY: Thank you, Mr. Chair, and to the Commissioners, for inviting this presentation from New Brunswick.
1246 Pelmorex, through the Weather Network and Meteo Media, provides an important public service in delivering Environment Canada weather watches and warnings to local markets across Canada. Pelmorex also broadcasts a variety of other health and safety information and, recently, has begun broadcasting urgent alerts from designated provincial officials.
1247 There is no other comparable, bilingual 24-hour warning service in Canada.
1248 Government officials depend on the Weather Network and Méteo Media to keep them informed about developing situations. They're part of our situational awareness, and to assist them in getting urgent messages out to the public in English and in French.
1249 In that regard, we view these channels as an essential service and for that reason, if no other, agree that Pelmorex channel should be part of basic cable.
1250 We understand that Pelmorex is seeking a seven-year renewal of the broadcasting license for their two channels under the same conditions as those set out in its current license. We support the extension, as requested, to 31 August 2018.
1251 We also understand that the Commission will examine, among other things, the effectiveness of the NAAD System to determine whether further action is required to ensure that Canadians receive timely warnings of imminent perils.
1252 In this regard, the Commission will examine the steps that have been taken and that need to be taken in order to make the system available to alert issuing authorities and last mile distributors, as well as to promote and ensure its use.
1253 We welcome the Commission's interest and diligence in ensuring the success of our collective efforts to improve public warning services to the public. To that end, we have no objection to harmonizing the expiry dates for Pelmorex broadcasting license and the mandatory distribution order 2009-340.
1254 The rationale for this would be to provide some assurance concerning the future availability of Pelmorex aggregation services. This in turn may well encourage broader participation by both issuers and distributors in the NAAD and national public alerting system.
1255 Regarding further actions required to promote and ensure the effective use of the NAAD System, we suggest that the Commission consider the following measures.
1256 That the Commission encourage Pelmorex to continue to be responsive to suggestions from users, and that's provincial and federal agencies responsible for public warning, and last mile distributors to improve the functionality of the system, and that the Commission consider making a mandatory distribution order under Section 9(1)h of the Broadcasting Act requiring all direct-to-home satellite distribution undertakings and Class I BDUs to distribute, where practicable, urgent life safety alerts on their services.
1257 Our jurisdiction, indeed all governments, have recognized the importance of warning people at imminent risk. An effective system for public warning is one where everyone in the chain from the issuer to the citizen must play their role.
1258 Issuers need to detect the risk and provide appropriate advice. The aggregator must process and authenticate the alerts promptly. Service providers must distribute the alerts, and the public need to take appropriate steps to be informed.
1259 We commend the CRTC for its role in making the National Public Alerting System possible and encourage its continued vigilance to ensure that all parties make appropriate contributions to the effort, and to the safety of Canadians.
1260 Sir, that's my prepared statement, and I can take questions.
1261 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.
1262 I don't know whether you were listening to the previous exchange I had with the BDUs. There was two issues that came up as a result of our discussion.
1263 There emerges major roadblocks. One of them was the definition of messages that are -- alerts that are put -- what's the exact wording on that?
1264 MR. MacGILLIVRAY: Broadcast intrusive?
1265 THE CHAIRPERSON: What are messages of imminent or unfolding danger to the public, to life. And if I understood from the representative from the Ontario Emergency Organization, there's actually an agreement between the provinces of a list that constitutes that category, i.e. messages regarding imminent or unfolding danger to life.
1266 But -- and I presume you have been part of the discussion and you agree with the list they have now worked out.
1267 MR. MacGILLIVRAY: Yes, sir.
1268 And not only is there a list, but there's some principles that could be applied.
1269 There have been concerns expressed in the past that if we just go by a specific list and somebody doesn't select the appropriate item from a list in an application that an alert might not go through the system, so there are also circumstances, perhaps, that we haven't envisioned that might happen.
1270 So we did want the ability of issuers to be able to flag alerts for immediate broadcast or to be broadcast intrusive, but again, it is the issuer that is responsible for the content and we should allow some latitude there.
1271 The purpose of the list, though, was to provide predictability, particularly to broadcasters, about the kinds of things they could expect and the frequency, perhaps, of those things.
1272 You know, the list of broadcast intrusive alerts were the number of alerts that would be appropriate for broadcast intrusiveness is a very small sub-set of all alerts. If you think about Environment Canada weather warnings and weather watches and those kinds of things, although they're moving to new nomenclatures, the vast majority of their alerts are not the kinds of things that would be warning of imminent peril.
1273 And so it is a very small sub-set. By having some constraints and some lists of specific kinds of circumstances, the intent is to provide a little more clarity on what broadcasters might expect.
1274 THE CHAIRPERSON: But I wasn't aware of (a) the issue, and (b) that there's a solution. But if I understood Mr. Hefkey correctly, the various provincial emergency agencies together have agreed on a consensus list.
1275 And you are one, right?
1276 MR. MacGILLIVRAY: Yes, Mr. Chair. That is ---
1277 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
1278 MR. MacGILLIVRAY: That is correct.
1279 THE CHAIRPERSON: Now, on the issue of liability, that always -- and you heard it very clearly from the BDUs. They feel they should have an indemnity either by way of legislation or in contractual form.
1280 Where does the province of New Brunswick stand on this issue?
1281 MR. MacGILLIVRAY: Well, we would agree that we should be able to extend liability to those that are carrying the alerts.
1282 I think it's important to put it into context.
1283 We understand, I think, that this is a best effort. I mean, we're not signing a service level agreement and mandating a specific level of service.
1284 There's also a shared responsibility. The public, individuals have a responsibility to inform themselves. And throughout the chain of the alert, from the issuer to the public, really, we're just asking people to do their regular work, something that's within their mandate.
1285 But that said, in New Brunswick we do have some legislative protections that, on legal advice, we feel are sufficient. It is our intent when the opportunity arises to do an amendment to make public warning a specific item that would be covered by liability provisions within our emergency management legislation and our 911 legislation.
1286 So we do want to be explicit to remove any doubt in the minds of our partners, and then we would enter into agreements not unlike the agreement we have with the aggregation service where we provide the kinds of protections that our partners would require.
1287 I think everyone is committed to removing barriers to full participation by BDUs, and there's an understanding that the responsibility to extend liability protection in the current legislative framework falls within provincial jurisdiction.
1288 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. That's a very progressive attitude you've taken.
1289 My colleague, Monsieur Morin, might have some questions for you.
1290 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Thanks, Mr. President. I have just one question.
1291 Wouldn't it make more sense to review the status later when everything is in place?
1292 Why is it so important for you to that the Commission grants three more years right now?
1293 MR. MacGILLIVRAY: A fair question, sir.
1294 We didn't take a strong position saying, perhaps as 60,000 others have, that we should harmonize the two expiry dates. I think the Commission's responsibility -- it is with the Commission to make that determination about whether it is more advantageous to extend the mandatory distribution period pour encourager les autres, or whether there is some leverage to be obtained by sticking to the original five-year period.
1295 I'm not sure that the outcome is certain. I do know that the objection to full participation by some, whether it's an issuer -- an issuing jurisdiction or local government or a BDU or a last mile distributor is the predictability.
1296 Really, should we make major investments now when we're not sure what the future's going to be? Should we wait and see how the environment changes, how the system evolves before fully committing to it?
1297 So there's been a certain amount of foot dragging, if you will, and there may well be legitimate concerns about liability or technical matters. But I think, really, to some degree those are red herrings.
1298 Those are issues that are manageable. I think the larger consideration may well be predictability.
1299 I think my colleague from Ontario talked about permanence. Well, I think we always need to go back and have a review and look at progress and consider whether or not there are viable alternatives.
1300 But in the current context, there are no viable alternatives, and I do think that each day of delay increases risk to citizens. So I think the decision before you is what's the right thing to do to discourage further delay in participation in the system.
1301 COMMISSIONER MORIN: But at the end of the day, in 2015 and for the next seven years, it's the little guy that will pay for the service. So the balance with the price and the whole situation which can evolve over the five years that we have in front of us, does -- do you think that the permanent status -- because in 2018 -- will we face the same situation in 2018 if I buy what you have said?
1302 And it's the little consumer that will pay for it.
1303 MR. MacGILLIVRAY: Sir, do you mean the consumer or do you mean the smaller broadcasting concerns, for example, smaller cable distributors?
1304 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Both.
1305 MR. MacGILLIVRAY: I think the position that I took or that our jurisdiction has taken has been about practicality. I think we recognize that, you know, the country cable operators, as we call them here, the little guys, the costs associated with complying could be significant compared to their balance sheet. And we have some sympathy for that.
1306 I think larger operators who measure revenues in hundreds of millions or billions of dollars, it's hard to make a case that this is prohibitively expensive.
1307 I had one quote for a small cable operator around $15,000 to comply. For them, that was difficult. $2,500 for some mom and pop radio stations in our community is difficult as well, so I would like to focus on the larger volume distributors principally in terms of solving the challenges, be they liability or cost or practical or technical matters. And eventually it may become more practical for smaller operators to get on board.
1308 But I think we have to look at the larger markets. We've got to look at the larger populations because that's where the greater risk is.
1309 So it's a question of balancing the various challenges and dealing with those vice the continuing risks to Canadians of inaction. And I think we should err on the side of action or we should encourage things that advance the effectiveness of the system and discourage things that do not.
1310 So that's a fairly long answer to your question. I don't think we should make mandatory something that would be difficult for smaller operators. I do think that we should encourage the larger operators to get on with the business of a duty of care to Canadians.
1311 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Thanks for your answer.
1312 THE CHAIRPERSON: While I have you on line, somebody handed me what's entitled FTP Expanded Apparatus Working Group List of Event Codes for Emergency Public Alert Broadcast Intrusive Events dated September 21st, 2010.
1313 That's the list you're talking about, the list of the issues that you have adopted with your colleagues?
1314 MR. MacGILLIVRAY: Yes, Mr. Chair. There's been some refinement of that list because there were discussions as recently as in the last few weeks.
1315 And as I said, there's really two bits to this. There's an actual list of event codes that we would deem to be broadcast intrusive, but we wanted to go further than that. And I believe Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia worked on specific scenarios, if you will, to paint a picture.
1316 Not every storm surge might necessarily -- or every severe weather alert for Environment Canada might trigger the same kind of requirement, so again, there's a list of event codes but we think that not all of those events represented by your list would necessarily trigger a broadcast intrusive alert.
1317 There's some intelligence that would be applied over and above the codes.
1318 THE CHAIRPERSON: Anyway, for the benefit of you participating in this hearing, I'm going to give this to the Secretary and put it in as an exhibit, so it will be available online in our document room.
1319 And if you have an augmentation of these lists of principles that you're talking, that should go with it, and I would ask you to file it.
1320 THE CHAIRPERSON: Madam Secretary.
1321 Okay, Peter, do you have any questions?
1322 Well, thank you very much. I don't know whether you heard me earlier. We are -- tomorrow we will hopefully wrap this up, but at the end of the day Pelmorex will sort of make a reply phase and anybody who was participating is asked if they want to stay in case something comes up that they'd like to comment on, so if you want to, we can hook you in.
1323 If not, I thank you for your participation. The Secretariat will talk to you about modality, if that's needed. Thank you.
1324 MR. MacGILLIVRAY: Thank you, Mr. Chair, and Commissioners.
1325 THE SECRETARY: Thank you, Mr. Chair. That concludes the agenda for today.
1326 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. And we start tomorrow morning at 9:00.
--- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 1502, to resume on Wednesday, February 9, 2011 at 0900
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