ARCHIVED - Transcript, Hearing 10 May 2013
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Volume 5, 10 May 2013
TRANSCRIPTION OF PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE CANADIAN RADIO-TELEVISION AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Application by Astral Media Inc. for authority to change its effective control, and control of its licensed broadcasting subsidiaries, to BCE Inc.
Hôtel Gouverneur Place Dupuis
1415 Saint-Hubert Street
10 May 2013
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
Application by Astral Media Inc. for authority to change its effective control, and control of its licensed broadcasting subsidiaries, to BCE Inc.
Romy Ochmann St-JeanLegal Counsel
Rachel MarleauHearing Manager
Hôtel Gouverneur Place Dupuis
1415 Saint-Hubert Street
10 May 2013
- iv -
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PAGE / PARA
Astral Media Inc.1275 / 7382
- v -
PAGE / PARA
Undertaking1355 / 7850
--- Upon resuming on Friday, May 10, 2013 at 0904
7372 LE PRÉSIDENT : À l'ordre, s'il vous plaît.
7373 Madame la Secrétaire.
7374 LA SECRÉTAIRE : Merci. Bon matin.
7375 The Commission would like to announce that parties that have intervened in this proceeding for this application have an opportunity to file final written comments. Parties are reminded that final comments must address only new proposals or information submitted by Astral Media Inc. at the hearing or in written undertakings requested by the Commission at the hearing. The Commission will not take into consideration comments dealing with any other matters.
7376 Interveners may file their final comments serving the applicant on or before 15 May 2013.
7377 The applicant may file a final reply in respect of these comments in replying by 21 May 2013.
7378 Final comments should not be more than 10 pages. Parties are reminded that no new evidence should be introduced in their final comments or in final reply.
7379 Nous procéderons maintenant à la Phase 3, pour laquelle le demandeur peut répliquer aux interventions.
7380 We will now hear the reply by Astral Media Inc.
7381 Please reintroduce yourselves for the record, after which you will have 15 minutes for your reply. Thank you.
7382 M. BIBIC : Merci, Madame la Secrétaire.
7383 Bon matin, Monsieur le Président, Monsieur le Vice-président, Conseillers.
7384 Je vais faire l'introduction de notre panel.
7385 À ma gauche, monsieur Ian Greenberg, monsieur Jacques Parisien, madame Judith Brosseau d'Astral, et à la gauche de Judith, Chris Gordon de Bell Média.
7386 À ma droite, George Cope, Kevin Crull, et Corrie Coe de Bell, BCE Bell Média.
7387 Et derrière nous, Nathalie Dorval d'Astral, Kevin Goldstein de Bell Média, John Riley d'Astral, et Ken Goodwin de PWC.
7388 Je cède la parole à monsieur Greenberg.
7389 M. GREENBERG : Bonjour, Monsieur le Président, Monsieur le Vice-président et membres du Conseil.
7390 Lorsque Astral a fait son entrée dans le secteur de la radiodiffusion il y a plus de 30 ans, nous avons affronté de nombreux défis. La télévision payante n'en était qu'à ses débuts. Il y avait plusieurs fournisseurs. Mes trois frères et moi avons pris un risque important quand nous avons acquis TMN et Super Écran, qui frôlaient la faillite.
7391 In our first two years operating these services, we lost over $60 million. This sum represents more than $120 million in today's dollars. Although we were a public company, my brothers and I guaranteed the financing of the channels personally and could have lost everything if we couldn't turn them around.
7392 Thankfully, through hard work, dedication, ingenuity and the right regulatory framework, we were able to make pay television in Canada not just a viable business but a pillar of the Canadian broadcasting system.
7393 Au cours des trois dernières décennies, ces chaînes ont prospéré et apporté une contribution majeure au tissu de ce pays. Elles ont stimulé la production de longs métrages canadiens primés, de dramatiques captivantes et d'autres types de programmation.
7394 As I mentioned on Monday, along the way, Astral has grown and evolved, adding other television channels and radio, ultimately becoming a pure play media company. We have been and continue to be a major supporter of Canadian programming, independent producers and emerging musical talent.
7395 From my unique perspective as a founder and CEO of Astral, it is my conviction that our Canadian broadcasting system needs very strong players to cope with the rapid technological changes the industry is facing, including the challenges of OTT.
7396 Astral needs Bell to take it to the next level.
7397 Bell will give the Astral services and its several thousand employees the strength and stability to innovate and perpetuate what the four Greenberg brothers started 30 years ago.
7398 Mr. Chairman, Mr. Vice Chairman, Commissioners, if, after the decision of the Commission seven months ago, I hadn't been profoundly convinced that the acquisition of Astral by Bell remained in the best interest of our employees, our properties and the broadcasting system, we wouldn't have spent all the time and energy that we've invested to craft this revised and enhanced application, in which we've put forward a clear vision and demonstrated a keen interest to support, produce and promote Canadian content and the Canadian production sector generally, on television and radio, in both official languages.
7399 And just a final comment if I may. During the course of this proceeding, I have read and heard some participants impugn Bell's business practices and integrity. I have been in the business for over 30 years and I've negotiated countless agreements with suppliers and distributors of all sizes. It has been my experience that Bell has always acted with integrity and professionalism and I have no doubt it will continue to do so in the future.
7400 MR. CRULL: In the video shown during our opening, you saw many of the people behind our daily effort to serve viewers and listeners. I personally am immensely proud of the 8,500 Bell Media and Astral employees, and the tens of thousands of Canadians who are employed in the independent production sector who work tirelessly every day to serve Canadians across our networks. They are highly skilled, immensely passionate, and they are eternally dedicated to their work. They in fact are the backbone of our ability to deliver on the objectives of the Broadcasting Act and their contribution should not go unrecognized.
7401 Their work maintains and enhances a strong national identity and cultural sovereignty in the face of an incomparable and growing cross-border media presence.
7402 I thank them and I salute them for their important work.
7403 No country experiences an influx of foreign broadcast signals like Canada. Yes, American programming is in fact sold around the world and it even leads prime time in most English-speaking countries. But Canada is so unique in that the actual channels are rebroadcast into our country.
7404 Plus, American specialty channels operate without the regulations or the obligations that we must meet. And their impact is being felt as they now occupy 40 percent of the top 20 specialty program slots on English specialty in our country.
7405 The headlines are ominous about our industry. Netflix streamed 4 billion hours in April. Google's YouTube says the battle with TV is already over and TV lost. Intel expects to launch a virtual cable service by year end 2013. These trends are rocking the foundation of our industry.
7406 In 2009 we saw that there's a fine line between stability that enables ongoing investment and financial hardship that destroys our ability to meet our industry's obligations.
7407 As for Bell Media, it's our job to navigate these challenges and adapt to serve Canadian viewers and listeners. We wholeheartedly accept this challenge and we aren't asking for any special treatment or for you to in any way stifle these new competitors.
7408 So what are we doing? Of course we're investing in content and technology. But scale is also an important element of our strategy, and hence the critical importance of this transaction.
7409 Mr. Chairman, Mr. Vice Chairman and Commissioners, I would like to turn now to the issues of content costs and TV Everywhere. I must emphasize that there has been no anticompetitive conduct ever or any finding that Bell has acted unreasonably in these issues.
7410 In fact, each of these issues around our competitive behaviour and the competitive impact of this transaction were extensively reviewed by the Competition Bureau over nearly a year. The Bureau reached the conclusion that with the divestitures and safeguards that we have proposed Bell's acquisition of Astral will not significantly reduce competition in either television or radio markets.
7411 We do of course recognize that you have your own mandate to ensure that the objectives of the Broadcasting Act are realized. As Ian said, we at Bell Media are leading the way with our focus on these objectives and we trust that we have discharged our burden in this regard.
7412 I would like to talk about linear wholesale fees.
7413 The affiliate fees that we charge for our linear content has been an area of focus and I would like to address it by providing clear evidence so that the record is complete and accurate in this regard.
7414 The Commission asked Cogeco, Eastlink, and TELUS to provide data on their costs for Bell Media content. Of course, this data is available to us as well and we have attached it to our reply statement confidentially.
7415 The panel can see that the charts contained in Exhibits A, B, and C summarize this data. It's very important that when reviewing the data, first one must separate our sports specialty from our non-sports specialty. Blending the two obscures the data and obscures what is actually happening in the market.
7416 The data provide a dramatically different perspective from the claims that you've heard this week from interveners.
7417 Let's first look at non-sports specialty.
7418 For both Cogeco and Eastlink, as a result of voluntarily adopting our penetration-based rate option, they will actually pay less for our 24 non-sports services in 2013 than they did in 2010 under the previous deal. Over the five-year course of our new agreement, the compound annual growth rate for our non-sports services for Cogeco and Eastlink is expected to be zero.
7419 For TELUS, in the year 2013, our new deal increased its payments for our 24 non-sports specialty services by just $400,000 over the full term. That term is a four-year deal, and the compound annual growth rate for TELUS' payments for our non-sports is expected to be less than 1 percent.
7420 Because of the sizeable increase on our sports services, we voluntarily sought these low increases in non-sports despite content costs which have grown 11 percent on those same services in the four prior years, and this is shown in Exhibit D of our attachments.
7421 Now, I would like to turn to TSN and RDS sports services.
7422 Yes, we had a sizeable rate increase in 2011. This is what actually drives the overall blended increase which was quoted by interveners this week. This increase was clearly not anticompetitive on our sports services.
7423 In fact, if you look at Exhibit E, it shows three things:
7424 - first, it shows that the average subscriber revenue per month, which is a proxy for the rate that we charge, is equal to our Canadian competitor, Rogers Sportsnet, who raised their prices actually before we did, two years prior in 2009;
7425 - secondly, it shows that our audience on TSN is actually 51 percent higher than our competitor; and
7426 - finally, it shows that our content costs have increased faster than revenue since 2008.
7427 Looking forward, we have provided confidential details on two large rights renewals to give you insight to the degree of cost inflation, and this is provided in Exhibits F and G.
7428 As noted in your 2012 financial summary report and also shown in Exhibit H, PBIT margins for our sports services have indeed declined. Wholesale revenues are simply not keeping pace with the costs of programming.
7429 A few interveners claimed that even where our prices are lower, now they lose packaging flexibility. Well, the Commission has those deals on file and as a matter of fact three members of today's panel were intimately involved in either arbitration or mediation, so you personally know that that claim is not reflective of the agreement that was reached and was endorsed by the Commission.
7430 I hope these facts put to rest concerns about our pricing and that it invalidates the various allegations.
7431 We have also filed Exhibit I, which, for a point of reference, provides evidence of affiliate fee increases in the U.S. Fees there are increasing from 7-9 percent every year, showing that, contrary to what has been asserted, there is nothing unique about our business behaviour except that we've actually raised our prices less than most in the industry.
7432 I would like to turn to nonlinear rights.
7433 We have been surprised to hear from some interveners comments about TV Everywhere. We know that we can get TV Everywhere deals done with BDUs without Commission intervention, just as we were able to complete our linear renewals with 159 out of 164 distributors last year.
7434 We are especially confident of getting TV Everywhere deals done because our specialty pricing structure on TV Everywhere is entirely consistent with the deals that Astral has done with BDUs like Eastlink, Cogeco, TELUS and Rogers, who described Astral as their "number one partner in terms of platform innovation."
7435 As the Commission knows from our Reply filing, BDUs can in fact select individual services from TV Everywhere à la carte, and if a large BDU like Cogeco just wants our content, they can simply ingest it. On the other hand, if a small BDU isn't able to build their own TV Everywhere platform, we have ones they can use. It is definitely not a "take it or leave it" packaged offer.
7437 MR. BIBIC: Thank you, Kevin.
7438 Some interveners argue that the only way to secure access to key Bell Media nonlinear rights is to either block the transaction outright or force Bell to divest the pay movie services, despite the fact that they already have long-term access to TMN and TMN Encore nonlinear rights, and despite the fact that divestiture will not impact their ability to access Bell Media's nonlinear rights.
7439 So it's important to segregate. There's the current Bell Media nonlinear content for existing portfolio of services, and of course there is the nonlinear rights to the Astral content that we will be acquiring should you approve this transaction. So let's take each one.
7440 Current Bell Media rights. The way to get those rights, as you've heard from Kevin, is to negotiate. We're willing to do that. We're really quite confident we'll get deals done for that access.
7441 Should negotiations fail in one or two or three cases, there's always dispute resolution available and we say that the system works. And, Commissioners, the fact that one party has initiated dispute resolution or the fact that one party's offer has not been chosen is not evidence that the other party has acted anticompetitively, nor is it evidence that the system is flawed.
7442 So for Bell Media's current portfolio of rights, the way to get access is through negotiation or dispute resolution.
7443 So now, let's turn to the Astral rights should we acquire the assets in question.
7444 Well, in those cases, we know, based on the evidence on the record, that most BDUs, a significant majority of them, already have access to Astral's nonlinear rights for the long term.
7445 So the question might be: Well, what happens down the road once we get Bell Media access? We've already got Astral access. What happens down the road when these agreements expire?
7446 Well, we've made a commitment that in the future we will negotiate linear and nonlinear rights together.
7447 Should negotiations extend past the expiry of those deals, there's also a standstill rule that kicks in -- it's in place now -- that prevents us from withholding access to those rights, and by virtue of the updates to the Regulations last year we know that section 9 of the Digital Media Exemption Order extends the standstill rights to nonlinear content.
7448 This is how the concerns of BDUs can be directly addressed, rather than dealing with divestitures or blocking the deal outright, which will have nothing to do with getting access to Bell Media's current nonlinear rights.
7449 Let me now turn to radio.
7450 We have demonstrated our commitment to local content and radio innovation, and we discussed that extensively on Monday. And we also responded to the overwhelming views expressed by radio listeners in Quebec by seeking an exception to allow us to continue to operate TSN 690. We really are grateful to all of the interveners who filed comments or appeared before you in support of this application.
7451 Let me now turn to French television.
7452 In French television, we have Québecor, a clearly dominant vertically integrated player, as well as SRC and Astral. Bell is also present today as the fourth largest player, with our participation limited currently to the RDS branded services.
7453 So, by acquiring some of the Astral services we are creating greater parity and competitive balance with Québecor. As a result of the proposed divestitures, Shaw/Corus will enter as a third committed, vertically integrated French-language broadcaster with a larger viewership share, more total French services and more Category A services than Bell does today.
7454 Then, there are the additional divestitures of MusiquePlus, Musimax et Disney Jr., which will either strengthen other existing players or introduce additional new players.
7455 We also proposed a number of safeguards addressing tied selling, the packaging of TMN and Super Écran, the ability of independents to launch or distribute new programming services, the availability of nonlinear rights on a timely basis and on commercially reasonable terms, adopting as a Condition of Licence the entire VI Code and creating new enforceable obligations based on the VI Code that can be incorporated into COLs.
7456 We also committed to provide a minimum of 90 days written notice of the impending launch of a new Bell Media programming service in direct response to intervener concerns.
7457 This suite of safeguards is unprecedented and addresses every type of anticompetitive behaviour that has been the subject of any speculation in this hearing. And, Mr. Chairman, we have attached our entire list of safeguards that we propose as Exhibit J just to make the task of going through them easier today if you so choose.
7458 Over to George.
7459 MR. COPE: Good morning and to conclude.
7460 Mr. Chairman, Mr. Vice Chairman, and Commissioners, to conclude, we understand that we have the burden to show this transaction is in the public interest. We believe we have presented a dramatically revised and enhanced application to do just that.
7461 We have shown our commitment to content creation and promotion, all designed to better serve viewers and listeners. And we have enhanced our tangible benefits package, with $174 million directed predominantly towards content initiatives.
7462 We have agreed to divest five of Astral's English-language services, leaving us with two pay TV licences having a combined viewing share of just 1.7 percent.
7463 We will sell six of Astral's French-language specialty services -- more than half -- leaving us with 22.6 percent viewing share, less than Astral has today and 8.4 percent lower than Québecor. With more content and more competition, the consumer will win in Quebec and in that marketplace.
7464 Ultimately, those who seek even more divestitures or an outright denial of Astral's application are clearly pursuing their own commercial agendas. And that's fine. As you said this week, it wouldn't be the first time. But collectively, we and Astral have already put our best foot forward. Our strategy involves investment in and promotion of content, increasing competition in Quebec and acquiring scale to address head on the new borderless, multiplatform world. Further divestitures will eliminate any strategic rationale for what is already a scaled-down transaction.
7465 The significant majority of distributors have the security of long-term affiliation agreements in place for all the Astral services we are acquiring, providing price and access guarantees for years to come. And of course -- of course, Bell will honour those.
7466 We will also sell 10 radio stations to comply with the CRTC's common ownership policy and continue our legacy of providing high-quality local content and supporting Canadian musical talent, established and emerging.
7467 Finally, we have offered a range of regulatory safeguards, as Mirko described. We heard you on Monday and have also put forward clear, measurable vertically integrated safeguards as conditions of licence should you feel they are necessary, this despite the fact that we have no incentive -- and I repeat -- no incentive to withhold content or price it out of the market. As I mentioned on Monday, it would be completely self-defeating for the media business, in which we have invested $6 billion, to do so.
7468 We would be pleased to answer your questions. Thank you.
7469 LE PRÉSIDENT : Merci beaucoup.
7470 Juste pour mentionner que les anciens présidents du CRTC ont le droit à une indulgence à propos des téléphones cellulaires qui sonnent lors des salles d'audience, mais ce n'est qu'une seule fois.
7471 LE PRÉSIDENT : I'd like to ask some questions --
7472 MR. COPE: Mr. Commissioner, if they're Bell phones ringing, is that okay?
7473 THE CHAIRPERSON: We won't discriminate one or the other.
7474 So let me ask you some questions on your presentation this morning and then I have a series of other questions I'd like to ask to clarify the record.
7475 I just want to make sure I'm not reading something that you are not intending in paragraphs 24 and 25. In 24 you're talking about the Competition Bureau and their jurisdiction, and then you talk about our own jurisdiction.
7476 I just want to make sure that you're not implying here that we could not come to our own conclusion on the competitive issue.
7477 MR. BIBIC: No, we are not implying that.
7478 THE CHAIRPERSON: No.
7479 MR. BIBIC: We are making the point that the same arguments that the interveners made in front of you as it relates specifically to anticompetitive behaviour, the exact same arguments, and in fact, in some cases with expert reports -- I would hazard a guess the exact same expert report in evidence was put before the Competition Bureau. Of course, as you know, their mandate is specifically to look at these issues. They've come to their conclusion. You have your own jurisdiction.
7480 That's why we made the point of adding 25. We recognize your broad mandate. You can look at these issues. But I would submit to you, Mr. Chairman, that the Bureau's views, while they're not determinative for you, should carry quite some weight.
7481 THE CHAIRPERSON: So now that I understand that point, that's fine.
7482 All right. So the purpose of my questions are to make sure that we have on the record a complete set of information about various options so that all the options are available to us when we make decisions, and I caution everyone in the room to not assume that this is where we're heading one way or another.
7483 So I'm going to go through a variety of questions with respect to certain options and give you a chance to answer.
7484 And I'll start with the end of the spectrum that you probably feel less comfortable with, and that is the potential option in front of us that we would deny this.
7485 So I guess my questions would be more directed to Mr. Greenberg.
7486 So if we were to deny, a complete denial -- I know it's not what you prefer and let's not rehash all the reasons why you think it's a good idea, that's not the purpose, but just to flesh out the file -- so what are the consequences of that and what would you do next?
7487 MR. GREENBERG: Mr. Chairman, the consequences of a second denial would be severe for Astral, including with respect to the retention of key employees, the signing of any new content agreements with our suppliers and our relationships with the BDUs across the country.
7488 We have to remember that for the last 15 months our employees and the business have had to cope with the distraction and the uncertainty associated with the sale of a company.
7489 Obviously, if it was denied, I would have to address the situation with my family. As you probably know, I used to be proud to say I'm the baby of the family but I can't use the word "baby" to myself anymore.
7490 MR. GREENBERG: But there are four families involved, as I've explained to you. Me being the youngest, you can imagine that they're getting on in age, where, as equal partners, they have a say in what we do, and of course we have a board of directors.
7491 Obviously, what this would do is extend the uncertainty for our people and our business for at least another year, and I think that would be a disservice to the industry, it would be a disservice to our employees and to our shareholders. So it would be quite severe.
7492 THE CHAIRPERSON: And the process in your governance structure is you would have to consider other options; is that correct?
7493 MR. GREENBERG: For a sale, yes.
7494 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thank you.
7495 Now, moving on down the scale of potential outcomes, and I want to talk about divestiture a little bit.
7496 There was some discussion during the proceeding about potential divestitures of TMN, TMN Encore, HBO Canada and Super Écran as a condition of approval -- I guess that's how we would do it if we were going down that road -- the argument being, I think, that along with your very valuable prized sporting properties, it may be a bit too much to have also these very prized edgy drama and feature film.
7497 So the question to you would be: So what would be your views about that potentiality? What would be the consequences and would you still go ahead, I guess, Mr. Cope, with the rest of the transaction?
7498 MR. COPE: Thank you for the question, Mr. Chairman.
7499 What I would say, as I mentioned in the closing and everyone is aware, with the divestitures that we're doing in English and remaining at 1.7 percent -- but leaving the market share aside, the strategic issue of why we're doing it, making this investment, as we've talked so much about, from a competitive perspective, that's, on the English side in the pay space and on the Astral in the French side, our movement to compete in that marketplace.
7500 And we think we -- we tried actually in this new submission to reach above the bar of divestitures so that everyone could get comfortable with this transaction.
7501 You know, for instance, if we take in Quebec, as everyone can see, we're well below -- well below the market threshold. In fact, we believe, interestingly enough, because of the two jurisdictions, and you mentioned it, that quite possibly we may have been more successful with the Commission at the CRTC with having even more Quebec assets, but also we had two regulators to deal with, and so we tried to be as forward, listening to both sides to get really aggressive on the divestitures.
7502 If we were to be asked to divest anymore of the channels or content, we would not move forward with the transaction.
7503 THE CHAIRPERSON: All those together, the ones I've mentioned, or any one of those?
7504 MR. COPE: Yeah, all of them, because the strategic rationale of the transaction, we're at, we've submitted, absolutely at the cusp where we knew the strategy would work from an execution perspective, went further than we wanted but knew based on all --
7505 In particular, we read so importantly the previous decision and looked at, okay, taking U.S. viewership out, taking the CRTC's market share definitions, understanding all that, trying to find that balance that would make this strategically viable for Bell, and from our perspective, additional divestitures from what we're doing now, we don't believe we can materially execute the strategy for this size of acquisition.
7506 And also, we're already undertaken significant capital market risk because the company has to now divest all of these assets. We've actually turned ourselves into a bit of a merchant bank recently selling these assets, working towards selling.
7507 So from our perspective, we believe we went above the bar that we would have been asked to be asked. It's obviously a fair question for you to ask us, but the strategic rationale for the acquisition would not be there. We wouldn't move forward.
7508 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right. And just to be clear, the arguments I heard are not so much on the quantitative bars but from a qualitative perspective, that the combination of highly desirable sports product along with highly desirable film product, from a qualitative perspective, might be a bit too much in the hands of a single entity.
7509 MR. COPE: Right.
7510 THE CHAIRPERSON: So it's not so much, you know -- I know you were probably referring to the thresholds in the diversity of voice but it goes much beyond that. So I just want to make sure I understand your position.
7511 MR. COPE: Yeah. And I think, Ian, you wanted to make a comment and I'll come back.
7512 MR. GREENBERG: Mr. Chairman, it's kind of interesting, I wish in our negotiations and promotion of Canadian pay I'd have that kind of cooperation from all the BDUs.
7513 But on the one hand we're talking about sports, which typically has a penetration rate of somewhere between 80 and 90 percent. In pay it's somewhere between 23 and 25 percent. So this so-called power that's so useful is only available after many years in existence of only achieving a 23 to 25 percent market penetration.
7514 So to include both genres in the same breath, frankly, just doesn't make any sense from a qualitative point of view because they're not the same animals, they're apples and oranges, selling specialty TV, particularly sports, and selling pay TV.
7515 You've got one that's in the home at a couple of dollars and you've got the other one that's selling somewhere between $15 and $20 and sold on a monthly basis. People make a decision every month whether they want to keep their pay subscription.
7516 So to put them both together and talk about two genres having control as if they're the same and have the same value and have the same market penetration is frankly not a fair comparison.
7517 MR. CRULL: I would just add I think what Mr. Greenberg is saying I thought of because the interveners, it seems to be the focus has been on that genre of pay movies and edgy dramas.
7518 As Mr. Greenberg said, the Commission should take comfort in the fact that they're sold entirely discretionary and standalone. So the differences, setting aside what we think is very flexible packaging and everything that we've done, they receive already the most flexibility possible for consumers and for distributors.
7519 There are long-term nonlinear agreements with everyone on those services. So that is well established and there should be no concerns from anyone about access or the availability.
7520 I can think of -- I think where Mr. Greenberg's going, I can think of no genre that's more competitive right now than particularly these pay movies and edgy drama services. This is where all of the new service launches are occurring and in fact we heard, you know, Netflix may find itself on set-top boxes with cable providers. There's lot of options in this space, more options than just about any other genre.
7521 MR. COPE: And, Mr. Chairman, just to round it out for you, and I know you know this, but the strategic rationale, the two key strategic --
7522 THE CHAIRPERSON: Don't ever assume in a hearing that I know everything. It's your duty to tell us.
7523 MR. COPE: All right. Well, I'll -- and I have work to do, I can tell.
7524 On the two strategic rationales, one, in the movie part of the asset acquisition competing with the OTT, we think that's the scale play, that's the one that allows us to possibly acquire this content. I believe it stays at a lower price in Canada with BCE involved and it has a chance to compete with Netflix and those players. That's so core to why we're making this acquisition.
7525 And the second strategic rationale is to bring competition to Quebec.
7526 So one is to compete with global players and, as Kevin and Ian have talked much more knowledgeably than I can about how the market penetration works on that product, my leadership as a strategic purpose is to make sure we're ready to compete with what's happening in the market going forward. That's why we partnered. That's why we're divesting all these other assets. We said, you know what, we have to find a threshold, we have to find something that meets the balance for clearly the CRTC first, the Competition Bureau has to be comfortable, and then the strategy has to work.
7527 Those two key strategic imperatives are driven by this acquisition. Divesting more on the French defeats the purpose of the French-language strategy. Divesting more on the movie side completely defeats the purpose of why we actually initially for the first meeting had the conversation with Ian. The world's evolving in a different way, we should look at coming together.
7528 And so hopefully -- it's not trying to draw a line in the sand, it's to try to give you a sense of what the purpose of doing this is.
7529 And I do hear one of my largest competitors in Ontario who wants us to be forced to divest it. They had an opportunity to buy Ian's business. They did not buy it. And so of course they see the wisdom of our strategy. They're our competitor.
7530 THE CHAIRPERSON: Although, not to prejudge that, you saw me, I asked the question about, all right, so if we were going down that road, who buys this, and there's a number of applicants potentially out there, but they raise their own regulatory issues; do they not?
7531 MR. COPE: Well, that -- now, we're in your area of expertise or Mirko's. I mean, my understanding would be from our perspective strategically we want to meet what you require from a regulatory perspective for us to acquire these assets, and to not acquire these assets that we've put in front of you does not meet the strategic purpose of the acquisition. Hopefully, I'm answering the question.
7532 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Now, another divestiture issue but completely unrelated.
7533 So you've asked for an exception of the common ownership policy in radio for the CKGM asset and this is an option I don't think was very much discussed. There were other options analyzed in terms of divestiture. So this is a bit new and that's why I want to have your reaction to it.
7534 We could approve it conditional on you divesting another radio station in another large urban market. What would your views be on that as --
7535 MR. BIBIC: Just so I understand the question, so it would be the exception in Montreal would be granted provided that there was an extra divestiture in another city?
7536 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, in a large urban market.
7537 MR. BIBIC: In another large urban market. Is there a specific -- may I ask if there's a specific city?
7538 THE CHAIRPERSON: No. I think in fact we're not that far in our thinking. I was just asking you whether that's an option that we could envisage. I guess when we've done things in the past that haven't been fully fleshed out at hearings, we usually tend to allow it as a condition of approval that within a certain period of time you would have to identify the asset.
7539 MR. BIBIC: Okay. So on that one I have to confess we did not think of that question. So it's hard to answer in the abstract and certainly without speaking to the business operators.
7540 I do think though, however, we have indicated -- I think we've put a really good case forward on the exception and we have indicated a willingness should that fail to sell the station and we still think that that's the appropriate outcome.
7541 I don't think I can answer as to whether or not we would be willing to accept a divestiture in an unidentified market. I don't think it would be appropriate in the context of the application.
7542 So, you know, we stepped forward to try to do the right thing for the radio listeners in the City of Montreal, but again, as I said on Monday in questioning to -- of Madame Lamarre's question, not at the risk of the transaction, and we thought it would be kind of unfair to ask us to sell another station in Montreal, and by the same token, I think it would be unfair to ask us to sell another station in another large urban market.
7543 MR. COPE: And the only thing I can add, without having a clear answer, to give some insight to everyone is if it involved divesting a station in any market that was profitable, we wouldn't consider it as a solution. That's a certainty before the team even does the work.
7544 If we were to go out of the room and someone said there's one, you know, we would have to think about it that way, but if it was profitable in another market, we wouldn't consider it as a possible solution from my perspective.
7545 But the team, the radio team probably -- if they have an instinct on this or not.
7546 MR. PARISIEN: No. I agree with what you just said but I would also add that I presume your decision would be for another AM station because we are talking about an AM station here. I presume. I just presume.
7547 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, I'm asking your views on it. So would the --
7548 MR. PARISIEN: Well, I hope then --
7549 THE CHAIRPERSON: It would be less high if it was another AM station in another urban market --
7550 MR. PARISIEN: Well, my view then is that --
7551 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- which would, I guess, not be as profitable either?
7552 MR. PARISIEN: Well, that's why I'm saying this. So I'm still presuming that if it would make sense for you to recommend that, it would be an AM station somewhere else.
7553 MR. CRULL: Well, I think, Mr. Chair, it's -- what we're trying to process is probably granting an exemption would be allowing a change that is judged -- the diversity of voices and the common ownership policy is local market by local market and it's driven by a concern for the competitive nature of that market. So I'm not sure how changing a different market competitive structure affects, you know, a different market. So I think that A doesn't solve B, I think is the confusing part.
7554 And then there's no question that clustering in the major markets is a critical part of serving listeners, of maintaining the performance overall, the profitability of a cluster of stations, and so I think it would get at the heart of -- in those major markets, it would get at the heart of what we're trying to do, which is maximize our ownership under the common ownership guidelines so that we can have the cluster benefits.
7555 And I would point out that in all of those major markets there are competitors that are at the maximum ownership threshold already.
7556 THE CHAIRPERSON: I take it though it's not your hill to die on?
7557 MR. COPE: I don't -- one of the things we're just challenged with is we're not sure what hill we're on --
7558 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
7559 MR. COPE: -- only because I think that we need some guidance from the Astral folks to say, look, there's something here that's of similar size scale that maybe to accommodate everyone we could do something. We just need that. We're looking to find it to facilitate your question.
7560 THE CHAIPERSON: Okay. Well --
7561 MR. COPE: Ian probably knows in his head what the answer is.
7562 MR. GREENBERG: Well, I'm just frankly surprised, Mr. Chairman, if I may say so, as a Montrealer that this is a station that normally would not survive. I think frankly what Bell has suggested here is a public service. If it's against policy and you want us to divest the station, we said we're willing to do that. I don't think anyone can financially support it, but if there is someone and that's the edict from the Commission, of course we'll abide by that.
7563 But I'm just surprised as a citizen that when someone comes forward with an option that is for the good of the industry and for the good of the listeners why it becomes such a cause célèbre.
7564 THE CHAIRPERSON: And I didn't want to spend that much time on it either. I just wanted to make sure I got your answer on the record with respect to that.
7565 I think the argument would be yes, there may be good public policy reasons with respect to that for the market here in Montreal and service particularly the official language minority community, but there are additional revenues associated with that and maybe, on balance, there's a price to be paid somewhere else. That's, I think, the argument one could look at from a public policy perspective.
7566 But I suspect we'll have a break before we -- so maybe you can come back after the break and tell us where you're at with that.
7567 MR. COPE: Thank you.
7568 THE CHAIRPERSON: So let me continue down the road of options and this is with respect to safeguards.
7569 Now, there's been a lot of discussion about, as you've noted in your presentation, about the possibility of abuse of market position in your negotiation of affiliation agreements whether it's for linear or nonlinear rights. Whether we agree with that or not is neither here nor there, there's been a great deal of discussion.
7570 The current framework the Commission has is in large part an ex post facto intervention, that is, if there's a complaint of undue preference or a breach of the VI Code, we deal with it after the fact.
7571 An option I would like to explore with you, and knowing that a lot of the agreements are actually in place for still a number of years in many cases, what would you think if the Commission were to require that in your particular circumstances in light of this transaction your affiliation agreements would require prior CRTC approval? That is, you would have to come in either when the merged BCE-Astral entities are on the BDU side or on the programming side. It's basically an ex ante oversight of the wholesale market.
7572 MR. BIBIC: Mr. Chairman, we don't think that would be appropriate because I think you would have to come to that view and that conclusion if there were evidence on the record to support the allegations being made of those who have come before you and we spent a lot of time in our reply statement this morning on that. There is no evidence on the record of any improper conduct.
7573 In fact, again, I have to reiterate, I heard from a couple of interveners, the TELUS panel in particular, when you asked them specifically -- when the panel asked TELUS specifically what is the evidence, the answer that came back, well, TELUS had to go to FOA last year with Bell -- in fact, they won that one -- and there was an example given with respect to I think it was TMN Central and Shaw Go or something like that. They didn't mention those actual services by name but that was the implicit reference. In that one, I believe TELUS' application was dismissed.
7574 And the point is the fact that TELUS had to go to final offer arbitration or dispute resolution or file an undue preference complaint twice is not evidence of anticompetitive behaviour on Bell's part.
7575 On the Cogeco side, I think I heard a reference when -- again, the question that was asked: Well, what are the examples that there's anticompetitive behaviour or why doesn't the dispute resolution system work? I heard two things.
7576 One is the evidence of anticompetitive behaviour is the pricing of Bell, and we've put clear, clear compelling evidence this morning on the record explaining that.
7577 And the other issue -- I think it was in response -- I think it might have been the Vice Chairman's question: Why doesn't the system work? The answer was from Cogeco: Well, for years and years, every time Cogeco has gone to dispute resolution, the programmer seems to win. I mean every case is fact-specific but that has nothing to do with Bell.
7578 So from a point of regulatory policy and regulatory administration, we do not believe it would be appropriate to have a rule like that in the absence of any evidence and I think it would get in the way of letting the market handle matters, and as the Commission has said many times and as you've said yourself, Mr. Chairman, you step in where you see evidence of market failure. There is none here and to have the Commission on an ex ante basis regulate our affiliation agreements would be too stifling for us and we don't think it would be appropriate.
7579 MR. COPE: The other thing that I can add to that is, you know, just again, context is important.
7580 We're buying 1.7 percent market share in the markets that the people in the English business in Western Canada and Central Canada are talking to.
7581 TELUS, it's about a $2 million revenue change. We do $800 million of business with them, to remind the Commission.
7582 Rogers, we were able to settle the ownership of the biggest entertainment asset in Canada in a $1.8 billion transaction.
7583 Now, we've been able to find solutions without coming back to you in that marketplace and with 159 of 164 in the market. We would not move forward with the transaction with that proposed regulation.
7584 THE CHAIRPERSON: Interesting, Mr. Cope, because, si je vous comprends bien, comme disait quelqu'un d'autre, vous me dites : À la prochaine fois.
7585 MR. COPE: I don't know. You asked me, would we move forward? We can't --
7586 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, every idea we're putting forward, you're saying, we would not go ahead with the transaction.
7587 MR. COPE: No. No, no. No, I don't think so. I think you asked --
7588 THE CHAIRPERSON: That's what I just heard.
7589 MR. COPE: On this -- no, this -- you said you have a new regulatory concept and the question is would we be open to wholesale regulation of our rates ahead of time. And that, because the marketplace has to work, I have no way to say that we would change our business that dramatically for the purpose of buying Mr. Greenberg's business.
7590 You asked me a question. I mean I tried to --
7591 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
7592 MR. COPE: -- give you the answer. In our submission on I believe Wednesday, we had put forward what I think you had raised around trying to give comfort on the VI role --
7593 THE CHAIRPERSON: And I'll get to that in a second.
7594 MR. COPE: And then, on the channel divestitures, you asked us, and we said we had put forward -- we thought we met the requirement.
7595 On the third one, on the radio, I think we said we would take and see if we could find a solution.
7596 So we're not trying to draw hard lines at all. I'm just trying to actually -- because we've been through it before and you have and your team's been working on this -- where would we come out on the concept of beforehand wholesale regulating our rates in the marketplace.
7597 If that was a requirement to get this transaction approved by you, a commercial decision I am certain we would make is that that basis, that's too much regulation for us to execute successfully in the marketplace.
7598 THE CHAIRPERSON: Even though in most instances you have medium- and long-term arrangements in place, and on top of that if the market works and you have come to an agreement with either the programming undertaking or the broadcast distribution undertaking, either side depending on what instance it is, if you've managed to come to an agreement, why would the Commission interfere with that agreement?
7599 MR. COPE: I didn't understand the question then. I thought we were asked to come forward here for our agreements ahead of time. So we should make sure we clearly --
7600 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well --
7601 MR. COPE: It's really important we clearly understand the question. Absolutely correct.
7602 THE CHAIRPERSON: That if, indeed, when you are in renegotations, either wearing a BDU hat or a programming undertaking hat within the BCE-Astral context, if we would require as a general rule that you would have to have prior approval of those affiliation agreements, after you've done your negotiations obviously, and if they have been successful we would bless them obviously, but if they have not been we immediately deal with them well ahead of -- well ahead of any potential delays in competitive disputes.
7603 MR. BIBIC: Mr. Chairman, then I'm -- now, I'm confused as well because --
7604 MR. COPE: We have to understand this a little bit better.
7605 MR. BIBIC: So now I'm losing the train of thought myself because -- I think that's what I tried -- I guess that's why we tried -- in the section that I read this morning, we provided the construct of how it works today and I'm not sure how what you just said differs from what currently exists today in the sense -- in the following sense.
7606 If we enter into an agreement, the agreement kicks in and it's effective, and you indicated that the Commission would step in to overrule a commercially negotiated deal.
7607 But then when that agreement expires, there's a standstill rule that makes sure that one party or the other can't yank a signal and deny it to consumers and deny one entity or the other, put one entity or the other at a disadvantage.
7608 And then we negotiate again and we all know in the industry that if we can't resolve it, we can go to you anyway.
7609 So whether or not it's ex ante or it's ex post you will be dealing with an issue should we not be able to negotiate, and in the meantime there's a standstill. So I'm not sure what the rule would solve.
7610 THE CHAIRPERSON: Delay inevitably advantages someone. Even though there might be corrections in terms of interest and standstill, delay creates a problem.
7611 The proposal I'm putting forward to you to see your reaction to it is that knowing full well that you have to get prior Commission authority for a new affiliation agreement, it forces you to start the process earlier, it forces you -- well, it doesn't force you, it's normal commercial practice, you will want to make a commercial deal but we are seized of it sooner in the process. That's the framework that I'm proposing, rather than late in the day when it hasn't worked.
7612 MR. BIBIC: So let --
7613 MR. CRULL: We typically start a negotiation well before the expiry of the prior. So in the case where the services are in place, we start a negotiation six months before the expiry.
7614 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right. And we may only be seized of an inability to come up with an agreement --
7615 MR. CRULL: Afterwards.
7616 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- well after that and sometimes six months, 12 months afterwards. That's what I'm trying to correct.
7617 MR. BIBIC: Mr. Chairman, may I posit a for instance? So would it be something like, for instance, should an agreement not be reached between Bell Media and BDU A six months prior to the expiry, then it will immediately go to the Commission?
7618 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, that's one option.
7619 MR. BIBIC: And it's a for instance.
7620 THE CHAIRPERSON: That is an option. It's not quite what I was asking but that's a variation on it, yes. I was more thinking of in every single case, and of course it becomes moot if there is an agreement obviously.
7621 MR. BIBIC: I meant in every single case. So there would be a COL that said: If an affiliation between Bell Media and a particular BDU should not be renewed six months prior to the expiry of that affiliation agreement, then the CRTC will be seized of the matter should there be any --
7622 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yeah, that's not quite what I was putting forward. I was saying that the affiliation agreements would have to be -- there would be an oversight by the CRTC on those.
7623 MR. BIBIC: Because what I understood the initial question -- I thought the initial question was: Would you agree to submit all your affiliation agreements to rate regulation by the CRTC? That's how I understood the spirit of the question.
7624 THE CHAIRPERSON: Not rate regulation in every case because if you've managed to agree, we would presumably endorse it, right? We would only get seized of the ones where there is no agreement in a timely way.
7625 MR. COPE: And to help us unpack -- because that's very different than we interpreted what you were saying. We're not even sure how we would -- to get comfortable that we all understand it.
7626 And I'll just park this other comment, but always something that puts us different than the rest of the industry hugely concerns me. I'll just make that point.
7627 THE CHAIRPERSON: You're the only ones in front of us.
7628 MR. COPE: I hear that but we have to compete and so I respect that point.
7629 Just so we -- you know, in the VI framework we worked hard to sort through with everyone and with yourselves. One of the things it has in it is a mechanism that says if we don't agree and the two parties -- and we went through this with TELUS and Cogeco -- is that the same mechanic you think would happen, it would just happen ahead of time, as opposed to the CRTC is going to get in and say, we're going to decide what we think the price should be? That to me is where we go -- that's the bridge where you see my -- you know, the reaction from me on the commercial side.
7630 If it's the same process, just, guys, get your acts together faster --
7631 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, in a sense --
7632 MR. COPE: -- then I think it's in the benefit -- in fairness to you, I think that's a benefit to TELUS, Rogers, all the players, Bell, everyone.
7633 Because what was our big problem, you're right, someone had an advantage. The huge disadvantage in both proceedings were against us because we were unable to pass through our additional content costs for a long period of time as we went through the process on the two files. And we are a public company and that made it very difficult for us.
7634 So something that said, you guys, you know what, you have to get your act together even faster with the same process, it frankly might be an improvement on the process.
7635 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
7636 MR. COPE: I thought you were saying it's quite different.
7637 THE CHAIRPERSON: No. The idea would be that in every instance you would have to have Commission approval, prior approval --
7638 MR. COPE: Well, I --
7639 THE CHAIRPERSON: of the affiliation agreement -- just hold on.
7640 MR. COPE: Okay.
7641 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- that of course where you have managed to come to an agreement there is no reason for the Commission to second-guess what has been negotiated in the marketplace, therefore we would approve it, but in those cases where there has not been an arrangement possible, instead of waiting several months after the collapse of commercial negotiations we would be seized of it earlier, but even in that case we would be setting the rates, because that's what we do ex post facto if there is a dispute.
7642 MR. COPE: No, but the way you set the rates ex post facto, the way the process -- I will use that one first -- is the process was choose between the two, which was a perfect way to put enormous commercial pressure of the two of us to resolve the issue. We use the term "baseball arbitration", you know, to be that harsh on both of us that, "if you are in front of the CRTC and you have come here, that's your fault, you two companies, and I'm going to pick A or B winner" and that forces us to resolve the issue.
7643 But your very first point, Mr. Chairman, is very concerning because we need to understand what you said there about every single agreement would be ahead of time approved. Now, it's really important we understand that.
7644 MR. BIBIC: I will break it down into kind of bite-sized pieces.
7645 So the first part, as I understand it, requiring all agreements entered into, even those freely negotiated, requiring those to be approved by the Commission on an ex ante basis, our position is -- and it's not to cause you distress or upset you, it's we are very, very uncomfortable with that for the reasons I expressed 10 minutes ago in my first response.
7646 If we freely negotiate -- two parties, Rogers and Bell for example, have freely negotiated an agreement, we don't think that the Commission needs to get involved even on a prior approval basis and, you know, if in every single case the Commission is going to rubberstamp that, then there is no need for it.
7647 On the second part, however --
7648 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, -- okay, keep going.
7649 MR. BIBIC: Okay. On the second part, however, if it's a question of improving the dispute resolution process and making sure that there is no disadvantage on one party or another -- and let's not kind of get into a debate as to who is disadvantaged -- and getting things done quicker, I think you have the sense that we are probably open to considering something like that, provided that the way the dispute or the gap is bridged is through final offer arbitration rather than the Commission saying, "No, we are going to set the rate telecom-style for example, wholesale rate regulation", then we start getting back into the zone of discomfort.
7650 But to move things forward quicker, we could consider that.
7651 THE CHAIRPERSON: The advantage of, even though you may have come to an agreement on commercial terms, the fact that we would eventually have to look at it has, from a system perspective, a means of focusing the mind between the two negotiating parties.
7652 I take your point that it may look like a rubberstamp of a commercially -- but it does have a systemic -- potentially a systemic approach.
7653 MR. BIBIC: I think then we get into the zone of the Commission potentially substituting its judgment for the judgment of parties who have freely negotiated an agreement and it's not really a systemic issue because the rule would only apply to Bell Media.
7654 THE CHAIRPERSON: Oh, systemic with respect to your relationships with BDU partners or programming partners.
7655 MR. BIBIC: But again, if ultimately decisions will be based on evidence on the record, I would resubmit again that there is absolutely no evidence of any difficulties or anticompetitive behaviour on the part of Bell, but if -- there will be a rule that will only apply to Bell that will make the system improve the dispute resolution model, and in fact if there is a rule that says if you haven't gotten it done "X" months before the expiry, you have to come to the Commission, that, too, Mr. Chairman, will focus the mind. In fact, it will focus the mind of both parties to the negotiations because they will both know that they will be in front of the Commission having to deal with the affiliation agreement, linear or nonlinear, for a Bell Media service.
7656 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right. So I take it your position on that would be that if it was an ex-ante process, but only where there is still a dispute as to there is no commercial arrangement yet, you would be okay with it, provided as well that it would be focused on -- that the mechanism would be baseball-arbitration style?
7657 MR. COPE: It sounds to all three of us as an enhancement commercially for everyone to the process by, to use your term, focusing the mind earlier and getting these things so, frankly, we are not dealing with them after the fact.
7658 If that's what we are trying to achieve I actually think I would be surprised if all of our competitors think that's an improvement, if it's -- for everyone, because we don't want to be here and you don't want to see us.
7659 THE CHAIRPERSON: I'm not necessarily looking for more business.
7660 MR. COPE: Right.
7661 MR. COPE: But if it is -- and probably my instincts tell you I'm not either.
7662 For sure if it's the other you know where our discomfort is and that's why you saw the line so far from me.
7663 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
7664 MR. CRULL: I think just a few thoughts that I have to --
7665 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
7666 MR. CRULL: I would say that practically speaking, Mr. Chair, these negotiations -- and I think that my affiliate clients would agree, they do take months. Even when they are proceeding very constructively they to take months. So I think that when we reach an obvious stalemate we are very happy -- in fact that is the time to initiate dispute resolution. So we are all very comfortable with a faster process, an earlier expedited process.
7667 I think that it is in everyone's interest, though, in your interest and in both our interest and in the distributors interest, that we avoid that. So we should be motivated to be commercial. So the focusing of the mind I think is a good thing because we should be motivated to do it commercially.
7668 We know every time it goes to dispute resolution, even if we feel very, very strongly in the commercial reasonableness of our position, we know it introduces risk and so we would like to avoid that.
7669 But I think, just practically speaking, the agreements to take months.
7670 I was going to add that the process for me today is not -- I'm going to get my posts and antes mixed up, frankly, but it's not an after-the-fact regulation because we either reach an agreement commercially or, if we don't reach an agreement commercially, we initiate dispute resolution and then before the agreement is signed you are involved and you render a decision.
7671 So it doesn't feel to me that it's an after-the-fact regulatory process we have today.
7672 THE CHAIRPERSON: Based on your experience, is six months long enough or should it be triggered earlier?
7673 MR. CRULL: I think that's adequate.
7674 MR. BIBIC: Yes. I use six months because kind of instinctively I went that's probably enough time based on my experience.
7675 MR. GREENBERG: I think six months is reasonable, Mr. Chair.
7676 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thank you for those answers. I now understand your position.
7677 Now, let's turn to the response to your undertakings to convert the VI Code into conditions of license.
7678 My first question -- there will be more processes we announced earlier so this is -- and you will have a chance to reply obviously, but this is just so that I and others perhaps have a better understanding of your position.
7679 First of all, you seem to suggest that it should only apply where the BDUs have 500 subs or fewer.
7680 I was wondering why you came to that conclusion, that threshold even.
7681 MR. BIBIC: Well, two points.
7682 We started with the premise, in response to your question, that this is a media transaction and the concern is with price and access to content. So that was the first thing.
7683 So then, in the equation of resulting price and access to content issue, certainly I interpreted the question as being more around the concern about smaller entities vis-à-vis a larger Bell Media. So we drew the cut-off of 500,000 subs to provide that extra measure of protection to the smaller BDUs if the concern, as I understood it, was that relative disparity and size. The others above 500,000, like Rogers and Videotron or TELUS, they are large entities, more than capable and have equal marketing power vis-à-vis a Bell.
7684 As George mentioned, you know, you can imagine the size -- you know the size of the relationship between Bell and TELUS, we have put the size of the overall value on the record, and the dispute we had last year with TELUS on FOA with respect to TSN ended up being a $2 million issue.
7685 So TELUS is more than capable in terms of negotiating these and that's the philosophy behind the cut-off, informed by going back through the transcript and the question having been framed to some degree around relative size between parties.
7686 And as George reminds me, we are not backing away from all the other commitments, including embedding the entire VI Code as amended from time to time as a COL. So that serves to protect everyone, including the larger players.
7687 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
7688 MR. BIBIC: And everyone in the industry is, in any event, subject to the VI Code as a guideline.
7689 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right. Two follow-ups on that.
7690 Why didn't you go to a category that distinguishes between VI's and non-VI's?
7691 MR. BIBIC: For exactly the reason that for example TELUS is a non-VI, hefty corporation, you know, second-largest telecom company in the country, size of our relationship, we can have those negotiations, that's the reason. I just used TELUS as the obvious example.
7692 MR. COPE: Well, and then I'm going to help you out a little bit on that, too.
7693 We believe the VI rules, we keep saying, all the fact-based evidence is they have been working for everybody, both sides. So one of the things that, Mr. Chairman, you definitely said that morning was the small guys concern -- smaller companies are concerned a lot of things are happening here, so we thought, you know, if we -- just in trying a little more comfort for everyone, trying to reach across the table -- because you know our discomfort with something we thought was working -- choose the 500,000 would address that issue and everyone has the VI rules on both sides of the equation to solve the issue.
7694 So we didn't take it as a vertical integration issue because you have vertical integration rules. It was, I think, an acknowledgment that as this business gets larger and larger smaller cable companies and smaller operators may feel, you know, more separated from the situation and this was just a way to give the Commission ability to, "Look, we put some" -- a term we would use -- "belts and suspenders on the VI rules for the smaller players."
7695 THE CHAIRPERSON: And I take it that you know that the CCSA often negotiates as a buying group, that we would pierce that and go to the size of the companies -- the size of the companies that are members of it.
7696 MR. BIBIC: That would be the idea, yes.
7697 In fact, if I may go back to the other discussion we had before you went into the VI Code, so larger non-VI BDUs, they would continue to have the protection of VI the Code, we said that, but if you marry that with the discussion we just had before, if there is a concern there -- and I heard from two of the large non-VI BDUs, Cogeco and TELUS, that they feel that delay causes them a disadvantage -- you know our view on that, but their view is that causes them disadvantage -- resolving the issues before agreements expired --
7698 THE CHAIRPERSON: As we discussed.
7699 MR. BIBIC: -- total addresses that concern.
7700 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
7701 You suggest, with respect to one element, that you would rather not -- you are not ready to bind yourself to "unreasonable rates" as being a test because it's not a bright-line test, if I understand correctly, but you are able to bind yourself to "commercially unreasonable" terms and conditions.
7702 I would like to understand exactly why you are taking that position. There seems to be as much uncertainty in the notion of "commercially unreasonable" as there is "unreasonable rates".
7703 MR. BIBIC: Yes. I acknowledge that, Mr. Chairman.
7704 So when we went through this on the programming side we did try to have, as a first starting principle, as it was based on the question of course is, some of these, as you indicate in the question on Monday, can't be the subject of clear, precise, measurable COL's, but some, should you posit it, some surely can, can you give it some thought and come back Wednesday.
7705 So we approached it with that principle and we tried -- so for example in 3(b) "require distribution of a service on the basic tier" -- and we debated this on Monday, that's pretty clear, it's either you are forcing something on basic or you are not.
7706 And then 3(a) is a bit of a different animal in the sense that there is some flexibility in the notion of commercially unreasonable. I acknowledge that. Just as we were drafting that we thought, you know, on this one at least we put it in because we wanted to set a basic framework that rates have to be commercially reasonable, there needs to be the commercially reasonable benchmark and I accept that there is some flexibility in that, but we thought we can't move away from the notion of at least acknowledging that and that is why that's in here.
7707 MR. CRULL: I think I might add, Mr. Chair, what would trouble me -- and if I'm following, rates alone are a very narrow view of the agreements that we do with distributors. Rates must always be taken in conjunction with volume. So unit rate by itself in isolation can't be used as a term. That's why we were much more comfortable with commercially unreasonable terms as the metric, which include rates and other conditions.
7708 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Because, as you know, our entire -- for instance my example, our entire jurisdiction in telecom -- well, maybe not the entire jurisdiction, but maybe 95 percent of it is based on settings just and reasonable rates. I mean yes, it is open textured, but there are a lot of statutes that deal with reasonability and that doesn't mean you can't intimate them or still come to a conclusion there's a bright line; wouldn't you agree?
7709 Just because it's open textured like reasonable or unreasonable doesn't make it non-enforceable.
7710 MR. BIBIC: That's correct.
7711 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. And that's what I took from you willing to accept commercially unreasonable, but not unreasonable rates, that there could be some flexibility in the price.
7712 MR. BIBIC: I guess that's what I was trying to do in a roundabout way, but that's much clearer, yes.
7713 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Okay.
7714 With respect to 1(b), you seem to refer to basic, but you seem to have deleted in your proposal -- at least the one I saw earlier, I'm not sure it matches the one I'm seeing this morning -- to "requiring distribution in a package that is consistent with the service theme or price point".
7715 So now we are only talking about basic. I was wondering why you took that position.
7716 MR. BIBIC: That was going back to -- you know, trying to have something that to the greatest extent possible something that is clear, measurable, precise.
7717 There is a lot of -- there is a wide range of potential arguments one could make to debate the point as to whether or not something is inconsistent with a services' theme or price point. The notion of inconsistency is subject to debate, the issue of the services' theme is subject to debate, price point perhaps, so that was not a clear bright line test so we said on the one it wouldn't go in our proposal as a firm hard-line COL.
7718 It's not that the VI Code ceases to apply to us and it's not that we are backing away from our very first proposal in our initial filing --
7719 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
7720 MR. BIBIC: -- that as a general rule --
7721 THE CHAIRPERSON: But as a condition of license you felt that it could not be implemented. Is that -- I don't want to put words in your mouth.
7722 MR. BIBIC: Then again, Mr. Chairman, if we are back to, well, the Commission can very well make a determination as to what is inconsistent and what is in the service -- what's a services' theme I acknowledge that, then why isn't it sufficient -- why isn't our initial proposal insufficient -- or why isn't the VI Code as a general rule insufficient?
7723 We will abide by Commission orders as a first principle, we do, subject to seeking our appeal rights if we feel that that's necessary, and we still have the initial proposal that we will agree to the VI Code as amended from time to time as a COL. We think that gives us more flexibility and leeway to have a reasonable debate in front of you as to whether or not we have complied or not.
7724 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
7725 A little later on when the Code talks about "the wholesale rate should be based on fair market value" and then it lists a list of criteria that are normally examined, you have added "to the extent that each is directly relevant to the particular circumstances of a commercial negotiation."
7726 Is that correct?
7727 MR. BIBIC: We have.
7728 THE CHAIRPERSON: Could you explain to me why?
7729 MR. CRULL: That's in the beginning, "take into consideration the following factors" --
7730 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes. It's in the introductory paragraph, yes.
7731 MR. CRULL: -- "to the extent that each is directly relevant to the particular circumstances."
7732 Oh, yes. well, I think that the language "where applicable" is in the Code itself and we removed "where applicable", but we felt that some acknowledgment for the Commission of the relevance in the particular negotiation was still absolutely necessary to remain in there.
7733 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
7734 MR. CRULL: So we felt like this was a different way to approach that than what you seemed uncomfortable with.
7735 MR. BIBIC: Mr. Chairman, I will give you a very practical example that certainly was running through my mind when we put that word in.
7736 If again it's going to be clear, precise, as unbending as possible, subject of course to the discussion we had earlier about commercially unreasonable, if you would take a look at -- I don't know which version you're looking at, but let's say it's item (a) of that paragraph, 'historical rates", if it's a brand-new service we are having a debate about there are no historical rates, so clearly it can only be -- these factors (a) through to (k) that we have proposed can only be to the extent that they are directly relevant to the particular circumstances.
7737 THE CHAIRPERSON: So it was an attempt by you to convert "where applicable" into somewhat more precise language.
7738 Is that correct?
7739 MR. BIBIC: Correct. Correct.
7740 We thought that maybe the concern -- certainly there was one group who had an issue with "where applicable" and you raised "where applicable" on Monday and we got the sense that the uneasiness was about how broad "where applicable" is, but here we said, okay, well, we have to acknowledge that not all these factors will be necessarily relevant in every particular circumstance, so we changed that wording to make it hopefully more palatable.
7741 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. It is my understanding that in the undertaking you had deleted (i), (j) and (k), which is the cost of the programming service, the prevailing -- gee, I can't read my handwriting here -- the prevailing business models and viewership and other considerations, but in Exhibit J to today's they have crept back in.
7742 So I was just --
7743 MR. BIBIC: No. Actually (i), (j) and (k) are our additions to the VI Code. So the VI Code currently has (a) through (h) and we have added (i), (j), (k).
7744 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Sorry, I read my notes backwards here. Okay.
7745 And why did you add those?
7746 MR. BIBIC: Well, (a) we think that (i), (j) and (k) are -- you know, it would better inform the process of addressing an issue should items like the content costs of the service are taking into consideration that would be (i).
7747 Just think about some of the debates that occurred this week where some parties have suggested that the Bell Media rates were inappropriate given that content costs hadn't reason. One party actually said that and we put the evidence on the record this morning.
7748 And (k) "viewership" I think is a relevant factor. In fact, I think even TELUS includes a notion of viewership in its draft proposal.
7749 Kevin, over to you for (j) or for any comment.
7750 MR. CRULL: Well, having gone through the process with the Commission, (j) acknowledges that the way we have distributed, marketed and sold services for the past two decades is changing and it allows some dialogue in this process of fair market value to look at future business models that are being developed and to look at how the business models are changing.
7751 If you are simply using a historical structure, then I think it's far too limiting in a business that is changing as rapidly as ours.
7752 THE CHAIRPERSON: Did you want to add anything?
7753 MR. BIBIC: I will. There is a general comment, but after we go through the specifics.
7754 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. That's fine.
7755 There are other conditions you have that find themselves in the Code that you appear to have deleted and I want to give you an opportunity to explain why: the obligation to include all relevant nonrelated programming services in the theme package; the Category A to be in the best available package consistent with the genre and programming; and the deletion of the expression "reasonable term" a little further down in the Code.
7756 MR. BIBIC: So if we could go through them perhaps one-by-one.
7757 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
7758 MR. BIBIC: So the ones that we have deleted deal with our operations as a BDU, so the Bell TV operations, not the Bell Media operations, so just as a point of principle.
7759 That's not my only answer, but just as a point of principle we said, "Okay, we are coming forward here on a media transaction. We recognize we are vertically integrated, but the issue is the additional content, the viewing share, revenue share, all those factors that Bell would acquire as a result of this transaction on the media side. So it's not about Bell TV.
7760 The second point is, Bell TV is the new entrant in the BDU market, on Fibe certainly, and is by far the smaller player in any local market with our satellite service. So there was a reference yesterday in fact that Videotron's cable service does not have 52 percent market share, it's 52 percent of subscribers across Quebec, but of course Videotron doesn't operate everywhere in Quebec, so in its operating territory Videotron's market share is actually 70 percent and we are by far smaller, we are 20 percent nationally and it's about 20 percent in each local market and Fibe TV is a new entrant.
7761 So those are kind of the general principles.
7762 So now, with that in mind, to have these rules in place, again as precise, clear, measurable rules, would completely handcuff Bell TV in a way that we -- you know, it would render it uncompetitive and if you have --
7763 THE CHAIRPERSON: But the rule is still in the VI Code, so I'm having difficulty understanding -- which would continue to be a condition of license globally.
7764 MR. BIBIC: Well, Mr. Chairman, maybe here is where we misunderstood the nature of what you are asking us to do on Monday, because I agree that the rule is in the VI Code and we are willing to live by the VI Code, but the VI Code says, "where a BDU includes related programming services and themed packages" -- I am looking at section 3 of the VI Code -- "it should" -- it might be shall -- "include all relevant nonrelated programming services in those theme packages".
7765 As we had the debate on Monday I said, well, we need the flexibility to be able to put before you that a service is or is not -- a nonrelated service is or is not relevant and shouldn't go in that theme package or it should go in that theme package. I think that the discussion back was, okay, I hear you that some of these may not be able to be converted into clear, measurable, precise rules, but certainly some can.
7766 So let's go back to -- I will give you compare and contrast. Don't force something on basic. That's clear, you can't force it on basic. If we try to adopt the same philosophy here the rule would say, if Bell TV includes a Bell Media programming service in a theme pack, you must include all similar services in a theme pack.
7767 So let me give a very, very practical example, TELUS out west has two sports theme packs, it has one that's TSN, Sportsnet, and a couple of other premium sports services and it has another one that has NLB baseball, NCAA, Big Ten, so it has two theme packs. If Bell TV wanted to compete with that and had TSN, which is a related service, in a theme pack, if the rule is unbending we would have to include every single sports service in the country in our theme pack, so our theme pack would have 20 services, it would be double, triple the cost of TELUS' theme packs because they are split up. How do we compete with that?
7768 So if the philosophy is to have a clear rule that is not subject to debate, that is ex-ante and has the force of a COL, Bell TV can't step up to that because then we can't deliver to the consumer the flexibility they want, we can't compete as a new entrant or even as an established player and that's really why -- and I can make the same argument for all of these.
7769 THE CHAIRPERSON: So it is the same argument for --
7770 MR. BIBIC: It's the same argument for -- take number five.
7771 So of course Bell TV has a set-top box VOD product, and of course on the set-top box VOD product Bell TV includes Bell Media services. So Bell TV is providing a related programming service, Kevin's services, with access to multiple distribution platforms, set-top box VOD. If this is an unbending rule and it says that because Bell TV has provided Bell Media services on set-top box VOD, we must provide access on reasonable terms to every single service in the country. Now Bell TV would have an obligation to carry every single service in the country on set-top box VOD, would obviously have to pay them -- even if you didn't have to pay some of them, there's a capacity issue -- the content costs go up, consumers may not want that, where we would be uncompetitive with Rogers, with Cogeco, with TELUS, and that's the reason why we didn't make this a clear unbending rule, recognizing that of course we accept this in the VI Code and we agreed to have the VI Code as drafted with no amendments as a condition of license.
7772 So that was the only reason -- I mean that's the real reason why -- and we could go through each of these, it's the same philosophy.
7773 THE CHAIRPERSON: It is the same -- I just want to understand your position on this so others can comment on it down the road.
7774 MR. BIBIC: Completely.
7775 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
7776 So now I'm going to go even further down the road of analysis and we are obviously in the option of an approval and then there are some issues that we need to tidy up.
7777 On CKGM, how many hours of local programming are there? Could somebody give me that?
7778 MR. GORDON: I believe it's 96 hours of local programming.
7779 THE CHAIRPERSON: And would you be able to accept -- how would you react if we imposed that as a condition of license on that service?
7780 MR. GORDON: We would accept.
7781 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
7782 I believe we gave you a copy of a proposed condition of license to define CKGM's nature of service. Have you had a chance to look at that?
7783 MR. GOLDSTEIN: Yes, we did.
7784 THE CHAIRPERSON: Oh, okay. Yes, okay.
7785 THE CHAIRPERSON: It was a disembodied voice.
7786 And what is your reaction to that text?
7787 MR. GOLDSTEIN: I think we were generally fine with it.
7788 The only concern we had was the use of the term "exclusively". The only reason we had a concern with that was because if you actually read it literally it would prevent us from offering local news, traffic, weather, business news, breaking in for headline news events in the community, which is something, one, that CKGM does today, but also every other -- it's sort of a mainstay of every radio station in the country.
7789 So if we change that word to "predominantly", we would be generally fine with it.
7790 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
7791 One of the intangible benefits you have provided was the continued operations of the conventional television services to 2016, if I'm not mistaken.
7792 MR. BIBIC: And I think 2017 for the two Astral conventional over-the-airs.
7793 THE CHAIRPERSON: In Abbotsford and the smaller ones.
7794 Now, when we discussed this last time it was eight months ago and if I recall the discussion we had at the time, it was, well, we can't predict the future, it's going to be difficult. Since we are eight months later, why wouldn't the undertaking or the benefit be all the way to 2017 for all the stations then?
7795 MR. BIBIC: We just tried to make it coterminous with the expiry of the license.
7796 THE CHAIRPERSON: Things happen, licenses get renewed on different schedules.
7797 MR. BIBIC: If that's not a procedural problem we would accept that.
7798 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
7799 The Consumer Education Initiative, there were comments about redirecting it to third parties who would be independent administrators, you must have heard some of that discussion.
7800 What would be your reaction if we were to redirect it, for instance, or alternatively, to the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund as a separate stream, the existing organizations such as, I don't know, MediaSmarts or le Centre d'études sur les médias ?
7801 MR. BIBIC: This would be on the two points of -- I just missed the very first three words.
7802 THE CHAIRPERSON: It's the Consumer Education Initiative
7803 MR. BIBIC: So MediaSmarts, I would -- you gave three examples. So MediaSmarts, I think that would be a great idea.
7804 I think le Centre d'études sur les medias, the group that appeared, I thought they made a very good presentation and they were correct, I did have a chat with them, I think it was in December, and had we had the chat earlier they might have been on the list, frankly, in my mind.
7805 And the third, the Broadcasting --
7806 THE CHAIRPERSON: Was the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund as a separate stream. In other words, piggybacking on the governance that already exists.
7807 MR. BIBIC: What funding -- what monies being directed at the same purposes that they are used for today, I would support that as well.
7808 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
7809 I'm just coming back quickly to a point about the issue of doing the review of the potential wholesale disputes earlier on, just a further clarification.
7810 Right now the arbitration process is optional, what if both parties were obliged to accept arbitration as the nature of it? In other words, because we do sometimes waste time when both parties don't agree to arbitration.
7811 MR. BIBIC: We would be supportive.
7812 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
7813 MR. BIBIC: And just because, you know, months later we look at these transcripts, we would be supportive to if there is a dispute then final offer arbitration would be mandatory on both parties --
7814 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
7815 MR. BIBIC: -- to the dispute in the case of a Bell Media programming service, just to be very precise.
7816 THE CHAIRPERSON: And you would be mandated to bring that dispute forward and you would live by the outcome?
7817 MR. BIBIC: If we are not done six months prior to expiry we would be mandated to come forward, we would be mandated to resolve it via final offer arbitration and we would abide by the outcome.
7818 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
7819 I think what we will do now is take a break. What time is it now? So until about 11:50, okay.
7820 Thank you.
--- Upon recessing at 1035
--- Upon resuming at 1056
7821 LE PRÉSIDENT : À l'ordre, s'il vous plaît.
7822 Donc, on avait laissé en suspens une question. Peut-être que vous avez eu la chance d'en discuter.
7823 M. BIBIC : Ça, c'est la question à propos de l'exemption ici à Montréal?
7824 LE PRÉSIDENT : Et la conséquence possible de nécessiter un dessaisissement d'une radio dans un autre marché urbain.
7825 M. BIBIC : D'accord.
7826 So, Mr. Chairman, on that issue -- and again, I'm just going to be very -- I'm not going to repeat arguments over and over again but just to be very precise for the transcript and the record -- we do really feel that the exception is warranted and we've discharged our burden of proof on that. So point one.
7827 Two, if you don't believe so, then our preferred option, as you know, is to sell CKGM or return the licence.
7828 If that is not acceptable either, then we would be prepared to file in confidence with you a potential AM station in a large urban market -- the reason I don't want to declare it, of course there are impacts on employees, advertisers, communities, and we don't think that that would be appropriate to have that debate in this forum given this kind of third order of preference down the rung. If that's okay, then we would file that in our -- I guess a final written reply that Madam Secretary indicated at the beginning of the morning or whenever you wish.
7829 THE CHAIRPERSON: I don't think we need to do that. We haven't decided yet. We would do something once the decision was made if we were going down that road. I don't think we need to know which station it is now. I will give you the benefit, if we were going to approve a scenario, of seeing the whole decision, right, out of fairness.
7830 Une petite question de qualification.
7831 Puis là, je fais référence au paragraphe 9 de la pièce... la dernière pièce là, les conditions de licence, où on parle du 90 jours.
7832 Juste par abondance de clarté, cette condition de préavis de 90 jours porte à la fois sur le contenu linéaire et non-linéaire?
7833 M. BIBIC : C'est exact, Monsieur le Président.
7834 LE PRÉSIDENT : Et ça couvrirait aussi des nouveaux services non-linéaires associés à des services existants linéaires?
7835 M. BIBIC : Précisément, ça s'appliquerait aux services non-linéaires associés aux services linéaires.
7836 LE PRÉSIDENT : Oui. C'est ma question. Donc, oui. O.K.
7837 How do you mesh that 90 days to the mechanism we were talking about of ex ante dispute resolution?
7838 MR. BIBIC: We'll have to come back to you on that because of course the six-month notion that we discussed was with respect to agreements which are about to expire. With a new service you don't have an agreement. So I would like to give that some thought and I think we'll come back to you. I do understand the question.
7839 THE CHAIRPERSON: When could you come back? Because in fairness to those who will be commenting on undertakings, they wouldn't mind seeing the undertakings before -- we can't wait till the final reply.
7840 MR. BIBIC: So when was the due date for interveners?
7841 THE CHAIRPERSON: Wednesday of next week.
7842 MR. BIBIC: So we'll come back Tuesday morning. That would give them two days.
7843 THE CHAIRPERSON: When, 9 o'clock?
7844 MR. BIBIC: Nine a.m.
7845 THE CHAIRPERSON: The last time the morning dragged on quite late into the afternoon.
7846 MR. BIBIC: Actually it dragged -- it was late morning but it was in the morning, and of course my first --
7847 THE CHAIRPERSON: I'm sure it was morning somewhere in Canada.
7848 MR. BIBIC: No, no. No. No. To be fair, we handed them in at around 11:00 a.m., I think, but on Monday morning, I said in the morning, and by the time we finished the day, the list was longer than I had anticipated.
7849 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
7850 MR. BIBIC: But fair enough. No, 9:00 a.m. Tuesday morning for sure.
7851 LE PRÉSIDENT : Donc, heure d'Ottawa.
7852 M. BIBIC : Heure d'Ottawa, absolument, Monsieur le Président.
7853 LE PRÉSIDENT : Très bien. Merci.
7854 C'était, en fait, les deux petites clarifications.
7855 Je vais faire un autre commentaire.
7856 Au paragraphe 33 de votre présentation, vous faites référence à des processus que certains membres avaient été saisis par le passé. Particulièrement, vous faites référence à des processus de médiation.
7857 Comme vous le savez -- je pense qu'il faut le clarifier -- les membres du Conseil qui sont saisis de médiation ont de l'information dans leur cerveau, mais qu'ils amènent jusqu'à leur tombe. Ce n'est pas de l'information qu'on partage.
7858 Donc, de laisser entendre qu'on utilise cette information laisse entendre un comportement. Ce n'était peut-être pas votre intention, mais je voulais juste clarifier publiquement que lorsqu'il y a des médiations, ce n'est pas de l'information que nous utilisons dans n'importe quel autre processus autre que dans le secret du coeur du conseiller qui a peut-être être eu l'information ou accès à l'information.
7859 M. BIBIC : Oui, on est bien conscient que vous respectez les règles. Ce n'était pas l'intention.
7860 LE PRÉSIDENT : C'est ce que j'ai pensé.
7861 Donc, est-ce que vous avez quelque chose à ajouter? Parce que nous, nous n'avions d'autres questions par rapport aux questions que j'ai posées plus tôt. Je veux vous donner l'opportunité de le faire si c'est nécessaire.
7862 M. BIBIC : C'est tout. On apprécie le temps que vous nous avez accordé cette semaine, et merci.
7863 LE PRÉSIDENT : Merci.
7864 Donc, Madame la Secrétaire a quelques annonces à faire, par contre.
7865 LA SECRÉTAIRE : Merci.
7866 Ceci conclut la Phase 3.
7867 For the record, there are also non-appearing applications on the agenda of this public hearing. Interventions were received on some of these applications. The panel will consider these interventions along with the application, and decisions will be rendered at a later date.
7868 Ceci conclut l'ordre du jour pour cette audience. Merci, Monsieur le Président.
7869 LE PRÉSIDENT : Avant de conclure, je tiens toujours à remercier les gens qui rendent tout ça possible, notamment, évidemment, les demandeurs. Je sais qu'il y a des équipes assez importantes, puis c'est très accaparant. Donc, on apprécie la collaboration que nous recevons tout le temps.
7870 Je tiens à remercier aussi les interprètes qui nous aident à bien nous entendre, à la sténographie qui nous aide à nous rappeler ce qu'on dit, et, évidemment, aux techniciens de CPAC qui nous aident à amener ces audiences ici à un auditoire plus large au Canada.
7871 J'aimerais aussi remercier les journalistes, les bloggers, les gens sur Twitter, qui aussi amènent les débats du Conseil à une audience plus large de gens qui ne peuvent pas nécessairement être ici dans la salle.
7872 Je tiens aussi à remercier les intervenants. Nous avons eu, comme j'ai mentionné au tout début, 19 000 interventions à peu près au total.
7873 Ce qui m'amène alors à remercier particulièrement les gens qui s'occupent du secteur des audiences publiques, parce que vous pouvez imaginer, avec toutes les audiences qu'on a faites récemment, ils ont été particulièrement ensevelis de papiers et de documents. Tout les transcrire et les mettre sur le Web, c'est un travail considérable.
7874 Je tiens aussi à remercier le personnel ici. Vous voyez le personnel ici à l'audience publique, mais je peux vous assurer qu'il y a des gens à l'administration centrale et aux bureaux régionaux aussi qui participent à la mise en oeuvre et à l'exécution de ces audiences publiques.
7875 Et, évidemment, je remercie tout particulièrement mes collègues qui ont participé à cette instance.
7876 Donc, merci bien et bonne journée à tous.
--- Whereupon the hearing concluded at 1104
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