ARCHIVED - Transcript, Hearing 17 September 2014
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Volume 8, 17 September 2014
TRANSCRIPTION OF PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE CANADIAN RADIO-TELEVISION AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Let's Talk TV: A Conversation with Canadians
140 Promenade du Portage
17 September 2014
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
Let's Talk TV: A Conversation with Canadians
Joshua DoughertyLegal Counsel
Sheehan CarterHearing Managers
140 Promenade du Portage
17 September 2014
- iv -
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PAGE / PARA
68. Media Access Canada/Access 2020 2700 /16809
69. Mireille Caissy 2727 /16975
70. Cindy Ferguson 2748 /17082
71. Vues & Voix 2755 /17143
72. John Rae 2771 /17250
73. Regroupement des Aveugles et des Amblyopes du Québec2784 /17335
74. Descriptive Video Works 2796 /17428
75. Canadian National Institute for the Blind 2822 /17579
76. Accessible Media Inc. 2830 /17630
77. NAC TV 2865 /17877
78. Quebec English-language Production Council 2874 /17945
79. Sabine Friesinger 2905 /18204
80. Canadian Association of Community Television Users and Stations2911 /18233
81. St. Andrews Community Channel Inc. 2936 /18373
82. The Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services2950 /18475
--- Upon resuming on Wednesday, September 17, 2014 at 0900
16803 LE PRÉSIDENT : À l'ordre, s'il vous plaît.
16804 Good morning, everyone.
16805 Madame la Secrétaire.
16806 THE SECRETARY: Thank you.
16807 We will now start with the presentation of Media Access Canada/Access 2020.
16808 Please introduce yourself and your colleagues and you may begin.
16809 MR. TIBBS: Thank you, Madam Secretary, and good morning.
16810 For the record, my name is Anthony Tibbs, Chairman of the Board of Media Access Canada and also President of the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians.
16811 As you may know, MAC was created by national disability organizations across Canada sharing a common interest in achieving full accessibility for Canadians with a disability across Canada's regulated and unregulated communication systems by 2020.
16812 By working together, either appearing on our panel today or appearing separately later today or tomorrow, the message is clear. Communication needs to be perceivable, operable, understandable and robust. In order to meet these communication needs, the technologies, or ICTs, must themselves meet those criteria, and policies and regulation must be developed that will make this happen.
16813 MAC's cross-disability collaboration has united us as one voice, one message and stimulated others to better communicate the key issues to you. Our message and organizational participation in hearings like this continues to expand to include an ever-growing conglomerate of organizations representing and serving the interests of Canadians with disabilities.
16814 It is my pleasure to introduce some of the strongest leaders in Canada's disability community and MAC's voice today.
16815 To my immediate right is Laurie Alphonse, who is appearing on behalf of Bonnie Brayton, who was unable to attend today. Laurie is the Ontario representative of the Disabled Women's Network. And to her right is Robert Corbeil, Executive Director of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association.
16816 To my immediate left is Gary Saxon, Vice President of the Canadian Council of the Blind, and beside him is Michel David, Regional Director for the Canadian Hearing Society.
16817 In the second row are our subject matter experts. From your left to right is Beverley Milligan, President and CEO of Analysis and Research in Communications, and Chuck Letourneau, President of Starling Access Services.
16818 I will now turn to Robert to begin our presentation.
16819 MR. CORBEIL: Thank you.
16820 Commissioners, Commission staff and members of the audience, good morning. My name is Robert Corbeil. I'm the National Executive Director for the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association.
16821 On behalf of Media Access Canada, we would like to thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today.
16822 Our objective is to boil down our written submission to a few key issues that the Commission may consider in their deliberations following this hearing or follow up with us on any details that might require further explanation.
16823 There are three pillars which are key to achieving full access to Canada's regulated and unregulated broadcasting system. These pillars are content, distribution infrastructure and user interface.
16824 Now, here is the perfect scenario. If all content is both described and captioned, and the distribution infrastructure does not strip the descriptions and captions, and the user interface is able to easily access the descriptions and captions, then Canadians with disabilities have full access to Canada's television system.
16825 Yes, there are many other issues like free versus BDU access and do we really have a disability channel in Canada, but all of that is secondary to those three pillars of access: content, distribution infrastructure and user interface.
16826 If we can get the accessible content to the Canadian television viewer with disabilities seamlessly in both regulated and unregulated distribution environments, then everyone wins.
16827 MS ALPHONSE: So you might ask: How can we achieve this?
16828 Firstly, by avoiding retrofit policy decisions that effectively undo what is working for improved accessibility; second, leverage policy, which effectively ensures access to currently unregulated distribution infrastructure and user interface environments.
16829 So, for example, broadcasters would be expected to ensure that when linear programming that includes DV or CC is broadcast over digital media, the DV and CC is included in the non-linear version.
16830 In the Commission's call for comments there were relevant questions around user interface and we tried to assist them by answering each and every one of them. However, we must note that many of these questions have been asked in previous hearings and the answers remain the same. We have even seen CRTC policy that attempts to address user interface issues, but still nothing has changed. Today we have dedicated Netflix buttons to access content with one click, but no tangible real estate has been given to accessibility -- quite the reverse.
16831 We hope for tangible results from this hearing and respectfully ask the Commission to eliminate the "should" by changing it to "must" in their future policy development; further, that they regulate to ensure set-top boxes are user accessible for Canadians with disabilities and that this regulation spell out -- to the click -- what type of access is expected. Anything less does not work.
16832 MR. SAXON: Cross-media ownership, at one time accepted and logical, was eliminated at the behest of the television industry since they needed to have, at least in their thought, an opportunity to increase their size and power so that they could compete internationally.
16833 Well, they got that, but unfortunately, that is all that has happened so far. They have had the power. They have done nothing with it. Too long has opportunity been listed on paper that says yes, we can move forward and yes, we should do this, but the three interventions that we are asking for, we have not seen yet. There has been absolutely no tangible evidence to make the accessibility community able to enjoy the product.
16834 Too often, as all of us here have agreed it should be done, but it has not been done. The vertical integration has not done what they said they would do. They use every excuse under the sun. It is time for them to walk the talk. It is time for them to step up and live up to their commitments. It is time that the accessible community of Canada be allowed the same opportunity as everyone else. Please do not let us wait to the next licence renewal. Thank you.
16835 MR. DAVID: Bonjour.
16836 Enforcement versus voluntary compliance, regulation versus market forces. When it comes to the three pillars of accessibility, neither voluntary compliance nor market forces policy seem to be effective.
16837 We need clear and enforceable policy to ensure, first, that there is the three pillars of access for Canadians with disabilities, and second, that the access is perceivable, operable, understandable and robust.
16838 How many times have we heard about prohibitive cost or technical obstacles? The cost of providing access to Canadians with disabilities is minuscule relative to the entire industry within a financial and regulatory context. If that were not the case, many incumbents would have lost their licence at renewal time for non-compliance.
16839 To ask that a broadcaster lose their licence due to non-compliance in accessibility would be unreasonable, and yet, accessibility is put on stage and used as a prop, making it a far bigger and costlier issue than it really is.
16840 It is being used as a tool at the negotiation table, rather than a necessary and required service under the Broadcasting Act.
16841 MR. TIBBS: To conclude, Canadians with disabilities ask for full access to any content provided by any licensee, regardless of where it is distributed.
16842 We ask that leverage policy be used to tangibly provide user access to that content on the many devices these vertically integrated companies influence through procurement.
16843 We ask for common sense and enforcement, so that in this review of the many aspects of television, access to the three pillars for accessibility -- content, distribution and user interface devices -- are tangibly improved and not just talked about in committees.
16844 We ask that a timeline for a 100 percent accessible broadcast day be established so that tangible goals are established for that purpose.
16845 On behalf of MAC, thank you. We welcome a discussion with you.
16846 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for being here. Commissioner Dupras will start off with some questions for you.
16847 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Thank you.
16848 Good morning. When we talk about cost, in your submission you talk about the decrease in cost for closed captioning, which went down from $800 in 1992 to $125 in 1995.
16849 What, in your view, are factors that could reduce the costs of producing described video?
16850 MS MILLIGAN: Good morning. There are a couple of factors that could decrease cost in described video. One is stimulating the production industry, having more competition in the production industry.
16851 We discussed this a little bit, I think, at the Astral hearings, whereby if the volume increases, more production is done and the cost comes down.
16852 There is a precedent in what we did with Canada Captioning back in the nineties, which, in fact, translated into this cost reduction.
16853 So it is absolutely key that there be a description production industry similar to that of the content production industry.
16854 The more competition out there, the increase in volume, the increase in demand will simulate that.
16855 Of course, to meet that demand is to educate, and consistent with how it was done for captioning, with demand you begin to educate.
16856 So it all really does boil down to demand, as long as there is the ability to access the three pillars, that is, to be able to access it, so that it gets delivered to the viewer.
16857 Really, the key is the increase in volume.
16858 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: I hear you.
16859 You asked in your presentation today that a timeline for a 100 percent accessible broadcast day be established.
16860 Have you thought of what would be an appropriate amount of time for broadcasters to ramp up to that level?
16861 MS MILLIGAN: I am going to jump in here and say that we have stated previously, and we think it is quite reasonable, that 2020 be a deadline for 100 percent accessibility, and that we work toward that goal.
16862 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Are you aware of the difference in the provision of described video for French-language programming, in comparison to English-language programming?
16863 Do you believe that French broadcasters will face a greater challenge under your proposal to reach 100 percent?
16864 MS MILLIGAN: The difference between French and English is language-based, and the size of language, really, if you get technical in terms of the provision of the ability to provide it.
16865 It takes more words for description in French than it does to describe an English program.
16866 This is true, too, for captioning, which is why we see different captioning standards in English than we do in French.
16867 So, technically, there is absolutely no difference, it is a matter of volume of words, and how many words can we get in there between pauses, in the pausing part of a program, between the audio.
16868 So the challenge is not any different in French or English, you just can't describe as much.
16869 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay. But couldn't it take a bit longer, since there might be less volume?
16870 MS MILLIGAN: I don't think there is any substantial difference in terms of the length of time it would take to describe. If you know your language, you know what --
16871 It could, because there is less -- I mean, you have less time, but, no, I wouldn't think that it would take much longer just because it's French.
16872 Maybe I could ask Robert to comment.
16873 M. CORBEIL : Je vais répondre en français à cette question.
16874 L'Association canadienne des malentendants tient une conférence à chaque année. À l'occasion, on a des conférenciers qui sont en français, d'autres en anglais. Moi, je mettrais au défi de mettre deux personnes spécialisées dans la prise de notes. Les deux vont arriver en même temps.
16875 Alors, c'est vraiment une question de... Comme Bev dit, ça ne fait finalement aucune différence, parce que les deux sont des spécialistes. Les deux vont aussi vite, l'un que l'autre, même s'il y a peut-être plus de mots en français, mais c'est une question de...
16876 CONSEILLER DUPRAS : Mais ce que madame dit, c'est que pour que les prix baissent, il faut qu'il y ait davantage de compétition dans la production de vidéodescription, et si en français il y a moins de canaux, il y a moins de programmes, est-ce que vous pensez qu'au niveau des prix ça peut prendre plus de temps à baisser du côté francophone?
16877 M. CORBEIL : Sur cet aspect-là, c'est certain qu'au niveau anglophone il y a plus de contenu à cause du volume, et caetera. Vous avez raison. Moi, je ne peux pas répondre à cette question, vraiment là. J'ai l'impression que s'il y a du rattrapage, il n'y aura pas grand rattrapage à faire là. Ça va se faire assez rapidement. Peut-être plus tard... Il y nos confrères francophones du Québec qui sont ici. Peut-être qu'ils pourraient ajouter à cet élément de réponse là.
16878 CONSEILLER DUPRAS : O.K.
16879 MS MILLIGAN: I think, too, as we go forward looking at this, we can turn to closed captioning as a precedent. The same issues, effectively, were dealt with and looked at with closed captioning, and I think that, arguably, French captioning was a little bit slower to be implemented, but it got there, and so, too, can description for French.
16880 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: In terms of the amount of time to reach your 100 percent goal, for the French language you wouldn't see a difference.
16881 MS MILLIGAN: We do not.
16882 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay. You alluded to the disappearance of accessible features on set-top boxes, such as the ability to send audio directly to personal stereos.
16883 Moving forward, what are the key accessible features that you believe need to be available on set-top boxes?
16884 MR. TIBBS: There are probably a number of different features, depending on the particular needs of a user. However, the fundamental issue is whether or not people can get access to the content that is being delivered.
16885 In terms of captioning, of course, that means being able to turn those on and off. In terms of descriptive video, that means being able to turn that on or off, as need be, and also having some way of knowing, for example, in program guides and such, which programs actually have descriptive video attached to them.
16886 With respect to set-top boxes in particular, and especially for those who are blind or who have low vision, access to any of those features is currently very lacking altogether. There is just no way to access any of that, any of the guides, any of the menus, even to, for example, record shows with PVRs.
16887 That basic level of access, to even be able to use it, other than to turn it on and change channels, is completely lacking.
16888 I will turn it over to others, if anyone else has something to add.
16889 MR. SAXON: I am totally blind and when I use any kind of device that does not have either a tactile symbol or a described feature to it, I have to depend on either trial and error, which can be extremely frustrating, or I have to rely on someone in the room or in the home with me.
16890 Quite often that takes away from my independence. It doesn't, however, eliminate the fact that I still want to watch a program, I just don't know where it is, and when I do find it, I cannot, necessarily, access it properly.
16891 If you take a look at the -- I'm sorry, the word escapes me -- the thing that you hold in your hand -- the remote, there it is --
16892 MR. SAXON: The remote that you hold in your hand, it probably has a minimum of 15 to 21 buttons. What does each one do if it doesn't speak to me? How do I know?
16893 My wife will tell me, for example: Don't touch anything but the big one, because that will turn the set on and off. Otherwise, I am going to spend five minutes trying to figure out what you did before I can get the TV back to where it was.
16894 If I had the availability, with a click, of having everything spoken to me, it would make it so much easier.
16895 On my computer, for example, I use a speech-reader package, which means that anything that is in text is artificially replicated back to me through artificial intelligence.
16896 That allows me to act very, very independently, and in some cases too much so, because I tend to be a little wordy.
16897 Thank you.
16898 MR. DAVID: I would like to add a couple of things. First of all, there is information at the back of our presentation today which will, hopefully, be of interest to you and will help answer this question.
16899 However, I would like to jump on what Gary said. My biggest frustration is remote controls.
16900 I remember when captioning first came out, in 1980. Wow, it was fantastic. But still today, about 30 years later, I still can't find the button to turn on the captions.
16901 Those remote controls can be so frustrating.
16902 Sometimes you have to go to the setting on a TV and do, like -- how many clicks?
16903 You would have fun -- 10, 20 clicks before you get the captioning function where you want it.
16904 That is not access.
16905 MS MILLIGAN: I would also like to point out that this speaks a little bit to the service of retrofit. We mentioned in the speech that there used to be some real estate on that remote. You know, it was one click and it initialized your captioning, and now we have captioning and description, but these have disappeared.
16906 So not only is it not tactile, but --
16907 We represent, I think, as a population, the combined population of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and -- what is the third one?
16908 We are a sizeable audience. We are distributed across the country. We represent currently, by the last report of Statistics Canada, upwards of 15 percent of the population who have self-identified. Why can't we get one click on the remote? We did at one time have it.
16909 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Are you aware that such technology exists today?
16910 MS MILLIGAN: Well, it used to exist, so I would imagine that it exists today.
16911 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: With customer service, what are the problems? What improvements would you seek?
16912 MR. SAXON: Customer service. Is there such a thing?
16913 First of all, when I was here in front of the Commission talking about a cellular package, I mentioned the fact that I had gone to a Rogers store and I had purchased an iPhone. In speaking with the individual, I asked how I could access the Siri function.
16914 This was a number of years ago.
16915 The individual that I dealt with didn't have a clue. He knew how to do everything with the phone using touch, but he didn't have any indication whatsoever in dealing with accessibility items.
16916 When I pass my phone to someone who has sight, someone who has an iPhone, they do this, that and the other, and they go: How come it doesn't work?
16917 Because once Siri has been activated, in my case, the instructions are different on how to manipulate your way around the touch screen.
16918 That is not expressed by my local customer relations individual. They don't know.
16919 One of the things that I suggested needed to be done was to have each of these vertically integrated operators put together a fund and formulate a group of accessible experts who could be reached with almost any problem by dialling 1-whatever.
16920 As opposed to trying to train an individual for every store, if you had a main source that people could go to, we would be able to access the information and get it from someone who has been where we are.
16921 Thank you.
16922 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Those are my questions, unless you want to add something.
16923 MR. LETOURNEAU: I would like to add a comment to your question about the availability of technology.
16924 The major companies have a huge amount of power, which they are not necessarily aware of, through their standard procurement processes, to ask the manufacturers for what they want. If they do not ask for accessible technology, the manufacturers will not provide it.
16925 There is a framework called "Accessible Procurement", which is the law in the United States federal government, and now the Ontario provincial government, requiring those designated organizations to always consider accessible technology when doing any electronic and information technology purchasing.
16926 In the United States it's called section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, in Ontario it is, I think, item 5 or 15 of the Integrated Accessibility Standards.
16927 There is a lot of expertise and a lot of framework out there for major companies to be told what they need to ask the manufacturers for when they are acquiring technologies.
16928 In the United States it was realized that the market forces would not, on their own, generate accessible technology. So the U.S. government said: Okay, we will only buy accessible technology. If you want to sell to our $20 billion a year IT market, you will provide us with accessible technology.
16929 And it has worked. It has been very successful.
16930 Ontario decided to do the same thing.
16931 There is no reason why any company cannot do accessible procurement. It is just adding clauses that specify accessibility to their procurement. Then the manufacturers, if they want to sell, will do so.
16932 It is the people with the money who have to ask for what we want, because us asking for it just hasn't worked.
16933 Thank you.
16934 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Thank you.
16935 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner Simpson.
16936 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: I would just like to ask one question. Going back to the very beginning of your submission this morning, you said that voluntary compliance has not worked and market forces haven't worked. So, in a nutshell, what, in your mind, would work?
16937 Would it be heavier regulation, in a nutshell?
16938 MR. TIBBS: In a nutshell, yes.
16939 Whether it is in the form of regulation, whether it is in the form of a policy, whether it is done through the licensing process, it doesn't really matter the form that it takes, so much as it puts some onus on the major distributors of content to actually implement and address these accessibility issues.
16940 One of the documents that the Commission released last week mentioned that accessible products should be procured where they are available, but the issue is that they are not going to become available unless there is some real impetus for the producers of that technology to include accessibility features and address these issues.
16941 So making it an overall goal or objective to increase accessibility, practically speaking, won't happen until there is a requirement to increase accessibility.
16942 MR. DAVID: We submitted something to you in June, and at paragraph 52, clauses 1 to 7 state exactly what Mr. Letourneau was saying. We are not asking for huge technology expenses, we are asking for broadcasters to leverage their power. When they buy services from someone else, whether it is a remote control, whether it is captioning from another supplier -- whatever -- they ask that it be accessible.
16943 There is no reason they can't do this. There is no reason why you should have to force them to do this.
16944 Why have we had to wait so long for them to step up and say, "Yes, we will do what we need to do"?
16945 Why do they need to be scared into action because you are going to fine them, or because you are going to give them a deadline?
16946 That's ridiculous.
16947 It has been a long time coming, and it needs to come soon.
16948 MS MILLIGAN: I think, in a sentence, 100 percent accessible by 2020, we will see these things happen.
16949 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay. Thank you.
16950 THE CHAIRPERSON: Perhaps I might ask you for your perspective on a single issue -- and this brings us to a higher level of discussion -- about what a regulator can and can't do within the legislative constraints that sometimes we have.
16951 Certainly, in the toolbox we have, we sometimes hint. Then we nudge. Then we expect. And then, ultimately, we require by a condition of licence, or by regulation, if required.
16952 But the next step, which is sort of needed for those requirements to have life, is some sort of enforcement regime, and it seems to me -- and tell me if you agree or not -- that our enforcement regime under the Broadcasting Act is actually quite a blunt instrument, in the sense that we almost have to go nuclear right away, by removing licences.
16953 Of course, then you are in an awkward situation of removing the service entirely, to 100 percent of the population, because an important part of the sub-population isn't getting the quality of service they are asking for.
16954 I was wondering if you have approached politicians across the river -- they seem quite interested in our hearing, they keep commenting on it -- about the Commission's enforcement tools.
16955 Back in December of 2013, Minister Moore stated that it was his intention, or the government's intention, to introduce administrative monetary penalties under the Telecommunications Act.
16956 I haven't seen legislation introduced on that yet, but I guess we remain hopeful.
16957 But I've seen no similar statements under the Broadcasting Act. You're an important audience, but you're also an important voter group.
16958 Have you not thought that maybe there's a need for having a more robust enforcement regime in broadcasting?
16959 MR. TIBBS: Certainly that's always something that can be worked on. Of course, it rather depends on whether the political will is there to do it in terms of expanding either the scope of what the Commission is regulating or, as you're pointing out, giving the Commission other tools besides refusing a licence application altogether in circumstances where making it a condition of licence will either make it a all-or-nothing game.
16960 And, of course, most improvement and accessibility developments that we see necessarily are incremental processes, that over time it gradually gets better, and what we might see is improvements in one area that don't necessarily solve all the problems.
16961 The issue of whether it's an all-or-nothing game is certainly a problem, and one that we can take back to our respective organizations as well and see if there's anything that we can do to address it. But, at the same time, if the Commission has so far hinted as to accessibility, maybe we need to move to the nudging or the expecting level to at least get us further along that road with the tools that we currently have.
16962 Saying that there's nothing more that we can do at this point because the only option left is to deny a licence for a broadcaster that doesn't meet 100 per cent of the accessibility requirements, if we wait until we can get to that day we may never get there in the first place.
16963 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
16964 MS MILLIGAN: Media Access Canada has -- I used to, as you may or may not know, be the CEO of Media Access Canada, and, to that end, I have a little bit of legacy in terms of what we did while I was in that role.
16965 One of the greatest frustrations that we communicated to anybody that would listen at the federal level in government was this frustration that the only power, that is to say the only enforcement tool that the Commission has is to sort of not renew a licence, and that simply is not working.
16966 If the Commission had had better enforcement tools, in fact, we probably would be a lot further ahead, because, as we stated in our speech today, it's not reasonable to remove a licence because somebody doesn't comply to accessibility. Accessibility is small in the whole broadcasting scheme. So right there it simply isn't working, and that the Commission, in fact, does need more enforcement tools, and the ability to enforce in a way beyond the current way it enforces.
16967 We have communicated that. Can we communicate that more clearly? Absolutely. Should we? Absolutely. We would, I believe, support that because we're asking for that today in this presentation: that enforcement of accessibility occur, but that licence renewals -- you know, removing of a licence is not reasonable.
16968 So it's a huge frustration for Canadians with disabilities and I would ask anybody to take that to their government and talk about it.
16969 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Well, thank you. Fair enough. I mean you've made your case loud and clear, and we appreciate it. We, however, can only -- we only have the tools in our toolkit that we currently have, but it doesn't mean that your points are well taken.
16970 So thank you very much, all of you, for participating.
16971 MS MILLIGAN: Thank you.
16972 LE PRÉSIDENT : Madame la Secrétaire.
16973 LA SECRÉTAIRE : Merci.
16974 J'inviterais maintenant madame Mireille Caissy à venir à la table en avant.
16975 MME CAISSY : Bonjour à tous.
16976 Si nous sommes ici aujourd'hui, c'est que nous jugeons que les personnes sourdes et malentendantes doivent se faire entendre pour l'avenir de la télévision au Canada. Il est important de comprendre que nous avons droit à l'accessibilité du contenu télévisuel, peu importe où il est distribué et nous avons droit à la qualité.
16977 Nous voulons profiter de cette tribune, « Parlons télé », pour nous faire entendre. Nous ne voulons pas encore rester en queue de peloton.
16978 Mon nom est Mireille Caissy. Je ne représente aucun groupe ou organisme présentement. Cependant, j'ai un groupe sur Facebook où il y a plus de 100 personnes.
16979 Et j'ai avec moi monsieur Daniel Morel, qui est le président de l'Association des Devenus Sourds et des Malentendants du Québec, association qui me donne son appui. Vous avez les lettres avec vous.
16980 Il avait préparé une présentation, mais on vient de lui dire qu'il ne pourra pas parler, puis c'est seulement moi. Vous pouvez lui poser des questions par la suite.
16981 Personnellement, le sous-titrage me tient à coeur depuis ses débuts, depuis plus de 30 ans. J'ai travaillé avec l'Agence canadienne de développement du sous-titrage et j'ai aidé à mettre sur pied, avec l'ACDS, le Regroupement québécois pour le sous-titrage. J'ai été présidente de cet organisme pendant plusieurs années, jusqu'à sa dissolution, parce que ça n'existe plus aujourd'hui.
16982 On pensait tous qu'avec 100 pour cent de sous-titrage à la télévision et les normes de qualité que les choses allaient s'améliorer pour nous, mais on est toujours en train de constater qu'avec la piètre qualité du sous-titrage, on a encore peu accès à l'information télévisuelle. Quand on pense à comment c'est appliqué aujourd'hui, on est en droit de se demander qu'est-ce que ça va être pour le futur, avec l'arrivée de plusieurs nouvelles plateformes, vu que présentement les télédiffuseurs ne sont pas capables encore de respecter les normes de qualité à la télévision conventionnelle.
16983 Être sourd ou malentendant quand on regarde le sous-titrage à la télévision, c'est quelque chose de très, très frustrant depuis longtemps. Pour vous imaginez un peu, il faut que vous pensiez justement pour nous autres le sous-titrage et pour vous autres le son. Donc, l'image est parfaite, mais là, au niveau du son, vous avez des résumés, vous avez des choses parfois qui sont mal traduites, vous avez du grésillage. Ça finit toujours que vous avez un très faible pour cent que vous recevez pour votre compréhension. Ça, c'est ce qu'on vit, nous autres, à tous les jours.
16984 Dans le moment, on parle de 85 pour cent d'intelligibilité ou qualité du français. Il y a certains télédiffuseurs qui se vantent de faire 90 pour cent avec un savant calcul. Nous autres, quand on regarde le sous-titrage en direct, on se dit, si c'est à 85 pour cent d'intelligibilité, pourquoi je ne comprends rien? C'est toujours la question qu'on se pose. C'est beau de nous lancer des pourcentages puis de nous expliquer comment ils font leur calcul, mais si on ne comprend pas, ça ne donne rien.
16985 Le but de notre intervention, c'est surtout pour vous dire qu'on a vraiment besoin... Le Regroupement pour le sous-titrage n'existe plus. On a besoin de remettre sur pied un vrai comité d'usagers, un comité d'usagers qui voient le sous-titrage à tous les jours, qui peut donner un feedback aux télédiffuseurs puis travailler avec eux pour améliorer les choses.
16986 Un comité comme ça doit être indépendant de tout organisme pour pouvoir s'exprimer librement sans avoir toujours des justifications de tout le monde.
16987 Ici, présentement, il y a des groupes de travail, mais dans les groupes de travail, il n'y a aucune personne sourde qui est vraiment représentée. Le Centre québécois de déficience auditive représente des organismes, ne représente pas des individus.
16988 Pour nous autres, il est temps qu'on soit entendu réellement. Pour financer ce comité-là, le CRTC peut exiger des montants d'argent qui peuvent être donnés par les télédiffuseurs. On pourrait établir une structure de surveillance efficace.
16989 Dans les recommandations des normes de qualité, il y avait déjà ça qui était là puis c'est encore là. Actuellement, il n'y a absolument aucune surveillance qui est faite de la part des télédiffuseurs. Je vais vous en parler par la suite, quand je vais vous parler des plaintes.
16990 Ce n'est pas un travail qui peut être fait bénévolement, il faut oublier ça, là. Il n'y a aucun organisme présentement au Québec qui peut le faire parce que c'est toujours comme un dossier d'abord, et caetera, ça fait que ce n'est pas un travail qui peut être fait bénévolement.
16991 Il faut penser vraiment à une structure de financement et je sais que c'est possible de le faire.
16992 Je répète que c'est nécessaire d'avoir un comité des usagers qui vont travailler vraiment avec les télédiffuseurs parce que, présentement, c'est en train de virer souvent en guerre ouverte avec les télédiffuseurs. Qui a raison, qui aurait tard, puis ce n'est pas ça qu'on veut. On veut améliorer la situation.
16993 Présentement, la structure de communication, c'est le système de plaintes.
16994 Vous pouvez voir dans le mémoire que j'ai envoyé auparavant au CRTC que le système de plaintes actuellement, il ne fonctionne pas du tout.
16995 La plupart des personnes sourdes ou malentendantes ne vont pas faire de plainte parce que quand ils vont sur le site web, il y a quatre cinq formulaires à remplir, c'est long, c'est fastidieux. Il faut prendre le temps de le faire.
16996 Quand on reçoit la première réponse, la plupart du temps, on va nous dire : Avez-vous communiqué avec le télédiffuseur? C'est compliqué communiquer avec les télédiffuseurs parce qu'il faut aller sur le site web, trouver un numéro de téléphone, trouver une adresse de courriel puis, ça, la plupart du temps c'est pour rejoindre tous les services à l'auditoire.
16997 Ça fait que si on envoie un courriel, la personne qui le reçoit ne sait pas toujours à qui le donner, donc on n'a pas toujours de réponse.
16998 Quand on a une réponse, la plupart du temps on nous dit : Ah! oui, on va y voir, sauf que le problème ne se règle pas. Ça fait qu'on finit par faire une plainte au CRTC.
16999 Quand on fait une plainte au CRTC, ils ont 20 jours pour répondre. Quand on reçoit les réponses, parce que j'en ai fait plusieurs depuis... depuis un bon bout de temps, la plupart du temps, quand on reçoit les lettres des télédiffuseurs, ils font tout pour nous discréditer. Ils font tout pour nous humilier puis nous manipuler pour pas qu'on fasse de plainte.
17000 Moi, j'ai eu des invitations des télédiffuseurs pour qu'ils m'expliquent comment ils faisaient parce que c'est tellement difficile pour comprendre. Moi, je n'en veux plus de ça parce que ça ne donne rien puis ça n'améliore pas le produit.
17001 Présentement, justement, quand on essaie de contacter les télédiffuseurs, il n'y a pas de numéro, on n'a pas de numéro de téléphone, on n'a pas rien pour les contacter. Il n'y a pas de liste pour ça.
17002 Présentement, quand on reçoit des réponses, la plupart du temps aussi on va nous dire que c'est notre téléviseur. Si c'est le télédiffuseur avec le développement technologique qu'il y a présentement, le HD, et caetera, on a un gros problème.
17003 Ça veut dire qu'au niveau des technologies il y a des choses qui ne marchent pas bien puis, bon, si c'est notre téléviseur, il y a un problème.
17004 Quand on nous dit que c'est le distributeur de signal, comme Vidéotron ou Bell ou quelque chose comme ça, on a aucun moyen de savoir vraiment si c'est ça.
17005 Si on contacte le distributeur comme Vidéotron, la plupart du temps ils vont nous référer à un technicien. Lui, il va nous aider à ouvrir le sous-titrage, mais il ne sait pas du tout pourquoi il y a un problème.
17006 Eux autres, leur affaire, c'est de passer un signal. Il y a un problème au niveau du signal, mais personne ne sait vraiment c'est quoi.
17007 La plupart des télédiffuseurs quand on signale quelque chose qui est plus technique, ils vont nous dire que : Ah! on ne peut rien y faire. Il n'y a pas d'amélioration.
17008 Sauf que beaucoup des plaintes que j'ai fait, ça n'a pas rapport nécessairement avec les techniques, mais c'est plus en rapport avec comment le sous-titrage est fait.
17009 Il y a eu des plaintes que j'ai fait où le fichier du sous-titrage a été émis, c'était l'émission précédente, donc, ça, on ne peut pas blâmer Vidéotron ou qui que ce soit, c'est quelqu'un qui n'a pas bien fait sa job.
17010 Ça arrive encore trop souvent, malgré que c'est supposé être 100 pour cent de sous-titrage, qu'il y a des émissions qui ne sont pas sous-titrées.
17011 Quand on contacte le télédiffuseur, il nous dit : Ah! on s'excuse, il y a eu un problème, la prochaine va l'être puis on attend encore le sous-titrage finalement qui n'arrive pas.
17012 Ça fait qu'on peut voir qu'au niveau des plaintes, ce n'est pas vraiment la meilleure façon pour qu'il se passe quelque chose puis qu'il y ait vraiment de l'amélioration.
17013 Vous pouvez voir justement dans mon mémoire, j'ai expliqué plusieurs problèmes puis plusieurs plaintes.
17014 Il faut comprendre que le sous-titrage, il faut qu'il soit accessible partout. Il y a... de plus en plus la télévision est faite ailleurs. Netflix, le Club Vidéotron qui n'est pas un télédiffuseur, différentes choses, il faut que ça soit sous-titré ça aussi. Présentement, en français ça ne l'est pas.
17015 Il faut prévoir justement les autres plateformes, le téléphone, l'Internet, ça commence un peu en français avec ToutTV Radio-Canada, mais c'est encore un faible pourcentage qui est accessible par le sous-titrage.
17016 Est-ce que nous allons devoir nous mobiliser? Il y a des voies légales qui peuvent être faites au niveau de la Protection du consommateur, les Droits de la personne. Il va falloir faire quelque chose si on ne peut pas justement agir, si on ne peut pas avoir un comité.
17017 Il y a des voies légales qu'on peut utiliser pour avoir justement ce à quoi on a droit, parce que c'est un droit l'accès à la télévision au Canada.
17018 Alors, j'espère qu'on va finalement se faire entendre parce que ça fait 30 ans et on est en droit d'attendre une télévision de qualité au Canada.
17019 Merci de votre attention.
17020 LE PRÉSIDENT: Merci beaucoup, madame.
17021 Monsieur Morel, vous êtes en accord avec les points de vue de madame Caissy, j'imagine?
17022 M. MOREL: Bonjour, merci. Écoutez, moi, je tiens à dire, je suis ici premièrement pour représenter un groupe de malentendants. Je suis moi-même implanté cochléaire et malentendant devenu sourd.
17023 Je suis essentiellement dépendant du sous-titrage depuis une bonne quinzaine d'années, ce qui fait que je suis le premier consommateur moi-même et je suis tout à fait en accord avec les revendications qui sont ici présentement.
17024 C'est-à-dire que, d'une part, je reconnais que l'accessibilité au sous-titrage s'est grandement améliorée dans les 15 dernières années et je pense que le CRTC a définitivement un rôle à jouer là-dedans. Merci.
17025 Par contre, pour ce qui est de la qualité du sous-titrage qui fait qu'on peut suivre une émission, il y a définitivement des manques au niveau de la qualité puis je pense que c'est à ce niveau-là qu'il faut reconnaître que la cible n'est pas atteinte.
17026 Comment y arriver? Je crois effectivement qu'un groupe d'usagers malentendants qui pourrait jouer un rôle actif dans... pour soulever les problématiques de ce que nous autres nous consommons comme sous-titrage, pour recréer une dynamique avec les diffuseurs qui serait intéressante et bénéfique pour tout le monde.
17027 C'est clair pour moi que le mécanisme de plainte est tout à fait inadéquat. Je peux vous donner un exemple typique.
17028 Je regarde les nouvelles en direct. On commence par une présentation avec l'animateur qui est dans le bureau, on passe à un reportage. Le sous-titrage ne suit pas. Il y a des décalages, il manque des bouts. On revient. Ça saute. Il y a des erreurs dans les noms; impossible de suivre la nouvelle.
17029 Qu'est-ce que vous voulez que je rapporte comme plainte? À tel canal, telle heure, telle personne et je n'ai pas pu suivre la nouvelle? La minute d'après c'est une autre nouvelle, ça recommence.
17030 Les nouvelles en direct, vous ferez l'exercice, c'est pratiquement impossible de prendre plus que 50 pour cent de ce qui se dit. On en manque définitivement des bouts.
17031 Ça fait que qu'est-ce qu'on peut faire comme mécanisme de plainte dans un contexte comme ça? Ça devient comme un petit peu rébarbatif et difficile parce qu'on ne sait pas quoi faire avec ça puis, de toute façon, la réponse qu'on va recevoir risque d'être décevante.
17032 LE PRÉSIDENT: D'accord. Bon. Premièrement, madame, je voulais vous féliciter parce que vous avez présenté vraiment un très bon dossier, tout à fait bien étoffé et puis vous avez identifié les problèmes puis les défis, particulièrement dans le marché francophone.
17033 Et vous êtes allée un peu plus loin, contrairement à beaucoup d'autres participants dans notre audience, en proposant des solutions concrètes. Donc, on en prend bonne note, mais j'ai quand même quelques petites questions.
17034 Vous avez mentionné que le sujet vous tient à coeur depuis 30 ans. Je me demandais si vous avez quand même vu des améliorations?
17035 MME CAISSY: Oui, on a vu des améliorations, mais c'est justement, depuis deux ans, on a des normes de qualité. Bon, admettons qu'on s'attendait quand même à un peu mieux ici comme...
17036 Bon, on s'est mis à surveiller davantage ce qui se passait. Comme monsieur Morel peut dire, le sous-titrage en direct est un problème bien souvent. Moi, je regarde ça, par exemple, avec une personne qui entend.
17037 Présentement, le sous-titrage en direct, ce n'est pas du sous-titrage en direct, ce n'est pas du sous-titrage en direct, c'est des résumés puis j'aurais... Mais je me dis, bon, si un jour on fait des résumés, je n'ai rien contre ça, mais il faudrait qu'on décide c'est quoi qui est bon vraiment. C'est comme c'est important qu'on ait quand même toute l'information.
17038 Oui, il y a eu des améliorations, oui, sauf qu'il y a encore tellement de problèmes puis, nous autres, c'est vraiment notre vie quotidienne.
17039 Quand on parle des informations, moi, je suis rendue que je regarde les informations, quand je le regarde à la télévision, je vais attendre à 22h00 parce que ça leur donne le temps un peu de corriger les affaires. Mais plus de bonne heure on le regarde puis plus c'est vraiment en direct puis plus il va y avoir des problèmes.
17040 Ça fait que, oui, il y a des améliorations, mais il y a le fait qu'il y a certains télédiffuseurs, parce que j'ai été impliquée dans le développement autant autrefois à Radio-Canada puis aussi pour ce que le CREM a développé puis le sous-titrage en direct pour TVA, c'est...
17041 Il y a des diffuseurs aujourd'hui qui font du direct avec des logiciels qui ne sont pas faits pour ça. On ne les nommera pas, sauf que c'est sûr qu'ils ont des problèmes. Le logiciel n'est pas fait pour ça. Donc, ils doivent faire énormément d'adaptation pour donner un bon produit.
17042 Un logiciel qui est adapté pour ça c'est quand même un peu plus facile de faire certains ajustements, mais, justement, ça fait qu'on parle à ce télédiffuseur-là qui dit : Ah! bien, les autres, ils ont les logiciels qu'il faut. Bien, pourquoi vous ne l'avez pas. Il y a toute une historique avec eux autres.
17043 Mais, oui, il y a de l'amélioration. Mais nous autres, ce qu'on était content surtout depuis, bon, 2008, 2009, 2010, parce que ça a été alors, c'est d'avoir justement plus de sous-titrage à tous les postes. Maintenant, on sait que certains comme sur le câble, bien, Vidéotron, il y a MaTV, on le sait qu'ils ne sont pas équipés pour faire le direct, mais ils font un effort. Quand quelque chose est en direct, la rediffusion va être sous-titrée.
17044 Ça fait que, oui, il y a une amélioration, oui, il y a des affaires qui sont faites.
17045 Mais comme je disais, puis je trouve ça important, ça prend vraiment une structure quelconque pour la surveillance. Ça prend une structure pour faire un lien entre tout ça puis chercher les problèmes.
17046 Quand on se fait répondre par un télédiffuseur, ça peut être votre TV, ça peut être Vidéotron, ça peut être... on ne le sait pas nous autres puis il n'y a pas personne qui va aller chercher il est où le problème, il vient d'où. Donc, le problème ne se règle pas.
17047 Il y a bien du monde qui m'ont dit dernièrement : Ah! moi, j'ai une TV-HD, mais, bon... Il y en a un qui m'a dit : Moi, je n'ai pas le câble, je n'ai pas ci, j'ai des antennes puis je pogne avec ça.
17048 Puis le sous-titrage? Ah! le sous-titrage, il est bon parce qu'il ne passe pas par eux autres. Il dit : Oui, il est bon, mais les plaintes qu'on fait ne sont pas seulement pour des problèmes techniques. Quand on parle de qualité du sous-titrage, on parle de comment c'est fait aussi.
17049 En différé, il y a des fautes de français, il y a des mauvais choix. J'en avais parlé à un monsieur, qu'on l'avait rencontré, il y a des mauvais choix d'homonymes. Au son ça peut... ouais, c'est ça. Des fois on nous parle de « gente féminine » puis on l'écrit J-A-N-T-E. Ça, c'est pour les roues, tu sais, bon, on est loin de la gente féminine.
17050 Donc, c'est des exemples comme ça, mais ça enlève à notre compréhension. Ça fait que c'est tout un ensemble de choses qu'il faudrait revoir.
17051 C'est comme quand on parle des sons d'ambiance, quand on parle de la musique, moi, si on me donne de la musique puis qu'on me donne le titre, puis qu'on me donne l'auteur ou le chanteur, ça ne me donne strictement rien. Je ne la connais pas la chanson puis je ne l'entends pas. Je n'ai pas d'appareil, puis bon...
17052 Moi, la musique, il faut qu'on me dise que c'est de la musique douce, c'est de la musique triste, c'est quoi le genre de musique, c'est quoi qu'elle crée comme ambiance sonore. C'est ça qui est important pour la musique. Si on ne peut pas le sous-titrer, au moins me dire c'est quel genre de musique.
17053 Dans le moment, je ne sais pas si c'est une norme, mais, bon, les télédiffuseurs, ils ont décidé que les chansons en anglais ne sont pas sous-titrées quand c'est en français, c'est en français. En anglais, c'est un peu la même chose quand c'est en français. Puis on est dans un pays bilingue, ça m'achale toujours un peu parce qu'il me semble qu'on devrait pouvoir le faire, c'est comme...
17054 Moi, ça m'achale toujours un peu comme "speaking french", « anglais ». Moi, je suis capable de le lire « anglais ». Ça fait que pourquoi il n'y a pas personne qui est capable de le sous-titrer pour que je le lire.
17055 Il y a des choses comme ça, comme pour vous autres, vous dites : Ouais, c'est correct. Bon, les compagnies, il n'y a pas toujours quelqu'un qui peut le faire. Je comprends, mais si j'entendais, j'aurais accès à ça.
17056 Ça fait que c'est plein de choses comme ça qu'il faut penser que, bon, on est sourd, on est malentendant, mais si on ne l'était pas, c'est ça qu'on aurait, ce n'est plus la même chose, comme moi je veux lire à l'écran.
17057 LE PRÉSIDENT: Oui, je vous comprends. Je me rappelle bien quand j'étais jeune, curieusement, dans la « Mélodie du bonheur » Julie Andrews ne chantait qu'en... même si elle parlait en français, ne chantait qu'en anglais et puis... même chose dans « Mary Poppins ».
17058 Vous soulevez un paradoxe. Nous avons, je crois, plus de quantité de sous-titrage, mais la qualité laisse à désirer.
17059 Est-ce qu'on devrait peut-être envisager de soit réduire la quantité, puis je pense que vous allez dire non, mais peut-être mettre nos efforts, notre priorité sur certains types de programmation?
17060 Je vous pose parce que vous l'avez mentionné à quelques reprises que les nouvelles, les informations, vous tiennent particulièrement à coeur.
17061 Est-ce qu'on pourrait peut-être envisager attaquer ce problème-là en premier pour, justement, traiter du fait qu'on a beaucoup plus de quantité, mais la quantité dans son ensemble peut-être laisse à désirer?
17062 MME CAISSY: Moi, je ne suis pas prête à dire qu'il faut réduire le sous-titrage. Il y a beaucoup beaucoup de personnes, soit des malentendants qui regardent toutes les informations parce que, justement, ils n'ont pas suffisamment d'information. Parfois, ils trouvent que ça va trop vite pour la vitesse de lecture.
17063 Moi, je me dis, si on ne peut pas... on ne peut pas. C'est comme présentement on est supposé d'être à 100 pour cent de la programmation, il faut laisser le choix aux gens. On ne peut pas faire ça, c'est comme...
17064 Monsieur Morel, par exemple, c'est un amateur de sports, il est bien content qu'il y ait du sous-titrage pour les sports. Moi, je m'en fous; je ne regarde pas les émissions sportives.
17065 Mais, justement, on ne peut pas faire des choix comme ça parce qu'il faut que la majorité des gens aient accès à ce qui les intéresse finalement.
17066 LE PRÉSIDENT: Ma dernière question. J'ai pris bonne note de votre désir, surtout pour les services en ligne, des services par voie de contournement, qu'eux aussi offrent du sous-titrage.
17067 Dans notre Document de travail, au paragraphe 22, on a mentionné une idée qui nécessiterait que les radiodiffuseurs, on s'attendrait à ce qu'ils mettent, lorsqu'il y a du sous-titrage dans leur programmation linéaire, qu'ils seraient obligés de s'assurer que ce sous-titrage-là se retrouve sur les plateformes non linéaires.
17068 Est-ce que vous avez un point de vue? Est-ce que c'est suffisant? Est-ce que c'est dans la bonne direction? Est-ce que ça traite en partie de votre préoccupation?
17069 MME CAISSY: Ce n'est pas suffisant. Moi, je suis bien d'accord qu'il faut que ça... le sous-titrage suive au niveau des nouvelles plateformes, mais ça ne réglera pas tous les problèmes qu'on vit actuellement.
17070 Puis comme tout à l'heure je disais, bon, on ne sait pas justement, comment on fait pour appliquer les normes puis que les télédiffuseurs le font vraiment, parce que la plupart des télédiffuseurs avec qui moi j'ai eu des contacts, ne sont pas toujours...
17071 Il faut toujours qu'on leur torde le bras pour faire quelque chose ou qu'ils en tirent un profit ou un... Moi, c'est toujours l'affaire.
17072 Non, je ne suis pas d'accord à ce qu'on leur enlève leur licence ou qu'on suspende leur licence quand tu ne suis pas les normes, mais qu'il y ait une structure quelconque qui permette qu'on puisse les contacter et qu'on puisse travailler avec eux autres justement pour essayer d'améliorer les choses.
17073 Moi, si on fait juste dire : Ah! oui, les prochaines plateformes, on va sous-titrer, mais, bon, la qualité va suivre, puis ça ne sera pas meilleur.
17074 LE PRÉSIDENT: Hum. Mais je vous entends très bien. Ça fait que vous n'avez pas pu entendre directement la chanson d'Ariane Moffat, mais les paroles dans sa chanson, je vous entends dire : « Je veux tout, tout de suite et ici. »
17075 MME CAISSY: (hors micro)
17076 LE PRÉSIDENT: D'accord.
17077 MME CAISSY: Ce n'est pas parce que je veux tout, mais j'aimerais bien avoir accès à un sous-titrage de qualité.
17078 LE PRÉSIDENT: Je vous comprends très bien, madame. Merci beaucoup pour avoir participé à notre audience. Merci.
17079 Madame la secrétaire.
17080 LA SECRÉTAIRE: Merci.
17081 We will now hear the presentation of madam Cindy Ferguson.
17082 MS FERGUSON: Good morning. I am Cindy Ferguson. I am here as an individual, one of thousands of blind and visual impaired Canadians.
17083 I understand the purpose of this proceeding is to determine how best to provide all Canadians with a wide range of television programming reflecting Canadian attitudes, opinions, ideas, values and creativity and to ensure television service meets the needs and interest of all Canadians.
17084 This panel has, and will hear, a number of presentations focusing on how programming should be structured, should be delivered and should be remunerated. This panel has and will hear how programming should be accessible to all Canadians, cognizant of culture, race, gender, age, sex, sexual orientation and ability.
17085 I ask you to draw your attention away, temporarily, from the television industry, the 60,000 people employed in the industry, the viewers, the programming services, BDUs, the production sector and consider what television provides to Canadians.
17086 Television entertains us, informs us, teaches us, and amuses us.
17087 Television also has the ability to ensure our safety.
17088 Emergency alert bulletins warn Canadians of imminent or unfolding dangers, such as tornadoes, wildfires, and hazardous chemical spills.
17089 Knowledge of potential weather and safety concerns allows Canadians to take any appropriate actions, or precautions, to protect themselves, their homes, their families, and their communities.
17090 Unfortunately, blind and visually-impaired Canadians cannot access emergency alert bulletins delivered as scrolling text and, therefore, are not able to take any necessary actions, or precautions, to protect themselves, their families, their homes, and their communities.
17091 Imagine, for a moment, you are a visually-impaired Canadian. It's a hot summer early evening. The air is still. The birds have stopped singing. You step outside but, of course, you cannot see the changes in the sky. You turn on the local news channel, or The Weather Channel, and you hear that familiar audio alert that an emergency alert has been issued. You know the alert text message is scrolling across the bottom of the screen, but you have no idea what it says.
17092 Is it directed at your community, or another community within your local television station's broadcast area? Is it a weather emergency? Is there a chemical spill? Is a tornado approaching? Do you need to take action to protect yourself, or your home? Do you need to find a safe place within your home? Or do you need to evacuate your home?
17093 The Canadian Human Rights Act ensures that all individuals have an opportunity equal to their peers to make for themselves the lives that they are able, and wish, to have and to have their needs accommodated without discrimination.
17094 The Act states it is a discriminatory practice in the provision of goods and services customarily available to the general public to deny access to these goods and services.
17095 Emergency alert bulletins appearing as text scrolls on a television screen are not accessible to blind Canadians. Blind and visually-impaired Canadians are effectively denied access to information that has the potential to adversely impact safety and quality of life.
17096 Addition of an audio message to the scrolled text emergency alert, be it a computer-generated voice or narrated by a human voice, ensures all Canadians have access to vital information, allowing both sighted and visually-impaired Canadians to ensure their safety and the ability to make for themselves the life they choose.
17097 Television has the ability to entertain us, teach us, and amuse us. It also has the ability to keep us safe.
17098 Please, Panel, ensure that all Canadians are included, as you determine how to provide television services.
17099 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, thank you, Ms Ferguson.
17100 This is Jean-Pierre Blais. I'm chairing the Panel. And with me up here, just in case you don't know, are --
17101 MS FERGUSON: Thank you, I don't know.
17102 THE CHAIRPERSON: I'm sorry?
17103 MS FERGUSON: Thank you, I don't know who's on the Panel.
17104 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. So, to my left is Commissioner Dupras, who's the Regional Commissioner for Quebec, and to my far left is Commissioner Simpson, who's the Regional Commissioner for British Columbia, and to my right is Vice-Chair, Broadcasting, Mr. Pentefountais, and to my far right is Commission Molnar, who is responsible as Regional Commissioner for Manitoba and Saskatchewan -- and she will lead the questioning.
17105 MS FERGUSON: Thank you.
17106 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Hello, Ms Ferguson.
17107 Thank you for being here.
17108 I know in your submission that you said you are living in a small town, in Ontario?
17109 MS FERGUSON: Right.
17110 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: So, where exactly --
17111 MS FERGUSON: Strathroy, Ontario. It's a small town between London and Sarnia.
17112 And the emergency alert bulletins are of special concern to me. We're on a major train route heading into the United States. We have up to 50 freight trains travelling through, ever day.
17113 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Okay. I appreciated very much your comments here today, both what you submitted and your comments here today because, you're right, sometimes you get quite involved in considering how you're going to protect jobs and industry and --
17114 MS FERGUSON: Yes.
17115 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: -- address affordability and there's some basic and fundamentals in the system and what it can provide.
17116 It may not be the entire answer, but I did want to let you know that -- it's, like, two or three weeks ago now -- the Commission issued a decision on the emergency alerting system within Canada, the broadcasting system, requiring that broadcasters, cable companies, and radio, all have in place an emergency alerting system by March of next year.
17117 MS FERGUSON: It would be lovely. Good.
17118 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: So, you know, anything that begins -- of course, there may be some hiccups, The policy says that audio should be delivered with text --
17119 MS FERGUSON: But, again, as we have heard, the "should" should be "must".
17120 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Well, exactly.
17121 And the emergency alerts, the way it works is you have alerting agencies such as -- you know, the RCMP will deliver amber alerts, environment Canada may deliver weather alerts and you may have provincial emergency measure organizations, EMOs, that would deliver, perhaps, like a flood or a train issue, something localized.
17122 If they deliver it with audio, it will be delivered to you with audio. It may not -- it may not be perfect. I'm hopeful it will be better --
17123 MS FERGUSON: Yes.
17124 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: -- than what you have today. And as I said, it's both radio -- it will be on all radio, on the entire cable system, so that you don't have to be tuned in to your local station or in to The Weather Network, but they will interrupt on all channels.
17125 MS FERGUSON: Yes.
17126 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: So, hopefully, it will be better, because you're correct, emergency -- keeping Canadians safe is very important.
17127 MS FERGUSON: That's very good news.
17128 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Yeah. So, thanks for bringing that to us.
17129 MS FERGUSON: Thank you.
17130 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Those are my questions.
17131 MS FERGUSON: I guess I
17132 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, you were clear.
17133 Unfortunately, sometimes, we have no questions for intervenors because they're very compelling in their presentation --
17134 MS FERGUSON: All right. Thank you very much
17135 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- in your case.
17136 Thank you very much, Ms Ferguson.
17137 I think we need to set up a videoconference, so we'll take a short break, until 10:30.
17138 Thank you.
--- Upon recessing at 1019
--- Upon resuming at 1031
17139 LE PRÉSIDENT : À l'ordre, s'il vous plaît.
17140 Madame la Secrétaire.
17141 LA SECRÉTAIRE : Merci.
17142 Nous entendrons maintenant la présentation de Vues & Voix et qui comparaît par vidéoconférence de Montréal. S'il vous plaît vous présenter et vous avez dix minutes pour votre présentation.
17143 MME THÉODORE : Merci.
17144 Monsieur le Président, Membres du Conseil. Je suis Marjorie Théodore, présidente-directrice générale de Vues & Voix.
17145 Permettez-moi d'abord de vous présenter Yves Séguin qui m'accompagne aujourd'hui. Yves Séguin est un expert en technologies adaptées que l'on peut entendre régulièrement à notre antenne radiophonique.
17146 M. SÉGUIN : Merci, Marjorie, bonjour tout le monde.
17147 MME THÉODORE : Vues & Voix est un organisme à but non lucratif, créé en 1976, qui édite et diffuse annuellement quelque 800 livres sonores adaptés.
17148 Vues & Voix, c'est aussi Canal M, une radio spécialisée, distribuée par les câblodistributeurs et les satellites canadiens, en vertu de l'alinéa 9(1)h.
17149 Sa clientèle est composée en priorité de personnes qui ne peuvent accéder à la lecture à cause de limitations visuelles, physiques ou perceptuelles.
17150 Vues & Voix a demandé de comparaître à l'audience, afin de se faire le porte-voix des personnes handicapées en tant que consommateurs, téléspectateurs et usagers de la télévision.
17151 Quatorze organismes oeuvrant pour les personnes handicapées, à travers le Québec, dont plusieurs regroupements représentant plusieurs associations membres, appuient Vues & Voix dans cette intervention auprès du Conseil :
17152 - le Regroupement des Aveugles et Amblyopes du Montréal Métropolitain;
17153 - l'Association québécoise des parents d'enfants handicapés visuels;
17154 - l'Association des personnes handicapées visuelles du Bas-Saint-Laurent;
17155 - l'Association des personnes handicapées visuelles du sud de Lanaudière;
17156 - l'Association des établissements de réadaptation en déficience physique du Québec qui regroupe 21 établissements de santé et 108 points de services;
17157 - le Comité d'adaptation de la main-d'oeuvre pour personnes handicapées;
17158 - AlterGo qui regroupe plus de 85 organismes de loisirs pour personnes handicapées ou services municipaux à Montréal;
17159 - le Regroupement des activistes pour l'inclusion au Québec;
17160 - le Regroupement des associations de personnes Handicapées de l'Outaouais : 25 associations membres;
17161 - le Regroupement des organismes du Montréal métropolitain : 30 organismes engagés dans la défense des droits des personnes handicapées;
17162 - l'Association régionale pour les personnes épileptiques, région 2;
17163 - le Groupement des organismes des personnes handicapées du Saguenay;
17164 - l'Association de la neurofibromatose du Québec;
17165 - et Société Logique.
17166 Parlons télé accessible.
17167 Au Canada, on estime à 15 p. cent la population ayant une incapacité. Nous sommes ici pour Parler télé accessible et pour convaincre tous les partenaires du système canadien de télévision de la nécessité de prendre en compte les besoins de tous en améliorant l'accessibilité universelle de la télévision.
17168 Nous avons regroupé en cinq grands points notre intervention et les problèmes qu'éprouvent les personnes vivant avec un handicap avec les technologies et les plateformes télévisuelles.
17169 Premier point : un meilleur accès au service de base et aux services voués aux personnes handicapées. Vues & Voix appuie la position du Conseil dans l'avis de consultation de cette audience qui préconise un service de base moins cher qui comprend les services aux personnes handicapées. Un abonnement de base plus accessible permettrait à certaines personnes d'avoir enfin accès à des services qui leur sont voués.
17170 Je vous laisse la parole.
17171 M. SÉGUIN : Merci, Marjorie.
17172 L'utilisation d'une technologie simple, abordable et accessible aux téléspectateurs handicapés.
17173 Les personnes vivant avec un handicap problème visuel comme moi rencontrent des difficultés importantes pour accéder et pour utiliser les enregistreurs personnels et les décodeurs numériques; les touches des télécommandes sont trop petites et leurs codes de couleurs difficiles à repérer.
17174 Les guides de programmation et les plateformes sont inaccessibles, surtout si elles comportent une interaction à l'écran, de sorte que les personnes non-voyantes pour accéder à la télévision, paient des équipements et un service dont les options leur sont peu utiles, voire même inutiles.
17175 Nous faisons appel à l'expertise des télédiffuseurs, des producteurs, des sous-titreurs et descripteurs, des entreprises de distribution de radiodiffusion, des fabricants de technologie et bien sûr du Conseil et de tous les autres participants dans cette grande chaîne, afin que plus personne ne soit placé en situation de handicap pour l'accès à la télévision.
17176 Il est possible de présenter aux usagers handicapés une technologie conviviale, sans obstacle technologique et accessible à tous.
17177 Par exemple, et sans vouloir faire de publicité indue : les produits Apple, avec la revue d'écran VoiceOver intégrée.
17178 Il ne fait aucun doute que la clef du succès réside dans l'intégration de l'accessibilité universelle au moment de la conception et du développement de nouveaux produits.
17179 La qualité améliorée des synthèses vocales nous permet même d'envisager la production de vidéodescription à moindre coût.
17180 Il est aussi important que le service à la clientèle des fournisseurs de services de télévision soit formé et puisse répondre adéquatement aux problèmes d'accessibilité des abonnés.
17181 Plus d'émissions d'intérêt général et spéciales bien vidéodécrites, signées et sous-titrées, ainsi que plus d'émissions qui s'adressent tout particulièrement aux personnes handicapées.
17182 Les Canadiens non-voyants déplorent le nombre limité d'émissions vidéodécrites sur nos ondes et d'émissions spéciales et en direct, qui ne sont pas vidéodécrites ni en langue des signes, tels les Jeux olympiques et les débats électoraux.
17183 Comment se fait-il que les débats électoraux sur les chaînes canadiennes ne soient pas obligatoirement accessibles aux personnes sourdes?
17184 Les émissions offertes sur certaines chaînes en vidéodescription sont souvent de piètre qualité et datent souvent de plusieurs années, exception faite de Radio-Canada, qui diffuse de nombreuses émissions aux heures de grande écoute.
17185 Toutefois, la vidéodescription en français accuse parfois un certain retard dans la description des scènes bien après le déroulement de l'action à l'écran.
17186 Le Conseil se doit d'exiger davantage la diffusion d'émissions de qualité, assorties de vidéodescription et en langage des signes de qualité qui répondent aux besoins des auditoires trop souvent mal desservis.
17187 Accorder une place de choix aux services aux personnes handicapées, à leur positionnement et à leur promotion par les entreprises de diffusion de radiodiffusion, les EDR.
17188 Plusieurs participants à la consultation estiment que l'information de certaines EDR est incompréhensible et insuffisante sur le positionnement des services et sur leur grille.
17189 Vous pouvez imaginer combien il est difficile pour une personne non-voyante de trouver l'information et les services qui lui sont destinés. Une promotion convenable et un positionnement constant des services sont importants.
17190 Le Conseil et les EDR doivent veiller à la stabilité et à la présence de ces services.
17191 MME THÉODORE : Et finalement le point 5 : le maintien obligatoire des services aux personnes handicapées au service de base partout au Canada.
17192 Le Conseil doit protéger le maintien obligatoire au service de base des services desservant les personnes vivant avec un handicap, qui ne peuvent évidemment pas s'appuyer sur les forces du marché pour assurer leur accès facile ainsi que leur accessibilité partout au Canada.
17193 Pour que les personnes handicapées de langue officielle en situation minoritaire au pays soient desservies, les services qui leur sont destinés devraient être distribués, pas seulement dans les marchés de langue majoritaire, mais aussi dans les marchés de milieux minoritaires.
17194 Canal M, la radio de Vues & Voix serait alors diffusée partout au Canada et pas seulement sur le service de base en français.
17195 En conclusion, la télévision de demain se doit d'être accessible.
17196 À la fin de l'exercice actuel de révision du système de télévision, tous les Canadiens devraient avoir un accès égal à une programmation canadienne de qualité, diversifiée et qui répond à leurs besoins.
17197 La télévision de demain, c'est aussi une télévision pour tous avec les meilleures normes d'accessibilité universelle.
17198 Nous vous remercions de votre écoute et sommes disposés à échanger avec vous.
17200 LE PRÉSIDENT : Merci beaucoup, Mesdames, Messieurs. Je passe la parole à monsieur le conseiller Dupras.
17201 CONSEILLER DUPRAS : Merci. Bonjour, bienvenue.
17202 Merci pour votre présentation. Je pense que vous exposez clairement les points que vous voulez faire.
17203 Donc, il y a le problème de l'équipement et la quantité aussi de vidéodescription qui est disponible.
17204 Pour ce qui est de l'équipement, en 2008, l'industrie avait déjà démontré qu'il était possible d'avoir une télécommande qui active la vidéodescription avec un seul bouton.
17205 Est-ce que vous savez si de telles télécommandes sont encore aujourd'hui disponibles avec les nouvelles technologies?
17206 M. SÉGUIN : Certaines compagnies le font, pour ne pas les nommer. Je crois que Rogers le fait. Mais à ma connaissance, ils sont les seuls à l'offrir.
17207 Au Québec, si on pense à Vidéotron, il y a un certain nombre de touches qui doivent être exécutées pour activer la vidéodescription.
17208 Quand cette étape est faite une fois, il est vrai que la vidéodescription demeure disponible et activée jusqu'à temps, autant et aussi longtemps qu'on ne la désactive pas. Mais ce n'est pas un processus, à ma connaissance, qui peut se faire en appuyant sur une seule touche.
17209 CONSEILLER DUPRAS : Pardon.
17210 Et avec le système de Rogers, vous dites c'est mieux?
17211 M. SÉGUIN : Bien, c'est mieux... c'est-à-dire que si effectivement ils offrent une télécommande à touche unique, oui, ce serait mieux. Je ne peux pas personnellement le vérifier parce que je suis abonné à Vidéotron au Québec.
17212 Mais évidemment, le processus est beaucoup plus simple s'il s'agit d'appuyer sur une seule touche.
17213 Encore une fois, si je peux me permettre, ça revient aussi à l'élément qu'on mentionnait. C'est-à-dire la connaissance des gens qui sont à l'écoute au service à la clientèle. Si eux pouvaient guider l'utilisateur pour qu'il puisse activer la vidéodescription, même en appuyant sur quelques touches, ça serait déjà bien.
17214 Mais la difficulté, comme j'en suis convaincu, vous le savez. Quand on appelle au service à la clientèle avec des questions aussi pointues que celles-là, ce ne sont pas tous les préposés au service à la clientèle qui savent de quoi on parle, même, quand on parle de vidéodescription.
17215 Alors, il y aurait peut-être lieu, pour les compagnies, de désigner un technicien senior qui serait au courant des procédures à suivre auquel les personnes non-voyantes ou les personnes vivant avec un handicap pourraient s'adresser avec des questions pointues comme celles-là.
17216 CONSEILLER DUPRAS : O.K. C'était une de mes questions. Merci.
17217 Vous avez parlé dans votre présentation, d'une technologie qui existe, un lecteur audio de format DAISY. Et que vous seriez prêts à nous faire la démonstration de ce lecteur.
17218 Est-ce que vous êtes en mesure de nous...
17219 M. SÉGUIN : C'est-à-dire qu'on n'a pas nécessairement...
17220 CONSEILLER DUPRAS : Oui, allez-y.
17221 M. SÉGUIN : On ne l'a pas nécessairement avec nous présentement.
17222 Mais ce que je pourrais dire là-dessus, c'est qu'il y a, entre autres, le CRIM, le centre de recherche informatique de Montréal, qui a développé une technologie qui permettrait aux personnes handicapées visuelles d'avoir, par exemple, une émission et de pouvoir la télécharger, un peu pour le même principe que la vidéo sur demande. Et en même temps, de recevoir une piste audio qui elle, comprendrait la vidéodescription.
17223 Ce qui ferait en sorte que l'utilisateur pourrait même choisir le niveau de vidéodescription, et ce, pourrait se faire de façon indépendante du système de télévision conventionnelle, parce que ce qu'il faut dire aussi, c'est que les émissions qui sont offertes en « vidéo sur demande », de un, il est impossible d'y accéder par le décodeur numérique, puisque ça implique une interactivité avec les informations à l'écran.
17224 Et de deux, les émissions qui sont offertes en « vidéo sur demande », bien qu'elles aient été vidéodécrites au départ, ne sont pas disponibles sur la « vidéo sur demande » avec vidéodescription.
17225 CONSEILLER DUPRAS : Merci.
17226 Et pour ce qui est de la quantité d'émissions, la proposition qui a été faite au document de travail d'augmenter la vidéodescription dans les heures de grande écoute entre 19 h et 23 h, est-ce que ça permettrait d'avoir un choix d'émission adéquat aux téléspectateurs aveugles, mal voyants?
17227 M. SÉGUIN : Écoutez. Dans un monde idéal, toutes les émissions devraient être vidéodécrites. Je sais qu'il y a loin de la coupe aux lèvres.
17228 Toute augmentation d'émissions offertes en vidéodescription serait évidemment souhaitée, souhaitable et le bienvenu.
17229 Est-ce qu'on en arrivera un jour à avoir toutes les émissions disponibles en vidéodescription? J'en doute, mais on disait sans doute ça en ce qui concerne le sous-titrage pour les malentendants il y a une dizaine d'années, et puis, aujourd'hui, la majorité, sinon toutes les émissions sont offertes avec le sous-titrage pour les malentendants. Alors, je pense que tout pas dans cette direction-là, évidemment, est souhaitable.
17230 Est-ce qu'il y a un nombre acceptable d'émissions? Je vous dirais le plus possible, évidemment, tout en tenant compte... On est conscient que les diffuseurs font face à des contraintes budgétaires. On reconnaît ce fait. D'un autre côté, la population handicapée visuelle a droit aussi à ces services, comme vous le reconnaissez, membres du Conseil, et je pense qu'on doit tendre vers le plus d'émissions disponibles, avec la meilleure qualité de vidéodescription qui soit.
17231 CONSEILLER DUPRAS : Bien sûr. Ce sont toutes mes questions. Merci.
17232 M. SÉGUIN : Merci.
17233 LE PRÉSIDENT : J'ai une petite question avant de vous laisser aller. Puis bon, évidemment, merci d'avoir participé à notre audience par l'entremise de nos bureaux à Montréal et le lien vidéo. Mais si vous étiez ici dans la salle, vous pourriez constater qu'à la table des médias, il n'y a pas un seul membre des médias qui est ici aujourd'hui pour couvrir cette audience, aujourd'hui, lorsqu'on parle d'enjeux portant sur une part de la population canadienne que vous estimez peut-être à 15 pour cent. Pourtant, la semaine dernière, la table des médias était pleine à craquer.
17234 Comment se fait-il, vous pensez, que les médias ne sont pas au rendez-vous? Est-ce que vous n'achetez pas les biens et services qui sont dans la publicité autour des médias électroniques écrits? Vous n'êtes pas une population qui est d'intérêt pour ces médias?
17235 M. SÉGUIN : Écoutez, c'est la panacée de tous les groupes minoritaires, malheureusement. Il est très difficile de se faire reconnaître, remarquer, considérer, pris en compte par la société en général. Ça été vrai en ce qui a trait à l'accessibilité des édifices pendant longtemps. Ça été vrai en ce qui a trait à l'accession au marché du travail pendant longtemps. Les choses s'améliorent tranquillement --j'irais même jusqu'à dire tranquillement, pas vite --mais il y a encore beaucoup de chemin à faire.
17236 La semaine dernière, il y avait beaucoup de gros joueurs qui comparaissaient : les Rogers, les Québecor, et caetera, et caetera. Alors, oui, effectivement, disons que ça ne me surprend pas que la couverture soit amoindrie cette semaine. C'est malheureux. Je le déplore.
17237 Tout ce que je peux vous dire, c'est que nous à Canal M, on va en parler. Mais bien sûr, nous sommes une radio de services qui s'adresse aux groupes minoritaires principalement. Mais j'inviterais le peu de personnes qui ne sont pas de groupes minoritaires de peut-être nous syntoniser pour être plus au fait des difficultés ou des embûches qui sont présentes dans la vie des personnes vivant avec un handicap visuel.
17238 LE PRÉSIDENT : Je vous remercie pour cette réponse et je vous félicite dans vos efforts et de ne pas perdre espoir pour avancer votre point de vue. Merci beaucoup, mesdames, messieurs.
17239 M. SÉGUIN : Merci beaucoup.
17240 LE PRÉSIDENT : Madame la Secrétaire.
17241 LA SECRÉTAIRE : Merci.
17242 We will now switch to Toronto for the next intervener.
17243 Mr. Rae...?
17244 THE CHAIRPERSON: Mr. Rae, can you hear us?
17245 THE SECRETARY: I think maybe you're in -- oh, Andrea is coming. Maybe you're on mute. Is it possible?
17246 MR. RAE: How about that, is that better?
17247 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes. Now, we can hear you and we're ready to hear your presentation. Please go ahead.
17248 MR. RAE: Do I need to move this microphone closer or am I coming through okay?
17249 THE CHAIRPERSON: We hear you just fine. Thank you.
17250 MR. RAE: Thank you.
17251 Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. Thank you for the opportunity to appear and to be able to do so from my home city of Toronto. That really makes life easier for me, so I thank you for that.
17252 I bet you, Commissioners, that you were surprised by the number of submissions you received from the disabled community and I would also bet that you were surprised by the range of issues that our community has raised and by the passionate way in which they were presented. You ought not to have been. After all, some of us have trod a well-worn path to your door over the past 5 or 10 or maybe even 15 years and we'll keep coming back if we have to.
17253 Each time you initiate a new proceeding you create new expectations among us and we come to you to tell you what we need and what we expect you to do. Sometimes you give us a few crumbs, sometimes you take baby steps, but most of the time we come away from your proceedings frustrated yet again and that's partly because you have left -- you choose to leave our future in the hands of the industry, and we've told you, and I told you that in my submission, that the private sector for the most part, and not just in this area but other areas as well, has been a failure to us.
17254 It has failed in the past, it fails now, and unless you've got an accessibility genie there in Gatineau that I looked for here and can't find, I would suggest there's no reason why you should expect us to accept the notion that the industry will be our salvation in the future. It hasn't worked, it isn't working and there's no reason why we should expect that to change in the immediate future.
17255 Lest you are unconvinced by what I've just said, and I believe our community has eloquently made the case, look at what we hear from the industry, because ironically I believe they have made our case perhaps even more eloquently than we did ourselves.
17256 What did you get? Well, you got a range of ideas. I would expect that.
17257 You got those who said: "We haven't had time to consider these issues yet. Give us some time." I think this is 2014, I think that's what my morning newspaper told me this morning. How much more time do they need? How much more time?
17258 There are those who say: "We believe in special services for special people." That's old style rhetoric. That kind of condescension needs to stop. We want mainstream solutions to a mainstream systemic issue.
17259 And there are those who say: "We're waiting for the U.S." Well, isn't it time that Canada took the lead in this area, as we could and should be doing already?
17260 So I think that between the community and the industry the case has been made very eloquently that we need and expect the CRTC to do more, to use the regulatory authority you have in a far more vigorous and compelling and creative manner.
17261 Well, what do we want? You got quite a list. I'm going to focus on what I see as three priority areas, not necessarily in this order but the three are the following.
17262 Number one. The deaf community speaks about having 85-90 percent of programming closed captioning. We want to do as well. In fact, we believe all channels ought to provide DV and that this needs to be mandated within the next licence renewal period. Maybe give them three years to finish the job but within three years of the start of the next renewal period this ought to be standard practice.
17263 Number two, two platforms. Technology is changing. We know that. For some of us it's changing a bit too quickly. For some of us the pace of technology changes before accessibility is ready. These present new barriers to us. The Commission needs to mandate that all new platforms, whether it be Internet, whether it be cell phone or whether it be new platforms that are yet to be invented, fall under your jurisdiction and that accessibility must be fully built into these new platforms. A practical area in this regard is over-the-Internet. For the most part when there is a DV track built into an over-the-air program, it isn't provided over-the-Internet. This is unacceptable. It's unacceptable in 2014. This must be fixed.
17264 The third area is equipment. I have always been totally flabbergasted that the Commission will regulate what's on TV, it will regulate the kind of language, but it will not regulate the way in which that signal reaches me. This is absurd. This is nothing short of absurd. It varies very greatly across the country. In Toronto where I live, I can get a special remote from Rogers, which isn't well known about -- in fact, we only found out about it thanks to one of your previous proceedings but I'm glad to have it because with the flip of one button I can switch from DV to non-DV.
17265 I believe, Commission Molnar, in your area, MTS, it may take six processes, and I'm not sure a blind person can even do it because it may be from a visual menu.
17266 This is just a continued violation of our human rights. It's nothing short of that. Nothing short of it at all. This has got to be fixed.
17267 So those are some of the areas.
17268 Mrs. Ferguson spoke about access to emergency services. I want to raise also the issue of what scrolls across the TV screen, whether that be stock quotations, scores during sports events...
17269 I'm an avid watcher of the NFL, and as I watch a game I hear this ding-ding-ding-ding-ping-ping every once in a while. I know what that's -- I know what's happening: they're flashing other scores across the screen. Doesn't help me. And, I must say I'm a member of a couple of pools, so I have direct interest in wanting to know those other scores.
17270 News is another area. We need full access. DV must cover all of it.
17271 So, in conclusion, Commissioners, my real point, in addition to the specifics, is that we believe you folks have the authority. This is 2014.
17272 We have made some progress, you have helped us some, but how much longer must we allow our human rights to be violated by this industry?
17273 Are you going to force us to take each and every provider to a Human Rights Commission? We don't want to do that. They don't want to do that. Let's get this problem fixed. We believe you have the authority, the creativity.
17274 And we are quite willing to work with you to make this happen. You have created new expectations among us, and we now expect you to deliver.
17275 Thank you very much, Commissioners, for this opportunity.
17276 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Rae.
17277 For one, I'm not surprised of the community being active in this hearing. You were very active in phase one and phase two. You may have seen in our working document we tried to reflect some of the issues that have been raised in that hearing.
17278 In any event, I'll pass you on to Commissioner Molnar, who may have some questions for you.
17279 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Good morning, Mr. Rae.
17280 You can hear me?
17281 MR. RAE: I can, yes, yes, Commissioner.
17282 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Okay. Thank you.
17283 Mr. Rae, I read your submission to us, which was both thoughtful and complete, and you did a good job this morning in raising your priorities, and maybe adding some new ones, you know some new focus to this discussion.
17284 I want to go back to your submission, because in your submission you had -- and I highlighted this in your submission. As it regarded the set-top box barrier, you said that, "This is the greatest ongoing barrier facing blind television viewers."
17285 I was part of the accessibility proceeding that occurred in 2008, and I think we had a similar discussion there: that, while one goal would be to increase the amount of accessible viewing available, the first goal is to be able to ensure that the community can access what's there today.
17286 It's really disappointing that we're now in 2008 and it still is the first issue or the most significant issue, so I'd like to ask you a couple of questions.
17287 MR. RAE: I would say it is. Yes, Commissioner, in my mind, it is the number one issue. If it can be fixed in the United Kingdom, I don't see why it can't be fixed here. If we can send a spaceship to Mars, I don't see why we can't fix this problem.
17288 And for the industry that raises cost as an issue -- and there are cost implications, I don't deny that -- I submit, Commissioners, that that is a push-back position and an excuse, because when the industry want to do something, when you expect them to do something, like the trend towards HD, they find the way to do it. So if they can find it in that area, they can find it to make their systems more accessible.
17289 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Thank you.
17290 Can I understand better what you are meaning by making it more accessible?
17291 One of the issues was sort of the one-button access to described video, and you identified that as a Rogers customer you have that.
17292 Is there additional technical equipment issues that you believe need to be addressed beyond what -- for you, as a customer with Rogers, or is that solution: that we should just be --
17293 MR. RAE: Yes, there are.
17294 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: -- forcing everywhere?
17295 MR. RAE: Yes, there are.
17296 You can turn on the television station that provides you television listings. They scroll across your screen. They don't talk to me. I can't read them.
17297 If you want stock quotations, you can go to the stock channel. They scroll across your screen. They don't talk to me.
17298 If you needed an emergency announcement, I guess there would be something on your screen. I don't know because it doesn't talk to me.
17299 So there are those issues. There's just the whole complexity.
17300 And this is not restricted just to equipment to access television. It can be as great a problem for our home stereos, other home appliance, so whatever, and that is the flat-screen visual menus.
17301 From what I'm told -- I'm an Ontarian, Commissioner -- when we look across the country there is no consistency. That, to me, is a problem. We ought to have consistency in this country.
17302 I understand that various parts of the industry are at different stages in their development of these issues. I understand that. Again I ask: How long must we be expected to wait for our access?
17303 We pay the same amount of cable fees as you do. All we're simply saying is we want to be able to enjoy the television experience as much as you can. It's very straightforward, very fundamental.
17304 But we're not. We're nowhere near there yet.
17305 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Thank you.
17306 You're certainly a great advocate for your cause. There's no question about that.
17307 You mentioned MTS, and I --
17308 MR. RAE: But I'm getting older. I may sound impatient, Commissioner, and I am. I'm getting older. I'd like to see some of this get fixed in my lifetime. I really would.
17309 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Yes, I understand that.
17310 I was going to mention you brought up MTS, and the fact that it may take six steps. I will personally get in touch with them and confirm that and see what they say as to when they're going to fix that.
17311 What is it exactly --
17312 MR. RAE: There is a human rights case in the pipeline. I'm hoping that will have some impact on them.
17313 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Okay.
17314 MR. RAE: And, in fact, on the industry as a whole, I just wish it -- I just wish it didn't take -- because we would much rather work collaboratively with the industry than to have to go through the human rights or the litigious process. We really would.
17315 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Thank you.
17316 Can I ask you one more question? You're obviously very knowledgeable, not just about the needs of your community, but also knowledgeable about the regulatory process.
17317 So what specific regulatory authority do you think we should be using to force these companies to do what they should?
17318 MR. RAE: I don't have your act in front of me, but I believe the wording is something like: accessibility as more resources become available. It is something -- that's a paraphrase, that is not the exact wording, but it's not too far away.
17319 Thus, I believe you've got the authority. In that section of your act, I think it's there.
17320 It is reinforced by the Canadian Human Rights Act, which speaks about equal treatment and access, and that sort of thing. It is further reinforced by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which speaks about equal treatment and equal benefit of the law.
17321 We have come far further in this country up the road of being equal before the law than we've come anywhere near to gaining the equal benefit of the law.
17322 And if that weren't enough -- and is more than enough in my mind -- the statutory authority has been further reinforced by Canada's signing of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
17323 So I believe, Commissioner, that there is more than enough legislative, legal, and jurisprudence available to support the Commission becoming more rigorous and more creative in the use of that authority as I have asked for.
17324 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Okay, thank you very much, Mr. Rae. Those are my questions.
17325 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, Mr. --
17326 MR. RAE: Thank you.
17327 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Rae.
17328 You make a very forceful presentation. So thank you for having participated in the hearing.
17329 Madame la Secrétaire.
17330 LA SECRÉTAIRE : Merci.
17331 We will now switch to Montreal for a video conference.
17332 LA SECRÉTAIRE : Bonjour. Oui, bonjour. Est-ce que vous m'entendez bien à Montréal?
17333 M. DUBOIS : Oui.
17334 LA SECRÉTAIRE : Parfait! Bienvenue. Donc, nous sommes prêts pour votre présentation. S'il vous plaît vous présenter et vous avez cinq minutes pour faire votre présentation.
17335 M. DUBOIS : Parfait!
17336 Alors, ici, je suis André Dubois, président du Regroupement des aveugles et amblyopes du Québec.
17337 M. MILLER : Mon nom est Gérald Miller. Je suis directeur général du Regroupement des Aveugles et Amblyopes du Québec.
17338 MME MANAVELLA : Je suis Mireille Manavella, responsable du dossier accès à l'information pour le Regroupement des Aveugles et Amblyopes du Québec.
17339 M. DUBOIS : Parfait.
17340 Alors, merci beaucoup de nous accorder cette audience aujourd'hui pour faire suite à notre demande à un commissaire à l'accessibilité à la société d'État à Radio-Canada et CBC.
17341 Le mot amblyope, dans Regroupement des Aveugles et Amblyopes Québec, signifie quelqu'un qui est aveugle, mais qui n'a pas l'air aveugle, en fait. C'est un problème interne, soit avec le nerf optique ou en tout cas, des noms savants.
17342 Le Regroupement des Aveugles et Amblyopes, c'est une fédération de 15 associations, toutes vouées à la déficience visuelle sur l'ensemble du territoire du Québec. On regroupe ainsi plus de 2500 personnes.
17343 O.K. On a présenté nos gens.
17344 Maintenant nous, en fait, les personnes handicapées visuelles, depuis quelques années, on a maintenant accès, grâce... on a maintenant accès à l'informatique grâce à ce qu'on appelle une revue d'écran.
17345 Bon. Une revue d'écran, par exemple, comment ça va fonctionner? C'est qu'à l'intérieur d'une page web, on peut encoder des choses pour rendre la navigation des pages web plus faciles, plus aisée.
17346 Un exemple, quand on se déplace, par exemple, sur une page web, quand on rencontre une photo, plutôt que d'entendre, par exemple, graphique 214, on va entendre le texte « Alt » qui est caché derrière.
17347 Comme par exemple, photo prise montrant l'entrée de l'immeuble. Alors ça, pour nous, ça nous guide dans notre expérience sur le web.
17348 Bon! Maintenant, on a eu quelques demandes en 2011. La société d'État avait fait une promotion de la fameuse Boussole électorale et c'était très intéressant. Ça nous donnait les tendances, en fait, de l'électorat.
17349 Et malheureusement, cette boussole-là n'était qu'en partie accessible. Tu pouvais faire un bout à l'intérieur de son fonctionnement. Puis, à un moment donné, t'arrivais comme... ça fonctionnait plus.
17350 Alors, malheureusement, ton expérience se limitait là à juste en avoir pris connaissance. Et malheureusement, c'était un petit peu décevant de ne pas pouvoir aller jusqu'à la fin du processus.
17351 Donc nous, au RAAQ, on avait eu des demandes en ce sens-là. Et on a adressé les demandes aussi à la Société Radio-Canada.
17352 Oui, on a reçu, je vous dirais qu'on a reçu des belles lettres. L'intention était là. Mais malheureusement, il n'y a pas eu de suite réelle.
17353 Il y a eu en 2012 où on a eu encore la Boussole électorale, si je me rappelle bien, ça fonctionnait pas. Et en 2014, encore une fois, on se heurtait à un non-fonctionnement de la Boussole électorale.
17354 Donc, avec la réorganisation qui se passe présentement avec Radio-Canada, avec les orientations beaucoup vers le numérique, on pense par exemple -- Vous savez, les personnes aveugles aiment beaucoup la télévision. Ils vont suivre les téléromans, ils vont, par exemple, écouter « Les grands reportages ».
17355 C'est intéressant de pouvoir, à l'occasion, d'aller sur un site -- ici.tou.tv -- pour aller écouter une émission qu'on a manquée ou encore, à un moment qui nous convient davantage.
17356 Malheureusement, le site ici.tou.tv, malgré qu'on a une partie, on a la description. Tu sais, on nous met l'eau à la bouche pratiquement. Mais, on ne trouve rien pour démarrer l'émission. Il n'y a pas une véritable accessibilité sur, malheureusement, sur ces pages web-là.
17357 Alors c'est ça. Nous, au RAAC, c'est, étant donné le -- comment je dirais -- la réorganisation de Radio-Canada, de ces plateformes, la nouvelle orientation numérique, on s'est dit que ça prendrait un véritable interlocuteur ou une personne qui s'occuperait de l'accessibilité à l'intérieur de la société d'État, à Radio-Canada et CBC.
17358 Cette personne-là, ça serait un poste, commissaire à l'accessibilité, idéalement, une personne avec des connaissances, mais aussi des pouvoirs et peut-être même un budget pour faire en sorte que l'accessibilité soit présente.
17359 Ça, ça ferait en sorte que cette personne-là assurerait ce qu'on pourrait dire une culture d'accessibilité maintenue, qui serait présente à l'intérieur de la société d'État.
17360 Alors nous, suite à ça, on souhaiterait qu'il y ait un effet d'entraînement par la suite vers les autres télédiffuseurs en ayant pour ça Radio-Canada comme exemple.
17361 Alors voilà pour notre présentation sur le commissaire... le poste de commissaire à l'accessibilité à la Radio d'État... excusez-moi, télévision d'État.
17362 Est-ce que, Gérald, tu voulais enchaîner, toi, avec je crois...
17363 M. MILLER : Je prendrai seulement quelques secondes. Mon but était de vous parler des décodeurs parlants. Vous en avez déjà entendu parler. Vous en entendrez encore cet après-midi lorsqu'AMI Télé viendra vous rencontrer.
17364 Tout ce que je... je voudrais me limiter à seulement un petit point, vous souligner que les voix de synthèse, aujourd'hui, ne coûtent vraiment pas cher.
17365 La preuve en est, vous voyez sans doute, j'ai ici une montre qui est parlante. Alors, si j'appuie, il est 11 h 20, heure normale de l'Est. Et cette montre se vend au détail 35 $. Et ça inclut une voix de synthèse.
17366 Si les terminaux, les décodeurs étaient parlants, ça nous permettrait, non seulement d'activer la vidéodescription, mais ça nous permettrait d'avoir accès à tous les autres éléments du menu qui s'affichent à l'écran.
17367 Merci de m'avoir écouté.
17368 M. DUBOIS : Alors voilà! Est-ce que vous avez des questions ou des commentaires?
17369 LE PRÉSIDENT : Merci beaucoup pour votre présentation. Je passe la parole maintenant à monsieur le vice-président.
17370 M. MILLER : Bonjour.
17371 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Bonjour. Merci beaucoup d'avoir pris le temps de vous déplacer vers nos bureaux de Montréal pour être parmi nous aujourd'hui.
17372 Juste pour retourner brièvement sur -- et avant, que vous avez fait mention de ces boîtiers parlants. Est-ce qu'il y a un autre endroit aux États-Unis ou ailleurs où ces boîtiers parlant sont utilisés ou sont facilement disponibles pour les membres de votre communauté?
17373 M. MILLER : Je ne veux pas « scooper » quelqu'un d'autre. Mais, il arrive que le RAAQ travaille en collaboration avec AMI Télé qui devrait être avec vous au début de l'après-midi.
17374 Et, je sais très bien que Philippe Lapointe vous amènera ces informations-là, peut-être même vous en amènera-t-il un, décodeur parlant, pour vous le faire voir et entendre.
17375 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : On verra pas leur punch, alors.
17376 M. MILLER : Ça existe.
17377 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Ça existe et ils vont être en mesure de répondre à savoir si c'est utilisé ailleurs dans d'autres juridictions.
17378 M. MILLER : Un dénommé, un certain monsieur Pearson, expert en la matière, sera avec vous cet après-midi.
17379 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Et vous avez commencé vos présentations en parlant d'une revue d'écran? Est-ce que j'ai bien saisi? Parce qu'il n'y a pas de document écrit.
17380 M. MILLER : Une revue d'écran de script.
17381 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Ah! O.K. O.K.
17382 M. DUBOIS : C'est un logiciel qui, une fois, installé dans un ordinateur, va le rendre parlant. Et il y a aussi une sortie, si on a un afficheur braille, un appareil comme j'ai présentement sur la table, qui va afficher aussi en braille ce qui est lu.
17383 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Et vous avez parlé de cette expérience, de cette Boussole électorale que la SRC et CBC ont mise en place lors de la dernière campagne, et je pense, l'avant-dernière aussi.
17384 En fait, ce que vous demandiez...
17385 M. DUBOIS : Ça a commencé en 2011.
17386 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Oui. Votre demande, en fin de compte, ça coûtera pas cher, mettre en place quelque chose qui sera plus facile.
17387 M. DUBOIS : Ça ne devra pas coûter cher.
17388 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Tout à fait.
17389 M. DUBOIS : Mais nous, Monsieur, pardonnez-moi.
17390 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Non, O.K.
17391 M. DUBOIS : Ce que nous voulons en fait, c'est qu'on s'est adressé plusieurs fois à Radio-Canada. On a échangé plusieurs lettres. Et, c'est qu'on ne sait jamais quel canal au juste emprunter.
17392 Donc, l'ombudsman, écrire à l'émission, nous ce qu'on souhaiterait, c'est un véritable poste, un commissaire à l'accessibilité là, ou s'il y a des gens qui ont des demandes ou que ce soit acheminé là.
17393 M. MILLER : Et, je me permets d'ajouter que nos gens n'éprouvent pas des problèmes seulement avec la Boussole électorale.
17394 Aujourd'hui, toutes les émissions ont un site internet. Et c'est beaucoup avec les sites internet que nous avons des difficultés. Que ce soit la Boussole électorale, le site habituel de Radio-Canada et des autres diffuseurs, que ce soit Tou.Télé. On a toujours des problèmes d'accessibilité et comme le disait André, trouver la bonne personne à qui en parler, ça semble difficile.
17395 On reçoit de jolies lettres, mais il n'y a jamais de suite.
17396 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Et dans les lettres, il doit vous offrir de faire la... de regarder de plus prêt vos questions et vos préoccupations.
17397 Est-ce que...
17398 M. MILLER : On entend des choses dans le genre « soyez assuré que nous allons tout faire ce qui est en notre pouvoir pour vous donner satisfaction, ainsi qu'aux autres Canadiens handicapés visuellement. Mais, il se passe rien.
17399 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Mais pratiquement rien qui se passe.
17400 M. MILLER : C'est ça.
17401 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : O.K.
17402 C'est intéressant. J'aime beaucoup votre nota bene. Dans le fait, c'est assez facile de répéter ce qui est mis au bas de l'écran quand on propose un numéro de téléphone ou une adresse de courriel.
17403 J'ai peut-être pas remarqué, mais d'habitude, l'annonceur le dit verbalement également. Mais c'est peut-être quelque chose qu'on doit regarder de plus près, parce que ça aussi, ça coûte pas cher répéter ce qui est en bas de l'écran, pour ceux et celles qui ont besoin.
17404 Est-ce que vous avez déjà soulevé ces questions...
17405 M. DUBOIS : Ça serait bien.
17406 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Est-ce que vous avez déjà soulevé ces questions-là avec les diffuseurs publics ou autres?
17407 M. MILLER : C'est déjà arrivé. Mireille, est-ce que tu saurais?
17408 MME MANAVELLA : Oui, oui. On l'a signalé surtout dernièrement. Après les élections, le RAAQ a écrit au PDG de Radio-Canada, monsieur Hubert Lacroix. Et on lui a signalé le problème de la Boussole qui était inaccessible.
17409 Et puis, en même temps, on a profité pour rajouter l'accessibilité du site en général et de la télé aussi. Ça a déjà été signalé.
17410 M. DUBOIS : Parfait.
17411 Juste, par exemple, samedi dernier, on avait notre assemblée générale ici à Montréal. Puis, il y avait madame Vigneault de l'Association du Bas-Saint-Laurent, qui est directrice générale là-bas, qui nous racontait : « Bien, monsieur Lépine, quand il faisait ses reportages... » C'est-tu Zoom Doc, qu'il avait, lui?
17412 Mais justement, dans le bas, c'est qu'on laissait la personne parler, par exemple, anglais et la traduction française était au bas de l'écran. C'était pas en voix off. Pour elle, personne aveugle, elle n'était pas capable de... Bien, malheureusement, madame Vigneault ne parle pas anglais.
17413 Donc, elle manquait cette partie-là, essentielle, dans les reportages. Elle a elle-même écrit à l'émission de monsieur Lépine. Encore là, une réponse polie et tout, pleine de bonnes intentions. Et qui bon, malheureusement, n'a pas donné suite. Voilà.
17414 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Merci beaucoup. Message reçu.
17415 Et vos amis d'AMI seront avec nous cet après-midi pour nous parler des avantages de certaines technologies dans le but d'offrir ces services-là.
17416 Merci beaucoup encore.
17417 M. MILLER : Merci de nous avoir écoutés.
17418 LE PRÉSIDENT : Oui, on vous a très bien entendu
17419 M. DUBOIS : Merci beaucoup de nous avoir écoutés.
17420 LE PRÉSIDENT : Nous allons prendre une petite pause de cinq minutes.
17421 I am hoping to have two interveners before the longer lunch break, but there is a little set-up issue, so why don't we take just a short five minute break to allow that to occur.
--- Upon recessing at 1127
--- Upon resuming at 1134
17423 LE PRÉSIDENT : À l'ordre, s'il vous plaît.
17424 Madame la Secrétaire.
17425 LA SECRÉTAIRE : Merci.
17426 We will now hear the presentation of Descriptive Video Works, which is appearing by videoconference from Vancouver.
17427 Please introduce yourself and your colleague. You have ten minutes for your presentation.
17428 MS JOHNSON: Thank you very much, and thank you for the opportunity to be able to speak at the hearing today.
17429 My name is Diane Johnson, and I am the CEO and President of Descriptive Video Works. I am here with Shawn Marsolais, a paralympian, who was born with a degenerative visual condition and was considered legally blind at birth.
17430 Shawn is the founder of Blind Beginnings, a non-profit organization that guarantees quality of life for children and youth who are blind and partially sighted.
17431 Before I begin, I would ask you to please sit quietly for a moment and imagine that you have been given a book to read that everyone is talking about, except that all of the text, except for the dialogue, is blacked out.
17432 How much of the story would you grasp and understand?
17433 This is what it is like for a person who is blind, experiencing television that is not described.
17434 I want to give you some background on Descriptive Video Works, to let you know why we are uniquely able to provide input at the hearings.
17435 I wanted to combine my 20 years of broadcasting experience with work that made a difference in people's lives. CTV agreed to be my first client, and we continue to describe their work 11 years later, as well as descriptions for CBC, AMI and numerous other broadcasters and producers.
17436 We have completed over 10,000 shows and 800 movies.
17437 We are unique in Canada, as our research and development team is chaired by two members who are blind.
17438 We regularly run focus groups and seek advice from consultants like Shawn, to ensure we are meeting the needs of the intended audience.
17439 There are three unique types of descriptive video. There is regular description, which everybody is very familiar with, there is live description, and there is embedded description.
17440 We are the pioneer of live description, beginning with the Juno Awards in 2010, and have described live, in real time, over 500 hours of television programming.
17441 Our focus groups tell us that there is significant demand for additional live description, particularly for news events and for sporting programs. This is possible. We have described, in real time, the highlights of the Paralympics 2014, the Olympic opening and closing ceremonies in both 2012 and 2014, and the Liberal leadership convention.
17442 The other style is embedded description. We are the only company that trains anchors and reporters to include live embedded description in their newscasts and in their magazine-style programming, making all sources of current information available to everyone.
17443 Many Canadian broadcasters voluntarily describe more than the required 4-hour a week mandate, recognizing that this is the right thing to do.
17444 The range of programming is significant, yet there is still so much more that is needed.
17445 Many viewers tell us that their preferred programs are not described, and the only way to meet those very needs of this audience is 100 percent described video coverage.
17446 The availability of descriptive video is increasing worldwide. During discussions at the 2014 American Council of the Blind conference that I attended, several credible sources said that they felt 100 percent described coverage of U.S. television programming will happen before the target of 2020.
17447 In the United Kingdom, DV is currently estimated to be above 17 percent, with some broadcasters describing 30 percent of their programming in response to the demand.
17448 Descriptive video mandates are expected soon in Australia, and the movement in Asia is happening, as well.
17449 This audience can no longer be ignored. Wouldn't it be wonderful for Canadians to be the leader worldwide in recognizing the need of this underserved audience by having significantly increased mandated requirements?
17450 I am a founding member of the Canadian Described Video Broadcast Committee, and was a key player in the publication of the Canadian Guidelines for Best Practices. I am concerned that there is no mechanism in place to ensure that the best practices are being adhered to.
17451 Feedback tells us that there is significant variation in DV quality present on Canadian channels. One viewer tells us that there are some channels she won't even listen to, because the quality of description is so poor, and the DV does not allow her to follow the storyline.
17452 We recommend the implementation of a national quality control system, to ensure that the viewer with vision loss is receiving description in accordance with the best practices.
17453 These were great guidelines that were created, and we would love to see this continued and reinforced.
17454 Over the years we have heard concerns from broadcasters, and from producers, that adding descriptive video to a program is both prohibitively expensive and that the turnaround times are too long.
17455 Prices have dropped by more than 20 percent in the last 11 years, since we started the company. The average cost to describe a half-hour show is, ballpark, about $650; an hour show, approximately $1,200. It can be completed in two to three days, and done well.
17456 Relative to the total budget of a program, these amounts are a very small percentage, and if a mandated requirement, would become a natural part of the initial production budgeting process.
17457 A blind viewer pays the same price for a home cable package as a sighted viewer, yet they can only access a fraction of the programming that is described. We believe it is equitable that they have access to the same level of programming as all viewers, which they are paying for anyway every month.
17458 This can only happen if 100 percent of television programming is described.
17459 Our independent research tells us that there are a large number of blind and partially sighted people who are unaware, still, of the availability of described video. We recommend a strong national marketing campaign to raise awareness for this service, and to guide them through the process of having described video on their television.
17460 Shawn now is going to speak from her perspective.
17461 Thank you, Shawn.
17462 MS MARSOLAIS: Thank you for the opportunity to speak on the value of descriptive television.
17463 I am honoured to be the voice of over one million Canadians who are blind or visually impaired.
17464 I am going to tell you why descriptive television is important to me, as a blind person.
17465 Did you know that 85 percent of what we typically learn about the world is through vision? This means that for children who are born with low vision, they are relying on their other senses to understand the world, mainly hearing and the sense of touch.
17466 Parents and teachers have to describe everything that these children encounter in their world, and they have to make choices about what to describe, because there is not enough time in the day to describe everything. So we often miss out on a lot of information.
17467 Descriptive television fills in some of those gaps for us. Things like scenery, facial expressions, fashion, hairstyles, physical comedy, funny expressions, those are the things that we don't know are happening unless they are described, and they can often change the meaning of the program we are watching.
17468 Cartoons are meaningless to children who are born with low vision, because they primarily rely on action, and we are missing all of that. So without description, or with poor description, most kids don't even watch cartoons because they just have no meaning.
17469 The unemployment rate for people who are blind is approximately 85 percent. This is not because people who are blind aren't capable of working. Often it is because of the social inequalities that we face.
17470 So, because we can't watch TV, or most of TV programming, it is difficult to talk about things like sports programs, popular TV shows, even the news, because we are not getting the whole picture.
17471 For the 15 percent of us who are employed, and the remainder, most of whom are trying to find work, it is important to know the whole picture of what is happening in the news, advertisements, reality TV -- all of these things -- so that we can talk knowledgeably about these things in our workplaces or when we are looking for work.
17472 I don't know if you have ever been unemployed, but I have, and I would ask you to imagine being unemployed. It can be quite monotonous, hours and days and days of looking for work.
17473 Imagine if you couldn't watch TV or, if you did watch TV, it was with the screen turned off -- not very meaningful, and not as interesting.
17474 I work with parents and families of blind children, and they are looking to me as the example of what their child can be when they grow up, which is another reason why it is important for me to be informed of all of the things we are seeing in the media.
17475 I need to be able to talk knowledgeably about these things, so that I can demonstrate that it is possible for somebody who is blind to be "normal". I am just like everybody else, I just can't see.
17476 The need for descriptive television is immediate.
17477 Oh, I forgot one very important thing. I recently became a parent. My son just turned a year yesterday. I am really worried about the fact that I won't be able to know what he is seeing when he is watching TV. I want him to be watching programs that are described, so that I can answer his questions, so that I can choose what is appropriate and what isn't. It terrifies me that I might not have that opportunity, and that he may be watching things that aren't appropriate, and asking me questions that I can't answer because I am not sure what he has seen.
17478 He is going to be watching television very soon, so this worries me, and this is an immediate need.
17479 It is really important that more television is described. Really, I would like all television to be described. I would like to access everything that my sighted peers access.
17480 Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today. I hope that I have demonstrated the severity of the situation. Over one million Canadians are relying on good-quality described television.
17481 Thank you.
17482 MS JOHNSON: Thank you very much, Shawn, I appreciate it.
17483 The CRTC has stated that it wants to consult meaningfully with Canadians, to hear their voice and let them have a say. Thank you, Shawn, for sharing that, because you let us hear what you had to say.
17484 I commend the CRTC on this. We know that the engagement of Canadians as citizens, consumers and creators is central to the CRTC's vision, ensuring that we are the centre of a world-class communications system. It is unarguable that significantly increasing the levels of described video is consistent with this vision.
17485 The incidents of restricted vision and blindness increase significantly with age. Medical research indicates that incidents of blindness are going to double in the next 15 years.
17486 The baby boomers are entering this demographic, and they are a very vocal group. They will express their dissatisfaction regarding lack of full accessibility.
17487 It is not right to meet this need for all Canadians and not include people who are blind and vision impaired in this vision.
17488 In summary, both entertainment and information are received via television. Lack of access is socially isolating. The blind and partially sighted community deserves the same access to television as is enjoyed by all viewers.
17489 Descriptive video directly contributes to a higher quality of life. We respectfully request a mandate that requires 100 percent described video on Canadian television programming.
17490 To reinforce Shawn's comment, they are not different, they just do not see.
17491 I urge you to support this deserving audience.
17492 Thank you very much for your time and your interest in described video, and I am more than happy to answer any questions you might have.
17493 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you both for participating in this hearing very early in the day at your end of the country. We very much appreciate it.
17494 Commissioner Simpson will start some questions for you.
17495 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Good morning, Ms Johnson and Ms Marsolais. Welcome to my office in Vancouver. I wish I was there to personally greet you.
17496 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Ms Marsolais, just before we get into the nuts and bolts of the submission, did you participate in 2010, and what event, or events, just out of curiosity?
17497 MS MARSOLAIS: Actually, I participated in the 2004 Paralympics in Athens, and the sport was tandem cycling.
17498 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Excellent.
17499 2010 was quite a party, wasn't it? It was a lot of fun.
17500 Ms Johnson, you have advocated very effectively on behalf of the need for sight-impaired and blind Canadians. I would like, with your indulgence, to draw on your experience as a described video supplier, if I may.
17501 First off, could you tell me more about what live embedded video is, as one of the three categories that you produce?
17502 MS JOHNSON: Absolutely. Live is when an event is actually happening. When we were doing the Olympics, it wasn't taped, so we weren't looking at a tape and describing it, we had to be in-studio, and CTV decided that this was the way to do it.
17503 At first we all thought, you know, in 2003, when the CRTC mandated it -- we all said that you could never do live, and we agreed. And then, in 2010, we said: You know what, let's try it.
17504 So we were in-studio, at CTV, and we did it in real time. So, if you make a mistake, there is no going back. So you have to have someone who is very well trained to do it.
17505 Also, we do a lot of research ahead of time.
17506 We work with AMI doing it, as well. They are wonderful with that. And CBC, as well.
17507 There are a lot of different events that are live, so that is how that is done.
17508 It is different from -- we do a show on CTV, Daily Planet, every single day, which is live, as well.
17509 Embedded -- an example would be, say you are watching a newscast and you are blind, and you hear the weather person saying, "There is a high front coming in up here." You are blind, you don't know where "up here" is. So what I do with the training is explain to them that it is just as easy to say "in Thunder Bay" as it is to say "up here".
17510 There are other things. Oftentimes on-screen you will see a website, and it will be across the bottom.
17511 So it's just teaching them to look a little bit differently at their program, and they actually like it because it enhances it and it brings them new viewership, as well, because it's all-inclusive.
17512 Does that help?
17513 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: That is super. That is just what I needed.
17514 If I may, I would like to move on to the costs of DV, and also the way I have been taught, or learned, as to how it is being produced currently.
17515 First of all, on the cost, there has been a lot of discussion -- there has been, generally, an agreement on DV costing somewhere between $600 and $1,600 an hour. You referenced $1,000 an hour. But I am curious to hear from you on how those costs might get better with greater volume, and why, and how the costs might improve.
17516 MS JOHNSON: One of the things that some people get confused with is, they compare the cost of closed captioning with descriptive video, and one of the key elements is the writer. The writers have to watch the show, they can't sort of quickly go through it and go: Okay, this one is a fast one, I am not going to describe everything.
17517 Think about an action movie. If you are using the wrong person's name, if you are not describing it properly, the person who is blind is just going to turn the TV off, just like that.
17518 So the writing aspect of it probably won't change significantly.
17519 I look at how we have streamlined a lot of the things we are doing, and that has brought the cost down about 20 percent.
17520 The other thing is, if you are doing a series, you get to know, the first time you are doing it, who the characters are, so that will speed it up.
17521 We did 179 I Love Lucy shows. Think about it, if you didn't describe that well, you couldn't describe what was going on for people who are blind to find the humour.
17522 If you look at a sea of people who are blind watching I Love Lucy, laughing their heads off, that shows me why we do what we do.
17523 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: I can only imagine --
17524 MS JOHNSON: Does that help?
17525 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: It does.
17526 What I am trying to help the Commission understand is where the floor of those savings might occur, because in having seen it done, and understanding a bit about the technology and the human costs of time versus money, it seemed that beyond certain efficiencies of perhaps competitive bidding or, as you say, familiarization with the content, it is largely a linear exercise of time against money, at a certain point. There is not a lot of economy of scale, because each piece of content is different and there is a time factor.
17527 So I guess what you are saying -- you referenced 20 percent as possible savings on part of the described video process, but a goodly portion of the described video process, which is the creative side, the writing and adaptation, is likely to stay fixed because of that linear nature.
17528 Is that correct?
17529 MS JOHNSON: Correct.
17530 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay, good.
17531 MS JOHNSON: And that is the important thing, the quality.
17532 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay. I have another question for you, and this is going to be a bit of a curve ball, but I think it's a good one.
17533 MS JOHNSON: Oh, no!
17534 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: No, no, it's not that bad. It has to do with the 2020 timeline that everybody references, whether it has been your U.S. counterparts, or AMI, or MAC.
17535 We have heard a lot and have had a lot of submissions from intervenors who aren't appearing in front of us that we are gradually marching toward a different kind of distribution system of television, moving away from appointment television, away from streaming television, and possibly getting largely into a non-linear, on demand kind of universe in the future.
17536 I am wondering if you have wrapped your head around that potential, and whether it has positive implications for you and the service you provide.
17537 And here is the specific question. I have heard ad nauseam that one of the reasons why episodic television, appointment television, was unable to describe content before it got to the network, and subsequently to the cable company, was because they were in sort of an assembly line process and had to race a product to market, often just a week or ten days before the air date. Therefore, time more than money was the inhibiting factor.
17538 Do you think that in a non-linear world it gives everybody a chance to have a breath and, aside from the dollar implications, start getting much more of a library of content that is sitting on a server, ready to be drawn down on demand, and that more of that content could be described, as well as captioned?
17539 MS JOHNSON: Absolutely. I absolutely agree with that, yes.
17540 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: So maybe we are potentially chasing -- this is not to say that the proposal on the table of 7 to 11 -- essentially a sevenfold increase in described video is not the route to go, but we may find that as we are racing toward trying to increase the amount of content that is described, technology change may be coming at us from another direction, perhaps even an unregulated one, where OTT and other services that are outside of our regulatory reach might see the wisdom in doing described video because it would increase their revenues.
17541 MS JOHNSON: Absolutely, and I have thought about that for a long time, because you think about even a sighted viewer. You know, if you have a family, like Shawn sitting there with her husband and her son, and she wants to watch a show, and her husband thinks, "Okay, I have to describe the whole thing, and I just don't have time today," if it is already described, you have the whole family sitting around watching it, so you have more viewers that you might not have had ahead of time.
17542 And there is the thing of how we multitask. If the description is going on and somebody is on their computer, or whatever, they are hearing the description, too.
17543 So I think there is a broader range, actually, than the sight-impaired viewer.
17544 From a revenue standpoint, I think that if you look at closed captioning, it has sponsorship. You know: This program is sponsored by So-and-so -- or closed-captioned sponsored.
17545 I think that descriptive video could be the same thing. I think there are advertisers that are going to say: I would like to be one of the first ones out of the gate, including that as part of my media buy.
17546 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Thank you.
17547 We have a bit of a delay in the system, so my apologies if I seem to be interjecting. It's just that those 5 seconds kind of throws us both off.
17548 This is a question for both of you, please, and it has to do with quality.
17549 I was quite surprised in the input leading up to this hearing that we did not, by quantity, get a lot of commentary about the quality of described video, and yet we are seeing a lot more, including your own commentary today, that quality is something to be desired.
17550 I am wondering if you could, as a user, Ms Marsolais, give me a perspective on that.
17551 And, also, Ms Johnson, give me a perspective from your point of view as a producer.
17552 MS MARSOLAIS: My first experience with descriptive video was, I guess, when it first came out, and there were a handful of movies. It was exciting to have a program described, but there were oftentimes when the quality just wasn't there.
17553 Sometimes the description stepped on the dialogue, and it doesn't help to miss out on dialogue for description. I still want to know exactly what they are saying, because that is, to me, almost -- that is very key to what is going on.
17554 Sometimes the voice is just really annoying or it -- there have been movies where it's too loud and you can't turn it down or if you do, you're turning down the sound of the movie as well, the sound track. So if I'm turning down the description, then I can't hear the movie now.
17555 So there seems to be better quality now. It ranges of course. It's like listening to an audio book. Some readers are fabulous and some are not. So I never know who has produced what. I just know that now, when I watch an action movie, for example, I'm starting to like action movies, I'm starting to enjoy science fiction because the description is getting so much better, it's far more meaningful. But when I am watching a program and the description is frustrating, I choose not to watch it, it's just not worth it.
17556 MS JOHNSON: I think that Shawn explained it. Do you want me to expand on the quality aspect or --
17557 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: No, only if there are technical or financial impositions that impact quality, because I think Ms Marsolais did a good job of giving us the overarching perspective. So I was hoping if there is anything you can contribute on the technical and financial issue as to whether there's impositions because of those two factors.
17558 MS JOHNSON: The technical is very important because, as Shawn explained, the levels and things like that are critical and that's one of the things over the years, after doing this for 11 years we're getting very good at being able to make sure that what we're -- the product that we're putting out there is the best it can be.
17559 The quality to me is so key and we have met with a lot of people in focus groups and they have told me about different shows they won't watch because the quality isn't at the level that they need it to be and they miss the whole thing and they find it frustrating, which I can only imagine. You know, you're in the plot of something and you go: "Well, I missed that whole piece. Well, I'm just turning the TV off."
17560 Having said that, the guidelines that we created with AMI, with some of the broadcasters and myself, are great guidelines but I do think there has to be some places where we can check in and go, "Okay, why was that show not well done? Is it somebody that's new at it that isn't following the guidelines?" I mean that's part of the guidelines. Everyone should be following them and they should be monitored on it, and that would be the case with anything. You give somebody a guideline, you don't just say, "Okay, there, just read it over" and that's it. You need to be monitored.
17561 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay. Just a couple more questions and then I am done.
17562 Again, on the quality issue, you made reference to the fact that, you know, there have been several attempts at best practices code or codification of best practices, but I get from you that you're saying that it lays down good intent but it's not necessarily coming across in practice and I'm wondering why and what has to be done to strengthen the best practices that's being put forward by AMI.
17563 MS JOHNSON: I think that having the best practices was -- having those guidelines is excellent but also I really think that it could be random, you know, where someone is hired to -- over a period of six months or something they randomly -- someone like Shaw or something like that, they randomly listen and they say, you know, "This voice didn't work for it," "They just stepped on dialogue," "The levels were poor," whatever it is. So you can go back to that broadcaster and say: "You need to go back and look at your quality control here" so that we are all getting, you know, from Shawn's perspective, the best product possible.
17564 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay. Closing question. This goes back to the type of content that's being described and also the forms in which it's available.
17565 We have put forward a notion that in the expansion of described video it would be for content that is in prime time, and generally it seemed that that idea went down fairly well. There were some interveners that said: "Oh no, I have very specific interests that aren't necessarily primetime programming."
17566 But in general, do you find -- I'm thinking of your child, Ms Marsolais. Are there other ways to acquire content -- I'm thinking of the iPad and digital content -- that is outside of the broadcast system, where you can currently get described content?
17567 MS MARSOLAIS: I know you can access Netflix through an Apple device if you're blind with voiceover. The problem is there isn't any way of knowing which programs are described and I'm not aware of whether the description would work through Netflix. So if there were programs that were described and there was a category of described programming on Netflix that we could access the menus and select, that is possibly a way. Again, not every person who's blind has an Apple product. They're quite expensive and because of the high unemployment rate that's not going to be accessible to everybody.
17568 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hmm.
17569 MS MARSOLAIS: So it would resolve the problem for some people but not everyone.
17570 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Was content as it came in the old form from the video store, was there a selection then?
17571 MS MARSOLAIS: No. It was through the CNIB library we could order descriptive videos. That was the only way. Now, you can go to the theatre and one movie out of the 14 that are playing will be described. But no, it's not something you can just get off the shelves.
17572 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay. Thank you very much. Those are my questions. I just wanted to make a note that I heard you loud and clear on the issue of discovery, you know, knowing what's described is as important as being able to get it. Thank you very much. Those are my questions.
17573 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you both for having participated in our hearing. Those are our questions. Thank you.
17574 We'll now go to the next presenter before the break.
17575 THE SECRETARY: Perfect! We will now connect to Toronto.
17576 THE SECRETARY: Hi. Can you hear us well?
17577 MS BROWN: Yes, I can.
17578 THE SECRETARY: Perfect! Thank you and thank you for coming. You may being your presentation and please introduce yourself for the record.
17579 MS BROWN: Okay.
17580 My name is Yin Brown, Manager of Advocacy for CNIB, Canadian National Institute for the Blind, Ontario and Nunavut.
17581 Thank you, Mr. Chair and Commissioners, for having CNIB participate in this very important conversation on the future of television broadcasting in Canada.
17582 For nearly 100 years, CNIB has been providing services for Canadians with vision loss. We promote inclusion and accessibility so that Canadians who are blind and partially sighted can fully participate in their communities. To that end, CNIB has been participating regularly in CRTC hearings.
17583 In our written submission we pointed out three issues, accessibility issues that have raised as far back as the Commission's 2008 accessibility hearing. Despite the passage of six years there has been very little progress in resolving the accessibility issues, namely, one, simple access to described video (DV), two, accessible terminal equipment, and three, access to DV online.
17584 So to avoid another six years passing with little or no progress, we need to start doing something different. CNIB proposes a sort of accessibility directorate, to be housed within CRTC, similar to the Canadian Transportation Agency, which has an Accessible Transportation Directorate working with an Accessibility Advisory Committee in reducing the barriers in federally regulated transportation systems. As well, there are models within broadcasting regulatory bodies in other countries that we could draw on.
17585 So going forth from this hearing we would like to see a process in which the Commission, consumers and industry determine a mechanism in which accessibility issues can be systematically and regularly addressed.
17586 Now, I would like to comment on the three proposals put forth by the Commission related to accessibility, proposals 20 to 22.
17587 Proposal 20 is to increase DV requirements for broadcasters currently subject to DV requirements and to extend those requirements to many other broadcasters. We support this. However, we prefer to have more required because at this current rate of increase it would take decades for Canadians with vision loss to enjoy fully accessible Canadian broadcasts.
17588 Proposal 21 deals with the accessibility of hardware. We support all efforts that would enable Canadians with vision loss to easily access DV content when it is available. We have seen that encouraging by the Commission has not led to significant progress, so we do support the introduction of requirements. However, we worry that merely requiring BDUs to procure accessible set-top boxes "where available" would leave too much room for BDUs to avoid meeting the spirit of this requirement because the language as it is right now does not require BDUs to work closely with manufacturers of set-top -- accessible set-top boxes.
17589 BDUs are under no obligation to make any modifications to their systems whatsoever to have them compatible with the -- accessible to set-top boxes. So any slight technical incompatibility would give rise to the excuse that: Oh, no, accessible set-top boxes are available for (indiscernible).
17590 So we would like to see the language strengthened so that BDUs are required to play a more active role, work with the manufacturers in their procurement of accessible set-top boxes.
17591 Proposal 22 relates to closed captioning online. For our community, to the best of our knowledge, we do not know of any Canadian broadcasters that offer DV online or through -- via a mobile application; however, we do know that DV or online inscription is available on BBC's iPlayers for now over four years.
17592 We know it can be done. Granted there are technology challenges, but it can be done. It has been done, and with the right collaboration between the Commission, users, and the industry, I think Canadians with sight impairment or vision loss can start enjoying or have similar access to DV online as their counterparts in the U.K.
17593 So, again, we would like to say, let's work on these three issues: access to more DV from the broadcasters, set-top boxes, and access to DV online, and perhaps working with an accessibility directorate.
17594 Thank you for allowing me to present. I hope these comments are useful in your deliberations.
17595 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, Ms Brown.
17596 Commissioner Dupras will start off with some questions.
17597 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Good afternoon.
17598 MS BROWN: Okay.
17599 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: You state in your presentation this morning concerning our proposal 20 to increase the amount of video description programming that you do not oppose this, but that you would want more.
17600 Can you be more specific about what you mean? Do you have specific proposals to suggest?
17601 We don't hear you.
17602 MS BROWN: (Indiscernible) that these broadcasts be described; however, that's very limited hours. Our view is that Canadians with vision loss don't necessarily just watch TV during that time only.
17603 So if we're saying (indiscernible) 4 per cent to primetime, how many more years will it take for, say, daytime programs to be described with that video description?
17604 So we would like to see not just the primetime, you know, but perhaps aim for a higher, I guess, number of hours that that would be required to have description, audio description, to go with the broadcasts.
17605 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay.
17606 So essentially you leave it with us to determine what could be better during the daytime also?
17607 MS BROWN: Well, not just -- I don't mean better daytime or nighttime, just prime time, you know three, four hours at night, it's so -- again, so very little and it's -- at that rate, it would be -- it would take a long time for, say, a 24-hour broadcast to be fully described. So we would like to see that moving along a little faster.
17608 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay.
17609 And you alluded in your submission that the role of the Described Video Best Practices Working Group should be part of a collaborative effort to address the ongoing challenges.
17610 What do you think of the Best Practice Guide of that group? Should they be imposed as an expectation on broadcasters?
17611 MS BROWN: Hmm...I would have to consult my team (indiscernible). Some of them are more expert in this area. But I would like -- personally, yeah, I would like to go in that direction: to have some kind of stricter requirement of these guidelines, instead of optional, you know.
17612 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay.
17613 MS BROWN: But perhaps we can clarify that in our written submission -- final written submission.
17614 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay, perfect.
17615 Thank you.
17616 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, thank you very much, Ms Brown. Those are our questions.
17617 You've been very clear and we understand your position. So thank you for having participated in this proceeding.
17618 And I take it we'll hear from you in the --
17619 MS BROWN: Thank you very much.
17620 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- in the final submissions on the 3rd of October as well.
17621 Thank you.
17622 We'll take the lunch break now till 1:30, if that's okay.
17623 Donc, ajournement jusqu'à 13 h 30.
--- Upon recessing at 1218
--- Upon resuming at 1335
17625 LE PRÉSIDENT : À l'ordre, s'il vous plaît.
17626 Madame la Secrétaire.
17627 LA SECRÉTAIRE : Merci.
17628 We will now hear the presentation of Accessibility Media Inc.
17629 Please introduce yourself and your colleagues and you have 10 minutes for your presentation. Thank you.
17630 MR. ERRINGTON: Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman, Members of the Commission and Commission staff. My name is David Errington, President and Chief Executive Officer of Accessible Media Inc., or AMI. Before beginning our presentation today, allow me to introduce the members of our panel.
17631 Seated immediately to my right is Line Gendreau, AMI's Vice-President of Finance.
17632 Seated next to Line is Robert Pearson, Director of Accessible Digital Media.
17633 Seated to my far left is Rob Malcolmson, AMI's legal counsel from Goodmans law firm.
17634 And finally, seated to my immediate left is Philippe Lapointe. Philippe joined our team from TC Media, with previous experience at Pixcom and Groupe TVA, and is the new Vice President of Programming and Production of AMI-télé, our French language open described video network that will launch on December 16th of this year. We are delighted to have Philippe as a member of our senior management team.
17635 AMI commends the Commission for launching the "Let's Talk TV" proceeding. This important proceeding is both timely and necessary if our broadcasting system is going to adapt to changing technologies and evolving media consumption habits.
17636 For its part, AMI has been actively involved in every phase of this proceeding. In Phase 1 we submitted man-on-the-street interviews from members of the community as well as 224 submissions from AMI's Research Panel. In Phase 2 AMI held three Flash Conferences as a means of ensuring that Canadians who are blind or partially sighted had another opportunity to make their views known to the Commission. We hope that the submissions from these constituencies have contributed to the development of a full record and will help the Commission in its deliberations on the changing face of Canadian television.
17637 In our appearance before you today, we would like to focus on four of the proposals set out in the Notice of Consultation issued by the Commission on August 21st:
17638 (i) "skinny" or small basic;
17639 (ii) accessibility of hardware;
17640 (iii) availability of described video; and
17641 (iv) online closed captioning.
17642 Each of these areas is of critical importance to the communities that AMI serves as they impact the accessibility of television from both a financial and a physical standpoint. We are pleased that the Commission has chosen to make these issues key discussion items at this hearing and we thank the Commission for allowing us this opportunity to present AMI's perspective.
17644 MME GENDREAU : La distribution obligatoire de nos trois services -- AMI-tv, AMI-audio et AMI-télé -- dans les forfaits de base à un tarif de gros réglementé est essentielle à la viabilité de nos services et est en fait la seule manière dont AMI sera en mesure de continuer à servir les Canadiens non-voyants ou ayant une déficience visuelle.
17645 Comme le Conseil l'a déjà reconnu, la distribution à titre facultatif n'est tout simplement pas une alternative viable, car elle ne garantit pas l'accès à nos services à des tarifs abordables pour notre audience cible. La question de l'accessibilité financière va certainement devenir plus importante dans un environnement à la carte, où les coûts d'accès aux réseaux de télévision sont susceptibles d'augmenter à mesure que les programmeurs cherchent à recouvrer les coûts et que les EDR cherchent à maintenir leurs marges bénéficiaires. J'insiste donc sur ce point. Les services d'AMI ne survivraient tout simplement pas s'ils étaient distribués à la carte ou via une autre forme facultative de distribution.
17646 Même si AMI trouvait un moyen de fournir ses services sur une base discrétionnaire, la plupart, sinon l'entièreté, des membres de notre communauté ne seraient pas en mesure de payer le prix probable d'accompagner toute forme de distribution facultative dont la pénétration du marché ne peut qu'être plus faible. La vaste majorité des Canadiens qui sont non-voyants ou ont une déficience visuelle vivent avec des moyens extrêmement limités, avec peu ou pas de revenu disponible. Toute augmentation importante du coût de détail de nos trois services rendrait très probablement nos services inabordables pour ceux qui dépendent le plus de nous.
17647 Compte tenu de ces réalités, AMI soutient fermement la proposition du Conseil d'imposer un petit service de base qui inclurait AMI-tv, AMI-audio et AMI-télé. L'inclusion de nos services dans ce petit service de base garantira que les personnes qui sont non-voyantes ou ayant une déficience visuelle continuent d'avoir accès à nos services au plus bas coût possible. En outre, la proposition de composition de ce petit service de base offrira aux Canadiens à faible revenu la possibilité d'avoir accès à un forfait qui contient tous les services de programmation canadiens pertinents.
17648 AMI appuie également la proposition du Conseil de plafonner le prix du forfait de base entre 20 et 30 dollars par mois. Ce prix est de plus en plus un enjeu majeur pour les Canadiens à faible revenu, y compris les personnes aveugles ou ayant une déficience visuelle. Pour plusieurs, la hausse du coût du forfait de base signifie que la télévision n'est tout simplement plus abordable. Lorsque le coût de l'accès devient prohibitif, les Canadiens non-voyants ou ayant une déficience visuelle deviennent encore plus isolés socialement qu'ils le sont bien souvent déjà.
17649 Nous aimerions noter que même si le prix de détail du forfait de base était plafonné à 20 dollars, le prix de gros d'AMI-tv et AMI-audio représenterait seulement 1,2 pour cent du prix de détail total des forfaits de base des EDR présentes dans les marchés de langue anglaise. Pour les EDR francophones, le coût d'AMI-télé représenterait seulement 1,4 pour cent du prix de détail de 20 dollars. Il est clair que l'inclusion des services d'AMI dans les forfaits de base ne créerait pas d'obstacle au plafond proposé par le Conseil.
17650 MR. PEARSON: Our ongoing dialogue with members of the blind and partially sighted communities consistently reveals that accessibility to hardware and the inability to identify DV programming in BDUs' electronic programming guides are constant sources of frustration. While the open description on AMI helps alleviate some of these frustrations, the lack of a user interface that is easily accessible acts as a barrier for blind and partially sighted Canadians seeking to find our programs or who are looking for DV programming on other networks.
17651 The typical digital set-top box that is available in Canada today does not provide functionality and features for persons who are blind, partially sighted or who have fine motor skill disabilities. For example, while some boxes do provide a one-button remote solution to access described video as well as simplified navigation to access described video and closed captioning, there are none that provide voice navigation and interaction, which is essentially a talking interface, as well as programmable buttons and the ability to change fonts, contrast and the format of the presentation of the content of the electronic programming guide.
17652 Furthermore, EPGs also suffer from additional flaws that render access to DV programming problematic for users. These include the presence and use of a consistent described video symbol as well as incidents of DV silence when the symbol is shown and the continued presence of DV on repeats of a program. These challenges act as constant barriers to accessible programming and AMI supports any initiative that facilitates a user-friendly means of accessing DV programming.
17653 The Commission's proposal to monitor BDUs' compliance with existing customer service requirements for persons with disabilities is an important first step in facilitating access.
17654 Further, the Commission's proposal to require BDUs (i) to ensure that subscribers are able to identify DV programming, and (ii) to provide set-top boxes, where they are available for procurement, that are accessible to subscribers with vision and fine motor skill disabilities are fully supported and endorsed by AMI.
17655 As the Commission may be aware, accessible set-top box solutions have begun to be developed in other jurisdictions. Comcast in the United States recently launched a cloud-based solution for their Affinity set-top to facilitate voice interaction and a talking interface. Prior to that, an organization in the U.K. known as Ocean Blue created a "Talking Set-Top Box" and "Talking TV software" with the assistance of the Royal National Institute of the Blind. They have launched this solution as both a hardware and a software overlay on other manufacturers' set-top boxes in the U.K., Hong Kong and Australia.
17656 Based upon these advances in the industry globally over the last few years, there is evidence to suggest that solutions to address set-top box accessibility concerns are achievable. We would be pleased to work with the Commission and with the BDUs to develop baseline accessibility features and customer service best practices that would ensure that all Canadians are well served, while at the same time taking into account the business imperatives of the BDUs that are being asked to implement these measures.
17657 M. LAPOINTE : Monsieur le Président, chers Membres du Conseil, je suis très heureux d'être ici avec vous aujourd'hui pour la première fois en tant que responsable du lancement d'AMI-télé et patron de la chaîne. Je suis fier d'avoir la chance de contribuer à améliorer l'accessibilité de la programmation en vidéodescription pour la communauté francophone des personnes aveugles, ayant une déficience visuelle et des personnes sourdes et malentendantes.
17658 Pour bâtir la programmation d'AMI-télé, nous travaillons de concert avec les producteurs indépendants canadiens et les principaux diffuseurs. Nous travaillons aussi avec un comité consultatif formé de représentants des principales organisations venant en aide aux personnes aveugles ou ayant des déficiences visuelles.
17659 Notre programmation est celle d'une chaîne généraliste, mais qui s'adresse à un public spécifique. Elle comprend des émissions plus actuelles et d'autres qui sont des classiques.
17660 Par exemple, nous avons une entente avec Radio-Canada pour diffuser en vidéodescription des émissions comme « Enquête », « Tout le monde en parlait », « Les Belles Histoires des pays d'en haut » -- c'est un classique -- et « L'auberge du chien noir ».
17661 Nous avons aussi une entente avec l'Office National du Film pour en diffuser des films de fiction ou documentaire. Nous allons par ailleurs, dès la première année, produire ou faire produire des émissions de service sur des sujets qui sont importants pour notre public.
17662 Nous soutenons la proposition du Conseil visant à augmenter la quantité d'émissions offertes avec la vidéodescription aux heures de grande écoute sur autant de réseaux que possible. Cela dit, nous connaissons très bien les défis qui se posent aux diffuseurs, à la fois en ce qui concerne le paysage médiatique actuel et en termes d'accès à la programmation vidéodécrite.
17663 Nous tenons à déclarer officiellement qu'AMI est disposé à travailler en collaboration avec les diffuseurs, les producteurs et la communauté des personnes aveugles ou ayant une déficience visuelle dans l'établissement de pratiques exemplaires en matière de vidéodescription de postproduction ou en direct pour l'industrie de la radiodiffusion francophone. Si les exigences en la matière sont accrues, AMI soutiendra les diffuseurs et le Conseil.
17664 Avant de rendre la parole à David, nous aimerions également déclarer que nous appuyons la proposition visant à inclure le sous-titrage codé dans les versions en ligne de la programmation linéaire. Nous encourageons également le Conseil à tenir compte de la disponibilité de la vidéodescription dans les versions en ligne de la programmation linéaire et de la considérer aussi importante et digne de votre attention.
17665 AMI a récemment développé un lecteur média entièrement accessible en ligne, qui sera lancé en octobre prochain. Ce lecteur média entièrement accessible comprendra non seulement le sous-titrage codé de toutes les vidéos en ligne, mais des commandes entièrement opérationnelles par les utilisateurs d'un lecteur d'écran, autant pour la vidéodescription traditionnelle que la vidéodescription intégrée à la production.
17666 Une fois de plus, il est important de vous dire que nous sommes tout à fait disposés à travailler avec les diffuseurs et le Conseil afin de rendre cela possible dans un laps de temps réaliste.
17668 MR. ERRINGTON: AMI is well aware and supportive of consumers' desire for increased hours of DV programming. However, for the record, we would like to bring our analysis of DV programming in prime time to the Commission's attention. AMI has analyzed the prime time schedules of the top four Canadian broadcasters using our DV Guide data. Based on our analysis, fully 80 percent of the Canadian primetime programming, excluding news, sports or live event, is available with described video. In contrast, only 35 per cent of U.S.-originating programs broadcast by the top four Canadian broadcasters were available with DV.
17669 Clearly, Canadian broadcasters are doing their part to increase the availability of described video in the content that they control. The issue of DV availability appears to be more related to U.S. programming, as evidenced by our review of the top 10 and top 30 programs as reported by BBM.
17670 For the purpose of this analysis, we excluded sports, news or live programming from the calculation, and, based on our review of the 13-week window in the fall and spring of the past broadcast year, on average only 23 per cent of the top 10 and 24 per cent of the top 30 programs were available in described video in the fall.
17671 While this increased in the spring, when 38 per cent of the top 10 and 41 per cent of the top 30 shows were available with DV, it is understandable why the Commission would be frustrated -- sorry, why a consumer would be frustrated by a schedule where less than 50 per cent of the top-rated shows are available with DV.
17672 It is our opinion that consumer satisfaction levels would increase significantly if the per cent of primetime U.S. programming available with described video was at the same level as originating Canadian primetime programming. We're hopeful that, with the advent of the U.S. 21st Century Video and Communication Act, and the requirement of U.S. broadcasters to produce a limited amount of programming with DV, that more of the top U.S. shows will be available for purchase with DV.
17673 Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission, Commission staff, we want to thank you for this opportunity to appear for the leadership role this Commission continues to take in improving accessibility for persons with perceptual disabilities. It has only been with the Commission's unwavering support that AMI has become a world leader in accessibility.
17674 AMI supports the Commission's proposals, and we look forward to working with you and our industry partners in improving the accessibility of our broadcasting system. Implementation of the Commission's proposal will help us fulfil our mission of making media accessible to all Canadians.
17675 Thank you, and we'd be pleased to answer any questions that you may have.
17676 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for your presentation and being here.
17677 Just a few questions.
17678 I asked others beforehand -- now they may be listening elsewhere -- but the media table, which was chock-a-block last week, seems to be completely empty now. And I'm struck, because members of the community you serve presumably buy goods and services --
17679 MR. ERRINGTON: Yes.
17680 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- goods and services that are made by people that advertise in newspapers and other electronic media.
17681 Why does this not seem to be interesting to people to cover, even though we've set an entire morning on this issue?
17682 MR. ERRINGTON: That's a good question, and I'm equally as frustrated as you are.
17683 But I can tell you what we do at AMI is we use our original production, our reporters, who are from the community, to present stories on behalf of our community, so we're trying to do our part, as a media company, and telling the stories of people from the blind and visually -- partially sighted community, as well as other disabilities. But I can't answer the question why the other media hasn't picked up the ball.
17684 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, perhaps we'll get an answer at another point from others.
17685 I'd like to turn now to your position on skinny or small basic entry.
17686 I take it you're obviously in agreement with the notion of the small. You're describing almost a lifeline package. But then you say you're also in favour of the cap.
17687 What the Commission actually put forward as a discussion point for the working document is two separate options. Option A limits -- and both attempt to get to the affordability issue, right? Option A does it by limiting what kind of services would be part of the skinny basic, but option B would allow -- and these are words people seem to have not perhaps picked up on -- it says, yeah, it would be the same services as on option A, but it would also add "and any other selected by the BDUs" -- so there'd be other discretionary additions to that -- and it's only in that context, then, that we -- one would contemplate, I guess, putting a cap --
17688 MR. ERRINGTON: Right.
17689 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- so that, you know, you don't have perhaps the current situation: a very chubby basic --
17690 MR. ERRINGTON: Right.
17691 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- and that there would be an economic cap on that.
17692 So was that your understanding of the proposals?
17693 MR. ERRINGTON: We looked at both option A and option B, and the assumption that we -- where we landed was option B seemed to have certainty to it. We knew that there would be a cap of between $20 and $30. Option A, you would think, would be a cheaper alternative or entry point to the system, or skinnier basic, but there was no certainty of a cap with that, and that's why we chose to kind of align ourselves on option B.
17694 But if you can make the assumption option A would be cheaper than $20 or $30, and that would be capped at that point, then definitely we -- the cheaper the entry into the system, the better for our consumer.
17695 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, there's also other considerations, though, as well. You know, you want a regulatory regime that's -- the Commission even pointed it out in the notice -- you know, "that's simple proportionate, easily administered, and adaptable to change."
17696 MR. ERRINGTON: Right.
17697 THE CHAIRPERSON: Some have said that going back into cap means us being pulled back into rate regulation, to a certain degree, on basic cable.
17698 Isn't that something we should also weigh?
17699 MR. ERRINGTON: It is, but for us, based on the economic data that comes back from our consumer group, we really want to have consistency and we want to be able to have the lowest entry point or cost of entry into the system as possible. That's really the argument we're making.
17700 How that is achieved with a skinny basic, be it option A or option B, the cheaper way to enter the system is what we're pitching here, and that's what our consumer wants: certainty, and affordable entry into the system.
17701 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
17702 The BDUs are saying, however, that they've got some fixed costs to provide basic. In fact, would you agree with them that the actual programming aspect of basic cable, that basic skinny is actually de minimis, it's what costs the network?
17703 MR. ERRINGTON: I would agree with that.
17704 THE CHAIRPERSON: But you're not -- okay. So you still think, for affordability purposes, option B is a better solution?
17705 MR. ERRINGTON: I think for certainty issues option B is a better alternative.
17706 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
17707 Turning now to hardware issues --
17708 MR. ERRINGTON: M'hmm.
17709 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- and I'll get to your proposal, you're new hardware -- but, generally speaking --
17710 MR. ERRINGTON: Right.
17711 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- there's not a lot of hardware being created in Canada. We're part of a larger North American context and we're a bit -- slipstreaming behind developments in the U.S.
17712 Is it your view that an appropriate approach for the Commission to take is to consider the entire North American marketplace for hardware development, and making sure that when it is available it gets deployed, as opposed to actually encouraging it to be deployed specifically for the Canadian market?
17713 MR. ERRINGTON: Right.
17714 I think the Commission should look worldwide for ideas and technologies available --
17715 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yeah, I mentioned North American --
17716 MR. ERRINGTON: Right.
17717 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- because I know some of the relationship --
17718 MR. ERRINGTON: Yeah.
17719 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- historically on the Scientific Atlantic --
17720 MR. ERRINGTON: Yeah.
17721 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- boxes and so forth.
17722 MR. ERRINGTON: Right.
17723 THE CHAIRPERSON: But you think -- in the same spirit, you think that we should look --
17724 MR. ERRINGTON: Right.
17725 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- more broadly.
17726 MR. ERRINGTON: And I also think that we can play a role in that.
17727 Robert is our digital accessibility expert. He spends a lot of time searching the planet for technologies.
17728 I think we would like to take the same role as we did in the DV working group. With respect to standards, we would be more than willing to help our BDU partners locate, test, find, get the consumer involved. We have a direct link with the consumer through our panel. We think that we could assist in the procurement of those -- of that technology, and the implementation of the technology, and collaborate with our BDU partners.
17729 LE PRÉSIDENT : Alors, Monsieur Lapointe, pouvez-vous nous parler plus de votre équipement que vous avez développé récemment, et vous nous dites que ça va être dans le marché aussi tôt que le mois d'octobre?
17730 MR. LAPOINTE: That's what -- yeah, October, but I'll let Robert speak on that matter. He's the expert.
--- Off microphone
17731 THE CHAIRPERSON: Your mike.
17732 MR. PEARSON: My apologies.
17733 Building on David's point, it requires that coordination of the industry, and looking globally as well for the accessible box options.
17734 THE CHAIRPERSON: But this online media player --
17735 MR. PEARSON: Oh, okay.
17736 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- that's what I'm talking about --
17737 MR. PEARSON: Sorry, my apologies.
17738 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- should be available in October.
17739 MR. PEARSON: Yes, of course.
17740 MR. ERRINGTON: No, I'll handle that.
17741 MR. PEARSON: Yeah.
17742 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
17743 MR. ERRINGTON: So we were just -- we were confused. We were thinking you were talking about digital boxes, accessible digital boxes.
17744 MR. PEARSON: Continuing.
17745 MR. ERRINGTON: So let's park that for now, and I'm sure you're going to come back to that.
17746 We have created at AMI what's called an accessible media player. So in order to take content and put it online, two things -- or three things have to happen. So the first thing that has to happen is you have to have a website that is WCAG 2.0 standard. We developed that two years ago, we've rolled that out, and our website is easily accessible through screen readers.
17747 The second barrier there you have to tackle is an accessible media player itself, so as to -- it allows the screen reader to control the device on the screen, to fast forward, stop, rewind, play the device. The only one that exists currently right now is through the BBC. They call it the iPlayer.
17748 We've spent time with them and spoken to them and came back with the idea that we need to create that for ourselves. So we spent the last six months developing our own accessible media player. That media player will be able to go to market come October with the relaunch of our website. And what we will be able to do is we'll take our AMI original content and push it onto our website, and it will be fully accessible on a WCAG 2.0 accessible website with an accessible media player that we've developed.
17749 The third idea is you need accessible content or described content. That's easy for us to do because everything we do is opening described. The broadcasters, on the other point, would have to have both versions of a described and then non-described version of their content, and that's what the BBC does.
17750 THE CHAIRPERSON: And this online media player, just to --
17751 MR. ERRINGTON: M'hmm.
17752 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- hear a little bit more on that, is proprietary to you?
17753 MR. ERRINGTON: It is, and we'd be more than happy to share that expertise and advice with our broadcast partners. That's, we feel, our role.
17754 THE CHAIRPERSON: So although it's proprietary, you're very much more open to sharing it to as many people as want it?
17755 MR. ERRINGTON: Absolutely. That's our role. We think that we can be a leader in accessibility in Canada. And we can collaborate with our broadcasting BDUs partners, and all the expertise that we garner we'd be more than happy to share that with them.
17756 THE CHAIRPERSON: Are you looking for recouping your investment in development that?
17757 MR. ERRINGTON: Not necessarily, no.
17758 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
17759 So tell me more about digital box developments that you think might benefit --
17760 MR. ERRINGTON: Right.
17761 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- our market.
17762 MR. ERRINGTON: Okay. Now we look back to the --
17763 THE CHAIRPERSON: In the non-linear world.
17764 MR. ERRINGTON: Right.
17765 So you saw it in all submissions. There's this huge frustration, pent-up frustration with how to access DV. You know, there's things. There's frustration about the amount of DV there is available to the consumer, and the other pent-up frustration is how to get to it.
17766 So I'm going to pass it to Robert in a moment, but the real -- the magic bullet or the silver bullet in all this is really a voice-activated system or remote, because it removes the remote out of your hands. You're no longer dealing with that, it's voice activated. It also removes all the barriers that the EBG brings in front of you, because it's a voice-activated EBG.
17767 So, for example, if you have Apple TV at home, you can use your voice-activated to navigate through the menus of Apple TV. The thing -- where it falls down, if you get the Netflix, there's no described content available on Netflix.
17768 We think there's an opportunity for us to use our expertise to assist our broadcast partners in finding that voice-activated, digital set-top box.
17769 And I'll pass it to Robert to give you some insight onto that as well.
17770 THE CHAIRPERSON: And I assumed it would be for linear content, but I'm hearing something a little different here.
17771 MR. ERRINGTON: I didn't mean to confuse you with the Apple TV reference.
17772 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
17773 MR. ERRINGTON: No, it would be for a linear set-top box.
17774 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, good.
17775 MR. ERRINGTON: That would be our role, sorry.
17776 THE CHAIRPERSON: So please go ahead.
17777 MR. PEARSON: That's right.
17778 So taking the two examples that I brought forward in what I was speaking about, the Comcast example, as well as the Ocean Blue example, took the idea that you needed to develop the box first, make it an assistive technology box, accessible, similar to how websites can become accessible -- add in the ability to change fonts and styles in the presentation of the guide, but the key feature to it all is that voice feedback.
17779 Comcast launched it earlier this year at what is known as the CSUN conference, International Persons for Disabilities Conference, and it allows you to simply -- that example is proprietary to the Comcast solution, so it's not necessarily the most viable option to look at, in terms of adopting it, say, within a local market.
17780 But the Ocean Blue example from the same idea of the voice navigation: you can simply navigate around the screen, everything is read back to you, you have an understanding of what's on, at what time. For persons who are partially sighted, you can reformat the content to specific colour contrasts that you may wish to see, and things like that.
17781 And how they've implemented it through the U.K. and Hong Kong and Australia is that it's simply an optional box. You sign up for a cable subscription and indicate: I am a person with a perceptual disability. I would like to have the accessible box as opposed to the regular box.
17782 THE CHAIRPERSON: And when you look at those two developments, what brought those companies to develop those solutions?
17783 And the reason I'm asking that question is that --
17784 MR. PEARSON: Yeah.
17785 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- we've heard a lot of comments that there doesn't seem, perhaps, to be a business case to do it --
17786 MR. PEARSON: True.
17787 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- but the regulator has to step in or the legislator has to step in, and I was wondering if that was the experience, or were people actually trying to develop something for the marketplace.
17788 MR. PEARSON: Yeah, in the case of the U.K., it was developing it for the marketplace. They developed it -- they've always had -- the BBC specifically was one of the drivers behind initiating the creation of the box, and Ocean Blue partnered with the RNIB to then create that box and fulfil that need.
17789 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
17790 MR. PEARSON: Because there were so many requests from the community for that. There just simply wasn't a solution --
17791 THE CHAIRPERSON: And you have a publicly funded body --
17792 MR. PEARSON: True, yeah.
17793 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- that's acting in the -- I mean it's not pure marketplace.
17794 MR. PEARSON: No, true. Good.
17795 In fact, the U.S. example is more marketplace, the Comcast example. Again, it was consumer requests. And what they did was they created an entire section devoted to accessibility.
17796 So a vice-president of accessibility focused on the development of this box, a number of years spent at it, and then they developed additional solutions around that, one of them being a customer service model, as well, to support it, a dedicated accessibility team that anyone could -- say, could -- it eliminates that issue of the CSR not knowing what the accessibility solutions are. For someone who may call to find a solution, they integrated that into the whole system as well.
17797 THE CHAIRPERSON: Is the critical mass in the United States so much larger that it would make more sense to have a market-driven solution that might be as applicable in Canada? Or do you think the scale, scope could be adapted --
17798 MR. PEARSON: It could be adapted.
17799 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- to the Canadian marketplace?
17800 MR. PEARSON: I definitely believe it could be adapted.
17801 THE CHAIRPERSON: So if there is a marketplace solution that's potentially out there for providing greater accessibility, why hasn't it happened already?
17802 MR. PEARSON: Well, both the Ocean Blue and the Comcast examples --
17803 THE CHAIRPERSON: In Canada. In Canada.
17804 MR. PEARSON: Yeah -- they're just recent. The Comcast example is less than six months old since they're released it and it's -- we have not yet got to that point, then, where we can build upon perhaps the idea of that. We haven't looked to address it yet.
17805 THE CHAIRPERSON: And are you aware of any companies -- I mean you work in this space a lot -- Canadian companies exploring those options as well?
17806 MR. PEARSON: Not to my knowledge, no.
17807 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
17808 Were you a bit surprised when I was asking questions of intervenors earlier this week -- I think it was the Rogers panel -- that they hadn't really thought about accessibility issues with their Shomi platform?
17809 MR. PEARSON: Oh, yes. Yeah.
17810 Yes, I noted that when I -- when I was first -- when I saw it being released, that it really wasn't an issue that's been considered.
17811 As David mentioned earlier, similar services, such as Netflix, have taken a stance against adopting described video into the content that they provide because of the cost factor to it. There's been a number of grassroots initiatives that have grown up in the United States to go against them to address that specific issue.
17812 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
17813 Do you foresee in the U.S. that that will come about eventually as well, that...?
17814 MR. PEARSON: In Canada or...?
17815 THE CHAIRPERSON: No, in the U.S.
17816 MR. PEARSON: Oh, in the U.S.? Yes.
17817 THE CHAIRPERSON: Because, obviously, Netflix --
17818 MR. PEARSON: Yeah.
17819 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- is resisting that in the U.S. as well.
17820 MR. PEARSON: Yes. Yeah. Yeah.
17821 THE CHAIRPERSON: And what is the public sentiment --
17822 MR. PEARSON: Oh, well, from the community --
17823 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- in that marketplace?
17824 MR. PEARSON: -- specifically, getting very much behind it: that, regardless of the fact that there is an additional cost to it, it simply -- it's a way of doing business and being more inclusive --
17825 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
17826 MR. PEARSON: -- to the entire audience.
17827 THE CHAIRPERSON: So my last question relates to the comments you're making in paragraph 15 of your oral presentation.
17828 I'm going to describe it as a perception gap between what people -- and I'm focusing on the Canadian content here, obviously. There's only so much we can be responsible for -- that, in your view -- and I know that the programming that you -- the sports and news programming weren't part of your analysis, and it is very much desirable content on the part of anyone consuming television.
17829 Why do you -- what would you explain this perception gap -- because we're certainly hearing from folks that they think that there's not enough, and your study seems to suggest there's more than they think.
17830 MR. ERRINGTON: Right.
17831 There is a perception gap amongst the community.
17832 Two issues. I think one is awareness. We're trying our part to increase awareness of DV, what DV programming is available. We do that with our DV guide on a daily basis. We are launching a French version of our DV guide to coincide with the launch of our French service. So hopefully people will be able to come to AMI and see the breadth of described program that's available on a nightly basis.
17833 I think that -- so an awareness part of it is one. I also think that, you know, the fact that the -- they're not getting the top programming that they want. So if you take the Canadian perspective with the top Canadian shows, 80 per cent of them are being described. And I would think if we did that same analysis this fall and next spring, that 80 number would probably be close to 100 per cent.
17834 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
17835 MR. ERRINGTON: Okay? But they aren't necessarily the top 10 and top 30 shows. So the frustration is in the American programming, the foreign programming.
17836 THE CHAIRPERSON: Certainly on the English market we know that viewing to non-Canadian is quite high, and that's the phenomenon --
17837 MR. ERRINGTON: That's right.
17838 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- you described in --
17839 MR. ERRINGTON: Correct.
17840 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- in the next paragraph?
17841 MR. ERRINGTON: Correct.
17842 THE CHAIRPERSON: How do you address that? Is your view that what you're going to be proposing through your availability description of -- your description of the availability of described video will be sufficient to address that perception gap?
17843 MR. ERRINGTON: I think we're trying, and this is part of it. We work closely with our partners at the CAB. The awareness campaign that we just launched, they were very supportive of that campaign, and I think we're -- I know we are going to continue that campaign going forward with giving us airtime to explain what DV is, and the availability of it.
17844 But I think that, you know, it's just going to take time for, you know, Canadian programming to reach the 100-per-cent max. I also think, on the American side, if you looked at the fall amount of described programming that was available, and compared that to the spring, there was a 65-per-cent increase in that number. And I think, again, if we did that analysis this fall and next spring, I'm hoping to see those numbers increase.
17845 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
17846 MR. ERRINGTON: Because, you know, with the 21st Century Act in the States, getting described -- description done at the production of the product that's key, because once the producers who are producing the content -- and they've got to spend a very, very minimal amount of a production budget to make it described, once the people who are purchasing the content, the broadcasters who are purchasing the content demand that the product comes described, you see a big shift, and I think that -- I'm sure that's what happened on the Canadian side --
17847 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
17848 MR. ERRINGTON: -- in the last --
17849 THE CHAIRPERSON: As long as that description gets passed through --
17850 MR. ERRINGTON: On an accessible --
17851 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- through the linear and non-linear platforms --
17852 MR. ERRINGTON: Correct. Well, that's --
17853 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- that's how you're --
17854 MR. ERRINGTON: -- that's the next big challenge --
17855 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yeah.
17856 MR. ERRINGTON: -- is being able to access that content, be it on linear or non-linear.
17857 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right. Good.
17858 I believe those are our questions, although I do want to wish you good luck --
17859 MR. ERRINGTON: Thank you.
17860 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- on the launch coming up. So, yeah, good luck with that, and thank you for participating in this hearing.
17861 MR. ERRINGTON: Perfect.
17862 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.
17863 MR. ERRINGTON: Thank you.
17864 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
17865 THE SECRETARY: We will now connect to Winnipeg for a video conference.
17866 Hi, can you hear me well?
17867 I think you are on mute.
17869 MR. TRAILL: I'm not on mute now.
17870 THE SECRETARY: No? Exactly.
17871 Thank you. You may present --
17872 MR. TRAILL: I can hear you, yes.
17873 THE SECRETARY: You may present yourself, and you have --
17874 MR. TRAILL: Okay. Thank you very much.
17875 THE SECRETARY: -- five minutes for your presentation.
17876 MR. TRAILL: Yes, thank you.
17877 MR. TRAILL: My name is Ivan Traill, and I just had my 82nd birthday in May. That's just to set the record straight so you'll know.
17878 I'm the manager of NAC TV, in Neepawa, Manitoba, and we're serving southwestern Manitoba.
17879 Prior to joining NAC TV, I was a member of the board, and also the president of Westman Cooperative, which ran the cable companies' cable in 20 different communities.
17880 NAC TV produces 20 hours per week of new local programming, and on a budget of about $100,000. We raise this from bingo, DVD sales, our municipality and revenue from -- a local expression -- from MTS. It's one of the five TV providers in our area.
17881 Twenty hours a week is about as four times as much as produced by most LPH recipients -- LPIF, I'm sorry. We cover our municipal council, local history, the environment, sports, cultural and civic events.
17882 Our immediate community is about 17,000. This is the community around Neepawa. They watch us on either cable or off-the-air.
17883 We also, recently, have gone to another 100,000 homes, because of MTS and Bell. The coverage has changed significantly.
17884 Shaw once operated, roughly, 12 cable community production studios, and most of those have been closed down. In Manitoba, we are the only off-the-air service outside of Winnipeg. All of the Shaw stations have been closed down because they have fibre-optically incorporated them into the Winnipeg production team. Production has been consolidated in Winnipeg.
17885 These towns beg us for coverage, and although we are seen on Bell, Bell contributes no local funding. MTS does. MTS gives us their 5 percent.
17886 Westman cut us off from funding once we were on MTS and Bell, as they felt it was an affront that we were being seen on the other two carriers.
17887 So our first point for the day is that, although the Commission's well-intentioned Community TV Policy stipulates how much BDUs are supposed to stand on "access production", and even go so far as to recommend that they support independent community services such as ours, in our area only MTS actually contributes.
17888 In rural areas, competition among BDUs means that no one BDU has sufficient resources to operate the kind of hyper-local training and production facility that we offer.
17889 MTS gets this. They realize that the small, local expression percentage that can be collected in rural areas is not enough to run a string of studios or even to operate a mobile service in this area.
17890 MTS gives the local expression percentage to us because we are already in the community and can leverage economies of scale.
17891 We collaborate with the radio station, the municipalities are involved, and we also run a bookstore.
17892 The only way that a meaningful amount of local content can be generated in rural areas is to pool the local expression contributions from all of these service providers and make it available to the community-based organizations that distribute on all platforms.
17893 We are available over-the-air, on cable, on Bell's basic satellite tier, and on the Internet. Everyone in our community can participate.
17894 They come to the studio, and they learn about the latest digital media. They can borrow equipment. They can make their own programs, and they get production support from members of the studio.
17895 The whole community participates.
17896 This brings us to our second point. We understand that when Bell purchased CTV and was asked to carry 43 additional local channels that Shaw did not have equivalent capacity, and that was why carriage of all local and community channels did not become standard DTH policy.
17897 We understand that Bell now has access to an additional satellite. This being the case, all community and local channels that produce significant quantities of original Canadian content should be carried on the satellite basic tier, regardless of the provider.
17898 As with rural channels, our broadcast signal and our carriage on cable are limited to our downtown core. A large portion of the residents of our municipality live on rural farms, where satellite is their only option. Ironically, our area happens to be dominated by Shaw Direct.
17899 As residents find out that we are on Bell, some switch, but not all have heard of us.
17900 We are relying on the efficiency of the Bell sales team with respect to whether we can be seen in our own area.
17901 Meanwhile, we have a loyal following up in the Interlake area, because it happens that in that area it is predominantly Bell, and we get interested calls and support from across the country because of viewers by Bell subscribers that appreciate our honest broker approach to presenting exclusively Canadian content.
17902 But we can't survive like this forever. I won't survive forever. There must be substantial funding for community-managed undertakings that are rooted in the community they serve. The only answer is to serve rural communities with adequate amounts of local, relevant content.
17903 We applied to the Small Market Local Programming Fund in 2012, and were denied.
17904 And CACTUS had asked, and the Clifford Lincoln report had recommended, that community broadcasters be included in the LPIF, but we were denied.
17905 We can't understand why funds keep being set up that throw money at private entities to incent them to produce local content that they clearly don't really want to do because it is not their bread and butter. Yet, the community and public channels that have the public service mandate to do this kind of programming are underfunded and get nothing.
17906 It has been pointed out in the hearing that advertising is no longer a viable model for funding local broadcasting. If it is not viable for local conventional broadcasters that make their money re-airing U.S. series, how can it be viable for community broadcasters that are close to 100 percent local content?
17907 Our message to you is twofold: one, ensure that independent community channels are included in the mandatory basic cable and satellite tiers; and change the recommendation that BDUs contribute to independent community channels to a requirement by creating a Community Access Media Fund, which CACTUS has been advocating.
17908 Canada's big BDUs haven't had the technical infrastructure for small community focus to steward the community sector for a decade. Their businesses have grown far beyond cable delivery, and that is where their focus should be.
17909 Communities must be empowered to serve their communities.
17910 Thank you very much.
17911 I am sorry for my reading. I have a bad case of cataracts, but before you feel sorry for me, my operation is in four weeks, so...
17912 THE CHAIRPERSON: Good luck with that. No, it was fine. Don't worry about that, it was okay, we were able to follow you quite well.
17913 Commissioner Molnar will start the questions for you.
17914 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Good afternoon, Mr. Traill.
17915 MR. TRAILL: Good afternoon.
17916 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Let me first say that I am not sure I feel sorry about the cataracts, but you say that you spend 50 hours per week as a volunteer, and that is a lot of time for anybody.
17917 Is that time that you choose, or what is required?
17918 MR. TRAILL: It's time that I choose, yes.
17919 We are the only channel in Manitoba that actually -- like, everywhere I go, we are the only camera that shows up.
17920 The Aboriginal World Square Dancing Competition was held, and we were the only camera there.
17921 Nobody, absolutely nobody, is covering the small things; the Agricultural Hall of Fame, which was crowded with people, and no cameras but mine.
17922 I feel that I am sort of obligated to go to these places.
17923 There are 40 volunteers running our studio, and a lot of them go out, but many of them have their own little specific things. There are only two or three of us who actually travel very far afield to get programming.
17924 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Thank you for that.
17925 Mr. Traill, are you aware that since this initiative started, trying to gather information, the Commission, not long before this hearing started, came out with what was described as a Working Document, which kind of laid out a potential approach to this?
17926 One of the things that was proposed is that the whole issue of community programming be looked at on its own. It had already been part of the Commission's plan to look at it, so issues related to community programming and the community funds that are available are going to be looked at at a later date.
17927 So there is another time to --
17928 MR. TRAILL: I realize that. I just think that it has --
17929 I'm sorry.
17930 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: No, go ahead.
17931 MR. TRAILL: I just think that it's important that -- and I did seem to stress the money aspect, because I spend two-thirds of my time raising enough money to keep our station on the air.
17932 That's not really why I wanted to be here. I wanted to make the point that community programming deserves a place in the Let's Talk TV deal.
17933 As I say, we are the only ones that are covering the majority of rural Manitoba events. Nobody else is covering them.
17934 We were getting calls from all over Manitoba, asking us to go out and do the model airplane thing, and 150 model airplane people showed up from all across Canada, and we were the only camera there.
17935 Nothing is being covered, and it's getting worse and worse. We used to have a dozen stations that we traded programs with across Manitoba, and we don't have any anymore. We are the only ones that are producing.
17936 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Thank you for that. I appreciate you bringing your issues forward and highlighting the important role of community.
17937 I really don't have any more questions for you right now, but thank you.
17938 MR. TRAILL: Thank you.
17939 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, Mr. Traill. We look forward to seeing you perhaps in future hearings, after your successful operation for the cataracts.
17940 Good luck, and thank you.
17941 MR. TRAILL: Thank you.
17942 THE CHAIRPERSON: Madam Secretary...
17943 THE SECRETARY: We will now connect to Montreal for a videoconference.
17944 THE SECRETARY: Thank you for appearing. Please present yourselves, and you will have five minutes for your presentation.
17945 MS LUNDMAN: Thank you.
17946 First of all, Chairman Blais and Commissioners, we would like to congratulate the CRTC on its Public Service Awards for Excellence, and wish the best to Commissioner Dupras, our new Quebec representative.
17947 These hearings are gruelling, and we wanted to express our admiration for the Commission's stamina, cogent questioning, and good humour, day in and day out.
17948 I am Janis Lundman, Co-chair of the Quebec English-language Production Council, and producer of popular drama series, such as Bomb Girls and Durham County.
17949 Sitting beside me is Kirwan Cox, who is the Executive Director of our Council.
17950 We represent the English-language production industry in Quebec.
17951 MR. COX: As Phil Lind said last week, these hearings are historic. You have an especially difficult job, because you are sitting in trust for millions of Canadians -- those past who built our broadcasting system, those present who enjoy one of the golden ages of Canadian programming, and those future who will live with the decisions you make now.
17952 We have been given a few minutes to lay bare the future of Canadian television, so we are going to get to it.
17953 As the days of testimony meld into each other, we would like to go back to the basic principles that we believe are important to keep a strong Canadian presence on our television screens.
17954 As the Act points out, radio frequencies are public property. They are not owned by anyone, they are owned by everyone.
17955 As the Act also says, broadcasting in Canada is a single system that should be effectively owned and controlled by Canadians.
17956 We think this hearing is about how we maintain these objectives as the Canadian system transforms before our eyes.
17957 MS LUNDMAN: Unfortunately, the objectives of the Act and the objectives of the marketplace often seem to be in opposition, especially in English.
17958 You must balance private interests with the public interest, and the often conflicting needs of Canadians as consumers, citizens and creators.
17959 Put simply, we cannot rely on market forces alone if we want a broadcasting system that reflects Canada and encourages our diversity.
17960 The most profitable mass market programs tend to push out less profitable, small market programming. When competing for funding against these lowest common denominator programs, regional, local, Aboriginal, minority language, documentary, or innovative programs do not get made.
17961 That is the reason we need regulations to protect program diversity, and that is the reason we need you.
17962 We cannot fund competitive domestic programs across half a continent, in two or more languages, through the marketplace alone. Like nearly all other countries, we have only been able to produce domestic content by cross-subsidizing the cost.
17963 To achieve these national goals, Parliament has provided public funding -- public funding for the national broadcaster, whose role remains central, especially for official language minorities, and public funding for all broadcasters through tax expenditures and the Canada Media Fund.
17964 But public funding is not enough. To access our airwaves, private broadcasters have always had to do more than make easy money selling American programs to Canadians. They have had to cross-subsidize Canadian content.
17965 BDUs have always had to do more than sell American channels to Canadians. They have had to cross-subsidize Canadian content and community TV. That has always been the deal at the centre of the Canadian broadcasting system.
17966 Today that deal is not good enough. The broadcasting system is shape-shifting as we speak, and unfortunately old business models no longer work.
17967 MR. COX: As you know, viewers, subscribers, and advertisers are migrating to Internet platforms. When we reach the tipping point is not the issue. We know it is coming.
17968 And the 15-year-old New Media Exemption Order looks increasingly like a little Dutch boy with his finger in the dike. We can no longer hold back the ocean.
17969 We don't have enough money to produce enough competitive and compelling Canadian content, especially in the expensive genres, especially in English. What do we do?
17970 First, do no harm. Easy decisions often lead to unintended consequences.
17971 Next, we must bring Internet distributors into the single system. All over-the-top distributors operating in Canada must compete fairly with Canadian broadcasters. They must make the deal and support the production of Canadian content for access to the Canadian market.
17972 If you leave them out of the single system, sooner or later high-cost Canadian content will collapse.
17973 Netflix is a symbol of the OTT challenge. Netflix is distributing commercial American content to Canadians. It is operating an online business in Canada and, de facto, it is part of the Canadian broadcasting system.
17974 How much does Netflix or the other OTTs take out of the Canadian market? We don't know.
17975 How much do they contribute to Canadian program production? We don't know.
17976 The CRTC does not collect this information.
17977 We have heard this past week that Netflix alone has 4 million Canadian subscribers. That means that its annual revenue is nearly $400 million, and growing.
17978 Netflix should be spending a significant percentage of this revenue on Canadian production.
17979 We understand that Netflix does not pay sales tax in Canada, but the federal government is looking at the question of Internet sales tax.
17980 We understand from U.S. regulatory filings that Netflix pays income taxes to foreign countries for revenue earned in those countries. What about Canada? We don't know.
17981 In addition to income tax, Netflix is obligated to pay copyright royalties to Canadian and other musicians for revenues earned in Canada. If they have to pay Canadian copyright royalties, they should have to pay Canadian programming expenditures.
17982 We request that the CRTC establish a working group on the OTT question, and how best to deal with it. Of course, we would be happy to participate.
17983 MS LUNDMAN: On a different subject, we want to say that this Commission has changed official language minority program production in Quebec for the better. You have accepted the principle that a percentage of English independent production expenditures should be spent in Quebec. As a result, broadcasters are actively seeking official language minority projects here. We request that this principle be continued with every licence renewal.
17984 However, a percentage of a declining total does not increase our vitality.
17985 We believe that the CBC is underfunded and cannot fulfil its mandates under the Act. As the independent authority overseeing the broadcasting system, we believe it is your duty to officially and publicly inform the government if you also believe the CBC is underfunded.
17986 The CBC is in crisis, and it needs additional revenues. With the powers that you have, you must help them find those revenues without eliminating off-air viewers.
17987 Compared to other countries, we believe that private English broadcasters spend too much of their valuable program budgets on foreign programming. To deal with this problem, we suggest that their CPE be increased, or you require that at least 50 percent of broadcaster program budgets be spent on Canadian content.
17988 Finally, we believe that local television, including community TV, should be re-examined to improve OLMC reflection and production. With the exception of local news, weather and sports in Montreal, we have very little OLMC reflection in Quebec.
17989 Thank you.
17990 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. You were reading very fast. Hopefully the interpreters were able to pick up everything you were saying.
17991 MS LUNDMAN: Yes, I'm sorry, but we had to cram it into five minutes.
17992 THE CHAIRPERSON: It usually is the other way around.
17993 MR. COX: We were given five minutes.
17994 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, I realize that, but saying things too quickly, sometimes we don't hear.
17995 But, don't worry, we followed you.
17996 MS LUNDMAN: I'm sorry.
17997 THE CHAIRPERSON: Not at all.
17998 Commissioner Simpson will start us off.
17999 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Hello. Your presentation covered a lot of the scope of this hearing, well beyond the specific perspectives of the Quebec English-language Production Council, and I thank you for that, because you really widened your scope and helped us in a lot of areas.
18000 I would, however, like to narrow the scope back, because I have the opportunity to be with you right now, to gain an understanding from the Council's perspective on a few areas -- funding, and access, and network versus local TV.
18001 The reason why I would like some clarity is because, in reading the fullness of your presentation, I came away with the impression -- and this is, again, my impression, not the Commission's -- that you didn't seem to feel that funding was as much of an issue as access; that there are funds available through CMF envelopes and otherwise.
18002 I am not saying that it's not important, it is just that, on a scale, it perhaps ranked a little lower than access.
18003 Is that correct, that statement?
18004 MR. COX: I don't think so.
18005 MS LUNDMAN: No, I would say that is not correct. I would say they were equal.
18006 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay. With respect to broadcasters accessing funds, such as CMF, are there exhibition issues -- obviously, the answer is going to be yes -- are there exhibition issues that are significantly standing in the way of them getting access to projects that are directed to OLMC audiences?
18007 Are there structural deficiencies in the way the fund is presently structured?
18008 MS LUNDMAN: Are you talking about the reflection of OLMC on the networks?
18009 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: No, I'm asking if there are conditions that are presently standing in the way of broadcasters accessing funds for productions that are directed to more regional and local reflection by OLMC communities.
18010 That's my question.
18011 MR. COX: Do you want to answer --
18012 MS LUNDMAN: No.
18013 MR. COX: -- CBC?
18014 I guess we're not quite sure -- I mean, as you know, there's a very complicated funding mechanism for broadcasters to access funding, through tax credits, through CMF, through the Anglophone Minority Incentive and various kinds of things, and provincial tax credits.
18015 When all those things are put together, we usually end up short of money, and the question then becomes, where is this missing money going to come from and is it going to come from outside the country, for example?
18016 And if it comes from outside the country, then, are co-producers in Europe, or the U.S., or whatever, going to want to have productions that are locally reflected? Or are they going to want something which is more international?
18017 So, there's a bit of a conflict in the fact that there's not quite enough money and that to get the money, one has to dilute, or ignore, what we will call "local reflection".
18018 But I'm still a little uncertain about where your question is going, in the sense of production, regardless of what it is, versus production about OLMC issues.
18019 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay. Well, here's where I'm coming from.
18020 In past exposure to the arguments of producers, both in the English-language production community in Quebec and French producers producing either inside Quebec or outside Quebec, but for francophone audiences outside of Quebec, there always seems to be a conflict that -- and I'm trying to track this conflict back to a funding issue.
18021 So, for example, if you're an English-language producer in Quebec and you choose to mount a production that is for anglophones in Quebec, about anglophones in Quebec, does that narrowing of the content narrow your prospects for funding?
18022 MR. COX: Yes -- I'm sorry.
18023 MS LUNDMAN: Yes. I would have said, before the recent ruling, that it did have an impact on that -- and I work in large-budget dramatic series and it did have an impact.
18024 Since the change, the minority that we brought about, what's happening is now the broadcasters are specifically looking for projects that can be shot in Quebec --
18025 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Right.
18026 MS LUNDMAN: -- that reflect Quebec --
18027 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Right.
18028 MS LUNDMAN: -- values that reflect, you know, stories coming out of Quebec.
18029 They are also seeing that because there's now stabilized funding through the CMF, there's a special anglo-minority fund that they can make up some of the financing there.
18030 So, that's made a tremendous difference.
18031 It's also impacted the talent that is now staying in Quebec, in English language. It's not migrating to Toronto, because they know that there are productions there.
18032 I will, however, say that I think on more of the local level, where it comes into, you know, community TV and things, that that's a problem, still.
18033 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: I'm going there, next.
18034 MS LUNDMAN: Okay.
18035 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: So, what we had heard, you know -- a lot of what we've been doing over the last few years had been trying to drive solutions towards the scenario I just referenced. And what I was trying to do was to understand that if regulations that have been put in place were paving the way to make it easier through access to exhibition, whether or not there was significant improvement in availability of funding. And I guess what you're saying is that both access and funding still require work.
18036 So, moving on to exhibition and access.
18037 It would seem to me, from studying the problem, both now and in past, that local and community access, again, the narrower the subject matter, the less it becomes a mass media project and the more you need partnerships and interest in co-productions and commissioning of productions by local television and community channels.
18038 What's happening there, from your standpoint?
18039 Because I read in your submission that you said that because of our efforts, it seems that interest in these type of productions has never been greater. Yet, you're saying production is on the decline.
18040 MR. COX: There's network production which is broadcast nationally -- and that's one issue -- and that's the stuff that gets money from the Anglophone Minority Incentive and that's the stuff that, by and large, benefits from the minimum percentages that you people have established, like the 6% for CBC, or the 3% for Rogers, and so on.
18041 And so, you're establishing minimum levels of OLMC production have had a tremendous impact, combined with the CMF establishing the Anglophone Minority Incentive. All of those things are financial -- and that's great, because the financing really tends to roll things.
18042 Now, when you're talking about more local stuff, then, you're in a completely different world and one that is not -- you know, hasn't been amenable to those issues, to those financing issues.
18043 There's a community channel issue.
18044 Vidéotron have put forward an application for an English-language channel. Another group has put forward an application for an alternative channel. And you're going to be speaking to some of those people after us.
18045 But, anyway, right now, there is no English-language community channel in Montreal. although there could be. And that would help, if there were. And which one is the best application, is another issue I don't want to get into right now.
18046 Then, there's a huge gap between the community channel and the national system, because there is no educational English-language Quebec channel, and there never will be, because there's no English-language Quebec regional channel, and there probably never will be.
18047 And so, then, when you get to the national broadcasters, like CTV, yes, they have local news, weather, and sports, but hardly anything else -- and if they do, it's as cheap, cheap, cheap as possible.
18048 Then, on the other hand, with CBC, in the summer, they run a series of documentaries once a week -- this summer, it was called "Perspective Quebec" -- and that's nice, but they pay maybe $20,000 or something, for those hour-long documentaries. And so, financially, it doesn't really work. I mean you've got to sort of have stuff in your pocket and doing it elsewhere.
18049 So, there's a huge problem, all the way through the system, up to the point to where you get to network, in which case, then, people like Janis go to the Toronto offices of the producers, and there, it's really a funding issue.
18050 And if 20% of the budget is missing, then that's where the problem is, not so much the access question, at that level.
18051 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay. That answers -- I'm sorry. Did I interrupt you?
18053 That answers, very sufficiently, the question I had.
18054 I was trying to piece together whether there was just a logical conflict, because if local stations do a better job of local reflection, they're pretty much chock-a-block full of network commitments, other than the news and sports, and it was begging the access question.
18055 Two more questions, very quickly.
18056 CBC. You referenced, several times, the funding issue on CBC.
18057 Is that having a direct impact -- admittedly, there's a huge onus with the regs, as they now exist, for CBC to be a major player in the solution here.
18058 But with respect to their funding issues, which are not part of our purview, is this having a tangible impact on their appetite and ability to commission projects?
18059 MR. COX: Yes, definitely.
18060 MS LUNDMAN: Yeah, absolutely.
18061 MR. COX: But they've lost LPIF money, to give you one example.
18062 Plus, they've lost advertising money -- as all broadcasters have.
18063 Plus, they're losing the National Hockey League, you know, which has another level of a hit.
18064 Plus, they keep getting their base funding cut off by the government.
18065 So, they are suffering more than other national broadcasters -- and all broadcasters that come to you, telling you how much they're suffering.
18066 Do you want to talk to them about your project?
18067 MS LUNDMAN: Yeah. I mean the thing with CBC, what I'm finding now, just as a producer, is because of the vertical integration that's going on, there are fewer and fewer places to go to try and pitch projects. There's basically -- there's the Shaw, then there's Bell, then there's CBC. And, you know, because they own all these other projects, you're going to the same three our four people who are the creative heads all the time. That's the one thing.
18068 So, there's now a lot of pressure on CBC to try and produce programs that really speak to Canadians, which -- you know, they're a public broadcaster. That's what they need to be doing.
18069 But they're in a situation where they're only able to commission fewer episodes, you know, four, five, six episodes, which, you know, can be fine. But it begs a certain type of programming.
18070 They're not going to be creating episodes of, you know, 13 that are going to go unnecessarily for five years, where they can then start recouping some money.
18071 The other thing is they're only being -- they can only put in the minimum amount. So, they put in a minimum licence fee. They can take the minimum out of the CMF licence fee top-up. And as a producer, I then have tax credits that I'm now faced with -- our producers faced with, up to 30 or 35% short in financing, which becomes very difficult to try and get in an international market.
18072 International co-productions, which I'm just going through on a project now that I'm developing with CBC, is that they want to have something that's international. So, they would be quite happy to do historical dramas. They would be quite happy to do genres, fantasy, science fiction. But when it comes to actually wanting to participate in a program that is very specifically Canadian, it becomes very difficult, in an international playing field, to do that.
18073 So, it's a challenge for CBC.
18074 MR. COX: They do have obligations that other broadcasters don't have.
18075 But the conundrum is they're desperate to do stuff here and they are least able to afford to do it.
18076 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Well, all your other positions are quite clear, except one, because you've been leaning very heavily on funding and access.
18077 Could you just, one more time, explain how -- because, again, this hearing is preoccupied with offers on the basic and discretionary level -- could you, one more time, explain or describe your position on the proposition, with respect to basic service, as is being discussed here at these hearings and whether or not they will have a positive or a negative impact on your particular point of view?
18078 MS LUNDMAN: You mean point number 1, small basic option (a) and (b)?
18079 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yes. Basic service -- you know, how will the basic service meet or not meet your objectives?
18080 Because you really haven't addressed it.
18081 MR. COX: I don't --
18082 MS LUNDMAN: Yeah, I mean if you're talking about that in the pick-and-pay -- is that what --
18083 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: No, we're looking at a basic service and what that should constitute, whether it's an all-Canadian service, a skinny basic.
18084 And, also, we're looking at discretionary -- but discretionary, I'll leave alone.
18085 I just wanted your perspectives on basic service. Or would you have one? Because I couldn't find it.
18086 MR. COX: I don't think we have one.
18087 MS LUNDMAN: At this point, no.
18088 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay. Thank you.
18089 MR. COX: The BDUS always want flexibility. So, our feeling is let them flex.
18090 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay. Thank you.
18091 Those are my questions.
18092 MS LUNDMAN: I mean the concern is that, given some of the comments -- oh, are we finished?
18093 MS LUNDMAN: No, no, no, no. I'm finished.
18094 Thank you, very much.
18095 MS LUNDMAN: We're finished?
18096 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner Simpson finished his questions.
18097 But I believe Vice-Chair of Broadcasting will have some questions for you.
18098 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
18099 Madam Lundman, I'm going to take advantage of your presence here to ask you a question.
18100 Given your experience in producing higher-budget serial television productions, what is the easiest way or the most important factor that we should put into place that would create an environment that would be conducive to producing those big-budget television series that can find a market internationally and can allow us to be competitive with what's happen south of the border and elsewhere?
18101 MS LUNDMAN: Well, I think the answer to that is the same, in most places, is that right now the financing and the model like the CMF is being squeezed, the people are losing -- are leaving cable, so it's becoming less and less.
18102 So, one thing is, either raise the licence fees that the Canadian broadcasters have to put in, try and get money from an OTT like Netflix to increase the amount of money that would go into the CMF.
18103 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: And what if we -- if the funds --
18104 MS LUNDMAN: -- raise the financing.
18105 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: If the financing would stay as it, and we were to put a greater emphasis on expenditure, not necessarily exposure, quality and not quantity, would that be helpful, in competing within a highly-competition and national marketplace?
18106 MS LUNDMAN: Well, right now, I think there is a good -- there's a lot of quality that comes out.
18107 In terms of quantity, the quantity is going down because you're seeing more and more of the broadcasters who are starting to ask for fewer and fewer episodes -- six episodes, eight episodes. That's what's happening.
18108 And that's fine. You can do those short episodes.
18109 But, in terms of trying to monetize that over a period of time and you need to have more episodes, you need to have your 60 or 65 episodes.
18110 Does that answer your question?
18111 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: In part, yes.
18112 ut I'm speaking to a point that was raised earlier last week, and it's crucial, in terms of production in Canada and around the world -- and I think your colleague's helping you out, there.
18113 But given the fact that there is an appetite, worldwide, for more expensive productions, not the 10 million "Game of Thrones", but --
18114 MS LUNDMAN: Yes.
18115 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: -- you know, you could -- basically, you've got a $4-million-an-hour production, as a minimum, in terms of international standards.
18116 What can we do, in Canada, to create more of that kind of content that you can then monetize south of the border, and elsewhere around the world, given that it's a whole big world out there and there aren't too many borders left?
18117 That's my question.
18118 MS LUNDMAN: Okay. Then, I guess my answer to that would be, look at somebody like Netflix who's taking $400 million, potentially, out of the country with its subscribers and see if they can put some more money back into producing Canadian shows.
18119 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Have you pitched any original content --
18120 MS LUNDMAN: When you're talking about the $4-million --
18121 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Yeah.
18122 MS LUNDMAN: Pardon me?
18123 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Go ahead.
18124 MS LUNDMAN: When you're talking about the $4-million-per-episode shows, they are basically -- they are "Game of Thrones". They're "King Tut". They're all of those, you know, very big-budget, genre shows.
18125 You can get shows like "Broadchurch" or "Top of the Lake", that are around $2 million per episode -- which is the range that I work in. You can still try and sell those shows. They work internationally.
18126 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Great. Have you pitched some of those shows to --
18127 MS LUNDMAN: They're wannabe shows.
18128 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Have you pitched some of those shows to Netflix?
18129 MS LUNDMAN: Yes, we have. We pitched one already.
18130 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: And how is that coming alone?
18131 MR. COX: And what happened?
18132 MS LUNDMAN: It's coming along fine. They're tracking the show. We've got a production order, They're, you know, very excited about coming on-board. They're changing -- the conversation I had with them about four or five weeks ago, when I met them in LA, is that they're changing their business model because they're now opening up in -- you know, they're opening up in Europe. They want to open up in Asia. They want to do more -- they want to do more, is what they told me, original content.
18133 But they can't afford to keep doing the "House of Cards", so they're looking at, you know, trying to do projects with us, trying to do projects with, you know, other countries.
18134 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Right. And they --
18135 MS LUNDMAN: -- would be in budget level, which is, like, two to three million --
18136 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Two to 3 million.
18137 And there are already two successful projects being filmed in Toronto, that original series for Netflix, right, the Hemlock Groves and the Orange Is the New Blacks of this World?
18138 MS LUNDMAN: Yeah.
18139 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: So, they're already commissioning original content in Canada?
18140 MS LUNDMAN: Yes, those are their shows.
18141 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: What happened to "Durham Country"?
18142 MS LUNDMAN: Well, it's Canadian content -- it's not exactly Canadian content, though.
18143 "Orange is the New Black" is a U.S. show.
18144 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: No, I understand. But the filming is happening in Toronto. Is it not?
18145 MS LUNDMAN: Yes.
18146 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Great.
18147 "Durham County". What happened to "Durham County"?
18148 It was like "True Detective" five years ahead of "True Detective".
18149 What --
18150 MS LUNDMAN: I know.
18151 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Yeah, I know.
18152 What went wrong? Or didn't go wrong?
18153 MS LUNDMAN: We were ahead of the curve.
18154 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: You were.
18155 MS LUNDMAN: We were ahead of the curve.
18156 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: And was there a pick-up south of the border and elsewhere of that production? For Durham?
18157 MS LUNDMAN: Yes. They're on ION.
18158 And, actually, Netflix just picked it up. It picked it up in the spring. So, it's airing on Netflix now.
18159 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Great.
18160 Did you film that --
18161 MS LUNDMAN: And it was sold. It was sold all over.
18162 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Good.
18163 It originally sold to TMN --
18164 MS LUNDMAN: -- in Quebec.
18165 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: It originally sold to TMN and Movie Central.
18166 MS LUNDMAN: Yes.
18167 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: That was the original -- yeah.
18168 Was that filmed in St. Lambert?
18169 MS LUNDMAN: Yeah.
18170 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Did you film that in St. lambert?
18171 MR. COX: St. Lambert?
18172 MS LUNDMAN: No. Where was it filmed?
18173 It's where all the hydro towers are. I'm sorry.
18174 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Yeah, I know.
18175 MR. COX: Sainte-Julie.
18176 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Was it Sainte-Julie?
18177 I never knew there were hydro towers there.
18178 Okay. Somewhere on the South Shore.
18179 Well, on your point on Netflix, I mean a lot of that information will be asked of them on Friday, so we may be better informed by the weekend on a lot of the queries you had as regards to the Netflix and their spending.
18180 MS LUNDMAN: Can I just go back to the question about the bigger-budget shows?
18181 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Sure.
18182 MS LUNDMAN: The broadcasters, I found, when pitching those kinds of shows, are very nervous, because they don't know how they're going to finance.
18183 They've a limited amount of money that they can put into an episode.
18184 And if I walk in and say, "I've got this great idea. It's going to cost 4 or $5 million an episode", they're going to go, "Oh, that's nice. Come back when you have some partners".
18185 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: What if you became partners with them on international rights?
18186 MS LUNDMAN: Well, would they give me some? Sure.
18187 In what way?
18188 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Well, they're your rights.
18189 MS LUNDMAN: I mean the distributer wants international rights, yeah.
18190 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Okay.
18191 Thank you very much.
18192 MS LUNDMAN: Thank you.
18193 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for participating in the hearing and having your views -- and I'm sure you'll be submitting comments on the 3rd of October, in the final written stages.
18194 So, thank you.
18195 MS LUNDMAN: Yes, thank you so much for listening.
18196 THE CHAIRPERSON: Good. Excellent.
18197 So, we'll take a 15-minute break, until 3:15, and continue with the other intervenors after that.
18198 Thank you.
--- Upon recessing at 1447
--- Upon resuming at 1515
18199 LE PRÉSIDENT : À l'ordre, s'il vous plaît.
18200 Madame la Secrétaire.
18201 LA SECRÉTAIRE : Merci.
18202 Nous entendrons maintenant la présentation de Sabine Friesinger.
18203 S'il vous plaît présenter votre collègue, et vous avez cinq minutes pour votre présentation. Merci.
18204 MME FRIESINGER : Bonjour. Maintenant, vous m'entendez.
18205 Mon nom est Sabine Friesinger. Je suis ici avec Laith Marouf. Nous avons ensemble fondé une entité, la Télévision indépendante et communautaire de Montréal, TVCI-Montréal, pour établir un véritable canal communautaire à but non lucratif sur l'Ile de Montréal.
18206 TVCI-Montréal vise à promouvoir la production de contenu par et pour les citoyens et citoyennes de l'Ile de Montréal. Notre demande de licence est actuellement dans les mains du CRTC.
18207 MR. MAROUF: The application was filed under a clause in the CRTC's community television policy that is almost unknown to Canadians. The clause states that if a BDU is not honouring the spirit and intent of the CRTC's community television policy, a not-for-profit group in the community can have the community TV licence and budget to offer community media services in the BDU's stead.
18208 We only found out about the clause because CACTUS, the Canadian Association of Community Television Users and Stations, told us about it. CACTUS receives no funding from any government agency that should be promoting the laudable goals of the Canadian Broadcasting Act for the community sector.
18209 Not only do most Canadians not even know about the clause under which we filed our application, most Canadians do not even know that they have a right to participate in media production on mainstream platforms. There is no ombudsperson, commissioner or single employee at any of these agencies that is telling Canadians that they have a right to training, access to equipment and to mainstream platforms to express themselves.
18210 MME FRIESINGER : Très franchement, nous sommes de l'avis que cet élément est beaucoup, beaucoup plus important que le focus actuel qui est mis de l'avant dans ce processus, à savoir si le Canadien moyen peut choisir passivement ce qu'il consomme comme contenu ou encore plus passivement ce qu'il reçoit comme choix de contenu à la carte. Les enjeux entourant l'accès à la création même de contenu ne doivent surtout pas être négligés car ce sont des éléments fondamentaux pour la pluralité et la diversité de notre démocratie et de notre processus politique.
18211 MR. MAROUF: In Montreal we discovered, when we examined Videotron's community channel programming schedule, that not one program, not a single program in a schedule of 178 hours per week was produced by a genuine member of the community, not one single program was made in English or a third language and not one single complete program gives a place for Aboriginal voices. All are hosted and directed by members of Quebec's production elite, with long production track records.
18212 What we found even more shocking than the amount of money that is squandered on this programming -- somewhere between $10 and $20 million a year -- was the fact that the amount is not made public or audited. Because Videotron is a competitive private entity and community channel funding is based on a percentage of revenues collected in the licence area, it is not required to divulge its community channel budget.
18213 We understand through CACTUS that this situation is being repeated all across the country and that the total that is squandered yearly exceeds $130 million, an amount larger than the former Local Programming Improvement Fund.
18214 MME FRIESINGER : Comment peut-on s'attendre à ce que les grands conglomérats médiatiques puissent être redevables aux communautés qu'ils desservent si leurs budgets ne sont pas rendus publics? Comment peut-on s'attendre à ce que ces grands conglomérats médiatiques puissent représenter les besoins des groupes marginalisés, des sans-voix dans les médias?
18215 En bout de ligne, c'est une question de structure de gouvernance, et le rôle des médias communautaires, des médias à but non lucratif, doit demeurer complémentaire et surtout demeurer une soupape de sécurité contre la concentration médiatique au pays.
18216 Nous sommes devant vous aujourd'hui pour vous présenter des voix urbaines, des voix peut-être un peu plus jeunes, en tant qu'enfants d'immigrants conscients et en lien avec les nations autochtones de notre territoire et les groupes minoritaires de nos grandes villes.
18217 C'est vrai que les nouvelles générations performent et sont vraiment à l'aise sur les médias sociaux, mais ces espaces ne suffisent pas pour garantir la sauvegarde et l'accès communautaire aux plateformes de diffusion.
18218 MR. MAROUF: We note that south of the border a big battle is going on for net neutrality, a battle that implicates us as Canadians too because so much of our Internet traffic goes through U.S. hubs.
18219 The battle for access via community media may in the future be a battle for individuals and communities not to have to pay exorbitant rates to stream their content or to fight to have it streamed at an adequate speed so you can watch moving video or we may have to fight for our content to be found by proprietary search engines that favour Hollywood content.
18220 We'll be there if that's where the battle goes, but for today linear channels still matter and YouTube is not enough. It matters that BDUs have so degraded the idea of community media and the importance of public access that Canadians no longer know what it is or even to expect it.
18221 So we come before you today to beg you to defend the spaces we have for alternative and community media, and that means outside the straitjacket of BDU control.
18222 We're glad that the Chair has appointed a Chief Consumer Officer and that she has a staff to work with her. From our point of view, the priority should be on diversity of voices and community media: Canadians as creators and citizens, not just consumers.
18223 There need to be committed staff to become community media experts. There needs to be an ombudsperson or at least one commissioner to represent it, and to engage with Canadians once more to rebuild its capacity and re-establish our reputation internationally as a nation that listens to its citizens and makes sure there are spaces for their democratic discourse.
18224 Thank you for your time.
18225 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.
18226 Comme vous l'avez noté, vous avez déjà saisi le Conseil dans d'autres instances sur beaucoup des enjeux que vous avez couverts ici. Donc, je n'y reviendrai pas.
18227 Et, par ailleurs, vous avez bien noté que, dans notre document de travail, on a fait état du fait que nous avions l'intention, dans le cadre de notre plan triennal, de regarder la question de la télévision communautaire en 2015-2016, dans l'année fiscale 2015-2016.
18228 Donc, à la lumière de tout ça, nous ne croyons pas avoir de questions pour vous à ce stade-ci. Merci bien. Merci d'avoir participé. Merci.
18229 Madame la Secrétaire.
18230 LA SECRÉTAIRE : Merci.
18231 We would now ask the Canadian Association of Community Television Users and Stations to come to the presentation table and we will also connect by videoconference to Toronto and Vancouver.
18232 THE SECRETARY: Please introduce yourself for the record and you have 10 minutes for your presentation.
18233 MS EDWARDS: Good afternoon, Chairman Blais and Commissioners. I am Cathy Edwards, Executive Director of the Canadian Association for Community Television Users and Stations.
18234 CACTUS was created to ensure that Canadians have a voice in our broadcasting system. Our members include non-profit community TV broadcasters like Neepawa Access and individual Canadians that use and watch them.
18235 With me is André Desrochers from CSUR La Télé in Vaudreuil-Soulanges.
18236 In Vancouver are Gordon Inglis with Metro Vancouver; Deepak Sahasrabudhe, who is developing a community channel application for New Westminster; and Sid Tan, a longtime user and complainant against Shaw and Rogers community channels that you may have heard from before.
18237 Joining us from Toronto is Kerry Ambrose, who enables youth to produce video in Regent Park, which is one of Toronto's most economically challenged neighbourhoods.
18238 CACTUS members are concerned that -- with the exception of question 37 -- no question in the "Let's Talk TV" Phase 3 Public Notice deals with the role of the community sector, as if it's separate and not interlinked with the others.
18239 Many questions implicate the community sector however, including the need for relevant local content and the distribution of local channels.
18240 M. DESROCHERS: La plus grande contribution de notre secteur au système canadien est que des communautés aussi petites que St. Andrews au Nouveau-Brunswick, avec ses 500 foyers ou Vaudreuil-Soulanges, près de Montréal, région de Québec en pleine expansion où vivent 150 000 habitants dans 23 municipalités, peuvent diffuser des émissions reflétant leur milieu. Mais impossible pour elles de se payer le luxe d'héberger un diffuseur conventionnel privé ou public et, encore moins, Netflix qui refuse toutes nos demandes de mettre en ondes nos différentes émissions.
18241 Le Fonds pour l'amélioration de la programmation locale a distribué plus de 100 millions de dollars annuellement, un investissement presque aussi grand que la part des EDRs dans leurs canaux communautaires. Mais malgré ce montant faramineux, le fonds a généré seulement 4 711 heures de contenu local par année, un coût de production de 21 000,00 $ de l'heure.
18242 En comparaison, nous pouvons produire une heure pour une somme variant entre 500,00 $ et 800,00 $.
18243 MR. INGLIS: It's not just volume that the community sector can deliver it's also a genere diversity.
18244 Except in Canada's big cities, local, conventional channels are challenged to produce more than just news.
18245 Community TV Channels broadcast amateur live sports and cultural performances, gavel-to-gavel municipal council and election coverage.
18246 MS AMBROSE: Programs for children, youth and seniors, drama and experimental film, books and movie reviews, talk shows about the environment, social justice and mental health issues.
18247 MR. INGLIS: Perhaps most importantly, our programs deal with issues at the neighbourhood level, involve community organizations in production and engage audience participation in finding solutions.
18248 MR. TAN: So, we are pleased that the CRTC Report Shaping Regulatory Approaches for the Future stated:
"Long-term approaches to ensuring the prominence and quality of Canadian production may increase the importance of public and community broadcasters as instruments of public policy."
18249 The contribution made by the public and community sectors has long been undervalued. It always seemed bizarre to us that multiple production funds have been created to incent the private sector to produce CanCon rather than fully funding the two sectors that have an explicit policy-service mandate, public service mandate to do so.
18250 MR. EDWARDS: The result is that, in our opinion, Canada has three hybrid sectors with often undistinguishable programming: a public sector force to raise half its budget through advertising; a private sector that we incent to half-heartedly generate CanCon at times and a community sector actually managed by the private sector and which no longer facilitates citizen access.
18251 So, it's troubling that instead of strengthening the CBC to respond to the challenge of OTT programming, it seems to have been crippled and the "Let's Talk TV" notice ignores the role of community TV, other than to suggest that its funding might be put to other uses.
18252 Beyond its contribution to local programming, a community sector outside BDU control could and does ensure a diversity of editorial voices to balance media ownership concentration.
18253 Every merger has made, in our view, BDU administration of the community sector more incongruous. We have handed distribution, ownership of erstwhile independent broadcasters and specialty channels, and the community sector as well to BDUs, while the one national network outside BDU control, the CBC/Radio-Canada is dealt crippling blows by the Federal Government.
18254 The CRTC currently is proposing to streamline licensing so that anyone could obtain a licence with little CRTC oversight and we fear it would be come the BDUs who would be the gatekeepers. This is wrong for us. The Broadcasting Act mandates that there be a diversity of players and room for alternative voices.
18255 MR. SAHASRABUDHE: Although the Commission Discussion Paper appears to take the question of community TV funding off the table, we reiterate that it should not be adjusted outside of a policy review of the sector in which the public, the Commission and industry stakeholders have the opportunity to focus on it exclusively.
18256 MR. INGLIS: Many interveners echo our views. The BDUs overwhelmingly support maintaining community TV funding because of the cost-effective way to generate local content. Some BDUs even request the percentage be higher when there is no other broadcaster.
18257 Industry associations, including the Writers Guild and the CMPA did not question the budget to support community TV per se, but did question BDU administration of what is meant to be a community resource.
18258 MR. SAHASRABUDHE: We agree with both groups. The amount of money is right. It's BDU administration that's killing its potential to generate volumes of diverse hyperlocal content.
18259 M. DESROCHERS: Un des exemples scandaleux de l'échec des EDRs dans le secteur communautaire se trouve dans la récente plainte contre le canal communautaire de Vidéotron contre... à Montréal.
18260 Les plaignants, qui nous ont précédés, vous ont démontré que MaTV dépense annuellement 20 millions de dollars sans qu'aucune des émissions ne soit conçue et produite par les membres de la communauté et sans qu'il n'y ait aucun contenu pour, par ou avec la communauté, soit anglophone, ethnique ou autochtone.
18261 Avec ces 20 millions de dollars par année, MaTV n'a réussi qu'à produire 20 heures de programmation originale par semaine, un budget de 6 483,00 $ par heure de production, alors qu'on peut faire entre 500,00 $ et 800,00 $.
18262 MR. SAHASRABUDHE: The same thing has happened in Vancouver and, in fact, all across the country.
18263 MS AMBROSE: We want channels that reflect our minorities and those marginalized members. That's the point.
18264 MR. TAN: We have been allowing the BDUs to spend a budget larger than the LPIF's with no independent fund administration. No vetting about the cases by board of directors elected by their communities, no accountability.
18265 Furthermore, most cable community channels are actually gone. Cable companies have interconnected systems fibreotically, eliminating more than 200 cable head ends and small-town community studios.
18266 M. DESROCHERS: Depuis, la contribution des câblots a chuté à 60 pour cent. Le canal communautaire accessible uniquement en vase clos à titre d'avantages concurrentiels, comme vous le marquez dans la Loi, sur le câble est une forme désuète, à des milles de la nouvelle réalité télévisuelle d'aujourd'hui.
18267 MS AMBROSE: We need multiplatform, multimedia tools and training to develop media literacy and to empower youth, the elderly and the most vulnerable to genuinely contribute. You need a community base resource like Regent Parks Focus iss Regent Park Television, not a cable only-BDU channel.
18268 MR. INGLIS: The CRTC doesn't have the resources to police BDUs. Streamlining regulations means making community channels accountable directly to communities.
18269 MS EDWARDS: Since 2010 we've asked that BDUs direct local expression contributions to a CRTC independent fund, to which we could apply to run digital community media centres and our generation has been -- it continues to innovate.
18270 Karen Wirsig of the Canadian Media Guild and CACTUS have developed a model of public community sector partnership whereby, with the help of communities, the pubcaster might source more local and regional content and maintain a presence in more places and community producers might find wider distribution for content and benefit from exposure to CBC practices.
18271 If the 1.5 to 5 percent that BDUs currently direct toward their own community channel is instead put into a community access media fund, we propose that there be an envelope for public community partnership.
18272 Finally, on distribution of community channels, we like to say that over-the-air distribution of local channels, including community channels should be maintained.
18273 OTA local channels are accessible to Canadians that can't afford or don't have access to cable, satellite or broadband Internet, OTA channels ensure that local content can be inserted and local towers give local entities control. Some of our tours offer a low cost skinny basic, including our community channel, the CBC and a handful of TV and radio services that our communities choose as well as broadband Internet.
18274 This is more cost effective than ever with digital multiplexing. Why would we turn out backs on new technologies in favour of more control by BDUs?
18275 And we believe a skinny basic package on cable and DTH should be free, so that taxpayers can access public educational and community broadcasters and services that fulfill a democratic function, like CPAC.
18276 When Bell bought CTC, our members were uploaded to Bell's DTH basic tier. We were told at the time that Shaw Direct didn't have enough capacity, but we've heard that Shaw now has an additional satellite.
18277 We would therefore ask that it become standard policy that not-for-profit community services be carried on all DTH services as they are on cable because for the community channels democratic mandate to be met, it must be available to all in the communities they serve, regardless of their ability to pay or their choice of TV platforms, as Yvan was describing.
18278 The community channel airs close to 100 percent unique Canadian content, which is a far cry from the multiple copies of time shift that US programming often choke satellite streams and rural Canadians who live outside our low-power broadcast footprint haven't been able to participate in their communities by other community channel.
18279 Since the CBC is no longer free to air in rural Canada, access to at least the community channel is essential.
18280 We thank the Commission for the opportunity to comment and we welcome your questions.
18281 THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Vice Chair will start the questions.
18282 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Thank you all so much. Thanks for being here this afternoon.
18283 I think maybe to go from back to front this Canadian basic issue, it's clear and I think you would like to see community channels in the skinny basic and I don't know that there was any indication to the contrary in the proposal put forth in the Working Document.
18284 MS EDWARDS: There was. There was a graze on it. At one point it said that local channels would be included in the skinny basic, but then, further down it said that community channels might be included in the skinny basic.
18285 Our members that are over-the-air are considered local broadcasters and that's why they get automatic carriage on cables, so they would be okay. But there is a second class of community channel licence which hasn't been exploited yet in Canada, called the "digital only cable licence".
18286 You know, we would want to see that if some people launched only on cable, that they would also go on to the satellite skinny basic, so it would include all types of not-for-profit community broadcasters.
18287 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Okay. So, they would not be an OTA, they would be a digital cable community?
18288 MS EDWARDS: Right. For example, "CHUR la télé" is thinking of applying for a licence of that type.
18289 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Okay.
18290 M. DESROCHERS: On est en train de préparer une licence communautaire pour la première. La première demande, je pense qu'elle va être faite au CRTC de cette licence communautaire numérique. Alors, on est en train de la préparer parce que, bon, voyez-vous...
18291 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS: Non, non. On va avoir la chance d'examiner le tout si vous dites que vous la déposez à une date...
18292 M. DESROCHERS: On verra.
18293 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS: ... ultérieure. Je pense qu'il y a un autre lieu où ça doit être examiné de fond.
18294 Écoute, c'est impressionnant que vous êtes capable de produire pour 500 à 800,00 $ de l'heure, à comparer avec d'autres.
18295 Vous avez indiqué également que ce qui vous empêche de continuer à générer un plus grand volume de production, c'est cette ingérence et ces empêchements d'ordre administratif des EDRs.
18296 Voulez-vous rajouter quelque chose à cet effet-là, nous expliquer en quoi il s'agit?
18297 MS. EDWARDS: Sorry.
18298 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: You mentioned that much of what's impeding you or preventing you from creating more volumes of content, it's BDU administration?
18299 MS EDWARDS: Well, it's volume and -- It's two different things. There is only nine over-the-air or I should say nine not-for-profit community broadcasters in Canada and the number has been stable for a decade, and it's because they are expected to survive on advertising.
18300 So, they are not getting any of that local expression money, even though, as I have described to you, in many cases like he is the only one that's still producing any content outside of Winnipeg. Look, our members that are doing it because they are in communities and committed to it.
18301 So, one is money. Even where they are able to generate some money of their own, so for example, St. Andrews is coming up after us, I think their budgets have gone up slightly, but for a long time, they were surviving on about $8,000 a year, producing four or five hours of local production per week. That was the LPIF average, so it's not bad.
18302 But on average, community broadcasters in Canada are about a third underfinanced, including Quebec TVC's which get money from -- do get some money from cable companies. They average budget is of about $150,000.00, when to be producing to capacity with enough staff to be out in the community as they should, and visible and helping people, they should have budgets about three times that size. That's the international standard.
18303 And that money is there in the BDU, $120 million, it's just that right now it's tied up on channels like the Videotron and MaTV channel producing 20 hours a week when they should be producing, you know, over 100 hours a week, volunteered generated content.
18304 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: That too will happen potentially elsewhere.
18305 M. DESROCHERS: Oui, c'est vrai, il y a un problème, mais il y a aussi le fait... il ne faut pas oublier qu'on a des associations.
18306 Comme au Québec, on a souvent des associations avec des Cégeps, des universités, on a des personnes qui peuvent venir en stage. On a beaucoup de collaboration entre le... dans le milieu avec les... puis, donc, ils viennent à ce moment-là bénévoles ou on les paie juste pour le déplacement.
18307 Comme nous, le territoire de Vaudreuil-Soulanges est plus grand que Montréal, alors on a un grand territoire à couvrir, on rembourse les frais.
18308 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS: Il n'y a pas de Métro chez vous?
18309 M. DESROCHERS: Ça ne se rend pas encore.
18310 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS: Non.
18311 M. DESROCHERS: Il y a à peine le train puis des fois il explose, alors, le ML... Donc, tout cela fait en sorte que le... et Vidéotron... bien en tout cas. Nous, on est COGECO et Vidéotron et certains des secteurs, donc, là, une politique de ne pas financer deux télés sur un même territoire quand il y en a deux.
18312 Dans les grandes zones de Montréal qui sont dispersées, parfois il y a deux télés communautaires, là, qui reflètent leur milieu : Beloeil, Longueuil, Laval en avait deux. Nous on est à Chateauguay, donc ils ne financent qu'une seule.
18313 Alors, il faut réussir à trouver des façons de se financer et en même temps, de se... Et puis la façon qu'on a trouvée, c'est avec des bénévoles, mais c'est de moins en moins possible, avec la technologie qui est compliquée.
18314 Alors, c'est pour ça qu'on fait affaire avec les étudiants des Communications des différents Cégeps parce que quand on arrive avec un bénévole qui n'a jamais... qui avant était avec des tape recorders, on faisait... il y avait un "put-in/put-out" et on avait le montage.
18315 Aujourd'hui, ce n'est plus ça. C'est des appareils et quand ils voient ça, ils « freekent », là. Ça nous prend des gens qui sont compétents pour livrer parce que, en bout de ligne, le câblodistributeur veut une marchandise qui est « broadcastable », alors il faut qu'elle soit vraiment de haut niveau.
18316 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS: D'une certaine qualité, oui.
18317 M. DESROCHERS: Alors, de qualité supérieure.
18318 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS: Supérieure, oui?
18319 M. DESROCHERS: Alors, ce que la plupart des bénévoles n'arrivent pas à faire parce que souvent le câblodistributeur ne donne pas de formation non plus. Alors, ils nous laissent en bas, vas-y, et fournissez-vous de l'émission. Alors, c'est pour ça.
18320 Donc, les associations font en sorte qu'on est capable de fournir des émissions à 500,00 $ 800,00 $ là, mais on essaie d'avoir plus pour s'autofinancer, évidemment.
18321 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS: O.k. C'est une question à part, mais les Cégeps ne sont pas outillés pour former ces jeunes bénévoles, diffuseurs de l'avenir?
18322 M. DESROCHERS: En partie. Certains Cégeps ont des concentrations communications.
18323 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS: Oui, sous...
18324 M. DESROCHERS: D'autres, cinéma.
18325 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS: Oui.
18326 M. DESROCHERS: Donc, ils ont accès à certains outils. Nous, c'est sûr qu'on n'a plus affaire, donc Valleyfield et Gérald Godin à Montréal. Il n'y a pas de Cégep dans Vaudreuil-Soulanges, alors ils viennent... ils sont déjà donc dans leur deuxième année de communications, ils viennent chez nous en stage.
18327 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS: Excellent.
18328 MS EDWARDS: But the budgets, the need for budgets are two fold: Even though you are using volunteer hours, you need that basic staff to conduct the training and enough people. You know, sometimes volunteers can't head it. So, somebody has got to be there to help them.
18329 You end up with a bottle neck if you don't have enough staff. The community isn't fully facilitated as it could. That's one need for a budget is for the trained facilitators.
18330 And the second are technical budgets. So, for example, you are going to hear from St. Andrews later that has been trying to broadcast into its two neighbouring towns for ten years, but haven't had the budget to put a second transmitter. None of our members have gone HD yet.
18331 Our members, we've also developed the vision which is very common internationally now, it's not just about community TV and the digital environment, it's about community media.
18332 So, we want to be able to enable the public to come in like a library, get media literacy training on all the tools of the day, whether that's audio, it's video. It's how to combine it together and integrated web platform.
18333 So, technological costs are holding our channels back as well. So, it's trained facilitators and technology.
18334 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Listen, we appreciate your input. Your ask is pretty clear, a few points that are of importance. And I also went through your document from the Spring, it's pretty long. It's a long read.
18335 But just to -- and we appreciate it and I think that you do realize that in our « plan triennal », in our triennial plan, we did mention the fact that we will be taking a look at these issues and a lot of them are going to come up again, notwithstanding that fact, we do appreciate what you brought to the table today.
18336 MS EDWARDS: Sure.
18337 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: And we will be taking a look at it closely.
18338 MS EDWARDS: But you got us kind of in to overdrive freaking out with Question 37, like, Oh" my God, they are going to take the funding away and we haven't even had a policy review. So, we thought it was really to be as thorough as we could about the issues.
18339 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: And that you be involved is quite clear in today's document and the Spring document that you believe that you should be involved, you should be heard, your ask is pretty clear and the Commission has noted that.
18340 Thank you so much and I want to thank your friends and colleagues that are joining us via video as well today.
18341 Mr. Chairman, thank you.
18342 MS EDWARDS: Thanks for your time.
18343 THE PRESIDENT: Yes. I just have two quick questions as to clarification.
18344 Paragraph 26, the last bullet there, you are saying that you're already offering the CBC and a handful of TV and radio services. Is that currently or is that an ideal state?
18345 MS EDWARDS: So, CACTUS is a professional association that represents members, but three of our members have offered over-the-air rebroadcasting. I think the CRTC terms is RDUs?
18346 THE PRESIDENT: Okay.
18347 MS EDWARDS: They have been doing it since the mid-eighties, predating satellite and they continue to do so.
18348 THE PRESIDENT: Okay. That I get. Okay. I understand that.
18349 Now, with respect to paragraph 27, you're going to have to explain to me the economics of that, "We believe a skinny basic package on cable and DTH should be free" and you've gone and explained why that is. Who pays for it, then?
18350 We have evidence so far that 80 percent of the basic service, rates charged to the subscribers is related to fixed costs and only a little bit, about 20 percent, perhaps even that much related to programming costs.
18351 Are you suggesting that every Canadian should get basic for free?
18352 MS EDWARDS: A real skinny basic that just includes public educational community broadcasters and provincial Legislature channels or something like CPAC.
18353 THE PRESIDENT: Over BDUs?
18354 MS EDWARDS: If we -- we haven't been supporting the maintenance of our broadcasting system. So, supposing that CBC towers have been a big push, and we were heavily involved in that consultation two years ago, encouraging us to keep those towers so that communities might do what our members already do, which is maintain free-to-air the CBC as TVC didn't want the tour maintained TVO free to air in Ontario, TVO didn't want the towers. But that infrastructure has all been taken out. There is no support for that.
18355 But there used to be an idea clear vision in Canada almost as big as the railroad plan, that there should be free broadcasting. The CBC, where was a big push to get it out.
18356 THE PRESIDENT: We are not talking over there. You are saying "basic cable and DTH should be free".
18357 MS EDWARDS: Right.
18358 THE PRESIDENT: CPAC gets a whole sale rate of about 0,12 $ a sub to actually pay for. So, if it's free for everybody, how does it get financed? How does anything get financed?
18359 MS EDWARDS: Through BDUs other revenues, the same way we finance the CMS and the LPIF. It's made a public priority. I mean, Shaw has already been asked to offer skinny basic.
18360 THE PRESIDENT: You would be stripping out all the revenues if you follow this, the way it's written. They would -- nobody would be paying for basic?
18361 MS EDWARDS: Including these channels, correct. We already have that principle with Shaw's offer who was asked to give free dishes to everybody when the CBC went off there little earlier.
18362 THE PRESIDENT: That's part of the benefits package. That wasn't like -- you're seen to be suggesting that everybody gets cable for free. That's billions of dollars. I don't understand how anything would get produced. I really don't.
18363 MS EDWARDS: Because most people would elect to pay for it. Right now, there is 10 per cent of Canadians that don't pay for anything. That same 10 per cent would probably continue to be satisfied with only these channels. Everyone else would want space and lifestyles and A&E and would pay for it.
18364 THE PRESIDENT: But I come back to the point. The economics of basic service include 80 per cent of the amount people pay is for the fixed costs of the distribution service. So, that cost people.
18365 There are people that are actually running in trucks and fixing those networks and creating jobs and economic activity.
18366 You are saying everybody should get cable and DTH for free?
18367 MS EDWARDS: I am saying everyone should get these channels for free. Canadian taxpayers are already paying for the CBC and all the rurals can't get it. They are paying for it, but they can't get it unless they pay in addition to get a BDU service, which is why that was a made-public benefit, to give both people free dishes.
18368 I think it's a priority as a democracy that all of us can get access to the most basic services, not all the funds for its channels and all that. 90 percent of Canadians will still sign up and pay for those.
18369 But to include the 10 percent that are poor, living in remote area, yes, it should be a priority to make sure that they get these basic channels, whether it's delivered by BDUs or on our member towers with support from some other mechanism doesn't matter. They should get them.
18370 THE PRESIDENT: Yes, we still -- you're right we do live in a democracy, but we also would be living in a market-based capitalist democracy.
18371 Thank you very much. No further questions.
18372 THE SECRETARY: I would now ask St. Andrews Community Channel to come to the presentation table. Please introduce yourself and you may begin.
18373 MR. REMER: Good afternoon.
18374 I'm Jay Remer, chairman of the board, St. Andrews Community Channel, Inc., and my colleague is Patrick Watt, manager of our station, CHCO TV.
18375 CHCO Television holds an over-the-air community TV licence in St. Andrews, New Brunswick. We are distributed over the air on Rogers Cable to 1,400 people in the immediate town of St. Andrews, and further afield on Bell's basic satellite package. We facilitate the production of local programs by and for local residents. Our area has no other local TV broadcaster.
18376 We also fill the unique role offered by all community TV broadcasters of training local residents in media production and enabling them to express their own points of view. In doing so, we build stronger communities because we can better see who we are and debate and pool ideas about the challenges we face.
18377 In 1993, we began as an independent community channel on cable. When cable started losing viewers to satellite in 2004, we invested in a transmitter to broadcast on UHF Channel 26. Everyone in our town can receive Channel 26 freely, which is what we believe a community or public access television service should be.
18378 Over-the-air transmission also ensured our carriage on cable, while dozens of other cable-only New Brunswick community stations were disconnected by the BDU.
18379 Although the Commission notes in its discussion paper that community television policy will be reviewed in 2015, many of the rules and protections for conventional broadcasters in the VI Code should also apply to independent community broadcasters.
18380 For example, CHCO TV has been engaged in an ongoing struggle for equitable carriage as an independent community television broadcaster for five years. Because our local BDU is only required to distribute our signal on cable in an area equivalent to our low-power broadcast footprint, our carriage is limited to our town of 1,400 and we can't be seen in the two other towns in our county, St. Stephen and St. George, each of which are about 15 kilometres away.
18381 They not only share the same cable system, but also a school board and federal and provincial electoral ridings. Meanwhile, the BDU distributes its province-wide community channel throughout the entire county from Saint John, more than a hundred kilometres away. The BDU also distributes Ontario channels that it owns throughout New Brunswick, while refusing to distribute our home-grown New Brunswick content.
18382 We filed a complaint with the Commission claiming undue preference against our channel, but the complaint was dismissed. We would therefore like to propose that all local independent broadcasters, community or otherwise, receive, at a minimum, comparable geographical reach to any BDU-owned local or community channels.
18383 In the meantime, to overcome this regulatory limitation, we thought of applying for a digital community channel to reach St. Stephen and St. George, but Commission staff informed us that the BDU's licences had been revoked in those communities and exempt BDUs are not required to carry digital community channels.
18384 This is another example of a rule that is unfairly slanted in favour of largely vertically integrated distributors, which shouldn't qualify for exemptions. The rule undermines the purpose of digital community channels, and perhaps explains why no one has yet asked for one.
18385 All these limitations impede our ability to reach audiences and to sell advertising, which is how we are expected to survive under the community TV policy. We receive no contributions from any BDU despite the community channel policy's recommendations that BDUs in our area should contribute to our maintenance and despite the fact that both Rogers and Bell distribute our content, yet create very little content of their own in our county.
18386 If the Commission is serious about encouraging more independent players in the community sector, make this recommendation a requirement.
18387 In small communities where competing BDUs cannot afford to maintain production facilities, their resources should be pooled and made available to community-based organizations such as ours that can fulfil the CRTC's policy for community television.
18388 To overcome our distribution challenges, we are in the process of applying for a second broadcast licence to serve St. Stephen, 15 kilometres away. Although transmitters cost money, maintaining a free direct connection with consumers is an enormous advantage to us and offers consumers a free option to BDU service.
18389 The as yet largely untapped potential of digital multiplexing of free broadcast signals has the potential to offer more options to consumers in rural areas. A community broadcaster in Leamington, Ontario, was the first to offer digital multiplexing in Canada. We look forward to being able to use our own transmitter to broadcast mobile TV directly to our customers' mobile devices.
18390 Removing the local terrestrial broadcast requirement would put the distribution of current and future local stations fully at the mercy of BDUs, with even less carriage protection than we have today. We therefore recommend that the Commission maintain carriage incentives and advantages that would encourage new local channels to distribute their content over the air as well as via cable and satellite.
18391 Finally, we would request that both small-market and community broadcasters be included in any statistics that are derived from set-top box audience measurements and we would be privy to those statistics.
18392 Thank you for your attention, and we welcome any questions.
18393 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, gentlemen.
18394 Commissioner Molnar will start us off.
18395 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Good afternoon.
18396 And you've come here all the way from New Brunswick, if I understand.
18397 MR. REMER: Yes, we did.
18398 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: So...
18399 MR. REMER: It's my first trip to Ottawa, in fact.
18400 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: So obviously this issue is very important to you.
18401 MR. REMER: It's very important to us.
18402 And, to be honest with you, I think that making, you know, a personal appearance does lend something to how seriously we take this. We all are volunteers. We feel it's really important to society and to our communities across Canada to provide this kind of access, you know, in an equally distributable way, in other words a fair access.
18403 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: M'hmm.
18404 You have 1,600 people within your community?
18405 MR. REMER: We live in a community of 1,400 permanent residents.
18406 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: And you work as a volunteer at this station?
18407 MR. REMER: Correct.
18408 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Unpaid. Wow.
18409 MR. REMER: I don't get dime. That's as unpaid as it gets. I spend probably --
18410 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: What is your other job?
18411 MR. REMER: I would say that I spend between 10 and 15 hours a week at the station doing station work.
18412 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Yeah. And how many volunteers do you have?
18413 MR. REMER: We have about 10 or 15?
18414 About 10 or 15 volunteers.
18415 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: It is really quite a story to see how you are working so hard, both to maintain and extend your community presence, and this notion that there's communities 15 kilometres away and you will be putting up an additional transmitter to reach them is really something.
18416 MR. REMER: Well, you know, the thing is --
18417 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: I just -- just on that, you know --
18418 MR. REMER: I'm sorry.
18419 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: -- I come from Saskatchewan, and nothing is 15 kilometres away, so...
18420 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: That this would be different communities is really something.
18421 MR. REMER: Yeah.
18422 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Can you tell me what is free over the air in your community? As well as your signal, what else do you have in your community that's over the air?
18423 MR. REMER: We get one Global TV news station. It doesn't come in very clearly, but --
18424 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: From where?
18425 MR. REMER: From where is that?
--- Off microphone
18426 MR. REMER: From within the county.
18427 MR. WATT: Like, it originated in a New Brunswick feed out of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, I believe.
18428 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: A New Brunswick feed?
18429 MR. WATT: Feed. They do New Brunswick news, so we give them credit.
18430 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Okay.
18431 Anything else?
18432 MR. REMER: No, that's it. I mean those are the only two things that are distributed freely.
18433 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: So there's no CTV feed over the air?
18434 MR. WATT: The CTV Saint John feed would be in Saint John, and CBC is out of Fredericton. Those are too far away from St. Andrews to reach those feeds -- or those signals.
18435 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: So that's all you have over the air?
18436 MR. WATT: That's right.
18437 MR. REMER: That's correct, two.
18438 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Is it your sense that you have citizens within your territory who are accessing your feed over the air, that there are folks there who don't subscribe?
18439 MR. WATT: Certainly we do get feedback from customers or viewers that do watch Channel 26, absolutely, yeah.
18440 MR. REMER: One of our funding sources if TV Bingo, and a lot of people watch TV Bingo over the air for free because they don't have -- they can't afford -- how they can afford to buy bingo cards and not afford television is one thing, but they -- there are a number of people rely on free over-the-air access.
18441 The other thing that I will point out is that we live on a peninsula, and we are subject to -- we're just gearing up to get ready one day for the 100-year flood that may come and wipe out quite a lot of the -- or, you know -- of the peninsula, and we are being counted on to be able to provide emergency information to people.
18442 So, therefore, a generator is being set up at the arena where our studio is so that, in the event of an electrical outage, we can still reliably provide emergency information, which I think is pretty important.
18443 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: We think so, too. We just --
18444 MR. REMER: Thank you.
18445 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: We just had a policy decision on emergency information alerting.
18446 Some of the issues you brought up, most of the issues you brought up, as you've heard -- you know, you're now the fourth community programmer to come in front of us, and as you've heard there will be another proceeding where we'll be looking at these things in more detail. So I just wanted to get a little more of a sense of your community and your operation, and some of the details here will be a different proceeding.
18447 MR. REMER: Yeah.
18448 Well, one of the things that I think is remarkable about any kind of organization like this that depends on volunteers is the quality of the volunteers. At the moment we have a very good quality of volunteers, but, as you know, with -- I'm sure you all put in your civil service -- people burn out, people grow old, people find other -- move away. There's lots of things. So bringing along the next generation, so to speak, is not easy.
18449 We're at a very good position right now and we do make a big effort to cover a lot of local events where one of speakers before said we're the only camera there.
18450 For example, we had an all-candidates discussion two nights ago in St. Andrews for our riding and we were the only television station that actually represented all five of the candidates. That kind of inclusivity in a community is very important. It helps bring awareness to social issues that are critically important to the community so that they can become part of the solution.
18451 And this is what my motivation is for being Chairman of the station and we're very fortunate that Patrick, who has been with the station for over 10 years, is just -- he's like the ever-ready bunny, he just never runs out, but we all know that that isn't the case.
18452 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Can I ask just one more question --
18453 MR. REMER: Certainly.
18454 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: -- somewhat relevant to that? You mentioned that Global is producing its New Brunswick feed out of Halifax. So did I understand that right or was it --
18455 MR. WATT: I believe they record their news out of Halifax. They do have New Brunswick reporters and news-gatherers. They all do a great job, I'm sure, producing New Brunswick news.
18456 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Okay. And that was my question.
18457 MR. WATT: Yes.
18458 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Your sense -- because it's certainly been feedback we received that local news is important to Canadians, it's very important to Canadians. So it's your sense that you are being well served as it regards local news?
18459 MR. WATT: Certainly. I guess you were asking what other broadcasters' over-the-air feeds we receive in St. Andrews. I guess that's where I was referring -- I mean CBC does a great local news program and so does CTV. CBC is out of Fredericton and I guess CTV is out of Halifax, but they do have good coverage. All three of them would have great coverage in New Brunswick. I guess at a hyperlocal level, here we are.
18460 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: And I understand that.
18461 MR. WATT: Okay. Okay.
18462 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: There is a lot of additional information from a community, you know, local information instead of just news.
18463 MR. WATT: Right. One thing I guess we saw out of this hearing was -- and, for instance, Jay mentioned our discussion we did with the politicians, with the candidates two nights ago. We did get calls from St. Stephen and St. George looking for where they could find us on cable, you know, and we saw the -- of course we're not available on their cable. Even though they know they get their cable from St. Andrews, our channel is blocked from their viewing. So our equitable reach, I guess -- we were reading the vertical integration codes and those ideas could be applied to us and give us more equitable carriage, I guess.
18464 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Right. I think you were very clear, both -- certainly in your submission as it regards your distribution issues. So thank you, those are my questions.
18465 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, thank you very much. We know that you've travelled a great deal to be here and it does make an impression and it shows you should be congratulated for all the efforts you do as unremunerated workers.
18466 MR. REMER: Thank you very much.
18467 MR. WATT: Thank you.
18468 MR. REMER: We appreciate it.
18469 THE CHAIRPERSON: So well done. But your position is clear and we understand it and we have a follow-up proceeding, as you know, in our three-year plan, so this helps shape that proceeding for us.
18470 MR. REMER: We look forward to seeing you again.
18471 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Thank you very much. Thanks.
18472 Madame la Secrétaire.
18473 THE SECRETARY: I would now ask the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services to come to the presentation table.
18474 THE SECRETARY: Please introduce yourself for the record and you have 10 minutes for your presentation.
18475 M. MAKER : Monsieur le Président, Monsieur le Vice-président, Mesdames et Messieurs les Conseillères et les Conseillers, bonjour. Je m'appelle Howard Maker, et je suis le commissaire du CPRST.
18476 Je voudrais aussi vous présenter ma collègue Josée Thibault, notre directrice de plaintes.
18477 Le CPRST vous remercie de lui donner cette opportunité exceptionnelle de participer à une audience de télédiffusion.
18478 MS THIBAULT: CCTS filed brief written comments in this proceeding. They were directed solely to questions 78 and 79 in the Notice of Consultation, themes 23 and 24 in the Working Document, on the issues of whether there is a need for a Code of Conduct for BDUs similar to the Wireless Code and whether it is necessary or desirable to create an industry ombudsman for broadcasting with a mandate similar to that of CCTS in telecom.
18479 On the issue of whether a Code of Conduct is required, we have taken no position given our lack of familiarity with BDU services and practices as well as our sense that it is premature at this early stage to make any determinative assessment of the impact of the Wireless Code.
18480 For essentially the same reasons we are not in a position to comment on whether the creation of a broadcast industry ombudsman is necessary or desirable.
18481 The objective of our filing was to provide to you the statistical information available to us, in the event that you may find it useful in considering this issue, and to appear today to explain it and answer any questions that you may have about it.
18482 In addition, we now have "near-final" full-year data on the number of broadcasting-related issues that we recorded in 2013-2014, our fiscal year that just ended this past July 31. This information is not on the record of this proceeding but, with your consent, we would propose to share it with you.
18483 Les services de télédiffusion ne font pas partie du mandat du CPRST. Néanmoins, en 2012-2013, lors des deux derniers exercices financiers, des questions de télédiffusion, pratiquement toutes reliées au service de télévision, ont été soulevées à 3 856 reprises par les consommateurs. Si la télédiffusion avait fait partie du mandat du CPRST, ces questions auraient représenté 17 pour cent des problèmes étudiés, ce qui aurait placé la télédiffusion au deuxième rang des secteurs d'activités comportant le plus grand nombre de problèmes en 2012-2013.
18484 In 2013-2014, our fiscal year just concluded, the story appears to be very similar. Based on our calculations, we have identified 3,496 issues about television. If we add that number to the number of "in mandate" issues we received, television-related issues would again account for 17 percent of all issues appearing in complaints. In a year in which our complaint volumes decreased, the percentage of issues related to television remained steady. Again, this would have made broadcasting the second-most complained about line of business after wireless.
18485 MR. MAKER: Given the stakeholder nature of our organization, I asked our Board of Directors for instructions for our messaging to you today. The Board considered the issues and has asked us to tell you that should you decide to create an industry ombudsman, CCTS would be prepared to accept that mandate. Likewise, should you decide to mandate a Code of Conduct for BDUs, CCTS would be prepared to administer it in the same manner as we do the Wireless Code and the Deposit and Disconnection Code.
18486 There are submissions before you, both from consumer groups and certain service providers, supporting the creation of the ombudsman and supporting the referral of that mandate to CCTS. I take the liberty of summarizing the reasons that they believe support the referral of the ombudsman mandate to us. They include:
18487 - our existing governance and operational infrastructure;
18488 - our history of successfully dealing with consumer telecom complaints;
18489 - the significant number of broadcasting issues that come to us now despite the fact that broadcasting is not within mandate;
18490 - the sizable number of companies that provide both telecom services, and thus already participate in CCTS, as well as broadcast distribution services;
18491 - in an increasingly converged business, it is in the interests of consumers to have "one-stop shopping" for complaints that frequently involve both telecom and broadcast distribution services, which as you know are often bundled; and
18492 - giving the mandate to us would, we think, be less costly to the industry than other alternatives and would probably provide for a more prompt solution.
18493 The vision of our Board is that should the Commission deem it appropriate to put an industry ombudsman in place and should it determine that CCTS be that ombudsman, this could be accomplished in a reasonably straightforward manner.
18494 Our Board has not considered the details, but permit me to describe my vision of the simplest and most expeditious process by which this might be done:
18495 - CCTS would amend its foundational documents, and in particular our Procedural Code, to specifically include broadcast distribution services. Our mandate in broadcast would be the same as in telecom: we would look at complaints about billing, service delivery, contractual issues and so forth. As with telecom, complaints about content or issues that remain regulated would not be in mandate;
18496 - We group our Participating Service Providers into three categories: ILECs, Cable Companies and Other TSP Participants. Our approach is to classify Providers into the appropriate category based on a determination of the predominant area of their business. According to the 2013 Communications Monitoring Report, the five largest BDUs account for 86 percent of all programming distribution revenues. And the telecom businesses of each of these five -- BCE, Cogeco, Rogers, Shaw and Videotron -- all participate in CCTS. And as appears from Appendix A to the comments we filed in June, based on publicly available information we have identified in total about 37 CCTS Participants that appear to offer broadcast distribution services. So at the date upon which the broadcast ombudsman would come into effect, the BDUs that are corporately "related" to current Participating Service Providers would automatically become subject to the CCTS mandate;
18497 - Any BDUs unrelated to existing Participating Service Providers would be considered new Participants and would be placed in a category that we could re-name from "Other TSP Participants" to just "Other Participants." Those BDUs that do not have a corporate connection to an existing CCTS Participant would be required to become Participants in the same circumstances that now apply to telecommunications service providers that are not current Participants. Upon receipt by CCTS of a complaint from one of their customers, we would contact them, explain their obligation and sign them up;
18498 - Under this type of approach, we feel that the broadcasting mandate could essentially be merged into the telecom mandate, without the need to make any fundamental changes to our governance structures, which as you know are carefully balanced to preserve stakeholder protections and which have just been through a nearly two-year review by our Board aimed at preserving that balance while achieving compliance with the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act.
18499 There are obviously a large number of operational and other issues that would fall out of this and we would have to contend with them, but in my view they should be manageable in the context of a simplified approach like the one I have just described.
18500 In response to one of your questions, in June we filed some confidential information relating to "pre-incorporation costs," hoping to provide some "ballpark" estimate of the costs of setting up CCTS in 2007. While the information we provided was unfortunately not very specific, it seems clear that if the simplified approach described above was adopted, the costs of merging the broadcast industry ombudsman into CCTS would be a small fraction of the costs disclosed in the information previously provided to you.
18501 I also wanted to note that in their written interventions, two providers that currently participate in CCTS commented that if the Commission decides to create an ombudsman and if it asks CCTS to take on the role that you should insist on changes being made to the CCTS funding formula. In particular, they wish to see a greater proportion of the funding for CCTS be based on the number of complaints from a provider's customers, rather than based on a proportionate share of the provider revenues. Without expressing a view on these submissions, I suggest to you that this proceeding is not the time or place for that discussion, considering a number of factors:
18502 First, all Participating Service Providers have representation on the CCTS Board and our Participation Agreement has a process for review of the funding formula. This is a corporate issue that in my submission should be permitted to resolve itself within the context of our structure and processes, in which all parties have a voice;
18503 Secondly, for our current fiscal year, which started on August the 1st, the Members did in fact make an adjustment to the funding formula, increasing the proportion of CCTS' budgeted revenues collected through complaint-based fees from 33 percent to 40 percent; and
18504 Of course, in 2015 you will be holding a proceeding to review CCTS, as the five-year mandatory participation order will expire in December. In my view, that would be a far more appropriate time to explore issues relating to our funding formula, within the confines of a fully contextual review of the organization.
18505 Dans son plus récent avis de consultation, le Conseil a sollicité des suggestions sur les délais nécessaires à l'application de ces initiatives. Si un code de conduite était créé, nous estimons, étant donné le travail déjà accompli par le CPRST dans le développement de moyens de collecte, d'analyse et de présentation de données, qu'une fois publié, un délai de 3 à 4 mois serait suffisant pour l'étudier, effectuer les modifications requises à nos outils et systèmes informatiques, et former notre personnel à son application.
18506 En ce qui a trait à la création d'un ombudsman pour l'industrie, le CPRST estime que si on lui demandait d'assumer ce rôle, et que le Conseil adoptait l'approche esquissée, une période de 6 à 9 mois serait nécessaire pour rendre cette initiative opérationnelle.
18507 We thank you again for this opportunity and we would be pleased to respond to any questions that you have.
18508 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you for that presentation. Commissioner will start us off.
18509 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Commissioner Maker, Ms Thibault, welcome. Good to see you again.
18510 A great deal of what you have already submitted by way of undertaking clarifies a great many of our questions. I would like, if you will indulge me though, to help us understand some of the potential vagaries of -- I'm thinking here of the difference between the wireless industry and the BDU industry, because the wireless industry really is an extension of telecom, which is largely content-agnostic, and when you get into the BDU business, although the business models are the same in that it's more of a subscriber relation with the customer, the customer is after content in the system, whereas in wireless he's just looking for connectivity.
18511 So my first question is: Understanding the delineation you've made to try and draw a parallel to the type of subjects that you feel comfortable with looking at in wireless, do you think that it's practical to consider that we would be able to do that within BDU given that content issue or are we trying to separate snowflakes here into two piles?
18512 MR. MAKER: No, I don't think we are trying to separate snowflakes. I think what we're trying to do and our interpretation of what the Commission is looking to do is to provide a resource for broadcast distribution customers similar to the resource that's available for dispute resolution for telecom customers.
18513 And so I agree with you that there may be more focus on content on the broadcast side, but we've never done content on the telecom side and it's not certainly our proposal to look at content, because we're not content experts, we're not subject matter experts. But we do understand contracts, we do understand billing and service delivery and all of those things that we would propose to deal with if the broadcast mandate came our way.
18514 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay. Thank you.
18515 Were you as surprised as I was that there was a very definite correlation in terms of the type of issues by subject matter that -- you know, like billing disputes, price increases, customer unaware of contractual obligations and cancellation notices. There was a parallel definitely between the two and I'm wondering if you were surprised by that or is that more just a function of contractual subscriber type business models?
18516 MR. MAKER: I just want to make sure I understand your question, Commissioner Simpson.
18517 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yes.
18518 MR. MAKER: You're suggesting that the types of issues that the Commission received complaints about on broadcast are similar to the ones we get on telecom?
18519 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: No. I am asking if you're expecting that they will be because it's largely a subscriber relationship, a contract relationship, and whether you're anticipating that those four subject matters that you deal with are going to be parallel.
18520 MR. MAKER: For all intents and purposes, yes.
18521 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yes.
18522 MR. MAKER: I mean these are the same customers.
18523 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay.
18524 MR. MAKER: And there's some information in our filing about the percentage of -- I think we said 60 percent of the complaints we've seen in the first three quarters of this year that dealt with -- that mentioned a broadcast issue had a bundle of services. So we do think that the issues that confront the broadcast customers are very similar to those that confront telecom ones.
18525 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Thank you.
18526 In your written submission you had indicated that in terms of success measurement you're on your way to a better understanding of how success is coming with your organization, but I'm wondering, because of parallels, whether we're going to be able to catch a ride on being able to fast-track our understanding of how well a potential BDU code might work, given those parallels. Is it an unknown synergy that we might be able to very quickly understand, that if your success in wireless is understood, that largely the code would probably follow suit?
18527 MR. MAKER: Well, in fairness, you know, if there is success resulting from the Wireless Code, it's the Commission's success, it's not ours. We are just administering the Code.
18528 And, you know, in a few weeks you'll see a report from us, the first report on the Wireless Code, in the context of our annual report, and one of our objectives there is to talk about some of the issues we've seen in the Wireless Code. So I think from that perspective there will be an opportunity to have a better sense to what extent what you're suggesting is possible, but right now it's hard to day.
18529 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay. On the construction of the code, you put it right back to us and that's fair.
18530 When it comes to the creation of the code and the cost to implement, you've done a very fulsome job and we thank you for that, for filing undertakings on both your own organization and some of the costs and efficiencies that we might expect, but ultimately, the ambition of a potential code could have a lot of bearing on the costs to administer it.
18531 How would -- would you just simply put an assessment together of those costs once the code is complete or would you want input to certain areas that you think we should be aware of that might have cost implications that are untenable? Would this be a mutually developed exercise or would you just want to see the output and figure out the costs on that basis?
18532 MR. MAKER: Well, I think the Commission identified some specific objectives when it created the Wireless Code --
18533 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yes.
18534 MR. MAKER: -- things like clarity and so forth and making rights and obligations visible at the front end of the transactions, and if that's the intent, then I don't see any reason -- you know, in the documentation that the Commission has issued in this proceeding it referenced the Wireless Code, and I don't have the exact words but it's a BDU Code along the lines of the Wireless Code.
18535 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hmm.
18536 MR. MAKER: So if you're asking about the cost for us to implement a system, we have a system that tracks the Wireless Code and the Deposit and Disconnections Code, so we would have to build a little piece onto it to kind of accommodate what essentially is for us just a new line of business, we think.
18537 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hmm.
18538 MR. MAKER: Now, there may be some slightly different issues and we'll have to educate ourselves about what they might be before we can build those into the tool, but we think we're looking at small changes and so the cost to us of doing that I'm guessing would be minimal.
18539 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hmm.
18540 MR. MAKER: And certainly we're going to want to consult with some industry participants so that we have a better idea of that before we go down that road.
18541 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yes. But in the fullness of you coming back to us, knowing what we know about CCTS and looking at your proposal, I think it would be evidentiary that we would be able to see where the cost efficiencies are, you know, from your proposal and your background information that we share.
18542 A couple of questions that I have with respect to ombudsman role and it's a bit of a wild card, but one of the things we've been talking about is a collection of set-top box data, and set-top box data is useful to the industry and useful to the BDUs for a variety of reasons, but there are privacy implications that we're looking at.
18543 And I'm wondering if you see the ombudsman having some role in at least preliminary enforcement of certain privacy standards if they're set out in the BDU Code or do you want to draw a hard stop line like you do on content and say no, that's the Privacy Commission or someone else's job?
18544 MR. MAKER: Well, at present our procedural code -- you know, from our procedural code, we don't deal with privacy issues because we have some exceptions where we have identified that there are more expert bodies available to deal with these kind of complex issues.
18545 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hmm.
18546 MR. MAKER: So we don't look at privacy issues per se. We might ask in the context of investigating a complaint for data from a set-top box in the sense of, you know, "Mr. Service Provider, you claim something was delivered. The customer says it wasn't." So that may turn out to be evidence --
18547 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hmm.
18548 MR. MAKER: -- but, in terms of allegations of privacy, we don't typically go there.
18549 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay. Fine.
18550 Could you describe for us what you've learned with respect -- I'm going back to the genesis of CCTS and how your organization reached out and built aware for the existence of your organization and your mandate, and promoted better understanding to the consumer of what you're capable of doing for them, and, more importantly, what their obligations are as a consumer as well.
18551 You know, did you -- first of all describe it, and then tell me what you'd have done differently.
18552 MR. MAKER: Well, you know, from the early days, we developed a communications plan, or a public awareness plan more accurately, which had a number of basic features. So, you know, we put up our website and we required all our participating service providers to put some prescribed information on their website, some prescribed language about CCTS, as well as to provide a link to our website.
18553 There was a few other features to it. I don't recall them all, I'm afraid, right now, although I could certainly undertake to get you the copies of the plans, if that's what you'd like to see.
18554 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
18555 MR. MAKER: The big one, really, was something that we started, which was to get a bill message on customer invoices. That was something that the Commission picked up on at the 2010 review of CCTS --
18556 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hmm.
18557 MR. MAKER: -- requiring that to be done, I believe, four times a year.
18558 Actually, we track how many calls we get into our contact centre that we believe are solely related or solely come from those bill messages, and the number's pretty high. So that's certainly been quite effective.
18559 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
18560 MR. MAKER: And that gives us an opportunity to inform and educate consumers. We also have our annual report, which is our big media piece for, you know, usually a few days in the fall.
18561 So those are the main pieces of the public awareness plan.
18562 We also do outreach to consumer groups to make sure that when they're dealing with who reach out to them that they're informed. So we're constantly in communication with them.
18563 We initially developed some brochures, but there wasn't a lot of call for those.
18564 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hmm.
18565 MR. MAKER: You know, it's not a bricks-and-mortar business like a bank or something --
18566 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hmm, m'hmm.
18567 MR. MAKER: -- so those didn't take us very far.
18568 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah, I believe there was a fairly intensive mailing campaign -- a billing mailer campaign with your members at one time, and, of course, we're grappling with no-paper bills now, so --
18569 MR. MAKER: Right.
18570 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: -- that's something that's going to have to be resolved.
18571 Just lastly, to fill out the record on this issue, could you just give me a brief -- given the context of your present mandate and funding, how have you been handling BDU-related complaints?
18572 MR. MAKER: That's a little tricky.
18573 It's not uncommon, as you can imagine, for us to get a complaint from a customer who says, "I have," you know, "telephone and Internet and," you know, "cable TV" or "satellite TV with my service provider and they've messed up my bill. There's a problem with my bill." Of course, we can't technically deal with the TV piece of it, but the rest of it falls within our mandate. And so it's a bit of an awkward dance that we have to do from time to time, quite frankly, in those cases.
18574 At the end of the day, we attempt to make an assessment of what -- you know what -- whether the customer has been, in this case, billed incorrectly, and how we should fix that. And, you know, usually we try and resolve those, and if we can't we take them to the more formal process.
18575 But we've been pretty effective and we've not had any pushback, really, from the industry related to the fact that, in the context of the resolution of this problem, there's a little piece that happens to have a broadcast service in it.
18576 So a new format, if you were to create one for us, would -- will obviously obviate that problem entirely.
18577 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hmm.
18578 But in unsolvable situation or insoluble situations, you refer them back to the provider, just like you would in wireless right now?
18579 MR. MAKER: Well, those complaints get treated like any other complaint: we try to resolve them. If we can't resolve them in a way that satisfies both parties, we do a formal investigation and we figure out whether the customer has been mistreated, or whatever the -- wrongly billed or didn't get the service, or whatever the case may be --
18580 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hmm.
18581 MR. MAKER: -- and we have the authority, as you know, to require the service provider to fix it.
18582 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hmm.
18583 MR. MAKER: We don't tell them, "Fix the TV." You know, if it's a complaint about "My TV service isn't working," we won't take it because that's not within mandate.
18584 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hmm.
18585 MR. MAKER: But if it's "I subscribe to a bundle that's supposed to be a hundred dollars a month, they're charging a hundred and fifty," we consider that to be in mandate and we deal with it.
18586 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay.
18587 Thank you very much.
18588 MR. MAKER: Thank you.
18589 THE CHAIRPERSON: No? Okay.
18590 So I have a couple of questions, just quickly.
18591 There were parties that have taken the position -- and I take it that you don't want to take sides on some of these issues. I understand that quite correctly. But some parties have said, Look, competition is quite active in our part of the country, and, therefore, we are having a very subscriber-focused approach to it, and therefore there aren't any complaints, and this is creating perhaps a lot of administrative burden for us if we were to have to form part of a dispute resolution mechanism like we're talking about here.
18592 I take it that your position is that those that have fewer complaints would have a mechanism within your structure to make that case, that, therefore, their administrative burden should be less -- or their financial burden, not -- should be less because they're causing less administrative burden for you. Is that...?
18593 MR. MAKER: That, I think, summarizes their position. You know, you don't have to deal with as much work that comes from our customers, and that should be reflected in the amount that we have to fund to keep CCTS going.
18594 THE CHAIRPERSON: So you're able, within your current construct, to deal with those sorts of arguments?
18595 MR. MAKER: Well, we have a process in which all participating service providers have a voice. And, you know, it's an issue that's come to the table. An adjustment was made this August to the ratio between funding from revenues and funding from complaint-based fees and it's open to those sectors or those providers who wish to have their representative on the board advocate for a different split to do so.
18596 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
18597 Under the hypothesis that you would be dealing with all three sectors -- regular telephony/telco-type issues, cellular and BDUs -- we know that there's different standards in those consumer relations, right? Sometimes something's 30 days in one place and it's zero days in other places.
18598 Have you given some thought about the fact that you would have overall responsibility over that and the efficiencies that would be gained if we were to standardize some of those standards?
18599 MR. MAKER: I haven't thought about that in any depth. I guess I think about the deposit and disconnection code which came out first. Thereafter you created a wireless code and there was discussion in the course of development of that code in which, you know, parties said, "Well, but wireless is not landline and it's a different business and we have to somehow modify the model to make sure that it fits," and that you then came out with the wireless code in which you attempted to do that.
18600 I think we'd do the same exercise -- you know, it would be incumbent on the Commission to have a similar exercise with respect to the broadcast side. I mean if broadcast has -- if, at the end of the day, the wireless code requires x days of notice to disconnect a customer, and if the BDU code has x minus something or x plus something, it's not a problem for us, in terms of our ability to administer it. You know, there's a learning curve and we'll --
18601 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
18602 MR. MAKER: -- we'll do it. But whether it makes sense to have similar timelines, similar requirements across the various industries, that's difficult for me to answer because I don't really have the insight into the different --
18603 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
18604 MR. MAKER: -- business models.
18605 THE CHAIRPERSON: So it may not sense, and we're not commenting on that. It may create confusion, perhaps, in the minds of subscribers not knowing, you know, if it's 30 days or 30 days-plus, but what you're saying is, from your perspective, you could accommodate differences that are judged to be appropriate?
18606 MR. MAKER: I see no reason why we couldn't. I do think it creates some problems in some complaints, potentially, in which --
18607 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
18608 MR. MAKER: -- a customer gets disconnected and -- has a bundle of services --
18609 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
18610 MR. MAKER: -- the TSP or BDU wants to disconnect them, which notice do we give?, how many days?, how many times?, which service can we cut off today?, you know --
18611 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
18612 MR. MAKER: -- that's going to be a bit of a --
18613 THE CHAIRPERSON: And it does cause some --
18614 MR. MAKER: -- an exercise.
18615 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- complexity for training folks inside your organization and communicating as well?
18616 MR. MAKER: There would be some.
18617 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, but not the ends of the world if absolutely required?
18618 MS THIBAULT: No, definitely not the end of the world. You know, we point to the fact that currently there are a number of provinces who have various laws and guidelines in place with regard to contracts for wireless services or, just generally, consumer protection standards. Although we're not charged with administering that, and there is a body there, we have to be aware of them --
18619 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
18620 MS THIBAULT: -- to make sure that the resolutions we might be suggesting or determinations are not flying in the face of those various differing jurisdictional rules.
18621 So I would say, although it may be easier to have common rules for all lines of business, it most definitely is not necessary. We do have experience dealing already with different rules currently for various subject matters.
18622 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right, but standardization does have some efficiencies?
18623 MS THIBAULT: Of course, yeah.
18624 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Right.
18625 Okay, well that's helpful. Thank you very much.
18626 I don't think we have any other questions. Thank you --
18627 MR. MAKER: Thank you
18628 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- both for participating.
18629 And your written comments were very helpful. Thank you.
18630 So I think that does it for today, so we're adjourned till 9 o'clock tomorrow morning.
18631 Thank you.
--- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 1635, to resume on Thursday, September 18, 2014 at 0900
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