ARCHIVED - Transcript, Hearing 9 February 2011
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Volume 2, 9 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 9, 2011
- iv -
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PAGE / PARA
Hon. Bryon Wilfert, Member of Parliament, Richmond Hill; 205 / 1334
Mr. Scott Simms, Member of Parliament, Bonavista-Gander-Grand Falls-Windsor; 210 / 1358
Mr. Gordon Brown, Member of Parliament Leeds-Grenville 215 / 1383
Canadian Association for Public Alerting and Notification 237 / 1508
NetAlerts Inc. 249 / 1585
Canadian Cable Systems Alliance 275 / 1740
Channel Zero Inc. 301 / 1904
Pelmorex Communications Inc. 316 / 2004
- v -
LIST OF EXHIBITS
NO DESCRIPTION PAGE / PARA
2 Document entitled "Communication Interoperability Strategy for Canada", prepared by the Canadian Association for Public Alerting and Notification 274 / 1735
- vi -
PAGE / PARA
Undertaking 264 / 1675
Undertaking 327 / 2060
Undertaking 333 / 2098
--- Upon commencing on Wednesday, February 9, 2011 at 0900
1327 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commençons, Madame la Secrétaire.
1328 LA SECRÉTAIRE: Merci, Monsieur le Président et bonjour à tous.
1329 One small announcement before we begin. As mentioned by the Chairman yesterday, Commissioners may, during the reply phase, Phase III, have questions from other parties in the room who may want to participate and that appeared before the Commission during this hearing.
1330 We will now continue with Phase II, in which intervenors are appearing in the order set out in the agenda to present their intervention.
1331 We will begin this morning with the presentations by the Hon. Bryon Wilfert, MP Richmond Hill; Scott Simms, MP Bonavista-Gander-Grand Falls-Windsor; and Gordon Brown, MP Leeds-Grenville, who are appearing as a panel to present their interventions.
1332 We will hear each presentation, which will then be followed by questions from the Commissioners to the panel.
1333 I would now invite the Hon. Bryon Wilfert to begin. You have 10 minutes for your presentation.
1334 HON. BRYON WILFERT: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, nice to see you again, Members of the Commission.
1335 I was here a year ago April and I was going to say you could read the transcript, but I will go over some of the key points that I think are germane to this particular issue.
1336 I and my colleagues are also representing about 60 Members of Parliament from all political parties who support this application.
1337 As a former President of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities I have worked over the years with small, medium and large communities across this country and I know how important this issue is to them.
1338 As a former Parliamentary Secretary of the Minister of Environment in the previous government, I can also attest to the fact that from Environment Canada's standpoint The Weather Network has played a very important role, particularly when it comes to issues, whether it's for farmers, whether it's for fishers, whether it's for sportsmen across the country, and I think, Members of the Commission, that we are really here for two reasons.
1339 One is about good public policy, the three words that we don't often hear in Ottawa, but it is to me extremely important. The other of course is what's in the public interest.
1340 The Weather Network, certainly in my own community is extremely important and I would believe to colleagues across this country. We believe strongly that The Weather Network provides information, reliable information 24/7, which is important whether you are in your 80s or whether you are 18.
1341 The fact is that The Weather Network provides information on road conditions, it certainly alerts you to storms, and of course we have seen quite a few lately. People really rely on that.
1342 And of course being on basic cable is absolutely essential. It's essential because it is accessible. When we see other networks, other stations cutting back on weather reporting, the network is always there. It's very important I believe for Canadians.
1343 It's obviously something that in terms of the public interest is served when people are able to get reliable information, when they are able to get information that is accurate and information which gives them an opportunity to decide what it is that they need to do. If you are a farmer or if you are a fisher, you will be able to then hopefully respond accordingly.
1344 One of the issues that The Weather Network has championed, and I believe and I know my colleagues believe very strongly, Mr. Chairman and Members of the Commission, is the need for the National Public Alerting System and the generous offer I believe to provide a backbone of a comprehensive National Public Alerting System is absolutely -- it's critical.
1345 It's critical in this day and age, particularly in an age of climate change. We see the weather has of course changed. We see the weather has of course changed. I was just saying to a colleague this morning that the last snowfall we had in Ottawa last year was February 28th and then the spring came early, and the fact that there is changing weather conditions on a regular basis and therefore the public really does want to know what is going on.
1346 I think it's good public policy to have an early warning system. Again, this is of no cost to government. Again, what we want, though, is assurance, certainly as en elected Member of Parliament, that for the next seven years it would be nice to know that this would be available and that The Weather Network again will be able to provide that again at no cost to government, which is often something we don't hear too often, Members of the Commission.
1347 We often hear, well, you know, government is there to certainly provide assistance, well, in this case I can tell you that from my days of Environment Canada they are certainly supportive, but again it's not government that has to ante up public dollars for this, it's again by The Weather Network. Again, it would be a comprehensive National Public Alerting System. I certainly applaud The Weather Network for that.
1348 But also, my colleagues in provincial and municipal government again rely on accurate reporting. Again, having an alerting system is, I think again, essential in this day and age and it's something that I believe we could be very much leaders in.
1349 Again, just from a cost analysis, The Weather Network is still at $0.23, it hasn't gone up since 1993, again a major advantage on basic cable.
1350 I will tell you that where there have been discussion about moving different channels the one I always hear about is The Weather Network. I hear that all the time.
1351 My wife is what I call a weather junkie. I mean, I don't know how many times a day she watches The Weather Channel, but she's always -- and I always say, "Well, just look out the window", but no, she says, "I have to watch The Weather Network". She's a big fan, I might say, of my colleague here, Scott Simms, who was a former broadcaster.
1352 But I won't belabour the point, Mr. Chairman, Members of the Commission, other than to say that I think we have an excellent opportunity here, I think it is important that we continue to provide on basic cable. And again, the alerting system I believe very strongly is in the public interest.
1353 I thank you for listening and I'm more than happy, Mr. Chairman, Members of the Commission, to entertain any questions at the appropriate time.
1354 Thank you.
1355 THE SECRETARY: Thank you.
1356 I would now invite Mr. Simms to begin.
1357 Mr. Simms, you have 10 minutes for your presentation.
1358 MR. SCOTT SIMMS: Well, thank you very much.
1359 I have a written presentation here which I will email to -- I guess you can let me know later who I email it to, but I will do it as a submission as well, but I would like to say thank you for giving me this opportunity to address the CRTC in person. I have written about this issue in the past.
1360 The Weather Network, Pelmorex, an invaluable service to the riding I represent in Parliament, and that of course is the riding of Bonavista-Gander-Grand Falls-Windsor.
1361 To say that I represent a rural riding is perhaps the understatement of the day. There are 193 communities in my constituency spread out over 30,000 square kilometres. The largest town in my riding is just over 13,000 people, and the vast majority of communities have less than 1,000 residents. The riding consists of close to 2,000 kilometres of roads and smaller highways. To put this in perspective for us, the weather is not just a popular subject of conversation, it is "the" conversation each and every day.
1362 Mr. Chair, for the sake of disclosure I would like to point out that, as my colleague pointed out as well, that for 10 years, from '93 to 2003, I was employed by Pelmorex as an on-air weather presenter, and please believe me when I say that this testimony is not simply a gesture of thanks to them for employing me, but rather this testimony represents thousands in my riding who truly believe in this product.
1363 The necessity of this product to be distributed on basic cable is very important to us. The Weather Network has become an integral part of our lives.
1364 Here is another point I hope you will consider when you deliberate. In the past 10 years the proliferation of weather information through the Internet in my opinion has taken over. It provides extensive weather details whenever you want from hundreds, if not thousands of sources.
1365 As I mentioned, there are 193 towns and communities in my riding. Currently 60 communities -- 60 in my riding -- have no access to broadband Internet. As a result, the use of the net is highly cumbersome and, as a result, do not invest in the connection. So they refuse because they have to dial-up.
1366 Therefore, the only access to detailed weather information, both short term and long term, at any time of the day 24/7 would be The Weather Network. Over 80 percent of the population in my riding subscribe to basic cable and that's one of the reasons why.
1367 The average age of citizens in my area is in the mid-50s -- the average age, mid-50s. That means our demographic holds a higher number of individuals above the age of 70.
1368 Because of the geography, Newfoundland seniors are unable to take advantage of public transit, we just don't have it. So therefore information about road conditions, outside conditions become very integral for travel for the basic services and even for work each and every day.
1369 So getting around the community and neighbouring communities depends on current road conditions and The Weather Network is a very popular segment in my riding during the winter season. The road condition segment is an extremely popular element. Many of our businesses require extensive travel transporting heavy machinery, perishable goods and, of course, people.
1370 So I feel it necessary to convey this to the Commission, to the importance of one element of this channel because it is indicative how this one network provides such a necessary service as we go about our daily lives.
1371 For rural and remote areas, whether it is through cable or satellite, access to weather information around the clock 14/7 is essential. I would even argue that it is the most essential element in our living rooms.
1372 To further my point, The Weather Network is not just the best game in town, it's the only game in town.
1373 Finally, allow me to make the point of how important this service is by way of a recent example.
1374 In September 2010 hurricane Igor ripped through the Bonavista Peninsula in my riding. It caused extensive damage like never seen before. As I travelled through the area just after the floodwaters raged I was shocked to see the devastation inflicted on the roadways and how so many were washed away in a very short period of time. The Mayor of the community of King's Cove said it best when he described the situation where every town had become an island. Roads in between towns were washed out where there were culverts and ditches and that sort of thing.
1375 By boat or by helicopter I managed to make my way around the flood zone to inquire what was urgently needed. They required medicines, medical supplies, baby formula, perishable food, amongst other things, but in every community one thing that was always in short supply was information.
1376 The Emergency Service Office were constantly providing telephone numbers and schedules of emergency supplies arriving by boat, but the Alerting Service provided by The Weather Network would go a long way toward settling anxieties for those desperately seeking assurances at a chaotic time. Information, what's going on in my town and where do I go next? When is coming?
1377 Because the boat was going around to each and every community, but they didn't know what time the boat was arriving. Emergency services provide this information, and through The Weather Network it will be a vital service.
1378 I want to thank the Commission for allowing me to give this presentation on behalf of my constituents, my fellow Newfoundlanders, and, if I may be so bold, on behalf of all rural and remote Canadians.
1379 Thank you.
1380 THE SECRETARY: Thank you.
1381 I would now invite Mr. Brown to begin.
1382 Mr. Brown, you have ten minutes for your presentation.
1383 MR. GORDON BROWN: Thank you.
1384 Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, thank you for the opportunity today to appear in support of the Pelmorex application.
1385 As you are aware, my colleagues and I are missing the beginning of our respective caucus meetings this morning, but I can assure you that I have consulted my colleagues, and whether they are from rural Alberta or Nova Scotia, they have all heard from the people in their ridings that The Weather Network on basic television is key to them.
1386 I have the privilege of representing the riding of Leeds-Grenville, which, as you probably know, is just south of Ottawa. It is a rather large riding geographically. It is affected by a number of different weather systems off the lake, or across Ontario, and it also has the busiest highway in Canada, Highway 401, which runs from one end to the other.
1387 The good people of my riding of Leeds-Grenville rely on weather forecasts to organize and plan their days and weeks. I have commuters that travel a great distance to work each morning, as far as Ottawa, Montreal, Kingston, and the Belleville-Trenton area. These folks rely on up-to-date and up-to-the-minute weather and road condition forecasts to plan their daily lives and activities.
1388 I will use an example. My own assistant happens to live in Gananoque, and drives to Ottawa every day. I know that he relies on The Weather Network to see how things are on the trip up to Ottawa.
1389 Of course, this information is crucial, and The Weather Network gives not only timely information, but information at the local level.
1390 I want to add that my colleagues in the House of Commons and I are truly grateful that The Weather Network has agreed to provide the backbone for a national public alerting system at no cost to the government.
1391 I understand "promise made; promise kept". You asked that the public alerting system be made available within one year, and Pelmorex has met that deadline.
1392 During this time of fiscal restraint, the alternative of the Government of Canada designing, building and paying for a national public alerting system is simply not feasible.
1393 On behalf of all Members of Parliament, I commend the CRTC and The Weather Network for this innovative solution. Providing a public alerting system in return for The Weather Network remaining on basic TV was a sound decision by the Commission.
1394 It, therefore, makes sense to extend the CRTC order for The Weather Network to be on basic TV in return for providing a national public alerting system to coincide with the next licence renewal by Pelmorex in 2018.
1395 Once again, Mr. Chairman, on behalf of the people of Leeds-Grenville, who rely on The Weather Network, and will come to rely on the national public alerting system, and on behalf of my colleagues in the House of Commons, who have made their views known in writing to the Commission, let me thank you and your Commissioner colleagues for allowing us the opportunity to make our views known during this important proceeding.
1396 I appreciate the opportunity to be here today, and I look forward to any questions. Thank you very much.
1397 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for your three presentations.
1398 You are aware of the fact, of course, that when we ordered the national alert system to be put in place two years ago, we did this over the objection of, basically, most of the members of the broadcasting industry, and over the objections of Environment Canada, who wrote us and said: We are ready to do it, so please don't interfere.
1399 During questioning in our hearing, it became clear that they had only agreed on the terms of reference for an RFP, but there was no funding and there were no evaluation criteria, et cetera.
1400 We feel, just as you, that a national alert system is absolutely integral, it has to be there, and we can't wait -- and, if there is no funding, it is not going to happen.
1401 That's why we accepted Pelmorex's offer, and we gave them the five-year 9(1)(h) status, so that they have the necessary means.
1402 And they have lived up to it, as you said, and I think that is wonderful.
1403 But the foot-dragging and the delay continues, and there were two issues that came out yesterday, very clearly. One was that the various people who issue national alerts, like the police, local authorities, et cetera, and Environment Canada, have to sign up with Pelmorex.
1404 As part of the governing structure they have something called the NAAD, the National Alert and Aggregation Distribution User Agreement. Six parties have signed up -- Ontario, Nova Scotia, P.E.I., and the Yukon territory, and Saskatchewan and Quebec are in the process. But missing is Environment Canada. The one who issues these things has not signed up.
1405 I am just stunned by it. Since you three are MPs from different parties, I would urge you to use your influence to get Environment Canada to sign up. The principal source of weather information is not playing on the system that we set up so that Canadians have alerts.
1406 It defies my understanding. I don't understand why, but I would ask you to do that, because I think that is key.
1407 The second one is the issue of liability. Various broadcasters say they want to be indemnified, that they are not responsible. Some of them have done it anyway. We are going to hear today from one broadcaster who has.
1408 Whether this is real or not -- I guess it is a question of risk that the broadcasters have to deal with. I am not terribly convinced of that argument. I think that, clearly, the initiator of the alert is the one who is going to be primarily -- they may be involved in litigation on the edges, unwillingly, et cetera, but surely, if you suffer because of a false notice, you are going to go after the person who issued the notice, not the one who delivered it.
1409 I am delighted to hear that you have so much support for it. I have been in all of your three ridings. I was in Mr. Simms', I was in Newfoundland this summer, and you're right, it is a very rural -- Grand Falls is a very rural place.
1410 THE CHAIRPERSON: The only question, which you touched on -- as you say, it's free to the government. There is no question about that. But every single cable or satellite subscriber pays for it. That is, effectively, what it is. The question that we are struggling with is: Should we, at this point in time, extend it for the full seven years, or should we wait until 2015, when the system is up and running, and hopefully everybody is signed up, to decide whether the extra three years is required or not.
1411 Because it is amply funded right now, with the 9(1)(h) status that Pelmorex enjoys.
1412 I gather that you all feel that we should extend it. How do I explain that to the television user, who basically has no choice, who is being asked to pay for it whether he uses the service or not?
1413 You are elected officials, you know the position -- well, I don't have to run for election, fortunately, but we are accountable to the public. How do I explain to them that a system that is funded until 2015, I should now, ahead of time, give it funding for an extra three years?
1414 MR. SCOTT SIMMS: Mr. Chair, let me get this right. To justify that they have to pay for it on a 9(1)(h) status, is that what you are asking?
1415 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes. The 9(1)(h) status basically means that you pay for Pelmorex. You pay 23 cents for the privilege of receiving the service, if you are a cable or a satellite subscriber.
1416 MR. SCOTT SIMMS: First of all, why does 9(1)(h) actually exist? It exists simply because there is a basic service that gives basic information. It's sports, it's news, but certainly it's weather.
1417 If you are going to adhere to the standards by which 9(1)(h) was created in the first place, I think The Weather Network/Météomédia is the perfect example of why it should exist, because this is a service provided to these people that is -- well, certainly in my case, as I have pointed out -- absolutely essential.
1418 Personally, I would go so far as to say that The Weather Network represents the very spirit of what 9(1)(h) was set up to do, which is to provide a service for these people, and now that they are doing the alerting service, that makes it even greater.
1419 I understand that not everybody has cable. Therefore, someone is not getting The Weather Network. But, at the same time, the proliferation of basic cable is incredible. I don't have to tell you that.
1420 There are people who pay their cable bills before any other bill. Therefore, I think that The Weather Network -- and it is branding, as well. It's the most popular thing online, for a reason, because people have depended on it and continue to do so.
1421 THE CHAIRPERSON: Anything from your other colleagues?
1422 HON. BRYON WILFERT: Mr. Chairman and Members of the Commission, I believe that certainty is important. Why the seven years? I think that provides certainty. I don't think it is in the public interest to revisit it every few years.
1423 I am familiar with CRTC decisions, and it certainly seems to be a practice to license for seven years.
1424 I think that, if there is going to be an investment of this nature, there should be certainty on behalf of the applicant.
1425 At the same time, we see what the United States has done, and I believe, as I think my colleagues have eloquently pointed out, that it is in the public interest. It is a necessity, and there is no question that having it on basic cable will provide that opportunity, and will provide, of course, certainty.
1426 To your comments, Mr. Chairman, with regard to Environment Canada, we, of course, are here as Members of Parliament, to represent not only our constituents but our colleagues. I, obviously, can't speak for Environment Canada, but I would certainly take your comments to heart, and I certainly will be raising them, because as a former parliamentary secretary in that particular ministry, I can tell you that, at least in our day, it was very, very important and supportive.
1427 But I do believe that -- again, no cost to government -- it is an issue that provides certainty, and that is why I believe the seven years is important.
1428 But, certainly, I will take the issue that you raised up both with the minister and with other colleagues, because I think it is well-founded.
1429 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, you rub shoulders with the Minister of Environment, he is one of your colleagues, and that is why I am raising it. First of all, he has to sign on, and the second part that the industry is looking for is indemnity from the Minister of Public Safety.
1430 If you are keenly interested in seeing this national alert system up and running and functioning, please speak to both of them.
1431 I'm sorry, I didn't mean to cut you off.
1432 MR. GORDON BROWN: That's okay. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
1433 I would suggest that if, in fact, it was moved off the basic package in cable, we would probably have a national outcry, and it would be something that, definitely, Members of Parliament would be hearing about, and that, ultimately, you and your Commissioners would hear about, Mr. Chairman.
1434 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, I think that the internet blitz we have seen over the last week would be nothing compared to what would happen if The Weather Network were removed.
1435 Peter, do you have any questions?
1436 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Just a couple of points. One is what Konrad said about Environment Canada, et cetera.
1437 I would like your response to this. I know that there might be a national outcry, but the area I am from is Alberta, where cable customers are mandated to pay for The Weather Network, and yet the provincial government of Alberta, 20 years ago, undertook, really, what many would argue is the basic responsibility of government, to look out for the safety of its citizens, and it implemented an emergency warning system, which it pays for every year.
1438 So Albertans, essentially, pay twice, once for a system they have and once for a system they will get.
1439 You might mention that to your colleagues from southern Alberta. It might be an issue for them, as well.
1440 I want to test your overall comfort levels with the fact that what we have created here -- and I think that Pelmorex deserves a lot of credit, and so does the Chairman, for stepping up and filling a void that others wouldn't fill. However, one of the issues down the road is that this is, essentially, the privatization of an emergency warning system. You have a private operator doing this, and it's a fair exchange for a service that he is offering at this moment.
1441 But how do we manage this down the road, to ensure that if Pelmorex's management changes, or ownership structure changes, or something like that, if foreign ownership rules change, we don't, in effect, run into a situation where we have the nation's emergency warning system owned by foreign interests, for instance, or something like that?
1442 How do we make sure that we have a competitive process for our national warning system years from now?
1443 MR. SCOTT SIMMS: Some might argue that they own too much already. Nonetheless, I go back to the point about Alberta. I think what you could find here is an integration of the two systems, so that people will get double-served, or super-served, if that's the term you want to use.
1444 When I hear this argument -- and I have heard this before, about, you know, it is a basic service provided by government, provided by a private player.
1445 We do it now. I mean NAV CANADA is a good example. I mean they handle the safety of our airlines. They are a private company.
1446 We spend copious amounts of money paving roads. Paving roads gets most of us elected, but the thing is that the government doesn't pave them, private companies do.
1447 So in many cases I think that -- and that is not bad coming from a Liberal, I think. This is quite the admission.
1448 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Some might say surprising.
1449 MR. SCOTT SIMMS: Surprising, yes. I am as surprised as you are.
1450 MR. SCOTT SIMMS: Thank you.
1451 But you know something, it does work. I live in a riding where NAV CANADA is quite prevalent and they are incredible people and I think it is an example of where it can happen.
1452 In the case of Alberta they have a point, would they be paying twice? But the integration of the systems would ensure that they are getting the best bang for the dollar.
1453 HON. BRYON WILFERT: Mr. Chairman, I would point out that your scenario that you described, from my perspective, first of all, I always look at the litmus test, is it in the public interest, and if in fact down the road there was an issue of foreign control, et cetera, I think government would have to deal with it at that point.
1454 There are certain things that I believe, that partnerships are important and the issue of indemnification is obviously -- it is those who give the alert, not those who distribute it. So obviously, I mean I understand maybe some of the comments or reluctance maybe of Environment Canada, but they have to step up to the plate.
1455 As far as in the Province of Alberta, you know, for me it is an issue that provinces obviously if they didn't think this was important, they wouldn't be signing on. They think it is.
1456 The Federation of Canadian Municipalities, I know, has sent a letter indicating how important it is to their members from one end of this country to the other, and this represents over 85 percent.
1457 But again, you know, I have to deal with what is going on now, and for me it is essential that an early warning system that would be provided by Pelmorex is extremely significant, and governments often -- if others can do it and can do it effectively, cost effectively and can do it in a way which serves the public interest, then I am supportive of that.
1458 Maybe I am not surprised as my friend here, but for me it's some things that -- you know, public-private partnerships in many ways harken back to the days of the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway. We tend to do that in this country and it is important that a system of this nature is being provided.
1459 If I were the applicant I would say, well, I need some certainty, and that I think is why the seven years.
1460 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: It is a happy day to know that word will be going back across the river that the CRTC is doing great work.
1461 HON. BRYON WILFERT: That never crossed my mind that you weren't, having been here before, I can tell you.
1462 LE PRÉSIDENT : Michel, tu as une question?
1463 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.
1464 I will ask my question in French, so I just want to make sure that you have your headset ready.
1465 Hier, j'ai soulevé la question devant les entreprises de distribution qui étaient devant nous -- je ne sais pas si vous avez suivi les débats -- et je leur ai demandé, écoutez, vous souvenez-vous d'un service spécialisé qui reçoit autant d'appui des membres du Parlement, des associations qui sont vouées à la sécurité, des consommateurs? Il y a eu 60 000 lettres d'appui. Est-ce que vous vous souvenez...
1466 J'ai dit, moi, je suis ici seulement depuis trois ans. Je n'ai jamais vu autant d'appui pour un service spécialisé que l'appui dont bénéficie actuellement Weather Network et MétéoMédia.
1467 Et les entreprises de distribution n'ont pu me citer un seul exemple où il y avait un tel appui.
1468 Maintenant, en ce qui vous concerne, vous êtes une minorité qui représentez les membres du Parlement. On n'a pas ici... on a, bien sûr, trois partis, mais on n'a pas l'ensemble des membres du Parlement.
1469 Avez-vous consulté vos collègues? Est-ce qu'il y en a certains qui vous ont dit, non, non, 23 cents par mois c'est trop, et on devrait être délié de cette responsabilité-là?
1470 Autrement dit, qu'est-ce qui fait que vous n'êtes pas plus que ça si c'est un service aussi essentiel, si, en même temps, on a une synergie d'un véritable partenariat entre le service public et l'entreprise privée?
1471 Je m'explique mal que vous ne soyez pas plus ici. Il y a quand même plus de 300 membres du Parlement. Vous ne représentez qu'un sixième des membres du Parlement.
1472 Alors, ma question est : Est-ce qu'il y a d'autres échos? Bien sûr, il n'y en a aucun membre du Parlement qui a plaidé la cause inverse que celle que vous plaidez devant moi, mais comment se fait-il que vous n'êtes pas plus à partager le même point de vue? Est-ce que je dois m'inquiéter de ça?
1473 MR. GORDON BROWN: Thank you.
1474 Through you, Mr. Chairman, to Commissioner Morin, I think that is the very point, that you say that you have never had so many representations on a particular station. In fact, I think that is the very point of how important this is across the country.
1475 Now, you have received letters from many Members of Parliament. I have a list of those from across the country and I am sure that if other Members were in fact consulted they would be supportive.
1476 I know that I speak for my colleagues on the government side that I have spoken with that they are very supportive of continuing leaving The Weather Network on basic cable and the basic packages.
1477 I think that is the very point, you have never had so many representations on a particular station and the fact that there are just three of us here, you could have had a line-up of Members of Parliament here going on all day but I think that the three of us, who do come, two from one party and myself from the government side, are representative of many of the Members of Parliament.
1478 As you said, you have not received any negative on this particular issue. So I think that that makes your decision relatively easy in terms of your consultation with Members of Parliament and through them to their constituents.
1479 COMMISSIONER MORIN: You never heard some comments about the price and the basic service, that this will be imposed on the basic? You never heard any comment at all?
1480 MR. GORDON BROWN: I have never heard from any constituent saying that they were opposed to -- most consumers would probably be unaware that they were paying the 23 cents for The Weather Network, but they would expect that when they buy the basic package -- and there are many consumers who all they want is the basic package, and one of the things that they expect would be part of that basic package would in fact be The Weather Network.
1481 HON. BRYON WILFERT: Mr. Chairman, through you to Monsieur Morin, I can indicate to you very strongly, I have been elected now for 26 years -- I started when I was five --
1482 HON. BRYON WILFERT: -- and I want you to know that in my days in municipal government and my last 14 now as a Member of Parliament, we are at -- the constituent has changed.
1483 The average person in terms of demands has changed in the last 26 years and I can tell you in an age of instant e-mails and an age of instant telecommunications, people are very, very sensitive to price, very sensitive to issues.
1484 And believe me, I am in the customer service business. That is the only business I am in. I deal with my customers, who happen to be my constituents, and if there is a change in something which they feel is not right or not reflective, then they are on the phone.
1485 My colleagues, I will tell you -- and again, I was here by myself last year, but I will tell you that the same response that I gave last year is identical, and that is that Members of Parliament support this, as do dozens of associations, as does the FCM representing across this country 85 percent of municipal governments, as private sector does.
1486 It is important because, again, for 23 cents you are getting an invaluable service and a service which, again, because of the addition of the early warning system, the alert system, I believe is essential. But again, in order to do that kind of investment you do need certainty.
1487 But in my 26 years, to answer your question directly, I have never ever seen anything like this, and certainly, I have a lot of scars over the years, but I have never in terms of this type of issue seen such a uniform response to a particular issue.
1488 MR. SCOTT SIMMS: Most of the issues that I receive or calls to my office about cable is more of a BDU issue, more so than a particular channel.
1489 I have never experienced anything where people have complained about the channel line-up or anything of that nature. No one has ever complained that -- very few people have complained about the fact that they had to have certain channels to get to the channel they want.
1490 But all I can say is, you know, I think it should be extended out to 2018 for the very reason that 9(1)(h) exists.
1491 I mean if you are going to have basic cable, if you are going to sign up for a channel line-up that is considered to be basic, I mean The Weather Network/MétéoMédia really personifies the term "basic cable." If you are not going to have The Weather Network or MétéoMédia on basic cable, why even have basic cable?
1492 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Thank you for your answers. That was my question.
1493 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for coming here. I know you have a caucus meeting, so I will let you go, but it is very important for us that we hear not only from the players in the industry but also from their elected representatives and I appreciate that you all made the effort to come here. Thank you.
1494 HON. BRYON WILFERT: Mr. Chairman and Members of the Commission, thank you very much again and I appreciate your attention.
1495 MR. SCOTT SIMMS: Yes, and I can say on behalf of my constituents thank you for listening to us.
1496 THE CHAIRPERSON: And anything you can to lean on either the Minister of Environment or the Minister of Public Safety will be appreciated. Thank you.
1497 MR. SCOTT SIMMS: We have all written that down, trust me.
1498 THE CHAIRPERSON: Good, thank you.
1499 Let's take a five-minute break.
--- Upon recessing at 0941
--- Upon resuming at 0948
1500 LE PRÉSIDENT : Ok, commençons.
1501 THE SECRETARY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
1502 For the record, the New Brunswick Department of Public Safety has filed in response to undertakings a broadcast intrusive event list. It has been added to the public record.
1503 We will now proceed with the presentations by the Canadian Association for Public Alerting and Notification and NetAlerts Inc., who are appearing as a panel to present their interventions.
1504 We will hear each presentation, which will then be followed by questions from the Commissioners to the panel.
1505 We will begin with the presentation by the Canadian Association for Public Alerting and Notification.
1506 Please introduce yourselves, after which you will have 10 minutes for your presentation.
1507 Thank you.
1508 MR. ALLPORT: Mr. Chair, Members of the Commission, my name is Doug Allport, and I am the volunteer Executive Director of the Canadian Association for Public Alerting and Notification, commonly referred to as CAPAN.
1509 I'm here with two fellow board members.
1510 On my left is Professor David Townsend of the Faculty of Law at the University of New Brunswick. He co-authored the Industry Canada Canalert Legal Liability report, and his principal research activities involve telecommunications law and policy.
1511 On my right is Mr. Paul Grenier, a City Councillor from Welland Ontario who chairs the Ontario Small Urban Municipalities association. Prior to this he was a Bell Canada executive with public alerting responsibilities.
1512 As for me, I made the case for the Common Alerting Protocol in Canada and the Canadian profile of it.
1513 I currently manage a federally-funded study on CAP-CP governance and also serve as a special advisor to the Centre for Security Sciences GeoConnections initiative known as the Multi-Agency Situational Awareness Systems, which among other things, provides CAP-CP aggregation services.
1514 We will begin by thanking the Commission for this opportunity to speak, and for the seat we have on the NAAD Governance Council.
1515 Most importantly, we would like to acknowledge the tremendous contribution the Commission has had in advancing public alerting in Canada, and congratulate it on the decision it made two years ago.
1516 Likewise, we would like to acknowledge the tremendous efforts Pelmorex has made with NAAD, and for setting such a high benchmark with respect to location-based alerting and information services through so many mediums.
1517 As noted in our submission, we continue to support mandatory distribution of The Weather Network and MétéoMedia.
1518 That said, and if I may borrow from a metaphor used during the last NAAD hearing, we now have the half loaf of bread we knew we would bake, and as a result of the experience, we also now have the knowledge to make up the difference. We're here to identify issues we feel need be addressed.
1519 My comments will address matters of scope, technical expertise, and accountability.
1520 On the matter of scope, there continues to be a push to limit NAAD's use to broadcast intrusive alerts, when it was designed to fulfill an all-hazards role that includes watches and advisories and those road closures we just heard about.
1521 Additionally, there is a push to expand NAAD's scope to include a broadcast-intrusive feed, or flag in CAPCP, which others have stated, quite frankly, that they will ignore.
1522 CAP-CP was designed to support the automated aggregation, distribution, filtering, conversion and translation of alerts, watches and advisories, public and restricted, in one system without such a flag.
1523 We need to put this issue to bed and move on.
1524 We suggest that the discussion on scope reveals a concerning shortage of technical knowledge within our community of stakeholders.
1525 There are other examples. I will touch on a few.
1526 Recently there was a proposal on the flag issue that neither worked technically, and would have had far-reaching negative implications.
1527 We are aware of BDU developments that include antiquated equipment that may introduce decades' old U.S. issues to Canada.
1528 And as you will soon hear from Canada's leading alerting technical authority, Mr. Westfall, there are still quality issues with the CAP-CP coming out of NAAD.
1529 In CAPAN's opinion, we need to immediately convene a national alerting technical workshop to ensure Canada is not engineering or buying challenges we need not add to the list.
1530 A standing technical committee is in order as well.
1531 My last point has to do with accountability, and I must say that I was surprised this issue was not addressed yesterday.
1532 Two weeks ago the federal, provincial and territorial ministers for public safety published the Communications Interoperability Strategy and Action Plan for Canada, which identifies the Senior Officials Responsible for Emergency Management as responsible for alerting.
1533 SOREM members include Mr. Hefkey and Mr. MacGillivray, who I know also happens to be one of our board members.
1534 Both are also members of the NAAD Council, which I note does not now govern, but simply advise.
1535 There was tremendous discussion on this topic, and it became an advisory council.
1536 CAPAN proposes that the Commission recognize SOREM's role in overseeing NAAD, so that Pelmorex is accountable to someone between hearings.
1537 It is my understanding that SOREM MEMBERS support such a move, and I believe this would address some broadcast concerns.
1538 Professor Townsend?
1539 MR. TOWNSEND: Good morning.
1540 I wish to address three legal liability issues that have the potential to significantly limit the success of the Pelmorex NAAD initiative.
1541 In regards to the first two issues, I believe the Commission is uniquely positioned to provide immediate assistance.
1542 The third liability issue will take years to resolve, but I think the Commission can help to get things moving.
1543 The first issue concerns the legal liability provisions that Pelmorex has been inserting into the various NAAD service contracts that it is providing to provinces and territories for signature.
1544 These provisions require each government to assume full legal liability for essentially all NAAD alerting activities within their respective jurisdictions, including AMBER alerts, alerts issued by Fire Chiefs and municipal alerts.
1545 This broad assumption of liability is causing provincial and territorial governments to adopt operational models that will tend to centralize, rather than distribute, the authority to issue alerts in a manner that is counterproductive to modern alerting theory and practice.
1546 We ask the Commission to examine these liability clauses to see if the legitimate liability exposures Pelmorex is concerned about can be addressed without unreasonably inhibiting provincial, territorial and municipal participation in this initiative.
1547 The second matter relates to the legal liability concerns raised by Canadian broadcasters in relation to their role as distributors of NAAD messages, and the Chair raised that issue this morning.
1548 The Commission may be aware that certain broadcasters are refusing to modify NAAD messages in any manner due to concerns that modification activities per se may expose them to liability.
1549 This stance is regrettable because a significant attribute of the CAP-CP standard is that it is designed for conversion into a wide variety of formats, it is designed for automatic translation into different languages, without having to address the free form text.
1550 Thus, if you like, the 'notification value' of a single alerting message can be enhanced just prior to public distribution.
1551 Additionally, messages can be screened automatically without, you know, sort of broadcaster decision-making to select those of sufficient importance to warrant broadcast interruption.
1552 Within its decision, we ask the Commission to address this particular issue in a manner that will assuage the liability concerns of broadcasters.
1553 I agree with the observation made this morning by the chair, you know, that, as a distributor of a message, probably to the extent there is liability exposure, which I think is being sort of overaccentuated, generally whatever exposures probably exist at the decision to alert and the composition stage, and very modest exposure would exist at the end distribution stage.
1554 Within this decision, we ask you to address this particular matter that can assuage the liability concerns of the broadcasters.
1555 We assert that the language translation, the message formatting, or the screening capabilities that are an inherent part of the CAP-CP capabilities should not significantly raise the liability exposures of broadcasters and should not be regarded as message modification.
1556 The third issue has to do with the general legal liability exposure of all of the message issuers, aggregators and distributors that will directly participate in this initiative.
1557 While I believe the actual legal exposure is likely quite low, the perceptions of liability, and pre-occupation with that liability, appears to be quite high.
1558 To move the country towards an ultimate solution for liability concerns, we ask the Commission to publicly champion -- and I got the feeling you were doing that this morning with our federal politicians -- publicly champion the value of creating model legislation intended to reduce the liability exposures of all the participants in this alerting initiative.
1559 One good model, I believe, is BC's Emergency Communications Corporations Act, but again that is down stage distribution protection.
1560 Whatever we create, I think, should try to offer liability protections for all the participants within the scheme, public and private.
1561 So I think that this model would shelter activities undertaken in good faith but not activities amounting to gross negligence and intentional wrongs.
1562 Such liability type provisions exist already within the emergencies legislation that exists in provinces and territories and federally now.
1563 But the emergencies legislation in Canada doesn't seem to address communications issues, other than British Columbia's legislation, and typically an emergency has to be declared for those liability provisions to take effect.
1564 So most of the alerting activities won't involve a prior declaration of an emergency.
1565 Our next speaker is member Paul Grenier.
1566 MR. GRENIER: Good morning, Mr. Chair and Commissioners.
1567 My name is Paul Grenier. I am a city councillor in Welland, Ontario, and I am also the chair of the Ontario's Small Urban Municipalities.
1568 I am here this morning on behalf of the CAPAN Board and as one of the constituent members of small communities throughout Ontario to make that statement to the Commission that provinces and territories need not bear this risk that has been stated here today that is a problem with respect to the distribution of alerts.
1569 As stated in the Communications Interoperability Strategy for Canada, the majority of emergencies occur and are dealt with locally.
1570 Municipalities and first responders must have direct access to NAAD, because we cannot suffer any delay in getting the message out as quickly and efficiently as possible.
1571 I will also add that as a budget share for a community of 51,000 people we pay more than a million dollars in insurance premiums on an annual basis.
1572 I believe that this risk is manageable at the local level. It has been properly vetted by the underwriters that send us that horrendous bill.
1573 There is another issue with NAAD that deserves attention.
1574 There is a tremendous cost of administering, educating and training municipal users.
1575 Few, if any, provinces or territories have the budget to undertake this work, and I'm here to suggest that municipalities will pay a fee for these services. In fact, when CAPAN proposed to build the equivalent of NAAD and MASAS and charge a nominal fee for each user for access and such services, my Board applauded the establishment of such an initiative.
1576 I now understand a distributed cost model is being considered to overcome the same cost challenges with the national MASAS initiative.
1577 CAPAN continues to believe we need a trusted third party answerable to a higher authority, such as SOREM, to deliver these services and to administer a common legal charter that all NAAD issuers and broadcasters could sign, eliminating the need for individual agreements between hundreds of communities and last mile distributors.
1578 We will therefore ask the Commission to include in any decision or statement associated with the Pelmorex agreement a clear statement that leaves the provinces and territories with the option of leveraging, individually or collectively, at their individual choosing, a third party to administer, educate and train NAAD users, and a common charter.
1579 Thank you.
1580 MR. ALLPORT: And I'll briefly conclude our presentation by emphasizing CAPAN's commitment to the success of NAAD and the decision of the Commission to the benefit of all stakeholders.
1581 Thank you for your time.
1582 THE SECRETARY: Thank you.
1583 We will now proceed with the presentation by NetAlerts Inc. Please introduce yourself, after which you will have 10 minutes for your presentation.
1584 Thank you.
1585 MR. WESTFALL: Thank you, and good morning, Mr. Chair and members of the Commission.
1586 My name is Jacob Westfall and I am here representing NetAlerts, a public alerting software development company based in Sarnia, Ontario.
1587 For the past five years we have been operating public alerting systems based on CAP in Sarnia-Lambton and Ottawa areas, systems that have served as a testbed for the CAP Canadian Profile testing and development efforts.
1588 I am also a member of the international standards organization OASIS, which developed the CAP standard. I served as the editor of CAP 1.2 and the co-chair of the CAP OASIS subcommittee.
1589 I was an author of the IPAWS Profile of CAP which is being adopted in the US as part of an upgrade to their Emergency Alert System.
1590 I am also a member of the CAP Canadian Working Group and an author of the CAP Canadian Profile. I have written numerous other guides on the use of CAP and have advised several states and provinces on how to introduce CAP-based alerting systems.
1591 I am a firm supporter of open standards, particularly for public alerting where the need to effectively share information during an emergency is so vital, and as such, I donate most of my time to many of these standards efforts.
1592 I am currently serving as the technical advisor and lead developer of the MultiAgency Situational Awareness System for Canada. The MASAS initiative has established an innovative approach and technical solution for sharing authoritative location-based situational awareness information in near real time, with Canada's emergency management community, and across the border with our American colleagues.
1593 It is a joint program of Natural Resources Canada's GeoConnections Program and the Centre for Security Sciences in alignment with the Communications Interoperability Strategy and Action Plan for Canada.
1594 Integrating CAP alerts from NAADS is a key goal for MASAS as we expect to both consume these alerts and to share these alerts with other emergency officials in order to maintain situational awareness, and to potentially send alerts authored by MASAS users to NAADS in the future. As such, I have a keen interest in the technical underpinnings of NAADS and its operation in order to ensure that it is compatible with not only NetAlert's existing public systems that we provide for the public, but also the government systems such as MASAS in order to ensure full communications inter-operability.
1595 Now, at the previous Commission hearing I appeared before you to oppose Pelmorex's application to host NAAD on the grounds that a competitive RFP process would result in a more capable and better managed aggregator. At the time, I pointed to the fact that Pelmorex's demonstration feed had serious CAP validation concerns, and this highlighted their lack of commitment to a fully inter-operable open standards based alerting system.
1596 As part of granting their application, it was assumed that Pelmorex would address these technical deficiencies and they did, in fact, commit to follow the CAP-CP specification.
1597 And so it is with some surprise that I find myself here again to raise concerns about technical deficiencies with NAAD.
1598 Prior to the June launch of NAADS, Pelmorex established a test system and I reviewed many of the alerts being issued by it, and through a series of emails and phone calls provided feedback to Pelmorex, some of which was incorporated in an update to their system prior to the June launch.
1599 There were some remaining issues, however, and I communicated these concerns to Pelmorex but received no commitment to resolve them. After several months of operation, I passed these concerns along to several governance council members in the hopes that they would be raised and addressed through that venue. However, they weren't.
1600 Certainly I expected that, you know, after my public comment on compliance to the Commission in December, copied to Pelmorex, this would raise a red flag result in a quick resolution of these concerns and, again, no need for my appearance here today.
1601 Yet here I am, nine months after the NAADS launch. Now, it's expected there are going to be some updates and bug fixes required over time, but the lack of acknowledgement and any commitment by Pelmorex to fix these issues is a serious concern.
1602 If there are plans to resolve these concerns, they have never been communicated to me. Will it take another hearing before the Commission next year if there are further technical problems that arise in order to get the attention paid to these technical issues?
1603 Now, in the presentation materials I have provided the Commission, I've outlined some of the more pressing technical concerns, and I'm prepared to speak to them individually and in more detail if you have any follow-up questions.
1604 But the key message of my presentation today is that I shouldn't have to be here seeking redress from the Commission for these compliance concerns. Not only is it a waste of your time, but Pelmorex has committed to CAP and CAP-CP compliance and should take seriously any concerns that are raised.
1605 There is a clear need for better management controls and processes for NAADS, both now and ongoing. As more and more issuing agencies such as the provinces come to rely on NAAD, there needs to be more attention paid to ensuring the system works and that any concerns are quickly addressed.
1606 To that end, I am urging the Commission to instruct Pelmorex to establish a technical advisory group that will both review any raised concerns and plan for the future as new releases of CAP -- there's a version 2.0 in the works -- and CAP-CP -- there's a newly released 0.4 -- and other technologies that come along in the communications field need to be implemented.
1607 The members of the governance council itself are not all well versed in technical issues and so need an advisory group that they can turn to for answers. This group would maintain an official deficiencies list, or issues list, and Pelmorex would commit to the resolution of the items on this list in a timely fashion.
1608 The misguided policy proposal that Pelmorex recently put forward for a broadcast intrusive flag demonstrates the need for better technical expertise.
1609 It is my understanding this flag was put forth as a solution to allow American EAS equipment manufacturers to enter the Canadian market without the necessity of fully implementing CAP-CP. Instead, their antiquated equipment could be retrofitted to use the NAAD without fully supporting CAP-CP and so, therefore, allow for short-term adoption gains for NAADS at the expense of long-term inter-operability and the future expansion of public alerting here in Canada.
1610 Now, very much related to this issue is the lack of executive control the governance board exerts over NAADS' ongoing operation. If an RFP to establish NPAS had been issued, the participating agencies would have comprised the contracting authority and would have had greater control over the performance of the contractor.
1611 Lacking this control, the governance board is largely symbolic and merely acting as a sounding board.
1612 The provinces and other agencies that are relying on NAADS long-term, and I've heard lots of talk at this hearing about long-term stability, should have greater control over its operations to ensure items such as these technical issues are properly managed rather than requiring future intervention from the Commission.
1613 Greater public agency control and quick resolution of technical concerns will only breed confidence in the long-term stability and management of NAAD.
1614 So in closing, I'd like to thank the Commission for the opportunity to bring to your attention some technical flaws and operational concerns that need to be addressed as part of building an effective national public alerting system for Canadians.
1615 Thank you.
1616 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you for your comments.
1617 Just before I start the questions let me remind you, we are the telecom and broadcasting commission, we're not the national emergency commission and you seem to place an awful lot of faith in us to be able to do things.
1618 Quite a bit of the things that you've said are not within our jurisdiction.
1619 So I am -- but so with that warning or that -- you say on page 3 -- you raise the issue of a flag, which I didn't even know what you were talking about until through the context it finally became clear.
1620 I gather certain messages are supposed to be flagged in a way that they are automatically put on the system and interrupt the program.
1621 That's what -- is that what you're talking about?
1622 MR. ALLPORT: Yes. There's a bit of a debate as to whether Pelmorex should filter out only those alerts which are broadcast intrusive and deliver them down a special feed just for the broadcasters or whether all alerts should have some kind of a flag in it that says it is broadcast intrusive.
1623 The challenge is, where to do this. And quite frankly, the place to do it is after aggregation, not before, because if this list changes, the list Mr. MacGillivray introduced to you, and it will change, we'll have to go out and train thousands of stakeholders on how it works, what they need to do.
1624 And I have heard directly from BDUs they will ignore a flag because if somebody inadvertently pushes the flag for a road closure, they're going to ignore it. They're going to follow the list that says here are the specific events, here's the ratings of urgency, severity and certainty they will work with.
1625 THE CHAIRPERSON: Surely that's not an issue for us. This is something that you have to work out.
1626 I mean, Pelmorex came before us and says, "We want to be the national aggregate and distributor". And I was chairing the Commission's meeting two years ago, and the principle was very simple. The plotting authority decides what the message is. We take it and we transmit it. We are a middle man. We don't touch it, the content, at all, et cetera.
1627 So you are now trying to add to them at the aggregation a duty that was not part of the original design.
1628 MR. ALLPORT: I would like to respond to that with a -- I hope I was making it clear that I do not think we need to do either, that we are just fine with the deliver of CAP-CP with the definition of scope that we were given two years ago.
1629 I'm suggesting that there are stakeholders pushing for this and --
1630 THE CHAIRPERSON: Oh, okay.
1631 MR. ALLPORT: -- I feel that it is not needed. It's a red herring.
1632 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
1633 The second one is you want -- you think the governance council should be overseen by something that's called SOREM. Even if we did agree with that, how do we implement it?
1634 MR. ALLPORT: Well, this document was signed off by the Ministers for federal, provincial and territorial officials just a week -- two weeks ago. It clearly --
1635 THE CHAIRPERSON: Are you going to introduce it to --
1636 MR. ALLPORT: I would be happy to, and I'm surprised --
1637 THE CHAIRPERSON: Would you please give it to Madam Secretary? It's the first I heard about it.
1638 MR. ALLPORT: Sure. It clearly spells out that the senior officials responsible for emergency management, which is SOREM, which is made up of provincial, territorial and federal senior emergency management authorities, have responsibility for communications inter-operability in Canada, and alerting.
1639 And so the challenge we have right now is that we started off with what was going to be a governance board. Many of the stakeholders identified that they could not be on a board. And it eventually watered down to what I will describe as an advisory council.
1640 So we do not have accountability in that forum. We provide direction and, at the end of the day, as Mr. Temple has said a couple of times, they'll heed the direction and make a decision.
1641 We do not have clear accountability except at these hearings, so we don't want to go all the way to the next hearing before we have another forum where we're addressing the accountability.
1642 THE CHAIRPERSON: So you could address the issue by giving the governance council more power rather than bringing in SOREM and so on. It would have the same effect.
1643 MR. ALLPORT: Well, the interesting thing is that the SOREM members are on that council, and I think what I heard from the broadcasters is that they would welcome some more government involvement in the accountability.
1644 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. I may have some more questions, but I'll pass it on to my colleague. Peter.
1645 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: I just have a question about your points on liability.
1646 Is the -- I take it you're familiar with the language that's in the Alberta Emergency Management Act? Would that -- I just want to run it past you.
1647 Is that sufficient to cover the concerns about liability, do you think? Are you familiar with it?
1648 MR. TOWNSEND: Under their emergency management legislation?
1649 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Yeah.
1650 MR. TOWNSEND: Yeah, I'm familiar with it. I think that's another good model. They're all pretty similar across the country.
1651 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: So what can be done to get people to do that?
1652 MR. TOWNSEND: To get provinces to --
1653 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Yes.
1654 MR. TOWNSEND: I think that even Alberta's legislation doesn't really apply, and their protections don't apply until emergency is actually declared. So whatever legislation is created, I think, has to somehow allow for this protection from liability with or without a declaration of an emergency.
1655 BC's Emergency Communications Corporations Act doesn't require the declaration of an emergency. That's why I thought it was even a better model than --
1656 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay.
1657 MR. TOWNSEND: -- Alberta's.
1658 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: But the point is, I mean, just following up what the Chairman said -- I can't speak for others, although I share his concern -- we're not Emergency Management officials, right, we are broadcast regulators in this instance and telecommunications regulators, so all we can do is we are providing an exchange of benefits for a benefit to be provided.
1659 What we need, if we can address any of the concerns you have, is broadcast language. If you have something specific that you think needs to be said as a condition of license or something like that, that would be most helpful. Because it's not whether or not we share your concerns, it's just whether or not those are concerns that we get to share in terms of that.
1660 So if you have any specific language that would be helpful and something that Pelmorex would find useful and the whole system could find useful, that would be great.
1661 MR. TOWNSEND: We will do that if we can.
1662 I'm sorry if we are over exuberant, but you are sort of the only game in town. I mean the federal government --
1663 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Oh no, I understand.
1664 MR. TOWNSEND: -- just hasn't managed to do anything since --
1665 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Yes, it's --
1666 MR. TOWNSEND: -- distant early warning in the 1950s.
1667 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: It's a very frustrating thing to look at because -- yes, it's an important issue and, frankly, we shouldn't have had to do it, but somebody did.
1668 Anyway, to get back to the point, if there is some specific condition of license type of language or something, at least aspirational or something that you think would be helpful, if you could present us with that, that would give a bit more focus.
1669 Otherwise, really we want those things to be solved within the people whose expertise it is to solve that.
1671 MR. ALLPORT: Quite frankly, many of the things that we have identified are issues as a result of an accountability problem and so if you can help support the identification of accountability I think many of these issues will disappear?
1672 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. If you could, like I said, give us some language that you think could be inserted --
1673 MR. ALLPORT: We would be pleased to.
1674 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: -- then we can run it past people and see what they think about it.
1675 MR. ALLPORT: Okay.
1676 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: As for the CAP compliance, I'm confused. I hear that the process isn't fully -- this is for NetAlerts -- fully CAP-compliant. Pelmorex says they are. You are raising issues about CAP compliance as well.
1677 What is the issue there?
1678 MR. WESTFALL: Well, you know, they obviously have put the system together and have been issuing the alerts mainly on a test basis since June, and so each and every message that goes out, it needs to follow a correct structure and formatting.
1679 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Protocol.
1680 MR. WESTFALL: So it needs to have things in a proper order with a proper structure and format.
1681 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Yes. Yes.
1682 MR. WESTFALL: So essentially every message they have issued since June has not been compliant. It has not followed the standard to ensure that it meets all the required pieces.
1683 So in terms of the individual concerns in front of you there, there are the 10 that I have listed here.
1684 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Yes. I don't need to know the specifics, but if it's not fully compliant, is that an issue of cost do you think? I mean, is this a concern we should have with this being with a commercial operator?
1685 MR. WESTFALL: It's not an expensive operation to correct some of these, it may simply be a case of, you know, they did as far as they were required to meet the Commission's deadline of June and said, "Okay, we are done. This is all we are prepared to do at this stage."
1686 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Right.
1687 MR. WESTFALL: It's not a case of a large expense to institute some of these changes. You know, they are very simple in many cases.
1688 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: So have you communicated that to them?
1689 MR. WESTFALL: Yes. And prior to the launch of June they had the test feed and I did review that and there were problems with that and I gave them feedback and they corrected it, but nearing June it was more of a case of, "Well, this is as much as we are prepared to do at this point", and then the rest of the problems I have not hear back on.
1690 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: But are we making progress or not making progress?
1691 MR. WESTFALL: Since June, no progress.
1692 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Before June, progress?
1693 MR. WESTFALL: Yes. Before June, but after June there has been no progress in an improvement sense.
1694 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Because this system isn't -- I mean, no system is 100 percent in place all at once; right?
1695 MR. WESTFALL: Absolutely not. So that was my expectation, is over the months after June, obviously since it wasn't being used very much, there would be some further refinements and that's why I sent them the list of things to work on, but it's been 9 months and I haven't heard a thing in terms of any of those refinements being committed to.
1696 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Maybe you guys an talk over lunch.
1697 THE CHAIRPERSON: Pelmorex is going to be the final speaker today and I want you to be in the room because I'm going to ask them to answer your questions and, if need be, I want to see a dialogue between the two of you, because this is the sort of thing that frustrates the hell out of me, two sides appear before me and make totally opposite contentions and I have to suddenly apply credibility to who I do believe and one has effect. So stick around.
1698 MR. WESTFALL: Exactly. And I fully agree with you, I shouldn't have to be here. There should already be a process in place to have these issues address that there shouldn't be the need to do this, yes.
1699 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: The other is a request as much as it is a question. In your written submission, paragraph 16 I think it is, you ask us to clarify roles and responsibilities of the NAAD Advisory Council.
1700 Again, it would be helpful to have a look at some language that you might propose that we use and then we could again run that past Pelmorex to see if that works or not.
1701 Because, as the Chairman said, it is frustrating to have people coming to us and saying this and that when everybody is actually sitting in the same room, and especially with something like Emergency Management when there is other things, there are bigger things at stake at some point.
1702 Those are my questions. Thank you.
1703 THE CHAIRPERSON: Professor, you are a specialist on national alert and it's the issue of liability, I must say I have a feeling it's a bit of a red herring.
1704 Right now let's take something very simple, Amber Alerts. We have all heard them, they come over the radio. Is there any liability? Is there any agreement here in place to protect the broadcasters when they do this?
1705 Surely they do it out of good citizenship because a child's life is at stake and speed is of the essence, but is there actually a whole elaborate structure in behind it to make sure that if for some reason these happen to be bogus or misstating that the broadcaster is indemnified or held harmless?
1706 MR. TOWNSEND: If there is I don't know of any legislative foundation to it. There may be some kind of contractual agreements. There may be something in the background I'm not aware of.
1707 I know that it was discussed for a considerable period of time as to whether the broadcasters would insist on some kind of indemnification to participate in the Amber Alerts, I don't think it happened in the end, but I'm really not positive.
1708 THE CHAIRPERSON: But my colleague cited Alberta, you cited B.C., so I gather various provinces have addressed these issues through legislation?
1709 MR. TOWNSEND: I think that British Columbia is the only one that has addressed the distributor liability as a communicator of emergency messages. I don't know of any others.
1710 The distribution of alerts is not addressed at all, or emergency communications I don't think is addressed at all in any other statute other than Alberta's that I know of, other than this British Columbia statute.
1711 THE CHAIRPERSON: So as an expert in this area what do you see as a solution to the issues that have been raised by the broadcasters and the distributors?
1712 MR. TOWNSEND: Because, I mean, if we are going to have a national system we have to have something passed both federally and provincially. I think that most emergencies tend to happen locally and so you have provincial jurisdiction. Once in a while we will have tsunami concerns or we will have regional ice storms or we will have an apprehended invasion or something where clearly the federal jurisdiction is implicated. So whatever we do to offer liability protection, considering the exposures, we will probably have to pass both federal and provincial legislation and territorial legislation.
1713 THE CHAIRPERSON: Do we need legislation or an indemnity will suffice?
1714 MR. TOWNSEND: I mean, I agree with you, I think this liability concern is a red herring, it's overblown, but when parties are refusing to participate and sort of really help the public interest to the extent they truly can, maybe we will have to capitulate and legislate to offer that kind of protection.
1715 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, there is also the other side, I mean you have an emergency and people get killed because it didn't get warned ahead of time. That's not exactly good for business either.
1716 MR. TOWNSEND: No, it's not good for business. I think that even Paul Grenier was alluding to the fact I think that for a municipality to go ahead and participate and cover it off through insurance, surely the benefits of timely, effective intervention in an emergency will produce ultimate savings compared to problematic notifications and communications in an emergency. That will lead to possible liability concerns more readily.
1717 THE CHAIRPERSON: Go ahead.
1718 MR. GRENIER: Mr. Chairman...?
1719 THE CHAIRPERSON: First you and then the other one.
1720 MR. GRENIER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
1721 To your question, I think that to distil this down to where I need it to be as a legislator at the local level, I want the ability for all of my employees to be able to deliver whatever, all hazard alerts. You know, we talk about The Weather Network or Pelmorex, they are wonderful people and what they are applying for, but when the Medical Officer of Health issues a boil water alert, how does that fit into their broadcast and the list of things that they do?
1722 We need all the broadcasters and all the ability of delivering alerts to be working together. I think when you asked what is the role of this Commission, we need to be able to -- you know, I get your frustration of using this as a tool to make our case, but we need to have all of the people playing in the same field working together to get all these hazards out to the public.
1723 That's really what we are trying to day here today, is that we agree with the work that has been done. You have said there are a lot of fractured points in the room that need to come together and should be relatively simple. So that is really our request today.
1724 As Professor Townsend said, we keep having this roadblock of liability being thrown in front of us and it is a red herring. I employ very well trained professionals that have legislation governing the work that they do and part of that is notifying the public when they are at risk. I have every confidence that the Fire Chief and the Police Chief and Medical Officer of Health, you know, the Public Works Foreman, everybody down the line knows what they are doing.
1725 So the idea of this alerting thing seems to be that -- or the liability is the roadblock to make all these pieces come together to have the national system that we all want and that you have actually asked The Weather Network to facilitate. We want to be there to make it happen.
1726 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thank you.
1727 MR. WESTFALL: He really addressed my concerns that I was going to raise.
1728 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. We will have a period of one week for people to make comments on points that came up during the hearing and I would urge you to take heed of my colleague's -- whatever comments you make, let's say on the governance council or SOREM or something like that, it has to be within our ambit of power.
1729 In effect, we give a license to Pelmorex for certain terms and conditions. When we did the last one and we allowed them -- they undertook to set up the National Alert System and they tabled with us a sample governing agreement of how it would work and we approved it. Obviously you feel there should be improvements down to it and so I would suggest you be as specific as you can in terms of what we should impose or insist upon from Pelmorex.
1730 Thank you very much. We will take a 10-minute break and then we start with the -- are we on time or behind schedule, Madam Secretary?
1731 We are on time, right. So we will take a 10-minute break.
--- Upon recessing at 1028
--- Upon resuming at 1043
1733 THE CHAIRPERSON: Let's begin, Madam Secretary.
1734 THE SECRETARY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
1735 Further to CAPAN's presentation, Exhibit 2, "Communication Interoperability Strategy for Canada", has been added to the public record of this proceeding.
EXHIBIT NO. 2: Document entitled "Communication Interoperability Strategy for Canada", prepared by the Canadian Association for Public Alerting and Notification
1736 THE SECRETARY: We will now proceed with a presentation by the Canadian Cable Systems Alliance.
1737 Appearing for the CCSA is Alyson Townsend.
1738 Please introduce your colleagues, after which you will have ten minutes for your presentation.
1739 Thank you.
1740 MS TOWNSEND: Thank you very much.
1741 Good morning. I am Alyson Townsend, and I President of the Canadian Cable Systems Alliance.
1742 I have with me, on my right, Chris Edwards, who is our VP of Regulatory Affairs, and on my left is Harris Boyd, CCSA's Regulatory Consultant.
1743 We regard The Weather Network and Météomédia as being important, popular, and socially useful programming services that provide Canadians with information that is highly relevant to their daily lives. We fully support Pelmorex's application for a renewal of the licence for these services for the term requested.
1744 We did not comment in our written brief on Pelmorex's request for an extension of its mandatory distribution order for The Weather Network and Météomédia. From a practical point of view, the fact is that our members, both licensed and exempt, carry these services on their basic service levels, be that in analog or digital, or both.
1745 They are unlikely to move these services in the foreseeable future, except to the extent required to support a more general migration of all services from analog to digital.
1746 We do note that Pelmorex's existing mandatory distribution order remains in force until August 31, 2015. In the context of the rapid changes in the players, the technologies, the programming delivery models that we see in this industry, 2015 is still a long way out. We see no need to address this issue by extending the mandatory distribution order at this time. Rather, the Commission would be well advised to consider extension of the mandatory distribution order at a later date, when it has the benefits of a fuller understanding of the broadcasting environment that is likely to apply beyond 2015.
1747 In short, we don't see any pressing practical or regulatory justification for an extension of the mandatory distribution order at this time.
1748 Having said that, our primary purpose here today is to address the matter of all-channel alerting. We strongly believe that participation in the alerting system should continue to be voluntary for all BDUs. At the highest level, there are a number of good reasons to maintain the voluntary aspect of this initiative.
1749 In view of the state of preparedness of other elements of the national public alerting system, it would be premature at this time to introduce mandatory participation.
1750 BDUs are but one element in the multiplatform delivery system for alerting messages. Mandatory BDU participation is not critical to the system's overall success.
1751 Voluntary participation gives BDUs, particularly the smaller ones, the flexibility to find technical solutions and equipment that are affordable and properly scaled to their circumstances.
1752 In the event that the Commission does decide to mandate BDU participation, we strongly urge you, at a minimum, to refrain from imposing that requirement on smaller, exempt BDUs.
1753 MR. EDWARDS: As Pelmorex has noted repeatedly in its written submissions in this proceeding and prior ones, the CCSA, on behalf of its members, has been a willing and proactive participant in the NAAD system development. Specifically, we participated in the Public Safety Working Group that developed the alerting system design, up until the time that Pelmorex was authorized to implement its alerting distribution system.
1754 We agreed, without hesitation, to sit as a member of Pelmorex's NAAD governing council, and the CCSA was one of the two initial BDU participants on that council.
1755 The CCSA, working separately with Pelmorex, identified representative BDUs of differing sizes from within its membership to serve as test beds for NAAD implementation, and secured the cooperation of those BDUs.
1756 The CCSA volunteered to participate in the NAAD council's Broadcast Intrusive Alerting Subcommittee to assist with the definition of alerting messages that merit interruption of programming.
1757 We are committed and willing players in this project. We are able to assume that role because the CCSA members, themselves, appreciate the social and competitive justifications for participating in a national alerting system.
1758 Many of the CCSA's members are not-for-profit cooperatives, owned by their communities, for the purpose of providing much needed communications services to those communities. A number of others are town-operated systems and First Nations undertakings. Such organizations understand that their mission is to connect their customers to each other and to the world. NAAD participation is entirely consistent with the core mandates of those locally based service organizations.
1759 In short, our members, firmly rooted as they are in the communities they serve, welcome the opportunity to provide this important service to their customers. They get it.
1760 It is important to understand that, despite the fact that this is, and should be, a government-driven public safety initiative, there is no financial assistance currently available from any third party to defray the costs of implementing this technology by small BDUs. Neither are there any existing incentives at this time from the equipment suppliers.
1761 In our written submission, we quoted a capital cost estimate of approximately $5,000 to $7,000 per system. More recently, we have learned that the initial capital outlay for the core EAS equipment is likely to average in the range of $10,000 per site. Actual costs depend very much on the specific configuration of, and technologies used by, the individual BDU systems. In many cases, smaller BDUs will have to purchase additional third party hardware to enable forced tuning of channels to the alerts that are passed through the EAS equipment.
1762 For a company like Access Communications, deployment of equipment across its 212 communities could easily require an initial capital outlay of over $2 million to serve its 76,000 subscribers.
1763 For Westman Communications, which services approximately 32,000 customers through 36 head ends, the initial cost could be well over $300,000.
1764 For much smaller North Nova Cable in central Nova Scotia, which serves a total of just over 1,700 customers through six head ends, that initial cost could be as much as $60,000.
1765 Absent any external financial support and any financial return, these costs are too high and are a real obstacle for small BDUs.
1766 That is a challenge that the CCSA is ideally suited to address. Some years ago, the CCSA helped its members implement HITS-QT technology. Once we helped to define the technical solution, the CCSA proceeded, through its collective bulk purchasing power, to source the necessary equipment at prices that our members could afford. We have done many hardware and software bulk purchases since then. That is our business.
1767 Under a voluntary participation model, we would expect to do exactly the same thing with respect to EAS equipment and support services.
1768 However -- and this is the critical point -- the moment the Commission requires the smaller BDUs to participate in the alerting system, CCSA's negotiating power will disappear. There will be no flexibility in pricing or other purchase terms.
1769 Similarly, CCSA's ability to work with equipment suppliers on issues of scalability and the unique system requirements that undoubtedly will emerge from the diversity of our membership will become much more difficult to resolve. In short, the imposition of a mandatory scheme on the smaller BDUs will deprive the CCSA and its members of the normal commercial hardware buying environment, an environment that allows us to find solutions and optimize prices.
1770 That alone could be enough to make participation in the alerting system unaffordable for the independent BDUs.
1771 At this time, two CCSA members, Compton Communications and Access Communications, have committed to trials of the EAS equipment. Compton's trial has been underway for some time. For a number of reasons, while Compton has successfully tested delivery of NAAD messages to an unused channel, it has not yet delivered live messages from the Ontario EMO to its subscribers via a forced tune of all channels.
1772 More recently, Access Communications agreed to trial the "Visionary" EAS equipment. Our understanding is that Access has received the trial equipment and is proceeding with deployment of its trial.
1773 Our purpose in arranging these trials has been to test out the messaging distribution in BDUs of radically different sizes and configurations. Our hope and intention is to define one or, at most, a very few standardized configurations that most CCSA members can implement and, just as important, afford to implement.
1774 A major challenge for us in such ventures is communication with our members. We need to be able to tell members, in clear and simple terms, what they will have to do, what equipment and expertise they will need, and what their costs will be. We are currently working with the EAS equipment vendor to finalize the necessary materials.
1775 The CCSA members, like many other last mile distributors, remain concerned that a number of fundamental issues, such as the indemnification of last mile distributors from liability and definition of the criteria for broadcast intrusive alerting, remain unresolved, despite the long history of this project.
1776 However, we are working with Pelmorex and the EMOs to contribute to the resolution of these matters. We are forging ahead on the technical and commercial issues, regardless of those outstanding matters.
1777 In summary, the imposition upon small BDUs of a mandatory participation requirement in the public alerting system would, at this time, be premature and, from our point of view, unhelpful.
1778 We have been working in good faith on this project. We are working on it, and we are committed to continuing down that path. We strongly believe that the most effective way to engage small BDUs is to continue to provide the time and flexibility to allow us to work with them to find the technical and commercial solutions that work best for them.
1779 Thank you for your time and attention.
1780 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. I am somewhat stunned by the statement on page 4, at the second bullet: "Mandatory BDU participation is not critical to the system's overall success."
1781 I presume that your emphasis is on "mandatory", it's not that the BDUs have to participate.
1782 MR. EDWARDS: The point that is being made here is that the public alerting system has many facets.
1783 Actually, we listened yesterday to Nova Scotia's representative talking about how he now has arrangements in place with 18 of the 19 radio broadcasters in the province.
1784 We heard a lot of discussion from the Ontario authority about how he wants to reach people in their cars in the area of an emergency, and also going to the area of an emergency.
1785 There is the mobile cellular aspect, and all of these things.
1786 The simple point we are making is that the BDUs -- mandatory participation by the BDUs is not absolutely critical to the functioning of a working public alert system. BDU participation is an important part, we recognize that, but the system as a whole works on many other platforms, as well.
1787 MR. BOYD: It is probably worth noting that, in some very, very small systems, with a few dozen customers, it may never be financially practical to implement a broadcast-based system. It might be much more practical to use an internet-based system and get the messages to people that way. That's part of the point that we are making here.
1788 This isn't necessarily the ideal solution everywhere, nor is it, obviously, the complete solution.
1789 In some small communities, we don't see how we could do this, given the costs that we are looking at.
1790 THE CHAIRPERSON: You've got to be kidding. You are telling me that broadcasting is not part of the solution, and that people who watch TV should not receive emergency messages?
1791 I can appreciate your problems with cost and all of that, but to suggest that you could have a national alert system and not include television, which is consumed 92 percent in this country by people who are BDU customers?
1792 MR. BOYD: But you have to keep in mind that they are not going to, necessarily, be watching television in the middle of the night or when they are in their car or when they are on their computer.
1793 If you add all of those other sources of activity together, they are probably, for the average person, much more -- if you include the sleeping part of it -- than when they are watching TV.
1794 We are not saying that broadcast is not important, but we are saying that, in some places -- and in terms of some systems -- it might be better to focus elsewhere.
1795 Mobile may well be the answer in the very near future.
1796 THE CHAIRPERSON: Emergencies don't come at scheduled times.
1797 MR. BOYD: That is exactly my point.
1798 THE CHAIRPERSON: It may happen on Friday night, when everybody is watching TV or whatever.
1799 Anyway, I understand your point; I don't accept it.
1800 Much more importantly, you don't speak about liability. Everybody else has been talking about liability a great deal.
1801 Setting aside your technical and your cost issues that you are talking about, do you expect your members to participate, or are they going to hide behind the others and say, "Not until such time as the liability issue is resolved"?
1802 MR. EDWARDS: The point we made in our presentation is that, at this time, we are willing to forge ahead with the technical and commercial aspects of this. Liability issues do remain a concern for us. Hiding behind them, I don't know if that's what we would say, but there is a legitimate concern.
1803 We strongly favour a legislative response, such as was discussed earlier this morning. The reason for that, to our minds, is that, if you picture the system that Harris talked about that has 100 or fewer subscribers -- it's a family-owned business and so on -- it is very hard for us to picture that cable operator entering into 13 or more indemnity agreements with provincial and territorial jurisdictions, with the federal government, and so on.
1804 On the other side of it, it is very difficult for us to picture that small cable operator going to his insurance broker and saying: I need coverage because I am now getting into all-channel alerting. What is my price?
1805 I think those are both quite problematic propositions for a very small cable operator.
1806 THE CHAIRPERSON: You appear before me at hearing after hearing, telling me that you are an integral part of your community. You service your community, you know them on a first-name basis, et cetera. Then, when it comes to national alert, you say: I am not going to warn you because there may be a legal exposure.
1807 That doesn't fit together very well.
1808 I would have thought that your members --
1809 MR. BOYD: I don't think that --
1810 THE CHAIRPERSON: Please, let me finish.
1811 Time after time you have pointed out that you have such a strong civic conviction -- that this would be axiomatic, that they would render this service, if available.
1812 MR. EDWARDS: I think that's a fair comment, but I also think that these are realities which, somehow, these people are going to have to deal with, and they are problematic for them.
1813 MR. BOYD: I think that, if you listened to the representative of the Government of New Brunswick yesterday -- we are all from New Brunswick, by the way, so we are pleased with their enlightened approach -- they have no qualms whatsoever of indemnification of the last mile distributors, even if they have to change legislation to do it.
1814 We do believe that is very much the approach. So far we haven't heard that from the federal government, but there should be some way of indemnifying the last mile distributors.
1815 Our situation is a little different than big distributors because assuming we are participating in this voluntarily, our members will have to buy the equipment, install the equipment and maintain the equipment.
1816 Our fear is not so much human error, it is that that equipment might fail in an unmanned head end where there are not only no people at the head end itself, we don't have any technicians maybe even in that community, so they wouldn't necessarily be aware that the message hadn't been passed through.
1817 So if it is our equipment and we are charged with maintaining it, we quite naturally would be liable if there was a situation where everyone else in the community who was a satellite customer found out about it and they didn't find out about it from us. So we have that fear.
1818 THE CHAIRPERSON: Liability concerns have been expressed here the other way around, that somehow the message is erroneous or false or something, not that you fail to get it.
1819 MR. BOYD: Well, that is certainly true as well, but we could have equipment failure and everybody else did their part in the chain and when it got to us the message didn't get passed on to the community and its residents.
1820 That is why I say it is different for us.
1821 THE CHAIRPERSON: Where would the liability come from?
1822 MR. BOYD: Because we own the equipment. We were responsible for maintaining it and it didn't work. Who else would be liable?
1823 THE CHAIRPERSON: But you want a voluntary system and a voluntary system, I don't see how equipment failure would result in liability.
1824 MR. BOYD: Well, as you know --
1825 THE CHAIRPERSON: I am going on the assumption that you put in front of me. You say you want a voluntary system, and if it is a voluntary system and you equipment doesn't work, I would like to know where the liability comes from.
1826 MR. BOYD: Well, certainly, that doesn't keep you from being sued. Let's say someone gets killed.
1827 THE CHAIRPERSON: You can always get sued anyway.
1828 MR. BOYD: But then we have to protect ourselves. We have the cost of protecting ourselves. So, you know, we still have costs and if no one is willing to stand behind us because we participated in this service voluntarily, then there is a risk there and we have over 100 companies we have to convince that the risk is worthwhile.
1829 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
1830 MR. EDWARDS: We do take the point that it is different under a voluntary system. If the system is mandatory for these players, then I think liability becomes a much greater concern for us.
1831 THE CHAIRPERSON: Peter?
1832 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: I just have a couple of questions.
1833 How does liability work for the broadcasters that you carry? If a broadcaster broadcasts something that is inaccurate, that causes an allegation of damage for some place, how are you protected on that?
1834 MS TOWNSEND: That is taken care of in the affiliate agreement and so if there is something that is the broadcaster's fault, the broadcaster assumes responsibility for it.
1835 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: So you are completely -- that is dealt with contractually then?
1836 MS TOWNSEND: Correct.
1837 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: So they carry the burden on that?
1838 MS TOWNSEND: Yes.
1839 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: I have just a similar issue and I just want you to help me with -- I will give this some context.
1840 Every time I come home from Ottawa when the cab pulls into my driveway, if my neighbour is out, he says: Hey, Menzies, how much did you make my cable bill go up this month?
1841 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: How do we explain to people that they have to pay 23 cents a month on their cable bill for something that they may or may not -- and they may not receive any benefit from it if your participation is voluntary? How do you propose we manage that?
1842 I mean we have people pleased that government isn't paying for this and we have people pleased that -- and we have people arguing over who is supposed to be liable for it and that sort of stuff, but all we have at the end of the day is a citizen who is paying for something right now that they are not getting and the promise they will get it.
1843 So how do I explain to somebody why they have to pay for something and you may or may not --
1844 MR. BOYD: Well, they are paying for The Weather Network though.
1845 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: They are paying for The Weather Network for a reason, but they may or may not receive a benefit from it.
1846 MR. BOYD: Well, I think you have to --
1847 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: I mean where I live they are paying twice, so --
1848 MR. BOYD: There really is no connection between the specialty service The Weather Network/MétéoMédia and the Public Alerting System.
1849 The only connection is that Pelmorex runs them both and they are cross-subsidizing from their profits on their specialty service their costs in running this alerting service.
1850 So a subscriber that doesn't have the alerting service still has The Weather Network. It is obviously one of the reasons we are pro choice in terms of not forcing people to take a service. They should have the choice whether they want to buy a specialty service or not.
1851 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Right. That was my other question.
1852 If they did have the choice with The Weather Network, how many people do you suppose would choose it?
1853 MR. BOYD: Well, you have heard about how much support there is and the parade of people supporting it.
1854 We know it is very popular in our communities. We haven't put it to the test. It is on basic, so we assume most people are happy with the service. We get a lot of positive feedback about it as well, but you are probably not at 100 percent.
1855 I mean 100 percent of people don't like anything. So, you know, obviously there is probably a small percentage of people who say that I wouldn't take a particular service if I didn't have to. So it is not going to be universal, but it is certainly high.
1856 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: And that would down the road solve your problem about voluntary or not voluntary because only the people who were paying for it would --
1857 I mean I understand the separation between the services, but at the current time there is an expectation for -- the reason MétéoMédia and The Weather Network have 9(1)(h) status is the creation of this emergency warning system, right?
1858 MR. EDWARDS: The reason that Weather Network and MétéoMédia to date have had a 9(1)(h) status is really more about the national importance of the service, I think.
1859 The all channel alerting thing has been tied to this, but really --
1860 THE CHAIRPERSON: I can assure you, in the last decision they would not have got a 9(1)(h) if it wasn't for the NAAD. We made that quite clear.
1861 That was before. You are right, previously they had 9(1)(h) but the question was whether to extend it or not, and, you know, we had turned it down once. This time we accepted because we realized the importance of a National Alerting System to Canada.
1862 MR. EDWARDS: I guess the other answer to the question, I think, is that it is what we said in our presentation. We do not really see a prospect of CCSA members pulling this service off basic. It is just not, practically, something they would want to do.
1863 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Right. Okay, thanks.
1864 LE PRÉSIDENT : Michel?
1865 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.
1866 You have just agreed that this service is quite popular. You don't receive a lot of complaints, I understand, from your customers.
1867 First of all, how many customers do you have? You are talking about 212 communities. How many customers and what is the average by community?
1868 MS TOWNSEND: That is a really difficult question.
1869 We serve about close to 800,000 subscribers throughout our member companies. Some of our member companies are very large; some of them are very small. So it is really tough to give you an idea of what the classic cable company would be.
1870 We have some that would have less than 100 subscribers, we have some that are 400,000 subscribers and we have everything in between.
1871 COMMISSIONER MORIN: But you can give us an idea, quintile by quintile, how many customers you have --
1872 MS TOWNSEND: For Weather Network?
1873 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Yes.
1874 MS TOWNSEND: For Weather Network, probably I would say we are 90 percent penetrated at least, so close to 800,000 subscribers.
1875 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Now we are talking about an expense of between $5,000 to $7,000, isn't it?
1876 MS TOWNSEND: That is correct -- well, $10,000.
1877 MR. EDWARDS: Actually $10,000, $10,000 and up, I would say.
1878 COMMISSIONER MORIN: If the Commission grants the extension to 2018, will it make more sense for your members to invest in those technologies, because now the direction will be clearly stated and everyone will recognize that now this is part of the basic service, with another system and so on?
1879 MS TOWNSEND: We think --
1880 COMMISSIONER MORIN: So --
1881 MS TOWNSEND: Sorry.
1882 COMMISSIONER MORIN: It seems to me that your members will be a lot more comfortable with this investment if you see the long run over eight years, instead of five years.
1883 MS TOWNSEND: We think that they will invest anyway. From our point of view, we will negotiate with a vendor to buy the equipment on their behalf. The minute the Commission decides that they must buy that equipment, our negotiating power is minimalized. So something that is $10,000 will be -- well, $10,000 plus.
1884 We also have -- because we do not have one particular type of system, we have a number of them, we are going to be looking for different ways to implement this service, different types of equipment that can be purchased.
1885 For instance, when we did the HITS QT implementation three or four years ago and everything we have done since, purchase VOD equipment, we generally have at least three different ways of doing it, one for large systems, large in our context, medium and then small.
1886 So we are looking for that variation and the ability to be able to provide that variation to our member companies, and if it is mandatory we are concerned that our ability to provide that flexibility will go away.
1887 MR. BOYD: Just one other comment.
1888 I mean you have mandated Pelmorex to implement this system. We have every reason to believe that it will be implemented, and if it runs between now and the end of August 2015, whether they continue to run it or not, there is no way that that system is going to get abolished at that point in time.
1889 People will have had the benefit of it. There will be competitive reasons. We have at least two competitors and maybe three in every single market. So it will come about. We hope equipment costs come down through volume purchases as more people participate.
1890 But once we have started down the road, the fact that The Weather Network is mandatory on basic or not after 2015 will not affect our decision on public alerting.
1891 COMMISSIONER MORIN: Thank you very much.
1892 THE CHAIRPERSON: Just clarify for me this issue of mandatory.
1893 If you are talking participation in the NAAD, you are not talking about carrying Pelmorex's service whether it is -- it is 9(1)(h). That you will accept. You just don't want us to augment the mandatory aspect by saying you also have to participate in the NAAD?
1894 MS TOWNSEND: That is right.
1895 MR. EDWARDS: That is correct.
1896 MR. BOYD: That is correct.
1897 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
1898 Okay, thank you for your presentation.
1899 MS TOWNSEND: Thank you.
1900 THE CHAIRPERSON: Madam Secretary, who is next?
1901 THE SECRETARY: I would now invite Channel Zero Inc. to come forward to the presentation table.
1902 THE SECRETARY: Appearing for Channel Zero is C.J. Millar.
1903 Mr. Millar, you have 10 minutes for your presentation. Thank you.
1904 MR. MILLAR: Thank you, Madam Secretary.
1905 Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners Menzies and Morin. My name is Cal Millar and I am the President of Channel Zero.
1906 As you know, Channel Zero is the licensee of independent television stations CHCH Hamilton and CJNT Montreal, which is now known as Metro14 Montreal as of this week.
1907 As well we are licensees of two specialty services: Movieola-The Short Film Channel and Silver Screen Classics.
1908 We also operate a Master Control centre that provides origination and technical services to other specialty services other than our own, as well as our own.
1909 And we own OUAT Media, a film distribution company, which, if I might digress for one moment, as of last week is the representative of three Oscar-nominated short films, two in the animated and one in the live action categories, of which we are rightfully proud of our filmmakers.
1910 I am here today to support Pelmorex's licence renewal application for The Weather Network and MétéoMédia.
1911 While we are competitors in the Southern Ontario market, when it comes to providing weather news to our audiences, we are also collaborators in other important areas.
1912 Pelmorex has worked closely with Channel Zero in promoting the interests of smaller, independent specialty services.
1913 We also wholeheartedly support their request to extend the Distribution Order requiring their carriage on basic service for the next seven years.
1914 We support this based on Pelmorex's undertaking to continue to provide the National Alert Aggregation and Dissemination System, or as we know it to be called, NAAD. We view the ability to broadcast public safety messages to our viewers as an important initiative and that is the primary reason for my appearance before you today.
1915 We are very pleased to be a participant in the NAAD System and we were one of the first broadcasters to do so.
1916 Sending our communities local emergency alerts that could save lives is the type of social responsibility we see as central to our mandate, especially at CHCH and Metro14 Montreal.
1917 It strengthens our ties with the local communities we serve. It's another way to connect with our viewers. It gives us a competitive advantage and, frankly, we believe it's good for business.
1918 That's why we've been working with the Ontario government, Pelmorex and Trispec Communications to pilot the project on CHCH.
1919 We've had several objectives in participating in the piloting project. First, we wanted to show our company as a leader. Second, we wanted to better understand the system, the technical issues, how it works, what the system can and cannot do, and its editorial decision-making process.
1920 And finally, we wanted to understand the cost implications. We've accomplished all three goals.
1921 The on-air tests that we've conducted since December on CHCH with Sage, the equipment manufacturer, and Trispec Communications, their Canadian distributor, shows us that the system works. We have worked with the government through the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, who you heard from yesterday.
1922 The Ministry issued the alert messages which were targeted to a specific geographic area.
1923 Excuse me. My apologies. Sorry about that.
1924 The Ministry of Correctional Services, who you've heard from yesterday, the Ministry issued the alert messages which were targeted to a specific geographic area.
1925 While the message was displayed on-air over our entire coverage area, which would be predominantly all of Ontario, the message, crafted by the government, identified it as a test message for the Cochrane area to avoid any confusion in the local Hamilton/Golden Horseshoe market.
1926 It was delivered by Pelmorex's NAAD System and the Sage interface received the message from an internet feed, decoded it properly as a message meant for "Cochrane", and pushed it out immediately.
1927 The tests actually worked flawlessly. The messages were broadcast immediately.
1928 At the suggestion of the Ontario government, in subsequent tests we added an alert tone at the beginning and end of each message.
1929 The message itself was issued directly by the Ontario government emergency management offices. It included an audio and text message. Both were received and successfully broadcast.
1930 The text message appeared as a crawl across the bottom of the television screen.
1931 Pelmorex was an observer and posted the details on their website to indicate tests were taking place. They also monitored and verified the proper operation.
1932 Channel Zero is a small and growing company. You know that we took on enormous new obligations when we purchased CHCH and Metro14 in 2009. And although our entry into local broadcasting is off to a great start so far, it comes with substantial investment and substantial risks.
1933 This is a year of large capital expenditures for us, since we are converting all of our mandatory market transmitters to digital, and we are also proceeding with the substantial investment required for High Definition television.
1934 This means that we review each CAPEX proposal very carefully. Of course, it's probably fair to say that everybody does in this day and age.
1935 The SAGE decoder we used in the test was loaned to us by Trispec. We estimate the cost of alerting equipment to be at least $7,000 for each over-the-air service, and in some cases may require us to upgrade existing equipment such as local character generators.
1936 This investment could well exceed $100,000 if we elect to install the alerting equipment in our rebroadcast transmitters located throughout Ontario. This is equipment we're prepared to invest in to safeguard our community, but it's also money that could otherwise be spent on a long list of other worthy projects.
1937 If the decision on whether to extend the Distribution Order is put off until 2015, then we're put in the position today of taking a gamble one way or the other. Alerting equipment will be money well spent if we are in the NAAD System for the long haul, and a real waste if the NAAD System only lasts until 2015.
1938 If we invest today and the NAAD system is cancelled in 2015, it would also create endless confusion for our viewers, who would be expecting alerts, perhaps even putting them in jeopardy. I can tell you with that amount of uncertainty there is no incentive to go ahead.
1939 Pelmorex has shown it can deliver, but they are not prepared to do so after 2015 without mandatory basic carriage. As an independent broadcaster, we understand their risk. Likewise, we are here to say that while we want to participate in a national public alerting system, while we're prepared to educate and inform our viewers and to work with emergency management authorities, we need some assurances.
1940 Before we make an investment in alerting equipment and invest our time and energy in informing our viewers, we need your assurance that the CRTC will continue to champion the NAAD system in the long term. We need certainty from you, the Commission, before we can allocate funds wisely and for the long term.
1941 Let me be completely clear. Unless we believe that we can amortize the capital expenditures required to implement this system over at least seven years, we will be one of the participants we've heard referred to in this hearing being "chilled out" of further action.
1942 Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, you have an opportunity before you today to simply harmonize Pelmorex's licence term and their 9(1)h Order and the commitment to NAAD by extending that mandatory distribution order until 2018. I urge you to seize this opportunity and show your continued commitment to NAAD, and thank you for the opportunity to deliver this important message.
1943 I'd be more than happy to take any questions at this point, including any around liability.
1944 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for your submission.
1945 You were here in the room when I had the various BDUs before me. They raised two issues, neither of which you raised today.
1946 One of them is that they need assurance that what are messages of imminent or unfolding danger to life, and secondly, the issue of liability.
1947 What's your position on both of these?
1948 MR. MILLAR: I guess our position is relatively simplified. We happen to agree with the Chair and other people who have presented saying that the liability is a little bit of a red herring.
1949 I think there are two parts to liability. I think that there's the role of the NAAD, perhaps Pelmorex in that is the aggregator, has a liability issue that they need to deal with and indemnity because they're involved in every -- the dissemination of every message.
1950 From our standpoint, we're only involved in the messages that we relay through our own broadcast.
1951 I guess what I would say as a non-lawyer to a former Judge, I would say that our -- we deal with liability issues every day by passing on messages. We generate news. We pass through Amber Alerts currently. And we accept that.
1952 Obviously we have insurance, but it's not left to the insurance to deal with. We take the position that our overriding community obligation to inform and educate our viewers through our news overrides the worry of liability.
1953 We do our job to the best of our ability and we rely on the outcome and hope that we don't get -- find ourselves in frivolous lawsuits. We have, you know, insurance and cover that as best we can.
1954 THE CHAIRPERSON: So in short, it is an acceptable risk of doing business.
1955 MR. MILLAR: It is, I think, for the last mile distributors. I think there is a distinction for the aggregators further upstream.
1956 And I would obviously, without question, encourage a legislative solution to it that would absolve us of any liability risk.
1957 THE CHAIRPERSON: And the other issue, the issue of imminent or unfolding danger to life?
1958 MR. MILLAR: Again, as -- and I am certainly not the technical guru of the system in our organization, nor am I as knowledgeable as some of the other presenters.
1959 However, our understanding of the system, the way we see it operating, is that it automatically flows through messages with flags. We used it that way. The flags indicated that we could pass them through or not.
1960 We have some editorial decision-making ability on what goes through our system, and we're satisfied that we can choose what sort of level of messages can get through. And that's the class of broadcast intrusive, but it also includes, from our standpoint, frankly, we may well be interested in road closures and frost warnings in specific areas, and we choose to have those flow through as well.
1961 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Michel?
1962 COMMISSIONER MORIN: I don't have any questions.
1963 THE CHAIRPERSON: Peter?
1964 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: It's -- my question is really around the long-term nature of this and building something into a -- for seven years.
1965 I mean, three or four years ago you probably had no idea that you'd be doing what you were doing now. Three or four years from now, none of us really know what the world looks like.
1966 And I appreciate business' need for, you know, long-term stability, but the emergency systems probably are going to evolve from this into multi-platform deliveries, and that's the thing. How reasonable is it -- you're -- I guess I found your statement that if you couldn't amortize this cost over seven years that you'd be kind of pulling out of this thing to be a little precipitous in terms of that.
1967 You're really saying that like it'd be seven years or you're not in, or -- yeah. That's my question.
1968 MR. MILLAR: That's a fair question.
1969 I think the answer is yes. We're very excited with it. It's been a great trial. We've had the equipment loaned to us. But it is a voluntary system, and we encourage it to continue to be voluntary and we will make the commitment that we think is practical and prudent as business owners.
1970 I don't believe that the expenditure perhaps to jump in with both feet to do this properly that could be $100,000 from our standpoint is to be -- it would be prudent if we didn't know that it was -- could end in four years. For us, that would be a cost of $25,000 a year which could be better spent elsewhere.
1971 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: But you're primarily a news channel, right?
1972 MR. MILLAR: That's right.
1973 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: I mean, so you're taking news and you're broadcasting it anyway, and this is an investment in your core asset, which is news and information, right?
1974 MR. MILLAR: It's a good idea. We're supportive of the nature of national alerting, but we can achieve a lot of the benefits through our existing news.
1975 This is an incremental benefit, and it has a point at which we have to make a decision as to whether it's worth that investment.
1976 It just -- it becomes problematic to look at it. We're making investments right now for transmitters there. We're looking at 15-year paybacks. We've just -- you know, we're out at tender right now for new microwave and satellite trucks. The expectation is they will last for 10 years.
1977 I don't think it's reasonable that I would go back to our Board and say that I'm going to make this decision for four years and it may be perfectly functional equipment, but will have no resale because the system collapsed.
1978 We would very much like to know it's there for seven years, and I think at that point, we'll look at it again in seven years.
1979 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: But that kind of goes to my concern I expressed earlier, that it's the stability of a broadcasting company that's tied to the NAAD, right?
1980 I mean, if this didn't exist for Pelmorex at a certain point, if NAAD is up and running, somebody's going to pick it up and run with it. That seems as certain to me as your need for microwave equipment 10 years from now.
1981 MR. MILLAR: I guess, Commissioner Menzies, the part of that I really can't comment on, but I do know or at least it's my understanding -- I mean, Pelmorex has asked and received and got 9(1)h --mandatory distribution order under 9(1)h as a result of promising to do the NAAD.
1982 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Right.
1983 MR. MILLAR: And I think the two, the two of those are tied together.
1984 And in that respect, the NAAD is not a -- currently, as it's configured as I see it, a profitable venture of its own. I don't think anyone's going to stand up and say, "Please pick me to do it at no cost".
1985 So unless there's a funding mechanism which is what essentially Pelmorex has stepped in to do, to be the funding agency of the actual information, the aggregation, I think it could, you know, go back to where it was pre --
1986 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: A funding mechanism could exist beyond Pelmorex's current structure.
1987 MR. MILLAR: Absolutely.
1988 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: We have to be creative about these things.
1989 MR. MILLAR: Yeah. And -- but if I don't find out, let's say, in six months, my decision might not be made in six months. I could defer my decision for two or three years to wait to see how this turns out.
1990 That's all -- it's not that we're not committed to it. It's just we're not committed to it on the short term.
1991 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. Thank you.
1992 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Those are all our questions. Thank you for coming.
1993 Let's go on, then, to Pelmorex, and I would ask all the others to come forward because -- so you're close to the microphones in case we need to hear from you as well.
1994 Okay. On the advice of Secretariat, we'll take a five-minute break.
--- Upon recessing at 1129
--- Upon resuming at 1137
1995 THE CHAIRPERSON: Before we begin I understand that Mr. Westfall of NetAlerts had handed in a list of alleged shortcomings by Pelmorex, examples of issues that he felt should be addressed and had not been addressed, so he wanted that to be part of an exhibit.
1996 Madam Secretary, would you please take it and make sure that it's available to everybody, including Pelmorex obviously.
1997 THE CHAIRPERSON: So let's begin.
1998 THE SECRETARY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
1999 We will now proceed to Phase III in which the applicant can reply to all interventions submitted for its item.
2000 Please note that Commissioners may have questions for other parties in the room who may want to participate and who have appeared before the Commission at this hearing. If you are called upon, please come forward to the presentation table and please ensure that you state your name and company for the record.
2001 Thank you.
2002 You may now proceed with your reply. Please reintroduce yourselves for the record, after which you will have 10 minutes for your reply.
2003 Thank you.
2004 MR. MORRISSETTE: Thank you.
2005 My name is Pierre Morrissette, Chairman and CEO. To my right, Luc Perreault; to my left, Paul Temple, Eliane Larouche and Mitch Charron. In the back row, Tawnie McNabb, Robert Lombardi, Kirsten Wells and Jean-Pierre Boulanger.
2006 Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, before we begin our reply, the Commission asked us to respond to two undertakings at the end of our appearance yesterday.
2007 On a matter of insurance, we have made initial steps to respond to your question about the cost of insurance, but need more time to confer with our insurance provider. We undertake to file this information by February 18th, if that is satisfactory.
2008 As for the costs of providing the NAAD system, we were also asked what it would cost for someone else to supply the NAAD system.
2009 Commissioner Hefkey said yesterday that Ontario's share in 2008 in the federal RFP would have been $2.4 million in development costs based on its population. Assuming that Ontario is about 36 percent of the Canadian population the total start-up costs would have been close to $7 million.
2010 Then there are operating costs. Our incremental operating costs are $1.7 million per year.
2011 To be clear, these costs do not include any of the management costs or allocations for The Weather Network and Météomedia employees who provide some services to NAAD. So 50 Pelmorex staff, including software developers, provided time in our start-up phase and still help out on the service. So it's not unreasonable to assume that a stand-alone fully costed operation, including overhead and a mark-up would be double that.
2012 Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, I am pleased to respond to both written and oral interventions. I introduced our panel to you in the first phase of this hearing and I just did earlier.
2013 I would like to thank the over 4,300 intervenors who took the time to provide their written comments. They include many Members of Parliament, emergency organizations, first responders, municipalities and organizations representing thousands of rural and urban Canadians who wrote to say our services are exceptional, vital to the safety of Canadians and unique among broadcaster groups, as diverse as the Aboriginal FireFighters Association of Canada, the Economic Development Council for Manitoba Bilingual Municipalities, the ministre de la Sécurité publique du Québec and the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Agriculture provided written comments.
2014 All of these groups support a 7-year renewal and want to see us on basics for the next license term.
2015 I would particularly like to thank the intervenors who took time out of their busy schedules to appear here. I believe that they provided needed expertise on the many issues raised in this hearing.
2016 We will now address the other issues raised by Commissioners and intervenors who opposed our application.
2017 What does the $0.23 get the viewer? Commissioner Menzies, you asked what the Alberta citizen receives today for $0.23.
2018 Our service is much, much more than the NAAD system, as important as that is. It gives Fort Vermilion, Timberly, Grimshaw, Woodgrove, Cobblestone, High River, Wembley and about 145 other small communities in Alberta the same quality of local weather and road safety information that subscribers get in major markets like Edmonton and Calgary. We do it every 10 minutes, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, because no one else ever will.
2019 Our road safety information and weather forecasts save lives during the bitter Alberta and in the summer precipitation and hourly forecasts are extremely helpful for farmers planning, sowing and harvesting. We know because they tell us and there are hosted regional and national forecasts and weather news from Canada and around the world. We do this all across Canada in two languages, something no one else provides. So that's what you get for $0.23 in Alberta and everywhere else across Canada, and it includes a national public alerting backbone system to help safeguard Canadians.
2020 Thousands of Canadians wrote to say they consider The Weather Network and Météomedia an essential public service, not because they like us, but because they rely on us.
2021 They wanted us on basic for their own safety and the safety of others of fewer means. Twenty million people watch us any month. No individual wrote to say our service was too expensive or should not be on basic.
2022 MR. TEMPLE: Commissioner Menzies, if the Commission allows BDUs to take us off the basic service, consumers will not save a penny. Their basic rate will not go down and the millions who want us will have to pay more or lose the service.
2023 Only two people decide what services are on basic, the Commission or BDUs. Consumers do not choose.
2024 We would also point out that Albertans are not paying twice for alerting. They get our alerting service at no extra cost and it's a service the Alberta government supports as Commissioner Hefkey confirmed yesterday.
2025 MR. MORRISSETTE: What more could TWN and MM offer viewers if 9(1)(h) were extended for seven years?
2026 Commissioner Morin, you asked what we would do extra from a programming standpoint if we received a 7-year license renewal.
2027 In addition to the NAAD system and what we do today with our four news bureaus, 40 journalists and local programming to more than 1,100 communities, here are the incremental programming initiatives that we committed to in our application to add to our service if 9(1)(h) is extended for the full seven years.
2028 We will create three new regional services. That means different simultaneous programming for three more regions in addition to our existing national feed, our Toronto and Montreal feeds, and our Quebec outside Montreal service.
2029 This simultaneous regional programming would have original live segments every hour throughout the broadcast day. To do this we would add 12 full-time positions, two additional permanent news locations and two news vehicles.
2030 Our yearly freelance budget would also increase by 75 percent to boost coverage of active weather and to extend our presence in small markets.
2031 We would roll out HDTV for both networks at a capital cost of more than $10 million, with operating costs approaching $7.5 million over the next term.
2032 All in all, we are committed to $6.2 million in new Canadian programming expenditures over and above HDTV, including 12 new jobs over the 7-year license term with 9(1)(h).
2033 This takes us to 44 percent Canadian programming expenditures as a percentage of revenue beginning in the first year of license. As you know, we were at 37 percent for the last license term. We are prepared to commit to 44 percent CPE.
2034 MR. TEMPLE: While Pelmorex have too much leverage as the sole source of alerts, we also heard your concern that a private company like Pelmorex could potentially dictate the terms and conditions of a National Public Alerting System.
2035 We can assure you that you need not worry about this, the Commission has the leverage here, not us. The Commission can dictate the terms of the order. You can review it any time you wish. You can call us to account if there are performance problems. You can make the order conditional on the delivery of the NAAD system and on a maximum wholesale rate of $0.23 and on the commitments we just outlined. You will review our performance, both in meeting our commitments and in the provision of the NAAD system at the end of the 7-year license term.
2036 We are committed to delivering on these commitments and you have the tools to make sure that we do so.
2037 Next we wish to address the issue of certainty.
2038 In a National Public Alerting System, if a National Public Alerting System is going to fail it will be because of a lack of broadcaster and BDU participation, it will not be because of Pelmorex; we are delivering.
2039 It will not fail because of government; you heard Commissioner Hefkey representing the provinces and territories say that they expect all the other provinces to sign on within months.
2040 What we need to ensure a successful National Public Alerting System is a mechanism that keeps the BDU's feet to the fire, to ensure their participation and progress. Their progress is what needs to be reviewed in two or three years, not the need for a 9(1)(h) order review.
2041 We have suggested that participation be voluntary. If you want to ensure progress, you can announce a review on the distribution of alerts by the broadcasting sector in three years. That will motivate the industry to get onboard.
2042 Given the vertical integration between BDUs radio, television and specialty services, provision of Internet and telephone services, this review fully addresses what is currently the weakest link in a national public alerting system. We already know they can do it, there are no real technical issues, it's a matter of motivation.
2043 The issue of fairness, the impact on The Weather Network and Météomedia. Yesterday the issue of fairness was raised. As you know, this is not an issue in our control. We did not set the timeframe to review 9(1)(h) applications, nor did we set the rules in Broadcast Notice of Consultation 2010-629 that require a review of such orders at the time of the license renewal, the Commission did.
2044 We think there is another issue of fairness, however. How can we make commitments for a full license term without certainty about our carriage status. Without an extension of the order now, that would create significant uncertainty for us.
2045 We would have no idea or control over how we will be carried and at what rate. Absent an extension, no affiliation agreements will be extended or renewed beyond 2015, further increasing the uncertainty of our business plan. Our ability to attract financing will be put at risk. We will have no idea whether we will operate a NAAD system after 2015 or be closing it down.
2046 As an independent broadcaster managing risk is key to our survival. We will have to defer or put in hiatus our programming initiatives which require significant capital spending between now and 2015.
2047 We will have to prepare to come back to you and go through this whole process in less than three years. And to what end? The only people who will have achieved their goals and who will have benefited financially will be the BDUs.
2048 Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, that would be unfair.
2049 MR. MORRISSETTE: Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, we have always met our commitments. We see that our application and request for an extension of our 9(1)(h) order serve the public interest and public policy objectives. They have broad support. No policy objective is achieved by deferring the decision on the order; no policy objective is achieved by terminating the order in 2015.
2050 Thank you.
2051 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you for your answer.
2052 As you know, we have full faith in you -- otherwise we wouldn't have given you the licence originally -- and you have delivered. We have heard now for three days a chorus of approval for you, et cetera, so I feel a bit like shooting Gumby here asking you questions, but --
2053 MR. MORRISSETTE: We feel like a deer in the headlights at times.
2054 THE CHAIRPERSON: But let's go ahead.
2055 First of all, the model user agreement that you ask people to sign, I gather so that they can use your system. Right? Are there two? Is there one with the originator of the use and one with the person who -- I presume you have one with the originating authority and you have another one with the BDUs?
2056 MR. TEMPLE: We have an agreement that we ask the originating authority to sign. We have no contractual arrangement with any last mile distributor. The service is free, available based on standards, anyone can get it.
2057 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Are you prepared to file a copy with us of the model user agreement?
2058 MR. TEMPLE: We are prepared to --
2059 THE CHAIRPERSON: In confidence if you want.
2060 MR. TEMPLE: We created a standard form agreement, obviously ever province wants to -- but we can file that standard form agreement.
2061 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
2062 Then in terms of the governance, you heard yesterday with Mr. Engelhart and the other BDUs basically describing it as a talk shop. This was my word, not theirs, but that was the gist of their message and saying no decisions are there.
2063 I actually recall that we were very careful of delineating the terms of reference for the council. In our decision we said:
"The Governance Board will give direction on matters related to implementation of CCC (See CAP updates). Alert message file attachment to be supported. Definition of 'approved users'; reporting requirement and jurisdictional dispute." (As read)
2064 And then they would:
"... give advice on matters related to standard contractual terms of its users; systems and excess security; redundancy and backup." (As read)
2065 So we made a clear delineation of what you as a company run, et cetera, and there you would seek the advice in which you as the aggregator sort of would be doing on behalf of the whole industry and therefore you would be subject to the directions of the governance part.
2066 How come it's not working like that? How come it's being perceived as being a talk shop? What is missing here?
2067 MR. TEMPLE: Well, it is interesting to note that none of the people who appeared on behalf of the BDUs have ever been to a meeting.
2068 THE CHAIRPERSON: Bell surely has been there.
2069 MR. TEMPLE: None of the people sitting at those tables have been ever at one of our meetings.
2070 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, I must assume they speak for --
2071 MR. TEMPLE: So it's a little disingenuous.
2072 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- their companies.
2073 MR. TEMPLE: It's a little disingenuous to take snippets out of minutes of a meeting of which you have never participated and then characterize it as dysfunctional.
2074 I don't think you heard any of the provinces come here and express concerns about the governance council.
2075 So is it slow moving sometimes, I think I would be the first to say that. We are dealing with every province and territory, the federal government and broadcasters, it's like a little mini-CRTC hearing every time we get together because we then struggle with the same issues, but we are making progress.
2076 So it's easy to come and critique it when you haven't been there.
2077 If they had been engaged in the council they would know that we are well on our way to working to resolve the broadcast intrusive issue. We have a committee that has been meeting weekly that includes the CCSA, the CBC, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Environment Canada, and as well as ourselves working to put together recommended practices to address the broadcast intrusive issue.
2078 So they are not there so they don't know these things.
2079 THE CHAIRPERSON: Surely they speak on behalf of their companies, they are not making this up as they appear before me.
2080 MR. MORRISSETTE: If I can just add, Mr. Chairman.
2081 These meetings take place regularly and comprehensive reports are presented at each meeting, in fact they serve as an excellent, excellent mechanism to ensure progress and advancement on a number of key issues.
2082 I would venture to say that one of the contributing factors to our success in the first year, our deadline with the launch in June, we actually were launching and field testing as early as April, and that significant accomplishment was due to the ongoing regular meetings with all these participants, everybody's input, it was an extremely democratic process and the feedback from all these experts from every province in the country was absolutely invaluable in terms of contributing to the end result that took place in June and since that as well.
2083 This project is a moving target and these meetings will, for a long time, contribute to the ongoing success of the NAADs initiative.
2084 THE CHAIRPERSON: The person from Bell or his colleague is sitting on your council, he was sitting right here, I did not hear him say it is a well-functioning organization, on the contrary it was a unanimous course.
2085 Now, would anybody from the BDUs want to speak up, please, because I have heard from you loud and clear that it's not working, it's just a talk shop. I am now hearing from Mr. Temple that it's quite the contrary, it's a well-functioning body and decisions are being taken.
2086 MR. ARMSTRONG: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
2087 It's Paul Armstrong representing Bell and Bell Aliant.
2088 As Bell, Mr. Temple is correct, I personally don't sit on the panel, one of my colleagues does. I don't think Bell has ever described the committee as nonfunctional. That's why we go there, we participate.
2089 THE CHAIRMAN: Okay. I'm glad to hear it.
2090 MR. BOYD: Mr. Chairman, if I might.
2091 THE CHAIRPERSON: Please identify yourself.
2092 MR. BOYD: Harris Boyd representing CCSA.
2093 We have been a participant from the council from the beginning and, as Mr. Temple mentioned, we are on one of the subcommittees. We have actually found it to be very effective and I think collectively we are working together to resolve the issues.
2094 It's a fairly unique organization, but I can compare it to the working group that the federal government had in place since 1993 and for 16 years we had meetings and accomplished nothing, so this is much more effective.
2095 Thank you.
2096 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. If any one of you, either Pelmorex or the other intervenors, feel there is any improvement that is required to the council that we should incorporate in our decision, please, you have an opportunity to make representation to that effect.
2097 I presume the terms of the governance board is publicly available. It's on your website, is it, or do we have to file it as an exhibit here?
2098 MR. TEMPLE: We can file with the Commission the terms of reference that were adopted by the council.
2099 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, why don't you do that? That would be appreciated.
2100 What about CAP-CP compliance? You heard this morning's testimony. We even have a list from NetAlerts of supposed issues that have not been addressed.
2101 We also heard from the Canadian Association for Public Alerting and Notification, who basically felt that you are not accountable to anybody, and that you should be accountable to someone.
2102 MR. TEMPLE: I will address both of those issues, starting with the technical issues, and I will keep it as non-technical as possible --
2103 THE CHAIRPERSON: Please. I would appreciate that.
2104 MR. TEMPLE: -- for both of our benefits.
2105 Just to go back, after launch -- and you are quite right, Mr. Westfall provided us with input, which is very useful. We have had a number -- not me, but Jean-Pierre and others have had some discussions on that. What we set out for our plan -- and I think it was discussed at the council -- was that we were undertaking a review of the entire system, because there is much more to it than just the CAP format, obviously. There are security provisions to our system and whatnot.
2106 So we have been undertaking a review, and as a result of that -- which takes some time, because we have to test every element after it is launched. We have -- I don't know how many different changes that we have been testing in the last few months, and we will be implementing -- I think it's in April. But, like any software system, every time you have a little change, you don't just issue a new version. You know, you have Microsoft 1.1, and six months later you have 1.2, and that is exactly what we are doing. We have gone through it, and we have a number of changes, some which affect users and will be improvements, some which will address some of what we consider relatively minor issues on the CAP, and some are just internal to our own processes.
2107 All of those changes will be in within a couple of weeks, as soon as we are assured that they pass our internal testing.
2108 It is very important that we thoroughly test before we make any change, because the system is now live. This is a system that is being used, so you just don't say: Hey, let's try this one.
2109 It has to be tested in a test environment, and then it gets released as a new release.
2110 So that's in the works.
2111 That was the cost issue. The other one was...?
2112 THE CHAIRPERSON: The central message from Mr. Westfall -- and, maybe, Mr. Westfall, you want to come forward -- was, basically, that since June 1 he has fallen off the --
2113 MR. TEMPLE: CAPAN referred to SOREM, which is Senior Officials Responsible for Emergency Management. Those are the people on our council. They are the same people. The only difference is, we also have broadcasters.
2114 Commissioner Hefkey, who spoke to you yesterday, is on SOREM, and he is on council.
2115 Mr. Mayette, who spoke -- it's the same thing.
2116 Each of the provinces is part of SOREM, as is Public Safety Canada, and they are all on the council.
2117 We get that direction from SOREM, we get their involvement, and we also have the added involvement of the broadcasters, so I am not sure that there is a problem there in getting direction from government.
2118 THE CHAIRPERSON: Two separate issues. Let's deal with Mr. Westfall.
2119 Did I misunderstand you? As I understood it, you said that your suggestion, since June -- until June -- basically, they were taken on board since June -- they have not even been acknowledged, let alone taken on board.
2120 If I misunderstood you, please make your position clear.
2121 MR. WESTFALL: Yes, they have not really been acknowledged as concerns nor responded to since June.
2122 And I would stress that, since June, it has only been test messages that they have been issuing. There have not been any actual live alerts for any live incidents since June.
2123 So the understanding that it is a system under development is very true, yet during that nine months there was no apparent development or testing, other than these very subliminal test messages going out -- you know, "Here is the daily test" -- of actual work being done.
2124 So what has been going on in those nine months to not address the issues and to not actually see some improvement during those nine months of a continual process of test and development and bringing it up to the level that it is production ready and ready to issue an alert when one does happen?
2125 MR. TEMPLE: There are two issues there. First, there hasn't been a real alert because there haven't been any emergencies.
2126 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank God.
2127 MR. TEMPLE: Yes.
2128 Let's bear in mind that this is like insurance. You get it and you hope that you never use it. I don't buy car insurance because I am hoping to have a car accident.
2129 If we back up a little bit, there have been test messages issued by provincial authorities. They are not going to issue --
2130 In fact, we had an embarrassing situation -- and I won't mention who -- who actually issued a test message and didn't follow proper protocol, and were issuing volcano warnings.
2131 Now, the body of the message said that it was a test message, but the header said that it was a volcano message. That's okay, we got a couple of calls on that, because it shows up on our channel.
2132 But there have been people, other than us, who are using the system, and that could have just as easily been a real emergency, with a real message.
2133 As to whether we followed up or had any discussions since June, I guess that probably the best person to speak to that would be Jean-Pierre.
2134 MR. BOULANGER: I am coming back to the notion of compliance or non-compliance. I can understand the point of Mr. Westfall, because he probably doesn't have visibility into what we are doing as much as, maybe, can happen, but there is a lot of work that has been done since June, which is not necessarily visible.
2135 All of the comments that we received from Mr. Westfall we discussed in the spring. We agreed with some and we disagreed with some. Some have been implemented for the initial launch. The other ones, which are technical in nature, have been addressed, but are not yet on the live system, because we are not changing the software every time we change something.
2136 We are building a new release on the side, which we test profoundly before releasing it. The next one will be a few weeks from now.
2137 Are we compliant? If we look at it from the letter of the word, to the comma in the sentence, yes, there are some items that are not there today, and some are on your list.
2138 Overall, is it compliant? We believe so. We have, in the last few months, put our efforts more, to be honest, into discussing with the last mile distributor or the manufacturer to see what the system does. Does it create issues for them? Because there is more to it than purely the format.
2139 Right now we are in the process of implementing -- or we have, in fact, developed a series of about 2,000 modifications, most of them minor, which need to be tested. They are being tested right now. We will be testing them internally, because we cannot release test messages on the live system. It is a live system. That is why, again, Mr. Westfall does not see those messages.
2140 But our commitment to compliance has been there from Day 1.
2141 THE CHAIRPERSON: It is more than your commitment. You have a governing council, and part of the terms of the governing council is CAP compliance. Surely, you should keep that --
2142 And I don't know whether Mr. Westfall is right or wrong. I am totally ignorant about the details. It is just that he raised something, and the same thing was raised by Mr. Allport. The way he put it was that you are not accountable. That's why he brought up SOREM.
2143 If the governance council was working properly, shouldn't these issues be discussed, and wouldn't you bring everybody who knows something about these issues up to date on that council?
2144 MR. BOULANGER: Everything that we have done or are doing is communicated to the council.
2145 If you take Mr. Westfall's first item, about the 200 kilobytes, that is something that has been issued to everybody. It's not us that have decided that number.
2146 THE CHAIRPERSON: I don't want to get into the details because I am lost. I am like a blind man talking about colour. I just meant that the principle --
2147 Mr. Allport, maybe you could speak to it, because you mention it, too, and you brought this up because of a lack of accountability, and you felt that SOREM should be put in place.
2148 MR. ALLPORT: I will begin by saying that I do believe that there should be clear accountability on any such system, and right now, since we have watered down the governance board to become more of an advisory council, to me, it is not substantive enough.
2149 To the last question, where you asked about what could make the advisory council more effective, I think you would find, if you asked the members of that council, that the collective technical understanding at that table is extremely low. The challenge with that is that we are dealing with a number of issues right now that require a higher level of understanding.
2150 So, for the council to have, say, a technical advisory council, someone like Mr. Westfall, who they could call on before making a decision, it would be extremely useful to all of the other stakeholders who are making those decisions.
2151 THE CHAIRPERSON: But your starting point is exactly diametrically opposite what Mr. Temple said. Mr. Temple said that it works and it does exactly what it's supposed to be, and you said that it has been watered down to an advisory board.
2152 MR. ALLPORT: At one point we spent quite a bit of debate on what the name of it was, and it became very clear that the members at that table could not be accountable in a board role. So eventually we did take it down, and we discussed the terms, and it became, essentially, an advisory council.
2153 In fact, if I might paraphrase, I think what Mr. Temple said was: We will listen, we will take good guidance, and we will make a decision.
2154 In that regard, it is Pelmorex's system, and that's okay, but I think, looking forward, if we are going that many years, we should look at firm accountability on a regular basis.
2155 THE CHAIRPERSON: Undoubtedly it's Pelmorex's system, but we ordered, very specifically, delineation between the two things, between what is corporate to them -- and that's their decision -- and, also, what is in the national interest, and we used specifically the word "direction". An advisory council does not give direction. It is exactly as you quoted Mr. Temple, it gives it advice and they take it or leave it.
2156 On this issue, there is no question of taking advice, it's a question of you deciding.
2157 When did this change take place, because this is the very thing that we tried to avoid when we originally approved this transaction.
2158 The governance council is supposed to govern, and we set out in bullet form what the subject of governance is supposed to be.
2159 I don't understand what is happening here.
2160 MR. TEMPLE: We don't do anything that the council disagrees with.
2161 Now, individuals may not agree, but we post the decisions, we propose policies, and they are discussed.
2162 It is incumbent on them to go back -- we don't expect the board to be technical experts, we expect them to go back to their experts and get whatever advice and recommendations they need. We ask them all the time for comments --
2163 THE CHAIRPERSON: Or quiz your experts, if necessary.
2164 MR. TEMPLE: Right. And we bring Jean-Pierre and Kirsten and others -- they are at all the meetings, if they want to ask questions, and they are available --
2165 We structure -- we had a user group help us with the design of the system. We have a user group now working on broadcast intrusive.
2166 If the board does not agree with something that we are proposing, then we don't do it.
2167 THE CHAIRPERSON: Mr. Allport?
2168 MR. TEMPLE: I mean, I can't think of one situation where the board has said, "Don't do this," and we have said, "Well, we are going to do it anyways."
2169 MR. ALLPORT: I will simply restate that I was very surprised that it wasn't raised earlier, because I have been part of the discussions with public stakeholders who felt there was to be more accountability, and I am surprised that it didn't come up yesterday.
2170 THE CHAIRPERSON: You can feel free to comment on improvements, but we are having this discussion because I want to reiterate to everybody that our design was quite clear, and we spelled it out in our order, and I pulled it up just to make sure that it's not an advisory committee, it has a very clear governance function.
2171 But, by the same token, since this is a private company fulfilling a public duty, there are certain things which they have to decide, and obviously they take accountability for that.
2172 In terms of SOREM, what do you say to Mr. Temple's response that you are there already? You are there individually, why do you have to be there as a collective body?
2173 MR. ALLPORT: They are there. I do find it vague, though, in their position right now, as to whether they feel they are accountable or not accountable for this.
2174 Quite frankly, at the table, at this point in time, they have clearly stated that they are advisors at that table.
2175 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Coming back to the issue of governance, two issues that were raised yesterday as sort of major stumbling blocks.
2176 One was the whole issue of imminent or unfolding danger to life and what is the definition of that and you saw that various people have -- I forgot which body it is that has developed this list of what are the messages that qualify and I suggested, if need be we could use that for definition purposes.
2177 What is your position on that?
2178 MR. TEMPLE: The issue is well on the way to being solved. If you will indulge me for a minute, I will explain.
2179 It has been an issue we actually raised at the very first council meeting and there was no consensus at all in terms of what would constitute a message, what criteria should be used to indicate something should be broadcast, and in fact, there wasn't even a unanimous view within the government representatives or within the broadcasting representatives.
2180 We put that on hold and we made it clear when there is agreement we will implement it promptly because there is no dispute everybody wants it.
2181 We now have a group working on defining -- the government members went away and they came back with a recommendation that was discussed at the last council meeting.
2182 The broadcasters had issues with it. There was a good discussion and we agreed to set a task force to get broader consultation with people who were not on the council, that we would put together some documents, outline the rationale for the policy and put forward a recommended practice, because we can't make broadcasters do this, but the council would put forward a recommended practice for broadcasters.
2183 As I mentioned, on that committee there is myself, Nova Scotia, P.E.I., Environment Canada, as well as the CCSA and the CBC. We are hoping -- we got a little distracted with the hearing, so we are falling behind schedule a little bit, but we hope to have some documents out that we can send to all the BDUs and all the broadcasters and get their feedback.
2184 Then we will make -- we will bring that back to the government members and we will have clear definitions of what is being recommended to be broadcast. Whether they broadcast it or not is up to them because we don't control them, but the council, through that consultation, will have a clear recommendation.
2185 And we are prepared -- once that criteria is adopted, we will have that implemented, tested and active on the NAAD system within six months.
2186 And I suspect our timeline, the council want that done by -- our next meeting is March 30th. I am not sure we will have that consensus then, but hopefully shortly thereafter.
2187 So we will have this all resolved before the end of the year and we would be more than happy to send the Commission the documents we are sending out for comment as well as the conclusion of the council.
2188 THE CHAIRPERSON: BDUs, would that address your concerns, I mean a recommendation from council, that the governance council of the NAAD thinks that these are the types of messages that should be -- this is a classification and I presume which ones are intrusive and which are not, right?
2189 MR. TEMPLE: It will be a recommended best practice because what we want to ensure, and I think you heard from Channel Zero or CHCH as well as ourselves, we will do more.
2190 So some people have said, oh, well we only want the feed to have emergency messages. Well, the feed -- and this is where, I think, CAPAN and ourselves and a number of the provinces are exactly on the same page. We want all hazards, all levels of public safety messages on the feed.
2191 Because we are going to put more than the minimum requirement on our service, CHCH indicated that they may want to do it.
2192 So the system will allow for the maximum flexibility, but it will also flag what ones the council or SOREM or whatever is recommending for broadcast and then it is up to the last mile distributor. They can ignore it or put it on or do as they wish or the Commission could require it.
2193 MR. ARMSTRONG: It's Paul Armstrong, once again, speaking for Bell.
2194 As members of the committee, we were aware that there was some development in terms of defining these items.
2195 Our concern remains that we do not want to receive messages that threaten the life and limb of grandma's tomatoes. We want the key messages, as Mr. Temple has just indicated.
2196 This is an issue that we will deal with. It is an important issue to us. This broadcast flag or this notification that this is one of the 32 that has to go through is very important to us and the democratic process at the table doesn't seem to be working in our favour.
2197 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, my point is -- Mr. Engelhart yesterday read:
"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."
2198 And he refers to our BDU Regulations.
2199 So I want to know do you actually require help from us here or are you going to solve this on your own?
2200 MR. TEMPLE: Well, we will have -- he said, or at a minimum a flag, and there will be a flag. So he will have his minimum.
2201 Now, whether he likes what we are recommending to be broadcast, that is up to him because it is a voluntary system.
2202 So if we say -- if the government authorities collectively, after consultation, say that tornadoes should be broadcast immediately or it is recommended, it is up to him whether he wants to do that.
2203 You know, do we seriously think that the government authorities, the people you have heard from, are going to be putting serious flags because of a frost warning?
2204 So I mean I think we have to be a little realistic here. We take ridiculous examples and then amplify them to attack the credibility of the system.
2205 THE CHAIRPERSON: Of course. Everybody does that who appears before me, so I am used to it.
2206 But what he seems to be here saying -- he's hiding the Regulations because:
"Consistent with the BDU regulations, in the absence of an agreement, BDUs are only authorized to distribute alert messages..."
2207 So that suggests there has to be -- if there is no agreement, then he feels it is offside the BDU Regulations.
2208 MR. TEMPLE: Well, that is why --
2209 THE CHAIRPERSON: Where is the agreement? You are making recommended practice, if I understand it.
2210 MR. TEMPLE: Well, because I am not the Commission.
2211 But as I said, I am happy and I am sure the council will be very supportive to send the Commission what our recommendation is, and you can incorporate that by reference into the Regulation. You have the hammer; I don't.
2212 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, that is what I asked you, is our intervention or assistance here required?
2213 MR. TEMPLE: Is it required? Well, if they all participate and voluntarily comply -- or voluntarily participate in the recommended practice, then no. But if they want to continue to pick away at all the sort of things, that will be a decision for the Commission to make.
2214 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
2215 You wanted to say something? Identify yourself, please.
2216 MR. MYETTE: Thank you. Is it working?
2217 THE CHAIRPERSON: It has to be red. Yes.
2218 MR. MYETTE: Thank you. It is Mike Myette from the Emergency Management Office of Nova Scotia.
2219 We have hit on a very key issue here in terms of timing, and from an emergency management perspective we have done a lot of diligence in terms of creating a list of events that we think should matter to Canadians.
2220 The concern that I have is having this list tossed around and vetted, and picked apart and vetted, for heaven only knows how long, wasting more time when -- I am just not confident that we are going to get to an agreed upon list with all the parties involved any time soon without the Commission's intervention.
2221 THE CHAIRPERSON: But the list was done by all the provincial emergency organizations, if I understand?
2222 MR. MYETTE: That is correct, sir.
2223 THE CHAIRPERSON: So we could just on our own proceed, Mr. Temple, and reference them in our BDU Regulation and say any of these messages qualify as imminent or unfolding danger of life. That will take this issue away.
2224 MR. TEMPLE: Yes. And personally, The Weather Network/MétéoMédia have no problem because our plans already exceed the minimum of the list.
2225 THE CHAIRPERSON: Anybody have a problem with that approach? If so, please send us a submission to that effect.
2226 MR. LORETTO: Scott Loretto talking on behalf of Rogers.
2227 The reason we have a concern about the broadcast flag is that -- you know, as probably you have already mentioned -- is that the licence only allows us to interrupt the broadcast feed if it is a life-threatening or unfolding danger to life.
2228 So what we are looking for is for the flag to be in advance of us getting the message so we know upon receipt that we are going to broadcast this message.
2229 The reason for filtering out the other messages so we only receive the messages that we must action is in the time of a crisis the communication may be very difficult. We may only get the chance to get a single message with, you know, communication networks already being filled with Internet traffic, telephone traffic.
2230 So it is important that we get the message and we get the message that needs to go through and not any other alerts that happen to be issued around the same time.
2231 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes?
2232 MR. ALLPORT: The question of flag is a loaded one. All alerts are tagged and will give any distributor the opportunity to filter based on that list. If we introduce a flag, the question is where.
2233 If we do it before aggregation, we put a burden on trying to train every individual that will ever issue an alert. Where we are already going to be training them to do urgency severity and certainty, now we need them to be aware of this list.
2234 And if the list changes, we have to go back out and re-educate them all, whereas if we -- we actually don't need a flag, quite frankly, and if we are going to add a flag, it needs to be done after aggregation.
2235 THE CHAIRPERSON: I understood the issue to being, from your explanation, the man from Nova Scotia and Mr. Temple, that in effect we have a list here, and if you do -- any of these messages, if you distribute them, you are not violating the Regulations. Now, you decide whether you want to interrupt programming or not.
2236 Isn't that what you suggested?
2237 MR. TEMPLE: Yes. There are two separate issues here.
2238 One is can we agree as to what the rules are and what kind of events should be broadcast?
2239 Quite separately, there is the issue of how best is that communicated within the data stream. So whether it is a flag or a menu or whatever, there is going to be 10 people, there will be 12 solutions.
2240 That is something we have sent out a proposal as to how to implement it to start getting feedback from the members of the council. That is part of what we will be consulting with the broadcast community at large to determine how best to do it.
2241 But let's end the discussion as to what gets broadcast. So we can all agree that frost warnings aren't and that tornadoes are and that is the real simple part and then we will deal with the technical part and get that done as well. There are several different ways to technically do it.
2242 Channel Zero did the tests. They can easily filter out what is not broadcast-intrusive, but they also have the flexibility to do more if they want.
2243 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Then the issue of legal liability. That one, I guess -- what is your position on it?
2244 You have heard the BDUs very strongly saying we need either an indemnity or legislative protection.
2245 MR. TEMPLE: Part of us, I think, is sympathetic and part of us isn't.
2246 I find it interesting that in Alberta for years they have participated in an automated system that takes the message and displays it automatically.
2247 I had somewhere a list of all the broadcast participants in the Alberta system but it basically reads as a who's who of the broadcasting industry. There is no legal liability protection there and they are all participants.
2248 But when it comes to our system, when it comes to the point of trying to undermine the credibility of our system so as to endanger the extension of the 9(1)(h) order, then liability, oh, that is an insurmountable issue and we will have to go back to Public Safety and we will have to do this and we will have to do that.
2249 THE CHAIRPERSON: But you are a broadcaster as well as a national alert aggregator.
2250 MR. TEMPLE: Yes.
2251 THE CHAIRPERSON: Once the system is up, aren't you displaying those messages on The Weather Network?
2252 MR. TEMPLE: We have been displaying Environment Canada messages since 1988 and we have no liability protection as a last mile distributor.
2253 THE CHAIRPERSON: And have you ever been sued?
2254 MR. TEMPLE: No.
2255 MR. MORRISSETTE: If I could just comment on that, not to be too repetitive.
2256 We've been doing it since '88. We have insurance that deals with that. And we will continue to operate on that basis as a television service ourselves.
2257 When it comes to the NAADS service, we've assumed responsibility for our own aspect of the responsibility and accountability, and we have provided for insurance to cover that particular area of responsibility.
2258 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. And lastly, the issue of the extension of your 9(1)h term.
2259 I heard Mr. Millar, I heard you, et cetera. You said you want security. You want to be able to plan on a seven-year cycle, et cetera.
2260 By the same -- that's perfectly logical from a business point of view. By the same token, you want the rate of 23 cents, yet when we authorized that rate, it was in order to give you the cushion so that you can pay for a whole lot of the system. The figures I asked you for this morning.
2261 If I understand correctly, the ongoing operating costs are 1.7, Mr. Morrissette says, but then you have to look at our in-house costs, our technological is basically to double it, so makes it 2.4. That's still a long way from 23 cents.
2262 MR. TEMPLE: I'm a little confused.
2263 We provide The Weather Network and Meteo Media, and all our contributions to the broadcasting system as part of our licence at 23 cents. We have for years. It's been unchanged.
2264 What we undertook to do is to also add the public alerting system at the same rate, and we're committed to the same rate, so I'm not sure what the issue is. We're bearing the cost, the incremental cost, because what we reported are incremental costs. That was our undertaking.
2265 We're not padding it. It's all --
2266 THE CHAIRPERSON: No, no.
2267 MR. TEMPLE: -- extra dollars.
2268 THE CHAIRPERSON: I'm not suggesting you are. But I mean --
2269 MR. TEMPLE: But just to understand, it's incremental costs and there's no benefit other than basic.
2270 We didn't get one extra viewer. There's not a dime of extra advertising revenue. We don't need to operate NAADS except for the purposes of being on basic.
2271 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, but being on basic is a huge advantage to you.
2272 MR. TEMPLE: It is.
2273 THE CHAIRPERSON: Also in terms of your advertising revenue, in terms of security of placement on the tiers and all of this, et cetera. Let's not --
2274 MR. TEMPLE: It is.
2275 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- downplay this. It's a huge advantage.
2276 MR. TEMPLE: That's correct.
2277 THE CHAIRPERSON: And I'm saying that's fine, and we saw that and we allowed you to continue to have that advantage because you offered to get something moving that had been stuck for many years, which is a whole national alert system.
2278 MR. TEMPLE: And, and to keep the same quality of service that we'd been providing to all Canadians, all communities, large and small, English, French, 100 percent.
2279 We committed to keep all those commitments and alerting.
2280 THE CHAIRPERSON: Peter, we discussed it. You go at this point.
2281 I mean, the basic thing is it seems to me that asking us to approve that this point in time is a bit much. There should be a way of demonstrating that you've earned it.
2282 I don't know how you could build that into the process. Peter.
2283 MR. TEMPLE: Well, to demonstrate how we've earned it, I think what we did is we filed comprehensive application with the Commission setting out how we believe we meet the criteria.
2284 We've had unprecedented support for the extension and the continuation. I don't know what else we can do.
2285 The only people who are here who are arguing against it are the people who are trying to be financially advantaged at our expense.
2286 THE CHAIRPERSON: Lots of people during this hearing have suggested, you know, that it is only because we are there, the Commission, and that sort of this thing had been moved forward and we are where we are.
2287 If we are now, in 2011, giving you a seven-year licence, in effect, we don't get a chance to look at this for another seven years. And how do -- how can we be assured that the progress that still has to be made on this national alert system will be done?
2288 MR. TEMPLE: Well, I think we tried to set that out in our reply comments.
2289 You can make conditions of the order that we continue to provide NAADS. You can -- you have the hammer. We're on the string. We're the meat in the sandwich.
2290 We've got the Commission on one side and the provinces and territories on the other, and if we don't keep everyone happy, we're in big trouble. So --
2291 THE CHAIRPERSON: And millions of Canadians behind you who love you, you know, and --
2292 MR. TEMPLE: And so I think that kind of goes to being somewhat exceptional. We're still having a tough time convincing you that we're exceptional notwithstanding the public alerting. But everyone's agreeing.
2293 I don't -- I mean, I'm trying not to be thick here, but I don't see what the issue is, to be honest.
2294 THE CHAIRPERSON: The eloquence of my colleague will convince you. Peter.
2295 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Yeah. It's -- I think one of the big issues is trying to forecast what the word looks like in five or seven years in terms of where things fit.
2296 I just want to actually address because you were good enough to mention my comments in what you said. And I'm going to throw a proposition past you. And I don't want you to take it the wrong way, but it's going to be a little blunt in terms of that.
2297 I do think you do -- you provide a very good service and I think it's well done. And I -- it's clearly popular if 20 million people are watching it a month. In terms of Alberta specifically, I'm going to assume that it's -- two million of them are them as well, which is some would argue a big enough audience that you shouldn't have to have mandatory carriage, that you'd be loved enough to do that.
2298 But I'm not going to get into that. Part of it is you said in terms of what you -- the service that you provide to Alberta, and I said you do it 10 minutes, 24 hours a day, seven days a week because no one else ever will.
2299 I guess you could make the argument seven/24, but I mean, we just turned down an applicant to offer a service in western Canada in the fall because it was -- because you're a protected genre because it was too weather intensive because people wanted to do that.
2300 The service that you provide, you're aggregators and distributors of information. You've got four reporters all across the country in that sense, and you've got a very good interactive thing with your viewers and that sort of stuff. But you are redistributors of information that's essentially gathered by many other -- from many other sources.
2301 It's not that you don't do original stuff, but what I'm saying is if you stopped existing tomorrow in Alberta, much loved as you are, you would be replaced because the information that you provide is popular enough that somebody else would want to do it.
2302 So we need to keep that in mind. And one of the issues that -- when I look at you is your proposal -- your licence renewal, et cetera, you can travel 2,500 miles across this country between reporters from your one in Vancouver to -- I know you've promised to add one in Calgary. But from the one in Vancouver that you've had to the one in Toronto.
2303 You can fit all of Europe in between those two points, right. There are 16 tornados, on average, every year in Alberta. There are 41 tornados, on average, every year in the prairie provinces, and you have no one there.
2304 You have the fourth and fifth-largest markets, the two fastest-growing cities in Alberta. You've got fast-growing cities on the prairies, and you have no one there.
2305 You have the largest industrial project in the history of the country which has environmental impacts and is the biggest environmental, hence weather, story in the country occurring in northern Alberta, and you have no one there.
2306 And that's, in part, why if you went away you would not be missed because you don't have a local presence in terms of that. And there doesn't seem to be a full -- Alberta's different because there's no emergency -- because the emergency's already taken care of.
2307 So apart from the fact that there's weather -- and there's radio stations that give weather. I'm in the cab the other day going to the airport. He's listening to the radio station.
2308 Now, I did check your web site before we left, which is very popular and that, but there are alternate sources of information for this because there's demand for the information.
2309 So there's no great entitlement to these things. It has to be earned. And it gets earned by the provision if you're taking money from people that there be a fair exchange of goods. And I'm just trying to get at the point, I don't see, I don't see where the value proposition is.
2310 MR. TEMPLE: Let -- and that's our failing because it's up to us to explain that to you, so let me give you some examples.
2311 When you say others would do it or if we went away, we wouldn't be missed, that may be true in Edmonton and in Calgary, but nobody is doing unique weather forecasts. We do our own forecasts. No one is doing it for the other 149 places in Alberta alone.
2312 Environment Canada isn't doing it. We do more forecasts, multiple times more forecasts for communities, small communities that no one else, the government isn't serving. But you asked, they would miss -- they would no longer have --
2313 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: What do you do that's different than Environment Canada's radio band service?
2314 MR. TEMPLE: We're talking about weather forecasts.
2315 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Yes.
2316 MR. TEMPLE: We're talking about the core service. We do more --
2317 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Yeah, the weather forecasts. They do it in both official languages. It's on a VHS.
2318 MR. TEMPLE: But they don't do a forecast -- they do a forecast for the major centres. We do it --
2319 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Well, they do it for Banff Mountain Parks. I listen to it all the time. They do it for --
2320 MR. TEMPLE: Yeah, and --
2321 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: -- Pincher Creek, Lethbridge.
2322 MR. TEMPLE: Well, I -- we do and broadcast far more weather forecasts than Environment Canada does. And if --
2323 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: I didn't say you did a bad job.
2324 MR. TEMPLE: No. No, and I'm --
2325 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: I just said that you -- if you went away, you would be replaced.
2326 MR. TEMPLE: The suggestion was that if that went away, then these communities would not have the depths of information they're getting now.
2327 Environment Canada doesn't do all the other services that we talked about in that video we did. They don't do road weather reports --
2328 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Sure.
2329 MR. TEMPLE: -- and all those other things.
2330 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: We can debate this, but I mean, people who do run a local --
2331 MR. TEMPLE: No, but this is the crux of the matter, the value of our service.
2332 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: The people from the local radio broadcasters would argue -- I mean, they're probably picking it up from you, but they would argue that they have eyes on the ground.
2333 I mean, I can -- the way technology's changed, I can go to the Calgary Herald website and I can see web cams of all the major routes for weather to see what they're like today. There's tons of other sources.
2334 That's the only point I'm trying to make, is that there are tons of other sources of information and if -- there's a vacuum where information used to be provided.
2335 MR. TEMPLE: I think --
2336 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: The other issue is about having feet on the ground. I just wanted to make -- when I was at the Western Association of Broadcasters conference last year talking to Saskatchewan broadcasters, they had never heard of this emergency plan.
2337 And one of the issues at the time, which is not entirely your fault, one of them was telling of an incident where the local Mountie was upset with them for not broadcasting a warning about the tornado that had hit on the edge of town and they didn't know anything about the tornado because Environment Canada hadn't issued a tornado warning because it wasn't showing on their weather maps.
2338 Environment Canada hadn't had a meteorologist in Saskatchewan for at least a year, maybe two, so the information about what the weather in Saskatchewan was coming from a meteorologist at Environment Canada's office in Halifax who could just watch maps. So there were no feet on the ground.
2339 So Environment Canada was having to explain to the radio station that there actually hadn't been a tornado and the Mountie and the guy whose barn was spread over two square kilometres were trying to explain that maybe there had been.
2340 And so that's what I'm trying to encourage you to do, is look to something --
2341 MR. TEMPLE: But that is part of our -- sorry to interrupt, but that is part of our application. Our application is to put people into the west to create the regional feeds and to add staff.
2342 That's our commitment, quite --
2343 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: I know you said you'd add staff, but I didn't see the breakdown on it. I saw in your submission this morning and to Monsieur Morin's comments that you were going to up your CPE commitment and add staff, but I didn't see where they were.
2344 MR. TEMPLE: Well, you can bet one of them's going to be -- if not two of them are going to be in the west.
2345 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: How much can I bet?
2346 MR. TEMPLE: 23 cents.
2347 THE CHAIRPERSON: Maybe you want to file the details for that.
2348 MR. MORRISSETTE: If I can just add to a few comments made by Mr. Temple, first of all dealing with our forecasts.
2349 We have 40 meteorologists on staff 24/7, staffed 24/7. We do all our own forecasts. We cover far more locations than Environment Canada does. We update far more frequently than they do.
2350 Our forecasts go 14 days. Last time I looked at theirs was seven. We do hourly forecasts. They do not. So in terms of the forecasting information that we provide for Canadians coast to coast is far more comprehensive.
2351 Turning to, you know, coverage locally across the country, in addition, in the past, to our reporters, we also have a number of stringers that we deal with on a regular basis in every region in the country. But as part of our proposal for this renewal application and the extension of the 9(1)h, we've committed to adding two -- at least two, up to three, regional feeds going far more in depth covering three regions in the country.
2352 And you can rest assured that at least two of those are going to be in the west because we totally recognize the need.
2353 In addition, we're going to be adding reporters. And you can rest assured that those additions will take care of some of the needs in the west, in particular in Alberta.
2354 We already have representation in BC and we do -- we will be adding Alberta as well in terms of those resources.
2355 The whole world that we live in is about a national service providing local service. We totally understand that aspect of our business. We're all about providing localized service. We want to invest to enhance that. In fact, we want to invest in terms of enhancing personalized service because that's where it's going.
2356 So in terms of, you know, meeting the needs of Albertans, of people in BC and every province in the west, every province in Canada, you know, that's part of our commitment, to give a service that is second to none. And we've made that happen to date, and we're committed to do that even more in the future.
2357 MR. CHARRON: If I could just add to add a little bit to that as well, Pierre talked about the freelancers and I mentioned yesterday we have over 40 of them across the country. I also mentioned the extreme weather team which are, you know, fans of The Weather Network and want to participate in our programming.
2358 And just for your information, as far as the Province of Alberta goes, we have 160 active extreme weather team members that participate in our programming on a regular basis, so that's quite a few, quite a bit.
2359 So you know, to say that we don't have feet on the ground, we have a lot of feet on the ground. We have a lot of people that we can tap into on a regular basis, plus all the regular, you know, user-generated content that comes in on a weekly basis, which is thousands, especially when there's active weather. Definitely into the thousands of photos and video that come in.
2360 So I just wanted to add to that as well.
2361 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. I think this is key, and I have a feeling we don't understand, quite rightly.
2362 I think we're going to take a break now and resume at 2:00. Thank you.
--- Upon recessing at 1248
--- Upon resuming at 1406
2363 THE CHAIRPERSON: I hope everybody had a good lunch and has some bright ideas.
2364 Let's resume, because I think you and I are starting from different assumptions and that's the premise.
2365 Whether you accept it or not, as far as the Commission you only got 9(1)(h) because you are doing NAAD. That's a fact and that's what our decision was based on.
2366 We like what you have done, we want you to continue to doing it, we want you to push it to as early a conclusion as possible.
2367 On the other hand, we have a little bit of a problem of right now giving you a 7-year licence and basically keeping our fingers crossed that during the seven years everything will work fine and we will get there, et cetera.
2368 What we would like to do is see, obviously, the National Alert and Education System up and running.
2369 So let me put something to you very roughly thought up, but to incentivize you, get you where you want to get. You want seven years so you can plan ahead, et cetera. I want to have assurance that it's up and running, et cetera.
2370 So obviously some things are out of your control. I don't insist that you deal with the liability, that's something you can't, but the rest of it I think you can deal with, like what we mentioned before, the imminent unfolding danger, we can help you deal with it, et cetera, but getting it done, i.e. having a system fully operational, et cetera.
2371 What would you think if we said something, take the end of the broadcasting year. If you do this by 2012 we will extend you to 2018; if you do by 2013 we will extend you to 2017; if you do it by 2014 we will extend you to 2016 and we lay it down quickly, absolutely categorically that is what happened when we also specified what "getting it done" means so there can't be any question.
2372 You therefore have all the incentive in the world to get this done and do it quickly and we have the assurance that we are paying for something that will be there that's operational that's working.
2373 MR. TEMPLE: I understand the suggestion. I guess, as you say, it's what's the getting it done part and if we understand that --
2374 THE CHAIRPERSON: I'm only talking conceptually. No, obviously --
2375 MR. TEMPLE: No. Conceptually, I guess that's -- let me make sure my conceptual understanding --
2376 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
2377 MR. TEMPLE: -- is the same as my boss' conceptual understanding.
2378 THE CHAIRPERSON: Mr. Temple, before you do that, I will gladly give you a break to consider that, but what we then would say is, you know, we would say that until Wednesday the 14th we would like a submission from everybody and then give you another week until the 22nd to come back. So obviously you want to think through it. It's not something you want to pick out of thin air.
2379 I'm trying to establish a workable incentive for you and as ascertainable goal for you and I want to do it with the input from the people in the alerting community, if they see any problems, and I also want you to address your mind on the issues once you have their input.
2380 Would you like to have a break or do you want to...?
2381 MR. TEMPLE: If you wouldn't mind just for us to have a short period to consult a little better.
2382 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Let's take a 10-minute break and you consult with your colleagues.
2383 MR. TEMPLE: Thank you.
--- Upon recessing at 1410
--- Upon resuming at 1417
2384 MR. TEMPLE: Mr. Chairman, I would just like to ensure that we have a very clear understanding of the process.
2385 We have certain undertakings -- I spoke earlier with legal staff, there are some documents we are going to be filing no later than tomorrow, which were undertakings we made, and then you are going to make public the "Get It Done" list.
2386 THE CHAIRPERSON: We suggested until Wednesday the 14th of February everybody who participated in this hearing can make submissions on anything that came up during the hearing, okay.
2387 Also what came up to the hearing obviously is the idea I just explained to you. So for until the 14th of February everybody would put something in, then you would respond to what arose at the hearing and also what was filed by way of additional submissions and you would have until Tuesday the 22nd.
2388 MR. TEMPLE: To respond to all the participants' suggestions?
2389 THE CHAIRPERSON: If there is something that they -- yes. Or whatever they may raise. They may have -- if you feel you want to, you obviously don't have to, but you can -- but let's say somebody said "I like the Chairman's idea, it should be A, B, C" and getting it done I would define as such and then you can respond to it or you can put in your own or whatever.
2390 MR. TEMPLE: Then based on those submissions on the 14th and our reply on the 22nd, the Commission will issue a decision at some point setting out what it has decided as to the final "Get It Done List"?
2391 THE CHAIRPERSON: Or saying in the light of the submissions it doesn't work.
2392 MR. TEMPLE: It doesn't work.
2393 THE CHAIRPERSON: It's an idea that doesn't work. I'm not wedded to it, I just --
2394 MR. TEMPLE: Yes.
2395 THE CHAIRPERSON: We are trying desperately to find a way to meet your needs and mine. Yours is certainty and absolute assurance as to what is the term of your licence, I appreciate that. Ours is we want to see that the system is up and running and meeting all the criteria that are there.
2396 I appreciate the key is defining how getting it done and I'm looking for help from you and others.
2397 MR. TEMPLE: In whether there is a Get It Done List or there is not a Get It Done List, then the -- I guess what I'm trying to say is, from our perspective, worst case the order will still be in effect until August 31, 2015. Is that correct?
2398 THE CHAIRPERSON: Oh, absolutely. That you have in any event, yes. That we have given you, we have no --
2399 MR. TEMPLE: And whether there is a Get It Done List or not we will be able to reapply sometime presumably in 2014. So if there is -- in other words, there are two scenarios. There is a scenario where there is a Get It Done List.
2400 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
2401 MR. TEMPLE: We agree, we get it done and let's assume we are to 2018.
2402 The other alternative is there is a Get It Done List and we basically don't accept it, ignore it, the order would then presumably be set to expire in 2015 and we could reapply in 2014 sometime to make our case again?
2403 THE CHAIRPERSON: You can always do that. You can always apply, that doesn't preclude it.
2404 The way I was --
2405 MR. TEMPLE: So the incentive --
2406 THE CHAIRPERSON: I was focusing on your need for certainty, so there is a formula with objective criteria so you know --
2407 MR. TEMPLE: Yes.
2408 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- you have it or don't. You don't want to have another hearing, I don't want to get deep down into emergency management, et cetera.
2409 MR. TEMPLE: Yes.
2410 THE CHAIRPERSON: On the other hand, I don't want to pay for something that isn't there.
2411 MR. TEMPLE: Yes. So as a principle we understand that. I think we would expect the Get It Done List to reflect things that are fair and reasonable and within our control, because if there are things like, as you mentioned, liability, I mean we just don't control it, but if that's the principles...
2412 THE CHAIRPERSON: Anyway, we are not deciding on anything --
2413 MR. TEMPLE: Yes. No, no, I understand.
2414 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- I just wanted to put it forward as a way forward.
2415 MR. TEMPLE: Our expectation is that parties' who submit lists will be submitting items that -- if they think this is a valuable process that they are things that are within our control so we are not dealing with, you know, replying to a whole bunch of frivolous suggestions. But that's fine.
2416 THE CHAIRPERSON: Did the BDUs or the various members from the emergency community want to comment on that?
2417 THE CHAIRPERSON: We have Mr. Kane, he must have said something important.
2418 MR. KANE: No. I just felt it should be on the record, Mr. Chairman --
2419 THE CHAIRPERSON: Just identify yourself, please.
2420 MR. KANE: Greg Kane for the -- we will have to caucus and consider it, but my understanding is that this is, if you will, a procedural direction from the Commission.
2421 THE CHAIRPERSON: It is. Exact. Thank you for those words, it's a procedural direction, exactly.
2422 MR. KANE: So we are not providing any substantive comment right now and would do so in the opportunity you have provided to us.
2423 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
2424 Do you have any more comments, Mr. Temple or Mr. Morrissette?
2425 MR. MORRISSETTE: Well, just on the last segment that we were discussing.
2426 It all comes down to the list related to getting it done. If it's something that is realistic, achievable and within our control, then we are very confident in our ability to deliver in that regard.
2427 If it's something that is completely within the domain of a third party, then that makes it much more uncertain as to the ability to achieve it, so it really comes down to that list.
2428 THE CHAIRPERSON: I think Mr. Kane put it well, it's a procedural direction. This will help us. Maybe this is something that's not doable and in that case we will just have to make a decision on your application the way you have framed it and we will come to a conclusion on that.
2429 Both my colleagues wanted to make sure that we don't lose sight of other things, so first Michel and then Peter.
2430 CONSEILLER MORIN : Merci, Monsieur le Président.
2431 Si ce sont des choses qui sont sous votre contrôle, vous nous proposez une augmentation du nombre de reporters, du budget dédié au freelance, vous nous proposez un contenu de programmation de 37 à 44 pour cent, mais je n'ai pas vu d'échéancier comme tel.
2432 J'aimerais, moi personnellement... parce que 37 à 44 pour cent, c'est un saut très important, en particulier pour vous qui avez des infrastructures importantes. Donc, dans l'ensemble du budget, ça m'apparaît, à première vue en tout cas, comme quelque chose d'assez important.
2433 Moi, j'aimerais que tous les engagements que vous proposez, vous puissiez nous donner un échéancier, selon, également, votre propre performance, à réaliser ce que le président a fait, dans vos propres limites. Je présume que c'est possible.
2434 M. MORRISSETTE : Oui, Commissaire Morin. Ce que nous avons proposé comme des sommes livrables au cours de notre prochain terme de licence, c'était sur la supposition d'une extension jusqu'à l'année 2018. Si la période est inférieure à ça, c'est évident que ça affecte ce que nous avons proposé et mis sur la table.
2435 Alors, il faudra tenir compte de ça dans notre échéancier.
2436 CONSEILLER MORIN : Merci.
2437 THE CHAIRPERSON: Peter...?
2438 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: I'm sorry, Commissioner Morin more or less asked my question but I just in support of what the Chairman said I just wanted to add maybe that obviously our interest is in your proposal regarding the emergency system and that's why the 9(1)(h) exists and the sooner we can get it the better, or the sooner we can determine that it's not possible the better and then somebody else can try in a format that belongs.
2439 I expect you will be able to figure this out with us in terms of that. So just basically what Konrad said.
2440 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thank you. I think that's -- Mr. Morrissette?
2441 MR. MORRISSETTE: Well, just in a closing note, I want to make sure that everybody understands that we are totally committed to the success of a national alerting system. We have been at this since 1992 or 3 and we have gone through many different hearings in attempts to launch this along the way. We were successful a few years ago, since that time we have gotten all the players around the table in terms of government and broadcasters and distributors and our part of the service is launched.
2442 We are totally committed to seeing this through to a fully operational end-to-end system. We will do everything within our control to make that happen.
2443 We have put on the table the fact that we will do our part at our cost, and that is something that was related to our continued carriage on basic, which has been the case since day one of this service. So we remain totally committed to that end and I don't want any ambiguity in that regard.
2444 THE CHAIRPERSON: No, there is none. We understand that. You realize we are totally committed to seeing this thing done, that's why we stepped in, that's why we took up your offer when it didn't happen on its own.
2445 We want to see it happen, we want to see it happen on a timely basis and we are willing to basically essentially award you for it if you do it on a timely basis. We don't want to give you, in effect, something you haven't earned. It's as simple as that.
2446 So I think with that, let's end on that note. Thank you.
2447 I have nothing more except to thank my staff for having done very valuable work and thank you to the translators for, as usual, doing an excellent job, because without you this couldn't function. Thank you.
2448 Madame la Secrétaire, le dernier mot est à vous.
2449 THE SECRETARY: Legal counsel would like to speak.
2450 MR. McCALLUM: Just for the undertakings. The standard form agreement and the terms of reference of the governance board, you will be filing that by the end of the day tomorrow, would you?
2451 MR. TEMPLE: That's correct.
2452 Would you like me to file it with the Hearing Secretary?
2453 MR. McCALLUM: Yes, please.
2454 MR. TEMPLE: Yes.
2455 MR. McCALLUM: For the record, I think the two Wednesdays are the 16th and the 23rd respectively of February. So those would be the dates.
2456 MR. TEMPLE: Thank you.
2457 THE SECRETARY: Thank you, legal counsel.
2458 This completes the agenda of this public hearing.
2459 Thank you.
--- Whereupon the hearing concluded at 1430
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