ARCHIVED - Transcript of broadcasting applications listed in Broadcasting Notice of Consultation 2015-84 and 2015-84-1
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Volume: 1 of 2
Location: Gatineau, Quebec
Date: 13 May 2015
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Providing Content in Canada's Official Languages
Please note that the Official Languages Act requires that government publications be available in both official languages.
In order to meet some of the requirements under this Act, the Commission's transcripts will therefore be bilingual as to their covers, the listing of CRTC members and staff attending the hearings, and the table of contents.
However, the aforementioned publication is the recorded verbatim transcript and, as such, is transcribed in either of the official languages, depending on the language spoken by the participant at the hearing.
Attendees and Location
140 Promenade du Portage
- Chairperson: Jean-Pierre Blais
- Commissioner: Peter Menzies
- Commissioner: Tom Pentefountas
- Secretary: Jade Roy
- Legal Counsel: Crystal Hulley
- Legal Counsel: Adam Balkovec
- Hearing Manager: Joe Aguiar
13 May 2015
Opening of Hearing at 0929
1 LE PRÉSIDENT : À l'ordre, s'il vous plaît.
2 Bonjour et bienvenue à cette audience publique.
3 Au cours de l'audience, nous examinerons des demandes de renouvellement de licence de diverses stations de radio qui sont en situation de non conformité apparente au Règlement de 1986 sur la radio ainsi qu'à certaines conditions de licence et ordonnances obligatoires.
4 The Panel will begin by examining Aboriginal Voices Radio Inc.'s application to renew the licences of five Native Type B stations operating in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto and Ottawa.
5 This broadcaster is currently subject to a third consecutive short-term licence renewal due to past non-compliance issues and the CRTC's concerns about the performance of its stations.
6 It appears that Aboriginal Voices Radio continues to be in non-compliance with several sections of the Regulations and its conditions of licence. In addition, the CRTC remains concerned that it is not providing the quality of service it proposed and, as a result, the Aboriginal people in Canada's urban centres are not being well served.
7 We intend to discuss with Aboriginal Voices Radio its apparent non-compliance, the funding of its stations, the viability of its business plan and its capacity to provide quality service to the Aboriginal community in its current markets, including local newscasts and spoken word programming.
8 The Panel will then examine the applications to renew the licence of CFSI-FM, Salt Spring Island and an effective change in ownership.
9 This broadcaster appeared before the CRTC in January 2014 to discuss its non-compliance with the sections of the Regulations relating to the filing of program logs, logger tapes and music lists.
10 The CRTC subsequently issued several mandatory orders requiring CFSI-FM to comply with sections of the Regulations in questions. It appears that the broadcaster may have failed to comply with some of these mandatory orders.
11 It also appears that it may have failed to comply with Regulations concerning the submission of annual returns and contributions to support the development of Canadian content, among other things.
12 Finally, we will examine the application to renew the licence of CIHS-FM Wetaskiwin, a station in Alberta.
13 It appears that this broadcaster may have failed to comply with the sections of the Regulations concerning the submission of annual returns, contributions to support development of Canadian content, and the filing of program logs, logger tapes and music lists.
14 Given the severity and frequency of the instances of apparent non-compliance observed in the current licence term, the CRTC has called Aboriginal Voices Radio, CFSI-FM Salt Spring Island and CIHS-FM Wetaskiwin to this public hearing.
15 The CRTC expects the broadcasters to show cause why mandatory orders should not be issued or reimposed further to subsection 12(2) of the Broadcasting Act and, second, whether the CRTC should renew their licence or, alternatively, should not suspend or revoke their licence further to section 9 and 24 of the Broadcasting Act.
16 A broadcasting licence is a privilege. This hearing will consider whether these particular licensees deserve to continue benefiting from that privilege.
17 Le comité d'audition est formé des membres suivants :
18 - Tom Pentefountas, vice-président de la Radiodiffusion;
19 - Peter Menzies, vice-président des Télécommunications; et
20 - moi-même, Jean-Pierre Blais, président du CRTC et président de l'audience.
21 L'équipe du Conseil qui nous aide comprend les membres suivants :
22 - Joe Aguiar, coordinateur de l'audience et gestionnaire de l'analyse de la radio de langue anglaise;
23 - Crystal Hulley et Adam Balkovec, conseillers juridiques; et
24 - Jade Roy, secrétaire de l'audience et superviseure des audiences publiques.
25 I would like now to invite our legal counsel to further explain these possible sanctions and to explain the procedures we will be following.
26 MS HULLEY: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
27 I would like to take a few minutes to expand on some of the outcomes that the Commission is considering during this hearing.
28 As a result of this proceeding, pursuant to sections 9 and 24 of the Broadcasting Act, the Commission may choose not to renew the licences of these licensees or to suspend or revoke the licences or if it chooses to renew the licences it may choose to do so for a period shorter than seven years.
29 In addition, the Commission may choose to issue a mandatory order or mandatory orders under section 12 of the Broadcasting Act, requiring the licensee to comply with the Regulations in its conditions of licence.
30 Under section 12 of the Act, the Commission may inquire into, hear and determine a matter where it appears that a person has failed to do any act or thing that the person is required to do pursuant to any Regulation, licence, decision or order of the Commission and issue a mandatory order to ensure compliance with any such Regulation, licence, decision or order.
31 If a mandatory order is issued, the Commission has the ability to register the order with the Federal Court, upon which it will become an order of the Federal Court. If any persons named in the mandatory order subsequently fail to comply with the order, the Commission could provide evidence to the Federal Court of the failure to comply and a show cause hearing for contempt of court would take place before the Federal Court of Canada. The person would be entitled to present a defence and if found guilty of contempt would be subject to a fine or other remedy as set by the Court.
32 The licensees are reminded that the Notice of Consultation indicated that they have been called to this hearing to show cause why the Commission should renew their licences and why the Commission should not implement one of the other described measures.
33 To show cause means that the burden of convincing this Panel that the licences should be renewed and that the other described measures should not be pursued is on the licensees.
34 Finally, the licensees are reminded that all of the matters into which the Panel intends to inquire at this hearing were set out in the Notice of Consultation.
35 Now, Hearing Secretary Jade Roy will further explain the procedures we will be following.
36 THE SECRETARY: Thank you.
37 I would like to go over a few housekeeping matters to ensure the proper conduct of the hearing.
38 When you are in the hearing room, we would ask that you turn off your smartphones as they are an unwelcome distraction and they cause interference on the internal communication systems used by our translators. We would appreciate your cooperation in this regard throughout the hearing.
39 Interpretation services will be available throughout the duration of the hearing. We would like to remind participants that during their oral presentation they should provide for a reasonable delay for interpretation, while respecting their allocated presentation time.
40 There is a verbatim transcript of this hearing being taken by the court reporter sitting at the table to my right. If you have any questions on how to obtain all or part of this transcript, please approach the court reporter during a break. Please note that the full transcript will be made available on the Commission's website tomorrow.
41 Just a reminder that pursuant to section 41 of the CRTC Rules of Practice and Procedure you must not submit evidence at the hearing unless it supports statements already on the public record. If you wish to introduce new evidence as an exception to this rule, you must ask permission of the Panel of the hearing before you do so.
42 Please also note that the Commission will also be tweeting the documents during the hearing at CRTChearings using the hashtag #CRTC.
43 Finally, if parties undertake to file information with the Commission in response to questioning by the Panel, these undertakings can be confirmed on the record through the transcript of the hearing. If necessary, parties may speak with Commission Legal Counsel at a break following their presentation to confirm the undertakings.
44 For the record, additional information was filed by Aboriginal Voices Radio on May 11th related to their station's business plan for the next three years.
45 The information includes a short description on the AVR team, the involvement of Bray & Partners in AVR's programming, AVR's programming strategies and financial information including revenues and operating expenses projections for the next three years.
46 The Panel has decided that this information will be added to the public examination file of the licensee's applications. The licensee has designated some of the financial information contained in these documents as confidential.
47 The licensee has filed abridged versions of the relevant documents for the public record. After request from Commission staff, the licensee has amended its abridged filings, disclosing certain additional information comprising aggregated financial projections. Copies are available in the public examination room.
48 Also for the record, the Commission has been advised that Torres Media and Aboriginal Chamber of Commerce of the District of Marlboro, listed on the Agenda, will not be appearing at the hearing.
49 Mr. Chairman, we will proceed with Phase 1, item 1 on the Agenda, which is the presentation by Aboriginal Voices Radio Inc.
50 Please introduce yourself and your colleagues and you will then have 20 minutes to make your presentation.
51 MR. HILL: Good morning to everyone.
52 My name is Jamie Hill and I am the President of Aboriginal Voices Radio.
53 Sitting beside me is Will Campbell, Chairman of the Board of Directors, and Lewis Cardinal, Executive Vice President, and to my far right, David Bray.
54 We are also joined at this table by our legal counsel, Katherine Hensel and Sarah Clarke.
55 Now, allow me to introduce you to the Bray & Partners team:
56 - David Bray, Managing Partner of Bray & Partners;
57 - Rita Cugini, Director of Regulatory Affairs;
58 - Dave Charles, Vice President, Director of Content; and
59 - Gary Murphy, Sales Manager.
60 Before we begin, I want to thank the Algonquin peoples on whose lands we are currently visiting and I would like to acknowledge the Sacred Firekeeper for the Algonquin Nation, Mr. Peter Decontie.
61 Mr. Chairman, Vice Chairman Pentefountas, Vice Chairman Menzies, I want to thank you for inviting us here today.
62 We know we are here to discuss and answer some very important and serious questions regarding Aboriginal Voices Radio, its compliance issues and its future.
63 AVR was created to reflect the interests of, and to serve, the Indigenous communities across Canada by providing radio programming that focuses on our perspective, our interests, our tastes, our artists, our language and our cultures.
64 AVR takes the obligations that come with that mandate, and with its licences, very seriously to do what we do, what we have attempted to do, with honour, integrity and rigour, and to do it -- as Indigenous people say -- "in a good way."
65 As you know, we have encountered many difficulties along the way. To that end, let me start by acknowledging the obvious.
66 First, Aboriginal Voices Radio is facing some significant problems. We have made mistakes, there have been missteps and we have struggled to fully comply with all of our Conditions of Licence.
67 To that end, AVR understands that should the Commission decide to renew our licences it may be on a short-term basis. We accept that.
68 We are also not seeking to amend or modify any of our current Conditions of Licence. We know that we can meet our current Conditions of Licence, and I, along with our team, will be providing you with a full explanation of how we will do that.
69 Second, we have tried and have been working hard to translate our vision of AVR into a reality for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians across the country. While we continue to work hard on realizing this vision, there is more we can do.
70 We acknowledge, and as the Commission has noted, it is quite true that Ottawa has been off the air since the spring of 2014. We accept and understand the seriousness of this issue.
71 I am going to address each of these issues in my remarks today but let me first share with you the good news.
72 The good news is that AVR has a strong and viable plan to move forward.
73 I know that you have heard this type of pitch from us before. I know you are probably sceptical about us bringing forward a business plan at the last minute. And I know you may be thinking: What makes this plan different from every other plan we have put forward to the Commission?
74 THE CHAIRPERSON: Maybe you can move just a little bit away from the microphone so that we --
75 MR. HILL: Is it too loud?
76 THE CHAIRPERSON: No. I think we're getting a little bit of interference, I guess.
77 MR. HILL: Mr. Chairman, is that better back here?
78 THE CHAIRPERSON: That's better. Thank you very much.
79 MR. HILL: Okay. Thank you.
80 Let me tell you why this time it is different.
81 First, the team you see sitting behind me is like no other that we have worked with.
82 David Bray has more than 25 years of experience with the development of marketing strategies geared towards radio broadcasting.
83 Rita Cugini is an expert in regulatory affairs, broadcast and government relations and issues of compliance.
84 David Charles is a global media strategist with years of experience, including previously serving as President of CARAS, where he introduced three distinct Indigenous categories for Indigenous artists.
85 Gary Murphy has over 40 years of experience as a leader in sales in radio and sponsorship sales management.
86 Not to mention the other members of the team you see listed in our business plan, including Iain Grant, George Grant and Bob Mackowycz.
87 This team is here because they believe in our vision and what we are trying to do. They believe in this venture and are with us today on a goodwill basis, knowing that we, as a team, as a partnership, will truly be successful.
88 Second, the plan is grounded in the realities of the current economic market. Many of the financial issues facing AVR in the past are a result of our relatively slow response to the changing realities of the market. We have attempted to keep up and have made serious efforts in this regard, but until now we have not had the expertise to shift our approach in a wholly viable manner.
89 Finally, this plan is based on a holistic approach to AVR.
90 In the past, I think we have made the mistake of trying to plug holes as problems arose. This has resulted in a number of the problems that the Commission has identified throughout our history.
91 We have talked to other broadcasters, we have tried to work with different salespeople, we have attempted to put marketing strategies in place and we have tried to negotiate other deals.
92 But these are piecemeal steps. Never before have we taken a global and holistic view of AVR as an entire entity until now.
93 Now, you know that AVR has previously requested an exemption from the Native Broadcasting Policy. However, AVR is no longer making this request. This plan is not contingent on an exemption from the Native Broadcasting Policy. I want to make that clear. We did request an exemption from the non-profit designation under the Policy but we do not need that exemption to make this plan work.
94 The plan, which you will hear the particulars of from Mr. Bray, is based on a complete and wholesome review of AVR's vision.
95 In other words, it embraces what we are trying to do, from local programming, to spoken word, to revenue generation, to our continued support of Indigenous artists.
96 And this brings me to our vision. Our vision is to provide essential, principled and relevant radio to Indigenous communities across the country.
97 We seek to:
98 - provide local programming and news to our audiences;
99 - support Indigenous artists; and
100 - add to the knowledge of Canadians and play a role in the reconciliation that can and must occur between Canadian Indigenous and non-Indigenous solitudes.
101 Obviously, the question for us, and more importantly today for the Commission, is: Have we succeeded in implementing that vision and how will it be made a reality in the future?
102 This brings me to our compliance issues.
103 As the Commission knows and has pointed out, AVR is facing a number of compliance issues.
104 First, since the spring of 2014, Ottawa has been off the air. We acknowledge the gravity of this issue.
105 AVR has also not been in compliance with its local broadcasting and news requirements.
106 We acknowledge that this is a problem, we regret it, and we know how serious a problem this is. When AVR was facing significant financial pressure, unfortunately, this was an area where we had to cut staff and compromise our programming.
107 As Mr. Bray will explain in his presentation, both of these issues will be almost immediately remedied under the new plan.
108 Not only do we have a new and vibrant marketing strategy but we also have a skilled and seasoned regulatory person on our team who will almost certainly keep AVR in line.
109 We are also in a position to put Ottawa back on the air in the next 30 days.
110 We also acknowledge that we have been late in filing our annual returns and our audited financial statements. Moreover, to date we have been filing pursuant to our fiscal year and not the broadcasting year.
111 All of these issues will be fully addressed under the new plan. We understand that the Commission will continue to want us to provide audited financial statements and we will do that.
112 We will also amend our financial systems to ensure that annual returns and audited statements are prepared for each of the five stations.
113 It is true that over the last three years AVR has not been fully compliant with these requirements. We acknowledge that. But there are a number of things we are doing well.
114 First, in four of our five markets we are fully meeting our condition of licence No. 3: AVR devotes a minimum of 20 hours per broadcast week to structured enriched spoken word programming. We know the quality of this programming could be improved -- and Mr. Bray will speak directly to that -- but we are technically in compliance with this requirement.
115 Second, in four of our five markets we are fully meeting our condition of licence No. 4: More than 2 percent of all spoken word programming during each broadcast week is in a Canadian Indigenous language.
116 Third, in four of our five markets we are fully meeting our condition of licence No. 5: More than 2 percent of all vocal musical selections aired during each broadcast week, are in a Canadian Indigenous language.
117 Fourth, in four of our five markets we are fully meeting our condition of licence No. 6: More than 35 percent of all musical selections are Canadian selections.
118 Finally, we are fully meeting our conditions of licence Nos. 7 and 8 and are in compliance with the Equitable Portrayal Code and the Broadcast Code for Advertising to Children.
119 I now want to briefly address the Native Broadcasting Policy.
120 As the Commission noted in the Notice of Hearing, AVR has requested an exemption from the non-profit designation under the policy.
121 We also understand that the Commission is planning to review the Native Broadcasting Policy for 2016-2017.
122 AVR is delighted that the Commission is undertaking this review and we are looking forward to making submissions in this regard.
123 We are of the view that the issues with the policy identified by AVR in its response to the Commission will be fully addressed in the public hearing forum.
124 I will now turn the floor over to Mr. Bray, who is going to review the new business plan with you.
125 Thank you very much.
126 MR. BRAY: Thank you, Jamie.
127 I'm honoured to have the opportunity to be here today to present this plan for your consideration.
128 Aboriginal Voices Radio Inc. has enlisted Bray and Partners to assist with achieving the AVR mandate and realizing AVR's original vision to serve urban Indigenous markets with high quality radio programming.
129 The Bray and Partners Management Team will work with the AVR Board of Directions and senior AVR Managers to bring AVR back into compliance with the Conditions of Licence, as well as establishing stations as a viable radio service in AVR's markets.
130 Naturally, AVR will continue to strategically manage AVR.
131 AVR has made a sound business decision in procuring the services of Bray and Partners. To ensure AVR delivers a great sounding radio service, Bray and Partners has assembled an accomplished line-up of radio experts. I am particularly proud of this team -- I want to underline that -- one that I know is unparalleled in its ability to execute the plan before you. The bios you will find included in the business plan with the Commission.
132 I want to take you first to format research.
133 On air AVR has branded itself as Voices Radio.
134 Choosing the right format is not a just matter of market realities, but also a matter of ensuring that the format is conducive to meeting the needs and wants of the audience the radio station is licensed to serve.
135 Our music positioning fits nicely in that regard. Going forward we will conduct additional call out research in each market in order to maintain and ultimately grow AVR's audiences.
136 Showcasing quality Indigenous music is central to this plan. AVR will showcase our country's Indigenous music, both in the regular music mix as well as speciality shows. That music will come from established stars such as Buffy Saint Marie, Kashtin, Susan Aglukark, Tom Wilson, Robbie Robertson, as well as other noteworthy artists such as Derek Miller, A Tribe Called Red, Kinnie Star, Murray Porter, and many more.
137 Voices Radio will showcase and integrate the best Indigenous music throughout our format so that it will have greater exposure to a wider audience. This is critical. Indigenous music is not just a commitment to the new Voices Radio strategy, it's a promise of inclusion and integration.
138 AVR has given Bray and Partners the mandate to recommend a viable format niche, which in turn will lead to a strong, financially viable business opportunity.
139 We arrived at our format decision via our collective radio experience of many, many, many decades. We have identified an obvious and open niche in the Canadian major markets where AVR broadcasts. This niche is soft adult contemporary.
140 This takes me to the news and spoken word component of our plan.
141 Voices Radio is taking a very innovative approach to developing news and enriched spoken word programming for AVR stations. We will have a professional news team with a local reporter in each market. Helping us to put together this team is Steve Kowch. Steve has served as General Manager of some of the top News/Talk stations in Canada, including CFRB, which is News/Talk 1010 and CJAD.
142 When it comes to enriched spoken word, the team of AVR and Bray and Partners are in the process of developing spoken word programming focusing on information and entertainment that is relevant to members of the Indigenous population.
143 For instance, one of the programs we are developing is a feature called "Dreamcatcher" on Voices Radio, a tapestry of spoken word woven together each evening, allowing you to sit back, relax and be transported into a magical world of relaxation and warmth.
144 On the internet side of things, we are developing an elaborate website at voicesradio.ca. This is used to reinforce Indigenous presence and highlight special Indigenous features. We will cover community news and events.
145 For user-friendliness, and based on the number of enquiries we receive about artists played on Voices Radio, we have a constantly updating list of songs that have played that day in each market.
146 We also offer a 24-hour history of all music played on all stations, which allows listeners to track down music titles and artists, including the many and varied Indigenous artists they hear throughout our broadcast day.
147 Let me underline this: We are dedicated -- my team, our team is dedicated to this project. We have established targets which are realistic and we are confident that we will reach them. To this end, we have put together a group of highly accomplished radio sales reps in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa.
148 Mr. Chairman, Bray and Partners, along with AVR, have been working on this business plan for several months. We have provided conservative estimates of audience deliveries, projected revenue and assessment of costs. We are very confident that this plan can and will be delivered, bringing AVR the financial resources it needs to fulfil its mandate.
149 We are here because we believe in AVR's vision and we believe in the radio medium. This is critically important for Indigenous peoples and for Canada's listening public. Our plan is solid and we are here to help get the job done.
150 MR. CAMPBELL: Let us not forget, it was the vision of our people and hopefully the shared vision of CRTC that our peoples' language, culture and identity be addressed, that it be fostered and that it be protected and preserved for future generations.
151 Due to financial circumstances, we have not been able to fulfil this vision but now, with this new relationship with Bray and Partners, we have an opportunity to carry out this vision, to achieve what our people and the CRTC has envisioned, to fulfil our mandate, to preserve and promote our culture, our art, our language and our peoples' identities, not only for our peoples, but I think for all Canadians.
152 Thank you, sir.
153 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for your presentation. I will start us off.
154 I know you want to talk about the future, that's an interesting tactic, to redefine this hearing, but I want to bring you first to talk about the past. So my first question is: Are you familiar with Broadcast Information Bulletin CRTC 2014-608 dated 21 November 2014? It's entitled "Update on the Commission's approach to non-compliance by radio stations"?
155 MS HENSEL: Commissioner, we are just bringing it up, sir.
156 THE CHAIRPERSON: Are you familiar with it?
157 MS HENSEL: Yes, we are, as legal counsel.
158 THE CHAIRPERSON: Paragraph 4 of that Information Bulletin states:
"... it is the licensee's responsibility to demonstrate that it is in full compliance with its regulatory obligations."
159 Are you familiar with that statement?
160 MR. HILL: We are familiar with the obligation, Mr. Chairman.
161 THE CHAIRPERSON: And at paragraph 7 of that Information Bulletin it states:
"In the case of licence renewals, the Commission may apply the following measures on a case-by-case basis depending on the nature of the non-compliance:..."
162 Then the Commission's Information Bulletin goes on to list possible remedial actions, including:
"- short-term licence renewal;
- non-renewal of the licence;
- suspension of the licence; ..."
163 And even:
"- revocation of the licence."
164 Before the end of the licence term.
165 Are you familiar with that statement?
166 MR. HILL: Yes, Mr. Chairman.
167 THE CHAIRPERSON: And do you fully understand the cautions the Commission has put in its written notices and in the beginning of today's oral hearing?
168 MR. HILL: Yes, we do.
169 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Now I will move on to another subject.
170 Subsection 8(4) of the Radio Regulations states, and I quote:
"A licensee shall furnish, to the Commission on request, its program log or machine readable record for any day, with a certificate by or on behalf of the licensee attesting to the accuracy of its content."
171 Are you familiar with that section?
172 MR. HILL: Yes, we are.
173 THE CHAIRPERSON: And section 8(6) of the Radio Regulation also states:
"Where ... the Commission requests from the licensee a clear and intelligible tape recording or other exact copy of matter broadcast, the licensee shall furnish it to the Commission forthwith."
174 Are you aware of that section?
175 MR. HILL: Yes, we are.
176 THE CHAIRPERSON: Now, the Commission asked you to file program logs and logger tapes for the week of the 25th to the 31st of May 2014 for each of your five stations. You were to do so by the 18th of July. Do you agree that you only responded to this request on the 29th of September 2014?
177 MR. HILL: Yes, we agree.
178 THE CHAIRPERSON: Do you agree that the material you provided was in Notepad format, which could neither be read nor printed by the Commission, except after considerable effort?
179 MR. HILL: Yes, we do.
180 THE CHAIRPERSON: And do you agree that the audio recordings for all five stations were missing portions; namely 40 minutes in Toronto, six hours in Vancouver, seven hours in Calgary, nine hours in Edmonton and 126 hours for Ottawa?
181 MR. HILL: Yes, we do.
182 THE CHAIRPERSON: So do you agree that the 126 hours you were missing for the audio recording for Ottawa was because you sent us the recording from the 25th to the 31st of May 2013 rather than 2014?
183 MR. HILL: Yes.
184 THE CHAIRPERSON: Do you understand the importance of maintaining proper logs?
185 MR. HILL: Yes, we do.
186 THE CHAIRPERSON: Without proper logs, you understand that -- the logs and logger tapes -- that it's impossible for the Commission to verify many of your other obligations?
187 MR. HILL: Yes, we understand that.
188 THE CHAIRPERSON: What due diligence have you put in place to ensure flawless execution of your obligations pursuant to subsections 8(4) and 8(6) of the Radio Regulations?
189 MR. HILL: Mr. Chairman, the diligence that we are putting in place is consistent with our procuring the services of Bray and Partners. There is a Regulatory Affairs official as part of the team and we have the technical capabilities and will come into the financial capabilities of making sure that we comply with all of those.
190 MR. BRAY: And may I add, we have now one of the top people in the country, our Operations Manager, putting together the software, the logs. Everything you have discussed is now going to be in the best possible shape. You can rest assured that again our people have decades and decades of experience with this sort of compliance and you can rest assured that from this time forward that won't be a problem.
191 THE CHAIRPERSON: So you're saying that currently those measures are not in place?
192 MR. BRAY: Forgive me.
193 They are currently in the process, as per the business plan, of being put into place. Yes, some of them are --
194 THE CHAIRPERSON: So currently they are not in place?
195 MR. BRAY: Some are not, but for the most part, the logging issues, they are in place.
196 THE CHAIRPERSON: Despite the fact that these logging issues have been raised with you for a number of months, you are saying that they are still -- due diligence is still not in place?
197 MR. BRAY: The team wasn't on the job at the time that you have specified. In May we were not on the job. This is a relatively new business plan and a relatively new team, so certainly once we came into the picture, yes, we have been quickly bringing everything into compliance but, no, we were not there in May.
198 THE CHAIRPERSON: Let's now turn to another subject matter. You clearly have the Radio Regulations at hand, so section 9(2) of the Radio Regulations state that:
"On or before November 30 of each year, a licensee shall submit to the Commission a statement of accounts, on the annual return of broadcasting licensee form, for the year ending on the previous August 31."
199 Are you familiar with that provision?
200 MR. HILL: Yes.
201 THE CHAIRPERSON: And paragraph 10 of the Broadcast Information Bulletin I mentioned earlier, and you are aware of, states:
"Annual returns, which are due on 30 November of each broadcast year, must be submitted in proper form and must include the necessary supporting documentation. Licensees can find further information concerning the filing of annual returns in Broadcasting Information Bulletin 2011 795."
202 Are you familiar with that statement?
203 MR. HILL: Yes, we are familiar with that.
204 THE CHAIRPERSON: I put it to you that despite this clear regulatory obligation, you failed to file your annual returns for the broadcast year ending 31 August 2014; is that correct?
205 MR. HILL: That is correct.
206 THE CHAIRPERSON: When do you plan to submit your 2013-14 annual returns for each of the five stations?
207 MR. HILL: I believe we can do that within 30 days, Mr. Chairman.
208 THE CHAIRPERSON: Do you agree with me that that is not consistent with the regulatory obligation?
209 MR. HILL: Yes, I agree with you that it is consistent.
210 The only thing that I have to put a caveat on is we have not put together the financing to do an audit in 30 days on the broadcast year. That would take us a bit longer to ensure that it's not the fiscal year and you may be familiar that we did an engagement review for the rest of the broadcast year after the audited financial statement for the fiscal year. So the nature of that problem was it is quite expensive to convert all our systems as we had started out doing the fiscal year and to convert it to five separate stations and convert all of our financial management systems to the broadcast year was an expense issue.
211 So we can submit all of the information, including the engagement review, in all forms that are required within a period of time. It would take us longer to convert all the systems over to a per station per broadcast year basis. That is included in the Bray plan. Moving forward we will have the capability of doing that relatively quickly, but I couldn't say we could do that in 30 days.
212 THE CHAIRPERSON: Let's move on to another subject matter. Section 9(4)(b) of the Radio Regulation states:
"At the request of the Commission, a licensee shall respond to...
(b) any request for information regarding the licensee's adherence to the conditions of its licence, the Act, these Regulations, industry standards, practices or codes or any other self regulatory mechanism of the industry."
213 Are you familiar with that provision?
214 MR. HILL: Yes, we are.
215 THE CHAIRPERSON: On 18 June 2014, the Commission requested that you file your license renewal applications for all five stations by no later than 29 August 2014. Do you agree that you did not do so until 22 September 2014, after two requests for extensions?
216 MR. HILL: Yes, we agree.
217 THE CHAIRPERSON: The extensions were first granted on the 12th of September, as well as well after the 29th of August. Do you agree with that?
218 MR. HILL: Yes.
219 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
220 Condition of licence No. 9 stipulates the following:
"The licensee shall, on or before 30 November, file an annual update on the achievement of its business objectives, which includes the information set out below, for the broadcast year ending the previous 31 August: ..."
221 Now, in the fifth bullet, this includes, and I quote:
"a detailed breakdown of all staff (including contractors and sales and marketing staff), their location, responsibilities and compensation."
222 You are aware of that condition of licence?
223 MR. HILL: Yes.
224 THE CHAIRPERSON: Do you agree that your 2012-13 annual update did not include compensation figures for staff?
225 MR. HILL: If I could have one second, Mr. Chairman?
226 MR. HILL: Mr. Chairman, they were not filed on the date that you spoke of, but we believe that we have now filed that information with the Commission.
227 THE CHAIRPERSON: You do agree that that information should have been provided in November 2013; correct?
228 MR. HILL: Correct.
229 THE CHAIRPERSON: Do you not agree that your 2013 14 annual update did not include the location of the majority of the staff?
230 MR. HILL: Yes.
231 THE CHAIRPERSON: And that information should have been provided in November 2014; correct?
232 MR. HILL: Correct.
233 THE CHAIRPERSON: Do you not agree that providing that information in April 2015, following a deficiency letter, does not cure the apparent breach of your condition of licence?
234 MR. HILL: Yes, I agree.
235 THE CHAIRPERSON: How many employees currently work for AVR?
236 MR. HILL: One fulltime contractor, a part-time bookkeeper, and we have used a couple of contractors to do short term tasks that we needed. This is over the past several months.
237 MR. BRAY: And I should add that Bray and Partners now have approximately 14 people working on the project.
238 THE CHAIRPERSON: But they are your employees?
239 MR. BRAY: That's correct, and we are contracted to AVR.
240 THE CHAIRPERSON: So could you break down the number of employees you have for each station?
241 MR. HILL: We would need some time to do such a breakdown at this moment. We have not done a breakdown per station as far as the personnel that we have right now.
242 THE CHAIRPERSON: How long would it take you to do that?
243 MR. BRAY: A very short amount of time. We could do that within a day.
244 THE CHAIRPERSON: So you could do that by the end of today or by, let's say, first thing tomorrow morning?
245 MR. BRAY: Could we say first thing tomorrow morning?
246 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes. You will have to provide it to the Hearing Secretary.
247 MR. BRAY: Certainly.
248 THE CHAIRPERSON: And breaking it down per station, number of employees.
249 MR. BRAY: Correct. Now, some of the employees, such as myself -- I am General Manager looking at the overall project -- program directors such as Bob Mackowycz and Dave Charles again are looking at it all, so should we just know those as being corporate in nature but not station specific?
250 THE CHAIRPERSON: You can do that, if you wish.
251 MR. BRAY: Okay, thank you.
252 THE CHAIRPERSON: But we need to know how many employees are assigned to each station and understand what they do.
253 MR. BRAY: No problem.
254 THE CHAIRPERSON: What is your estimate of the number of employees you have, subject to verifying it, in each station?
255 MR. HILL: Mr. Chairman, I don't think I could provide an estimate before tomorrow morning because it is not something that --
256 THE CHAIRPERSON: You have no idea how many people are working in your five stations?
257 MR. HILL: Well, our operation essentially -- and I think we have stated this in the past --
258 THE CHAIRPERSON: How can you do any of your work without employees in the five stations? This is astounding.
259 MR. BRAY: I can --
260 MR. HILL: Because many of the employees work for all five stations we have not divided up their time in that manner. Some of the tasks of the employees are done centrally and some are not.
261 MR. BRAY: And I could talk to the specifics, if I may, if you wish.
262 The Operations Manager, Iain Grant, he covers all of the stations and goes from market to market. Dave Charles, Bob Mackowycz, the program directors, they again -- once again, work with all of the markets one at a time, of course, we look at each individually without question.
263 We've got Rita Cugini, of course, Regulatory Affairs, working on, again, the big picture.
264 We have a sales team headed by George Grant, whom I'm sure you're familiar with, the Vice-President and CEO of ZoomerMedia and a variety of other -- owner of a variety of other stations. He's setting up our sales efforts nationally.
265 We have Gary Murphy working with George as the sales manager, and then we will have a team of seven to eight salespeople, each who will individually work on -- that will be divided one or two in each marketplace, the sales people.
266 Now, following that we will shortly, in terms of bringing everything into compliance, have a local news person in each market and, similarly, we will have local talent in each market. That is the next step.
267 THE CHAIRPERSON: So, how many on-air staff do you have in each station currently?
268 MR. BRAY: We have not got the local presence right now because we're just in the process of conversion. Right now we just have a couple of announcers working across the board.
269 But that having been said, that's our -- again, we're relatively new to this operation and we are in the process of hiring local people in each of the markets.
270 THE CHAIRPERSON: How are you able to meet your current obligations with so few on-air staff?
271 MR. BRAY: We are not currently -- if I can say we, if you don't mind --
272 THE CHAIRPERSON: I assume that whether it's legal counsel or yourself, if you're at this table, it binds AVR?
273 MR. BRAY: Yes, correct.
274 We are not currently in compliance on all issues as Jamie has noted, but we have set out a plan and a timetable to bring the remaining issues into compliance, specifically, the local content and the news content.
275 Again, we've just brought Steve Kowch on board, I think I mentioned that. Steve was -- he's going to head up our news operation and the hiring of news people in each market. Again, he has extensive experience.
276 I want to reinforce that I strongly believe that you can put your faith in the Bray & Partners team, or at least the individuals noted in the Bray & Partners team because they have extensive experience. We will not run -- in the future, run into these sorts of compliance issues, things as simple as logger tapes and logger information. Our peoples have done that for decades. I really don't see a future in -- a problem of that sort in the future.
277 That doesn't forgive for the moment that it's currently out of compliance. I'm not making excuses, I'm simply saying, we have a plan to remedy it.
278 THE CHAIRPERSON: Going forward, what would be the right number or the appropriate level of number of employees for each market, both on-air and off-air, to provide quality programming?
279 MR. BRAY: Oh, okay. I wasn't sure if Jamie was doing the...
280 Again, some of the -- as far as the key management that is corporate in nature, so I guess if we don't -- if we don't attribute them to any specific market, because they are the heart and soul of the network and will be travelling from place to place. I would say we will have local talent, local news people, probably about three, not including our salespeople -- oh yeah, I guess you should include our salespeople -- so yeah, we'll probably be looking at about five people in each market.
281 THE CHAIRPERSON: That's back office not on-air?
282 MR. BRAY: No, that's a question of -- in terms of the back office information, so that being accounting, things that are strictly technical in nature, accessing logger tapes, that's all centralized, it's all -- there is no need for a person sitting doing technical duties in each market.
283 MR. HILL: Mr. Chairman, if I could add to Mr. Bray. You may note in the business plan the programming breakout and we do have listed for each market a morning anchor, for each market news anchors, we do have voice-over people who may be spread across all five markets, there are two program directors, a music director, national producer, there are five enriched spoken work hosts.
284 So I think the estimate of Mr. Bray regarding five people speaks predominantly to the programming and not the back office and administration.
285 MR. BRAY: That's correct.
286 THE CHAIRPERSON: Understood. Just to be clear, you used the word network a few moments ago. Just to be clear, you may have been using that in the vernacular rather than in the regulatory meaning?
287 MR. BRAY: Absolutely. My apologies, that's a misstep. It is not a network, it's five individual licences.
288 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Now, moving on. Condition of Licence No. 10 stipulates, and I quote:
"The licensee shall submit audited financial statements as part of the annual returns submitted in accordance with subsection 9.(2) of the Radio Regulation for each of the radio stations." (As read)
289 Are you aware of that condition?
290 MR. HILL: Yes.
291 THE CHAIRPERSON: Do you agree that the audited financial statements were, therefore, due on or before November 30th of the relevant years?
292 MR. BRAY: We agree.
293 THE CHAIRPERSON: Do you agree that you failed to meet those conditions of licence; namely, the statements were filed for all the stations as a whole and not each individually?
294 MR. HILL: Yes, we agree.
295 THE CHAIRPERSON: In addition, that statements were filed for the wrong regulatory period; i.e., the 31st of March period rather than for the broadcasting year?
296 MR. HILL: Yes, we agree.
297 THE CHAIRPERSON: And finally, some of the statements were reviewed but not audited; is that correct?
298 MR. HILL: That is correct. For part of the statements, it was what the auditor has referred to as an engagement review and it wasn't a full audit.
299 THE CHAIRPERSON: And do you have anything to add on how you will remediate that going forward?
300 MR. HILL: We believe it was another expense issue, Mr. Chairman. As I mentioned before, the conversion of all of our financial management systems, how everything was tracked and including five separate audits and not one audit was something that AVR did not achieve financially.
301 But if you'll note, in the plan that we have the revenues that are projected are substantially greater than anything that AVR has ever worked with before and these expenses and the conversion to the broadcast year and the conversion of our financial reporting and reporting on a per-station basis are encapsulated in the expenses which would come out of the revenues that are being projected in the business plan.
302 MR. BRAY: And we will have solid ongoing bookkeeping, handling and looking at the overall perspective.
303 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Condition of Licence No. 2 states as follows, and I quote:
"The licensee shall broadcast regular daily local newscast on each station which must include at least five distinct local news stories for each market served by Aboriginal Voices Radio Inc. per broadcast day. For the purpose of this condition, distinct local news stories are those that incorporate spoken word material of direct and particular relevance to the Aboriginal community within the market served; therefore, the event discussed in the story must occur in, or be directly linked to the station's market according to the definition of market set out in the Radio Regulations 1986, which is the FM3 BBM contour or the central area, as defined by the Bureau of Broadcast Measurement --", (As read)
304 I guess that's Numeris now,
"-- whichever is smaller." (As read)
305 Are you familiar with that condition?
306 MR. HILL: Yes, Mr. Chairman.
307 THE CHAIRPERSON: Would you not agree with me that since its inception in 1999, 2000, 2002 AVR was designed as a radio service dedicated to reflecting the needs and interests of Aboriginal communities? Certainly the language used in your applications dated November 9, 1999 for Toronto, May 23rd, 2000 for Vancouver and Calgary, January 29th, 2001 for Ottawa and September 4th, 2002 for Edmonton spoke of the needs and interests of the Aboriginal communities. Would you agree?
308 MR. HILL: Yes, I agree. We agree.
309 THE CHAIRPERSON: In the 2002 application for Edmonton, in particular, you stated:
"Programming will reflect the Aboriginal Canadian experience. Newscasts, public affairs programs and telephone talk shows will address the needs and interests and concerns of Indian, Inuit and Métis Canadians, particularly those who live in large urban centres like Edmonton." (As read)
310 These are AVR's words, not mine, not the CRTC's. And at para 5 of that application you added:
"The new Aboriginal radio service in Edmonton will feature a regular two to five-minute news package of top Canadian Aboriginal news stories and other international indigenous news. News stories selection will focus on events which impact Canada's urban Aboriginal communities that have been overlooked and under reported by other news sources." (As read)
311 So in light of this, you would appreciate my astonishment in this proceeding when I read your response to our concerns of news stories aired on 27 May, 2014. Basically you were saying that any news or other programming of interest to any Canadian is of direct and relevance to Aboriginal community.
312 You went on to write:
"The Commission ought not to attempt to define what is and what is not relevant to the Aboriginal community as this runs the risk of supporting and perpetuating stereotype regarding what it means in Canada to identify as an Aboriginal person." (As read)
313 I put it to you that it is not the CRTC which is at fault here; I put it to you that it is you who have lost your way as to what your service is about.
314 MR. HILL: I respectfully disagree, Mr. Chairman, that we have lost our way about what our service is about. What we tried to communicate was that Aboriginal culture was more expansive than what may be out -- the ideas and concepts that may be out in the greater Canadian society. And we did not mean for it to be interpreted that anything at all that AVR talks about was relevant to what AVR should be programming.
315 What we tried to explain -- and we did our best. Maybe it has been misinterpreted somewhat, but we did our best.
316 We tried to explain that the culture -- the cultural experiences and life in a contemporary and historical manner of Aboriginal people are more than what may be generally thought of.
317 So we do believe that in our editorial policy and approach to delivering news and spoken word programming that we wanted to be able to expand the concept of what is culturally relevant to Aboriginal people. It wasn't just anything at all.
318 If someone was talking -- if there was a news item reported about something that a General in Europe -- military General in Europe was engaged in, that is not the type of thing that we would pick as culturally relevant to our communities. It was more news items that are local in nature, that are directly occurring in the communities and that are occurring in Canada, things that affect Aboriginal people in a number of ways, and especially those Aboriginal people who are residents in major urban cities of our markets.
319 So if we did not explain that very well, I apologize, and we will attempt to explain it, you know, the best we can.
320 But I don't want to give the idea that it was just anything at all. We were trying to say that it's more expansive than is generally thought of.
321 THE CHAIRPERSON: So would a --
322 MS HENSEL: If I might add, Mr. Chairman, in a moment, that --
323 THE CHAIRPERSON: Please.
324 MS HENSEL: Just to clarify, the markets that AVR serves are indigenous people living in urban communities. Everything that happens within their urban communities affects them, regardless of whether it's specific to the Aboriginal community, Edmonton, Toronto, Vancouver or Ottawa, and indigenous people have a particular perspective and may be differentially impacted by those events or by the -- the -- what's occurred, and they may have a different perspective. And AVR has communicated to us that they intend and have attempted to deliver and reflect that perspective.
325 So the fact that the event, the news, the information is not confined in its effect to the Aboriginal people in the community or Aboriginal issues does not mean that it is not up to AVR and beholden to AVR to deliver a distinct -- that it doesn't fall within the particular interests of the urban Aboriginal community they serve.
326 THE CHAIRPERSON: So I take it from your perspective -- correct me if I'm wrong -- that if you were to do, in your daily local newscasts, a story on the health of former Mayor Ford, three sports stories about the local teams in Toronto and on weather update, you think that that constitutes spoken word material of direct and particular relevance to the Aboriginal community within that Toronto market?
327 MR. HILL: We do, Mr. Chairman, and if I could explain why.
328 The effect of the Mayor of Toronto could have a great effect on the experiences and what people are required to do under by-laws and so forth of Toronto, and I think they should be aware if -- and I think many Aboriginal people would agree that they should be aware of what's happening on what could directly affect them.
329 Aboriginal people are keenly interested in professional sports. As far as news, providing information and entertainment, that is something that they are interested in in the same way that they would be interested in listening to music so I think that --
330 THE CHAIRPERSON: How would they not get that from other mainstream services available in the Toronto market?
331 MR. HILL: Mr. Chairman --
332 THE CHAIRPERSON: And I remind you that you obtained some of these licences through competitive hearings saying that --
333 MR. HILL: Yes.
334 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- you were going to serve the Aboriginal community in a distinctive way.
335 MR. HILL: Yes. We still contend, Mr. Chairman, that this does serve in a distinctive way across the entire radio service, all the differences that are in place that really do make AVR distinct from other radio licences. But we still contend that that does serve Aboriginal people in a very distinct way that is relevant and important and germane to their culture and their experience and what they're interested in.
336 If we were to not report that news, we would be in a position of not being able to hold our Aboriginal listeners and, in effect, forcing them to switch to a different radio station to hear what's happening in the City of Toronto that could affect them.
337 So we need to hold our listeners and we need to be relevant to their experience so we do need to report these things as a cultural matter.
338 We did try to explain that it's a matter of culture that we interact with all peoples around us. This is a very, if I could use the word, ancient cultural precept that we do this respectfully. We interact with them and embrace other people around us, that we become aware of what is happening around us that could affect Aboriginal people.
339 So if -- I think -- hopefully, that explains that we don't want to lose our listeners to change to other stations. We have to, you know, gain revenues, improve listenership, and having them switch over to other news that could affect them from our news, so we attempted to give them the news that we thought is direct -- of direct relevance to the people that are in our Aboriginal urban markets.
340 MR. BRAY: And part of it's about perspective, so it's a question of looking at contemporary news and events from a distinctly indigenous perspective.
341 It's not all just simply about content, but it's about the way you interpret the content.
342 MR. CARDINAL: And also, if I may add, Mr. Chairman, that the urban indigenous population is really quite diverse, as you may or may not know.
343 Indigenous world views and philosophies are continuously being challenged and shaped within these urban environments from various levels of indigenous identity. We are all not practising our culture, but yet there's a growing body of people who are.
344 Indigenous world views is becoming more of that dialogue within the urban centres, so we have 70 different people in Edmonton, for example, indigenous nations, who speak 70 different indigenous languages, but they're also having an urban experience.
345 They want to know what's happening in and around the urban setting that affects them as well. So it's a real unique challenge for us to meet the needs of, rather than just one or two indigenous nations, but trying to reach out and utilize English as our franca lingua to talk about the issues that are currently facing them in the city.
346 THE CHAIRPERSON: Could you explain to me what, in Condition 2, places a ceiling on the number of news stories that you could cover that would include perhaps what I would see as mainstream stories about news and local municipal events and then also have, on top of that, direct and particular relevance to the Aboriginal community?
347 MR. HILL: Well, I may -- I would like to --
348 THE CHAIRPERSON: In other words, you could easily cover the sports stories I mentioned earlier, Mayor Ford's recovery -- former Mayor Ford's recovery, talk about the weather and, on top of that, actually meet the condition of licence with respect to material that is direct and of particular relevance to the Aboriginal community.
349 MR. HILL: Mr. Chairman, I would like to say that the fabrication of the news in question is an extremely expensive item for Aboriginal Voices Radio. The Commission is aware that spoken word tends to be more expensive than other forms of radio programming, and for us to do this seven days a week in five cities is relatively expensive compared to other things that we undertake as far as programming.
350 So to add more stories onto it adds expense, but we still contend that these things are integral to a radio service that serves Aboriginal people and they are certainly germane to Aboriginal culture and experiences.
351 MR. BRAY: And I would add that remember each newscast does not contain simply one story. It's a few different stories, as perhaps you're alluding to.
352 So it could cover, yes, this is the latest sports score and, yes, here's what happened downtown and et cetera, et cetera. So it's not just one story in a newscast.
353 THE CHAIRPERSON: You're actually supposed to do five distinct --
354 MR. BRAY: Correct. But I think you were -- you were -- I think it's the -- the newscast is a little more complex than you're referring to.
355 THE CHAIRPERSON: I put it to you that your interpretation of that condition of licence actually reads out the words "direct and material relevance to Aboriginal community".
356 MR. HILL: Our interpretation of our news is that it is directly and relevant to the Aboriginal community. The approach that we've had in our editorial policy and the type of news that we have submitted to the CRTC, we do think it is a direct and relevant -- it is directly relevant, to combine the two phrases, to the Aboriginal people who we are serving.
357 THE CHAIRPERSON: Even if one were to accept your interpretation of the condition, on 29 May, 2014 we only were able to listen to one newscast, and it was aired during -- that was aired during the entire day at 10:34 a.m. This newscast included one sports story and a brief weather report.
358 How does this constitute, and I quote, "regular daily local newscasts", plural?
359 MR. HILL: It does not constitute it, Mr. Chairman, and we acknowledged in that respect on that day that we are not -- were not in compliance.
360 I would like to say that this is a result of the financial difficulties that AVR had experienced at that time and which we did make an attempt to communicate that to the CRTC that we were moving into a period of financial difficulty in that 2013, and we started to communicate that to CRTC.
361 So yes, we were not in compliance, so I could not say that -- I agree with you, what you're saying.
362 THE CHAIRPERSON: And even by your interpretation, there was only two, not five, stories.
363 MR. HILL: Yes, there should have been five stories, Mr. Chairman.
364 MR. BRAY: But I want to stress that Steve Kowch, who's compiling the news team and putting together the new approach, will certainly alleviate any such problem.
365 MS CLARKE: And Mr. Chairman, if I may, before we leave this issue of what is and what is not relevant to the indigenous communities that AVR serves, the Native Broadcasting Policy itself states, and I quote:
"It is the Aboriginal broadcasters themselves who are best qualified to determine and meet the needs of their audiences."
366 THE CHAIRPERSON: And you would know as well, as a lawyer, that a policy doesn't trump a specific direct condition of licence.
367 MS CLARKE: Yes, but what I -- all I'm pointing to, Mr. Chairman, is that AVR's interpretation of what is and what is not relevant to its audiences really rests with AVR. And the policy supports that interpretation.
368 THE CHAIRPERSON: Do you have an advisory or programming committee to help you define what is of direct or particular relevance to the Aboriginal community?
369 MR. HILL: We do not have a committee in place at this time, but it is our intention to expand that. And once again, I would say that was a cost issue.
370 We have had discussions about it. We've had discussions about putting together a council of Aboriginal Elders across this country that goes back a long way. We have been asked about outreach into the community. And our explanation is, unfortunately, we did not have the financial resources to be able to put that together.
371 But we certainly aspire to that, and our intention -- and we have just talked about this recently in the Bray plan -- business plan which you see before you that we will be able to do that.
372 We -- at one point in our time, we've had many Aboriginal people and cultural experts on our Board of Directors over our entire history, so we are aware of all the cultural institutions across Canada and we have always aspired to try to incorporate a lot of that knowledge into our operation, into our editorial policy.
373 But we do -- we do have a large group of personnel and community members, so as an organization of all AVR personnel through several years, we are certainly aware of, you know, the cultural -- I guess everything about our culture as Aboriginal people and what would be appropriate.
374 And we have talked to many people over the years about what's appropriate in determining our editorial policy.
375 So I would say that the consultations that have gone on inside our network is quite extensive. It is something that we, as broadcasters, engage in quite regularly.
376 But as far as formal meetings, we've attempted to do that but, of course, it is expensive to bring together people in those situations.
377 We have done the consultations, but it has not been formalized yet, and I would say we -- it is our intention to do that in the business plan moving forward because we will have the revenues which would allow us to do that.
378 MR. BRAY: And I want to underline the fact that the programming team is answerable in all matters of policy to the Board, and it's an ongoing consultation in that regard.
379 THE CHAIRPERSON: So it's your intention to have some sort of advisory or program committee in each of the five communities?
380 MR. HILL: I'm sorry, Mr. Chairman. If I could understand your question, you're saying are -- your question is we will put a formal --
381 THE CHAIRPERSON: Not at all. I asked you if you had an advisory or program committee to help you define what is the direct or particular relevance of news stories to the Aboriginal community.
382 You said you don't have one currently, but you intend to do one. I'd like to know exactly where those committees would be, how they would -- who would be on these committees, how would they be chosen, how often would they meet.
383 I'd like to have some meat.
384 MR. HILL: We can submit a plan to you relatively quickly, Mr. Chairman. We do not have the detail of that yet. We've only talked about that we want to do that and intend to do that, but we have not gotten to the point in light of these other things that we are trying to deal with right now as far as the licence renewal. And just putting together the Bray plan and planning out the overall viability of AVR, we have not gotten into the detail yet.
385 But we can submit that within five days if the -- if the Commission -- we believe that's a reasonable time for us to put that together and we would submit a plan for that.
386 THE CHAIRPERSON: I'm not proposing this. You're the ones that are proposing that you would have this advisory committee or function. And when I delve into it, it's -- there's nothing behind that statement. You haven't actually thought about it. It's half-baked.
387 MR. HILL: I would say -- I wouldn't say that it was half-baked, Mr. Commissioner. I would say that we've done conceptual work on that but have not put in actual people and the functioning of the committee because we haven't gotten to the point yet to be able to do that. But we certainly can do that relatively quickly, and our intention is to do it relatively quickly, but we are focused on coming into compliance as a priority as soon as possible.
388 And we feel that once we come into compliance that we could work in more detail in putting that together and once we see that the projected revenues in our business plan are starting to be realized.
389 MR. BRAY: And we currently work with the Board of Directors, who have tremendous experience in terms of the indigenous experience, both personal and educational.
390 So it's not like we don't converse day to day on matters of policy with the Board. That is ongoing now.
391 THE CHAIRPERSON: When you eventually filed your renewal application in September 2014 on Form 146, in Section 1.5 you sought the renewal of all five licences under the same terms and conditions. Is that correct?
392 MR. HILL: That is correct, Mr. Chairman, but I might say that part of the reason why it was filed late is we were wrestling with whether or not to do that, and we were negotiating a very complicated financial plan for the future at the time which we have now switched. And that did not -- that was not completed and negotiated to our satisfaction and we began to move towards negotiating with Bray and Partners.
393 THE CHAIRPERSON: But renewing it on the same terms and conditions includes Section -- Condition Number 2 as currently worded. Is that correct?
394 MR. HILL: That is correct. We are applying for all of the conditions of licence, Mr. Chairman.
395 THE CHAIRPERSON: And would you agree that, in the end, it's up to the Commission to interpret Condition of Licence Number 2 and what it actually means?
396 MR. HILL: We agree, Mr. Chairman.
397 THE CHAIRPERSON: Could you please tell me why you should not -- we should not impose a mandatory order requiring you to comply with the Condition of Licence Number 2 as currently worded?
398 MR. HILL: If I could just take 30 seconds, Mr. Chairman, to consult with our lawyer.
399 MR. HILL: Mr. Chairman, we don't believe a mandatory order is necessary. We think we have put forward a very viable plan which demonstrates that we will be able to fulfil that condition of licence but, of course, we understand that the Commission can issue a mandatory order and we would comply with it.
400 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
401 Since the 1st of September, 2012, the beginning of this -- the licence term we're currently in, have each of the five stations been on air?
402 MR. HILL: No, as -- Mr. Commissioner -- Mr. Chairman, I mean. As we have stated, Ottawa has been off the air and, for a short period of time, Edmonton and Calgary were off the air.
403 THE CHAIRPERSON: Which are -- which ones are currently off air, today?
404 MR. HILL: We -- we have just completed an agreement with the CBC to have Edmonton and Calgary be immediately on the air and --
405 THE CHAIRPERSON: No, my question is which stations are all --
406 MR. HILL: For --
407 THE CHAIRPERSON: Are only four stations on air today, or are -- not even that.
408 MR. BRAY: Four of the five.
409 MR. HILL: Four of the five, Mr. Chairman. Ottawa is not on the air, but we have a plan to get it quickly on the air.
410 THE CHAIRPERSON: What do you mean by "quickly"?
411 MR. HILL: Thirty (30) days.
412 MR. BRAY: And hopefully, less than that.
413 THE CHAIRPERSON: So since the beginning of the licence term, how many days have each of the stations been off air?
414 MR. HILL: A question --
415 THE CHAIRPERSON: Has Toronto been off air for any single date since the 1st of September, 2012?
416 MR. HILL: I do not believe so.
417 THE CHAIRPERSON: Has Calgary been off air since the 1st of September, 2012?
418 MR. HILL: Yes.
419 THE CHAIRPERSON: How many days?
420 MR. HILL: Mr. Chairman, as far as being as particular a number of days, we would need time to file exact number of days with the Commission.
421 MR. BRAY: But it was a limited time. It was certainly on the air for the vast, vast majority of the time.
422 We'll look into the specifics as to which days were problematic.
423 THE CHAIRPERSON: How much time do you need? Can you do it for 9 o'clock tomorrow morning?
424 You know, if you don't even know if you're broadcasting, that's pretty astonishing.
425 MR. BRAY: No, we do. The operations manager just is not here at this moment, but we can just go to the operations manager and say, "Which days were we off the air?" Just -- he's just not here at this moment.
426 THE CHAIRPERSON: And you can do that for?
427 MR. HILL: Can we do it for tomorrow morning?
428 MR. BRAY: Certainly. I've just got to get in touch with him. He's not in Ottawa.
429 Could we have, say, two days just to get back and talk to him? So that is to say not tomorrow morning, but the next morning.
430 Is that satisfactory?
431 THE CHAIRPERSON: So by Friday morning you'll be able to give us --
432 MR. BRAY: Oh, certainly. Yeah.
433 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- for each station, how many days they were off since the 1st of September, 2012.
434 MR. BRAY: Yeah, Toronto and Vancouver were not off. It's -- the only ones we're talking about is Ottawa, which we've already specified, and then Calgary and Edmonton, I'll just have to get the specifics.
435 MR. HILL: And Mr. Chairman, if I could explain, the reason is that we were losing personnel and the ability to maintain the operation at the level that it had been. Where we would know that detailed information as far as exact days, AVR had been whittled down to just a bare minimum of people and who were not able, in trying to work on moving AVR into a financially viable and compliant situation with its conditions of licence. That was the focus.
436 We weren't necessarily focused on, you know, monitoring the station every day simply because we did not have the personnel to do that and we were trying to reinvigorate AVR as an operation.
437 But that was a personnel matter because we had lost personnel.
438 MR. BRAY: That's right. And this is not a problem going forward.
439 I know that's of cold comfort, but it is not a problem going forward. It's simply a matter of recapping the past, and the past took place for what -- you know, for financial -- for financial reasons.
440 But we have a system in place where that is strictly a matter of the past.
441 THE CHAIRPERSON: How can you provide service to your community if you're off air?
442 MR. HILL: We agree that we cannot provide service to community on any day that we are off the air.
443 THE CHAIRPERSON: So where do you currently have local studios?
444 MR. HILL: In Toronto.
445 THE CHAIRPERSON: What are your future plans in terms of local studios?
446 MR. HILL: Our future plans are to put local studios in place in all five markets relatively quickly.
447 And I think Mr. Bray can add to that, Mr. Chairman.
448 MR. BRAY: Most certainly.
449 We are in the process of rolling it out across the country and we will have, as I've noted before, local reporting and local jocks, if I may use that term, local voice people in each of the markets.
450 THE CHAIRPERSON: How can you serve currently, under your current licence term, local communities without a local studio or other local footprint?
451 MR. HILL: Mr. Chairman, our intention is to put local studios in all cities in the current term, before the current term ends.
452 MR. BRAY: There's no question that it's currently out of compliance on that particular issue and that's why we're in the process of bringing it back into compliance.
453 THE CHAIRPERSON: So how are you feeding the few stations that are on-air? You're doing it from Toronto?
454 MR. BRAY: Four stations that are on-air.
455 THE CHAIRPERSON: You're doing it from Toronto?
456 MR. BRAY: For the most part. We have -- just so you know, we have --
457 THE CHAIRPERSON: How does this not constitute a network operation then?
458 MR. BRAY: How does it not --
459 THE CHAIRPERSON: Not constitute a network operation?
460 MR. BRAY: No, it's not a network operation and let me explain why.
461 It's not the same programming in each market. We have a -- to simplify things, we have a computer -- well, more than a computer but let's just say a computer in each marketplace which is streaming all the content, be it the talk shows, the voice-over, et cetera, and different software controlling each market.
462 So if you go onto the website you'll note -- and it shows what's playing in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton -- you'll note that it's very different in each instance. It is not network in any way, shape or form, other than we have centralized accounting, trafficking, et cetera, because there is no need for a local traffic -- by trafficking, I mean advertising traffic, I'm sorry, advertising --
463 THE CHAIRPERSON: I'm familiar with the term.
464 MR. BRAY: No, no, no. I know you are. I just wanted to clarify for my own -- and it goes on the record, so I want to make sure I'm being clear.
465 Yes, we have a team that's got that covered.
466 THE CHAIRPERSON: How can you serve five Aboriginal communities you're licensed to serve through the entire broadcasting week with so few resources?
467 MR. HILL: We agree that we cannot serve those communities with so few resources but you'll see before you a plan, Mr. Chairman, that I would say -- you have the projected revenues in front of you -- the first year will double the amount of financing that AVR has ever worked with in its history. So we believe that that is a threshold to deliver, in a high-quality manner, a robust radio service that definitely serves our communities.
468 THE CHAIRPERSON: So you are currently not serving those communities?
469 MR. HILL: Yes, we are not in compliance at this time, Mr. Chairman, today, but we have a plan to quickly come into compliance before the end of the term.
470 MR. BRAY: And the staff that we have, I think the resources will not be as limited as perhaps you're saying. I think that the degree -- again, I want to underline the degree of expertise and experience of all the people involved, from Rita Cugini, Dave Charles, Bob Mackowycz, Iain Grant, Steve Kowch, Gary Murphy, et cetera. We're going to have salespeople in each market, we're going to have newspeople, we're going to have voice-over people, et cetera, et cetera.
471 I would not agree that it is a limited set of resources. In fact, I would go a little bit further and say that the team we have now, this is the opportunity because -- I want to explain why we're so excited about this and I consider them my friends.
472 At Bray & Partners, we really believe in this and this is a group of people that are passionate about broadcasting. I mean radio is my middle name, as you probably know over the years -- well, not literally -- but it is something that we really are passionate about.
473 And this is the opportunity to get down on the ground, at ground level, in an era of corporate consolidation, to do something that we're proud of, to be actively involved in righting the wrongs of the past, to changing the nature of the group's programming, to bring it into compliance and to do something that we can genuinely as broadcasters put back into the hands of people that are true broadcasters as opposed to leaving it with a corporate consolidation.
474 THE CHAIRPERSON: All very good and well. As I said before, you want to talk about the future, I want to talk about the past because there is a time of reckoning.
475 So one of the reasons you hold a licence was to enforce the unique Aboriginal cultural identities and languages through your programming. Could you explain concretely how you're currently doing that?
476 MR. HILL: I cannot explain concretely how we are today meeting every condition of licence to undertake that. As the Commission is aware, we've been trying for some time to remedy the financial resource issue. We have recognized to the Commission that resources were and are a critical problem. We need more resources to serve our communities. That is what the future plan is about.
477 But in talking about the past, Mr. Chairman, yes, we have had financial difficulties and it has compromised or mitigated our ability to deliver a very sound service to the Aboriginal communities but we are remedying this situation and we can do it very quickly.
478 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, we'll take a short break right now till 10 past 11:00.
479 Thank you. We're adjourned.
--- Upon recessing at 1056
--- Upon resuming at 1110
480 MR. HILL: Commissioners, if I could just make one last point?
481 THE CHAIRPERSON: Let me say order first so we can start the hearing.
482 MR. HILL: Oh, I'm sorry. My apologies, Mr. Chairman.
483 THE CHAIRPERSON: But please go ahead. Yes.
484 MR. HILL: I just want to make a last point on the last question that we were considering and that is we were asked how are we serving the Aboriginal communities today.
485 And I want to say we are on-the-air in four out of our five cities and we are playing more indigenous musical artists than any other radio station in our markets and this exposes Aboriginal -- the community and non-Aboriginal Canadians to our music and our culture and identities and it supports our indigenous artists.
486 We are also playing, as I had mentioned in our presentation -- 2 percent, we exceed that, songs sung in an Aboriginal language. We also have talk programming that's in an Aboriginal language and we are meeting 20 hours of the structured spoken word.
487 So I do want to say even though we are not fully compliant today and we are working to quickly get Ottawa on-the-air that we are in a situation where we are serving the Aboriginal community.
488 Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
489 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
490 MR. BRAY: May I add if it's not inconvenient? We now have the times when we were off-air in Edmonton and Calgary -- we have just contacted our Operations Manager -- if that's okay.
491 Edmonton was off from Wednesday, April the 1st at 8:11 a.m. to Tuesday, May 11th at 9:14.
492 Calgary was off-the-air from Friday, March 27th at 4:37 to Tuesday, May 11th at 7:42.
493 These problems have now been corrected permanently.
494 THE CHAIRPERSON: And Ottawa went off-air on what date?
495 MR. BRAY: I didn't check that with the Operations Manager. I can certainly do so.
496 THE CHAIRPERSON: Because my question was with respect to every single station, how many days they were off-air.
497 MR. BRAY: Yes. I think we noted in the presentation -- Jamie, do you recall the exact dates for --
498 MR. HILL: Yes. We lost -- because of the financial issues, we had problems communicating with the computer to determine exact dates. I know we have a range but we will do our best to see if we can determine exact dates for you, Mr. Chairman.
499 THE CHAIRPERSON: So the undertaking still stands. So you can provide that information. Okay, thank you.
500 So Vice-Chair Menzies will have some questions for you now.
501 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
502 I'm a little confused by your opening remarks. Are you still looking to change your ownership structure or have you withdrawn that now?
503 MR. HILL: Commissioner, we have withdrawn the plan to change the ownership structure at this time.
504 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: What prompted that?
505 MR. HILL: I'd have to say that in consultation with Bray and once we successfully procured the services of Bray & Partners that we had a very talented team, as you can see in our business plan, Commissioner Menzies, and we felt that with such a team, that AVR has never been able to work with before in terms of the number of skilled people in all areas of radio, that we could, with such a team, achieve our conditions of licence and deliver a service to the Aboriginal community in our markets in a way that we have never been able to do in the past. So we think we have a solid plan for doing it as a non-profit.
506 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Except that the ownership structure wasn't really a feature of -- it's irrelevant to --
507 MS HENSEL: If I might interject, Commissioner Menzies.
508 As you know, the CRTC's recent decision to review in a public and a fuller hearing, with a broader range of the voices than AVR, the Native Broadcasting Policy, we understand that's going to happen in a year and a half or so, and unless and until that occurs, the issue of the application and exemption from the policy, AVR felt it was best to defer because these are important issues and they engage a much broader range of interests and issues that are quite complex. So the plan --
509 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay, I understand. It's just been a little hard to follow --
510 MS HENSEL: Sure.
511 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: -- because all of a sudden it's all this and then it's not and then it is and that.
512 Help me understand why May 8th was an appropriate date for you to file your business plan with us.
513 MR. HILL: We do understand that issue, Commissioner, and, unfortunately, we could not complete it sooner. We were in negotiations and trying to gain financing with several other companies prior to reaching an agreement with Bray & Partners and this took place over a period of almost two years. And finally, we came to something that we thought would work and where we could come to an agreement. So, unfortunately, it didn't happen until such a late time.
514 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Help me understand what sort of agreement have you come to.
515 MR. HILL: We have come to an agreement where AVR procures the services of the group and it will help us in all aspects of operation, including regulatory compliance, putting forward robust programming, and putting a sales team, a talented sales team of a large amount of salespeople with a stellar track record in order to achieve financial viability.
516 MR. BRAY: All in consultation with --
517 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: This is all with Bray Media and Mr. Titelman is still involved?
518 MR. HILL: No. No, sir.
519 MR. BRAY: No. Bray & Partners.
520 MR. HILL: Bray & Partners only, sir.
521 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Bray & Partners?
522 MR. HILL: Yes.
523 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: So what's the nature of that agreement? Is it a -- are Bray & Partners managing your operations right now?
524 MR. HILL: They are executing certain aspects of the operation and will continue to do so in the business plan but under the direction of Aboriginal Voices Radio.
525 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. What do they actually do?
526 MS HENSEL: If I might interject. Sorry, Mr. Hill. It's a management and consulting agreement just to put a label on it.
527 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: So that would be what would be constituting a local management agreement?
528 MR. HILL: Or certainly management in local markets as well would be included in that, Commissioner, but it would be done in partnership with AVR.
529 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: You're aware that a local management agreement or a local sales agreement has to be approved by the Commission?
530 MR. HILL: We are willing to file the agreement with the Commission.
531 MR. BRAY: It's not a local management agreement of the type that --
532 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: She just said it was.
533 MR. BRAY: Well, I --
534 MS HENSEL: No. I said it was a management and consulting agreement as between AVR and Bray & Associates. There's no particularization -- it's not characterized within the body of the agreement or in principle or in spirit as a local management agreement.
535 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay.
536 MR. BRAY: Yes. The term you're talking to, if I'm not mistaken, is very specific, having to do with local management agreements between broadcasters in a market. This is not that. This is an overriding consultancy working with AVR.
537 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Who is in charge of the day-to-day operations of the stations?
538 MR. BRAY: AVR.
539 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: That's the ownership. Who is directing operations on a day-to-day basis in your stations?
540 MR. HILL: Well, it's shared, Commissioner. I mean I think it's what the phrase "directing and managing" refers to, but it is shared. We will provide direction of what has to be achieved on a daily basis and, as you know, in many corporations certain tasks are delegated through management hierarchies to contractors and so forth.
541 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: If I want to buy an ad, who do I talk to?
542 MR. BRAY: Sales Manager.
543 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: And who is that?
544 MR. BRAY: Gary Murphy is the Sales Manager. George Grant is --
545 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: And who is he employed by?
546 MR. BRAY: It is -- effectively, that's part of the Bray & Partners team.
547 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: So in terms of on the revenue side, the Bray & Partners team is in charge?
548 MR. BRAY: I would never put it that way because everything we do, and that's written into the agreement, everything is answerable to AVR and the AVR Board. Yes, the individual salespeople go out and do their jobs, but at the end of the day, everything must be approved by Jamie and the team.
549 MS HENSEL: Bray & Partners brings sales expertise to the table and that was something that AVR was in pretty acute need of, as the Commission might recognize, over the last few years and changing its business model to rely on market-based revenues rather than other forms of funding and resources.
550 MR. BRAY: And I think that's critical because the AVR team was not contending that that was their area of expertise. Conversely, people like George Grant, who's again over 40 years, Gary Murphy, over 40 years, they've got the retail relationships. They've got the boots on the ground in all five markets to help get the job done in terms of retail sales. That doesn't really affect the on-air content. In fact, it doesn't affect it at all. It just simply -- other than the advertising content.
551 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Do you have similar agreements with any other parties?
552 MR. HILL: No, we do not.
553 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Would you please file those agreements with us?
554 MR. HILL: Yes, Commissioner.
555 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Because it would have all the details of the arrangements.
556 MR. BRAY: Correct.
557 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay.
558 THE CHAIRPERSON: Do you have those now?
559 MR. BRAY: We do not but we can get it within very short order.
560 THE CHAIRPERSON: So you could file that with the Secretary by the end of the day?
561 MR. BRAY: Not today. We've got to go back to our home and computers and our offices and computers, et cetera, et cetera. So give us a couple of days if you may.
562 THE CHAIRPERSON: Time and date, please. What are you proposing?
563 MR. BRAY: Friday morning.
564 THE CHAIRPERSON: Nine o'clock?
565 MR. BRAY: Okay.
566 THE CHAIRPERSON: That's an undertaking. Thank you.
567 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Thank you.
568 What was getting in the way of -- you talked about you were having negotiations with various other parties. What were you looking at negotiating and what took things so long? I mean just the sense of everything being rushed to get here and going from one ownership structure to another ownership structure and then a business plan filed May 8th. What was the biggest roadblock to getting at least to where you are right now, which is, as you've indicated, not where you need to be?
569 MR. HILL: Well, I think we were in the midst of a reduction in future financial resources and it started to affect personnel, and trying to operate the station is one challenge we had while we had to simultaneously reach out to other companies, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, initiate discussions, go through a period of time or working out the details of the types of things we could do.
570 I mean we had to form these things, form such agreements as we have with Bray & Partners by going through a process, an exploratory process at first, what is possible, what types of arrangements can be made. So we spent a lot of time formulating -- trying to formulate what types of arrangements could be made and then when we get into a discussion with a potential partner, it morphs into something slightly different from their point of view of what should happen.
571 So these negotiations take a lot of time and then because we're negotiating with a company to do this type of thing, it takes literally months to see if there's something that we could come to an agreement on as far as all of the details.
572 You'll see in our plan there's a lot of different areas of management that Bray & Partners will address. I mean there's so much. There's the legal issues. There is the financial issues. There is compensation. There is who is responsible for what.
573 We are also negotiating with the idea that we could potentially get an exemption. That was ongoing as well. And of course we can't do this simultaneously with five different companies or broadcasters or organizations. We have to go through this one at a time, just to be respectful with who we are negotiating with to see if we can get somewhere with these.
574 So we went through several of them over months and I would say that's why -- I guess that's the explanation. It takes a long time to negotiate something of this nature.
575 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. So let's talk about your business plan.
576 You have spoken for the most part about the qualifications of the people you have, which is nice, but what exactly are they going to do? You have been in the -- to the extent that you have sources of revenue they have a best before date on them that's coming to an end. There is little evidence of any advertising revenue. You have some numbers that anticipate advertising revenue but, really, why should I believe you at all, right? So tell me what it is that's going to make these numbers become anything other than a fantasy?
577 MR. BRAY: My I answer that?
578 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Yes. And I don't -- I respect the resumes of the people you spoke about, but I don't want to hear about that anymore.
579 MR. BRAY: I understand.
580 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: I want to hear about what they are actually going to do.
581 MR. BRAY: Well, in addition to myself, and I suppose that's self-explanatory, as far as the projections are concerned I don't know how to say other than I have been doing this for 30 years and I -- with some degree of --
582 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: You're not listening to me.
583 MR. BRAY: No, I understand that's not what you want to hear.
584 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: I did not want to hear that.
585 MR. BRAY: Okay, my apologies.
586 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: I want to know whether you just picked the numbers up as an estimate or whether you have a plan as to how much revenue you are going to get from what sector? Are you going to be advertising trucks --
587 MR. BRAY: I see.
588 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: -- are you going to be advertising cars, are you going to be selling apartments, condos, rentals? What categories are your revenue coming from?
589 MR. BRAY: I misunderstood and my apologies.
590 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay.
591 MR. BRAY: Yes, the sales team have -- and I'm going to let Gary Murphy, if I may, speak to this, but the sales team -- yes, I want -- well, perhaps Gary can talk to the specifics. I mean we have with some degree of surety, I mean we didn't arrive at this without a lot of due diligence and perhaps Gary can talk to the specifics as far as sales is concerned.
592 MR. MURPHY: Mr. Commissioner, Gary Murphy here. I thank you for hearing us today.
593 In concert with George Grant, who I have worked with since the '70s in terms of business building, we are in the process of putting together a sales strategy that involves basically a retail sponsorship model using key categories to go to in selecting and verbally committing salespeople, four in Toronto, one in Calgary, one in Edmonton and two in Vancouver.
594 We looked at people we worked with in the past who are new business development specialists and have an idea of how to deliver audiences to advertisers in an efficient and effective manner. We have a prospecting table in place that is underway and through that and presentations, both on a local and on a direct basis initially, but also covering off all the agencies, notably the smaller agencies.
595 The sales people that I have in Toronto, verbally committed, have worked in radio for some time and in the case of two of them they are currently running a small agency with customers and they are using their radio expertise and they are very interested in working in the radio side and helping to drive new business in the key categories.
596 So we identified five major categories to start with: auto; certainly finance; professional services, which is a very highly upbeat category at the moment with lawyers and financial people and accountants; entertainment, and we are already talking to a number of people, Shaw Festival being an example, and home products and services
597 As I said, with recruitment of these people we are looking for hunters, not miners. We are attempting to repatriate customers who find urban radio unaffordable. Having worked in radio for the number of years I have, there are a lot -- there is a consort of clients that radio could be the voice, if I may use that word for them, but it has become far too expensive. So we think we can give them a frequency, an audience and a value proposition that they can use and grow with.
598 And surrounding the Indigenous opportunity there, we have spoken to a number of our contacts and agencies and they have budgets against those people and we just have to sit down and formalize a presentation.
599 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: So you have run this past some agencies --
600 MR. MURPHY: Yes.
601 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: -- in terms of them?
602 MR. MURPHY: Yes.
603 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: And what sort of feedback did you get?
604 MR. MURPHY: From the agency perspective, they have more interest in the vertical markets that we can deliver, notably around the Indigenous budgets. Shell and Dairy Queen are two examples where they have budgets put aside against that. It's only the uncertainty of our current situation that we haven't really papered or put together presentations. It's our hope that --
605 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: In terms of your salespeople --
606 MR. MURPHY: Yes...?
607 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: -- are you looking at them being sort of fulltime staff or are they people who sell lots of things and now AVR is going to be one of the things that they sell?
608 MR. MURPHY: Somewhere in the middle. I think, you know, salespeople are salespeople and they have to make a living. We are operating on a performance model.
609 We are talking to people that currently, as I say, have worked in radio and have moved over to promotional agencies, or the term bucket shop probably isn't a formal name, but a small individual who is operating as an agency for customers. We don't think that they have to discontinue those activities because that keeps them in the agency game, but they are very interested in putting a dedicated effort towards building the business, starting as soon as June on a prelaunch basis.
610 We see this as a startup or a re-startup in terms of an audience delivery opportunity, both for our core audience and with the programming suggested --
611 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Sure. What is the value proposition that you present?
612 MR. MURPHY: The value proposition?
613 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: What is the audience that you sell?
614 MR. MURPHY: The audience that we sell is -- in the urban community it would be a group of niche audiences that come together to deliver one share, which is not untoward a number of stations that we've looked at.
615 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Sort of what's the demographic if I'm buying an ad?
616 MR. MURPHY: The demographic --
617 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: If I'm buying an ad from you, what age range am I looking at or you are attracting what income levels, disposable income levels, residency?
618 MR. MURPHY: I think the programming Dave wanted to --
619 MR. BRAY: The target is primarily adults 35 to 64, with a median of approximately 45 years.
620 In terms of you were asking about income levels, et cetera, et cetera, it will be fairly broad-based in that regard.
621 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. What is the Indigenous -- the First Nations population of Toronto?
622 MR. CARDINAL: I'm sorry. That would be 72,000 in the GTA.
623 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: And Vancouver?
624 MR. CARDINAL: Vancouver is roughly 58,000 in the Lower Mainland, the greater area.
625 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: And Ottawa?
626 MR. CARDINAL: And Ottawa, I'm not too sure about that.
627 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Calgary?
628 MR. CARDINAL: Calgary is 25,000.
629 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: And Edmonton?
630 MR. CARDINAL: Edmonton is 65,000.
631 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. So what are the differences between those markets if -- I mean given the nature of the license, those are the audiences that you are licensed to serve, right, so what is the difference between that audience in Toronto and Edmonton for instance?
632 MR. HILL: Difference in terms of what, Vice Chairman?
633 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Well, there are people who live 2,000 miles apart from each other so I'm assuming there are some different histories, there are different languages. I just -- what I'm trying to get at is what do you do to determine the nature of your audiences in these various markets, right, because these are individually licensed stations.
634 You know, First Nations people in southern Alberta and First Nations people in northern Alberta for instance have different histories, different ways of living in their histories and different traditions. I am assuming people in southern Ontario and Eastern Ontario have different traditions and histories, certainly British Columbia and Vancouver do. So what I'm trying to discover is, how much do you know about those differences and what are you doing to serve them?
635 MR. HILL: Well, we haven't had the financial opportunity of conducting specific market research in that regard that's targeted at Aboriginal demographics, but I can tell you our network over the years is quite extensive. We have had board members serve on AVR who come from every community. We have had contractors who come from those communities.
636 Over the years all of us are part of the Aboriginal community and the networking that we have done in talking to people in outreach is extensive over a long period of time. The populations are much smaller so it is easier --
637 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Sure. I mean I can understand that you didn't do any surveys, but even anecdotally can you tell me what the main differences between Edmonton and Vancouver are in terms of audiences?
638 MR. CARDINAL: Well, let me jump in on this, Jamie, if you don't mind.
639 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Because if you have consulted with them you would know that stuff, right?
640 MR. CARDINAL: Okay. Well, let's admit to some facts.
641 One is that, yes, certainly there are different cultures within the different cities, different historical relationships between Indigenous people and the settlers in the cities. But also remember that each of these cities have been built upon ancient gathering places.
642 So what then becomes the difference and also a commonality is the issues we try to deal with day in and day out within these cities in terms of how do we integrate and continue to maintain our cultural identities within these cities. This is where we are seeing a lot of similarity, is the relevance of daily life combined with the necessity of cultural identity, cultural resources within these city centres and settings.
643 What happens is that we have that common point of some cultural rub, but also the wish to integrate within the urban setting, so we become similar in that regard. However, our cultures have to be separated out of that and we are working as best as we can within the urban centres to have cultural access points within it. So that is another common point in order to maintain the difference in who we are.
644 MR. BRAY: I would like to add that --
645 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Thank you for that but my question was, what is the main difference between your audience in Vancouver and your audience in Edmonton?
646 MR. CARDINAL: What I would like to say to that is that I think you would be surprised at how much Albertan Aboriginal people identify as Westerners and prairie folk as compared to Vancouver folks.
647 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: I would not be surprised by that.
648 MR. CARDINAL: So we integrate those values as well, so it's not just a hard line.
649 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: My question was, what is the main difference between your audience in Edmonton and your audience in Vancouver?
650 MR. HILL: Well, I think they are cultural differences, Mr. Vice Chairman, and we try to interact with the people in our markets as much is possible to understand that. That is something certainly all of us have done prior to coming into Aboriginal Voices Radio.
651 So we have met with people in the past over the 11-year period and we have friends there who we interact with socially and we have discussions with them about culture. That's an ongoing thing that Aboriginal people, I would say, normally do in the course of their interactions with each other across the country.
652 And because we have had stations in these cities, we have all of us spent time in all of these markets as an organization of several personnel. We have community members from all these cities, members of AVR. We have had board members who come from all of the different markets and that was specifically done so that we would have an understanding of the community. So that is something we have tried to do over the entire history of AVR.
653 MR. BRAY: And I would like to add, and it may not be known, these gentlemen are quite astute on that particular topic. For example, Lewis has done postgraduate work on cultural studies in the Aboriginal community. I mean these people know what they're talking about.
654 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. So I never really did get an answer, but that's okay.
655 Tell me what you did. Tell me, for instance in Alberta in those places, jurisdictions are covered largely by treaties, whereas in British Columbia there are lots of outstanding land claims, which I would have thought would have been of unique interest to your British Columbia listeners and also of interest to your Alberta ones and everybody else, too.
656 So how have you been covering that issue, the land claims issue in Vancouver?
657 MR. HILL: We have not been covering that as a resource matter. Those are the things we aspire to and expect in the future. The business plan that you have before us will allow us to certainly expand coverage of those types of issues.
658 We have, in the history of AVR, interviewed over 300 Aboriginal people and aired them in all five markets on a range of issues, of health issues, musical artistic issues. We haven't done a lot of political coverage, although we did have one show about land claims, but it's simply a resource matter in our opinion. As resources permit we will want to expand into those areas, especially in a structured enhanced spoken word as much as possible and we believe that this plan going forward will allow us to expand that.
659 But I want to say that we have a Ph.D. candidate in Indigenous governance on our board and the personnel, the Indigenous personnel that is AVR have extensive track records of working with Indigenous people, all of us.
660 Personally, myself, I have worked with the Friendship Centres for several years, the provincial counterpart of the Assembly of First Nations as an analyst, the Chiefs of Ontario. So we are certainly aware of these types of political things. I worked on the magazine to the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. for almost 10 years, which was the cultural magazine of the museum which spanned the Americas, the indigenous peoples across America, so this is one individual.
661 We could provide bios of the extensive AVR personnel and some of their backgrounds and --
662 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. I understand that, which makes it somewhat all the more surprising that you haven't been able to feature those significant issues, whether it's Northern Gateway or land claims in British Columbia for the people you are licensed to serve, right. I mean these are not trivial matters. This is land claims, right? And it's an issue that's of interest to a broader audience as well, right. And it's one about which people have strong and passionate feelings.
663 So when you have -- you are going to have one reporter at each of the stations. Who assigns their work under your business plan?
664 MR. HILL: Aboriginal Voices Radio will direct those personnel and we would, of course, consult --
665 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Somebody in Toronto will be telling the people in Vancouver what they will be covering that day?
666 MR. BRAY: No. Steve Kowch is the General Manager of news for the country, but no, their job is to report locally on local matters.
667 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: And what would be the nature of those local matters?
668 MR. HILL: I would say that it would span the gamut of what affects Aboriginal people and has a direct relevance to them. I mean there are a number of --
669 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: So is the reporter self-assigning then? What they pick up on is -- I mean what will be their marching orders? What will be their direction?
670 MR. BRAY: Well, Steve gives them coaching as far as manner, presentation, that kind of thing, because he is one of the experts in the country. But, no, as far as content is concerned, that's up to the news writer. Steve is not going to say, "Cover land claims today". Their job -- because these are responsible professional news people, their job is to come up with the appropriate story in the market. I suppose from a managerial standpoint if he felt that they were getting off track or, more to the point, if the AVR consultancy felt that they were getting off track they would be brought back in line. But that having been said, they are responsible professionals and they are responsible for their own stories.
671 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: So what will be their marching orders in terms of what audience are they trying to reach and what types of stories do we want to see?
672 MR. HILL: Their marching orders would come from an editorial policy specifically written for that situation. When we come to prior to procuring their services to deliver news services they would have a very specific editorial policy which would determine their marches, or as far as determining that. This has been articulated to personnel in the past regarding --
673 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: And you have one of those?
674 MR. HILL: We can provide one that we will use based upon one that we have used in the past. We would have to go away and think, not because -- because we want to get in compliance first.
675 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Does it exist now?
676 MR. HILL: We have one from the past that exists, but we haven't written one for the new situation. But we can do that very quickly because we have
677 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: No, I don't want you to make it up that quickly, just file the one with us. What was the time we gave you, Friday morning?
678 MR. HILL: For news, Vice Chairman?
679 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Yes.
680 MR. HILL: Okay.
681 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: The editorial policy that you have used in the past.
682 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: And just to remind, each reporter at each of those stations would be self assigning. That was your answer, right?
683 MR. HILL: There would be a consultation that would go on with Aboriginal Voices Radio and Bray and Partners. I wouldn't want to say that they are solely determining that. Always the nature of our organization is there is a lot of internal daily discussion that goes on around these types of things.
684 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: I'm confused by that. When they start their day, what is the first thing they do?
685 MR. BRAY: The first, if I may, they are given the editorial policy. They are told the sort of things that the AVR Board wants them to look for, as per our conditions of licence. So their job --
686 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: I'm having trouble expressing myself. When they start the day what is the first thing they do?
687 MR. BRAY: They look for stories from a variety of sources, from the wire, from community outreach, going out in the field, et cetera, et cetera. They start their day just like any news person and they look for this sort of story.
688 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: And then how do they -- who do they inform as to what they are going to be doing that day?
689 MR. HILL: We had a process in place of find the stories, write the stories, it would go to an editor, it would be approved or re-worked by an editor in consultation with the writer and then it would move -- once it was approved it would go to voicing and then the recording would be made and then it would be put on the air.
690 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Where is the editor located?
691 MR. HILL: Pardon me?
692 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Where is the editor located?
693 MR. HILL: We haven't determined where the editor will be located yet, but we would of course aspire to have editors in local markets. But it depends on the skills of the editor, because we might want to have two editors look at it.
694 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: So you have some ideas, but you actually don't -- there isn't really a plan, right, like a news written-down plan that's gone through an internal approval process agreed to by the board, and that sort of stuff? This is an idea that you hope to turn into a plan?
695 MR. BRAY: Well, there is a policy --
696 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Is that fair?
697 MR. BRAY: -- in place as far as direction is concerned. There is a manager of the news people, but I am not suggesting that it's a multi-tiered operation.
698 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Where is the manager of the news people again?
699 MR. BRAY: The manager is in Toronto.
700 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: And the editor is...?
701 MR. BRAY: The editor -- as Jamie said, we have not determined where the editor would be, but let me say that the writers are in each of the local markets. And yes, they are largely responsible for their own content. If they go far afield of course they will be examined on a day to day basis.
702 But that having been said, I'm not suggesting that it's a multi-tiered operation, well, they report to the person above them and they report to the person above them. Just we don't have that kind of money.
703 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: I don't even see an editor on your business plan. I see five morning anchors, five news anchors, two VO people, one Program Director.
704 MR. BRAY: That's correct. There would be five news people, one in each of the markets, you are correct. There will be a news manager, which you will also find in the -- and it's perhaps the news manager who will also suffice as the editor. But I want to suggest this is -- the editor is not as critical as the individual news parties. I don't see rewriting --
705 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: That's okay, because you actually don't have an editor, right, on your business plan.
706 Anyway, let's move on.
707 MR. BRAY: That's correct, but we have a manager. It's semantics.
708 MR. HILL: Mr. Vice Chairman, we did share duty --
709 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: You have a national producer. I guess it would fall under that.
710 MR. HILL: Mr. Vice Chairman, we did share duties because we are a small organization and people with certain titles were assigned additional duties, for instance as editors. It might not be reflected in their particular title.
711 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay.
712 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Did you ever have any contingency plans for when your CCD funding ran out?
713 MR. HILL: Funding has been something that we have always been concerned about, understanding where we stand in relation to the average revenue and expense streams in the radio stations in our market.
714 We know that we are a lot lower. We have been much lower for years and we have gone through several strategies on how to gain funding that would include looking at gaming, bingo. We are aware some of the stations are aware of that. Some of the other stations gain revenues from their band council for instance.
715 We have looked at frequency exchanges a number of times. We have approached the Commission with AM/FM frequency exchanges when Chairman von Finckenstein was in his position.
716 We have looked at FM to FM frequency exchanges as a means to gain revenues.
717 We have looked at government grants provincially and federally over several years to see if that was an avenue open to us.
718 So it is always -- including the revenues and market-based revenues. So we have always tried to figure out ways to increase our revenues so that we can improve the delivery of our services, understanding it is contingent upon how much revenues you have.
719 So in the more recent term we began working as soon as we get our renewal to try to figure out ways, knowing the CCD was going to sunset and how can we survive financially. So we have spent a lot of time over the last period trying to figure out what we could possibly do.
720 MR. BRAY: And the key to this plan is taking control of your own destiny and that's where we get to the street with boots on the street and raise the revenues that are necessary.
721 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Yes. Renewals always tend to focus the mind.
722 What is advertiser-oriented content? A key part of your business plan and your content plan?
723 MR. MURPHY: When we look at the models that NPR has, our view is to involve the advertisers as patrons, as industry experts, develop features that they can talk about the product as opposed to just run a spot. So the idea would be creation of content features, followed by an advertising spot, which we used very effectively when we launched 680 News.
724 MR. BRAY: And, for example, think about -- this is just taking it out of -- just something quick, ancestry.ca let's say, if we sold a sponsorship to them, maybe we could do sort of a Heritage feature, you know, brought to you by ancestry.ca. So again it ties in. It's great for the Aboriginal community and it's also great for the advertiser.
725 MS HENSEL: And if I may interject?
726 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: How is that great for the Aboriginal community?
727 MS HENSEL: If I might interject, there is a number of highly politicized issue when it comes to Aboriginal issues and Aboriginal people in communities, so it would have to be subject and would be and, you know, may be or is contemplated subject to the Board's careful oversight with respect to advertiser, sponsored and involved coverage.
728 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: The terminology used in my history for that was advertorial. Essentially that you made your content friendly to the advertiser to encourage people to think pleasant thoughts about that advertiser and be more easily persuaded by the advertiser.
729 MR. BRAY: I would suggest that I'm certainly very familiar with the term advertorial and that's not quite what we are talking about. Advertorial is basically there running throughout.
730 Now, we may do some of that, but what we are talking about is a feature that it sits -- you know, for example, it could be the sandwich feature where something is sandwiched between two cuts and then is sponsored by Quiznos. It's not specifically -- the future is not specifically about the advertiser as advertorial implies. It's more, as I said, ancestry.ca. If we were doing a Heritage feature it wouldn't be about ancestry.ca. It would be about Aboriginal heritage and then it would say, "And by the way, this is brought to you by ancestry.ca".
731 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Right. Okay.
732 Just help me understand that, because you are licensed to serve Aboriginal Canadians, right, and I understand and you are producing advertiser-oriented content, right, and there is a market for that obviously in your business plan for that in your mind, but how does that relate to the service of Aboriginal Canadians?
733 MR. HILL: Commissioner, if I could understand your reasoning that you have in mind, are you trying to relate whether --
734 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Let me stop you there. You have presented a business plan, right --
735 MR. HILL: Yes.
736 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: -- and a content plan and advertiser-oriented content is a key feature of the plan summary, as I have read it, right?
737 MR. HILL: Yes.
738 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: And I want to know how that new content plan with that feature in it makes the world a better place for Aboriginal Canadians.
739 MR. BRAY: Well, first and foremost the content is dictated by the mandate. So we are not going to put on anything that isn't in keeping with the mandated format and that is serving the Aboriginal community.
740 For example, not to repeat myself, but ancestry.ca, what could be more specific and relevant to the Aboriginal community? We are going to put something on that's good and then try to work with the advertiser. It's always a wrestling match, but first you create the content and then make it -- and try to work with the advertiser to make it relevant for them.
741 MR. CARDINAL: But also let me add that there are a number, and a growing number of Indigenous corporations and companies across Canada that would participate in this and we have a number of them already who are interested in providing some sort of sponsorship or advertorial, as you like to call it.
742 MS HENSEL: And finally -- possibly not finally, but it's in the aboriginal community's interest that Aboriginal Voices Radio continues to exist. The CCD funding sunsetted. This is the alternative.
743 So in a perfect world, in a fiscal utopia there would be no -- advertising might not be necessary, but the business plan and the approach that's being suggested here and proposed represents a compromise in light of the very concrete consequences that AVR has seen played out for the lack of -- for the sunsetting of CCD and other publicly-funded forms of a resource.
744 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. Some people might argue, and some have, that the goal of serving Aboriginal people might best be achieved through others, that your organization has taken a run at it for a decade and there is little evidence to suggest it's been successful and that the main idea of serving Aboriginal Canadians, maybe it's time somebody else carried that torch and took a run at it. What is your response to that?
745 MR. HILL: Excuse me, Vice Chairman.
746 The first thing I would like to say is Aboriginal Voices Radio has been licensed for a number of years in five cities and I would say that at this point in time no other broadcaster has the level of experience, even given our challenges and difficulties, that we have in actually for a 10-year period, over a 10-year period serving those markets and understanding those markets and understanding the challenges of operating radio stations in those markets. So no one else has that type of experience that we do, so I would like to say that first.
747 AVR can serve those markets from a very informed point of view from the team that we have had over the years, including community members, board members, staff, the networking; the people that we interact with in trying to get Aboriginal voices out into the marketplace. We have had financial difficulties in trying to do this and a very challenging business model. It is more expensive and there is certainly much more competition in AVR's markets, especially if you add up five markets, that other broadcasters have had to contend with and we now have come forward, after years of experience, with a plan that we think is going to allow us to do that in a much improved way, in a financially viable way.
748 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. Those are my questions.
749 Mr. Chairman, back to you.
750 THE CHAIRPERSON: Vice Chair Broadcasting, please.
751 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Good morning.
752 Does the discourse you have put forward this morning seem somewhat familiar?
753 MR. HILL: Yes, Mr. Vice Chairman, we did acknowledge that in the opening presentation, the familiarity of the discourse.
754 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Did you not come before the Commission a couple of years back to mention that you would be increasing your advertising revenue?
755 MR. HILL: Yes, we did and, as you are aware it was not successful at that point. But I might add that we certainly did not have a large scheme of this calibre then.
756 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: And over the last 10 years, have you endeavoured to sell advertising on the AVR stations?
757 MR. HILL: I can say that we did not do that over a 10-year period. That is relatively new in terms of years.
758 Initially there was an idea, as I read the initial plans, similar to APTN where we thought we could get some type of funding. However, as a non profit to be able to sustain AVR in a viable manner, we actually did that for several years pursuing that avenue, including talking to various departments of government and coming forward with some plans for frequency exchanges, as I had mentioned, one of which in our estimation would have provided $100 million in financing of which we would take the interest from that and operate at about a $5 million level.
759 We had signed agreements for $48 million which we had negotiated and when we brought them to the Commission they were not inclined to consider that. But we have tried to be very creative in getting long term sustainable funding for AVR over that 10 year period.
760 We did not focus on advertising in the beginning the way we have as we gained that the Commission did want us to go in that direction over the last two renewal periods. And I admit, it has been very challenging, Mr. Vice Chairman.
761 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: And you also mentioned, Mr. Hill, during previous hearings, that it was your impression that the communities, the Aboriginal communities from coast to coast to coast would be stepping up to the plate to support AVR.
762 MR. HILL: Yes, and I think the positive interventions that we have received over past renewal periods and this one attest to that fact.
763 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: And are there any advertisers from the communities that have stepped forward over the last two years?
764 MR. HILL: There have been a limited number of advertisers, but I have to say that the building of the economy in the Aboriginal communities is relatively new, as you may be aware. Historically there hasn't been inherited wealth. As you know, First Nations, they are not allowed to gain mortgages in order to start business the way the rest of Canadians have since the beginning of Canada, so it has limited economic opportunities, but I could say it is vastly improving now and there is an expansion going on of Aboriginal business.
765 But some of -- we have had -- we have aired a few ads, but it certainly was not enough or I would contend is not now enough to sustain a level of revenues that can put AVR into a situation that it should be. And I would use an example. APTN, of course, has mandated revenues and they may -- I don't know, but they may experience similar challenges if they had to depend on an advertising-based business model.
766 MR. BRAY: Keep in mind the advertisers that we are talking about our far broader than simply businesses in the Aboriginal community.
767 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Was there no one within the community that could help you, Mr. Hill? You seem to have brought in sort of outside counsel.
768 MR. HILL: I'm sorry. My lawyer was speaking to me at the very initial -- when you asked your question, Commissioner.
769 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Is there no one within the community that has been able to step up to the plate to help you out? You seem to have brought outside counsel to the table today.
770 MR. HILL: To help us out in which manner, because we have had quite extensive --
771 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: In managing, in financing your stations, in programming your stations?
772 MR. HILL: Has anyone stepped up?
773 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Yes. Ten years in and you are still incapable by yourselves within your management team to program, manage, finance, advertise for your stations.
774 MR. HILL: I would not say that we were incapable. I would say we have had financial difficulties and these have led to some compliance issues.
775 But I would like to contend with the Commission that we have served our community in a variety of ways. We have had Board Members with business and cultural and financial expertise. We have engaged a number of consultants with expertise right from the beginning. And if I could use the example --
776 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: All of whom have failed, with no assurance that this new outside counsel, if you will permit me to express myself that way, will succeed.
777 MR. HILL: Well, this is a better team, but I would not say that they failed. I mean if you look back in the record over a 10-year period we have had some very talented radio broadcasters advising and working with us, and if I could use the example --
778 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: But you have been in non compliance almost from day one. You have had programming challenges from day one, financing challenges from day one, serving your community from day one.
779 If you can't qualify that as failure, I don't know what it is going to take for you to admit that you have failed. You at the head of this project and your team have failed.
780 MR. HILL: I would say that we have failed in certain aspects of the operation, but not all of them. I would say we have succeeded in many of them in a very challenging business model over several years without an initial large investment in order to get us to the threshold that most radio broadcasters achieve initially. I mean I am aware of new radio stations now and we have discussed with them the level of investment that they work with initially.
781 I think the revenues that according to CRTC statistics, what they show is that there is probably a larger requirement than what AVR has had to work with, but we have pursued that. We have pursued that and for whatever reason have not been able to gain that threshold.
782 So we have been struggling financially because the initial amount of investment was insufficient for us to get to where we aspire to. And of course every step of the way we did believe that we would achieve that, but we haven't been able to achieve the level of financial viability that we want.
783 But I would not characterize it as a failure. We have done many great things over the 10- year period given our challenges.
784 MR. BRAY: And may I add --
785 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: If you just give me a moment.
786 MR. BRAY: Certainly.
787 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: And are you willing to admit that the reason you haven't reached that threshold is because the product that you have put forward has not been at a level sufficiently professional as to satisfy the needs of the listeners?
788 MR. HILL: I don't think that business success is solely dependent on a product. If we could look at marketing, as you are I am sure familiar, Vice Chairman, just the marketing aspect is product, pricing, positioning, placement, and there is an array of things that need to be in place, especially in the marketing aspect. There has to be a threshold of support, so it's a large, complicated operation.
789 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: To get back to why are you having such a hard time reaching that threshold of support? Placement is not a problem. You have some of the most attractive frequencies in every major metropolitan area in this country.
790 MR. HILL: The non profit business model is challenging without some type of access to --
791 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: You are not the only people in that business and other people are doing quite well.
792 MR. HILL: We are the only people in these markets where it is more expensive and with our particular set of conditions and licence, especially the amount of spoken word that we have to deliver.
793 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: But you haven't respected -- you have hardly respected any of the conditions of licence so that can be used as a crutch.
794 MR. HILL: We have respected them and tried to deliver them to the best of our ability within the level of financing that we had. And we still respect them and we believe with the current plan, as you will note, it is double to triple the level of financing and we have never been able to work with such a talented team as today.
795 MR. BRAY: And could I add --
796 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: And how is that talented team going to finance itself, Mr. Hill?
797 MR. HILL: David, would you like to speak to the --
798 MR. BRAY: Most certainly. We believe in this project and we are currently working on the basis of goodwill and we are committed to do so for the future to make this happen.
799 And as far as any assurance of future success, again not to blow our own horn, but simply say past success is a predictor of future success and everyone on this team has done it many times over. The chances of --
800 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: How many successes do you have in your resume, sir, as it regards Aboriginal communities?
801 MR. BRAY: Not -- you are absolutely right.
802 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: None whatsoever; is that correct?
803 MR. BRAY: Well, other than our work with Aboriginal Voices Radio, no, just our work with --
804 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: And how successful has that been thus far?
805 MR. BRAY: Well, it's relatively new. We have --
806 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: So you have no experience in the field?
807 MR. BRAY: In the field of Aboriginal broadcasting, no, but in the field of certainly broadcast sales we have extensive experience, and niche broadcast sales, extensive experience.
808 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: So how are you going to -- if no one is listening, how are you going to sell this product?
809 MR. BRAY: Why would you say no one is listening? I have done projections in terms of audience share and I am quite -- we are quite confident that we will --
810 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Projections based on what, sir?
811 MR. BRAY: Based on the analysis of the marketplace. And, as you are probably aware, I have been --
812 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Did you hire a firm to do a market analysis, Mr. Bray?
813 MR. BRAY: Not as yet. We have done -- I have done much, call it --
814 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: So how can you claim that you have any kind of data to support your claims?
815 MR. BRAY: Well, first of all, I think my work is fairly well known. I have been doing this kind of analysis and these kind of projections successfully for well over --
816 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: With no data whatsoever? With no market study whatsoever?
817 MR. BRAY: First of all, we have done and I have done in the past certainly -- call it research -- but in terms of research, I was Vice Chair for a number of years of the BBM Radio Executive, now Numeris. I was Chair of the committee that developed product usage information. I have done --
818 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: I understand that, sir, but you used data to arrive at conclusions.
819 MR. BRAY: That's the difference. That's correct.
820 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: What data are you using to arrive at the projections you are putting forward today?
821 MR. BRAY: I have examined all of the numbers as far as the competitive atmosphere, what everybody is doing, what they will deliver in the future with a revised station in the marketplace; that is to say a revised format in the marketplace.
822 I look at the history of what has transpired over the last 10 years, I look at the current complexion, I look at a variety of factors that lead to my projection, not only of AVR, but I look on an ongoing basis and report on this for a variety of publications.
823 I'm the analyst for Median Canada for --
824 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Mr. Bray, do you not use data as an analyst?
825 MR. BRAY: Absolutely, that's what I was going to say.
826 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: You have demographic, sociographic --
827 MR. BRAY: That's correct.
828 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: -- socio-economic data to bring to the fore.
829 MR. BRAY: That's correct.
830 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Do you have anything to deposit with us this morning?
831 MR. BRAY: I can do further analysis, but what we did do is --
832 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Well, where is the analysis that you're using to come to the conclusion you've come to thus far?
833 MR. BRAY: The background information isn't there. We put on the market share, as you can see, for adults 12 plus; the market share for adults 25-54. I've looked at --
834 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Based on what, Mr. Bray? The market share -- you're predicting a certain market share.
835 MR. BRAY: That's correct.
836 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Based on what?
837 MR. BRAY: Based on my ongoing analysis of current shares, share trends and what --
838 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Of a non-Aboriginal market, Mr. Bray? Of a non-Aboriginal market or non-First Nation market?
839 MR. BRAY: Well, it's -- I've looked at -- again, if one looks at Toronto, it's far more than any one culture. I look at all the cultures, that being Chinese, South Asian. I put --
840 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: And you're predicting Chinese and South Asian listenership for AVR in Toronto, sir?
841 MR. BRAY: No. I --
842 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: So where will your listeners come from in Toronto, as an example, Mr. Bray?
843 MR. BRAY: Well, first of all, I don't want to presume for a moment that our listenership will be limited to indigenous peoples only. There are many people that are enamoured of the culture, the sound, et cetera, et cetera.
844 And do I --
845 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Do you have data to that effect to present to us this morning, Mr. Bray?
846 MR. BRAY: In terms of -- in terms of the sound of the music, most certainly the history has dictated --
847 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Do you have data to present to this Commission this morning, Mr. Bray?
848 MR. HILL: Mr. Vice-Chairman, we do have data. We were able to afford BBM measurements in Toronto which we could get -- file with the Commission.
849 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: And that has not been filed as yet?
850 MR. HILL: It has not been filed as yet.
851 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: And this data would show us that?
852 MR. HILL: Well, for instance, it would show us that we gained a total in Toronto of 500 individual listeners. We did not have --
853 MR. BRAY: Five hundred thousand.
854 MR. HILL: And we had, as you're aware, a weak marketing program, but based on the quality of the programming that we did have in place, we gained -- I'm sorry, 500,000 --
855 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Can I just continue with Mr. Bray, please. You've got data to the effect that you have 500,000 listeners to the AVR station in Toronto?
856 MR. BRAY: What he was talking about was, we're not currently subscribed to BBM, but yes, we are -- yes, we did have it in the past and we can --
857 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: How long ago, sir?
858 MR. HILL: During the last licence term, this licence term.
859 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: So give me an actual year.
860 MR. HILL: Two thousand twelve. Well, I think we had that in place in 2013, for instance.
861 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: You paid for this data?
862 MR. HILL: Yes, we did.
863 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: The BBM data in 2013?
864 MR. BRAY: All stations must pay for it.
865 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Right, I understand that, but we're back to the point of AVR in Toronto. You paid for this data in 2013?
866 MR. HILL: Yes, we did.
867 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: And it showed that you had 500,000 listeners on an ongoing basis?
868 MR. HILL: That's what I was shown.
869 MR. BRAY: That's the cume.
870 MR. HILL: That's what I was shown for certain periods which --
871 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: What kind of market share would that constitute in the Toronto market, 500,000?
872 MR. BRAY: It was a relatively limited share. I don't recall the exact statistics, but --
873 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Five hundred thousand listeners is a limited share?
874 MR. BRAY: Yeah, it's a cume.
875 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Okay.
876 MR. BRAY: It's a total unduplicated number of listeners. It doesn't mean they're listening full time. I could go down the cumes of all the stations in Toronto, but suffice to say, that even though that was the case, I think we're going to far exceed that in the relevant -- I think it's very limiting to suggest that we will deal only with members of the Aboriginal community.
877 Given the music format it's going to have very broad appeal. We're talking about -- you read the plan --
878 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: What kind of music is AVR Toronto playing right now?
879 MR. BRAY: It's just in the process of morphing this over to -- it's a soft adult contemporary singer/songwriter mix, that's what we're doing. And the singer/songwriter mix is one, it's particularly effective in this particular marketplace because what's transpired in that regard is CHFI has left that -- do you want me to clarify?
880 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Yeah, sure.
881 MR. BRAY: Okay. CHFI has left that particular niche alone. They were doing what they called beautiful music at a certain point, but they have moved toward a hot adult contemporary as has the whole marketplace.
882 So we, again, with our programming team analyzing the holes in the marketplace, we've noted that the -- by the way whereas -- for example, whereas CHFI might play James Taylor in the past, they're now playing Rihanna.
883 Not to get into all of the artists involved, but simply to say that singer/songwriter soft adult contemporary is perfect because it fits the storytelling culture of the indigenous peoples and we can involve and integrate a lot of songs from the Aboriginal artists that I've noted in the business plan and it's a tremendous --
884 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Mr. Bray, how many licensed radio stations are there in the Toronto area?
885 MR. BRAY: Currently I believe it's twenty -- oh, is it 22 or 24, forgive me.
886 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: And I would suggest to you that just about every kind of musical category is represented in those 20 plus stations?
887 MR. BRAY: No, I would not agree.
888 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Okay. Let me ask you, Mr. Bray, how -- so thus, when did you come on board with AVR, the Bray & Partners group?
889 MR. HILL: As far as a definition of "come on board" --
890 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Mr. Bray can speak to that issue, Mr. Hill.
891 MR. HILL: Oh yes.
892 MR. BRAY: We've been working on this for the past couple of months.
893 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Two months. And all this pro bono thus far?
894 MR. BRAY: That's correct.
895 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: And how much longer will this pro bono arrangement continue?
896 MR. BRAY: As long as it takes. We believe in our business plan. We believe, and I've got -- like let me speak to --
897 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: What's the reward at the end of the day, Mr. Bray?
898 MR. BRAY: First of all, none of the people in Bray & Partners need a job, I want to clarify that.
899 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Okay.
900 MR. BRAY: None of us are begging for food, but let's say this, as I said before, one, we believe --
901 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Do you have other clients, Mr. Bray?
902 MR. BRAY: Do I?
903 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Yeah, does the firm have other clients?
904 MR. BRAY: Yes.
905 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: And those other clients will be supporting this pro bono work; is that correct?
906 MR. BRAY: Yes, to a degree. I don't -- one doesn't directly --
907 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: I'm sure they'll be happy to hear that. And how much -- pro bono for an eternity, Mr. Bray?
908 MR. BRAY: No.
909 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Is there some kind of timeline, is there some point in time when you'll stop working for free --
910 MR. BRAY: Yes.
911 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: -- for AVR?
912 MR. BRAY: I've projected --
913 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: When will that be?
914 MR. BRAY: I would suggest that -- as I've noted in the business plan, we're starting with the sales program going from June through August which will cover -- start to cover the hard costs of bringing us into compliance, and then starting in September we should be on solid footing as far as advertising revenue and paying all the people involved.
915 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: And at that point Bray starts making money?
916 MR. BRAY: It's a non-profit organization, so I'm not suggesting we'll be profitable, I'm suggesting that we'll pay the people involved for the work involved.
917 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: That would include --
918 MS HENSEL: Just to clarify.
919 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: -- Bray & Partners?
920 MS HENSEL: Just to clarify, it's a fee arrangement, fee for service arrangement as between Bray & Partners.
921 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Well, Mr Bray can answer that question.
922 MR. BRAY: Say the question again, my apologies?
923 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Bray & Partners, right, and you're David Bray?
924 MR. BRAY: Yes, but the individual --
925 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Okay. So how long will this pro bono work continue?
926 MR. BRAY: As I've said, up until probably -- an estimate, we would probably get the individuals starting to be paid in September.
927 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Those are members of your firm that would start to be paid in September?
928 MR. BRAY: That's correct.
929 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Okay. For work that they have already accomplished?
930 MR. BRAY: No, primarily for work going forward.
931 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Going forward. So everything you do from now until September will be pro bono?
932 MR. BRAY: We don't like to use the word pro bono, we use good will, but yes.
933 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Good will. Okay. Well, good will usually has something at the end of that. And what happens in September, what's the fee structure look like?
934 MR. BRAY: The fee structure, there is no fee that goes to Bray & Partners, it's a salary or compensation that goes to each of the individuals and that's built into the budget and you've got it in front of you.
935 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Okay. So there will be AVR revenues leaving AVR to go to Bray & Partners?
936 MR. BRAY: The money -- let me clarify. The money does not go to Bray & Partners, per se, there is no profitability on a corporate level, it goes to -- there's a payment. If somebody's acting as the Operations Manager that I brought into the fold, they will get paid for their work on AVR period. There is no money that goes to Bray & Partners.
937 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: And if the revenues don't come in September, what happens then?
938 MR. BRAY: Well, if the sky falls, given --
939 COMMISSIONER PENTEFUNTAS: Well, it's been falling for quite a few years.
940 MR. BRAY: Quite right, but we are -- given the history of this team, I think the chances of failure -- of any team that I -- remember, I've worked on many, many different types of niche organizations, I put the South -- first South Asian station on the air across country, I've worked at a lot of niche situations and I would suggest that the chances of us meeting the plan are very -- as strong as they could possibly be.
941 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: And if you don't...?
942 MR. BRAY: And if we don't, we will keep trying. You won't --
943 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Until when?
944 MR. BRAY: Until when? The foreseeable future. Suffice to say, and I know why you're saying, but the people involved in here are not -- the people, my friends, my associates, they're not starving, they're not needing for a job, these are hall of fame type people. Dave Charles is one of the -- globally renowned. Dave does not need a job.
945 These are people that are committed, and others, George Grant. I mean, they're not -- we're talking about people that are wealthy, they --
946 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Okay. Instead of volunteering to work at the hospital, they're volunteering to work at AVR?
947 MR. BRAY: Because we're broadcasters and we believe in radio, we've loved radio all our lives and before I die I want to -- if I may, I want to make one of my last accomplishments be in the area of radio.
948 That's my love, it's my first love, that and the music industry and that's where I want to invest my energies. And that's true of Dave, of George, of Bob, et cetera.
949 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Thank you, Mr. Bray.
950 Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
951 MR. HILL: Mr. Vice-Chairman, may I add one more comment about the business model. I want to bring up the Native American casinos in the United States.
952 They were granted --
953 THE CHAIRPERSON: You better make sure that it's relevant to the questions we're asking.
954 MR. HILL: Okay. I think it's relevant because the business model that they used is to hire outside expertise, expertise to get their casinos up and running, not having any experience with casinos and it's been multi-billion dollar successful across the United States.
955 So it's quite common for a Native organization to continually look for expertise in order to fulfil its aspirations.
956 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right. Well, we have a lot on our plates. We don't have the time to become experts in a different business model for the casino business in the United States on top of everything.
957 Vice-Chair Menzies, please?
958 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Yes. I had one question that I had forgotten to ask.
959 You said, Mr. Bray, that you had 14 people working on this?
960 MR. BRAY: Approximately.
961 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: How many of those people are representative of the Aboriginal community?
962 MR. BRAY: None.
963 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Thank you.
964 MR. BRAY: But all sympathetic to it.
965 THE CHAIRPERSON: I just have a few more questions.
966 So how many newscasts are currently broadcast daily on each of the stations, of the four stations that are currently on-air?
967 MR. BRAY: Oh sorry, I wasn't sure it was I that was answering. Currently there are no newscasts on the air. We're in the process of putting that together and will be on very shortly.
968 MR. HILL: And I would like to add, that is one of the most expensive items for AVR to undertake.
969 THE CHAIRPERSON: We are well aware of the cost of news gathering and broadcast.
970 So what future actions or measures have you been or will you be putting in place to ensure complete future compliance with all your regulatory obligations?
971 MR. HILL: I would say the future measures are outlined in the entire business plan, as we have tried to communicate. It is our belief that the compliance issues relate to having insufficient financing, and if I could give an example.
972 We understand -- I used to personally manage a local area network in an office and the issue with those is fault tolerance and redundancy. If one's part of the system fails, you have another one that automatically kicks in.
973 This situation has existed at our towers. If we could use that analogy to say that if there are multiple people involved in the compliance issue on a daily basis, then that is fault tolerance and redundancy and you have less of a probability of falling down in compliance. We simply have not had the personnel to put in adequate fault tolerance or redundancy, but we believe this plan will allow us to move in that direction certainly.
974 First we have to get into compliance, which we will be able to do relatively quickly, and then we need to look at how much redundancy and fault tolerance we can actually implement as the revenues increase.
975 MR. BRAY: And I would add that we've got Iain Grant, our Operations Manager, is one of the most experienced, in fact, I know of no one better in terms of this area, in terms of the log. We're just not going to run into the practical problems that AVR ran into in the past.
976 And to keep us honest, we've got our friend Rita Cugini which will -- who will continually work with us to make sure we are satisfactorily in compliance.
977 THE CHAIRPERSON: But this is the fourth consecutive licence term you've been found either in non-compliance or in apparent non-compliance. Why should the Commission not revoke your licence?
978 MR. HILL: I guess, Commissioner, the summary answer for us, that we have never been able to work with such a large talented team as we have now and I think this is the turning point. I believe now is the time to hit the reset button as far as AVR being able to finally move into total compliance, stay in compliance and deliver a much improved service to the Aboriginal communities for which we are licensed to serve.
979 We are confident our plan will bring AVR back into compliance and shorter -- by September, 2015 for sure.
980 Any new broadcaster who would take over our licence would face an uphill battle, they would have no presence, no brand and not the experience that we have in these particular urban Aboriginal markets in this many of them.
981 A new broadcaster may be reinventing the wheel as far as the entire operation of what they plan on doing; a new broadcaster would not have the strong and loyal relationships that we have with indigenous artist and may be in a position of having to gain a new set of listeners according to what their format is.
982 We have loyal and loving listeners now and a revocation or non-renewal would wipe away and challenge the situation and the gains that we have made. And a new broadcaster, of course, would take time to get their operation up and running in which the Aboriginal community would not be served.
983 Our business plan, we think, demonstrates that during the period of time that a new broadcaster would require to get up and running, we will have achieved compliance and viability within the period of time where they are coming out with a new service.
984 MS CLARKE: And if I could just add, Chairman, AVR is not a broadcaster that is coming here with complaints about its abusive language; it's not a broadcaster that is not taking its compliance issues seriously; acknowledging them, regretting them, telling you that they agree that they are out of compliance.
985 They're not a broadcaster that is demonstrating to you in-fighting, or an inability to pull together a plan, and it hasn't come here today saying, "Well, we don't really know what we're going to do, but please, please renew us."
986 They have pulled together a very, very solid plan. Absolutely it is at the last minute and it is unfortunate that it wasn't provided or prepared in the last gazetting period so that it could be better analyzed and better studied by the Commission and all of the interveners and the general public.
987 But this is not a case where the fundamental nature of what AVR is trying to do has not been achieved and that, I would say, would be a very important consideration as to why it did not revoke these licences.
988 Thank you.
989 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, I guess we'll have to judge that based on the record and what was occurring, not only in this licence term, but over a number of years.
990 In the written record before today's oral hearing, you seem to be making allegations that the Native -- or the CRTC's Native policy is discriminatory and you seem to be wanting in that written record to propose that as a defence for your non-compliance of the Radio Regulations and the conditions of licence.
991 This seems a rather convenient argument and I would suggest to you rather inflammatory argument when you have been found in apparent non-compliance.
992 Is the position in the written record still your position?
993 MS HENSEL: Yes, certainly. And I would take --
994 THE CHAIRPERSON: If that was the case --
995 MS HENSEL: Yes.
996 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- when we adopted and renewed the various licences of AVR over a number of years, if you thought it was discriminatory, why did you not seek leave to appeal to the Federal Court where you can petition your renewals before the Cabinet?
997 MS HENSEL: AVR was trying to make it work under a distinct, and we do say, discriminatory licensing regime and regulatory policy framework.
998 THE CHAIRPERSON: So when you applied originally for the licence and you made and pleaded that you should not be licensed under the community radio policy but under the Native policy, you yourself were saying that you wanted to be licensed under what you now claim to be a discriminatory policy.
999 MS HENSEL: It was in a different marketplace, one that involved significant --
1000 THE CHAIRPERSON: Give us --
1001 MS HENSEL: And if I may finish, Mr. Chairman, it also was all that was available to Native broadcasters.
1002 We were seeking, and AVR is grateful that the CRTC has recognized that there may be issues, and I agree that the CRTC has not conceded that there are issues or that it is discriminatory, we do maintain that allegation and connect it to AVR's current circumstances, but those problems cannot be solved here today.
1003 AVR cannot be the only voice representing Aboriginal interests before the CRTC with respect to a policy that applies across the board to Aboriginal Canadians and Aboriginal broadcasters across the country, so it needs a broader and more informed and, frankly, this is a show cause hearing, there is some -- I don't want to say adversarial quality to it, but it needs a more measured, balanced and it's going to be time consuming.
1004 AVR is doing what it can with the existing policy, that's the plan you have before you, in light of the CRTC's admission that the Native broadcasting policy needs an examination; it does.
1005 THE CHAIRPERSON: Are there any conditions -- you've applied to be renewed under your existing terms and conditions. Is it your view today that there are terms and conditions that you have applied for renewal that are discriminatory?
1006 MS HENSEL: Yes.
1007 THE CHAIRPERSON: Which ones?
1008 MS HENSEL: Particularly with --
1009 THE CHAIRPERSON: Why did you apply for them then?
1010 MS HENSEL: Because --
1011 THE CHAIRPERSON: You have filled in the form saying, we want to renew under these and now you're saying that they're discriminatory?
1012 MS HENSEL: I'm sorry, there were --
1013 THE CHAIRPERSON: That's ridiculous.
1014 MS HENSEL: -- several questions -- there's several questions there, Mr. Chairman. Would you like me to answer any of them and I will, I'm prepared to --
1015 THE CHAIRPERSON: This is a show cause hearing.
1016 MS HENSEL: Sure.
1017 THE CHAIRPERSON: You know how serious this is.
1018 MS HENSEL: Absolutely.
1019 THE CHAIRPERSON: So which part of the conditions of licence you have applied for you now believe are discriminatory? I'd like to know that.
1020 MS HENSEL: It's the Native broadcasting policy that informed the interpretation in the application of the conditions --
1021 THE CHAIRPERSON: Which conditions of licence? I don't want to hear about the Native policy; we've dealt with that. Which specific conditions of licence do you now say are discriminatory?
1022 MS HENSEL: With respect, Commissioner -- or, Mr. Chairman, you're going to be dealing with the policy in 2016 and '17, the Commission is not dealing with it here today.
1023 The policies as they are interpreted through the conditions of licence are and as the conditions of licence are applied.
1024 THE CHAIRPERSON: You just said earlier that some conditions of licences that you have applied for are discriminatory. I want to know which ones and why.
1025 MS HENSEL: I was actually referring to the policy itself. My apologies, My Honour.
1026 THE CHAIRPERSON: So do you agree with me that none of the conditions of --
1027 MS HENSEL: -- Mr. Cchairman.
1028 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- licence you've applied for are discriminatory?
1029 MS HENSEL: No, except insofar as they're informed in their interpretation by the policy.
1030 THE CHAIRPERSON: NBut you know perfectly well, you're a lawyer --
1031 MS HENSEL: Yes.
1032 THE CHAIRPERSON: Article 6 of the Broadcasting Act says the policies of the Commission are not self-implementing, in fact, they cannot be binding; it would be a legal error; so what binds you is the conditions of licence or the regulations.
1033 MS HENSEL: And I believe you've heard from AVR today that it is committed to and does not challenge its obligation to comply with any conditions of licence -- or the existing conditions of licence, particularly the ones it's applied for and it intends to, pursuant to, you know, any term that the CRTC may choose to impose today.
1034 THE CHAIRPERSON: So, other question: why shouldn't a mandatory order be issued to ensure compliance with Conditions of Licence Number 9, 10, 2, as well as subsections 8 -- subsection 4(8), subsection 6(9), subsection 2(9), subsection 4 of the radio regulations?
1035 MS HENSEL: AVR has put forward a plan -- and I'll repeat what Mr. Hill had indicated earlier with respect to Condition 2 -- has put forward a plan that it believes, and Bray and Partners also believes, it can -- it can and will comply with.
1036 Of course, if the Commission sees fit to put forward a -- to impose a mandatory order, then that's in the Commission's hand and AVR has every intention of complying with both conditions of licence and any mandatory orders that the Commission might see fit to impose.
1037 MR. BRAY: And I want to add, we are in full agreement with maintaining the conditions of licence as they agree, and we're more than happy to entertain a way of enforcing that.
1038 THE CHAIRPERSON: Including our interpretation of what Condition of Licence Number 2 actually means.
1039 MR. BRAY: Most certainly. You're the Chairman.
1040 THE CHAIRPERSON: Section 3(1)(b) of the Broadcasting Act states:
"It is hereby declared as the broadcasting policy for Canada that the Canadian broadcasting system makes use of radio frequencies that are a public property. These frequencies are not private property."
1041 You do not own these frequencies, so why are you not properly managing that privilege which has been entrusted to you by the Commission through this licensing process?
1042 MR. BRAY: May I say that we are very respectful and I have never in my career -- I've always been respectful of what you're saying, most certainly. We -- it is a privilege. It is not something one ever owns.
1043 The people own the airwaves. They always have and always will. And so I would suggest in all humility it's our job to fulfil the mandate that you've dictated and to do the best they can for the Canadian people.
1044 You're going to get no argument from us.
1045 MR. HILL: Mr. Commissioner, if I could say that I believe, given the -- the level of revenues that we started out with, I think we've done a pretty good job as far as proper management.
1046 I acknowledge the non-compliance issues, acknowledge the difficulties that we've had, acknowledge, as we said in the presentation, there have been mis-steps. But we have worked diligently to overcome these and persevered to overcome these situations.
1047 And I would say we do believe we have finally come to a point where we have enough -- enough of a formidable team to be able to deliver what we know the Commission would like to see us deliver.
1048 THE CHAIRPERSON: I put it to you that a neutral observer looking at this could fairly conclude that you seem to only care about your regulatory obligations at licence renewal when we have to do these sorts of show cause regulatory hearings, and that neutral observer might also come to the conclusion that you have actually no intention of properly serving your brothers and sisters and that such an observer might also conclude that your only intent is to make financial gain from selling these stations to third parties because you certainly seem to have done a good job of running them into the ground.
1050 MR. HILL: I respectfully disagree that we've done a good job of running them into the ground. As I said, relative to the statistical --
1051 THE CHAIRPERSON: You're off air in one of the five markets and you've been off air for a period of time.
1052 MR. BRAY: I want to reinforce this plan is not based -- what -- your comments with regard to projected sale, this plan has in no way -- is in no way based on a potential sale of the group. I'm not sure where that's from.
1053 MR. HILL: Mr. Commissioner, in my own circumstance, I was a volunteer Board member for the first five years of this endeavour. There is no evidence that people are trying to personally gain.
1054 We had volunteer board members managing this who wanted to see this happen, understood the importance of it. There -- at that time, 10 years ago, there was a limited time period where native radio operators have been operating in radio relative to the rest of the radio industry.
1055 The radio industry has been doing this for decades going as far back as what you're aware of, but that was relatively new and the amount of Aboriginal radio operators who existing with the level of experience that the -- that other radio operators have had, it wasn't there.
1056 So this is relatively new for native operators.
1057 But as far as financial gain, I'm not aware of anyone trying to personally financially gain. I mean, I was a volunteer Board member here for the first five years.
1058 I left the Board because I couldn't do it because my own personal business was suffering. I was working on a contract with the National Museum of American Indian in Washington, D.C., and the Board approached me and said, "We thought you did an okay job and we would like to talk about hiring you".
1059 So there's -- there's no idea of people trying to, you know, financially gain as far as serving our audience.
1060 There's no track record that we've tried to financially gain since we've been operating this for such a long period of time.
1061 We simply feel that the commercial investment allows you to attain a level of revenues faster, quicker, in an appropriate manner for radio to deliver a good service to your targeted market and who you are licensed to serve. It's just as simple as that, that the statistics on commercial radio demonstrate that commercial or privatized operators are dealing with a much more formidable level of financing right from the outset.
1062 And we simply thought that that was an opportunity that we should look at in order to gain sufficient revenues.
1063 MR. BRAY: And I want to clarify, Bray and Partners is certainly not looking for a financial windfall. If we are, dear God, I've written a horrible business plan because there really is -- we're talking about everybody taking a pay cut to do this.
1064 This is not something that -- if we were in this for the big cash-in at the end, we have taken the wrong approach.
1065 THE CHAIRPERSON: I take it from that that, in your view, the pay cuts should have occurred earlier.
1066 MR. BRAY: The pay cut to Bray and Partners?
1067 THE CHAIRPERSON: No, to this organization.
1068 MR. BRAY: No, I'm suggesting -- I was speaking, if I may, for the team at Bray and Partners. The individuals who are working on goodwill have taken, effectively, a pay cut and will continue to do so, earn less than they've made throughout their careers in making this go.
1069 THE CHAIRPERSON: Do you have anything to add before we move -- we adjourn and move to the next phase of the hearing?
1070 MR. HILL: We would like to make a closing statement, if we could, Mr. Chairman.
1071 THE CHAIRPERSON: That goes beyond what you would say because there will be a third phase, a reply phase.
1072 MR. HILL: Okay. We'll wait, Mr. Chairman. Thank you.
1073 THE CHAIRPERSON: That's fine. I just --
1074 MR. HILL: Okay.
1075 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- wanted to give you a fair opportunity to complete any questions -- answers that we may have given you so far.
1076 MR. HILL: Okay. I would just ask the team if anything comes to mind, given this opportunity.
1077 MR. BRAY: May I say one more thing, if I -- you were asking about what we're going to do for members of the Aboriginal community on staff.
1078 We've got a plan in place -- Dave has been working with Seneca College, and we're going to be working with colleges across the country in each of the target markets to bring students in on an intern basis to train, to school them in the -- in the broadcast business, and of course we're going to show preferential treatment to Aboriginal students.
1079 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
1080 So this ends Phase 1. We will take a break till 2 o'clock, and we will then go into Phase 2 of this hearing.
1081 Thank you. We're adjourned.
--- Upon recessing at 1245
--- Upon resuming at 1400
1082 LE PRÉSIDENT : À l'ordre, s'il vous pla�t.
1083 Madame la Secrétaire.
1084 THE SECRETARY: Merci. We will now proceed to Phase II in which intervenors appear in the order set out in the agenda to present their intervention.
1085 We will begin -- we will hear the presentation by the Canadian Association of Aboriginal Broadcasters. Please introduce yourself and your colleagues, and you will then have 10 minutes for your presentation.
1086 Thank you.
1087 MS CHARLES: Hello, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Vice-Chairman and the Commissioners. Thank you for this opportunity to appear.
1088 Let me introduce our panel today. I am Deborah Charles. I'm the Chair of the Canadian Association of Aboriginal Broadcasters, and I am also the CEO of Missinipi Broadcasting Corporation in La Ronge, Saskatchewan.
1089 To my right is Bert Crowfoot, who's the CEO of AMMSA in Edmonton, Alberta, and to my left is David McLeod, CEO of Native Communications Incorporated in Winnipeg, Manitoba. To his left is Jean LaRose, CEO of the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network. And on Skype, we have Greg Smith, the CEO of Northern Native Broadcasting in Terrace, B.C.
1090 Before proceeding further, we wish to acknowledge our presence in the Algonquin territory.
1091 Mr. Chairman, we are here because we believe that it is time for a tried and true approach to Aboriginal radio in major urban areas that Aboriginal Voices Radio was licensed to serve in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto and Ottawa. For that reason, we are opposed of the renewal of AVR's licence for a new term. We respectfully request that the Commission call for new applications for new Aboriginal radio services in these markets.
1092 MR. McLEOD: First, we wish to say that we agree that AVR -- that there is a need for a strong Aboriginal radio service in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto and Ottawa. There is also a need for local programming and an over-arching national network to provide common programming that could feed these and other Aboriginal stations in Canada.
1093 Radio is a powerful tool, even an essential tool, to reach Aboriginal peoples. It is equally powerful in reflecting Aboriginal peoples and Aboriginal talent to a broader Canadian audience.
1094 We believe strongly that there should be an Aboriginal radio station in every larger Canadian city and that radio frequencies should be made available for this purpose.
1095 AVR deserves credit. AVR took the initiative to launch radio stations in a number of larger markets so the frequencies are there to be used for this purpose. Where AVR has fallen short, and we say that with regret, is in executing its plan.
1096 Unfortunately, AVR is not providing a high quality radio service in the markets it was licensed to serve. The Ottawa station is now off the air.
1097 I do not think that we need to labour this point. We need to only turn to the original radio licence applications that AVR filed years ago.
1098 These applications envisioned a national network with substantial content and significant local input in every market. Respectively, it would be very difficult to conclude that this vision has been achieved.
1099 We know that AVR does include Aboriginal music selections in its playlists, and that is to be acknowledged. Numerous Aboriginal artists have supported AVR because of this.
1100 We think that this highlights the need for greater exposure for Aboriginal artists on radio in major markets. This is the minimum that Aboriginal people should expect from their radio services. It does not reflect the full potential of Aboriginal radio.
1101 MR. CROWFOOT: The Aboriginal services represented here on this panel reach Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal audiences throughout our listening areas. Collectively, we serve large portions of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Yukon, including urban areas such as Regina, Winnipeg, Prince Rupert, Whitehorse and Edmonton, and many smaller rural and remote communities.
1102 We offer news, information and spoken word content together with various music formats. These services are popular and reflect the talents and interests of Aboriginal peoples, while providing valued information programming.
1103 Nobody is perfect. We don't claim to be. But we believe that the quality of our radio service is above par in areas where other radio services are also available. Our radio services perform well and are listened to by Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal audience.
1104 A radio service in a major urban market such as Vancouver or Toronto must also fit with the surrounding local environment. That means that the service should provide engaging and regular spoken word content, meaningful information programming as well as attractive music and other entertainment programming.
1105 An Aboriginal radio service also has other roles to perform. It should provide programming that reflect the Aboriginal community and that helps build a bridge to a larger audience.
1106 There is a continued need for cultural understanding between the Aboriginal communities and non-Aboriginal communities. Radio provides an essential level of service for Aboriginal peoples and builds understanding in many other parts of Canada. It should play the same role in Canada's largest markets.
1107 This is where we regret to say AVR has fallen short. We do not accept the argument that AVR has put forward that AVR's not-for-profit structure is the reasons for AVR's lack of success.
1108 All of the radio services represented on our panel operate on a not-for-profit basis yet, collectively, we generate advertising and other revenue from non-government sources that is sufficient to support a high quality of service.
1109 MS CHARLES: We estimate that approximately 10 percent of our consolidated revenue is derived from government sources and typically earmarked to support Aboriginal language programming, which has a difficult time attracting advertising revenue. Government support has actually been on a decline in recent years, so we are becoming more reliant on other revenue sources and being independent.
1110 We know that all Aboriginal radio stations are not in the same relatively fortunately as other -- as other stations we represent. A large number of Aboriginal services are located in remote and under-served areas, and don't have a local advertising base.
1111 We would not expect those stations to be able to survive without reasonable levels of assistance, but our experience here at this table shows that stations with sufficiency(sic) large footprints and audiences with their coverage area should be able to generate adequate revenue to be viable, or close to viable, on its own. The radio station's corporate structure, for-profit, not-for-profit, really has very little to do with it.
1112 MR. McLEOD: It's about delivering programming that will attract an audience and then building an advertising sales model on top of that. This is what AVR has not been able to do.
1113 This is regrettable because Aboriginal radio stations in large urban markets are not only viable, we think they're absolutely essential.
1114 We respectively(sic) submit, therefore, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, that at this time -- the time has come for us to try a different approach to Aboriginal radio in Canada's urban markets.
1115 MR. CROWFOOT: We ask that the CRTC not renew AVR's licences. Instead, we ask that the CRTC call for new applications for Aboriginal radio services in the market AVR is now licensed to serve. We understand AVR is putting forward new proposals and has suggested it has now developed a business plan going forward in these markets.
1116 There is no reason why AVR should not have the chance to make its case to the CRTC that AVR has a plan going forward. At the same time, there is no reason why other Aboriginal applicants should not be able to make a better case, if they can.
1117 We represent experienced, successful Aboriginal radio broadcasters of Canada, and believe it is time to consider Aboriginal broadcasters with a tried and true track record. It will probably not surprise you that we are highly interested in the exciting opportunities that these major markets represent for Aboriginal radio.
1118 Thank you for your time today, and we would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.
1119 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Vice-Chair Menzies will start us off.
1120 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Thank you.
1121 Maybe you could start off by just briefly giving us a little context as to the operations that each of you have in a sort of Coles Notes version.
1122 How long have you -- for instance, how long have you each been operating? Let's just start like that. I'll try to make it simple.
1123 MR. CROWFOOT: Okay. I represent Aboriginal Multi-Media, which covers most of Alberta. We have five high-powered transmitters, from 100,000 watts to 22 kilowatts. We serve approximately 60 Aboriginal communities in the north. We're also in Edmonton at the moment.
1124 Our regional signals are Moose Hills, which covers northeast Alberta, Fort McMurray, Lac La Biche and Slave Lake.
1125 We've been broadcasting for over 28 years. We generate approximately almost $3 million in revenue.
1126 MS CHARLES: Missinipi Broadcasting in La Ronge, Saskatchewan. We broadcast in La Ronge and we have a sales and marketing office in Prince Alberta.
1127 I have 30 staff, and we're in the major city markets in Regina, Saskatoon, Yorkton, North Battleford, all of the north, so we're pretty much top of the province to the bottom.
1128 In Saskatchewan, there's five languages. There's Cree, Dene, Michif, Nakota and Soto. For the past 30 years, we've been broadcasting in Cree, Dene, Michif. We are now offering Nakota and Soto, and we will sprinkle them over the network in the next little while.
1129 Within Missinipi Broadcasting, there are subsidiary companies. In my bingo operations, I make $1.3 million. In my advertising, I am at 1.7. My Heritage Canada for my language, just for my languages is $320,000.
1130 I was successful this year in getting another grant for Aboriginal language initiatives which is an online publication. It's an animated series which was $56,000.
1131 Other Saskatchewan grants that I was able to attain was Saskatchewan Arts Board for $10,000. In Saskatchewan, with the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority, there is a challenge there. We are having a competition or we are financially struggling. We are losing our bingo revenues to casinos or slots in the communities that don't have a casino. So Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority offer grants that if you don't meet your quota you are given a grant. So last year I was -- have $100,000 in those as well. So I think that summarizes my operation.
1132 MR. McLEOD: I'm again with Native Communications Incorporated. It has been operating in Manitoba since 1971. We run a full network throughout the province, Winnipeg to Churchill. We have 59 transmitters. Two transmitters are 100,000 watts. We also have an urban station based in Winnipeg called Rhythm 104.7 which received its licence in 2009.
1133 In terms of some of our programming, we offer language programming in Cree, also in Ojibway.
1134 We are very involved with the Aboriginal music scene. We share a two hour weekly top 40 program called The National Aboriginal Music Countdown with networks across Canada.
1135 More recently, in January, it began to air on Sirius XM as well, so we are pretty happy about that.
1136 Our revenues come from radio sales, from bingo sales. Our largest bingo prize that we have paid out is $2.7 million.
1137 We also work with the communities to get airtime, so we are quite involved with the community that way and we love what we do.
1138 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Mr. Smith...?
1139 MR. SMITH: Thank you. I'm the CEO of Northern Native Broadcasting in Terrace. We have been in existence since -- it will be 27 years this December.
1140 We have a staff of about 18 -- of 18 people, and a board of five who are an all Aboriginal board not on -- all Aboriginal board of five people who are CEOs themselves. Our revenues last year, this past fiscal year is $1.7 million and we received $228,000 from Heritage Canada.
1141 And the population -- we are based out of Terrace, B.C. and the population of Terrace is 15,000 maximum. So it is a very small market and we are -- and yeah, we have been successful for the past number of years now. We have a staff that has been onboard with us for a number of years. Our sales staff is an all Aboriginal staff of four people.
1142 And, yeah, that's about it in a nutshell.
1143 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Thanks. Have any of you ever been off the air for non-technical reasons for any length of time?
1144 MS CHARLES: Not for Missinipi.
1145 MR. CROWFOOT: No, we have never been off the air other than power outages.
1146 MR. McLEOD: Yes, I can say we haven't been off the air for non-technical reasons as well.
1147 MR. SMITH: Same with us.
1148 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Thank you.
1149 Has AVR been good for Aboriginal broadcasting? They make the point that they are necessary for serving that community.
1150 MR. CROWFOOT: I think that there is a need for an Aboriginal service. Where we operate in Edmonton we have -- most of our listeners are Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal. I was talking to one person and he said he loves listening to us, but every once in a while a pow wow breaks out and he -- I mean but that's just how we have been.
1151 You know, there is a need. We do -- in the mornings if school buses aren't running, we make sure that the communities know that, you know, this is taken care of, so yes, there is an absolute need for an Aboriginal signal in rural and urban centres.
1152 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Okay. In terms of news content, AVR made a very generalist argument and I just want to test that against what it is that you do. How do you or do you shape your news coverage or public affairs coverage specifically to an Aboriginal audience?
1153 MR. CROWFOOT: We also publish in a national Aboriginal newspaper called Windspeaker. The model that we have been following or converting to is much like the major chains and that we are not having news reporters, but we have news gatherers and that person will go out and cover a major event, whether it be a protest or whether it be something that's happening in Alberta and they come back to the station. They edit video for -- that's our plan is to add a video for the Web, do a print version and then also do the audio for radio. We have developed or we are in the process of developing a news department that is serving all of our services.
1154 MR. McLEOD: Yes. We provide news throughout the day from from six a.m. until five o'clock.
1155 Outside of the news we also have a -- we air two talk programs. One is called "All My Relations". It's a one-hour program where we have community people come into the studio and they share with us if it's a -- it could be any number of issues and that program is quite popular. The host of that program, Rosanna Dearchild, also does work with CBC with a program called "Unreserved". We rebroadcast that program. It is a relationship we have been able to establish with CBC because of the expertise of our staff. They came to us and we actually worked together on that.
1156 Yes, so we are quite involved. I think radio is cost-effective. It's immediate and I think people recognize that within the community so it is certainly something that we keep our open door policy whenever we can.
1157 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Just to be clear on that, I guess what I was trying to get to, is there anything about the nature of your news assignment coverage that differs markedly from the argument put forward by AVR?
1158 MR. CROWFOOT: Our news people aren't self-assigned. Basically we have a news editor that would assign stories. If there are leads they are not going to write the story and then come and see if it's good. They will come to us with the lead and if it's something that we would like to cover than they are assigned and then they go out and cover it.
1159 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: But just in terms of determining what you want to cover, is there sort of a priority that you go through in terms of this is news that would be more specific to an Aboriginal? It would have a higher -- people from the Aboriginal community would be more interested in this story than necessarily the other stories?
1160 MR. CROWFOOT: All of our news or most of our news is Aboriginal. We feel that the mainstream radio stations do a good enough job covering the other stuff. We do comment on it, but it's not the major source of news for us.
1161 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Ms Charles, you were --
1162 MS CHARLES: I was just going to say in our -- the Director of News, Kelly Provost, we have story meetings and he assigns which news, which event, but I think in our unique situation is we do the segments in the languages, what's upcoming in the afternoon, what we are going to cover. And I think that that's what the audience wants, but more so with the Elders that's attracted to them.
1163 MR. McLEOD: Yes. We certainly, you know, pride ourselves in being the voice of the community, so I guess what we would say is mainstream at times would put forth a story within the community. But often it's soundbites, where I think our obligation is to give more than soundbites that people might get from mainstream. So in terms of how we cover news, I think you could say there are similarities, but I think there is definitely differences in how we cover news as well.
1164 MR. SMITH: Me?
1165 We have a news staff of three, including our Director, and our reach is 50 -- our network reach is 50 communities throughout the top half of B.C. And we take pride in the coverage of our news, which covers not just Terrace but all the -- you know, the majority of the communities in the outlying areas.
1166 To give you an example of our coverage, out here we are experiencing more earthquakes than ever before. There was one major one that hit off Hydaguay about two years ago, two and a half years ago. This hit after midnight one evening and our news department rose to the occasion. They were on the air until five a.m. that morning just giving out -- handing out information on a minute by minute basis, updates and et cetera.
1167 So, yes, I think legitimacy is most important when providing news coverage. Thank you.
1168 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Thank you.
1169 So two questions and sort of an answer -- give one answer. Has AVR had any commercial impact on any of you and would any of you be advantaged commercially if they were to -- if their licence was not renewed?
1170 MR. CROWFOOT: AVR hasn't affected us in Edmonton where we have a signal along with them. We are not in Calgary yet so there has been no impact there. They are not selling advertising and we are so, like I said, there hasn't been -- no effect yet.
1171 MS CHARLES: No effect. No impact in Saskatchewan.
1172 MR. McLEOD: No effect. No impact in Manitoba.
1173 MR. SMITH: (Off microphone).
1174 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: So none of you have anything to gain if AVR were to discontinue? There is no commercial --
1175 MR. CROWFOOT: No.
1176 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: -- upset?
1177 MR. CROWFOOT: Like I said, we are both in Edmonton so there wouldn't be a gain.
1178 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: How is your relationship with the advertisers on a national level? All of you seem -- indicated that advertising is your primary source of revenue at this stage and I'm just trying to get a feel for -- I mean it's obviously -- it's a challenge running these operations and I'm just trying to get a sense in terms of AVR's plan to attract a lot of advertisers and your own plans or your own activities.
1179 How open are advertising agencies and the advertising market in general to reaching your audiences and what are the -- and in those what are the key categories that get sold? Is it auto?
1180 MR. CROWFOOT: We have -- about when the Association first formed about 10 years ago, we felt a need. There was -- for us to be totally transparent with each other, to sit down and work together.
1181 And what we did was brought all our sales managers together and they started sharing ideas of, okay, this works for us and this didn't work. They actually are here with us today, Darryl, and Paul from my organization; Darryl from Deborah's. And what they were doing this past week was Monday they were in Montreal meeting with agencies there. Yesterday they met with an agency in Ottawa here and so they have these trips twice or three times a year where they go to Vancouver, Calgary, wherever, and meet with the agencies to talk about the national campaigns.
1182 We have been successful in getting GM, Tim Horton's. Western Lotteries was with us for a while. And so these are the types of accounts that we have been getting as all national types.
1183 MR. McLEOD: Yes, just to add to that point, what we have is reach. You can't go to anywhere in Manitoba and buy advertising and have the whole province, to reach the whole province in one place. So I think that's what a lot of our networks offer that advertisers really like, plus it's cost-effective for them as well, so it works out for everyone.
1184 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Mr. Smith...?
1185 MR. SMITH: We have some companies like Safeway and, as Bert mentioned, Tim Horton's for example covered on a national (off microphone). We are at a disadvantage in terms of national potential revenues in that we are located in northern B.C. out of the way of the major centres.
1186 So this, the town that we are located in, as I mentioned, it is only a population of 15,000 and there are small urban centres in the surrounding area. So we don't -- I am confident to say that we haven't reached a potential in terms of national sales as compared to the major centres like Edmonton, Calgary and in Winnipeg as well.
1187 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Thank you.
1188 I just want to comment, and you don't all have to answer, but you are all free to respond to a couple of things Mr. Hill said this morning. He argued that the lack of a renewal for AVR would leave Aboriginal people unserved in those markets. What are your thoughts on that?
1189 MR. CROWFOOT: It's pretty hard to serve somebody when you are not on the air, especially in Ottawa. I know that listeners are fickle and if you are providing a good program they will be there listening, but as soon as you are off the air or there is something they don't like, they will push a button and go somewhere else. So it's important that the programming is provided to keep those people involved.
1190 I know that the loss of Aboriginal radio in a lot of these communities would be a disappointment, but then I think if there was a service that they could rely on, something that actually provided information that was pertinent to them -- I mean when I first talked with AVR about this national programming and I said, "You know, your morning show at six o'clock in the morning is actually three o'clock in the morning in Vancouver, B.C., you know, who is going to be up listening at those times?"
1191 So I was asking how they were planning on doing a morning show that could listen.
1192 But anyway, yes, I believe that would be a disappointment. But I think that if a better service came along that they would be happy.
1193 MR. McLEOD: Yeah, just to add to what Bert is saying, I sat before the Commission when AVR -- to support AVR at the very beginning and it is somewhat difficult to sit here now in this position years, many years later. But I do think that people -- I will echo that people do want a service that will provide a voice, that will support the talent, that will be unique, you know.
1194 And we have heard a lot about radio, too, but there is also, you know, you have to think about the online services. You have to think about the social media. I mean radio is changing and evolving very quickly as the Commission knows, and that is something that I think that needs to be made aware of, particularly that our community will change with technology. But those needs for programming that reflects who our audience is, is not going to go away.
1195 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: He also suggested, Mr. Hill did, that if we chose to go down the path that you are suggesting, that by the time a new operator launched his new plan would be up and running ahead of that and the audiences would be being served efficiently by then.
1196 So I would like your response to that.
1197 MR. CROWFOOT: Well, the numbers that they are projecting for revenue, you know, I would love to hire those guys to work for me because, you know, we have been doing it for 10 years and the amount of dollars that we are getting is nowhere near that. As far as a loss of a service, it's going to take money to keep it going and without money you are not able to hire news people. You are not able to hire a lot of people to make it happen.
1198 MR. LaROSE: The only comment I would make to the Commission to answer at this point is that past performance is the best indicator of future performance and, you know, why after the four or five tries that the Commission has provided, why would it be different this time?
1199 COMMISSIONER MENZIES: Mr. Hill also suggested that there are no other people with expertise, with the expertise or ability to serve Aboriginal people through radio. I was a little surprised by that, particularly that -- Mr. Crowfoot, you operate in the same market, that he appeared not to be aware of that, or that was how it appeared I guess to some.
1200 Anyway, I would like to hear your response to that comment where he suggested there are no other people with the experience or ability to serve Aboriginal people via radio.
1201 MS CHARLES: I will respond to that. Bert with AMMSA over here; me with Missinipi; David NCI and Greg in Northern Native Broadcasting in Terrace, altogether we have 130 years of Aboriginal radio success stories. I think we have a proven track record that we are successful Aboriginal radio, but also television producers and that we are founding members of the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network and we are 90 percent self-sufficient.
1202 MR. CROWFOOT: Well, I was a little offended, but considered the source and just let it go.
1203 There is -- you see, we are not-for-profits and that's not an excuse. And the reason we are successful is we run it like a business and that's the model we use. So you know, there are no shareholders other than the people who we serve. Any money we make we reinvest. We generate radio bingo which we invest in distribution and, like I said, we have plans for converting a lot of our smaller 10 watt transmitters into 20 kilowatts.
1204 You know, there are other opportunities in other parts of the province but we're not there yet. But the plan that we follow is that we don't proceed until we're ready, until we've got a solid foundation.
1205 And when I filed an intervention in 2000, November, I said that I supported AVR and I believed in the dream that they had but they were expanding too fast, you know. I said they need to establish Toronto, they need to build up their sales revenue, they need to establish a track record and then go for other licences. You know, I had the same dream and I'd hate for things to fall on their face and that's exactly what's happened. And, you know, the need is there, so I believe that it's time for a change.
1206 MR. McLEOD: I would just add that it's so hard to see that attitude exist here at the table at the hearing. That's partially why we're here. We want to represent Aboriginal radio in Canada and certainly represent that it can be successful, that we do have an audience, we do serve a purpose. And yes, we have been through -- you know, economically, there are definitely challenges, it's not rosy, but we have to be creative and find ways to succeed. We have to succeed.
1207 So, you know, I'm very happy that we're here today to put that message forward to the Commission.
1208 MR. CROWFOOT: One comment that he did make was that they had a passion for radio and, you know, the same thing goes for us, we have that same passion, the three of us here. I mean I've been doing this for 30 plus years. So it's not for -- I mean that's why we're here. It's for the people. It's for the upcoming generations, to see a lot of the young listening to some of our cultural programming and sharing it. I mean to me that's being able to preserve and share our culture.
1209 And even with non-Aboriginal people who listen to us, you know, they're quite interested. We have Cree lessons, you know, short 30-second ones, but, you know, we're trying to teach and preserve the language, and a lot of non-Aboriginal people as well as our youth who have lost their language are interested.
1210 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Those are my questions. My colleagues may have some.
1211 I might have just a few questions for you, and maybe the first one, I'm turning to you for your views and your perspective as expert Aboriginal broadcasters.
1212 Some of you who were in the audience earlier may have followed this but we had a discussion around condition of licence number 2, which relates to making sure that the distinct local news stories are defined in the condition of licence as some -- and here I'm quoting -- "material of direct and particular relevance to the Aboriginal community."
1213 If I were to put the following hypothesis in front of you, a newscast that involved five stories as follows: a story about the recovery of the former Mayor of Toronto, Mr. Ford, from his recent operation; a story about the Blue Jays, whatever it is, the results, trade of a player or player injury, whatever it might be; another story about the Maple Leafs, perhaps the fact that they still weren't in the Stanley Cup Finals this year; perhaps a story about the Toronto FC; and a fifth story about weather, and of course I'm assuming this is Toronto, in your expert view, would this constitute material of direct and particular relevance to the Aboriginal community?
1214 MR. CROWFOOT: No, it doesn't. It's something that is available on all the other stations. We need to provide -- I mean we'll make reference to it. I mean we still have sports fans and we still have people who are intrigued by the life and events in Mayor Ford's life, and so, I mean we'll make it but it's not a major topic, maybe it's just a comment.
1215 But we try to cover the news and we'll start on a national level and then a provincial level and then a local level. And then it changes throughout the day. I mean our people come in, in the morning, at 6:00 and take it from there.
1216 THE CHAIRPERSON: The others on the panel? Ms Charles, do you want to add?
1217 MS CHARLES: Just to echo what Bert was saying, that none of it would -- we could make reference to it but it certainly wouldn't be the top story. It would be if AFN news broke out, something regionally and something locally, and then it would be translated. In the morning, it would be Cree or Dene or Michif.
1218 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Mr. McLeod?
1219 MR. McLEOD: Yeah. I would say -- much like Bert, I would reference the same answer in terms of that we would reference those stories but definitely we would follow them up with Aboriginal content. So it's -- you know, our goal is to give the full perspective of non-Aboriginal mixed with Aboriginal news.
1220 THE CHAIRPERSON: So if you had a condition of licence like this, you wouldn't feel that you'd met it by doing those stories?
1221 MR. McLEOD: No.
1222 LE PRÉSIDENT : M. LaRose?
1223 M. LaROSE : Je dois avouer que probablement aucun de ces éléments-là ne ferait partie de notre bulletin de nouvelles.
1224 Il y a énormément de choses qui se passent dans nos communautés présentement, que ce soit les femmes disparues, que ce soit toute la question de l'environnement, la question de transport de gaz pétrolier et autres, les pipelines, et caetera.
1225 Si vous regardez les bulletins de nouvelles d'APTN, ce sont les sujets qui sont d'actualité, ce sont les sujets qui font la une de nos bulletins, et quand ça vient... les mentions sportives sont très rares, sauf peut-être à l'occasion. Si on mentionne que Carey Price est un citoyen de Première nation et qu'ils se sont rendus à tel point dans les finales, ça serait probablement la seule mention sportive qu'il y aurait sur nos bulletins de nouvelles.
1226 LE PRÉSIDENT : Merci.
1227 So, Mr. Smith, how about from your perspective?
1228 MR. SMITH: Yes. I mentioned earlier we do take pride in our coverage of news items. Our reach is approximately 100,000 people in the northern half of British Columbia and I did mention earlier that our news coverage does in fact cover stories of Aboriginals or stories of issues that affect Aboriginals in general.
1229 Like, for example, there's a lot of development going on in B.C., Northern B.C. in terms of LNG. So we cover stories like that that impact -- basically, those kinds of stories would impact a lot of Aboriginal communities, with the pipeline and that type of -- so we would cover types of stories, you know, where it has an impact on the Aboriginal population one way or another, directly or indirectly.
1230 I mentioned we've got a news department of three staff and we do cover stories like from Williams Lake, Prince George area, all along our network. So the pride that we take is the relevance. It's local news and yeah, I don't see any relevance in national coverage other than if it's impacting us indirectly or whatever.
1231 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thank you.
1232 There was also some discussion about how expensive it is to do news gathering and some have often met that challenge by creating partnerships with other broadcasters or entities that you could share the risk with.
1233 Have any of you ever been approached by AVR to cooperate in terms of news gathering or news coverage or even programming more generally?
1234 MR. CROWFOOT: We've never been approached.
1235 THE CHAIRPERSON: Mr. Charles? No.
1236 Mr. McLeod?
1237 MR. McLEOD: No, we have not.
1238 LE PRÉSIDENT : M. LaRose? Non?
1239 M. LaROSE : Non.
1240 THE CHAIRPERSON: Mr. Smith?
1241 MR. SMITH: No.
1242 THE CHAIRPERSON: No.
1243 Now, you're taking the position that we should not renew these licences and you've had a discussion with Vice-Chair Menzies about, you know, the impact that might have on the community that would lose I guess a certain amount of service.
1244 I was wondering if you've nevertheless come to the conclusion that revocation -- sorry, non-renewal is important, as opposed to a mandatory order combined with a short-term renewal, as a better means of achieving continued service, why do you believe that you have to go that extra step of non-renewal?
1245 MR. CROWFOOT: As Mr. LaRose mentioned, you know, past performance is a pretty good indicator of future performance. So I see it as a desperate move.
1246 LE PRÉSIDENT : M. LaRose?
1247 M. LaROSE : La seule chose que j'aimerais ajouter, qui m'a surpris ce matin un peu, c'est le fait que l'équipe qui serait en place ne comprend aucune personne autochtone du consultant qui est embauché.
1248 Ayant l'expérience de développer un réseau qui nous a permis... qui nous a forcés à créer du talent, à développer du talent, à créer des formations, différents programmes, un mentorat pour des jeunes autochtones et souvent des pas si jeunes que ça, afin de pouvoir développer la capacité d'avoir notre propre réseau, d'avoir notre propre service de nouvelles, notre propre service de programmation, je crois que c'est...
1249 Je n'ai rien entendu ce matin qui me porterait à croire que ce serait vraiment un poste de réseau autochtone, sauf peut-être en nom, et je crois que ce serait possiblement rendre un service qui ne serait pas à la hauteur de ce que notre communauté est en droit d'attendre d'un service de radiodiffusion national autochtone.
1250 THE CHAIRPERSON: And if your view is that this particular licensee is not meeting the needs of the Aboriginal community and you're nevertheless willing to accept a periodic loss of service until a new service is available, what would your reaction be from the perspective of the Aboriginal community were we to not wait for the end of the licence and go immediately to a revocation, which is an option which is also on the table? What are your views on that?
1251 MR. LaROSE: Well, I think that certainly is the Commission's decision to make. We think that certainly the community would probably react in some way. They would feel a sense of loss. Just the fact that, you know, it is after all the Aboriginal Voices Radio Network, they would feel that they may have lost something for a temporary period of time.
1252 But if it came with the decision of the Commission that it would be followed by a process to open it to other entities who wish to offer a truly national Aboriginal radio service, I think that many in the community would actually be supportive of such an approach and would wait to see the outcome.
1253 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
1254 Any contrary views of the other panel members? So you agree, therefore, I guess with that view? Okay.
1255 Those are our questions. Yes, those are our questions. Thank you very much. Thanks. Thank you very much.
1256 We'll now to go Phase 3.
1257 Madame la Secrétaire.
1258 THE SECRETARY: We will now proceed to Phase 3, in which Aboriginal Voices Radio Inc. can reply to all interventions submitted on its item.
1259 I would ask them to come to the presentation table.
1260 THE SECRETARY: Just a short break.
1261 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, we'll take a break. We'll be back at 3:00. That's an eight-minute break. Is that good enough? Yes, okay. Thank you.
--- Upon recessing at 1451
--- Upon resuming at 1501
1262 LE PRÉSIDENT : À l'ordre, s'il vous pla�t.
1263 Please go ahead for your reply.
1264 MR. HILL: If I could, one quick question, Mr. Chairman. The time for our reply is five or 10 minutes? We just want to --
1265 THE SECRETARY: You have 10 minutes.
1266 THE CHAIRPERSON: Ten minutes.
1267 MR. HILL: Thank you, okay. That's what we thought.
1268 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
1269 MR. HILL: Okay. We just want to make a couple of points.
1270 We want to thank you once again.
1271 I would like to introduce our lawyer Katherine Hensel, sitting to my left, your right, and Lewis Cardinal, Executive Vice-President, is sitting up here with us.
1272 Regarding my comments about getting stations up and running and viable and serving the market, and I've used the term "in a robust way, in a high-quality manner," and I want to say that the CAAB members are not in markets as competitive as AVR and have not operated in those markets, and I want to clarify what I mean by that, the number of large urban markets. They do not have the experience in operating in those markets.
1273 We did a survey on listenership, gaining listeners relative to CRTC statistics. Based upon our BBM numbers of having over half a million listeners in Toronto, we looked at our expenses and what the average expenses were of other broadcasters and we have found through statistics that we were very efficient at gaining listeners with our small amount of revenues based upon our programming. So that was a positive thing that happened with AVR that hasn't come out. We've had many, many successes.
1274 Regarding the other CAAB members, they have not had the same conditions of licence as AVR and in particular in the amount of talk programming, which I think the Commission would agree can be one of the more expensive types of programming to put on-the-air.
1275 Another comment I would like to make about approaching CAAB, whether AVR had approached CAAB members, and I think the reciprocal was -- I mean we did approach CAAB members but the reciprocal is they have not approached us to share programming with us either. I mean I don't want to cast aspersions but, to be fair, we were not approached either.
1276 But we did approach them to talk to them about the future of radio and we did that twice, and when we did that, they did not want to focus on a discussion of that, they wanted to talk about gaining AVR's licences. And this happened some time ago. Our Chairman of the Board, Will Campbell, went to visit CAAB members twice.
1277 So I want to say that -- I don't want it said that we've been avoiding them. I don't want to have that impression on the public record. We have tried to go and meet with them and have tried to work with them.
1278 The support of AVR -- and I would like to use the letters of intervention as one measure -- has been very large. We have gotten emails over the years supporting our programming. We've gotten a lot of support in our networking throughout the community and we have, each licence renewal term, just a multitude of letters of support from people supporting AVR and Aboriginal radio. Both of those are in there.
1279 And as far as working with non-Aboriginal people, the vast majority of Aboriginal organizations that we are aware of work with non-Aboriginal experts and I would contend -- I don't personally know this but I've been told this -- that members of CAAB also have several non-Aboriginal people working in key positions. So I would like to say this is a fairly normal situation.
1280 The population in the Aboriginal communities is not as large as the greater population and of course there is much experience out there in the non-Aboriginal community that Native organizations typically utilize for their expertise and for their track record and what they can achieve. In order to assist and improve the lives of Aboriginal people, it's very important that we have a cultural concept of inclusiveness and working with all peoples, and that plays out in how we work with other people.
1281 As far as Bray's team being Aboriginal people in the future, it is not determined for the future of the business plan which people will be Aboriginal specifically. The current team that was sitting behind us and some of Mr. Bray's key personnel were not Aboriginal, which he said, but as far as the future we have not worked out which people are Aboriginal because we have to go and find those people.
1282 We certainly have had an Aboriginal preference in hiring, which we can demonstrate. Our Board is all Aboriginal and our community members are all Aboriginal. So we do work to employ and work with Aboriginal people as a preference but we do not exclude other people. And if someone who's non-Aboriginal has an expertise or a skill or a track record which we think would help us deliver the service to our people that they deserve, then we have utilized them and we would continue to try to utilize them.
1283 So if I can make a closing statement, Mr. Chairman.
1284 I want to thank you for having us here today. We want to reiterate that we do take any of our compliance issues very seriously. Every issue that you raised is grave and we do understand that today's hearing was necessary.
1285 We hope that we have been able to communicate that we own our mistakes and we regret them but we do have a viable plan for the future to come into compliance very quickly and to serve Aboriginal people in a higher quality manner in the future across all of our markets in all five of our radio stations.
1286 So we do hope that you will give us an opportunity to implement the plan and put a very good service into place that will serve our communities.
1287 And I want to say thank you to all of you and thank you to CRTC staff members as well for this opportunity.
1288 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, thank you very much. We don't have any follow-up questions on your presentation. So thank you.
1289 MR. HILL: Okay. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
1290 THE CHAIRPERSON: This item is ended and we will adjourn until 10:00 tomorrow morning. Thank you very much.
Close of Hearing at 1508
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