ARCHIVED - Transcript, Hearing Februrary 2, 2016
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Location: Gatineau, Quebec
Date: Februrary 2, 2016
© Copyright Reserved
Attendees and Location
140 Promenade du Portage
- Chairman: Jean-Pierre Blais
- Members: Candice Molnar, Yves Dupras, Stephen Simpson, Christopher MacDonald
- Legal Counsel: Shari Fisher
- Secretary: Jade Roy
- Hearing Managers:
Guillaume Castonguay, Jean-Pierre Lefebvre
--- Upon resuming on Tuesday, February 2, 2016 at 9:00 a.m.
10885 LE PRÉSIDENT: À l'ordre, s'il vous plait.
10886 So it’s Groundhog Day, but whether groundhog sees their shadow or not, we still only have two days of hearings left.
10887 So, Madame la secrétaire.
10888 THE SECRETARY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and good morning.
10889 For the record, CIMC TV - Telile have advise us that they will not be appearing at the hearing.
10890 We will now hear Shaw Communications Inc. Please introduce yourself and your colleagues, and you will have 10 minutes to make your presentation.
10891 MR. MEHR: Good morning, Commissioner -- Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. My name is Jay Mehr and I’m Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. I’m joined in the room on my right by Katherine Emberly, our Vice President of Operations, who’s responsible for Shaw TV; and Troy Reeb, Senior Vice President, News and Station Operations. To my left are Morgan Elliott,
10892 Senior Vice President, Regulatory and Government Relations; and Dean Shaikh, Vice-President, Regulatory Affairs.
10893 Shaw welcomes this opportunity to discuss the future of local news and community television. There's a general agreement that local programming, especially local news, faces challenges and an uncertain future in an environment of countless new viewing platforms and limitless content choices.
10894 However, there's significant debate about the best way to address those challenges, and to ensure that the Canadian broadcasting system is continuing to meet the needs of Canadians.
10895 There can be no doubt that the way that Canadians live, communicate, and interact with the world is changing. However, our view is that the interests of Canadians and their demands for news and local reflection are well served by the critical, yet complementary roles of the internet, local stations and community channels.
10896 The internet and YouTube, matter. While the spirit of digital channels and aggregators is far more global than local, the internet has eliminated barriers to the ability of Canadians to tell their stories and to find content that meets their needs.
10897 Despite the emergence of the internet, local stations absolutely continue to matter. They remain the best source of local news, which has been recognized as one of the most important objectives under the Act. The ability to deliver a local newscast can define a network, unite communities and provide a critical differentiating tool in competition with unlicensed platforms.
10898 Community channels in this country also matter by telling in-depth and often positive stories about people, places, and events next door; representing and giving voices to a community’s diverse members in areas where traditional broadcasters are not always present; covering a breadth of topics in a meaningful way that is not possible for our local stations; reflecting and building stronger communities, serving a need unmet by the internet and local news. These channels are woven into the fabric of our local communities.
10899 In response to the Commission’s proposal, Shaw continues to favour innovation and efficiencies. Such an approach is consistent with the direction provided by the Commission less than four years ago when it eliminated LPIF and informed us that on a going-forward basis the broadcast industry as a whole will need to evolve and innovate in order to continue to provide high quality local programming whether through the traditional types of programming offered by local stations or by other means. We believe this statement remains absolutely true today.
10900 MR. REEB: Thank you, Jay. Let’s start with local news. Global News has a rich history of innovation that has attracted interest from broadcasters around the world. For example: we were the first network in North America to use virtual sets, first to employ remote production techniques and first to introduce the Mosart production automation system; and we were the first network in Canada to launch responsive design technology for online and mobile news.
10901 Thanks to these innovations and others, and without asking for subsidies, we now produce more local news on almost all of our Global stations than at any time in our history. And, we continue to set new records almost monthly for online and mobile traffic.
10902 Our relentless focus on the needs of viewers and our continuing efforts to innovate have now led to the development of what we call Multi-Market Content or MMC.
10903 Through MMC, we have created a centralized production unit in Toronto for newscasts in Halifax, New Brunswick, Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon and Kelowna. This model prioritizes frontline reporting over production and anchoring.
10904 And by doing so, it allows us to: maintain “feet on the street” coverage; provide live breaking news and sports updates; direct more resources to local stories as they unfold; and share content on multiple platforms as soon as it becomes available.
10905 While the production is centralized, the decisions about what stories to cover and how to cover them are still made at the local level. We readily acknowledge that the MMC model is also about generating efficiencies with significant savings in production costs, also reduced duplication of work and, we believe, a better allocation of resources. These cost-savings are critical to the sustainability of our news programming. However, to be clear, we are not suggesting that the MMC model will solve all the problems facing our local news or those of conventional television.
10906 MS. EMBERLY: Turning to community television, our community channel has always played an important but complementary role in the Canadian broadcasting system by providing local expression.
10907 We’ve prepared a video that demonstrates how Shaw TV fulfills the objectives of the Act and the Community Television Policy.
10908 (VIDEO PRESENTATION)
10909 MS. EMBERLY: The proposed initiatives in the working document seem to suggest that community TV should be more like local TV. Respectfully, community television is not the place for professional local news, especially given: the fact that local news is expensive to produce; and the possibility that less money may be available because of reallocations of contributions.
10910 The opportunity to advertise would not support a traditional local news broadcast or make up for lost funding. Furthermore, a reduction in access requirements would not provide an incentive to produce local news.
10911 Shaw TV is very proud of our access programming and partnerships.
10912 Since our last licence renewal, we have been focused on nurturing access by providing training and support that has increased the quantity and quality of access our productions. Access is a cornerstone of our work, but we can do even better. These hearings have been a spark for our team to work harder in the Lower Mainland where we have a very large and passionate producer community. We are committed to strengthening these relationships and giving a voice to as many community members as possible.
10913 MR. ELLIOTT: We are hopeful that, after this proceeding, Global News can remain at the leading edge of innovation and Shaw TV can continue to unite and reflect the local communities we serve.
10914 Our view is that intervenors have the burden of demonstrating that regulatory solutions and the creation of new funds are necessary or superior to the current balance between: allowing content, access opportunities and consumer control to thrive on unlicensed platforms; private investment by networks to an “extent consistent with the financial and other resources available to them”; public contributions through the CBC; and BDU contributions to local expression and community access through the community channel.
10915 Respectfully, the burden of justifying a new approach that serves the needs of Canadians has not been met.
10916 Therefore, unfortunately, we do not support either Initiative A or Initiative B in the Working Document. We are concerned that the creation of another fund would simply promote inefficiencies and, as we have explained, it is not realistic to expect Community TV to become a local news station in small markets.
10917 To be clear, our position is based on: a commitment to efficiencies and innovation; and a desire for an approach to local news and community reflection that puts first the needs of Canadian viewers and our customers first.
10918 Thank you, and we look forward to answering your questions.
10919 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.
10920 I’m always looking carefully at words being used, and obviously you’ve been following the hearing. Thank you for that.
10921 So I’ll start off asking questions. First I’m going to explore on the area more on the BDU side and then I’ll move to television a little later and some related issues.
10922 So on the distribution side -- and I guess here I’m thinking more on the cable distribution side more than the satellite -- how many systems do you have?
10923 MR. SHAIKH: We have 21 licensed systems and we have more than 140 exempt systems. Of those, 39, I believe, fall within the 2,000 to 20,000 range.
10924 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. You have been listening, so I didn’t even have to have the follow-up questions because you’ve already answered them.
10925 And in your view, how many communities do you serve? And here I’m really thinking about communities from a geographic, government, municipal organization perspective?
10926 MR. SHAIKH: Yeah, that’s been more challenging. It’s been a discussion we’ve had because we have 24 channels, 67 feeds, but as you can appreciate, our customers don’t think in terms of systems. So we’ve identified 380 unique communities that we serve.
10927 THE CHAIRPERSON: Three hundred and eighty (380); is that correct?
10928 MR. SHAIKH: That’s correct.
10929 THE CHAIRPERSON: And again, you anticipated my next question.
10930 So you believe you have 24 community channels. And are the feeds identical to the channels or are there specificities associated with those feeds?
10931 MR. SHAIKH: Katherine might be able to help out, but I think at various times, for certain channels, we do, you know, live inserts for things like municipal council meetings. So the feeds can vary at certain times.
10932 MS. EMBERLY: Yes, and there would also be an alphanumeric which would have local weather and anything specific that would run on the bottom.
10933 THE CHAIRPERSON: So why -- I mean, why wouldn’t you say there’s 67 channels then?
10934 MS. EMBERLY: We didn’t say that there were 67. We said there’s -- we consider 20 feed channels.
10935 THE CHAIRPERSON: But since the actual programming one each one of the 67 feeds are different, are they not sufficiently different, in your view, to be -- to constitute a different channel?
10936 MS. EMBERLY: The video content that would be running on those channels would be the 24 different versions. They would have some alternate alphanumeric that would be ---
10937 THE CHAIRPERSON: Just on the alphanumeric that would change. Okay. So I understood.
10938 So I misunderstood when you were talking about the municipal councils. So would that be video?
10939 MS. EMBERLY: Yes, we could insert and we do only during that time.
10940 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. You’ve confused me again.
10941 MS. EMBERLY: I’m so sorry.
10942 So let’s take the Lower Mainland, for example. We would have -- if we had a council or a school board coverage in New West, for example, we could split and run just in that area, but then it would switch back to the other feed after that council coverage.
10943 THE CHAIRPERSON: So your assessment is that whether it’s the alphanumeric unique to a particular territory or the diminimus amount of video feed, it’s so small that it essentially is 24 channels?
10944 MS. EMBERLY: Yes.
10945 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. And how many full-time employees do you have supporting the community channels?
10946 MS. EMBERLY: Two hundred and thirty-six (236).
10947 THE CHAIRPERSON: Two hundred and thirty-six (236).
10948 And how many volunteers would you, in any given years, be working with?
10949 MS. EMBERLY: Approximately 2,500.
10950 THE CHAIRPERSON: And is there an oversupply…
10951 I guess video is coming in from everywhere.
10952 So getting back to this, is there an oversupply of volunteers, in your view, or do you have difficulty recruiting?
10953 MS. EMBERLY: We would say there’s a difference between the large and small communities. So in the small communities, I would say there’s a bit of an undersupply where we really have to work hard to nurture that community. In large locations like the Lower Mainland, you have a very large and passionate volunteer community.
10954 THE CHAIRPERSON: And your ratio of full-time employees to volunteers is variable across your 24 channels or not, or is it about the same?
10955 MS. EMBERLY: It is the same. We would skew slightly heavier in the smaller communities just because you might have a very small community, so you might have one or two employees, and if you did the ratio, it would ---
10956 THE CHAIRPERSON: That’s because there are more employees in smaller communities because there’s a limit to how many ---
10957 MS. EMBERLY: How few ---
10958 THE CHAIRPERSON: --- fractions of employees you can put?
10959 MS. EMBERLY: Correct.
10960 THE CHAIRPERSON: And what is the churn of volunteers? I mean, do they have a -- is there a lifecycle, a natural lifecycle? Maybe you can tell me a little bit more about that in your experience.
10961 MS. EMBERLY: We would say you would have a variety of groups, and we have some volunteers that have volunteered with us for 30 -- over 30 years, and then there are others that kind of come and go as their interests wane.
10962 We work very hard to kind of cultivate lots of new voices to the channel, so we’re always trying to find new people to come and share their stories.
10963 THE CHAIRPERSON: And if you were to comment on the demographics of those volunteers, what was the picture you would draw?
10964 MS. EMBERLY: We would say we’ve got a very large variety of volunteers, but that’s through working hard at it. You know, we’ve been working with schools and film groups, et cetera, to try to get the younger voice to the table, but we also have many, you know, older folks and seniors that volunteer as well.
10965 THE CHAIRPERSON: Do you have a sense of what your medium age is?
10966 MS. EMBERLY: We don’t ask that information on our application form, so I -- I mean, if I was to take a speculation ---
10967 MR. SHAIKH: You can guess.
10968 MS. EMBERLY: I would say you’d probably be in your forties, most likely.
10969 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Others have said that in terms of the broader ecosystem, that the community channel plays an important role to help younger folks that might want a career in television or electronic media to get experience and build their CV. Is that your experience as well?
10970 MS. EMBERLY: Absolutely, and we have a lot of examples that we’re really proud of. We have a high school student in Winnipeg that recently volunteered and did a six-series sort of community story that he ran. We do really cultivate the younger folks. And you’ll see lots of people do want to have careers in the broadcast industry, so I think it’s a great start.
10971 THE CHAIRPERSON: And do any of your employees occupy functions outside of supporting the community channel?
10972 MS. EMBERLY: No, they don’t.
10973 THE CHAIRPERSON: So they’re 100 percent dedicated to the community channel?
10974 MS. EMBERLY: Yes.
10975 THE CHAIRPERSON: Are there any other compensations for people that aren’t of the 236 employees that are attributed to the community channel from an accounting perspective?
10976 MS. EMBERLY: Yes.
10977 Would you like to elaborate, Dean, on that?
10978 MR. SHAIKH: Sure. Is it fair to anticipate the indirect expenses question?
10979 THE CHAIRPERSON: Go right ahead.
10980 MS. SHAIKH: So we do allocate some overhead, which includes salaries at a corporate level to the community channel. That ends up with indirect expenses of around 28 percent, and that does include some salaries.
10981 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. And you have accounting manuals that set out how that allocation is done?
10982 MR. SHAIKH: There is an accounting formula that we’ve created and we’re preparing that in response to the undertaking.
10983 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. That’s good. So we’ll follow up on the undertaking a little later on with Legal to get that formally on the record.
10984 I take it by the same token that when there are shared non-HR resources, there’s also an allocation occurring? For instance, if you had a bricks and mortar presence in a particular community that’s also used, let’s say, for the non-community channel aspect to the cable company or even some of your other telecom business that there’s an allocation between the costs of depreciation eating and that sort of thing?
10985 MR. SHAIKH: Yeah, the formula does take into account square footage usage by the community channel.
10986 THE CHAIRPERSON: And that’s covered by your accounting manual, or rule, or ---
10987 MR. SHAIKH: Correct.
10988 THE CHAIRPERSON: --- formula that you mentioned earlier?
10989 MR. SHAIKH: Correct.
10990 THE CHAIRPERSON: And when we see that it will be clear on how you -- your methodology for that?
10991 MR. SHAIKH: Correct.
10992 THE CHAIRPERSON: Now, I see that you believe heartily in access programming. You believe that that is a strength of the community channel. Is that correct?
10993 MS. EMBERLY: Yes, absolutely.
10994 THE CHAIRPERSON: Why did I -- or maybe I misunderstood, but it seems to me in your written submission you seem to suggest that we should reduce from 50 to 30 percent the amount provided for in the framework. It seems inconsistent then to say if it’s so important and you believe in it that you still want it to be reduced. If you’re going to do it, what’s the harm of putting the 50 percent?
10995 MR. MEHR: That’s an excellent question, and it is a ---
10996 THE CHAIRPERSON: Is that a commentary on my other questions?
10997 MR. MEHR: No. The -- it’s an excellent question. It is -- I understand how it appears to be inconsistent. To be clear, we stand four-square with our community partnerships. Our approach to Shaw TV has really evolved over the years and we totally embrace what’s made possible through our community partnerships. I think the move from a 50 to 30 percent requirement was more of a reflection of our historical position and we don’t feel strongly about that.
10998 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. So whether it goes to 30 or stays at 50 you’re still going to go north of 50?
10999 MR. MEHR: We’re north of 50 and I think we’d be north of 50 in either requirement.
11000 THE CHAIRPERSON: How do you mediate, in a sense, the demand for access programming?
11001 MS. EMBERLY: That’s an excellent question as well. So we would say in most instances it’s very, very rare that we will not accept access programming. The rare instances might be something related to copyright, they might have used music or not had permission, or something slanderous. Often we’ll work with those producers to edit it so that it can get on the air. And most often it might be an instance of they’re not getting as much airtime or the airtime when they would like it. So it might be we might have six shows that are similar during a time period and we would say not right now but in six months we’d be happy to run that program.
11002 So, you know, we absolutely are committed to working with access partners, and I would say in -- you know, in all areas, the lower mainland is certainly the area where you have just a huge volume of people wanting to work with access.
11003 THE CHAIRPERSON: How do you ensure healthy relationships when you’re trying to balance a diversity of ethno-cultural diversities, linguistic diversities, official language community diversity, First Nations and Aboriginal realities as well? So how do you do all that?
11004 MS. EMBERLY: Well, we’re really proud that we have all of that that you have just mentioned on the channel, and that’s something that all of our employees really take to heart. And that is what we’re trying to do; we’re trying to give diversity of voices not just some small groups. So we do go out and try to get all of the groups. We’ve got in language programs. We’ve really reached into the community to try to have a very diverse voice.
11005 THE CHAIRPERSON: So you do so proactively?
11006 MS. EMBERLY: Yes, we do.
11007 THE CHAIRPERSON: You follow the hearing. There’s obviously some people that are critical ---
11008 MS. EMBERLY: Yes.
11009 THE CHAIRPERSON: --- of it. And, in fact, you know, reading between the lines there’s definitely an admission on page 6 of your oral presentation today when you talk about the lower mainland.
11010 Why do you have to wait for a regulatory hearing to react?
11011 MS. EMBERLY: Well, the wonderful thing about the lower mainland is there’s a large and passionate producer community. The challenging thing about the lower mainland is there’s a large and passionate community.
11012 We don’t think we’ve waited for the hearing. When we had our licence renewal it was at that time that we took very seriously how to work closer. We’ve changed our leadership in the lower mainland. We’ve made it very clear every one of our employees in the lower mainland is partnered with an access producer and accountable for access content.
11013 So we’ve worked very hard, but clearly we have not worked hard enough, and we think we would -- you know, we would love to sit at the table with all of the parties. There’s many different solutions to some of the challenges and questions that are coming up and we’re committed to working on those.
11014 THE CHAIRPERSON: What do you say to those that have come to the hearing and saying, you know, the community sector by definition should be not-for-profit, should be independent, should be -- have access to the subsidiaries -- the subscriber funding, because in a sense it’s not really your money, subscriber’s ultimate money, but that they should nevertheless have access to your systems for distribution?
11015 MR. MEHR: For sure it’s not our money. For sure it’s not our money, and we spend a lot of time with our Shaw TV team, and while our Shaw TV team, I think, like working for Shaw that’s not why they’re there, they’re there to serve the community. Many of them have done their life’s work around service. And when you talk about what they get excited about it’s the community service aspect it’s not working for a cable company.
11016 We think there’s a method to being a steward of community channels. We think there’s shared infrastructure. We think there’s training. We think there’s a need to shepherd and balance the situation.
11017 Would it be better off somehow for a third party to do that? I don’t know what that would accomplish. It’s hard for us to imagine it would create a more efficient way to steward the community interest.
11018 THE CHAIRPERSON: Would you agree with other BDUs to the effect that were we to go down that road obviously the authority to do that community-based not-for-profit community service should not be on your licence?
11019 MR. MEHR: I’m not sure I understand the distinction.
11020 MR. SHAIKH: We would certainly agree with that position.
11021 THE CHAIRPERSON: And what do you think about the notion of us having to licence -- I know you don’t want any changes, but we’re not holding a hearing just to say oh, well then Shaw doesn’t want any changes we’re going to move on. We still have to ask the questions. So we were to go down the road, how would we deal with a licensing approach for all these not-for-profit groups?
11022 MR. SHAIKH: Yeah, I think we would resist the sort of hypothetical approach to how to licence other forms of the community channel. I think the historical approach where the cable company has an obligation really to offer a community channel is superior to any effort to licence some other group.
11023 THE CHAIRPERSON: Have you ever been approached by individuals or groups of individuals that wanted to launch what -- for a few more days we’re still calling Category B discretionary service that would have a community content vocation and seeing if you’d be interested in distributing that.
11024 MR. SHAIKH: Each one of us can answer that. I mean, I think it’s a challenging environment right now to successfully launch new services and find capacity to carry those services. I think there’s a lot of uncertainty obviously with what’s coming ahead this year.
11025 So you’ve done the right thing by making it easy for people to effectively launch a service without initially seeking a licence and having a threshold of a number of subscribers. It will be challenging to guarantee carriage and I think it will be difficult for us to support carriage of additional channels.
11026 THE CHAIRPERSON: What would they have to bring to you as evidence? So I take it would have to be more likely in a metropolitan area where there’d even be enough audience to make the economics of that work. Is that correct?
11027 MR. SHAIKH: I think even in large metropolitan areas it would be difficult to support the launch of new sort of community channels and carry those channels.
11028 THE CHAIRPERSON: If a group approached you, what would you be looking for?
11029 MR. SHAIKH: That’s probably a better question for you, Jay.
11030 MR. MEHR: I mean, I think we would evaluate it in the same way as we would evaluate carriage of other channels, other news services, and we’d be interested in the business model and what it made possible for our customers.
11031 We -- the way that the cable plant is distributed, we have a limited number of carriers from a bandwidth perspective on a linear basis. We have a lot more flexibility on on-demand, on IP, and certainly on our TV everywhere, free-range TV. So there may be other platforms that would enable us to figure out a way to get there, perhaps even outside of the regulated system on free-range TV or a platform like that.
11032 THE CHAIRPERSON: But the challenge will be in that model that the economics might now work, right, because you wouldn’t have a very large distribution and therefore likelihood of having advertising revenue or sponsorship revenues just wouldn’t be there?
11033 MR. MEHR: Yes, if you think of the other side of the story and the challenges facing local news, it would be even a bigger problem here, wouldn’t it, on this model?
11034 THE CHAIRPERSON: M'hm.
11035 MR. MEHR: And local news fundamentally has an advertising problem and I would think this service would too in most instances.
11036 That having been said, we’re not against innovation. If people can find a model that can work, it would be valuable to our customers.
11037 THE CHAIRPERSON: But you remain convinced that the better model is to ensure to do this through BDUs, traditional BDUs’ stewardship?
11038 MR. MEHR: We do remain convinced of that. We do want to be clear to your previous question about us not being open to changes. We’re quite open to changes and quite open to having a discussion about better models today.
11039 We didn’t propose a model, because it’s hard and we didn’t come up with one that we thought was better than the current one, but we’re certainly not saying there aren’t things that could get better and certainly challenges in local news.
11040 So we’re open to other models.
11041 THE CHAIRPERSON: You did use the word “stewardship” earlier and I think that may be a very important word. So what do you mean by “stewardship”?
11042 “Stewardship” I take it has obligations associated with it?
11043 MR. MEHR: Absolutely.
11044 THE CHAIRPERSON: Duties.
11045 MR. MEHR: Yes, absolutely.
11046 It’s a word -- it’s a word that is used every day by our team. And I’m always -- I’ve always taken it to mean that we’re shepherding something that is not ours.
11047 We’re shepherding something that belongs to the community and that our perspective and the way we make decisions and the way we allocate resources should be in service of the community not -- we operate the other parts of our businesses for profit operations and they’re motivated by for-profit motives.
11048 We don’t see any profit in the way we operate SHAWTV and that’s why we use the word “stewardship”.
11049 THE CHAIRPERSON: My impression -- and maybe it’s a wrong impression. Correct me if I am wrong. Is that your systems do a lot of local sports. Would that be fair, compared to some of the other BDUs?
11050 MR. MEHR: We do a percentage of local sports. Certainly Western Hockey League is our most watched -- is our most watched service, although it’s not a huge number of games.
11051 I don’t think that would be correct to say that we have a higher percentage of sports than, for example, Rogers would have. That’s not my impression.
11052 THE CHAIRPERSON: And volunteers are involved in that -- the taping of the -- well not taping. You do it live obviously but the recording and production of it?
11053 MR. MEHR: Absolutely.
11054 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right?
11055 MR. MEHR: Absolutely. And it’s something volunteers like to be involved in too. So it’s something that -- it’s easy to get volunteers to do; right?
11056 THE CHAIRPERSON: We often hear that sports is probably something that continues to attract a great deal of audiences. You’ve mentioned it. Can that be monetized and do you?
11057 MR. MEHR: We do -- we do sell sponsorships and for sure our biggest sponsorships are in -- on WHL. All of that goes back into the programming.
11058 Our sponsorships don’t really make money and aren’t material -- don’t make serious money and aren’t a material part of the financial equation at SHAWTV.
11059 But there are certainly opportunities.
11060 THE CHAIRPERSON: And you’re talking about sponsorship in a very limited sense so it’s not advertising?
11061 MR. MEHR: Yes, you can’t ask for an order. You can’t sell something. You can’t make claims about your product, but you can sponsor the broadcast.
11062 THE CHAIRPERSON: You seem to be favorable, however, for some flexibility with respect to advertising? At least in your written set of comments.
11063 MR. MEHR: Yes, for sure. We don’t see any harm in increased flexibility. I think it’s fair to characterize our high level position one is we think the model that we have today is the best model until a better model comes along and so we’re not strongly advocating to shift some of those rules, but we did submit them because we think there’s probably some value in flexibility.
11064 THE CHAIRPERSON: Would you target that flexibility to particular types of programming or would you do it across the board, on advertising?
11065 MR. MEHR: Yes it’s interesting. I think one of the things we haven’t been good at is figuring out how to monetize our non-sports content in terms of sponsorship.
11066 There is a -- there’s a tremendous sense of pride in philanthropy in the kinds of things that we’re involved in. And there’s probably an angle for us to go down that path and create some additional funding from businesses and members in the community.
11067 It hasn’t -- our team isn’t kind of wired this way and so it hasn’t really been the focus of the exercise but there may be an opportunity there.
11068 THE CHAIRPERSON: This hearing is a bit about local news and information and I take your point that, you know, you don’t certainly on the community channel currently do classic news and information, but there is information programming.
11069 If it’s about -- if the issue is about providing more of that in the broadcasting system, wouldn’t it be more normal to associate revenues from additional advertising to that initiative as opposed to -- and I have nothing against cooking shows, but let’s say cooking shows?
11070 MR. MEHR: I think that suggestion is a valid one and we agree that it’s that kind of community information programming telling the local stories that is the most valuable piece of the service that is community television.
11071 So a linkage to channel sponsorship revenues towards that type of programming, I think, that is an interesting proposal.
11072 THE CHAIRPERSON: By the same token would you agree that if we’re examining the struggle of local OTAs, that perhaps creating flexibility for more advertising on the community channel -- I’m not talking about sponsorship, but advertising, may have a detrimental effect, an undue effect on local over the air broadcasters who might want that revenue for supporting your news programming?
11073 MR. MEHR: Sure. I guess the -- it’s hard to -- the -- we’d have to grow sponsorship by 30 or 50 X for it to be relevant to the cost structure of local news.
11074 THE CHAIRPERSON: So you can’t --
11075 MR. MEHR: We’re not in that world.
11076 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- can’t even imagine that you’d be able to open that market enough to have any undue impact on the ad market?
11077 MR. MEHR: Yes.
11078 THE CHAIRPERSON: Whether on radio, T.V., specialties.
11079 MR. MEHR: Yes.
11080 THE CHAIRPERSON: Across the board?
11081 MR. MEHR: If our sponsorship on SHAWTV isn’t the problem. We’re not in the magnitude of -- it’s just a different magnitude of numbers.
11082 THE CHAIRPERSON: We’ve heard a lot in this hearing about the need to put some of this programming, community based programming, particularly access programming online and I wanted to explore if there are any barriers to that.
11083 So let’s first deal with copyright. So on access programming, how do you -- I mean, to be able to put things online you have to sort of clear the --
11084 MS. EMBERLY: Sure.
11085 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- the title to the programming. How do you do that?
11086 MS. EMBERLY: Well first we would say this is an area we’re extremely proud of the innovation and direction that we’ve gone and we can share some of that with you today.
11087 When it comes to copyrights the access producer owns the copyright to that information. So if they would like us to distribute digitally and we do, we just need them to sign that permission to us.
11088 If we coproduce it we own it together or if it’s content produced by ourselves. So we share a lot of that content online in fact we had over 10 million YouTube views of community television content last year.
11089 We had over 750,000 visits to our community channels online and we have over 30 separate channels, digital channels, that we distribute on.
11090 THE CHAIRPERSON: And I take it most of these producers are individuals? They don’t incorporate??
11091 MS. EMBERLY: No most of them are individuals. We do have some that are TVCs that are a little bit more sophisticated there, but the vast majority not so ---
11092 THE CHAIRPERSON: And would most agree to provide you, I guess, a licence of some sort to do it?
11093 MS. EMBERLY: Yes. I think all producers want their content to be seen and that’s really what we help them do.
11094 And so a great example is we have a show in Calgary called Bonjour Alberta and -- so that show airs first on the community channel, then we put it on YouTube and then they also put it on their website as well.
11095 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
11096 MS. EMBERLY: So through all of those channels it’s being shared.
11097 THE CHAIRPERSON: Is there a standard? Like I -- it’s probably not like pay television with clear windows but even those are leaving the marketplace, but -- so how -- what is the standard or the rough standard in terms of how many days before it gets flipped to another platform?
11098 MS. EMBERLY: In some cases we’re doing almost 24 hours. In other cases it could be up to a week and a lot of it depends on the ability for us to actually have the hands -- to do -- to do that content.
11099 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right. So the delay is -- is not to protect some sort of window, it is more the technicalities; is that correct?
11100 MS. EMBERLY: Yes.
11101 THE CHAIRPERSON: Is that correct?
11102 MS. EMBERLY: Yes, it’s just more a volume of work, and I think, you know, we do like to air it on the channel first if we can. But at the end of the day, we want eyeballs on this content and that's what we’re aiming to do.
11103 THE CHAIRPERSON: Are there any other regulatory barriers that prevent you from putting content online?
11104 MS. EMBERLY: Not that we’re aware of.
11105 THE CHAIRPERSON: I asked the question of others, it's one thing for us to remove barriers, should we be creating incentives?
11106 MS. EMBERLY: We would -- I think the one thing that’s not clear is today, you know, our staff their primary objective is the linear channel, and so that's how we’ve staffed it. We would like the incentive to have staff that could be devoted to digital. I think that would be helpful.
11107 THE CHAIRPERSON: Is there a barrier for that happening?
11108 MR. ELLIOTT: There's no technical barrier for doing that. One consideration that might be given is perhaps looking at alternative platforms for meeting the needs, as opposed to just pure linear looking at the VOD model. As the Commission said in its documents, you know, viewership habits are changing.
11109 So instead of -- instead of sitting down wanting to see your son or daughter’s sports activity or musical performance, you could attend in person and everyone else across the country, across the globe could see, as opposed to just sitting down in front of a television. So some flexibility in that and maybe freeing up some linear space would be -- would be very beneficial to us.
11110 THE CHAIRPERSON: But again, I'm asking are there -- is there anything right now in our rules that would prevent you from doing that?
11111 MR. ELLIOTT: No, not preventing us, no.
11112 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. You would agree that the 2 percent or 1.5 percent, depending on where people are in their licence renewal process, is not a cap on spending but a cap on an allowable deduction otherwise required for the 5 percent; would you agree with that?
11113 MR. MEHR: Yes.
11114 THE CHAIRPERSON: And you may have seen -- I've had discussions with others that -- and I put it to them and I'm putting it to you -- that if it is indeed so valuable to your subscribers -- and in fact it might be able to distinguish you from the products of your competitors in the marketplace, the very community base community channel -- why if the cap on the amount that can be otherwise deducted was reduced wouldn’t you just keep doing it because there's a business advantage?
11115 MR. MEHR: Yeah, the -- our way of thinking about Shaw TV has certainly evolved in my time in Shaw. When I started at Shaw 20 years ago, we used to market Shaw TV as a -- as one of the major things you would get with your cable subscription. I was -- I actually started selling cable door-to-door and we would sell Shaw TV as a reason to subscribe to Shaw.
11116 We don’t think of it that way anymore. The fact that we put all of the content on the -- on YouTube and maximize viewership, we see it much more as a social licence advantage to us, as opposed to a for-profit business initiative.
11117 And we would consider it along with other community service initiatives, so we could consider it in terms of other things we would do as a community builder. But to put it up against capital allocations on the for-profit side of the business, it would be hard to have it win those evaluations.
11118 THE CHAIRPERSON: In your written submission you talk about the request for more flexibility, less emphasis was put on it this morning. Are you still asking for some flexibility in the system?
11119 MR. ELLIOTT: Any time we’re granted more flexibility we would enjoy that. And as Jay mentioned earlier ---
11120 THE CHAIRPERSON: I know, it’s in Shaw’s DNA.
11121 MR. ELLIOTT: --- it's in our DNA. We’ve far surpassed the caps always and we’re not saying if we went down to 30, that that's all we would aim for. Actually, I think we’re closer to 60 than we are of 50.
11122 THE CHAIRPERSON: So when -- if I were to ask you what exact flexibility are you looking for, other than this notional theoretical flexibility, what exactly are you looking for?
11123 MR. SHAIKH: I think certainly flexibility in the language around sponsorship would make it easier. It’s not that -- as Jay said, that there's a big revenue opportunity in sponsorship, but there's a lot of discussion about the rules and, you know, what exactly is a promotional message. And I think there's an opportunity with a little bit more relaxation of that rules that we’d have more sponsors and more programs supported by sponsorship, so that’s one area.
11124 I think we’re less excited now about advertising flexibility. And discussing with Katherine, there's not really a model that can support that in terms of how we need to build the sales team and we don’t see a lot of revenue there.
11125 Access, it’s clear since, you know, regulatory wrote this submission in discussions with the Shaw TV team that access is really a fundamental part of Shaw TV, and there's nothing to gain from any flexibility on percentages or definitions. They have and want to continue to exceed minimum requirements. It's just a question of what should those minimum requirements be, we’re happy at 50 and we intend to exceed 50.
11126 THE CHAIRPERSON: Would it be possible for you through an undertaking to help us understand some of the details of what you're looking for on sponsorship ---
11127 MR. SHAIKH: Yes, we’d love to do that.
11128 THE CHAIRPERSON: --- flexibility, because it’s not quite clear to me exactly what rules you're referring to?
11129 MR. SHAIKH: Sure, and I can try to do it now, but I’d be happy to do it with an undertaking. There's rules around language on promotional messages and there's -- it’s not always clear what that line is, and we’d like to have some clarity that’ll allow some level of promotion.
11130 THE CHAIRPERSON: The problem with clarity oftentimes it’s in the words, so perhaps if you could provide some words we can have some reflection on whether those are the right words.
11131 MR. SHAIKH: We shall do so.
11132 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, so for the 5th of February, is that ---
11133 MR. SHAIKH: That’s very doable.
11134 THE CHAIRPERSON: --- something you could do?
11135 MR. SHAIKH: Yeah.
11137 THE CHAIRPERSON: You are familiar with Rogers’ model -- proposed model, not the more recent one, but the one that was part of their November 5th written submission, you’ve had a chance to look at that; correct?
11138 MR. ELLIOTT: Yes.
11139 THE CHAIRPERSON: So I don’t have to explain it to you?
11140 MR. ELLIOTT: No.
11141 THE CHAIRPERSON: What are your views on that model?
11142 MR. ELLIOTT: And this is in terms of local news or in terms of community programming?
11143 THE CHAIRPERSON: Local news, but it inevitably has -- it may have -- not inevitably, but it may have a ricochet effect on community channels; right?
11144 MR. ELLIOTT: Absolutely, they -- you know, Rogers had two distinct proposals, one in their written submission of course, the one they presented to the Commission, and we looked at -- we looked at that one. And we also looked at Bell’s proposal to ---
11145 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yeah, right now I’m just asking for Rogers’ written submission when -- the one from November 5th, not the one -- the second -- the far second best that they raised at the -- in their oral presentation.
11146 MR. ELLIOTT: Sure, what specific information would you like?
11147 THE CHAIRPERSON: I’d like to know what you think about it.
11148 MR. ELLIOTT: Well we’ve looked at -- we’ve looked at all of the -- their submission and we can't foresee how you would support local news at the expense of the community channel. You know, the way the funding would go, we foresee that you would be funding inefficiencies in terms of large VIs getting a bulk of the funding. I think under their proposal, it was $7 million for Shaw, if I’m not mistaken. But it doesn’t necessarily guarantee that there would be incremental news production whatsoever.
11149 So we just see it as a model to sustain the status quo for a little bit longer, and then we’ll be in front of you again asking for different funds.
11150 THE CHAIRPERSON: But the way I see it, it says that if you’re a BDO -- BDU operating in Vancouver, Toronto or the French language market in Montreal, you’d be able to reallocate part of your -- what would have gone to the cap on community programming to an OTA TV station within your group. I would have thought that’s exactly your situation and ---
11151 MR. ELLIOTT: Yeah, it’s obviously a bit different for us in terms of the current situation, but there are things we like about the Rogers’ proposal. One, it’s a next best solution, I think they're still opposed to fund it and it is more of a proposal if there were to be a fund. It should certainly be less of a contribution in Bell ---
11152 THE CHAIRPERSON: The November 5th is not a fund at all, it is -- it is an accounting approach to regulation where you deduct. I’m really not talking about the proposal they put as the alternative proposal. I’m talking about the original November 5th.
11153 MR. SHAIKH: The original proposal. We prefer the alternative proposal and for the reasons Morgan said we don’t really like the first proposal. And in terms of the pooling of resources, we certainly like the idea that Cogeco and Eastlink and Rogers have discussed about pooling resources among community channels to maybe spend more efficiently what the community channel spend from large markets to small markets, that’s something that makes sense.
11154 I don’t think there's a model that works for sharing between the OTAs and the community channel that are associated with a VI company. I think that creates a lot of potential distortion in the market. You put Cogeco and Telus into very different situation. You put a couple like Rogers and Bell in a different situation.
11155 We’re not really sure what kind of situation would exist for us.
11156 THE CHAIRPERSON: So do I hear you that not only are you as Shaw not interested in this model but you don’t think we should allow anybody else to benefit from it?
11157 MR. SHAIKH: That’s correct. I think there’s a real likelihood that Bell or Rogers could decide to devote a lot of money to their OTAs which could create a lot of distortion in the market.
11158 MR. REEB: And I would just say from the broadcaster’s side, Mr. Chair, that it could potentially put the global stations at a significant disadvantage in certain markets if -- you know, in Rogers’ case, being able to reallocate substantial monies to its OTA in the Toronto marketplace whereas we may not get that benefit from Shaw in the Vancouver marketplace.
11159 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Let me now turn to the television side of things.
11160 And, by the way, just on that, if you have more to add during the reply stage, we’d be more than interested in hearing that.
11161 Let me -- now about TV. We’ve heard a lot over the week some parties trying to fund -- create the diagnostic of what the nature of the problem is. And we’ve heard a lot of people saying well local news remains popular and viewed but cannot be monetized as well as it used to be. Would you agree that that is the correct diagnostic?
11162 MR. MEHR: Yes. Local news gets lots of viewership and is amongst the most watched programs on our line-up. It’s not really a viewership problem it’s fundamentally an advertising problem, and I think it’s one of the reasons we’ve had trouble proposing a model to solve that is because we think it’s an advertising challenge.
11163 THE CHAIRPERSON: Why do you think -- because I’ve heard a lot about saying, you know, in a world where there’s more and more streaming opportunities -- and a lot of people are getting into that game, and that’s good. But in a streaming world, live content has an advantage. And by live, it’s sports, except for, you know, a very exciting classic game that may have occurred years ago there’s not a lot of interest in watching an old sports game or -- because you already know what the results are. So there’s not a lot of viewership to that. So sport is seen as a fun thing that survives well in a streaming world.
11164 And the other thing is local news because you watch it live. It’s not PVR’d and you certainly don’t go fast forward. I guess that’s possible but I suspect there’s not a lot of that going on. It lives in the moment.
11165 I would have thought that that is of tremendous value to a potential advertiser. Why haven’t you not been able to convince them of that?
11166 MR. MEHR: I’ll start high level and then let Troy fill in.
11167 I think live absolutely matters, and if you look at the tremendous presence that we have online with Global News it’s fundamentally part of the service.
11168 There is a challenge as you try and move from, you know, the expression analog dollars for digital dimes. There is a very different model to the revenue structure that you get online and you’re trying to offset your historical cost structure. So I think that’s what makes it difficult.
11169 But I’ll let Troy fill in the blank.
11170 MR. REEB: Yeah, I think it’s worth winding it back a little bit first to understand that, you know, local news was really part of the regulatory bargain for a long time and that it’s not a new thing that local news doesn’t make money.
11171 What’s become more acute over the last number of years is the inability of the rest of the conventional sector to be able to offset the losses that are in news as well as the news audience having greater difficulty being monetized.
11172 The news audience is largely -- you know, for all programming, the majority of it sits outside of that sort of 18 to 49 demographic that is most treasured by advertisers. And it’s well-known the differences in the rates that you can charge from the television product to a digital product.
11173 You’re correct, Mr. Chair, that streaming and video revenue you can get almost as high and sometimes higher rates for video advertising online than you can on television, but it’s the rest of the ad rates around that that are significantly challenged, and the viewership still is largely on the television platform for news.
11174 THE CHAIRPERSON: Can you imagine someone having an OTA licence and not providing local news in light of the regulatory bargain?
11175 MR. SHAIKH: It’s difficult to imagine you licensing a station without a local news obligation.
11176 THE CHAIRPERSON: We’ve heard of people I’m not sure if they were threatening but certainly raising the spectre of station closures. Is that part of your corporate strategy?
11177 MR. ELLIOTT: No, we have -- at this time we have no plan to close any stations.
11178 THE CHAIRPERSON: At this time. What is at this time? What does that mean?
11179 MR. ELLIOTT: One can never predict the future. We foresee no reason why we would. It’s just you can’t say forever.
11180 THE CHAIRPERSON: And so the Commission, in light of this, should do what? You don’t want us to touch the communities’ part of it. I get that. But do we look at the level of local news commitment during the upcoming renewals? Is that how we should do it?
11181 MR. ELLIOTT: Yeah, that’s certainly one way through condition of licence you could look at it as well.
11182 I also think there has to be a view of the symmetry amongst the stations to as well. In some markets where as a VI we have more requirements than a competitor would have -- use an example -- in Kelowna I guess where we have a larger obligation to produce local news, whereas our competitor has far less hours but still has full access to advertising dollars.
11183 So there may need to be a rationalization in some markets where there are more than one news producer. And there’s also the public policy of public broadcasters and their duty and whether or not the government would make a decision that that should be part of its endeavours as well.
11184 THE CHAIRPERSON: There is a group that appeared before us yesterday and was quite bullishly suggesting that we should just impose minimums -- I’m not quite sure what level that should be but they seemed to be quite nostalgic of the 1980s -- and that if parties did not want to -- licensees did not want to live by that bargain that they should return their licence and there was a line-up of other parties waiting to get those OTA licences. What do you think of that?
11185 MR. MEHR: I share your view that that lens is from a different era where an OTA licence was hotly contested and don’t think that’s the market dynamics today. I don’t think that’s the market dynamics today.
11186 On market dynamics and to your previous question, you know, in terms of closing stations, we have no intention to close any of our stations. That having been said, from an industrial design perspective, it may be more realistic to hit an end state where you don’t have three conventional news channels in Lethbridge, and whether there’s some other communities where it gets sorted out from three to two for other things. There may be some market reshaping that can happen naturally that would be part of the long-term solution.
11187 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right. But haven’t we exhausted those possibilities? We’ve got even triple stakes in some places of the country where yeah it helps with financing but one wonders about diversity of news when the same owner owns three local affiliates.
11188 MR. MEHR: I understand the conflicting nature of diversity of voices and a market-based reshaping of winners and losers. I understand how those are not completely consistent. And I wish we had a better solution for you to propose today on a model for local news.
11189 THE CHAIRPERSON: One of the groups, I would describe them -- I can’t remember the exact name now -- sorry about that -- but more of a union-based group was advocating -- it was Unifor. It was advocating that when we look at news in the context of discussion that we should exclude Category 2A because they’re saying that what we should really be focusing about -- and I’m asking this question because you said that we should be looking at this in the licence renewal, so exactly what should we be looking for in the licence renewal. In their view we should be focussing on news categories other than 2A; in other words, hard news rather than panels of talking heads.
11190 And, you know, clearly I don’t know where this arose. Certainly on national news services it’s perhaps because of CNN and Fox News and having to fill 24 hours there’s been a lot more emergence of talking heads, but we’ve seen it at national -- like the CBC, the At Issue panel, things like that. To my knowledge, it hasn’t really arisen in the local context but it could because it’s cost-effective and ---
11191 MR. REEB: There’s a ---
11192 THE CHAIRPERSON: Is it not?
11193 MR. REEB: It is cost-effective. There’s probably not a lot of places where we agree with Unifor but this would likely be one of them that we actually think the value is in boots-on-the-ground coverage and ensuring legitimate quality news.
11194 And it has entered the Canadian context. We know that some of our competitors are meeting their local obligations by putting cameras in their radio studios for instance and broadcasting that as local programming.
11195 That’s not the model that we’ve chosen to follow. We’ve made a very conscious decision to focus on frontline reporting assets.
11196 THE CHAIRPERSON: And you’re inviting us to focus on that -- those sorts of initiatives for I guess it’s Category 1 news as opposed to the other categories?
11197 MR. REEB: We don’t believe that they’re necessarily needs to be a regulatory intervention here but ---
11198 THE CHAIRPERSON: But the economics -- you just said the economics -- you see, the problem is capitalism and journalism makes strange bedfellows these days, right, because there’s a push to reduce costs, commentary is less expensive, and as we know, in terms of journalism, commentary is not subject to the same level of journalistic comment.
11199 I was just reading, for instance, this morning somebody’s commentary who was talking about our hearings being in Hull. Hull hasn’t existed since 2002 but because it’s commentary you can say just about anything, right. It’s not news. It’s not subject to the same rules.
11200 So I take it, it’s in your DNA, less regulation the better, but there will be a natural tendency, will there not, to fill the news requirement by less expensive talking heads. We’ve seen it nationally. Why would we not see that as a natural progression at the local level?
11201 MR. REEB: I think it’s a very legitimate risk. I’m saying it’s not a direction that we’ve undertaken, and we’d be aligned. Should the Commission decide to pursue a policy direction that way, it’s not one that would threaten our business or the way we operate.
11202 THE CHAIRPERSON: So were we to do that, it’s not a problem for you because that’s your plan to do it and you wold be doing it on a going forward basis. Is that correct?
11203 MR. REEB: Correct.
11204 THE CHAIRPERSON: I’d like to hear more about your MMC model. And I know you make the argument that you really believe in boots-on-the-ground, but I get the feeling that there’s maybe not a broad consensus that that is the best way to gather news and that local presence has to go beyond -- in the news ecosystem go beyond just having individuals being the journalists on the ground, that local presence on a more sustained basis is also important.
11205 MR. REEB: It’s -- yeah, and thanks for the question. We’re very open to scrutiny of the MMC model. We certainly heard criticism of it last week from Unifor who represent some of our staff, and we’ve heard some criticism of it from viewers.
11206 This has not been a decision that we took lightly. When you’re dealing with, you know, sectorial change and disruption difficult decisions need to be made, and we decided that we would squarely put our resources into frontline reporting and consistent around-the-clock frontline reporting that the value for our viewers comes not as much from anchors in a studio as it does from reporters at the courthouse, at City Hall, and on the street, and there’s several reasons for that.
11207 The competitors we’re facing in this day and age are not -- are those who are providing information around the clock on unlicensed platforms and therefore we need to be able to match the product they’re putting out while still providing -- serving the needs of our traditional audience.
11208 And that’s why we made a very conscious decision to say reporting is what comes first and if there are ways that we can find efficiencies in the backend production of that that’s how we will be successful going forward.
11209 To be clear, we’re not using MMC to meet our COLs. This is not something that we’re going ---
11210 THE CHAIRPERSON: It’s only in a regulatory hearing, but that makes sense, right.
11211 MR. REEB: Yes.
11212 THE CHAIRPERSON: MMC for COLs, yes.
11213 MR. REEB: No, but we’re using this because we need to deliver incremental ---
11214 THE CHAIRPERSON: M’hm.
11215 MR. REEB: --- hours of news programming. We want to be in the news business. We don’t view news as an obligation we view it as an opportunity.
11216 And to view it as an opportunity means you can’t just be going to the lowest common denominator and putting radio programs on television, you need to be providing real reporting in the morning, in the evening, late at night, on weekends, and on multiple platforms, and to do that we need to find efficiencies in the backend.
11217 THE CHAIRPERSON: But some perceive -- and perhaps you can help me understand why that isn’t the case -- that if you’ve got your directing mind in choosing which news stories get covered or anchors across the country that it is not perceived by the community as somebody from the community who understands the community and why that news is important to that community.
11218 MR. REEB: I appreciate that criticism. The reality is that the stories we cover or the decisions that are made about what gets covered, how it gets covered that all happens in the local community.
11219 We still have 40-plus people doing local news in Winnipeg. You know, we have 30-plus people doing local news in Saskatoon. These are journalists who are filing back to a centralized infrastructure which then lays out their stories for the audience. It’s the local reporters and editors who are in the community who are making the decisions about how that content gets lined up.
11220 And we’ve done our own analysis that shows that, in fact, you know, in our evening news broadcasts we’re actually delivering more local content in those shows then our primary competitor in the markets.
11221 THE CHAIRPERSON: Do I dare ask for that to be filed with us if you’ve done the analysis?
11222 MR. REEB: For sure.
11223 THE CHAIRPERSON: So you’d undertake to -- what is it exactly? You’ve done a week, a month?
11224 MR. REEB: We actually picked two days at random from all eight of the markets that we served and we cross-referenced the minutes of local storytelling that was done on our broadcast versus those of our primary competitor and as well the minutes of local storytelling that was done both pre and post the introduction of MMC.
11225 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right. When you say you chose those dates at random, how was that done?
11226 MR. REEB: Well, we wanted to prepare for this hearing so we pulled two days from last week -- or the week before.
11227 THE CHAIRPERSON: They just happened to be last week’s?
11228 MR. REEB: Yeah.
11229 THE CHAIRPERSON: And were we to ask you dates of our choosing, what would the results be?
11230 MR. REEB: I think they would be -- since we picked these ones at random I can’t guarantee they wouldn’t be higher or lower but I suspect they would be very similar.
11231 And if you’d like that we can undertake that certainly.
11232 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, the ones you -- the study you’ve already done at this point, since you’ve referred to it, I think it would be useful to add it to the record. So provide it to the secretary ---
11233 MR. REEB: Certainly.
11234 THE CHAIRPERSON: --- as an undertaking either today if you already have it or make copies between now and the 5th of February. Is that okay?
11235 MR. REEB: Absolutely.
11237 THE CHAIRPERSON: Mr. Reeb, how independent are your newsrooms from outside influence?
11238 MR. REEB: Very much so. I think we’ve been fortunate to have a very hands-off ownership group that believes in the independence of our news organization and its decision making.
11239 THE CHAIRPERSON: And is that -- those principles I’ll take it at face value that that’s occurring in reality but is it provided in a code? Where do people go?
11240 I mean, you’re familiar with the events last spring.
11241 MR. REEB: Yes.
11242 THE CHAIRPERSON: Did your board of directors say “Wait a minute, there may be a systemic issue here and that maybe we should protect ourselves before the risk hits us as well”?
11243 MR. REEB: Well, long before the events of last spring, we established a codified principles and practices guidelines. We provide all of our news employees, whether they are working in frontline journalism or in editing rolls within the studios, with copies of those. They are required to read them and sign off on them. And we have them review those once a year. They codify our independence as well as a number of other issues making sure that we, you know, protect ourselves along the lines of the RTD.
11244 THE CHAIRPERSON: And do they have recourse if they feel they’ve been put under undue pressure to cover certain events rather than others ---
11245 MR. REEB: Yes, we actually ---
11246 THE CHAIRPERSON: --- or vice versa?
11247 MR. REEB: Yes, we do have a -- we have a designated manager who is in charge of journalistic principles and practices at a senior level and who reports directly to me, and any employee can approach that person in confidence to raise issues of editorial concern.
11248 THE CHAIRPERSON: And are those complaints investigated and reported to the board?
11249 MR. REEB: No, we don’t -- we don’t do it at a board level.
11250 THE CHAIRPERSON: But they are investigated?
11251 MR. REEB: Yes.
11252 THE CHAIRPERSON: And what is the remedy if it was found?
11253 MR. REEB: Well, actually, our -- again, our principles and practices lay out very specific guidelines for how we would -- and we’re happy to file a copy with the Commission. I believe the Commission does have a copy of our principles and practices. It lays out specific processes for either issuing corrections or clarifications on it.
11254 THE CHAIRPERSON: I find it interesting, however, that looking at the course of this hearing when Bell appeared a CTV camera suddenly appeared; when CBC appeared a CBC reporter suddenly appeared; when Videotron appeared in front of us suddenly a Quebecor reporter -- QMI reporter showed up, and then this morning when you appear suddenly there’s a Global camera in the room. We’ve never seen them any other days.
11255 MR. REEB: Well, I certainly -- I won’t ask our Ottawa Bureau Chief Jacques Bourbeau, who’s here in the room, to come forward, but I know, in fact, that they filed on this hearing twice before.
11256 THE CHAIRPERSON: M’hm. But ---
11257 MR. REEB: I’m still the editor in-chief of the news organization.
11258 THE CHAIRPERSON: I understand that, but you can see that we may have some preoccupations about the independence of corporate interests and what gets or doesn’t get reported and how it gets reported perhaps through, dare I say, indirect means.
11259 MR. REEB: Through indirect means?
11260 THE CHAIRPERSON: M’hm.
11261 MR. REEB: Sorry, is that what you said?
11262 THE CHAIRPERSON: Self-censorship but in the reverse.
11263 MR. REEB: I think there’s always a tremendous curiosity amongst journalists about what’s happening with their own business and that would likely drive some of the interest of what you’re talking about.
11264 THE CHAIRPERSON: I’m going to ask you some questions in a final area before I turn it to my colleagues and that is with respect to your DTH activities and the SMLPF fund and its existence.
11265 Now, it could be argued that that fund was created for historical reasons because of the disruptive effect of DTH on certain local markets. Would you agree that that was the genesis of this?
11266 MR. REEB: Yes.
11267 And I’ll let Dean go.
11268 MR. SHAIKH: Yes, I think that was the historical regulatory purpose for creating the fund.
11269 THE CHAIRPERSON: A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then and there’s been far greater disruptive influences on the Canadian broadcasting system. So what’s the policy rationale today for that continued mechanism?
11270 MR. SHAIKH: Well, we’re not here to suggest elimination of the small market local programming fund, and I think that discussion might lead us in that direction. We’re certainly not suggesting that.
11271 There are -- there is an evolution that could suggest that maybe if there were to be a path forward and if the Commission were to create a fund, which obviously we’re not in favour of, that there might be some logic in collapsing the small market local programming fund with whatever new fund was created because it would seem odd to have two separate funds.
11272 But if the Commission decides not to introduce a fund, we’re certainly not suggesting eliminating the small market local programming fund. Consideration could certainly be given to reducing the percentage contribution, but that’s not part of our submission today.
11273 THE CHAIRPERSON: I take it that you don’t believe in funds, that that’s not from the rest of your presentation. So I’m a bit curious as to why this fund, which may have historical nostalgic reasons, might not be the way forward just on its own, regardless of the other decisions.
11274 MR. SHAIKH: Sure. I mean, I think it’s probably well-known among CRTC staff, Commissioners and the Chairman that Shaw has not historically favoured funds and has historically sought to eliminate those funds.
11275 I think in the context of this hearing in terms of considering, as all participants do, what are the possible outcomes and what battles we want to fight, I don’t think we decided that we wanted to take on the small market local programming fund when, in fact ---
11276 THE CHAIRPERSON: Some would say it’s not surprising because Shaw benefits through its ownership of CJBN in Kenora and Corus benefits from CHEX Peterborough and Kingston, and I guess while they’re at it, Bell benefits in Terrace, Kitimat and Dawson Creek from those.
11277 MR. SHAIKH: It’s certainly not the case that we made a calculus to preserve the small market local programming fund because of the allocations to Corus owned stations or CJBN Kenora which receives a small amount and I think that’s still a live question about whether it would continue to receive that amount. It’s not a ---
11278 THE CHAIRPERSON: So what’s the policy rationale ---
11279 MR. SHAIKH: It’s not a trade-off.
11280 THE CHAIRPERSON: --- for continuing that fund since Shaw does not believe in funds? Why are we -- why would we maintain that fund for any reason?
11281 MR. SHAIKH: If there were consideration to be given to eliminating the small market local programming fund that’s not something that Shaw would oppose.
11282 MR. MEHR: In terms of philosophy -- just for the record, I don’t believe CJBN continues to receive that fund.
11283 MR. REEB: They were removed from it last year.
11284 MR. MEHR: And I can also say from a corporate governance point of view that CJBN financials is not a driver of any policy position on behalf of Shaw. We own lots of assets but we’re kind of focused on ---
11285 THE CHAIRPERSON: You’re probably unique that way, because everybody else says every unit has to make money.
11286 MR. MEHR: The -- CJBN does make a little bit of money on a direct basis, if you don’t allocate any costs to it, but -- but putting that one aside, you asked about philosophy about funds.
11287 We’re not saying there isn’t a -- some form of public policy solution to help solve the local news problem we just didn’t come up with one within the context of this hearing. But in terms of conditions of licence and CPE spend and various funds, there may well be a solution.
11288 Our position on the community channel fund is probably not that dissimilar to the small market fund, which is there should be a pretty high bar to -- there should be a pretty high bar to change the current ecosystem. The Canadian broadcasting system is a very complex ecosystem and to tinker with all of the various funding models comes with a lot of unintended consequences.
11289 So while we’re not in favour of funds we are in favour of regulatory certainty, and so the current ecosystem at least we all understand and it’s the new funding models that we think have a higher bar to get past.
11290 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
11291 Commissioner Simpson?
11292 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Good morning.
11293 Many apologies for the video interruption; I was looking at Chinese New Year’s promos on Shaw and it was -- anyway, I have three lines of questioning.
11294 I’d like to first ask -- continuing on the news and corporate side of things. Now, you run BC1 in my neck of the woods, in British Columbia, and I’ve looked at that model with great interest because it’s a regional network, and what I find unique about it is that it seems to compliment the assets of running a major market newsroom in Vancouver.
11295 Is this a model that’s helping you financially take the position that subsidies aren’t necessary because you figured out a better way to cover the cost of news through a better utilization of resources?
11296 MR. REEB: Thanks for the question, Commissioner Simpson.
11297 To be quite frank, BC1 is not in a position where it’s profitable at this point. This was, I would say, a bold experiment on our part to recognizing everything that was coming with the changes in monetization. This was an effort for us to establish a viable subscription model for local news. And recognizing that this would be a bit of a gamble, we decided to take it because to do nothing was not an option.
11298 It still is not in a place where it is a profitable service. We are finding it to be well-tuned but advertising dollars remain a challenge on the service, and I can’t say that it’s necessarily going to be the model that saves local television.
11299 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: And I would presuppose that changes as a result of the TV hearing last year pushing news to the other side of basic is going to cause you to have to review that because, you know, it’s whether it’s sustainable by subscription.
11300 MR. REEB: Yes.
11301 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay. I’m fascinated with your multicultural channel. It’s like digital, lots of consonants. I’m fascinated at this very robust undertaking. And we haven’t talked a lot about it. It’s right now in the Greater Vancouver, Squamish, Whistler, Bowen area. It’s an 18-hour a day undertaking.
11302 How is it funded from the standpoint of the community programming commitments that a BDU has to undertake? Is it over-the-top --- sorry, wrong term. I should find another one. Is it -- it’s really bad. Is it in addition to the two percent? Is it coming out of the two percent? How’s it work?
11303 MS. EMBERLY: It is separate in addition to the two percent.
11304 The channel is really interesting. It actually runs in Calgary as well.
11305 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Oh, it does.
11306 MS. EMBERLY: A lot of the content is coming from the community. So there’s a lot that’s provided to us where they’re just looking to find a spot to get an audience.
11307 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay. This may sound a little indignant, but I’d like to ask it anyway. We’ve seen in ethnic radio programming because of the rigours of our radio policy imposed on a licenced broadcaster that the challenges of that 25 percent of their programming day having to penetrate markets that they may not be able to -- that they really don’t have a handle on serving; that a form of brokerage has taken effect where if you bring your program to our station and it’s ready built, ready to go, it doesn’t cost us anything, it seems to have found a model in radio. Is this working? Is this at all something you’re doing in helping offset the costs of your community channel?
11308 MS. EMBERLY: We would say not necessarily on the community channel side but certainly on the multicultural side.
11309 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Sorry, that’s what I meant.
11310 MS. EMBERLY: Yes. Yes, correct.
11311 And so a lot of -- and they are able to get their own sponsorship, or what have you, to bring, and that’s theirs completely. So we are really just the conduit to the audience.
11312 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay. But no money is running uphill to Shaw?
11313 MS. EMBERLY: No.
11314 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay.
11315 MS. EMBERLY: No, we don’t get anything.
11316 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: The last question I have is, Mr. Shaikh, you had said earlier something that peaked my interest, you said that in really looking at a commercial model for community television it’s something you looked at but really, you know, that dog doesn’t really hunt in your mind. Is that correct? Is that what you said earlier?
11317 MR. SHAIKH: I don’t remember saying that exactly.
11318 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: I thought you had. Well, someone on the panel ---
11319 MR. MEHR: I think I said that.
11320 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: My apologies.
11321 MR. MEHR: I didn’t -- wasn’t as colourful as that, but if you work through the math in your brain that you don’t intuitively land on a successful model.
11322 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Thank you.
11323 Well, perhaps it was Mr. Shaikh that went on to say, though, that you would like -- it would be comforting if Shaw had a little more clarity on its understanding of sponsorships.
11324 And I had staff drop something in my in-basket here. And the one -- of all the prescriptive measures that we’ve laid out, the one area that did seem a little vague to me was the first where it said an announcement providing information about the programming that is to be distributed on the community channel. It didn’t say in the programming it said about the community channel. Is that the area that you’re saying needs clarification?
11325 MR. SHAIKH: Yes. And, you know, being in regulatory we get a lot of questions from time to time from the community channel about what types of sponsorships are acceptable or unacceptable. Being in regulatory I give very conservative advice and say it sort of walks that line about providing too much information and something that should be avoided. And I’d like to be able to say something different and allow, you know, community channels to discuss potential sponsorships with a little bit more flexibility.
11326 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: So I would -- am I correct in assuming that the reasoning for this is that aside from what you can do within the program itself in acknowledging -- rightfully acknowledging a sponsor’s investment and helping offset the programming costs that any value added opportunities you’ve got by way of some of the interstitials that you have available to you to get a better clarity on the use of those is what you’re really after?
11327 MR. SHAIKH: It’s not just the interstitials, the avails, it’s really more in the side of working with sponsors of community channel programming where there’s just a sponsor name that appears and what can be said about that sponsor, can you say the address, can you say -- you know, Gary’s Garage, or can you say Best Tires, or something built into an ad. And so it’s language around, you know, avoiding that kind of risk that there’s more promotional information that would run offside the policy.
11328 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: To wrap it up, it would be something between the Commission and a BDU is very prescriptive and clear about the dos and don’ts so that you can walk in with confidence and find sponsorships and know exactly what you’re offering without being beyond the bounds?
11329 MR. SHAIKH: We would say very clear and less prescriptive.
11330 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay. Fair enough. Thank you very much.
11331 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
11332 I believe those are the questions from our panel but legal may have some questions.
11333 MS. FISHER: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
11334 With respect to Exhibit 1 that was placed on the proceeding last Monday, we ask that you would undertake to provide responses as applicable to your undertakings by February 16th.
11335 MR. SHAIKH: Yes.
11337 MS. MALONEY: Thank you.
11338 And with respect to Exhibit 3 that was placed on the record of the proceeding I believe last Thursday, we ask also that you’d undertake to provide responses by February 16th.
11339 MR. SHAIKH: Yes.
11340 MS. MALONEY: Thank you.
11341 That’s all.
11343 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. That’s it for you.
11344 Madame la secrétaire, on va entendre la présentation du prochain groupe et peut-être qu’on va prendre la pause après la présentation.
11345 LA SECRÉTAIRE: Parfait.
11346 J’inviterais maintenant le Regroupement des TCA de la couronne de Montréal à s’approcher.
11347 LA SECRÉTAIRE: S’il vous plaît vous introduire et vous avez 10 minutes pour faire votre présentation.
11348 Mme BRISSON: Merci.
11349 M. RACINE: Monsieur le président, Madame, Messieurs les commissa
11350 ires, mon nom est Sylvain Racine. Je suis en compagnie de Mme Natacha Brisson. Nous sommes respectivement directeur général des télévisions communautaires du sud de Lanaudière et des Basses-Laurentides. Nous représentons le Regroupement des télévisions communautaires autonomes de la couronne de Montréal, où s’ajoutent les Télévisions communautaires autonomes de Laval, Rive-Sud, Haut-Richelieu et Sud-ouest.
11351 Nous tenons à remercier le Conseil de nous permettre de nous exprimer dans le cadre de cette audience. Les enjeux sont majeurs et nous souhaitons vous faire part de nos préoccupations et réagir à votre
11352 publication du 12 janvier dernier. Toutefois afin de respecter notre champ de compétence nous limiterons nos interventions à la programmation télévisuelle communautaire.
11353 Mme BRISSON: À cet égard, nous souhaiterions porter à l’attention du Conseil notre étonnement au fait que la télévision locale et la télévision communautaire soient regroupées dans un même avis de consultation.
11354 Bien qu’à certains égards les programmations comportent des similitudes, ils sont issus de deux systèmes différents et les sources de financements diffèrent également. Le fait que nos programmations respectives aient une même préoccupation locale, cela ne fait qu’ajouter à la confusion.
11355 Dans son préambule d’appel, le conseil affirme d’emblée et je cite « il existe suffisamment de financement au sein du système de radiodiffusion » et nous sommes tout à fait en accord avec cette affirmation.
11356 Cependant, le Conseil devra tenir compte de la migration des abonnés vers d’autres plateformes entrainant ainsi une diminution des revenus au service de base et par conséquent à la programmation communautaire.
11357 M. RACINE: Le financement demeure la pierre angulaire d’une programmation d’accès de qualité reflétant les intérêts de la communauté, mais pour nous les TCA, le financement discrétionnaire accordé par les EDR est loin de nous permettre d’atteindre les objectifs énoncés dans nos mandats respectifs. Depuis que le conseil a laissé aux EDR la responsabilité du financement alloué à la programmation communautaire produite par les
11358 TCA d’une licence de l’EDR, ces derniers se sont plutôt montrés avares et n’ont jamais fait preuve d’équité dans la répartition du financement.
11359 L’expérience a démontré que les EDR ne sont pas en mesure de s’acquitter correctement du mandat qui leur a été confié. Le Conseil devrait donc mettre en place des mesures concrètes par obligation de licence afin que la répartition de la ressource se fasse de façon juste et équitable.
11360 Les modalités d’un tel financement restent à déterminer, mais cela pourrait prendre la forme d’un pourcentage du budget de l’EDR basé sur le nombre d’abonnés de la zone de desserte de la TCA ou encore un tarif horaire basé sur la production de la TCA où il serait facile de bonifier la production de nouvelles locales. Toutes formules permettant d’améliorer le partage équitable des ressources financières méritent d’être envisagées. Toutefois, il nous est difficile de faire des propositions concrètes étant donné le manque de transparences des EDR justifiant leur comportement sur la confidentialité des informations sensibles à la compétition.
11361 Nous pouvons cependant affirmer sans le moindre doute que le statuquo ne peut que mettre en péril le système communautaire.
11362 L’intervention du conseil est impérative pour contrer le sous-financement des TCA.
11363 Mme BRISSON: Nous souhaiterions également que le conseil accepte de réviser à la hausse le nombre d’heures minimales de programmation originale que l’EDR se doit d’offrir aux TCA des zones de dessertes de la licence.
11364 Actuellement fixé à quatre heures, cela nous apparait insuffisant pour s’acquitter adéquatement du mandat d’une programmation communautaire variée et pertinente pour sa communauté. Huit heures de programmation originale nous sembleraient plus appropriées.
11365 Cependant, le conseil devra veiller à ce qu’un financement proportionnel accompagne cette augmentation qui pourrait être étalée sur deux ans; soit deux heures la première année et un autre deux heures la deuxième année afin de faciliter la transition.
11366 Le conseil s’interroge également sur la façon d’offrir la programmation communautaire à un plus grand nombre de Canadiens. Nous pensons que la solution se trouve dans la distribution. Tous les EDR devraient offrir la programmation des TCA sur un territoire correspondant à sa zone de desserte.
11367 Cet auditoire élargi offrirait un plus grand rayonnement à la programmation communautaire. De plus, tous les EDR pourraient contribuer financièrement à la programmation communautaire et ainsi permettre aux TCA d’avoir une meilleure offre de service.
11368 Toujours dans le but de rejoindre un plus grand nombre de Canadiens, les EDR devraient avoir l’obligation de diffuser la programmation communautaire dans les formats standards actuels, soit HD et SD, et tout nouveau format à venir dans un délai raisonnable.
11369 Le conseil a créé un précédent en acceptant que la programmation dans la couronne de Montréal soit différente sur son canal communautaire SD versus son canal communautaire HD. Il aura fallu plus de cinq ans de discussions avec l’EDR afin d’obtenir que la programmation communautaire des TCA soit diffusée au canal HD. Bien que ce processus soit en voie de réalisation, cela devra se faire au détriment de la programmation puisque les coûts engendrés par la diffusion HD devront être assumés en totalité par chacune des TCA membres du regroupement.
11370 Cette dépense représentera entre 40 et 50 pour cent de la contribution annuelle de l’EDR. Sur les six TCA de la couronne de Montréal, seulement deux ont réussi à réunir les fonds nécessaires.
11371 Quand la pénétration du format HD dans une zone de desserte est supérieure à 70 pour cent, la programmation communautaire en format SD passe facilement inaperçue.
11372 Quand l’EDR programme ses terminaux pour que le canal communautaire HD soit affiché lors de la mise en marche du téléviseur, les chances que le téléspectateur retourne en format SD pour avoir accès à la programmation locale de sa TCA sont pour ainsi dire inexistantes.
11373 Dans son document 2015-421-3, le conseil se dit intéressé par la diffusion de nouvelles locales professionnelles sur les canaux communautaires dans les marchés sans station de télévision traditionnelle. Au Québec, plusieurs TCA ont déjà démontré leur intérêt pour l’information et la nouvelle. Le vide laissé par les nombreuses fermetures des stations de télévision traditionnelle a créé un besoin dans la communauté.
11374 Cela a également été reconnu par le Ministère de la Culture et des Communications du Québec qui, dans son programme d’aide au fonctionnement qui s’appelait avant la PAMEC, a comme objectif de contribuer à diversifier l’offre d’information locale et régionale au Québec; et a également, comme condition spécifique à l’admissibilité au programme, de produire et diffuser de l'information locale et régionale reflétant la vie politique, sociale, culturelle et économique de leur collectivité.
11375 Déjà sensibilisées à l’importance de l’information locale, nul doute que les TCA sont prêtes à relever ce défi. Cependant, le conseil n’est pas sans savoir que ce genre de programmation coûte cher. Les ressources financières actuelles des TCA ne permettent que difficilement, voire même rendent impossibles dans la majorité des cas, la production de nouvelles locales professionnelles.
11376 Le conseil se dit ouvert à la possibilité de permettre la diffusion de publicité locale dans les marchés où la publicité pourrait contribuer à l’atteinte de cet objectif. Il serait toutefois utopique de penser que cette seule mesure puisse financer à elle seule la production de nouvelles locales dans sa totalité.
11377 En conclusion, nous souhaiterions rappeler au conseil que les TCA sont des organismes à but non lucratif dont le mandat premier est la production d’émissions télévisuelles pour et par leur communauté respective.
11378 Le sous-financement dont celles-ci sont victimes oblige les dirigeants et les responsables à investir une part importante de leur temps et de leur énergie à trouver des sources de financement alternatives, plutôt que de se concentrer à part entière à la production d’émissions d’accès.
11379 Le conseil doit démontrer clairement son soutien inconditionnel à ce volet du système canadien de radiodiffusion et mettre en place des mécanismes pour en assurer la pérennité par un financement juste et équitable.
11380 Nous vous remercions pour votre attention, et demeurons disponibles pour répondre à vos questions.
11381 LE PRÉSIDENT: Merci beaucoup.
11382 Comme j’ai annoncé tout à l’heure, on va prendre une pause du matin et on va revenir à 10h50 pour vous poser des questions.
11383 M. RACINE: Parfait.
11384 LE PRÉSIDENT: Merci. Donc, ajourné jusqu’à 10h50.
--- Upon recessing at 10:34 a.m.
--- Upon resuming at 10:50 a.m.
11385 LE PRÉSIDENT: À l’ordre s’il vous plaît.
11386 Donc, Monsieur le conseiller Dupras va commencer les questions.
11387 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Bonjour.
11388 M. RACINE: Bonjour.
11389 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: J’aimerais d’abord peut-être explorer avec vous la relation avec Vidéotron en général en ce qui concerne la programmation d’accès.
11390 Comment les choses ont-elles évolué depuis la décision de MAtv?
11391 M. RACINE: Vous parlez de la récente décision de MAtv?
11392 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Oui. Est-ce que vous avez senti des changements?
11393 M. RACINE: Bien dans un premier temps, il faut savoir que nous diffusons en détachement local sur la chaîne MAtv. Donc, chacune dans nos communautés respectives on se détache du réseau pour diffuser notre programmation mais on est quand même soumis à certaines normes de MAtv. On doit partager le canal.
11394 Alors, on a des créneaux dans lesquels on peut diffuser mais on a des créneaux dans lesquels on ne peut pas diffuser. On a un peu de difficulté à avoir des heures de grande écoute. C’est sûr que MAtv veut positionner ses émissions.
11395 Je dirais qu’on a une relation d’affaires. Je ne peux pas vous dire que c’est toujours le grand amour mais comme dans toutes les relations d’affaires je pense qu’il y a des hauts et il y a des bas.
11396 Maintenant, il faut savoir que ce qui s’est passé récemment avec MAtv, bien ils ont changé d’attitude. Ils ont adopté un nouveau modèle, ce qui nous réjouit parce que c’est un modèle que nous on applique depuis 38 ans et MAtv l’applique depuis quelques mois.
11397 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: O.k. Et en termes de l’accès, vous trouvez que les TCA n’ont pas suffisamment d’accès auprès de Vidéotron et que le nombre d’heures devrait être augmenté. Est-ce que vous pouvez nous expliquer pourquoi?
11398 M. RACINE: Bien effectivement, la norme actuelle est de quatre heures. Vidéotron ou plutôt MAtv nous accorde quatre heures de programmation originale par semaine sur 43 semaines par année, pour un maximum de 172 heures par année. C’est peu. C’est peu parce qu’on a des demandes de la communauté. On n’arrive pas à satisfaire toutes les demandes parce qu’on a aussi des exigences avec le Ministère de la Culture et des Communications, qui nous demande de faire de l’information.
11399 Alors, ça devient un peu difficile de faire et l’information et satisfaire toutes les demandes qu’on reçoit de la communauté. Et quatre heures, bien ça nous apparaît nettement insuffisant pour faire ce travail-là adéquatement.
11400 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Alors là, si on augmentait à huit heures et qu’il y a sept TVC dans la zone de desserte de Vidéotron, ce serait quoi, 172 heures multipliées par 7.
11401 CONSEILLÈRE MOLNAR: En fait c’est 6.
11402 M. RACINE: Oui.
11403 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: C’est-à-dire, ce serait 172 heures multipliées par 2 d’abord, 340 heures; ensuite multipliées par 7, ce qui donnerait un total d’à peu près 2,400 heures provenant de la -- des télévisions communautaires autonomes.
11404 M. RACINE: Oui.
11405 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Ce qui prendrait une grosse partie de la programmation d’accès du canal communautaire.
11406 M. RACINE: Ça prendrait effectivement une partie de la programmation d’accès mais il ne faut pas oublier qu’on est en détachements locaux et on n’est pas nécessairement tous en même temps. Alors Montréal, exemple, garde sa programmation d’accès telle quelle. On ne diffuse pas sur Montréal.
11407 Chez nous, exemple, dans Lanaudière, dans le sud de Lanaudière, bien on ne diffuse que dans le sud de Lanaudière une programmation dédiée à cette communauté-là.
11408 Alors, oui on prendrait un peu plus de temps, mais c’est du temps dédié à notre communauté. Alors que en temps normal, ils auraient de la programmation de Montréal qui est pas nécessairement pertinente pour eux.
11409 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Quand vous parlez de la programmation de Montréal, vous parlez de la -- du 40 pourcent de la programmation non-locale qui peut être diffusée sur le canal ou ---
11410 M. RACINE: C'est l’ensemble de la programmation de MAtv ---
11411 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: O.k.
11412 M. RACINE: --- qui est diffusée. Quand on est en détachement, évidemment on prend la place, mais lorsque on est pas là, c'est MAtv Montréal avec 100 pourcent de sa programmation.
11413 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Mais y a quand même 50 pourcent des -- de la grille qui est dédiée à de la programmation d’accès?
11414 M. RACINE: Y a 56 pourcent nous disait MAtv ---
11415 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Oui.
11416 M. RACINE: --- la semaine dernière. Il faut pas oublier que dans ce 56 pourcent y a quand même la programmation que les TCA ont fourni à MAtv pour qui puissent atteindre les quotas demandés.
11417 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Dans une région comme la vôtre, est-ce que on a de la misère à remplir le quota de programmation d’accès ---
11418 M. RACINE: Pas du tout.
11419 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: --- même avec la participation de la TCA?
11420 M. RACINE: Pas du tout. Chez nous je vous dirais dans un premier temps, on a 60 bénévoles qui participent à la programmation. La communauté a beaucoup d’intérêt pour la programmation locale. Y a une participation, y a une réaction de la communauté face à notre programmation. L’information occupe aussi une place importante localement.
11421 Vous savez, aujourd'hui avec la mondialisation et internet, tout ça c'est bien beau, on sait à peu près instantanément ce qui se passe partout dans le monde, mais on a de la difficulté à savoir qu’est-ce qui s’est passé chez notre voisin.
11422 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: M'hm.
11423 M. RACINE: Alors c'est peut-être notre rôle à nous justement de compléter cette information là, et prendre un peu la place des journaux locaux qui abandonnent tranquillement le papier là dans la communauté.
11424 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Alors est-ce que vous faites de l’information locale des nouvelles locales déjà ---
11425 M. RACINE: Oui.
11426 Mme BRISSON: M'hm.
11427 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: --- pour votre ---
11428 Mme BRISSON: Faut pas oublier qu’on a aussi des énormes territoires.
11429 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: --- pour votre région? Mais vous semblez dire que c'est ça qui coûte le plus cher et que vous êtes peut-être pas dans une position pour en faire.
11430 M. RACINE: C'est difficile, c'est difficile, parce que oui, ça coûte cher. Comme les territoires sont énormes, ben évidemment les dépenses qui viennent avec le sont également, et on nous donne pas plus d’argent pour faire l’information là. Actuellement on est payé un tarif horaire avec MAtv, et peu importe le genre de programmation qu’on fait ---
11431 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: C'est -- est-ce que c'est proche de ce que on s’est fait dire hier par la Fédération des télés communautaires autonomes du Québec? Y nous a dit que le coût moyen à peu près d’une heure était de 553$.
11432 M. RACINE: Non, on a plus que ça. Honnêtement, dans la région de Montréal les TCA reçoivent 1 000$ par heure de programmation.
11433 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Ah bon.
11434 M. RACINE: Là où on souhaite avoir de l’équité -- évidemment on a pas les chiffres hein, comme vous le savez, tout ça c'est confidentiel à cause de la compétition, ce qu’on nous dit. On ne sait pas exactement combien MAtv dépense d’argent, mais si on fait un petit calcul rapide, on arrive à peu près à une moyenne de 5 à 6 000$ par heure de programmation. Alors notre question c'est pourquoi une programmation à Montréal vaut 6 000$, alors qu’une programmation en région ne vaut que 1 000$?
11435 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Avez-vous ---
11436 M. RACINE: Évidemment, on demande pas 6 000$ là, on s’entend.
11437 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Mais avez-vous des réponses à cette question-là? Est-ce que c'est parce que vous avez moins d’équipement, moins de personnel?
11438 M. RACINE: On a moins de personnel évidemment là, j’ai pas 118 ---
11439 Mme BRISSON: Employés là.
11440 M. RACINE: --- employés là, pas du tout, on est six. Mais par contre au niveau de l’équipement, ben la caméra coûte le même prix à Montréal qu’elle coûte en région. La console d’aiguillage coûte le même prix à Montréal qu’elle coûte en région. Alors pour nous ben quand on parle d’équité on -- on a pas eu d’augmentation depuis 2008.
11441 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: M'hm.
11442 M. RACINE: Alors on comprendra que depuis 2008 le coût de la vie a augmenté, et notre pouvoir d’achat a diminué d’autant.
11443 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Mais ce genre de rétribution horaire que vous avez, vous dites qu’elle est pas suffisante pour couvrir les coûts de ce que vous faites actuellement de quatre heures?
11444 M. RACINE: Effectivement.
11445 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: C'est que les coûts indirects que vous avez sont de quelle proportion?
11446 M. RACINE: Les coûts indirects avoisinent le 50 pourcent.
11447 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Est-ce que ce n’est pas élevé? Comment vous expliquez ça?
11448 M. RACINE: Ben, oui, c'est élevé, mais comme n’importe quoi la facture électrique coûte cher, le chauffage coûte cher, l’entretien, le loyer dans certains cas. Dans d’autres cas, ils ont leur propre bâtisse, mais encore faut-il payer l’hypothèque. Alors c'est pas trop, trop long que ça ---
11449 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Vous avez beaucoup de bénévoles qui vous aident dans la programmation?
11450 M. RACINE: Dans notre cas on a 60 bénévoles.
11451 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Alors ça ça aide à garder le coût des programmes un peu plus bas?
11452 M. RACINE: Absolument. Ça serait ---
11453 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Et à faire paraitre ---
11454 M. RACINE: --- pas possible autrement.
11455 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: --- les dépenses -- les coûts indirects un peu plus élevés j’imagine?
11456 M. RACINE: Effectivement.
11457 Mme BRISSON: Oui, mais y a aussi beaucoup d’accompagnement qui se fait avec des bénévoles. Un bénévole qui arrive, faut quand même passer beaucoup de temps avec, que ça soit au niveau de la permanence, faut accompagner les gens qui sont en animation pour s’assurer qu’y a un certain standard de qualité, mais aussi que la recherche que tout est fait, même chose pour les techniciens.
11458 C'est sûr que nous on dit un technicien bénévole qui arrive chez nous et qui va toucher rapidement à une caméra, mais encore faut-il le former, donc ça ça demande du temps. Donc c'est sûr qu’une fois que le bénévole est formé pis y est intégré à l’équipe, ça se passe bien. Mais y a quand même un coût rattaché à accueillir des bénévoles, la journée qui arrive y est pas fonctionnel nécessairement.
11459 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: M'hm. En terme de financement, vous en demandez -- vous en avez de besoin, vous en demandez plus, vous voulez faire également plus d’heures, ça va coûter plus cher, donc ça va en exiger plus. Avez-vous pensé à une formule quelconque pour nous aider à ---
11460 M. RACINE: Ben ---
11461 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: --- trouver une façon de faire?
11462 M. RACINE: Comme on le disait précédemment, évidemment le taux horaire est peut-être la façon la plus simple si on souhaite bonifier la programmation d’information. À défaut du taux horaire, ben on peut toujours aller vers un pourcentage des revenus de l’EDR.
11463 Et en ce sens, on souhaite pas qu’y ait plus d’argent, on parle toujours de la même enveloppe là. Dans le cas de la licence de Montréal, c'est l’enveloppe du 1,5 pourcent. Nous tout ce qu’on dit c'est, « Oui, on a assez d’argent, mais assurons-nous que cet argent-là est bien réparti et que tout le monde puisse en profiter. »
11464 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: M'hm. Vous êtes également diffusé sur d’autres plateformes?
11465 M. RACINE: On est diffusé sur le web. Et peut-être une précision par rapport à la question que vous avez posée à la Fédération, y a 38 télévisions communautaires sur les 40 membres de la Fédération qui sont disponibles actuellement sur une plateforme web.
11466 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Et la popularité de ces plateformes-là, êtes-vous en mesure de mesurer ---
11467 M. RACINE: Ben, évidemment ---
11468 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: --- l’intérêt des gens?
11469 M. RACINE: --- oui, c'est sûr qu’on a des outils qui nous permettent de voir le nombre d’écoutes complètes, partielles, et cetera. Y a de l’écoute, définitivement qu’y a de l’écoute. Ça permet aux gens qui ne sont pas abonnés au câble de voir la programmation communautaire. Ça permet aux gens qui ne sont pas de notre région ou qui sont à l’extérieur de la région d’avoir accès à cette programmation-là et de continuer de suivre ce qui se passe chez eux. C'est un outil complémentaire. Notre priorité demeure le canal linéaire, mais c'est un outil. Il faut vivre selon son époque, et je pense que c'est primordial d’être disponible sur une plateforme web.
11470 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Et la disponibilité en ligne, est-ce que c'est l’EDR qui rend ça possible ou si c'est vos propres -- par vos propres moyens?
11471 M. RACINE: Par nos propres moyens.
11472 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: O.k. Vous dites que la programmation devrait se retrouver sur toutes les EDR.
11473 M. RACINE: Ben c'est un souhait, évidemment ---
11474 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Mais vous savez que vous pouvez demander à toutes les EDR dans la zone où vous êtes de prendre jusqu’à quatre heures de vos émissions là, y se réservent un maximum de 20 pourcent pour leur programmation totale?
11475 M. RACINE: Oui, mais par contre, tant que le système ne sera pas balisé -- c'est-à-dire que si je devais offrir quatre heures de ma programmation à Bell, ben je pense que mon financement chez MAtv serait coupé d’autant. Actuellement c'est MAtv qui finance notre programmation, alors à partir du moment où y a aucune balise, ben c'est beau aller vers un autre EDR, mais on risque de ---
11476 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Mais auriez-vous la capacité de produire un autre quatre heures pour Bell qui soit différent de ce que vous fournissez à Vidéotron?
11477 M. RACINE: Ce serait pas pertinent. De répéter les mêmes nouvelles dans un autre format, je pense que ça ferait juste amener des dépenses supplémentaires sans nécessairement que le contenu soit différent.
11478 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Mais vous dites qu’on devrait augmenter de quatre à huit heures?
11479 M. RACINE: Oui.
11480 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Alors vous êtes -- vous semblez dire que vous avez la capacité de faire un quatre heures additionnelles?
11481 M. RACINE: Oui.
11482 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Puis ce quatre heures additionnelles là, s’il était fait pour une autre EDR de votre marché, si vous étiez capable de négocier de l’argent pour le financement, ça ne serait pas une façon pour votre TCA d’en faire plus?
11483 M. RACINE: Ce serait pas impossible. Par contre, ce que ça coûte actuellement, on parlait dans le système canadien de 155 millions, je pense, pour la programmation communautaire.
11484 Pourquoi qu’il y a seulement une partie de la population qui a droit à cette programmation-là?
11485 Alors on travaille fort pour faire une programmation de qualité, faire de l’information locale. Pourquoi ne pas rendre ça disponible à l’ensemble de la communauté?
11486 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Mais les nouvelles plateformes, c’est pas suffisant, vous dites?
11487 M. RACINE: C’est pas suffisant parce que, à titre d’exemple, on s’entend que les jeunes sont très orientés vers le web, ce qui n’est pas le cas des gens un peu plus âgés. Quand on passe la cinquantaine, il y en a qui suivent la technologie; il y en a qui suivent moins vite. Nous, on veut rejoindre tout le monde. On a des émissions pour les gens du troisième âge.
11488 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: M’hm.
11489 M. RACINE: On a des émissions en direct qui ne pourraient pas se faire sur une plateforme web. Exemple, le télé-bingo, qui est une source de financement importante, ça ne se fait pas sur une plateforme web.
11490 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Il y a la télévision communautaire de Vaudreuil-Soulanges qui nous a parlé d’un app pour la télévision intelligente qui existerait qui pourrait être téléchargé sur les télés intelligentes, mais tous ceux qui ont un appareil de télé plat, même si c’est pas des télés intelligentes, peuvent toujours se procurer un adapteur genre Chromecast, Roku. Ça pourrait être une autre façon, ça, d’amener la télévision sur le grand écran.
11491 Est-ce que c’est quelque chose que vous avez regardé ou si ça semble trop compliqué?
11492 M. RACINE: Ça m’apparait un peu tôt pour ce genre d’application-là. Je vous dis pas qu’on ne se dirige pas vers ça dans un avenir quelconque, mais je pense pas qu’au cours des cinq prochaines années la population en général soit prête pour ce genre d’application-là.
11493 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Quand vous dites que les émissions devraient être disponibles sur toutes les EDR dans une zone, est-ce qu’il y a des mesures que vous nous suggéreriez d’adopter pour faire en sorte que cela se réalise?
11494 M. RACINE: Bien, je pense qu’à partir du moment où le Conseil pourrait émettre une reconnaissance à une télévision dans une zone de desserte et que les EDR seraient invités à diffuser notre programmation, bien, évidemment si on parle d’un taux-horaire, si on est diffusé par deux EDR, ce taux-horaire là pourrait être partagé entre les deux EDR en question, ce qui faciliterait le financement et…
11495 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Parce que la beauté de la télévision communautaire autonome c’est qu’elle a accès aux systèmes dans la zone où elle est.
11496 M. RACINE: Oui.
11497 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Là, s’il y a un empêchement à cause d’un intérêt commercial d’une des EDR -- quel genre d’empêchement avez-vous présentement, disons, avec Vidéotron de le faire avec la VSD de Bell? Vous le craignez tout simplement ou s’il y a des dispositions qui vous empêchent de le faire?
11498 M. RACINE: Le financement. C’est le financement.
11499 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Mais le financement est conditionnel à ce que votre émission soit exclusive au service de MAtv?
11500 M. RACINE: Oui.
11501 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: O.k. Enfin, il y a certains intervenants qui disent que la programmation communautaire serait mieux servie si les citoyens en avaient le contrôle. Êtes-vous d’accord avec cette affirmation-là?
11502 M. RACINE: Je suis tout à fait d’accord avec ça puisque c’est la situation qui prévaut dans les TCA. Une télévision communautaire autonome est un organisme à but non-lucratif gérée par un conseil d’administration issu de la communauté. Or, quand on parle de gestion démocratique, c’est exactement ça. C’est la communauté même qui fait ces demandes par rapport à sa télévision et, nous, comme employés, notre responsabilité c’est de s’acquitter de ce mandat-là qui nous est confié par notre conseil d’administration.
11503 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: D’accord.
11504 Alors voilà, ce sont mes questions. Je vous remercie beaucoup.
11505 M. RACINE: Merci.
11506 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Merci, Monsieur le président.
11507 LE PRÉSIDENT: Je me tourne vers mes collègues pour voir s’il y a d’autres questions. Non.
11508 Alors ce sont nos questions. Merci beaucoup pour votre participation. Merci.
11509 Mme BRISSON: Merci.
11510 LE PRÉSIDENT: Madame la secrétaire, s’il vous plaît.
11511 THE SECRETARY: Thank you.
11512 I would now invite TELUS to come forward.
11513 THE SECRETARY: Please introduce yourself and your colleagues and then you have 10 minutes for your presentation.
11514 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Good morning, Mr. Chair, Commissioners. Thank you very much for the opportunity to appear before you to discuss the important issue of local and community television. My name is Ann Mainville-Neeson and I am Vice President of Broadcasting Policy and Regulatory Affairs at TELUS.
11515 With me today from TELUS, on my left are Kim Guise, Director of Optik Local, our community programming service operating in Western Canada, as well as Jonas Woost, Senior Digital Strategy Manager for Optik Local, and Frédéric April, who supports our community programming service in Quebec called maCommunauté. As well, with us is Lecia Simpson, Director of Broadcasting Policy and Regulatory Affairs. I am also very pleased to introduce on our panel some of the wonderful independent producers who are the heart and soul of TELUS’ community programming services.
11516 To my right is Matt Embry, President of Spotlight Productions which has been commissioned by TELUS to produce programming for Optik Local and is capturing intriguing stories in very ground-breaking ways. We’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate Matt and Spotlight on being nominated for a Canadian Screen Award for the Optik Local series, People We Love.
11517 To Matt’s right is Arielle Boisvert who, with an access programming grant from Optik Local, produces the series Eastside Stories which follows residents of Vancouver’s downtown eastside, highlighting their unique spirit as they work to overcome challenges resulting from the socio-economic divide.
11518 And finally, to my far right is Ramin Eshraghi-Yazdi who produces the access series called Cowtown, a half-hour sketch comedy show.
11519 TELUS is proud to provide a voice to communities served by Optik TV and Télé Optik and, in particular, is proud to provide an opportunity for local producers to work at their creative arts in the regions in which they live. The following short compilation of testimonials from the independent producers who have created content for maCommunauté gives a sense of what this means to them.
11520 (VIDEO PRESENTATION)
11521 LE PRÉSIDENT: Est-ce que c’est possible de recommencer au début parce qu’on n’avait pas le côté visuel.
11522 Mme MAINVILLE-NEESON: Désolée.
11523 LE PRÉSIDENT: C’est le côté technique.
11524 Mme MAINVILLE-NEESON: And, of course, we have two videos to show you today.
11525 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, let’s take the time to fix it.
11526 There we go.
11527 (VIDEO PRESENTATION)
11528 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: TELUS Investment and Optik Local and maCommunauté is part of its broader philanthropic activities. TELUS is proud to support sustainable communities and strong social outcomes. Providing a platform for community members to share their stories and get informed about local issues is one of the ways we give back to the communities we serve.
11529 We believe that community programming is a public service, and therefore, we make all of the community programming produced for Optik Local freely available to anyone online. To be clear, you don’t have to be an Optik TV customer to view Optik Local programming. We want the programming to be watched. Not just by our own customers, but by as many people as possible, including people living in the surrounding region, the province, the country and indeed the globe.
11530 The stories told by our independent producer partners inspire community pride and involvement by showcasing what’s great in their area, highlighting the accomplishments of its citizens and informing residents on issues of importance to them. Most importantly though, the stories truly reflect the diversity of local communities, putting on screen persons of various cultures, lifestyles and abilities.
11531 On these points we believe a picture or a video is worth 1,000 words. We prepared a sizzle reel for Optik Local, which we included as our link in our written submission in November, but for anyone who missed it, here is a short recut to share with you now.
11532 (VIDEO PRESENTATION)
11533 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: The song in the background of this video is actually one of the winners from our STORYHIVE competition, which we’re hoping that you will ask us about because STORYHIVE is really an important platform for us in engaging the community for obtaining access programming.
11534 In response to what’s come before us in the hearing, TELUS submits that the following principles should underpin a new policy framework for community and local TV.
11535 First, the Commission should prioritize the outcome of an informed local citizen, but do so without being overly restrictive on the manner in which this goal is achieved.
11536 TELUS believes in the importance of informed citizenship at the local level but submits that various genres of programming can achieve the goal. Maintaining a strict adherence to formats is not the most conducive to audience engagement.
11537 Audiences want a variety of content, “snackable” pieces, as well as long-form content. They are also receptive to information conveyed to them in different ways. Serious news and information is important but comedy and satire can also inform audiences and spark discussion and more research, ultimately contributing to a more informed local citizen.
11538 Second, the Commission should recognize that the community programming complements what’s on local television stations and provides diversity of voices.
11539 TELUS has heard the requests of the independent and vertically integrated local television stations in this proceeding for a fund to subsidize their local programming. However, it’s very important that any new subsidy model not come at the expense of the diversity of voices supported by community television. Community reflection, especially with access programming requirements, is particularly important to counter the intensely concentrated and vertically integrated Canadian broadcasting industry.
11540 Moreover, TELUS submits that the subsidizing the commercial business models of traditional television stations will not incent the innovation required from these stations to provide sustainable programming opportunities in the long run.
11541 Third, the Commission should harmonize the opportunities for small communities to benefit from their contribution monies.
11542 TELUS submits that the small communities served by licensed BDUs should benefit from the full five percent contribution and the zone-based approach for the creation of local programming in the same way as exempt BDUs.
11543 Whether served by licensed or exempt BDUs, small communities shouldn’t be required to fund large national objectives, such as those of the CMF, to the detriment of the needs of their own local communities. The harmonization we propose would not have a significant impact on the CMF but it would have a very positive impact on the production of local programming in small communities.
11544 Fourth and finally, in keeping with the notion that community programming produced with contribution monies is a public service, this programming should be made available to everyone on a non-exclusive basis and on new digital platforms.
11545 TELUS makes all of its programming available online, in addition to its Optik TV platform. By encouraging all community programming outlets to make available all contribution-funded local programming to non-subscription-based digital platforms, the Commission could maximize the exposure of this programming and better achieve the goal of an informed local citizen.
11546 Thank you for your time and we are prepared to answer your questions.
11547 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. I’ll put you in the hands of Commissioner MacDonald. Thanks.
11548 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Good morning. And welcome. To start off, how many employees do you have that are TELUS paid employees that are dedicated to Optik or maCommunauté?
11549 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: This is going to come as a surprise to you because it is actually very few TELUS employees. For Optik Local it’s a total of nine. For maCommunauté it’s one. We rely on our independent producers and that’s why they’re here with us today.
11550 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: And how many independent producers or other volunteers would you have that help contribute to the content and creation and running of these two operations?
11551 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Well, a lot of out access programming comes to us from independent producers. So, for example, Arielle and Ramine are both access producers who are bringing content to us. We did tally our volunteer to our own TELUS employees and it’s a ratio of about 1 to 160. So we have over 1600 volunteers working with us on our various endeavours across our communities.
11552 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: And you currently don’t operate any local studios or production facilities at all in support of these programs; do you?
11553 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: No, we rely on our independent producers and on the facilities that are freely available in the communities, and we can have -- perhaps, Kim could explain a bit some of the facilities that we make available to those who are in need of equipment and facilities.
11554 MS. GUISE: So that's exactly correct.
11555 We rely on our partnerships with community partners, and so we have gone out and developed relationships with organizations, like the Vancouver Public Library that just unveiled its innovation lab, I believe they called it, which has full recording, sound mix, editing facilities that are available for free by registration to the public.
11556 We also work with other community organizations in both provinces, film co ops, other organizations that have camera packages that maybe they want to offer at lower rates. Our story hive community, online community, we have something called a creative directory where people can put up their skill set or what they have to offer to the creative community, and sometimes people do offer things like facilities and equipment as well.
11557 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: So there are different avenues for complimentary resources, if I can use that term.
11558 When you actually have to go out and pay for equipment rental, for example, is it Telus that pays that bill or is it the independent producer?
11559 MS. GUISE: It would be part of the budget submitted to us by the independent producer. So that is part of their budgeting and their process when they apply for an access grant.
11560 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: And what would you just guess or know that the ratio is between resources that you actually have to pay for versus resources that are available on a complimentary basis out there in the community already?
11561 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: I would imagine that would vary very much by community to community.
11562 And perhaps, Matt, did you want to try to give a sense of the ratio of the equipment, or perhaps, Arielle and Ramin? Ramin? Yeah.
11563 MS. BOISVERT: Hello, yes, I would say it definitely varies. For instance, on the story half project I produced, Eastside Stories, our camera team donated the use of their camera package. We paid for the insurance on that package. That was $1,000 out of $10,000 that we were granted. Our sound equipment came from a team that had donated it as well as their hours were volunteered also.
11564 So it definitely varies from project to project. On that project, I guess, you could say it was 10 percent of the budget.
11565 MR. ESHRAGHI-YAZDI: I also am part of a production committee of a local artist-run facility in Calgary, and I know for a fact that a lot of these grants utilize a lot of the local resources, especially in Calgary, and I'm sure it's the same in other regions as well. So these organizations subsidize equipment rental to local artists for the production of local, non commercial, art-based or factual-based projects.
11566 I personally have a production company in Calgary and I have camera gear as well, and I know of other producers who have accessed the Telus grants that use their own camera packages that are also in a way subsidized, so there's a lot of resources used.
11567 And it also helps those community organizations. Being on the production committee, the more rentals and media the group that I'm involved with gets the easier it is to subsidize at a lower rate.
11568 THE CHAIRPERSON: Have you encountered any situations, because it's a busy time of year or because you're in a more remote community, where there has been a scarcity of available equipment and resources that could either be donated or rented?
11569 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: I don't believe that's been an issue with all the grants that we've been -- that we've reviewed. In fact, because the model is so different across all the various regions, where in some cases, the grants come to us, in other cases; such as for maCommunauté, we have an independent production company that is in fact going out into the communities and providing the equipment necessary.
11570 Where that wouldn't be possible we would simply increase -- take that into account in the amount that would be granted to them, and otherwise, assist. We've built so many different partnerships and are able to assist in providing access to facilities throughout the various partnerships that we've created with various independent producers, who, you know, at times operate on a commercial basis and at times are very much involved in the communities and just want to help.
11571 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: So along the lines of trying to make those resources available, one of the suggestions we heard from the Cactus Group last week was that a significant amount of funding be dedicated towards the creation of community media access centres in a large number of communities across the country.
11572 In your view, would that benefit you in your operations, or based on the partnerships that you have, would it be redundant?
11573 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: I do believe that that view seems to be -- we mentioned in the first two parties that were here. You know, some views in this proceeding are very much based in the eighties, where the need was very different for editing suites and the equipment and the studio facilities, which is not the same reality that we have today.
11574 And I think, Ramin, you can expand on that.
11575 MR. ESHRAGHI-YAZDI: those resources already exist. In any major centre, and even the smaller centres, there's multiple organizations. Like in Calgary, for example, there's MMedia, which is a video production house, there is Calgary Society for Independent Filmmakers in Edmonton, there is FAVA. So those hubs already exist.
11576 So the creation of new ones would compete with these institutions that have -- are trying very hard and have been for many years and get their funding through multiple sources, provincial and federal, Canada Council for the Arts, Alberta Foundation for the Arts, and I'm sure it's similar in B.C. as well. So they already exist, and I'm not too sure what setting up other ones would really do in terms of efficiency.
11577 And these organizations have been around long enough that they also communicate with each other so they know what packages of equipment each one has and they refer each other -- refer people to each other when they're unable to serve. So again, they already exist, and I'm not too sure what the addition of further ones would really do for the community. The support of the ones that exist would be an interesting route.
11578 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Because we'd like to note that in the -- since we started our operations we've never faced that problem where someone has come to us and said we can't have access to any facilities, studios. We just can't seem to -- either they're too busy or we can't seem to find them, that's never happened.
11579 When they -- to the extent that there are access to producers, who -- or members of the community who want to -- who come to us merely with an idea, and they want to produce a program, we put them in touch with the resources that they'll need. And it's never happened that we're not able to create those partnerships with those members of the community so that the stories get told.
11580 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: And sort of along that same line of thinking, would it be fair to assume that if there was the creation of these 170 centres across the country, that it may have a detrimental impact on the resources already out there in the system? The private companies that operate and provide those services or the groups that are already set up to be able to on a not for profit basis provide some of those resources.
11581 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: I'm sure that's true, but in addition the -- those centres that Cactus would like to have built will require funding, and I would imagine that they want that funding to come from the existing contribution monies going to the creation of programming. So if we invest in more studios, which may or may not be used, we're taking that money away from programming, and I think that's the real loss to our broadcasting system.
11582 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Some other BDUs that actually do operate facilities on the ground have indicated that they allocate about 40 percent of their revenue to indirect costs, so to keep the lights on, and 60 percent to programming.
11583 Given that your model is so very different, do you have any sense as to how much of your funding is able to get into the hands of producers to actually produce content?
11584 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Yes, we anticipated that question so we did the math.
11585 And, Lecia will correct me if I'm wrong, but it's about 4 percent of indirect costs for us with a very small percent of facilities.
11586 So you were asking other intervenors, their BDUs, how much, you know, to keep the lights on the in the building. Given that we only have nine men and one employees, clearly that's not a huge portion of that at all. There's a little bit of additional resources coming from, you know, a finance person, sometimes a regulatory person, but those are very small amounts. So 4 percent of our entire community budget.
11587 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Along the lines of budget, would you care to comment on the Videotron proposal, whereby BDUs that operate a only on video on demand as opposed to having a linear channel would see their funding reduced by 50 percent?
11588 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Yes frankly, I don’t understand that proposal. The -- by reducing the amount that we’re able to put into programming, merely because we offer it in a more convenient way for our subscribers by making it available on video on demand, doesn’t seem to make any sense to have our funding reduced because we’re making it available more conveniently. The programming, the stories that we’re telling, cost just as much to put on a linear channel as they do to put on video on demand. That’s neither here nor there, so we do not support the Videotron proposal. We really want to keep as much funding going into the stories that we tell.
11589 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: And I’m going to quote your intervention. You:
11590 “Do not see any benefit in
maintaining regulatory requirements with respect to the allocation of funding between direct and indirect costs related to program and production.”
11591 Can you explain that viewpoint to me a little bit? Because it could be argued, at least for those BDUs or providers that operate physical stations, that if there’s no minimum amount of expenditure put on programming that somehow an increased percentage of funding may find its way to indirect costs versus actually going towards programming itself.
11592 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Yes, and you know, we’ve been following this hearing very closely and we’re -- what we’ve heard was somewhat disconcerting from that aspect. So we’re completely open to revising that and should the Commission mandate more strict rules on how much can be allocated to indirect costs versus direct costs, we would probably support that.
11593 Again, we put very little into indirect costs because we want to put as much money into the access programming in particular. We have more access programming than it looks like any of the other BDUs that have come before you in this hearing, and we truly believe in the value of that -- of that programming; and we’re certainly not proposing any reductions to access programming. So for us, we will continue to have much more direct cost investment in the producers outside our company.
11594 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Just switching gears to local news for a second, and you were clear in your intervention that news programming should be left to the local stations. I’m just wondering, can you comment on how we can best service smaller regions that perhaps don’t have a local station to rely on to -- to rely on for news currently?
11595 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Certainly, and I may -- if anyone else wants to comment as well -- but the -- we believe in the concept of a local informed citizen. So in our coming to this hearing, having heard all the submissions, and read all the submissions in this hearing, it seems to us that maintaining very strict categories might not be the way to achieve the ultimate goal that I think the Commission and the Broadcasting Act wants to achieve, and providing information can be done in numerous ways.
11596 So we certainly are of the view that local stations do news very well, and all of the conventional television stations that have come before you have indicated that they don’t have a problem with viewership. They seem to have a problem with monetization, but not with viewership. So they clearly do news well, and we believe that the community element provides complimentary information and does that very well, and we would -- we consider it important that those two elements be there.
11597 I understand your question Commissioner MacDonald, however, to be in those small regions where there is not local television station -- and in those cases I think we’ve seen in many small regions fill that need for the community in certain ways.
11598 And perhaps I will ask my colleague from Quebec, Frédéric, peux-tu indiquer un peu comment les petites régions ont -- amènent les nouvelles à leurs communautés? Mets ton micro.
11599 M. APRIL: Pour le contenu communautaire, nous, de quelle façon on est présent et puis on peut avoir les histoires qui se déroulent dans nos communautés c’est qu’on a une équipe qui fait notre contenu interne puis qui -- en fait, c’est une entreprise locale qui travaille pour nous qui fait le contenu interne puis qui recherche ces histoires-là dans les communautés, qui de déplace puis qui va voir ce qui se passe, qui déniche ces histoires-là qui se déroulent dans nos communautés puis qui amène cette information-là qui permet aux gens de voir des histoires qui sont le reflet de ce qui se passe chez eux, finalement.
11600 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: You’re obviously experts in video on demand services and people tend to like to watch news live. Do you think there is a benefit to offering news on an on demand service?
11601 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Probably not the very time sensitive newscasts, which is why our on demand service does not provide that type of programming. We have more evergreen programming on our video on demand service that does provide that more in depth, or information that will have a certain longevity. But to be clear, in Quebec, from maCommunauté we do also operate a linear service, so we do both in -- you know, in order to really understand and meet the needs of each community we have adapted our service in different ways, and in Quebec we do have that linear service as well.
11602 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: In your mind, what’s the best platform to reach people these days? Is it still the linear station? Is it video on demand? Is it uploading everything to a YouTube channel, or does it have to be a mix of everything?
11603 MS MAINVILLE-NEESON: I’d like to have Jonas answer this, because I think it really is a mix and it requires a strategy to market. All -- I believe that all content needs to have a certain amount of marketing so that it does ultimately meet where the viewers are.
11604 MR. WOOST: So building on that, I think the answer as what’s the best platform to show the content is that the good old, it depends. It really depends on the -- not only the type of content, the type of story that’s being told; it just depends on the length, it depends on the audience you want to reach.
11605 And what we try is we just use a multitude of platforms, including a linear service in Quebec, as well as a video on demand platform, as well as YouTube -- very popular. On Facebook we’re reaching a completely new audience that we feel we haven’t reached anywhere else. Facebook is a very large platform for video consumption these days, the second largest in the world online, and we use all these platforms depending on the piece, to reach audiences.
11606 Everything that we do do goes on our video on demand platform, so we do put everything on there. But to be frank, with certain stories that we tell, we see they perform -- audience wise -- they perform better in the digital platform, and again it depends on the story.
11607 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: So I take your -- sorry do you have something?
11608 MR. EMBRY: Yeah, when it comes to creating content for communities and trying to create that informed citizen, or that informed community, what we find is that the communities are existing online. So for us to take it to a Facebook platform, that community exists, we’re reaching it immediately and we’re getting that immediacy and can push people to the VOD for more content.
11609 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: In fact, as we noted in our written submission, by having a very strong digital media strategy it actually boosted the viewership on our video on demand service. So the -- all of these platforms have synergies and are cross-promoting each other. So you know, I think as to reinforce what Jonas has indicated, we have to be everywhere if we want the content -- if we want to reach the maximum audience.
11610 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: When you’re developing that strategy and making decisions around how long a piece should be and what platform it may best be viewed upon, are you able to collect any details around demographic information, or what age groups prefer to receive content on Facebook, versus linear, versus on demand, versus YouTube?
11611 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Our independent producers are the ones who are going to make the decisions on how to tell their story and who their audience is. I’m wondering, Ramin and Matt, did you want to respond?
11612 MR. ESHRAGHI-YAZDI: So as an independent producer and dealing with Telus, we bring the projects to Telus and we, like stated, determine how we want to tell that story. But it’s not just -- it doesn’t end the whole -- the spectrum of from creation to delivery. There’s a consultation back and forth and there is guidance in terms of where to put it and how to position it. There’s marketing backed from Telus as well to help push the piece.
11613 A lot of times for independent producers, it’s this balance of where do we get the funds to create something? And because that is so weighted heavy in video production, the thought of where will it go and how will it land with your end audience who you’re thinking of before you even come up with the package, how will it get there?
11614 So TELUS does a great job of supporting that as well. But it’s really the independent producers who are pushing it as well as TELUS and who know where it’s going. And I’m the one who’s watching the clicks go up or not. So we’re very engaged and then we feed that information back to TELUS as well because we’re pretty much all in it together.
11615 MR. WOOST: But, Commissioner MacDonald, to be clear, when -- so we can collect all this demographic data on, depending on the platform, how old the audience is, where they’re based, et cetera, et cetera.
11616 But we, as TELUS, we don’t go out and say we now need to reach people in this age group on this platform. It’s about telling the stories that are not being told anywhere else. It starts with a story. And it always starts with a story coming from a producer. They bring these stories to us and then we look at the story. And then afterwards we see like, do we feel this might work better on VOD? Might this work on YouTube? And sort of dependent on that we must adjust the marketing strategy on how we market it, but it’s not a decision factor as to what we want to commission or what we want to fund.
11617 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: And the topic of how you market it is a great segue into my next questions around discoverability. How do you ensure that people are actually -- actually know about the content and then are able to find it on one of the various platforms?
11618 MS. GUISE: So on VOD we take a holistic approach. We merchandise our community programming side-by-side with foreign Hollywood American content and get an amazing amount of discoverability that way. We leverage ad avails, the Barker Channel, newsletters to our customers. But then in the online space, we’re leveraging Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and just connecting with those communities in -- for that show that is the most authentic and where we think we can get the most reach. So it’s a holistic approach and it’s in both platforms as well.
11619 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: And I’d like to, you know, reiterate because this is an important point. We’re not just putting our content somewhere in some submenu of our VOD platform. It is -- when we have some new content, it’s going up into the “what’s new” category. And so it could be what’s new right there with the new X-Files. It could be right up there with the next new Hollywood movies. So when it’s new, it’s up there along with everything else. And that certainly helps that discoverability.
11620 MS. GUISE: And just to highlight one area we’ve also innovated in is we partnered with Air Canada and we actually tested some of our STORYHIVE content for the last three months. So if you’ve been on a plane, recently you might have had the pleasure of watching some of our STORYHIVE content on the in-flight entertainment system as well.
11621 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Because communities are important.
11622 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: I’m sorry, I ---
11623 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Because communities are important. And yes, we believe in the -- this is local content. But I think it was at the very beginning of this hearing we heard VICE say that, you know, local stories sometimes can have relevance on a much larger scale. And we’re finding that the stories that are being told that come to us, we’re just amazed on how they do have that value much broader and we’ve decided that let’s promote that. And this partnership with Air Canada is, you know, a first step in let’s really promote this content that we’re very proud of the communities to have developed.
11624 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: I find that to be a really interesting statement because just yesterday when MTS was presenting, they were very much the viewpoint that their local community stories would only be of interest to that community or perhaps the province, and didn’t really think that there would be much uptick from the rest of Canada or, you know, other countries. So I’m wondering, can you speak to that a little bit? Any details you may have around how your programming is enjoyed outside your service territory?
11625 MR. EMBRY: Yeah, I think I can. We do -- Spotlight Productions does a quite large volume of work with TELUS. And what we try to do is we like to approach the stories from a short-form or a long-form documentary. So we think we know what the standard community television is like. We like to go in and find a character or a story and get very in depth. We try to find that local gem that tells the community, that creates pride in the community, but also find the international story behind that, the universal story, the story that everyone in the world could possibly relate to.
11626 And we’ve been able to achieve that by using the platform of Facebook where we’ve had viewers from around the world comment on our YouTube links as we find these stories and tell them.
11627 MS. BOISVERT: Yeah, I’m, you know, speaking as just one of the independent producers here. The goal of any production certainly I have is always to get it seen by as many people as possible. And though we are telling stories from our community, the ultimate hope and goal is that they expand beyond, you know, nationally and hopefully globally. And I think that’s what you’ll see based on the content that TELUS is overseeing that the content producers are really bringing forward those global stories that hit to the human, you know, around the globe and are touching deeper than what you might see, you know, from a 30-second or 1-minute clip on your standard news -- sorry, news broadcast.
11628 MR. ESHRAGHI-YAZDI: A very tangible link. I do two programs with TELUS Optik. One of the programs is a music variety show. And I personally have a mandate as a local producer to highlight the amazing artists and performers in my backyard. I spent some time in Montreal and I’m so impressed with Quebec’s ability to recognize their own talent and to support their own talent. And that’s something I would love to take to Calgary and I’ve tried in my practice.
11629 But one tangible way was in our show “Sing, Talk, Play”, which again is a music variety show, we featured over 42 acts, most of them being Western Canadian and most of those being Albertan and most of those being Calgary-based. And one of which she had no content on the web at all. We did an episode and she has since had 25,000 views on our YouTube channel and has since signed a record deal with Sony.
11630 But at the time when we made this, she had no material on the web. So we were able to provide that material through support through TELUS Optik which helped us help the artist and the volunteers who helped with the show. So there was multiple people who benefitted from that one grant that was given to us by TELUS Optik.
11631 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: This is something we feel very passionate about and I think Frédéric would like to add as well.
11632 M. APRIL: Je voulais dire simplement qu’au Québec, on dessert des villes comme Baie Comeau. On a Rimouski. Puis souvent les sujets qui sont abordés comme, par exemple, quand on parle des vitalisations des régions, c’est des sujets qui vont concerner quand même toutes nos régions. Donc ça peut être une histoire qui est dans une communauté mais qui va toucher toutes les autres communautés qu’on rejoint.
11633 MS. GUISE: And I would just add one last example. Years ago we did a story on the first Sikh RCMP officer in B.C. to wear his turban to work. And we found that when the niqab issue came up with the latest federal election, that story was breathed new life and we were approached by another BDU to actually have some of that footage and those soundbites. Because that story had longevity and universality. So it went beyond just Surrey, B.C. and B.C.
11634 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: You’re obviously doing great things. But I have to ask the question, should the BDUs still be the ones responsible for managing this content and how it reaches Canadians or reaches to other countries? Or does it make more sense to have one national database to house all of this content and be charged with making it accessible to as many people as possible?
11635 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Well, I thought your question was going to the point of, you know, are the BDUs the best custodian of the monies going into community content. And if that’s the question in response to the proposals from, for example, Cactus, we do believe that we are very much so because we have the infrastructure, the marketing. You know, we’re in the business of selling content. And therefore, to the extent that we gather the content that’s coming to us from the communities and we are marketing it so that it gets viewed and our proposal is to make it non-exclusive so that you -- if there was to be some organization that wants to aggregate all of this content, we would not be opposed to that at all. We believe that it would just increase the viewership of this content.
11636 And should such an aggregator come to light, whether on a basis of the communities, if any individual community wanted to gather all of the community programming that was funded by the BDUs to put together as a community programming service, they could do so, or on a more national basis, to the extent that community programming is also stories that are of national interest in many cases, especially if they’re told right. When they go in depth in the way that as you can see we’re very passionate about here. Any type of aggregation is definitely worthwhile. But when it comes to the BDU’s involvement in marketing the programming that comes to us for our community programming services, we have to believe that we’re very good at selling content.
11637 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: So if the extent of that type of arrangement was just an organization that was an aggregator, you don't see a problem with that? You wouldn't see a problem releasing the content that you currently house to the segregator to have it housed in a larger repository?
11638 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: None at all. We do view the money that we put into community programming from our contribution funding is -- this is a public service that we already make broadly available. It's not just for Telus customers, and we would have no problem in providing that content.
11639 To the extent that, you know, copyright issues have been raised already in this hearing, for the most part, where we are the funder of the content, we already have the releases required to be able to make the content available as broadly as possible on multiple platforms. Any access content that's brought to us that wasn't funded to us, we would have to go and seek those releases.
11640 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: And who owns the content that is produced? Is it actually by the individual producer in the community?
11641 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Where it's the -- where it's access programming, yes, it is owned by the access producer.
11642 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay.
11643 I'm not a copyright lawyer; I'm not a lawyer at all. So I wanted to ask about copyright concerns, because they were of concern to MTS yesterday. They said that, basically -- and I don't want to quote their words -- so basically, they could manage it, you know, within the confines of Manitoba, but if they were looking at a national basis, it would be cost-prohibitive.
11644 And I'm just wondering, how do you deal with any copyright issues? Do you foresee any issues if more of a national approach is taken?
11645 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: I'm not exactly sure what MTS was referring to yesterday. To the extent that there are many, you know, various tariffs that we do pay in any event, likely community programming can be rolled in under those tariffs. Otherwise, clearing the rights for all of the, you know, the content, the music and the videos and all that, you know, might have some additional costs which would be something that the producers of that content will see as a trade-off, is to make their programming national, are they willing to pay the additional fees for the additional licensing to the extent that they're not full ownerships of the content.
11646 If they view someone else's music as background and whatnot, then I think those are the types of decisions that producers make on an everyday basis. And generally, I would believe they're in favour of making their content as broadly available as possible, but I do have experts here next to me.
11647 MS. GUISE: Totally, agree, yes.
11648 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: It's always good when there's agreement. No, go ahead.
11649 MR. ESHRAGHI-YAZDI: I was going to say, absolutely in agreement.
11650 There are a couple of tiers, that from an independent producer, from what I've seen Telus has done in the last three years, they've infused the Western Canadian -- and that's all I can speak to is the Western Canadian industry -- with a new funding model that didn't exist before.
11651 So there was level that started off and then there was a higher, much higher broadcast level, and there was nothing in between. And Telus has, in the last couple of years, kind of filled that, has given an intermediate step to the next level which didn't exist before, But in those three steeps there are a variety of copyright scenarios.
11652 In the first step that Telus has provided through their program, Story Hive, it's for people who are maybe starting out, and there's more guidance and there's less copyright scenarios. But in the higher tier, it's usually more professional producers, who are thinking about copyright well before they even apply for granting. So a lot of those concerns are already dealt with from the producer's level.
11653 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: You had said earlier, you hoped that we would ask about Story Hive, and I did want to.
11654 Can you explain it to me a little bit?
11655 MR. WOOST: Maybe I should have done this at the start of this.
11656 But -- so Story Hive is our community-powered funding platform, and with the community, the audience helps us decide on who should receive access funding.
11657 So the way it works is that the producers would upload an idea, a pitch to Story Hive to come to our website. It's all public, and anyone out there -- this is anyone in the world, anyone who is on the Internet -- can vote on who should receive funding. We then take these votes, and together with a jury, we then make the funding decisions.
11658 So that's important, there is a jury in there as well. This is not a popularity contest. There is also a jury in there.
11659 So what that enables us to do is -- well, in essence, to involve the community into, not only the funding process, and you know, the community helps us decide on who should receive money, but it continues through to they're going to get the money, they're making something, they're publishing it. The community is still there, they're still involved, they're still part of it, they're sharing it, they're watching it, of course, and they're telling their friends about it.
11660 And it kind of gives the projects that are typically more for emerging filmmakers, because at this level the grants, the access grants, that we give out through Story Hive, are a little smaller, and it allows that content that is funded, to give it a little of longevity, and people actually watch it.
11661 You know, it was already mentioned that some of our Story Hive content is on Air Canada, and there's a reason why that was the content that ended up on Air Canada, because there was, let's say, a momentum behind it, and that momentum was there because of that community that were involved right from the start.
11662 MS. GUISE: And because once you're in a Story Hive ecosystem you are trying to build your own fan base or audience, your final projects have that built in audience and that excitement. And as people interact on the platform, voting for the projects that they want made in their community, they're also getting exposed to other projects in other surrounding communities in B.C. and Alberta.
11663 So it's this beautiful synergy that happens online, and it's not just digital natives, it's, you know, content creators from various, you know, points of their life and their career.
11664 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: The Story Hive platform is one of the ways that we allocate our access funding. Obviously, we have the more traditional access grants, applications come in to us, and we'll grant them that way.
11665 But what's really interesting about the Story Hive platform, in addition to building that audience even before the content is made, because it's -- people are voting on the pitches that are put there, but it's also created a platform to bring the various creators together.
11666 So you can create a pitch for a story that you want to make, but you might not have the writer or the director or the cameraman to -- the resources that you need to be able to get to that final step and make the content that you've pitched. And the -- that platform, the whole Story Hive, the hive part of it, is -- allows things to come -- people to come together to build that content.
11667 So it's been a very innovative and successful way for us to go into new communities, because we're a new entrant. Even though we're now considered a large BDU, we're still a new entrant in many of the communities as we grow into smaller communities, and we are not as known. And one of the very few drawbacks of not having a bricks and mortar place that, you know, a door that access producers can knock on is they might not be aware of our funding opportunities for their content.
11668 So this is one way that we're reaching out and making it as broadly available as possible. You know, really going into the communities and seeing what's there, especially in -- for newer types of content. Not the traditional type, but people who want to tell stories in a different way, this is a great platform for them to try their hand.
11669 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: You mentioned the jury that's created to oversee all of this. Sometimes online voting platforms do become a popularity contest and what's popular gets the most votes and what's not popular, either based on views expressed or perhaps it's a program targeted towards a smaller community.
11670 What criteria does your jury use to safeguard against that and make decisions about no, we don't want to fund this program that got the most votes, we want to fund this initiative that maybe got very few votes?
11671 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Right, and I'm going to pass it to Jonas.
11672 And I'll say that this is something that we've thought through, you know, very much before we launched and we understand the pitfalls of these types of things, as we've seen with the All Star Game and the voting process for the NHL there. So we've really addressed that with a two tiered approach to decision-making.
11673 MR. WOOST: So the way we like to approach it is that the public, the community gets 49 percent of the decision-making. So it becomes a very, very large data point for us is the votes. We know how many votes there are; however, just because someone has a lot of votes does not guarantee them to receive funding.
11674 The jury will then sit down together. Of course, they would have reviewed everything, looked at the proposals, looked at the number of votes. And then based on that, together with the votes, making sure that we represent different types of stories, different types of communities, different types of faces in front of the camera, behind the camera, different viewpoints, and making sure that broadcast standards are -- everything is under broadcast standards, so sort of the typical stuff that we do on the rest of our access portfolio when we go through all the applications and yeah, so then after that we make a decision.
11675 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Okay. Thank you.
11676 Just shifting gears to funding for a couple of minutes. You suggested that markets with no conventional television station that the BDU should be allowed to contribute the full five percent of contributions towards the community channel. On the other hand, you also said that we shouldn’t get down into the weeds and mandate community channels produce any particular type of programming like local news, for example.
11677 So my question is, if we’re providing more flexibility, shouldn’t that also come with a certain level of expectation to produce news or anything else for that matter?
11678 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Yes, and I appreciate that, Commissioner MacDonald. One of the, you know, the evolutions that has come as we’ve watched the hearing is that there are -- we do agree that there is an importance in creating programming for that local informed citizen. It doesn’t necessarily need to be newscasts.
11679 So we still have grave concerns with sticking to the categories that are set out in the commissions -- in the regulations. So category 1 and, you know, 2A and then -- and whatnot. We believe that a more flexible approach needs to be taken to what constitutes programming that will lead to a local informed citizen. That being said, in exchange for maintaining some of the -- more funding for the small communities, we would take on an obligation to create programming that would lead to that -- you know, of that genre.
11680 We haven’t proposed a definition at this time but we would be happy to provide our thoughts on what would be the definition of news or programming leading to an informed local citizen that would enable us to maintain the five percent contribution in those small communities.
11681 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Okay. If you can provide your thoughts on that that would be ---
11682 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Yes.
11683 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: --- appreciated.
11684 In your intervention you also stated that BDUs which are not VIs and have no program undertakings who currently benefit from CMF funding should be allowed to redirect that fund into community programs. Are you at all concerned with what impact that may have on the available funding that the CMF has to distribute?
11685 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: We do believe that in fact it’s -- it would be very small because we were really targeting the small community. What we were looking at is the harmonization which needs to occur.
11686 We have many licensed areas simply because we launched as a regional BDU with a regional license that had numerous municipalities listed as licensed areas. All of those, many, many of those areas that we’ve launched in very recent years could be operating on an exempt basis if we hadn’t been previously licensed.
11687 And those BDUs that are operating on an exempt basis do maintain the full five percent contribution in their areas so that those small communities are benefitting from the maximum dollar staying within their communities.
11688 We suggest that there shouldn’t be that kind of discrepancy from a licensed to an exempt basis. So if you’re eligible for exemption but otherwise are licensed, you should be able to retain the full five percent contribution. That -- doing that aspect would not impact the CMF in any significant way. The back of the envelope map that we’ve done is very, very low. And yet it would have a significant impact on those small communities.
11689 The other aspect of harmonization that we believe is necessary is the fact -- and this is where it does -- it’s more of a VI problem but mostly an incumbent problem, when the Commission established that it would lower the amount of funding that can be -- contribution that can be directed by the BDUs, it maintained the -- it dropped to 1.5 but you can maintain your 210 levels of -- until you reach that 1.5 percent.
11690 Now for an incumbent, anyone who has static or declining revenues, you’re going to maintain those 210 -- 2010 levels for quite some time. But for a new BDU such as TELUS and a growing BDU, right away we went from the 2 percent to 1.5 percent that we could allocate to communities that we serve. And that kind of discrepancy or lack of symmetry is not conducive to the benefit of those small communities, in our view.
11691 COMMISSIONER MACDONALD: Okay. Thank you very much for your answers. Those are my questions.
11692 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Commissioner Simpson?
11693 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Thank you very much. I just have two areas to ask about.
11694 I cannot recall from your original submission whether you had defined in small market, when you -- on point three of your intervention today you had said that you believe that all BDUs including the exempt should be able to benefit from a five percent allocation. And you had made reference to small markets.
11695 The regulations that we’ve been using don’t necessarily prescribe what a small market is. We’ve been using an earmark of 300,000. What’s your definition it if differs from ours?
11696 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: From our perspective, one of the easiest calculations for us to make was where we could otherwise be exempt. So where our subscriber level has not yet reached the 20,000 mark. For us, that -- in a large community it doesn’t take very long before you reach that mark. In a small community it will take that much longer.
11697 So using the definition from the Commission’s exemption order seems to us to be a reasonable bailiwick.
11698 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay. Thanks for that.
11699 The second thing that peaked my interest is being the type of company you are -- you know, you described yourself what I find interestingly as a bit of a content company and then you revised by saying we like selling content. But from the standpoint of how you serve the many communities you do -- and I think in Vancouver ---
11700 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Yes.
11701 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: --- of the problematic situations we’ve heard about there being so many different geographies, municipalities and the like and also so many different ethnic communities. I go back to the use of video on demand platforms. But you tie it together in a way where you talk about social media channels as well. And I thought that was very interesting because it seems that you’re approaching your curation, if you like, and exposure of the various types of content you’re producing as much more than just a VOD platform. You’re thinking of it in a social media context. And I wonder if you can comment on that.
11702 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Absolutely. I’ll start and perhaps some of my colleagues want to fill in.
11703 But you know, I don’t believe I referred to TELUS as a content company. We don’t own any content companies. But we certainly are in the business of selling content. Optik TV is selling content and, you know, we were selling the programming services of, you know, both Canadian and foreign.
11704 But the content that we have, you know, from the communities, we certainly view that we want to make it broadly available. And this is part of the public service element that we view in this. In creating this content, the value that it brings, it only gets realized if it’s viewed. And so we’re putting all of our marketing efforts into making sure that it’s as broadly -- the value of it is as broadly realized as possible. That’s -- this is something that we do very well, selling content.
11705 And so when we apply it to this public service content, we are using all of the streams that we know are very useful and successful in otherwise “selling” content.
11706 Does anyone want to add to that?
11707 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Well, I was hoping to get a pick up from some of the other producers because one of the things when you find a niche or an area that really appeals to you as a content producer is usually with an audience in mind. And I’m wondering on the theme of using all the tools in the social media playbook how you collaborate beyond just the creation of the production with TELUS to really merge your minds around the idea of getting your content seen by the community as well as the talent that you’re already bringing into the equation of working with them.
11708 So it’s -- because it’s an area we haven’t had a lot of discussion about. You know, this -- I don’t want to call it the marketing collaboration but a collaboration to aid in discovery and penetration into the markets that should see your content.
11709 MR. EMBRY: Yeah. That conversation starts right from the pitch.
11710 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
11711 MR. EMBRY: I mean, the moment we find our subject or a story that needs to be told, we’re already talking with TELUS in regards to how we’re going to get this out to the most people possible.
11712 And I believe there’s also a grassroots nature to that that when you’re actually creating the content you’re informing your participants or if you’re working with a larger community, how they’re going to get access to it before it even reaches those platforms. And so the community starts building itself, while we’re in production, through post-production, and then all the great marketing efforts that go forth to get it out there, all help build that community. And for us, going forward, it also works to create new relationships with new talent in those communities that aren’t hearing the voice. They can come to us now, which all of a sudden now there’s more communication going back and forth and we can grow those stories as well.
11713 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: You know, it’s not unlike a studio relationship in the motion picture business, really, where they’ve got money, and distribution, and marketing talents, and you’ve got content. It’s something that I would -- that I hoped I had -- we would be hearing more of.
11714 The other question I’ve got for you, MTV -- sorry, MTS the other day had a very innovative model, and one of the things that tickled my fancy was their App, because it seemed to do such a heck of a good job of really laying out the buffet of content and -- in a way that other online -- you know, HTML type content doesn’t. Do you have an App?
11715 MR. WOOST: So Telus Optik TV has an App, yes. And all our content is available on that App to all our subscribers. But the reality is that what we try to do when we reach audiences is that we wanted to reach those audiences where they already are, and let’s be honest, YouTube, and it’s Facebook, and it’s Twitter, and convincing someone to download our app -- although of course we should all download the App, it’s a great App, you know, that is not the core of our strategy. The core is to make sure that we go to where the people already are.
11716 I also want to pick on just one point earlier about how we promote our content and find those communities. It can be very, very easy to promote community based content, because there is a community that you speak to and that community wants to share those stories. So sometimes it really just comes down to, you know, making that community aware of the fact there is this story available, say on Facebook, say on VOD, say on YouTube, and they’ll share it. And we just, you know, have to help them a little bit.
11717 But it all goes from then -- we often quite frankly it surprises us sometimes, where we didn’t know that community was that big, and we suddenly get content that is viewed by tens of thousands of people, where we thought, you know, maybe the community of Unicycle Mountain Biking, I think that was one of the things that were in this, you know, it must be quite small. This was a very, very successful video that many people shared, that many people watched. I think we’re going to go to Sheffield to a mountain biking festival.
11718 So it really -- it can be really easy to share that content since there is a community already out there.
11719 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: How un-BDU like of you to do that, because everything in these traditional industries are about pulling audiences inward. Thank you very much.
11720 One more question and then I go. Do you -- because of the online abilities to make contact with your audiences, do you use any permission based marketing to generate more interest and awareness of -- by any push technology, when it comes to discovery of your content?
11721 MS. GUISE: I’m sorry, what kind of technology? I’m sorry.
11722 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Push technology.
11723 MS. GUISE: Push technology.
11724 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Broadcasting traditionally is a monologue and thing of a digital as a dialogue, and I’m not trying to advocate that you should start spamming your audiences, but if you do have a permission based relationship, are you using it to communicate information about new content?
11725 MR. WOOST: So Telus overall -- sorry, Telus Optik TV has a digital newsletter that goes out to all subscribers making them aware of the new releases, Hollywood releases, et cetera, et cetera. You will find our content in there as well. That would by a push relationship. People have opted in.
11726 We also do what is - maybe what you’re also referring to on Facebook, on Twitter. Sometimes we use paid opportunities to reach audiences, and in that case, sometimes we reach people that are already part of our community and we pay for that. We don’t do a lot of that, to be honest.
11727 We want to make sure that the money more goes to that end of the table that sits over there. So, you know, paid marketing, yes it’s part of our strategy, but you know, we ask as many questions -- before we spend money we really want to see the value at the end of that and not just go out and spend money.
11728 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: It’s a relationship you don’t want to abuse. It’s a two edged -- sorry, yes.
11729 MS. GUISE: Exactly, and just to close up on that point, as Matt was saying about it being a true partnership. We will get our creators to think about things that maybe they aren’t aware of, or it’s not on their social media marketing radar. Where we say there’s very strong feminist themes in this project, for example, we think we should really promote it during, you know, International Women’s day, or Black History Month, or Pride. And we will try to find some common thread to even increase the interest of a story that might have huge local relevance, but then will have more universal appeal across our various serving areas and the globe.
11730 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay. Thank you.
11731 LE PRÉSIDENT: Monsieur Conseiller Dupras?
11732 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: In Quebec it seems a bit different than the rest of the country, in terms of the level of expense of BDU-produced programming than -- I mean it’s much higher. How do you explain that?
11733 M. APRIL: Vous voulez dire que nos coûts de production sont moins élevés?
11734 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Non, est-ce que les coûts de production de programmation d’accès versus les coûts de production par l’EDR ou que l’EDR paye à d’autres qui ne sont pas de la programmation d’accès…
11735 Mme MAINVILLE-NEESON: Monsieur le conseiller…
11736 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: …n’ont pas le même équilibre que dans le Canada anglais. Les dépenses de programmation d’accès dans le Canada anglais sont beaucoup plus élevées qu’au Québec?
11737 M. APRIL: Je vous dirais que du côté du Québec, habituellement les dépenses en production de contenu sont à environ 50/50.
11738 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: C’est ça.
11739 M. APRIL: Puis il y a la production d’un côté sur la chaîne linéaire de conseils de ville, notamment qui fait que les coûts de production interne sont aussi élevées que la programmation d’accès.
11740 Mme MAINVILLE-NEESON: En partie, Monsieur le conseiller, la différence -- les distinctions entre ce que nous rapportons pour le Québec et puis l’ouest du Canada, ça a beaucoup rapport avec la chaîne linéaire que nous opérons au Québec parce qu’il faut remplir la chaîne et puis nous devons donc -- n’ayant pas autant de production d’accès, nous devons quand même remplir les heures, remplir les minutes, et donc il y a beaucoup plus de production par notre qui est généré par…
11741 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Au niveau de l’accès, il y a moins de demande de la part des citoyens?
11742 Mme MAINVILLE-NEESON: En fait, c’est tout simplement en fonction de la chaîne linéaire où on a beaucoup plus d’heures à remplir sur la chaîne linéaire et donc le montant d’accès doit être comblé par la production de…
11743 COMMSSIONER DUPRAS: You say in your presentation today that you don’t have to be an Optik customer to view Optik local programming.
11744 Est-ce que vous voyez un problème à ce que la programmation qui est faite sous le canal communautaire de TELUS soit disponible à des canaux communautaires de d’autres EDR dans votre marché, par exemple?
11745 Mme MAINVILLE-NEESON: Définitivement, notre position est que les productions qui sont financées par la contribution définitivement devraient être accessibles par n’importe qui, alors y compris tous les autres regroupements de télévision communautaire.
11746 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Donc, par exemple, dans un territoire où Vidéotron serait là, vous êtes d’accord à ce que la programmation d’accès qui est faite sous TELUS puisse être utilisée par MAtv de sorte que cette programmation-là soit accessible à tout le monde?
11747 Mme MAINVILLE-NEESON: Absolument. Ils seraient les bienvenus d’avoir notre production d’accès et la production qui est financée par la contribution.
11748 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Et dans ce cas-là, disons que ça devenait possible, parce qu’on comprend que les argents à partir desquels les productions sont faites, ce n’est pas de l’argent qui appartient aux EDR et que c’est pas de l’argent pour promouvoir la marque de l’EDR. Disons que ça devenait possible, à ce moment-là, est-ce que vous pensez que le pourcentage d’accès devrait être augmenté pour faire plus de place à de la programmation d’accès sur les canaux communautaires?
11749 Ou si, par exemple, vous dites “On a des émissions comme des conseils de ville qu’on veut absolument mettre, ça prend de la place. C’est pas nécessairement de la programmation d’accès” il faudrait quand même garder une partie pour de la programmation autre?
11750 Mme MAINVILLE-NEESON: Alors si votre question est à savoir est-ce que nous devrions accepter la programmation qui est, disons, financée par Vidéotron sur notre service, nous soutenons définitivement la proposition de non exclusivité et d’avoir le choix d’obtenir la programmation qui a été financée par les fonds de contribution, mais je ne crois pas qu’une EDR à l’autre devrait avoir l’obligation d’avoir la programmation de l’un à l’autre.
11751 Mais si un producteur d’accès nous amenait leurs productions qu’ils ont financées eux-mêmes…
11752 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Et qui veulent aller aussi le montrer sur la chaîne du concurrent, il n’y a pas de problème?
11753 Mme MAINVILLE-NEESON: Non, et généralement on ne refuse pas de programmation d’accès.
11754 Frédéric, est-ce que tu veux ajouter à ça? Il n’y a pas beaucoup de production d’accès qui a été refusée chez TELUS.
11755 M. APRIL: Nous, d’un côté, au Québec, je vous dirais que s’il y a 3 pourcent des projets qui sont refusés, c’est bon. Je dirais que la plupart du temps il y a des discussions qui sont initiées par rapport à, par exemple, le budget, combien est-ce qu’on doit financer, est-ce que c’est réaliste, est-ce que le projet est viable et tout ça, est-ce que le contenu est commercial ou violent ou quoi que ce soit. Mais il y a une discussion qui est amorcée et puis souvent il y a des compromis qui sont faits et puis je vous dirais que c’est très rare qu’il y a de la programmation d’accès qui -- des projets qui ne sont pas soutenus de notre côté.
11756 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Sur la vidéo-sur-demande il y a plus d’espace. On pourrait mettre plus de programmation. Donc est-ce que ça pourrait être plus au niveau de la vidéo-sur-demande que l’accès à la programmation venant d’ailleurs doivent être possible aux producteurs d’accès?
11757 Mme MAINVILLE-NEESON: Oui, la question pour nous c’est vraiment le financement.
11758 Alors dans la mesure où dans l’ouest nous finançons au-delà de 80 pourcent de notre production d’accès.
11759 Et certainement on pourrait accepter plus de programmation sur la vidéo-sur-demande, mais par ailleurs, il faut que cette programmation nous vienne -- qu’on nous fait la demande pour accéder à la plateforme, et dans le moment, les demandes ne sont pas là. On n’a pas reçu de demande qu’on a refusée, et là où on a refusé, comme Frédéric a indiqué, moins de 3 pourcent, c’était des questions de normes, qui fait en sorte que la programmation ne pourrait pas être ni mise sur une chaîne linéaire, ni acceptée pour une plateforme de vidéo-sur-demande.
11760 CONSEILLER DUPRAS: Parfait. Merci beaucoup.
11761 LE PRÉSIDENT: Merci.
11762 Madame la conseillère Molnar.
11763 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Good afternoon.
11764 I just wanted to ask you, you spoke a lot about the extent to which you promote your products and how important it is that they be discoverable and be available to all, but what is clearly missing from that strategy, if you will, is the linear channel.
11765 So how valuable do you think the linear channel is in making this content available to the citizens?
11766 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: So to be clear, all Optik TV customers have access to video on demand. It’s not a question of them not having access if there wasn’t a linear channel. So that first off.
11767 And, secondly, the video on demand platform, we’re an IP TV service; we’re not the traditional cable. And where our subscribers might tend to have more -- more -- be more welcoming of technology such as video on demand, and when you offer a large, large number of programming services as we do, the concept of channel surfing is not really something that, I would say, any of our subscribers truly do anymore. You would never land on any program to watch if you just channel surfed and landed on a program.
11768 So having programming on a linear channel is not likely driving any more viewership than having it on video on demand, in our view.
11769 I’m not sure if anyone wants to add to that but it’s -- this concept that if you had it on a channel and you only had 15 channels and the people in -- you know, at certain times either at the top of the hour or at the bottom of the hour they would start scrolling through and land on something they otherwise would not have watched is not something that truly is reality anymore in this universe of, you know, hundreds and thousands of stations.
11770 So having things on video on demand at the convenience that people decide “Let’s watch something” and we’re marketing it, we’re promoting it, both on having those titles up on our -- you know, on our general menus and it’s on our -- you know, we’re promoting them on our barker channel and various tools to make that programming available. I’m not sure we would see any significant uptake of that programming by having the linear channel.
11771 Does anyone want to add to that?
11772 MS. GUISE: I think it goes back to the comment of having time that you have to fill and what’s the quality of that programming. I think we’ve been able to really learn that having an on-demand service allows us to make quality programming and have it sit side by side, as we’ve spoken to a couple of times now, sit side by side with much larger budget network television and other -- or films and be viewed.
11773 And so we think that is a better way with the way our customers and the world -- the demographics seem to be going for watching content, we think that’s a better way for us to have our content viewed.
11774 MR. ESRAGHI-YAZDI: And as an independent producer, I own the IP of the content that I create for Telus so I can then take it and take it to another broadcaster if I wanted to and see if they would air it on a channel. However, that type of thinking from producers these days is kind of out the window. I remember when I started out I would submit music videos to Much Music. I don’t think about that anymore because I know I’m going to have more traction online, so I don’t even think about that linear stream as much as I did 10 years ago. Now it’s all online.
11775 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: You understand that you are a bit unique in coming forward with this approach because ---
11776 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Yes, we do.
11777 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: --- we’ve had number of community groups come forward and say that one of the things that they want in any new model is continued access to linear television.
11778 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: And, you know, we understand that that’s what they’re seeking and we also think that those views, perhaps, are a bit outdated. Where there -- I don’t believe there is a significant portion of today’s viewers of television that are in fact scrolling through and want to watch appointment TV. We’re seeing a lot more of -- you know, our customers seem to be telling us that they love the concept of on demand; love the concept of the convenience of choosing and being referred to various programming as opposed to finding it themselves through channel scrolling.
11779 This is -- this is what we know from selling programming services. We know our customers pretty well and we’re not seeing any demand for that linear channel. Certainly, those who are watching our community programming service, you know, we get lots of comments from people who write in to tell us and say what they like and what they don’t like about our service, which is great and we find that feedback very, very valuable.
11780 I don’t recall any feedback coming to us saying, “Why don’t you have a linear channel for this great community content?” We’ve just never had that.
11781 MS. BOISVERT: If I can just add to that briefly? Again, as another independent producers one of the challenges is knowing your audience and how to get to your audience, and with the content that we’ve created with the help of Story Hive and Telus Local Optik, often it is the smaller, snackable, bitesize pieces which can be shared and streamed. And, ultimately, I know that’s how I ingest both my news is online and looking deeper into news issues and community issues with the kind of content that we’re producing with Telus’s help.
11782 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Just one more question, and you mentioned you felt that perhaps your customers were maybe more early adopters, if you will. Would that be a good term for what you said? I can’t remember exactly.
11783 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Yes. I certainly welcoming of the technology is what I was struggling to find words for.
11784 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Right, right.
11785 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: But certainly there are -- they are definitely new adopters and probably we attract those new adopters because of all the various innovations that we offer with our service.
11786 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Right. But if you were to look over your customer base, would you have sort of all ages, all...?
11787 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Yes.
11788 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: So yeah, like could we feel some comfort that this isn’t just a particular segment? And I mean, you folks aren’t actually that new anymore; you’ve been around a while.
11789 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: We are ---
11790 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: IPG has been around quite a while, so...
11791 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Absolutely. And, yes, we absolutely serve every demographic. But, you know, I look at my -- you know, my father loves video on demand. You don’t have to be, you know, a certain demographic segment to enjoy the innovations that a BDU offers. These types of services, right? Access to on demand, access to services that are very personalized is something that I think is becoming more and more popular.
11792 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Right. Thank you.
11793 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: And not just for early adopters.
11794 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Good. Thank you very much.
11795 THE CHAIRPERSON: Just a few quick questions to wrap this up before I pass you on to legal.
11796 For the independent producers, do you access federal and provincial tax credits to finance your productions even for the community channel?
11797 MR. ESHRAGHI-YAZDI: I have been able to access provincial funding through the trigger of having the grant initially started through TELUS. It was at a certain level that I was able to access provincial funding for one of the projects that I did for TELUS.
11798 THE CHAIRPERSON: But you -- have you or you don’t normally use the federal tax credit?
11799 MR. ESHRAGHI-YAZDI: They only come into effect at certain levels. The federal -- sorry, the federal tax credit. No, I haven’t used the federal tax credit.
11800 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. How about your other colleagues on that?
11801 MS. BOISVERT: I myself have not, no.
11802 THE CHAIRPERSON: No. Interesting.
11803 Are you active members of the CMPA?
11804 Yes? For the transcript you actually have to say it out loud.
11805 MR. ESHRAGHI-YAZDI: Sorry. Yes.
11806 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. How about your other two colleagues?
11807 MS. BOISVERT: No.
11808 MR. EMBRY: No.
11809 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. And why -- do you not see a community of interest with the independent production community? Or you just don’t see a need for you to be there? For the two that said they weren’t members of the CMPA.
11810 MR. EMBRY: Sorry, I’m very active in the Alberta of the AMPIA.
11811 THE CHAIRPERSON: Sure.
11812 MR. EMBRY: Yeah, the Alberta ---
11813 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. So that’s where you associate your community. Of course.
11814 MR. EMBRY: Yeah.
11815 THE CHAIRPERSON: You’re based in Alberta.
11816 MR. EMBRY: Yeah.
11817 THE CHAIRPERSON: Fine.
11818 MS. BOISVERT: I by trade am not primarily a documentary filmmaker. I work in features in Vancouver for a production company. This has been a very special experience for me to be able to work with TELUS and do STORYHIVE and then the Local Optik. So it is a bit of a new fore for me. So I just haven’t been active because I haven’t been active that long, I guess.
11819 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Good. Thank you.
11820 I guess my next -- it’s more a comment than question. You’re obviously welcome to respond to it either here or later. But I’m struck by your presentation today which brings to the forefront essentially a clash of vision of what a community programming service should be in the first quarter of the 21st century. One would say well, we’ve had a kind of community channel and it works just fine under BDU stewardship. Then there’s another vision of that model doesn’t work. It should be under the more direct control of independent not for profit groups in the community.
11821 And your vision, which is under the stewardship of the traditional BDU but seems to be focussing much more forward looking in terms of what audio/visual content will be in the next decade.
11822 MS. MAINVIILLE-NEESON: I think that’s a very fair characterization.
11823 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, hopefully you and others will be able to help us with this in your final reply comments.
11824 Thank you very much. Those are my questions but now I’m going to pass it on to legal.
11825 MS. MALONEY: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
11826 My first question is in respect of Exhibit 1 which was placed on the record in this proceeding last Monday. So we would ask that you provide -- you undertake to provide your responses as applicable to your undertaking by February 16th? Yes?
11827 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Okay.
11828 THE SECRETARY: Thank you.
11829 And in respect of Exhibit 3 which was placed on the record of this proceeding last Thursday, we ask that you undertake to provide your responses, again, as applicable to your undertaking by February 16th, please.
11830 MS. MAINVILLE-NEESON: Yes, we appreciate the extra time.
11831 MS. MALONEY: Okay. Thank you.
11832 THE CHAIRPERSON: Only an extra day. Okay.
11833 Well, thank you very much. Those are our questions for this panel. We’re going to adjourn until 1:45. Donc, on va ajourner jusqu’à 13:45. Merci.
--- Upon recessing at 12:40 p.m.
--- Upon resuming at 1:50 p.m.
11834 THE CHAIRPERSON: Alors, s’il vous plaît, Madame la Sécretaire.
11835 THE SECRETARY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
11836 Before we begin and for the record, we have received a procedural request from the Community Media Advocacy Centre. It will be added to the public proceeding file and will be available on our website shortly. Copies are available in the public examination room.
11837 THE CHAIRPERSON: And I -- we will take that under advisement, of course, going forward. Thank you.
11838 Next presenter, please?
11839 THE SECRETARY: We will now connect to Skype. Mr. Vidal, can you hear us well?
11840 MR. VIDAL: Yes, good afternoon.
11841 THE SECRETARY: Good afternoon. You can now present your colleague and you will have 10 minutes to make your presentation.
11842 MR. VIDAL: Good afternoon, everyone and thank you for the opportunity. My name’s Tony Vidal representing Southshore Broadcasting in Leamington, Ontario. And to my immediate right is Robert Petruk from Gosfield North Telecommunications Limited. They’re also a cooperative.
11843 Before we start, we actually have a small video and I think if we can play that right now that would be a -- that would be the first thing we’d like to show you.
11844 (VIDEO PRESENTATION)
11845 MR. VIDAL: So CFTV is better known as Southshore Broadcasting. It is a low power community television station based out of Leamington, Ontario. Although we have experienced our fair of obstacles, we are very proud to persevere for the last 10 years to provide a constant voice to our area.
11846 Through an arrangement with a local telco, Gosfield North Communications Co-operative, as well as a strong relationship with the Municipality of Leamington, we have been able to evolve and adapt to the needs of our community. We believe local television should be provided, a service for the people. It should be encompassing, relevant and transparent in news and entertainment, as well as information.
11847 That is why we're here today. We would like to propose a solution that is practical, issues surrounding community television, accessing to local media, and refine the funding allocation model.
11848 What we are proposing is a local community broadcaster's work in tandem with the service providers and the municipalities to find a way that makes sense for local community coverage. The broadcast fund, as it currently stands, does not benefit the low power stations like ourselves. We do not, to this date, have received any money from this fund. We rely heavily on the working relationships to maintain our station.
11849 The following is our proposal model and it's based on seven simple points:
11850 The community channel needs to be a non profit to truly meet the needs of community.
11851 Number 2, community support is paramount. A community and its resident's need to put forth the effort and interest to assist in establishing the broadcast station that services the local needs, as well as they should have access to the station's resources.
11852 If there's a new funding model for community non profit stations, we propose that the municipalities apply for the funding. Municipalities have the mechanism to administer, report, and track the performance of the broadcasters in the community.
11853 Number 4, Program Advisory Committee or PAC made up of members of the community should be established to work in tandem with the community station to assist in determining the needs for local programming.
11854 A business relationship with the local television/service providers as well in the licensed area should be established to provide content for their community channel.
11855 Number 6, develop a working relationship with for profit local independent production companies for co productions that provide the opportunity to seek sponsorship, add revenue and grant funding.
11856 Maximizing availability should be the broadcaster's number one priority. Therefore, the station should provide multiple ways of distribution. This can include over the air, BDU distribution, satellite, IPTV and online.
11857 In conclusion, a revision needs to be made to the current system. It does not function in a way that benefits any small community or rural area across Canada. Southshore is proposing a modification that requires telco's and providers of services to pay a local content fee, the production of news, events, and local content. This local content should be distributed in a multitude of media vehicles, including online. The municipal governments should apply for the funding that meets the community needs.
11858 We should listen to the needs of our community, and with guidance from the Commission, allow them to truly participate in the process that allows communities to be unique and united as Canadians.
11859 That's pretty much our presentation. It's more of an idea that we had. It's more of a working relationship that we developed with Rob for the past three years, and it seems to be working for us.
11860 So we're open for questions.
11861 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, thank you very much for participating in the hearing.
11862 Commissioner Simpson will start us off.
11863 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Good afternoon, gentlemen.
11864 MR. VIDAL: Good afternoon.
11865 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: I will have two lines of questioning. I will reserve your document that you just presented to us now for a little later.
11866 I'd like to go back to the beginning of CFTV, which I think was 2004 when it was a twinkle in your eye.
11867 I'd like to understand what your thoughts were then, both from the standpoint of what you felt was missing and what you thought you could do about it, and how you managed to get from that point to being on the air?
11868 MR. VIDAL: Let me backtrack a little bit.
11869 We managed to stay on the air with a lot of debt, but a lot of good debt. There's the opportunity for growth.
11870 And to answer your question on why it was decided to start the station. It was a very simple, maybe it was self-serving at first. There was some -- there was an announcement on our -- not the website, but in the newspaper that there was changing in zoning, and the only provider of the broadcasts for town council at that time was the local cable provider.
11871 Unfortunately, in our area it is extensively and very heavily saturated with over the air signals from the U.S. ---
11872 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hm.
11873 MR. VIDAL: --- both Michigan and Ohio, and we failed as residents to have that opportunity, so there was no choice. There was no other solution except cable at that time.
11874 So that's how CFTV kind of got started, and there was many of us that felt the same way.
11875 To enhance that, once the ball got rolling there was more and more chance of production. The problem has been the funding.
11876 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: When you said that you were shouldering debt. From the very beginning, was it set up as a not for profit ---
11877 MR. VIDAL: That's correct.
11878 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: --- co operative?
11879 MR. VIDAL: Yes.
11880 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: So how was that debt shouldered?
11881 MR. VIDAL: It was basically friends, goodwill and friends. This area, even though it's agriculture, there is quite a bit of money, and close friends came to the help with the idea that -- it didn't take much.
11882 And one of the things that was beneficial for myself was my technical background. We managed to do a lot with nothing. And now working in relationship with Gosfield North, we have taken that additional step and it's been great.
11883 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hm.
11884 When you first entered into a carriage agreement with a BDU it was Cogeco, I believe? Is that correct?
11885 MR. VIDAL: Yes, they still are.
11886 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah, and you still are on the air, or ---
11887 MR. VIDAL: Correct.
11888 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: --- in their system?
11889 And moving forward to 2012, you -- well, actually, let me ask one more question.
11890 In terms of sustaining operational costs, what were you doing between 2004 and 2012 to generate revenue and how successful were you or did the debt ---
11891 MR. VIDAL: Working.
11892 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: --- keep piling up?
11893 MR. VIDAL: Personally working three jobs, and a lot of volunteers.
11894 The unfortunate part is the volunteers come and go. And one of the things about the industry, and I'm sure this is experienced by other people, is you do need a core of professionals, and you rely extensively on a certain amount of volunteers but you can't depend on it. And I think it's forceful to say that volunteers will run the service, it's not.
11895 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: As an over the air low power, and not being within the traditional context of a BDU community channel, you just said you were relying very heavily on volunteers, but what was your access percentage?
11896 You know, we have in the BDU regs, a 50 percent access requirement within the 60 percent of community programming, and I’m wondering if that was part of your condition of licence, or -- and if it wasn’t, what was your access like?
11897 MR. VIDAL: You mean access to the general public?
11898 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: No, access from the community to your programming.
11899 MR. VIDAL: Obviously, it was very limited. To this point, it’s my understanding that people call us wondering why there isn’t more advertising on the local BDU or CFTV, and the times of programming. What is coming up next? That has never been -- and we provide those services to Bell and to the IPTV provider, Gosfield North.
11900 The big push for us, to answer your question, was Bell. Bell was huge for us and when Gosfield North came to us -- and maybe I’ll get Rob to kind of talk a little bit about that -- was the connection to the FibreOptic. Having that -- I’m sorry go ahead.
11901 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: I was going to say that maybe the term access, you’re taking in context of people accessing your channel. I was thinking about producers or community groups producing content that would be programmed into your station.
11902 MR. VIDAL: We -- people come. I mean there is no shortage of ideas. The problem with that is that people have this false idea of what we are, who we are. We get absolutely zero funding from the -- from the television funds, so therefore they feel that they can come to us and say, “Here, you must broadcast this.” We can’t, especially with for-profit producers. We do have policy of how to address that. Non-profits, we don’t charge anything, but for profits we do. If that kind of answers your question?
11903 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: That does.
11904 MR. VIDAL: Okay.
11905 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: And if you don’t mind we’ll come back to carriage later. So moving forward to 2012, you made an application which we approved for going digital.
11906 MR. VIDAL: Yes, sir.
11907 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: And also you -- you wanted to multiplex and ---
11908 MR. VIDAL: Yes.
11909 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: --- at that point had you gotten to a level of break even or were you going further into the well for money?
11910 MR. VIDAL: Well ---
11911 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Because it was a pretty ambitious -- I mean, the conventional over the air commercial broadcasters had a hard time with this. So I’m really curious as to why you decided to climb that hill.
11912 MR. VIDAL: There again, it was -- we can do a lot with nothing. Having a technical background makes it easier for us. We’re very unique. We did a bit of our homework the second time around when we decided to go digital. We had to, as I indicated we’re saturated with approximately 40 plus channels from the US.
11913 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Right.
11914 MR. VIDAL: And we would have been the only one on analogue. It would have been harder for people to find us. That majority of people anyway in the rural area used antennas to get their information of news.
11915 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Right.
11916 MR. VIDAL: Having said that, we also saw the opportunity for specialty channels. We felt that that might be an avenue for other groups to utilize that without really affecting our broadcast uplink to Rob’s BDU, and Bell.
11917 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Right.
11918 MR. VIDAL: And yet provide a presence for specialty for the Hispanic community, for the Francophone community, and so forth.
11919 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: So you were doing that today, you’re from -- your website, you were indicating that you’re 18 hours a day English programming 12, French 12, Spanish, and also Aboriginal programming, and special needs programming?
11920 MR. VIDAL: That’s correct. The French is kind of lack because, there again, there’s no funding from them.
11921 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
11922 MR. VIDAL: There’s no funding at all to allow them to -- I mean, it’s there. The time’s there, it’s just having money for them to produce anything to air on the station itself.
11923 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: But you are doing a full 12 hour day for each of those channels?
11924 MR. VIDAL: Yes.
11925 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: That’s 20,000 hours of programming a year.
11926 MR. VIDAL: It’s a lot of replays. It’s a lot of replays.
11927 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay, okay.
11928 MR. VIDAL: And it’s mostly a testing.
11929 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay. Going forward into your document now, you are very proud of the fact that you’ve been doing all this without funding. I presume that you’re referring to the funding that we’re talking about in this hearing, which is the community funding from BDUs?
11930 MR. VIDAL: M’hm.
11931 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Because you -- unless a BDU wanted to give you money and not have it apportioned, you know, you really don’t qualify for the fund.
11932 MR. VIDAL: That’s right.
11933 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: So you’re proud of the fact that you aren’t using it, even though you wouldn’t be able to get it?
11934 MR. VIDAL: You know what? It wasn’t even to make a point of trying to access the funds.
11935 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
11936 MR. VIDAL: It is that community channels like us -- and I do believe there’s seven across Canada.
11937 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Right.
11938 MR. VIDAL: I don’t believe the other ones are getting any funding whatsoever. There is a mechanism and we are developing a mechanism that works for us, and we basically like to share that information.
11939 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay. We’ll get there. I just am doing some -- just working through my little stack of questions here. The subject that has been dominating this hearing is the state of the union, with respect to over the air broadcasters, and specifically the production and broadcasting of local news.
11940 Now, while you’re surrounded by broadcasters -- I broadcast out of London, Ontario for a number of years. And so you’ve got Chatham, you’ve got Windsor, you’ve got as you saying, new guys bombing in from Erie and Detroit, and so you’ve got lots of over the air television, but you do not have an OTA in Leamington. So with that in mind, is it within the -- your proposal somewhere that you might want to try and start tackling the production and broadcasting of local news to access that fund? Because you are an OTA.
11941 MR. VIDAL: To be quite honest, we have been. As a matter of fact it was just in the last two years when we moved to a different location that we cut back on the production of news. We’ve been doing since 2005, a newsbreak. A volunteer would come in and do a local newsbreak. That was on the hour. I mean, it got kind of redundant, but it was information relevant and we took those newsbreaks at the end of the week and formulated a half hour news cast.
11942 We have managed to -- through Rob’s contacts, affiliated ourselves with another source for news, international news out of the US, unfortunately, and we’re utilizing their service to augment our local news. So yes, it is possible. With Rob’s growth comes potential of establishing points of -- if you want to call them bureaus.
11943 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M’hm.
11944 MR. VIDAL: It wouldn’t take much to get a PTC control device and allow the local town crier to send information back to CFTV to be uplinked and produced into a newscast. It’s not impossible.
11945 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Are you -- do you offer -- offer a VOD capability or are you strictly linear at this point?
11946 MR. VIDAL: We’re linear. Rob might be able to -- if you want to touch base. Your services, do you provide video on demand?
11947 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Sure
11948 MR. PETRUK: We do as a BDU, absolutely.
11949 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: And you’re Gosfield?
11950 MR. PETRUK: So it’s just -- yes.
11951 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Gosfield, correct? Okay. What ---
11952 MR. PETRUK: It’s just a matter of time.
11953 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: What is the nature of your relationship? Because it sounds like it’s more than just carriage.
11954 MR. PETRUK: It’s a little bit of an interesting story. One of my directors, who are ---
11955 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: We have 15 minutes.
11956 MR. PETRUK: I’ll be quick.
11957 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: And I’ve used half of it already. So just to be forewarned.
11958 MR. PETRUK: One of my directors came into my office one day and said, “Rob, do you know that there’s a TV station in Leamington? I heard we need a community station.” That’s when they were -- back when we were still in Class 1, Class 2 designations for BDUs.
11959 So to make sure that we had all of our ducks in a row to become a Class 1 we hooked up with CFTV to be our community station, because as a Telco I have no idea how to do programming or production of TV. I’m sure I could make something on a computer, but I don’t think it would be very fun for anyone or interesting.
11960 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Right.
11961 MR. PETRUK: So it just seemed like a natural fit at the time, and one of the ways that we offered to work with CFTV as we built our distribution service was to increase the equipment that they had from standard def to HD, as well as provide them with a fibre based internet link to the rest of the world. So we wanted to create a vehicle to be able to put out our community station wherever, however, whenever. I guess for lack of a better way to put it.
11962 And that’s how our relationship was kind of built, like various projects, like you heard Chief Louise mention. Tony needed someone to help build a wireless hifi -- or a wireless Wifi hotspot. That’s something that I know how to do. It just made sense. He said, “Rob, can you help me?”, and our relationship has grown since then.
11963 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: So perfect segue to my next line of questioning, and it has to do with your seven points. Starting off with community support, I gather from what you told me that you’re not in the sold out situation in terms of advertising and a sponsorship.
11964 So -- but you tell me that you’re funding model has always been and is now unique. And when I look at your website I see a lot of names that I don’t associate with broadcasting. I see, you know, the local theater organization, I see a capital funding group like Trillium, a satellite service company, I see the Economic Development wing of Essex County, I see a creative agency, and on and on, and I'm -- and so I'll say it, my first question, this way.
11965 Is it your funding model that's unique or is it you that's unique, in that you seem to have a prowess for being able to attract support when this kind of support traditionally doesn’t come to a community broadcaster?
11966 MR. VIDAL: I don't think it's -- I'm special, I think what we're doing in the community is special. I think doing the job that needed to be done in the Leamington area is what really brought the interest for these people.
11967 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hm.
11968 MR. VIDAL: And that what's keeping the ball rolling and it's just getting bigger, so can you imagine if we had more funding which allowed more people from the non profit and the for profit sector, that's ---
11969 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Is this funding stable or it ad hoc?
11970 MR. VIDAL: It's growing; it's getting a little more stable.
11971 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Uh huh.
11972 MR. VIDAL: Five years ago, I mean, like I said, it was three jobs, maybe even four. Now, it's becoming a little more consistent, if you want to say that.
11973 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: And so this would -- and because of the type of funding you're attracting, it's one of the prime reasons that you're advocating that it's essential for the community channel to be non profit ---
11974 MR. VIDAL: Absolutely.
11975 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: --- because there's that ---
11976 MR. VIDAL: Separation, yeah.
11977 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: --- separation?
11978 The second point you make is on community support.
11979 What makes -- you're in the middle -- you're a hotspot of broadcasting and broadcast distribution. It's not like you are up in Pickle Crow, in Northwest Ontario, where there's a whole lot of nothing. You're in the middle of everything, and why is it that this community, not only feels it needs something that it's not getting, but it wants to support it the way it is?
11980 MR. VIDAL: It's like the old saying, not seeing the forest for the trees; right. There's so much. There's Internet, there's, as I indicated, 40 some channels from the U.S., but none of them really touch base into the county, which it's my understanding, is over 300,000 people collectively.
11981 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hm.
11982 MR. VIDAL: There is the City of Windsor being represented, absolutely, and if there is something happening newsworthy in the county, they'll come out. And you know what, not to -- that's just the nature of the beast. They don't have resources as well.
11983 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hm.
11984 MR. VIDAL: But here we are.
11985 So maybe one of the things -- you just brought up a very good point. We might become a source of information for maybe the bigger players.
11986 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hm.
11987 MR. VIDAL: To answer your question ---
11988 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah, please.
11989 MR. VIDAL: --- we're filling a need.
11990 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Please, okay.
11991 MR. VIDAL: We're filling a need.
11992 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Well, when I put my regulator lens on, community support is paramount to your proposal, but jurisdictionally, and even from a human behaviour standpoint, we can't regulate or legislate community support, either the will or the way.
11993 So I guess, very briefly, before I get on to the next point, how do you suppose that, other than in your unique instance, that this model would work?
11994 MR. VIDAL: You mean when the municipalities ---
11995 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
11996 MR. VIDAL: --- kind of have such an input?
11997 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah, how do you get that kind of consistency in another part of the country?
11998 MR. VIDAL: Well, I think -- let me clarify something, and maybe I didn't articulate it well initially.
11999 The point of having the municipalities on board is two fold. One is they do have the mechanism to track funding and report it back in a way that we couldn't and in a way that most non profits probably have a hard time. So they would be probably -- well, at least Leamington would be willing to do that.
12000 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hm.
12001 MR. VIDAL: Second is bringing a hub of interests.
12002 As you indicated, how much percentage do we get of people coming in and they want to produce. The PAC Committee, the Program Advice Committee, could be encompassing from the municipality. They're telling us what needs to be done. We report with regulatory issues back to the Commission. We don't expect them to do that.
12003 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hm.
12004 MR. VIDAL: We would be totally separate from that, if that kind of makes sense where we're going. They'd be more of the ---
12005 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: It does.
12006 MR. VIDAL: --- overseeing of the funds.
12007 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: It does.
12008 MR. VIDAL: Yeah.
12009 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: If I can just go back, because you're on Point 4 now, but if I can go back to three.
12010 You said the municipalities would apply for funding. What funding do you have in mind that they would apply for?
12011 MR. VIDAL: At this point, like I indicated, if there is a new community, local community funding, whatever that might be, if there is, they should be the ones, because they have the best interest of what they need to have within the community for production.
12012 We can totally sit around the table and say this is what you need, well, this is what it's going to cost, and then they can apply for that funding with your direction, the Commission's direction.
12013 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: So it might be from an economic development fund ---
12014 MR. VIDAL: Exactly.
12015 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: --- even at a provincial level, which is interesting, because I sense that Leamington looks at this community channel very much as a portal for its community?
12016 MR. VIDAL: Correct.
12017 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay.
12018 MR. VIDAL: And that's what they should be.
12019 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah, exactly.
12020 MR. VIDAL: And just to add to you, before we shift. First Nations, it's the same situation. It's a nation within a nation, and they're in this potential growth of having that as well, so we would replicate the same thing internally without inventing the wheel. They would be just part of what we are.
12021 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay.
12022 On Point 5, with respect to your recommendation that a business relationship with the local television service providers be established.
12023 Could you describe what that relationship would look like? I mean, are dollars changing hands or just services or what?
12024 MR. VIDAL: Services, with Rob, for the size that they are, they've been very gracious. I mean, if we were to pay for the bandwidth it would be hard pressed, so that is great.
12025 But as he grows outside, and there is funding for television, some kind of a television, I'm sure that we can come to an agreement to allocate some of those funds for local content production, we, in a sense, have become his community channel.
12026 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hm, m'hm.
12027 MR. VIDAL: If that kind of answers your question.
12028 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah, well, I understand that relationship now very clearly, but I guess I'm trying to square the circle on how you, being an over the air television community channel, albeit ---
12029 MR. VIDAL: M'hm.
12030 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: --- a non profit, and a co operative, aren't competing for eyeballs with the local over the air television stations that may exist in other markets.
12031 So if this model was to be applied, how would the local television station -- why would the local television station want to cooperate?
12032 MR. VIDAL: You're talking about other OTA broadcasters?
12033 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: I'm thinking other markets and other -- where this model might be applied.
12034 MR. VIDAL: Well, we're very unique, for one thing. We are not producing millions of dollars productions. We are basically grassroots to what's relevant ---
12035 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
12036 MR. VIDAL: --- to what the municipality, going back to what their needs are, staying truly focused on what Leamington's needs are.
12037 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay.
12038 MR. VIDAL: The thing is we are growing, and there is demand now. For example, we're doing the Town of Essex, which is approximately 24 kilometres away, we're starting to broadcast their town councils.
12039 So we're looking at now at doing everything connected via fibre and maybe using PTC control, which cuts back on the camera personnel but now puts a different spin on the level of technical people that we'll need.
12040 So from an economic ---
12041 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hm.
12042 MR. VIDAL: --- point of development it's there, a more robust and technically inclined development for employment, if you want to call it.
12043 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay.
12044 Not to get too deep into this area, but there are communities in this country that have recognized the value of fibre to the home ---
12045 MR. VIDAL: M'hm.
12046 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: --- and fibre to the business premises because it's an economic development strategy that seems to be working. And I presuppose that what you're saying is that it's not a big intellectual jump to see the municipalities want to get in to providing some of the content within that fibre that helps promote the community in the same way.
12047 On to Number 6, the working relationship that you say has to be established or should be established with the for profit independent production community for co productions, how does that work?
12048 That community right now has access to quite a grab bag of funding, depending upon whether it's documentary or feature film, episodic, you know, et cetera, so how and what are you describing when you talk about developing a working relationship with them?
12049 MR. VIDAL: There again, I'm going to articulate a little bit better.
12050 We have some local production companies, let's say. We don't do sports, but we'd love to see more sports. There again, that takes a lot of resources and if there's individual companies out there that would do that, then that would be a venue.
12051 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: So providing a broadcast window might be something?
12052 MR. VIDAL: Exactly.
12053 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Because a lot of times funding is predicated on that.
12054 MR. VIDAL: And they're looking for a studio location or equipment.
12055 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hm.
12056 MR. VIDAL: So it would work out well for both of us.
12057 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay.
12058 Lastly, the -- before I turn it over to my colleagues, I would be very interested from your exhibited understanding of the opportunities of digital, I'd like you to tell me why you saw the benefits of multiplexing and other broadcasters haven’t been as quick to take some of the digital dividends of multiplexing into their business plans. What do you think the difficulty is there?
12059 MR. VIDAL: Well, from a technical perspective it’s probably the aesthetics of it. We are SD, standard definition. We can now, if I had the money, go to one high def channel and the rest can be SD. That’s probably one of the biggest things.
12060 The second is, how to defeat that monster. In a way it makes sense theoretically. We had a crazy idea and it’s not so crazy, but our area doesn’t have a Francophone penetration from one of the major broadcasters in the area. It would be beneficial to maybe even barter or provide access for the Francophone OTA to have a presence now in Leamington.
12061 Those are the things that we sought. Those were the opportunities. And that could be replicated anywhere else without disruption to conventional other OTAs who are not doing that.
12062 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay.
12063 MR. VIDAL: Does that kind of ---
12064 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: I am going to turn things over to my colleagues now. Thank you very much. It was a lot of fun.
12065 MR. VIDAL: Thank you.
12066 THE CHAIRPERSON: Checking at my colleagues and apparently those are our questions and legal doesn’t have any questions for you either. So thank you both, gentlemen, for having participated in this proceeding so far. Thank you.
12067 MR. VIDAL: Thank you for the opportunity.
12068 MR. PETRUK: Thank you for your time.
12069 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
12070 Madame la Sécretaire, s’il vous plaît.
12071 THE SECRETRAY: We will now connect to the Vancouver CRTC office through video conference for the presentation of Sid Chow Tan.
12072 Mr. Tan, can you hear us well?
12073 MR. TAN: I can hear you well. Can you hear me?
12074 THE SECRETARY: Absolutely. Thank you.
12075 When you are ready you have 10 minutes to make your presentation.
12076 MR. TAN: Thank you.
12077 Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, I acknowledge the Canadian Radio Television and Telecommunication Commissioners are receiving my comments on unceded Algonquin territory. As well, I acknowledge my comments originate from unceded territory of the Coast Salish people.
12078 Thank you for this opportunity to comment. My name is Sid Chow Tan and I am a volunteer executive producer of two regularly scheduled community television shows in Metro Vancouver. I am a community media practitioner informed by over three decades of media practice. In the early 80s I was the co-publisher of an English and Chinese language community newspaper and approached by a volunteer producer of Chinatown Today, a regularly scheduled community program on Rogers Community Channel.
12079 I have produced or have helped produce regularly scheduled community television programs since 1986, first on Rogers and now on Shaw Cable Community Channel 4.
12080 At the time there were more than a dozen neighbourhood offices in the lower mainland and four in Vancouver, which community members could access training, cameras and editing equipment. And each license area received a feed that focussed primarily on content produced within the area. These offices were closed beginning in 1997 by Rogers and the last ones closed by Shaw in 2001.
12081 I was part of independent community television in Vancouver in the early days which was a group of Rogers volunteers that, rather than be shut down, negotiated with Rogers to be given the equipment -- I’m sorry -- of the office to be shut down plus a years’ operation costs, during which the goal was that we would find a way to be self-supporting.
12082 Unlike Quebec’s TVCs during the same period, although we complained to the CRTC, no ongoing financial support from the BDU, first Rogers then Shaw, was forthcoming. ICTV Vancouver became unable to sustain an office.
12083 Shaw’s production studios have been now consolidated to a high-rise building downtown, unarguably the highest priced real estate in one of the most unaffordable cities in the world. There is no parking to facilitate access by members or guest and the general public and no staff support available outside of 9:00 to 5:00 hours.
12084 This is not a community television neighbourhood office but a setting for Shaw’s regional headquarters and its corporate community television, an oxymoron if there ever was one.
12085 Perhaps because I am exceedingly stubborn and passionate about community television I have nonetheless executive produced a show called “Access Community Television” since 2002, which began after the Commission’s policy expressed in CRTC broadcasting public notice 2002-61. We are exploring the kind of multi-media model currently being proposed by the Canadian Association of Community Television Users and Stations, CACTUS, in order to amplify citizens and alternative voices in Vancouver.
12086 I helped establish W2 Community Media Centre, which was located in a municipal facility. While we used Shaw’s studio once a month, much of our work was field production. Our output was distributed on Shaw Cable Community Channel, a web portal and in collaboration with CFRO Vancouver Coop Radio. That project too was ultimately unsustainable because the City of Vancouver had issues with W2 leadership team and not paying an amenity fee. W2 was the amenity. So you have an amenity paying an amenity fee.
12087 Finally, I have set up Carnegie TV beginning in October 2005 to address the need for citizens to access equipment and facilities where they can feel welcome and learn in an accepting environment. We obtained a new Horizon Seniors’ Program Grant of nearly $20,000 recently.
12088 Carnegie Television originates from the Carnegie Community Centre in the heart of the inner city of Vancouver in the downtown east side, often referred to as the poorest per capita income postal code in Canada. It is also a hotbed of social activism, vibrant arts and culture creation and troubles resulting from poverty, mental illness and internal and external predators. Both ACCESS Community Television and Carnegie Television have their genesis in this environment.
12089 Rather than tell you about some of our content and efforts I have a hastily edited short video to show you and I hope we can put the video on now.
12090 (VIDEO PRESENTATION)
12091 MR. CHOW TAN: Hello, I’m back. I think that should be the end of the video.
12092 Carnegie TV, like the community initiated projects that have gone before it, need support for volunteers, equipment, and training, to ensure their long-term viability. Up until 2015, we have never received a cent from Shaw, although we have asked them on multiple occasions. At present, we produce an hour of new production per month and are hoping for two every month.
12093 Our budget is consumed by the purchase of a camera, editing computer, and accessories. The rest is used for volunteer appreciation, buying refreshments for the crew, and small honorariums. We are all volunteers, although some are minimally subsidized.
12094 Shaw has some $6 million in the lower mainland for community television. I believe citizens of Vancouver would be better served by making media production and distribution available in community centres, libraries, and neighbourhood offices. For example, the Vancouver Public Library has recently unveiled its inspiration lab to enable the public to access technologies of media production.
12095 I believe that politicians and social planners are recognizing the empowering nature of media production and distribution for the common and public good in our democracy. It may become a trend.
12096 If a media centre vision is adopted here in Vancouver, we would see Carnegie TV possibly as one of a network of hubs across Metro Vancouver at which citizens could access training and production support from which content can be distributed over a shared network. Like W2, we include broadcast content, a web portal, partnerships with Canadian radio organizations like CFRO Vancouver Co-op Radio.
12097 My concern is that the working document appears to focus exclusively on local news and not media literacy, training, networking, and especially community building. I trust that community media will not be sacrificed to serve local news.
12098 Community media can complement the private and public broadcasting system. Hyper-local community media are now and can be best future response to the needs for local news and event coverage in our communities, small and large, from coast to coast to coast. Long live community television.
12099 Thank you very much.
12100 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for your presentation.
12101 Commissioner Dupras might have a few questions for you.
12102 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Yes, good afternoon. Thank you for being here.
12103 MR. CHOW TAN: Good afternoon.
12104 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: I’d start just with a simple question; what has got you to launch this community media Carnegie TV?
12105 MR. CHOW TAN: What inspired me to do that?
12106 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Yes, yes.
12107 MR. CHOW TAN: I’ve been doing community television since 1986 and the area was just bereft of what I would call objective portrayals of it. We’d get headlines like, “Four Blocks of Hell”; every news story that comes out of the downtown eastside is the news story about drug addiction, deaths, about poverty, and all these things.
12108 And it is true; it does exist there, but there is a vibrant arts and culture community down there that was created over a 30-year period when -- before the downtown eastside was named the way it is, it was called skid row. And I think it’s important that media get away from the, “If it bleeds, it leads” kind of portrayals of our community.
12109 So I’ve been going to the Carnegie Centre since 1984 when I was involved in a theatre program down there and I’ve stayed in touch with it. And although I didn’t live down there for the last 20, 30 years, I always went down because it’s right next to Chinatown and I went down to Chinatown two or three times a day and I just saw what was going on, I got involved in the struggles down there and I thought it was really important to make a statement that there’s a lot more going down here than just drugs, addiction, poverty, and mental illness. And that’s why we do community television, ---
12110 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Yeah.
12111 MR. CHOW TAN: --- I think to a great extent to complement -- to complement private and public broadcasters, and we do that.
12112 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: So could you say it was a personal initiative from your part or does it stem from demand from your fellow citizens?
12113 MR. CHOW TAN: I think the demand actually comes from the people that live in the area, that want the portrayal of their community to be different.
12114 What we’re doing is actually training people down there. Our new Horizons Grant allows us to train seniors so that they can get some media literacy. We’re producing a show this weekend, called “Home Ground” which is a winter oasis for the homeless and under-housed. And the demand is there from individuals. Most of the people from access community television actually walk or take a bus for about eight or 10 blocks to the downtown to the Shaw Tower.
12115 You have to realize this area is right next to the downtown core and is being gentrified.
12116 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay. And what type of distribution have you been able to get so far?
12117 MR. CHOW TAN: I’m sorry; I didn’t hear that.
12118 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: What kind of distribution have you been able to get so far, in terms of showing your programs to the general public?
12119 MR. CHOW TAN: On Shaw Cable.
12120 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: So Shaw Cable has ---
12121 MR. CHOW TAN: We’re on Shaw Cable.
12122 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: You’re talking ---
12123 MR. CHOW TAN: We have Shaw Cable, ---
12124 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Yes.
12125 MR. CHOW TAN: --- internet. And we stream all our -- not stream all our shows. We put all our shows on our Web site and people can go to our show and get our -- get the Web site.
12126 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay.
12127 MR. CHOW TAN: They can get the Web site. We use our show in a lot of ways to promote our Web site.
12128 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: So you see yourself as an independent community television that can provide programming to the cable community channel, mostly. Or do you see yourself as becoming ---
12129 MR. CHOW TAN: This is the one thing ---
12130 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Go ahead.
12131 MR. CHOW TAN: I don’t understand what’s happening here right now.
12132 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay. Do you hear me?
12133 MR. CHOW TAN: I’m getting various voices.
12134 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Do you hear me right now?
12135 MR. CHOW TAN: I do hear you.
12136 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay.
12137 MR. CHOW TAN: There was another voice there for a while and I couldn’t...
12138 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay. Well, maybe that’s because we’re talking the two at the same time.
12139 So I was saying, so your initiative, is it meant to be more an independent television, I mean community television that wants to produce programming for the purpose of seeing those programming aired on the cable community channel mostly, or do you want to become a totally independent community channel which will be managed by you and distributed on the cable systems?
12140 MR. CHOW TAN: No, we just want to have a media centre at the Carnegie Community Centre so that we can train people ---
12141 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay.
12142 MR. CHOW TAN: --- so that we can network and build our community and let people know about our community that never come near it and get away from the mainstream idea that all there is in our community are drug addicts and poor people and people that have mental illness. We're a vibrant, and we're a cultural community.
12143 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: So essentially, you're participating in this instance to -- in this proceeding to, what, to obtain funding from the cable ---
12144 MR. CHOW TAN: Well, I think it would be important. I would support, I would support some way of funding.
12145 I mean, basically, as I said, I've been a volunteer at community television for over 30 years. I've been putting in literally thousands, maybe tens of thousands of hours. I'm very passionate about this. I realize that community television is a way to organize people; it's beyond just a creation of media.
12146 I mean, what we were talking about is one media production, which you and I are doing right now. You're a medium, I'm a medium, together, whatever we do becomes media. If it's recorded then it gets distributed.
12147 So we're talking about the difference between media production versus distribution and amplification, and I want to do the media production, and it's up to, I believe, the cable companies, which have the mandate for community television at the moment, to distribute our show.
12148 And the biggest problem that I have in a distribution of the show is I create a show, I raise funding for it, I coordinate it, I produce it, and the two other cable companies that are in this area, Telus and Novus, they have their own community channels, and yet they are not doing over the air distribution.
12149 I don't know why the CRTC lets them get away with this. To begin with, Telus didn't want a community channel, if you notice, when they applied for their license, and Novus, I believe, is under 20,000, so they have a certain kind of way not to broadcast, although they do broadcast intermittently. I don't have any of these channels, Novus or Telus, so I don't know exactly what they're doing.
12150 But our programming doesn't go on to it, so why are -- why is community television separated in terms of distribution from the three cable companies? In other words, it should be enough that if we have our program ready all three cable companies should distribute it. Shaw does distribute it. And I think that the 1997 ruling that allowed cable companies to use the community channel as a marketing tool was a really ill-conceived idea for the Commission, and we haven't recovered from that.
12151 Every community office is shut down in Vancouver. We had a volunteer group of thousands; I mean thousands of people that used to volunteer for community television. Now, we get an orientation for our workshop and there's no follow up. That's not training.
12152 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: But you've been able to access the installations of Shaw to assist you in producing your shows?
12153 MR. CHOW TAN: We use the studio once or sometimes twice a month. We have to get people there. Our guests come. It's a -- the parking is -- it's on the highest priced real estate, perhaps in the world. It's difficult to park. If we have to get equipment, which we don't, we used to; we have to find a place to park. We have to carry the equipment down from the third floor. We can't park in front of the building and then we have to go to our parking spot.
12154 Jeff Scott talked to you earlier. He used to have to come into town for 30 miles, pick up his equipment, go back to his community, do his shoot, and then return the equipment all in the same day.
12155 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay.
12156 MR. CHOW TAN: That's a ridiculous situation for someone like that.
12157 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: M'hm.
12158 So -- but otherwise, I mean, Shaw is open to assist you if you need it. Finally, it's a question of access also with the other BDUs that you're having a problem with, I mean, that's what I understand from what you're saying?
12159 MR. CHOW TAN: Well, part of it is the corporate consciousness commissioner. You have to realize that when Shaw first came to Vancouver, they kicked everybody off the community channel. All our programs were taken off the community channel. It's now almost 15 years later we're back in.
12160 We didn't get the studio until three or four years ago.
12161 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay.
12162 MR. CHOW TAN: They would sort of offer workshops. It would be four minute -- four hour workshops, where we would have to come and get orientated to the camera. Once we learned the orientation, that was the end of it, there was no training. That was just an orientation.
12163 That is still going on; it's not any different, at least from what I understand from the people that are going down from our groups. They get a four-hour orientation. There is no follow up. If they have to get the equipment, they have the difficulties that I'm telling you about, that's why we bought a camera, and it's placed at the Carnegie Centre.
12164 I believe that you can't really have training without a space, and that space needs to be accessible, and I don't mean accessible in words. We are a species of ideas, words, and action. The ideas of community television back in 1997 were great. You know, the words that came out in 1997 what were they all about? They were to make community television a marketing tool, and now you have cable companies talking about the action they're doing.
12165 And yeah, there is open access, but in many ways, we don't really want that access except for the studio, which we use. We have 20 to 30 volunteers that show up in our studio every studio day ---
12166 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: M'hm.
12167 MR. CHOW TAN: --- to do these shows. And the it's -- the important part that we're trying to do is community building.
12168 Community television is a great community-building tool. I can tell you that from an experience of 30 years and from some of the campaigns and some of the issues that we've put on community television, which were finally picked up by mainstream television, mainstream media.
12169 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay, okay.
12170 So -- I mean, you believe that there -- you mentioned in your intervention that there are fewer and fewer sources to view local stories and get information about your region on television. Can you just explain your position a bit more on this?
12171 MR. CHOW TAN: Okay.
12172 First of all, we did a special one-hour program called Honouring the Treaties. It was about First Nations and how they're all -- a lot of land that we have that we see as Canada is unseeded land. There are no treaties. It has never been taken by conquest. It's just the way it is right now.
12173 We have these people explaining, you know, what –-First Nations people. We have a certain segment in our show, which is dedicated to First Nations issues.
12174 I can tell you that personally from 1986 when I got involved in community television, I was involved in a head tax, in a Chinese head tax, an exclusion redress campaign. We kept on putting those shows on and we did a show every six months and we kept on putting that on the agenda until actually in 2006, when mainstream media caught up with it, we actually got an apology and the surviving head tax payers and surviving spouses of deceased head tax payers were given an ex gratia payment.
12175 This is what I mean by community building. There is a lot to community television when you get passionate people that are willing to do the media and it's able to get shown, and this is what community television does.
12176 Community television, I think, when it was first conceived, was meant to compliment the private and public broadcasters ---
12177 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: M'hm.
12178 MR. CHOW TAN: --- not to be the local news and give the funding for private and public broadcasters. It was meant to community build. It was meant to give members of the community an opportunity to get involved in media.
12179 And I think cable companies, at least here in Metro Vancouver, have failed miserably the last 15 years ever since 1997-61, that incredible ruling that gave the community channel two cable companies to use as a marketing tool. For shame on the commissioners and the Commission.
12180 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay.
12181 So what measures are you proposing or asking by your participation in this hearing?
12182 MR. CHOW TAN: I think that the most important thing, which I'm dealing with myself, I'm 67 years old, I'm retired, so I have more time. That may be another reason why I started Carnegie TV, because I have more time now, and I think that for everyone, sustainability is the most important, and succession.
12183 I personally here, in the Lower Mainland, have to work on the group that I've built, you know, over a number of years into succession. So succession and sustainability for community television.
12184 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay. Well, thank you very much. I don't have any more questions.
12185 MR. CHOW TAN: You're welcome.
12186 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you for your participation and bringing your perspective to the hearing. We very much appreciate it. Those were our questions. Thank you very much.
12187 Madame le secrétaire?
12188 THE SECRETARY: Thank you.
12189 We will now connect to Skype for the presentation of the Community Media Education Society.
12190 Mr. Ward, can you hear us well?
12191 MR. WARD: Yes.
12192 THE SECRETARY: Thank you.
12193 When you’re ready you have 10 minutes for your presentation.
12194 THE SECRETARY: Can you hear us?
12195 MR. WARD: Yes.
12196 Members of the Commission, participants -- yes, I’m actually watching it live. I better turn that off.
12197 Members of the Commission, participants and viewers, my name is Richard Ward and I represent CMES, Community Media Education Society, formed in 1997 following the closure of the Rogers VanEast neighbourhood office.
12198 In 2007 we applied to the CRTC to operate community television on the TELUS system in BC and Alberta after TELUS said it didn’t intend to offer a community channel. The CRTC gave us a hearing in Kelowna but we were ultimately turned down after TELUS changed its mind. More recently we came to Gatineau in 2010 to intervene in CRTC 2009-661, the community television policy review.
12199 I’m greatly encouraged reading the Commission’s issues for discussion. I do support making access programming widely available, using a multi-platform approach. There are major social benefits, plus the flexibility to adapt to whatever new directions media producers and engineers can devise. Of course I see these goals as encouraging community controlled television.
12200 The way I read Initiatives A and B, they’re intended to commercialize community channel news, which I oppose. It’s a top-down idea. Almost all of the original 1,432 comments support community television and make no mention of professionalizing news. If public consultation has any meaning at all, it has to influence policy.
12201 I disagree that few intervenors have proposed solutions to deliver high quality local news and information. I’ve read many letters showing how an independent not-for-profit community channel has been effective and can be effective again in mobilizing volunteers to deliver original local stories. Many public libraries and the Canadian Library Association are willing to anchor community media centres.
12202 This is a well-developed model. I appreciate that few businesses have seized the opportunity to promote such a participatory concept because there’s not a lot in it for them, but in this case businesses are not the only, or even the primary, intervenors.
12203 Rebalancing of resources, rebalancing of financing and responsibilities, is covered in detail in the CACTUS submission. The money that is now spent primarily on BDU promotional channels would be enough to develop not-for-profit community media centres in most of the cities and towns in Canada. It would be a multi-platform approach responding to demonstrable community needs. Because of the library involvement, or other local group recognizing the responsibilities of managing public money, it’s focused on incentives and outcomes.
12204 All of us regret that CKVU workers lost their jobs in Vancouver and that Postmedia news staff were laid off just a week ago, but with Postmedia its downgraded debt following an unwise takeover allowed by the Competition Bureau. There’s always a perceived conflict of interest when a government body is paying reporters to investigate government actions. Removing money from the community channel and using it to hire professional reporters simply lets BDUs move money from one pocket to the other.
12205 The Commission made a mistake when it approved transaction applications that led to the consolidation of large, integrated companies operating conventional television stations and digital media outlets. It was an understandable mistake, consistent with financial theories at that time which unfortunately created global problems, not just in media. Unlike independent community TV it did not lead to diversity of views.
12206 The goal, ensuring the creation of diverse and high quality Canadian programming, was both wise and warm-hearted but the mistake was in not trusting the people who could deliver exactly that, local not-for-profit corporations in association with well-established municipal institutions.
12207 Those are the people who have the most to gain by strong volunteer participation. Unfortunately volunteering has been undermined by the Commission’s other major mistake of the past two decades, 1997-25 paragraph 131, which removed the regulatory requirement for a community channel.
12208 We all inherit mistakes along with the good our predecessors have done. We change things cautiously because most of what is done is beneficial, building on the past to create a better future. But what is at stake here is the opportunity for a fundamental improvement, with the added reassurance that the independent not-for-profit participatory community channel is well-researched, has been tested throughout the world, and was pioneered by Canada’s National Film Board.
12209 Ultimately, I think the community operated channel is already very well tested, both internationally and by independent groups in Canada. It’s the BDU controlled model that’s unusual, and government paid reporters are going to look odd as well outside our borders.
12210 What I’m trying to say is that the decision to support independent media centres is likely to be a popular decision, particularly over the longer term. I’m not saying that BDUs won’t continue to campaign against it to protect executive salaries, but I am saying that building a media town hall will be welcome in both towns and urban neighbourhoods.
12211 I’d like to close with a brief quote on the importance of public involvement, the broad benefit of encouraging people to work together. If anyone can claim to be an influential individual it’s the man who personally created the programming structure we use in modern computers and cracked the German submarine code for Winston Churchill, Alan Turing. He’s talking about how intelligent machinery detects analogies, more generally, how all growth occurs. Here’s Alan Turing:
12212 “It may be of interest to mention two other kinds of search in this connection. There is the genetical or evolutionary search by which a combination of genes is looked for, the criterion being survival value. The remarkable success of this search confirms to some extent the idea that intellectual activity consists mainly of different kinds of search. The remaining kind of search is what I should like to call the cultural search. As I have mentioned, the isolated man does not develop any intellectual power. It is necessary for him to be immersed in an environment of other men, whose techniques he absorbs during the first twenty years of his life. He may then perhaps do a little research of his own and make a very few discoveries which are passed on to other men. From this point of view the search for new techniques must be regarded as carried out by the human community as a whole, rather than by individuals.”
12213 These words are from a man who transformed modern life, except that he gives the main credit to “the human community”. If in media you want not just cultural but also intellectual progress you should implement the model proposed to you by the mayors of Metro Vancouver, by the Ontario Library Association, and by CACTUS.
12214 I’m ready now for your questions.
12215 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, thank you very much, Mr. Ward.
12216 Commissioner MacDonald will have a few questions for you.
12217 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Good afternoon and thank you for joining us today.
12218 I do have some questions I’d like to get your input on. And one of the things you mentioned in your oral presentation today was that programming should be widely available on multiple platforms. And earlier today we had TELUS here and they were discussing the importance that they place on online content and on their video on-demand offerings.
12219 So I’d like to get your thoughts on the importance of a traditional linear community station in relation to some of the newer platforms like video on-demand or online content.
12220 MR. WARD: Well, the CACTUS proposal uses several platforms, but it keeps the older ones as well. It’s very hard to predict which older systems are going to be obsolete.
12221 The medium that was most rapidly adapted -- adopted was radio. People went from having no radios at all to two years later everybody having radios, far faster than the internet. But what was expected was that the radio would be there for education. The radio has turned out to be primarily a commercial system and it’s most valuable in cars.
12222 So do we have the internet, of course we do. Gaming is probably the largest market in all forms of media, which is why you want in the CACTUS model you want to have the variety of media.
12223 In TELUS the problem is that they’re really doing a local YouTube. They do crowd funding. What they don’t have is the way for people to come together. They don’t have the bricks and mortar community channel, and that is extremely valuable from a social standpoint. You can’t have only your friends online. You’ve got to actually be around real people.
12224 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: You mention the bricks and mortar facility. Even if it is a traditional linear station, do you think that local presence is still important? You mention the importance of being able to participate, you know, face-to-face and there being human contact.
12225 MR. WARD: Yes. What you have is you have a transition -- it’s most noticeable over the BDU model -- where originally the people who are employed are facilitators. They’re not camera operators. They’re not directors. They’re not producers. They’re outreach people. They’re trainers. And you can’t do that in the same way online. You can’t hand people a camera virtually.
12226 The second thing is there’s an assumption that people will have their own equipment. Now, people do have pretty good equipment today. It’s much more affordable than it used to be. But I have been part of a number of groups over the years. I’ve used community channel equipment. I’ve carried a 40-pound $32,000 camera up a fire escape, and that was provided to me by the BDU. I’ve worked at VEVO, where their equipment tends to be $10,000, $15,000, where an average person who’s going to be shooting at home is maybe $1,500, $2,000.
12227 But when I was watching the TELUS presentation, it seemed to me there were a lot of professional producers there, semi-professional.
12228 So I think you want a place that people who are less committed to media as a career come together and talk, because it’s not about the medium it’s about the community.
12229 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: So there’s two aspects there and, you know, one of it is the actual technology. You need the cameras, you need production equipment, be it owned by an organization or a local access producer perhaps rents it. The other aspect is the creative process and what can be created when people come together, to use your words, face-to-face.
12230 And I just want to get your thoughts on the various different online platforms that people -- online community platforms that people now use.
12231 I mean, young people especially information share on sort of online community groups. They share education. They even date on them.
12232 So I’m wondering what role you think some of those online forums perhaps could play in bringing people together to collaborate without physically bringing them together in one medium place.
12233 MR. WARD: Well, I don’t really see the community channel doing much about the dating. I think that’s already well taken care of.
12234 But for the rest of it, social media you’ve got to be careful with that. I know my nephews have hundreds of friends but no one that they can actually go and visit, at least not nowhere near that many. So I think that’s already well taken care of by the private sector, by the technological innovators.
12235 For the online side of it, I guess what I’ve been doing most recently is more in the gaming end, and I was doing an EyeWire game. I don’t know if you’re familiar with it. But essentially researchers do a brain scan. They do a cat scan. They slice the brain and it’s divided into the neurons, the dendrites, and so on, and you colour first the neurons. They just give you a sample and you go through it and you figure out which of the patterns are going to be a neuron. Then after you get good at this, above an 80 percent average, they start giving you unanalyzed brain scans.
12236 Thousands -- tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people do this, sitting there playing the game by colouring slides of brains. After these are traced, the ones that have a pathology go off to the medical technician who has not had to scan through all the others because people do this as a game.
12237 So I think gaming has a real opportunity there. There’s First Nations games that do the arrows, and the monsters are First Nations characters instead of the zombies and the shotguns.
12238 So that’s a potential I never would have thought of.
12239 I don’t know if I’ve come close to answering your question.
12240 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: No, that’s helpful, because I think more and more people are using some of those online platforms and ways to connect even though they may not be geographically close together. So it’s something worth discussing.
12241 Just switching gears a little bit, what are your thoughts on community television covering local news?
12242 MR. WARD: Well, I use to produce a local news show. I’ve done it in a couple of settings. I got started in this some years back in 1971 when I got first a opportunities for youth grant and then a local initiative grant. We started community TV in the Kootenays, southeast corner of BC.
12243 One of the big issues was economic. There was a new discovery of coal and it made business sense to ship it through the United States. This was going to be catastrophic for Revelstoke because the railroad business was hoping to move the coal.
12244 We did a videotape in Revelstoke on this and because we couldn’t play it on our system we went to Kelowna and they were able to broadcast it. And the upshot was that the people rose up against it, we got the railroad running the coal through Revelstoke and Revelstoke continues to be a thriving railroad hub.
12245 Let me give you another news example. When I was producing in Kitsilano in Vancouver a big issue was building real estate, a housing development in what was then called the endowment lands. We covered that. We also covered people who wanted it to be a park. It was on just about every one of our shows.
12246 First, it would be just walking out with somebody through the park. The upshot was that after about a year of this the premier declared that it would be a park. It's now Pacific Spirit Park, the largest park in Greater Vancouver.
12247 But it was our news coverage that brought it to the attention of the Vancouver area, and once we had done it for about a year, the commercial station started to pick it up, the CBC picked it up.
12248 So I see community channels as being very good at ferreting out the stories that are going to be the big stories, and I see the commercial broadcasters, the reporters, looking around and saying, oh, yeah, this one is worth following; oh no, that one we can leave.
12249 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay, thank you for that.
12250 With respect to the Cactus proposal and your support of providing funding for access centres to be created in community libraries, can you speak to your thoughts about such a proposal would actually bring in the way of benefits for local access producers? Because the Cactus proposal recommends moving a significant amount of funding away from traditional community stations to this -- to these local community access centres.
12251 MR. WARD: Yes, I think it will increase access enormously. It will increase availability of equipment. I think it will be hugely popular. I think the community channel has, sabotaged is perhaps too strong a word, but it has not been strongly supported; the heart has not been in it for the BDUs. That's been my feeling for a couple of decades now.
12252 And I think what has happened is that the people who really care about community television have formed their own groups, they've done it with next to no money. You've heard more than one person tell you that. But they're there, and if the money is there, I think it's amazing what will be done with it. I think the viewership will go up, certainly in the smaller communities. I mean, when we were doing it in The Kootenay's everybody would watch the Ukrainian dancing and the Doukhobor history and so on.
12253 So I think if the money does go to Cactus, what you're going to see is people lining up to be part of it, and you've already got the independent.
12254 Of course, I think what Cactus has done is it's brought together a lot of people who were intervening individually but were not all on the same page. And you'd get someone, they'd say, well, you know, we need a half a million dollars a year, but if you'll give us a free pizza, we'll make do.
12255 You can't do that. It just -- it slows everything down. It doesn't accomplish what you're trying to accomplish, doesn't accomplish what the Broadcasting Act says we should be doing.
12256 And the second thing that I think is important about the access is the library involvement. If you look at the number of people that go to libraries, and if you look at libraries already moving on this, it looks to me like a solid, well thought out -- it's well organized, the governance is there. That's why I support it.
12257 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Libraries do -- and just a couple of final questions. Libraries do a very good job at what they're currently doing now.
12258 Do you have any concerns with the respective handing over in the vicinity of $150 million to a library system that may or may not have any skills currently within their operations with respect to creating access programming or facilitating the creation of access programming?
12259 MR. WARD: Well, I think libraries are always changing. I think libraries are certainly the main research area for individuals, and they may well be the main research area for businesses, you go to the library. Libraries are always changing.
12260 Secondly, you say $151 million and it sounds like a lot of money and it is a lot of money, but if you look at Canada's library system, it's not -- it's increasing their budget by, what would you say, a quarter, a third. It's not changing their priorities, it's adding to them, but libraries do that, libraries grow.
12261 So of all the public bodies, I thought that that was the best match.
12262 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Just one final question.
12263 You believe that this model will increase accessibility of access programming and the amount that is produced. Do you have any evidence or instances where an access producer has been denied -- by the BDU has been denied the ability to air their access programming on the community channel?
12264 MR. WARD: Specific incidents. Well, I guess the main one was when I was with ICTV in Vancouver. That was one of the two groups that was formed when Rogers shut down its neighbourhood offices. The one I'm speaking on behalf of, CMES, was the other.
12265 ICTV was told, first of all, that after hours the main interview show would no longer be carried. Secondly, that our Eastside Story, which at the time, running for 25 years, our half hour newsmagazine would be given two minutes a month to tell the then east stories and this would be plugged in with other shows.
12266 So if I heard about people being denied access, it was quite a while there I heard of little else.
12267 COMMISSIONER MacDONALD: Okay, thank you.
12268 Those are my questions for the day.
12269 THE CHAIRPERSON: So thank you very much, Mr. Ward. I believe those are our questions? Yes, I'm just checking with my colleagues. So thank you very much for having participated in our proceeding. Very much appreciate it.
12270 MR. WARD: I appreciate the opportunity.
12271 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
12272 So we'll take a 10-minute break until 3:35. Thank you.
--- Upon recessing at 3:23 p.m.
--- Upon resuming at 3:35 p.m.
12273 LE PRÉSIDENT: A l’odre s’il vous plaît. Order please.
12274 Madame la secrétaire.
12275 THE SECRETARY: Thank you.
12276 We will now connect to Skype for the presentation of Metro Vancouver.
12277 Mr. Inglis, can you hear us?
12278 Can you hear us, Mr. Inglis?
12279 MR. INGLIS: Yes, we can hear you. Can you hear us?
12280 THE SECRETARY: Absolutely, thank you.
12281 You can introduce your colleague, and then you have 10 minutes to make your presentation.
12282 MR. INGLIS: Certainly.
12283 With me is Chair Moore, the chair of the Metro Vancouver Board, and he will be doing the presentation today.
12284 MR. MOORE: Great.
12285 Thank you very much for allowing us to make this presentation.
12286 So Metro Vancouver is a partnership of 21 municipalities, 1 Electoral Area, and one Treaty First Nation. We deliver collaborative plans and deliver regional-scale services.
12287 It's -- our core services are drinking water, waste management, wastewater treatment. Metro Vancouver also regulates air quality, plans for urban growth, and manages the regional parks system and provides affordable housing.
12288 The regional district is governed by a Board of Directors of elected officials from each of the local authorities. We represent a population of 2.4 million people, half of the population of British Columbia.
12289 And we have a short 30-second video that we want to show to you of some of the programming that we deliver.
12290 (VIDEO PRESNTATION/PRÉSENTATION VIDÉO)
12291 MR. MOORE: So that’s just a little bit of a flavour of what the type of programming that we do here at Metro Vancouver.
12292 Metro Vancouver is deeply engaged in delivering the services and solutions to ensure a livable region, but we are also engaged in the global community. Climate change, mitigation, housing and regional prosperity are just some of the issues that don’t end just in our municipal borders.
12293 Community engagement is a crucial part of making our region livable and we employ a wide range of tools and strategies to reach our citizens to ensure that they are informed about, and participate in, the decisions that shape our region.
12294 Community television programming is an essential part of this work. Our television show The Sustainable Region is produced in-house and distributed on community channels once per month. In addition to the show, we produce special one-off episodes on important topics throughout the year.
12295 Our productions showcase the work we are doing to build infrastructure, expand our management plans and show how these plans relate to people’s lives. We are also developing material that targets behaviours that need to change to make our region more sustainable. Topics will range from the latest scientific research taking place in our five wastewater treatment plants to the ecological importance of our regional parks, to the linkage between industrial lands and urban growth.
12296 As part of our public outreach and engagement, we produce a variety of public service announcements aimed at things like reducing food waste or changing people’s attitudes towards things that can be flushed down the toilet.
12297 In addition to The Sustainable Region, we also produce a series called Metro Vancouver Close-up which highlights the work being done at the municipal level that supports our regional goals. Metro Vancouver Close-up is produced in collaboration with 23 local governments that make up our members.
12298 Metro Vancouver creates policies and implements initiatives that have direct impacts on peoples’ lives now and for the future. In our region there are a multitude of information sources for people today, online news, television news, social media, mainstream newspapers, blogs and more. A wide range of players create this information from journalists to industry spokespeople and all of them have a point of view.
12299 In this information saturated environment in Metro Vancouver finds itself it’s vital that our citizens are exposed to information about our work that isn’t filtered through interpretation. We deliver complicated management plans and the purpose policies that depend on accurate data to be understood. We pride ourselves in our transparency and strict adherence to the evidence-based decision-making.
12300 To understand the reasoning behind our decisions our citizens need access to information directly. Local news outlets do not cover much of the material we produce because it does not fit into the definition of news, and when it does, it’s often problematic coverage, lacking the context to understand it fully and sometimes simply inaccurate.
12301 Our ability to develop our own television products and distribute them through the media of television helps the citizens of our region engage with their local government in an informed way. Through our community television programming they’ve learned about things that they would never heard otherwise, and they get essential information that deepens their understanding of the issues that we are widely covering.
12302 Metro Vancouver produces The Sustainable Region as part of our overall communications activities. The Sustainable Region shows are developed in consultation with a wide range of individuals both within and outside the organization and during the production we collaborate with a wide range of individuals and organizations from industry, academia, government, the non-profit society and citizens.
12303 The Metro Vancouver Close-up is developed in partnership with our member municipalities to reflect the issues and initiatives that concern them. Some of these are very local in scope and would not necessarily be interest of local news media.
12304 We produce our material with our own resources and rely on the community channel solely for distribution. We are a large organization and we don’t want to take scarce production resources away from our community access producers. The material we produce for the community channel is repackaged and reused in many different ways in order to gain maximum benefit from their productions.
12305 Metro Vancouver has never reviewed or -- sorry -- Metro Vancouver has reviewed the discussion paper and the questions raised as part of this review and feel there is tremendous opportunity to change current community channel policies to address the many concerns we have articulated in previous hearings. However, we see serious threats proposed to community access in Canada presented through these hearings as well.
12306 The Metro Vancouver region at one time had a large active community channel that provided entertainment and information material produced by community members on topics that covered a wide range of human experiences. For many, the first exposure to a local band or artist was through the community channel. The community channel was where you called to ask -- called in to ask your mayor questions. It was where you could see stories about small things and things that commercial broadcasters with their focus on ratings would not cover.
12307 It is easy to blame changes in the broadcast industry over the -- sorry -- it is easy to blame changes in the broadcast industry on the decline of the community channel but this would not be accurate. Over the past 20 years or so the CRTC policies have allowed BDU’s to consolidate their operations but has not required BDU’s to meet the community obligations, and has not required accountability of the two percent of the cable bill that is supposed to go towards community programming.
12308 The consequences of this is that there were once thousands of volunteers engaged in community expressions that now have less than hundreds.
12309 The BDU and not the community dedicated the bulk of the community channel resources to professional produced news, lifestyle programming, and sponsored sports coverage. Access providers have less access to facilities and less access to airtime. And yet, there is still a tremendous interest in the community programming. True community access programming is still being provided, however, much of it is without any direct support from the BDU or funding intended for that purpose.
12310 And this is where we have an opportunity to review the process. It is the intended outcome of this review to strengthen the provisions of community access to the television broadcast system, and we certainly hope it is, and if the policies put in place to ensure that the money and infrastructure is directed towards community programming, it is clear the volunteers and the community members necessary to make it work will come.
12311 Our concern is that in the desire to assist the private sector in dealing with the challenges of the changing marketplace, the CRTC will rob Peter to pay Paul. The emphasis of this discussion paper seems in favour of private broadcasters as producers of local content over community access providers such as us. We believe that both play a very different but compelling role.
12312 The private sector and the professional broadcasters are extremely skilled at delivering content that appears to the mass audience. Our experience with this type of coverage is that while it is efficient in delivering information that is influenced at promoting dialogue or discussion, the community channel, on the other hand, has been a venue where we have had great success in further dialogue and about important issues facing our region.
12313 For example, each year we host a conference that focus on pressing issues of solid waste. Speakers from around the world come to Vancouver and share their experiences and knowledge and we package their presentations for air on the community channel.
12314 This is not a form of programming that the private sector would consider airing but there is a small audience that is consistent -- or content -- sorry -- with this extremely valuable content. This is the content the private channel would not have interest in distributing as it would not generate revenue. There are many other examples like this.
12315 Our intent in the community channel goes beyond the specific communications needs for our organization. We know, as local government, how important exposure to different viewpoints, cultural expressions, and ideas is to building a resilient and democratic society. We also know how poorly the true economic and social diversity of our community is reflected on private stations. This gap is why community channels were created in the first place and we need it now more than ever.
12316 We are concerned that the focus of issues raised in the discussion paper for the hearing focus entirely on challenges facing local news production and the programming of private broadcasters. While we recognize these challenges, we want to reiterate that further reductions -- further reducing the resources available to the community channel is not the solution.
12317 One rationale put forward for such a reduction is that the private broadcasters producers are community members also. And so in a way, anything they produce could be considered an expression of the community. It should be self-evident that professionals working from corporations are not producing material for a form of self-expression. It is also where one lives. It isn’t where one lives that determines content produced, but who is calling the shots.
12318 One of the community channels it should be -- sorry.
12319 On the community channel it should be noted that community determination is what content matters.
12320 Another argument put forward in the background material for the review is that the ability to post material on the internet and changing technologies have made community channels obsolete; that community members can express themselves on the internet so why do they need a community channel.
12321 The same argument can be made for local stations. Obviously local broadcasters could reduce costs dramatically if they shifted to the internet only enterprise. The reason they don’t is simple; it’s not possible to recreate the television audience online. Television is a distinct, complementary medium to the internet.
12322 The challenges in the industry is that are taking place do not mean television will disappear. Its dominance in our lives is changing but is it a strong and vital platform, and the Canadian public deserve access to it.
12323 Metro Vancouver has a great deal of experience of distributing online and -- distribution online and on television. Our experience has taught us that while putting material online is easy, there are many complex issues involved, such as public versus private space on the major platforms, like YouTube and Facebook.
12324 A more practical consideration is that while putting material online is easy, getting the material seen is very challenging.
12325 Online provides a highly fragmented environment. Metro Vancouver has found that building an online audience requires hard work and costs money. Individual community members will have little access building or reaching audiences; that is one of the vital foundations a community channel provides.
12326 The commitment that technology changes -- or, sorry. The comment that technology changes have made the cost and difficulty of production go down is also highly flawed. While equipment costs have certainly gone down dramatically, there are still costs -- it still costs enough that accessibility barriers still exist. Arguably, the complexity of the means of the production has increased. The community channel has played a role in removing the barriers that shut community members out of the broadcast system. The need for skilled training, access to equipment, and access to audience has not diminished. In many respects, it has gotten greater.
12327 In today’s environment, video is becoming the dominant method of conversation and there are many social economic barriers that exclude many Canadians from having a voice. It is Metro Vancouver’s opinion that while there are deep flaws in the way the community channel is administered and delivered to the public, a rebalancing of the financing available to the elements of the broadcast system that takes away from the community channel is unacceptable. Many of the issues raised regarding the lack of good community programming will be addressed through a stronger community channel.
12328 In conclusion, Metro Vancouver firmly believes that the community channel plays a vital role in Canadian communities.
12329 We appreciate the opportunity to share our concerns that this outcome of this review could further weaken an important element of the Canadian Broadcast System. We encourage the Commission to take a look at the opportunities to review -- this review provides to strengthen the role of the community channel.
12330 Thank you.
12331 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you for your presentation.
12332 Commission Dupras will have a few questions for you.
12333 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Thank you.
12334 Good afternoon.
12335 MR. MOORE: Good afternoon.
12336 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay. Reading your brief, I see that in delivering services and solutions that you’re busy with you use a range of tools and strategies to make sure that they are informed about the decision that shaped their region and that community television programming is an essential part of this work. You produce shows, one-off series, and you’d like to see your shows on the community channel. And in the course of that, you have experienced that access is problematic with the community channel -- the BDU community channel and finally the type of programming that is airing on the community channel doesn’t align with the type of programming you would refer to be on the community channel.
12337 Is that a good summary of your position?
12338 MR. MOORE: Yeah. We’re seeing, I think, an erosion over time of local community content, that definition getting broader and broader. And our fear is that there could be a further erosion of the community content from a local perspective.
12339 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay. Well, when we look at the figures, just in percentage, we see that in terms of access programming, 60 percent of the expense of the community channel in Vancouver is dedicated toward access programming. And as you know, we also have the requirement that 50 percent of the programming on the channel be access programming. You believe such levels are insufficient to respond to the need of the community?
12340 MR. INGLIS: If I could address that? And one of the things that we wanted to do with our presentation was make sure that we were focused on the -- is our understanding of the intent of the review, which is this reallocation of funding, and we wanted to make clear that that’s something that we’re not supportive of.
12341 But to speak to that broader question of access, the percentage that you quote, while maybe technically true, it is the type and form that that access takes that is of concern to us. And we have not been able to do a really detailed analysis of that but certainly there are many shows on there that we believe are being claimed as access productions that don’t really seem to be the type of access that would arise if a community channel had a strong community advisory board, for example.
12342 But some of these shows are really -- there’s one that I think is an access show that is clearly an infomercial for a travel company, and that is being counted as access, as far as we understand.
12343 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: And what evidence have you got of this?
12344 MR. INGLIS: You mean in terms of that show?
12345 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: That some shows are passed as access programming but in reality they’re not.
12346 MR. INGLIS? Well, we don’t and I don’t know where we would find the information to get a very clear picture of that. And that goes to the accountability question that we raised.
12347 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay.
12348 MR. INGLIS: I mean, there are analyses being done and we have an analysis by a local community access provider that certainly ranks all this stuff. We haven’t done our own analysis of it.
12349 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: So what are you requiring more specifically or suggesting as changes to our regulations on ---
12350 MR. INGLIS: Well, I think as we said in the brief, we certainly do not want to see the allocation of funding to be reallocated to the local private stations. That’s very clear for us. You know, two recommendations that we think would certainly be positive to come out of this would be the community advisory boards to be implemented fully.
12351 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Yes.
12352 MR. INGLIS: We also feel that the transparency and the accountability could be far more robust so that we would get, you know, as community members, a very clear picture of what is considered access programming, what isn’t, where those dollars go.
12353 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Yes, very good. You make your position clear on that.
12354 And online, you seem to be discouraged that it’s not working.
12355 MR. INGLIS: I wouldn’t say discouraged. I mean, our experience is that you -- you know, we all have this notion of the viral video that everybody likes to talk about but, you know, those are kind of fluky. Really, when you’re out there trying to build an audience online on a day-to-day basis, it’s actually quite difficult. It takes a lot of effort and it takes money. When we’re doing online advertising campaigns we pay money to get those seen by people.
12356 The community channel itself and the way that that is structured brings with it an audience. And it’s access to that audience that is provided by having this channel; you know, it’s an aggregator.
12357 YouTube is also -- as we know, it’s a foreign company that owns YouTube. Facebook is a foreign company.
12358 You know, there's something, I think, fundamentally wrong with the notion that an element of the Canadian broadcast system could be somehow supplied by foreign owned companies, that doesn't seem consonant with the Broadcast Act.
12359 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: M'hm.
12360 So you're not achieving the viewing you would like for your programming on these platforms, and you believe the linear channel is the most appropriate vehicle for that?
12361 MR. INGLIS: Well, they're all interconnected, so they're not one audience. There's an audience of people, they overlap but they are also distinct. So the television, the broadcast television audience, is different than the online audience. There's lots of points of overlap but there is also ---
12362 So we take multiple platforms and all of them aggregate into a larger audience and that's how we reach our citizens.
12363 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay, well I understand your position. Thank you very much.
12364 MR. INGLIS: Thank you.
12365 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner Simpson?
12366 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Hello gentlemen, and welcome from Gatineau. I'm the commissioner for British Columbia and Yukon, and I have a regional question for you.
12367 Because the Lower Mainland is not amalgamated, and as you indicated, there is a disparity of municipalities that have each their own issues to deal with, I think most recently about things like the Transit Referendum.
12368 And are you -- have you come to the conclusion, as a Metro Vancouver Council, that community television is an avenue to be able to get a consolidated message out when the greater interest and the greater good needs to be communicated to the publics? Is that why it's so important?
12369 MR. MOORE: Well, yeah, we do that in two formats. You know, we have an overall regional show that we produce, but then we've also moved into something called Metro Vancouver Close-up, where -- you know I'm the Mayor of Port Coquitlam, we're 58,000 people. I don't have the ability to produce content for our community channel.
12370 So Metro Vancouver plays that role over all of us and takes deep dives into local issues or local content for us in smaller municipalities. So Metro Vancouver takes the regional role and talks about regional issues and regional discussions on wastewater and zero waste and important air quality regional planning, but it also takes a dive into our local communities as well.
12371 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: And is it this consolidation of the community programming to being a one size fits all, is that what's behind your statement about there being some major deficiencies in the way it's currently being run?
12372 MR. MOORE: Yeah, I mean, I think it's that and it's just the consolidation, and as some of the previous presenters were speaking to, you know, it's very centralized, it's very difficult for community members to get access.
12373 We're a large organization, we have resources, and really, the function of the channel for us is more of a distribution platform. Not to say that if there was more access we wouldn't partner with them in other projects, but the community channel, as a place for people to be able to access the system because of this consolidation, it is very limited. There's a very small pool of people that can access that.
12374 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: We've heard a couple of different scenarios about -- well, hybrid scenarios. One was from Cactus about pulling it out of the hands of the various BDUs and creating a freestanding organization with oversight.
12375 We heard another proposal today, which was interesting, from a community channel in Southern Ontario, Southwestern Ontario, where they were actually soliciting the idea of municipalities taking a direct involvement, either through funding or partnerships with the community channel, if not, actually becoming the community channel.
12376 Has that thought ever crossed your mind that municipalities need to sort of take control of, or become more a partner in these undertakings?
12377 MR. MOORE: I know for me, I was listening to that group from Southern Ontario, and it sounds like they're working hard and doing a lot of fundraising to make their initiative go, and even going into some debt, which seemed a little concerning.
12378 But I would think that if that was something that was presented, you know, Metro Vancouver, as the overarching organization, would probably invite to take that on and to be -- one of the things that Metro Vancouver is doing is we're -- in a lot of different topic areas, we're bringing the greater community together to have those discussions. It could be around economic development, it could be around transit, it could be around other things.
12379 Not necessarily our direct mandate, but because we're there representing the region we're bringing people together, and so that if that was presented I could see Metro Vancouver playing a strong role in facilitating that type of community process.
12380 MR. INGLIS: And if I could just add a comment.
12381 The focus of this review was the focus of our presentation. We -- I'm aware of these other proposals. Some of them seem to have a lot of merit and a lot of potential, but we have not been able to do the full analysis that we would like and we have not been able to go through the political process that we need to present that or to comment specifically on those.
12382 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: That's okay; I didn't take Mayor Moore's comments as a commitment. Thank you.
12383 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Thank you.
12384 THE CHAIRPERSON: You're not suggesting that you would be holding a broadcasting license, are you?
12385 MR. MOORE: No.
12386 THE CHAIRPERSON: Because we do have a policy direction from the government, saying that governments are ineligible to hold licenses.
12387 MR. MOORE: No, we're not suggesting that.
12388 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
12389 Earlier in the hearing, we heard from parties that suggested that over the air television -- local television stations have an important role to keep civic officials accountable.
12390 And I know your position here is mostly with respect to the community channel, but I wanted to give you an opportunity to perhaps dispel what might be the conclusion some might draw that you would rather not have money going to the over the air stations because that might ensure less scrutiny of officials by conventional TV journalists?
12391 MR. MOORE: No, not at all. They play a vital role, the media, in keeping all politicians and all sort of groups that are presenting issues into the public accountable, absolutely, but what we're saying is -- what I've noticed from my own experience.
12392 I've been a mayor now for seven years. The amount of research that goes into media stories now, you know, is diminished greatly over the last seven years. I know, for example, well, probably half of the interviews that I do on TV; I only get a cameraperson. I don't get the journalist anymore.
12393 So the cameraperson isn't necessarily asking those hard-hitting questions. They pull up, they set up the camera, they pull out their phone and they ask me the four questions, and then they give you the last question, is there anything else you want to say, and then they pack up and go back.
12394 And while they're doing that, they got to produce a Tweet, they got to produce a Facebook post, and hopefully maybe get a little bit of a YouTube teaser out while they go back, and the reporter is back in the studio producing the two minute segment.
12395 And so what we're saying is we think that the community channel, and what we're producing, can tell a more full story than a two-minute snippet on zero waste, or air quality. That we're producing a half an hour show, taking a deep dive into those topics.
12396 So people have a better understanding of what's going into the decision-making, and then, hey, if they want to be critical or if they want to write a news story about it or engage us about it, at least we have a full dialogue.
12397 THE CHAIRPERSON: But you're not suggesting that your -- you are suggesting that you would be supportive of other news outlets having appropriate resources to get to hard-hitting news stories?
12398 MR. MOORE: Well, what we're saying is there is a levy here and we don't see the accountability for that money. We don't receive any, we're not sure where it goes, and so that should be transparent. So that if it's a local community channel or if it's local government producing the content, it's transparent on how that money is being flowed.
12399 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
12400 MR. INGLIS: And we are saying that we certainly support local commercial stations, we value them greatly, but we're saying we don't believe that the money to the community channel should be reallocated to those stations. Those -- you know, there may be other funding ways to do that, we don't know.
12401 MR. MOORE: And if I could just further that.
12402 So, you know, I describe Metro Vancouver, we're 23 local governments with the big City of Vancouver and then other size cities in there. So again, I'm from the -- Mayor of the City of Port Coquitlam, 58,000 people, big on a provincial context but small within the region of Metro Vancouver.
12403 For me to actually attract the regional media to do a story on Port Coquitlam is few and far between. It’s just not of interest to them. We’re a 30-minute drive from their studios in Vancouver. So it’s hard actually for us in the City of Port Coquitlam to even get any content on there.
12404 If the City of Vancouver puts out a press release that they’re doing something it leads the 6:00 o’clock news. I might have been doing it for four years but I had never received any media on it, and we have many examples on that.
12405 So I think when you’re in a -- if I was in Prince George, or Kamloops, or a large area within a small rural, they’ve got their own Global, their own CBC, their own CTV channel there and they’re producing a lot of local content because they’re one city within an area. We’re 23 cities within a larger area and unless you’re sort of from the big city or Surrey they don’t really -- unless it’s -- you’ve done something really bad and there’s a sensational story there they’re not coming out to chat with us.
12406 THE CHAIRPERSON: Understood.
12407 Okay. Well, thank you for having participated in the hearing. Those are our questions. Thank you.
12408 MR. MOORE: Thank you.
12409 MR. INGLIS: Thank you.
12410 LE PRÉSIDENT: Madame le secrétaire?
12411 THE SECRETARY: Thank you.
12412 I will now invite the Media Co-op to come forward.
12413 Please introduce yourself then you will have 10 minutes to make your presentation.
12414 MR. RICHARDSON: Before I begin, I’d like to acknowledge that these hearings are being held on unceded Algonquin territory.
12415 Good afternoon, Commissioners Dupras, Molnar, Blais, Simpson and MacDonald. Thank you for postponing the date of these hearings to allow for further opportunities of consultation and research.
12416 My name is Darryl Richardson. I am appearing before you today in my capacity as a Toronto representative serving the Media Co-Op Board of Directors. I am also a member of the Toronto Media Co-Op editorial collective and the Toronto Community Media Network.
12417 Commissioner Simpson, I appreciate your questions yesterday and I beg your pardon if there’s going to be some repetition here.
12418 We are a national community news organization headquartered in Montreal. We have locals in Halifax, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. We also have a working group in Sudbury. We distribute content through websites for each of the locals which can be found at cityname.mediacoop.ca and our working groups, a national website which can be found at mediacoop.ca and The Dominion magazine and website.
12419 The Media Co-Op operates as a multi-stakeholder co-operative. We have three levels of membership each with representation on our board, readers, contributors and editors. We occasionally call for pitches but our content generally comes from the bottom up.
12420 Our main sources of funding are our subscribers and donors. We also make some funding from grants such as Canada Summer Jobs and a small amount from advertising.
12421 We are beholden to our readers as opposed to shareholders or advertisers. While we have some paid staff at the national level the majority of our editors are volunteers.
12422 In effect, we are a web and print based community media hub. Not only do we host individual contributors but many community organizations such as No One is Illegal and the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty have contributed content to the Media Co-Op.
12423 We are proud that we have made this model thrive throughout its 10-year history but at times it has been an uphill battle.
12424 Through my observations of these proceedings, I have noted questions from the Commissioners around the curation of content in such an open access environment. The Media Co-Op has a robust online platform that is radically accessible and capable of hosting audio, video, photosets, blogs and traditional articles.
12425 Local editors are responsible for the content on their own web portals and have several options for curating content. They can do nothing, the article will still be accessible on the website and will appear in a list of recent submissions but it will remain marked not reviewed and not copy edited. They can promote it as a feature. It will appear in a highlighted side bar on the local site. They can promote it to a top story, in which case it would appear at the top of their local page as well as the national page. National editorial staff will also comb through the websites and solicit pitches to generate content for our print publication The Dominion.
12426 In the background of our network, the senior editors have access to powerful administration, moderation and spam filtering tools. Blogs are not reviewed and are not held to the same editorial standards as other content. All blogs are prefaced with an automated disclaimer that states as much. Blogs and community posts are important to us. Our most popular post ever was from an injured cyclist concerning the importance of bike lanes on major streets. This combination of open access with curated content and editorial support is what distinguishes us as a community media organization and not just another blog or website.
12427 We host podcasts from community radio organizations such as Groundwire. Through our 10-year history we have partnered with other community radio programming but they have vanished gently into that good night due to lack of funding. While we also receive some broadcast ready video content from our members such as subMedia.tv, which is posted to our web site, we currently have no means of rebroadcasting it over-the-air or on any other platform.
12428 This could change if radically accessible community media hubs were made available through a robust funding mandate such as that outlined in the CACTUS submission presently before you.
12429 Radically accessible, there’s that term again. What do I mean by this? Traditionally members of the community who already feel marginalized may not feel comfortable sharing their story with a BDU. They may feel that the BDU would not be invested in their story or even interested in broadcasting it regardless of how relevant to the community it may be. There have been instances where community members would contact me as opposed to the mainstream media for these very reasons. Conversely, I have also been contacted by BDUs to approach community members that may be reluctant to speak with them.
12430 To be radically accessible means anyone and everyone ought to feel comfortable and capable to walk through the door of a community media hub and produce content. They ought to know that the people working or volunteering there are vested in their work and don’t simply view it as a loss leader. They ought to walk in and see people who reflect themselves and are willing to nurture their skills in an environment of free collaboration and experimentation.
12431 Multimedia are major traffic drivers. There is a value to a convergence of media. One of our most popular stories included four community videos, a press release, a podcast and photos all accompanying an article that was live-updated as things developed. This and other similar stories showed us the power and value of ordinary witnesses on the street when their content can be aggregated by a respected and trusted source.
12432 A similar convergence could take place across multiple platforms in an area like the GTA from physical community media hubs enabling content generation with more different media than our primarily text-based virtual platform could traditionally afford. Interested members of the community could simultaneously produce content for the internet, radio, television, gaming and print, in addition to potentially new fusions of content which we have yet to consider.
12433 The Media Co-op’s mandate is to amplify voices that would otherwise be drowned out in the din of the 24-hour news cycle. Open community media hubs could only further this goal.
12434 Thank you for your time and consideration and I look forward to any questions you have.
12435 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.
12436 Commissioner Simpson?
12437 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: We meet again.
12438 I will apologize in advance if I sniffle. I’m coming down with a cold and I’ll try not to turn my back on you if I have to do something about it.
12439 I praised CACTUS yesterday, or the day before -- it’s all running together -- because this is an organization that has been pretty single-minded in the pursuit of the preservation of community television and being focussed as they have been over these last few years, decades.
12440 Embracing a relationship with an organization like the Media Co-op is interesting to me, because you are in some form representing a multi-platform type of organization that has been in no small way contributing to the demise of some forms of television and yet I saw you together and I thought it was encouraging and enlightening.
12441 So that said, why are you with CACTUS?
12442 MR. RICHARDSON: I am not personally a member of CACTUS, nor is the Media Co-op, but we are endorsing their proposal because we endorsed the spirit of what they’re trying to do.
12443 As I said in my closing statement, open community media hubs that they’re pushing for could only strengthen media in all respects. And the cooperation and any link that could develop between the Media Co-op and community television, with proper funding and support, I believe there is a potential for not only contributors to the Media Co-op to push content to community television but also for content and promotion to flow the other way for community television to be able to present and host content on the Media Co-op network.
12444 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: So your relationship right now is operating more on the principles of community access and -- well, you’re like-minded in terms of the objectives?
12445 MR. RICHARDSON: Right. But as we’re not a producer of community television we’re not a member.
12446 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: No, I understand. When I said “with” I meant, you know, a ---
12447 MR. RICHARDSON: In collaboration.
12448 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: In collaboration.
12449 You have described a past working relationship with community radio, and this I understand, but you seem to attribute that the only reason these working relationships have failed is because of lack of funding.
12450 Now, that's on their side funding their enterprise or funding the collaboration?
12451 MR. RICHARDSON: It's on the side of the community radio stations.
12452 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Right.
12453 MR. RICHARDSON: There have been several different instances where there have been a myriad of issues that have all sort of branched off of the funding issue.
12454 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hm.
12455 This may be a bit of a stretch, but if this sort of pilot relationship were to evolve into something formalized and the Media Co-Op at some point helped precipitate CACTUS's proposal where there is a complete rethink and a rejig of how community television is done, more freestanding with oversight, do you see yourself plugging into that new paradigm that CACTUS proposes as a news hub? I want to almost say as a Media Co Op version of Broadcast News or Reuters, supplying to a constituency that you have an economic relationship with?
12456 MR. RICHARDSON: Yes, we would envision ourselves as one of many partners with these community media hubs.
12457 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
12458 MR. RICHARDSON: Of course, in addition to the community Media Co Op and other community media organizations, there would also be community media organizations -- or sorry, community organizations ---
12459 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hm.
12460 MR. RICHARDSON: --- and individuals as well.
12461 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
12462 MR. RICHARDSON: We would certainly not be a small partner. We hope to be a significant member of any operation or any potential for ---
12463 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hm, m'hm.
12464 MR. RICHARDSON: --- physical hubs.
12465 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah, but you see adding to the mix of their programming content in some way?
12466 MR. RICHARDSON: Yeah, certainly not overriding or taking away from any of their programming.
12467 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: No, but just as you say, you know, another outlet for your work as well?
12468 MR. RICHARDSON: Yeah.
12469 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Going back to the Media Co Op, I want to spend some time and ask perhaps a couple of indelicate questions, just so that we can understand your organization and how it may play a role in furthering CACTUS's plans.
12470 Now, your organization is part of the Dominion News Co Op; correct?
12471 MR. RICHARDSON: Yes.
12472 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay, and the Dominion News Co Op is not a parent organization but it is an organization that sits above the Media Co Op?
12473 MR. RICHARDSON: Yes, officially, the Media Co Op is considered a project of the Dominion News Co Op, yes.
12474 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: I was going to ask you about that. That was my next question.
12475 Why is it a project? Is it a work in progress or what?
12476 MR. RICHARDSON: No, and we -- I beg your pardon. We are working on sort of clarifying some of these structural setups.
12477 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
12478 MR. RICHARDSON: But the Dominion news collective started developing sort of around 2003 ---
12479 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hm.
12480 MR. RICHARDSON: --- and they were figuring out different models and different projects that may work for distributing ---
12481 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
12482 MR. RICHARDSON: --- media across Canada, and the Media Co Op happened to be one of the projects that really gained traction ---
12483 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hm.
12484 MR. RICHARDSON: --- across the nation.
12485 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hm.
12486 MR. RICHARDSON: And we sort of just kept that moniker, both for administration and governance and financial purposes, yeah.
12487 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Would it be safe to say it's because Dominion, you know, is largely a print based news cooperative, and ---
12488 MR. RICHARDSON: Yes.
12489 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: --- you're more the media lab ---
12490 MR. RICHARDSON: Yeah.
12491 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: --- side of things, exploring new platforms?
12492 MR. RICHARDSON: Yes, the more experimental project, but it has been ongoing for 10 years now, and it's not so ---
12493 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
12494 MR. RICHARDSON: --- much a project or experimental anymore.
12495 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Right.
12496 And your footprint's pretty impressive. I just kept marvelling at how much support you have in the communities across the country.
12497 But going back to Dominion, though. You know, given that you are sort of son of, or daughter of, or the next platform generation of Dominion, I want to understand, and again, this is as it applies to a CACTUS collaboration.
12498 Our preoccupation always is that when there is public money, whether Peter, Paul's, Isadore's or anyone else's, there is accountability, there is ethics and efficacy. And I have no doubt that there's ethics and efficacy in your organization, but I wanted to understand the views of Dominion and how much they apply to the Media Co Op.
12499 Dominion describes itself as a solidarity co operative. What does that mean?
12500 MR. RICHARDSON: It's a co operative of people who are working towards the same or similar goes, and the stated mission statement of both the Media Co Op and the Dominion is to try to -- and again, going back to my closing statement -- is to try to amplify the voices ---
12501 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Right.
12502 MR. RICHARDSON: --- of people who may feel marginalized or pushed aside by the intensive 24 hour news cycle.
12503 If their voices do make it in, it may just be something anecdotal or a addendum to another story. And we feel that that does them a disservice and that people who are parts of these marginalized communities, both in urban and rural environments deserve and ought to have an opportunity to have their voices and their views heard.
12504 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay.
12505 The constituency, the collaboration that represents the solidarity -- I'm peeling off of the Dominion website -- indicates that it's really -- there's three groups collaborating, the readers, the contributors, and the editors.
12506 MR. RICHARDSON: Yes.
12507 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: And that the focus is to seek to represent the common interests of these groups, free from the constraints of the corporate press.
12508 Now, I have a pretty good idea what that means, but my question in bringing this up is Dominion, and I presume yourself, as the Media Co Op, describe themselves as presenting an accurate view against the corporate news, but are you not actually presenting an alternative view in many instances? Because it seems that Dominion advocates as much as it reports.
12509 MR. RICHARDSON: We -- there is certainly an advocacy element to some of the things that we post ---
12510 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
12511 MR. RICHARDSON: --- but we also do a fair amount of in-depth research. We've -- we have several researchers and fact checkers that overlook many of our major feature pieces. All of our print publications or anything that gets featured on the national site ---
12512 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
12513 MR. RICHARDSON: --- goes through vetting, goes through copy editing, fact checking.
12514 And while -- I mean, certainly, we won't present anything that's untrue, but we will present it from the perspective of the community. We'll present it from the perspective of people who are being affected by these events.
12515 And we see time and time again in mainstream media where they will give more time to the government or a corporate interest that may be affecting Issue A, B, C, and they'll -- like I said, they'll give maybe some anecdotal statements from the community.
12516 And once again, like going back to our model, as I said, we're funded by our sustainers, our subscribers, and our donors. We are beholden to them. We must produce the sort of content and the sort of articles that they want to see. And we're not -- we don't have to worry about shareholders or advertisers taking our funding away because we are -- we're funded by the people who read us and through the efforts of our ---
12517 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hm.
12518 MR. RICHARDSON: --- editors and contributors.
12519 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: And that's a model that, you know, that if not this commission, I understand, because it's out there in various forms. You know, public radio in the United States, public television is supported by subscribes, you know, the viewers and listeners.
12520 But from the standpoint of being an organization that would be contributing to a regulated entity, like a BDU's community channel, those types of organizations that have that subscriber model follows some disciplines.
12521 And I go back to the point about the three kinds of members were -- the description was readers, contributors and editors. I didn't see journalists in there; I didn't see readers, journalists and editors.
12522 Now, is there a reason for that? Because I -- because you present yourself as a journalistic organization.
12523 MR. RICHARDSON: Right, and that goes back to we prefer the term contributors because we accept all forms of content.
12524 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
12525 MR. RICHARDSON: And we accept content generated by people who may not be considered journalists or may not be considered ---
12526 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
12527 MR. RICHARDSON: --- journalistic content. So we didn't want artists, or poets, or bloggers to feel that by using the term journalist we are in way excluding them.
12528 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Never let a poet think that they're a journalist.
12529 MR. RICHARDSON: Certainly not.
12530 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: No offense to poets, but I understand your point.
12531 But continuing on this theme. The ideas that as a news organization, regardless of views, there --- the efficacy that is sort of required to be a journalistic organization requires some rigour, and I'm going to ask you some questions.
12532 If you were to get caught up in this notion of CACTUS's and formed a collaboration, and it was part of the oversight of being a journalistic organization on a public license medium, would you consider that your organization would have to belong to organizations like the Organization of News Ombudsman, or the Society of Professional Journalists, or the RTNDA, or any of those organizations that provide oversight on a journalistic basis?
12533 MR. RICHARDSON: That would be something that we would have to consider at the time in consultation with ---
12534 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
12535 MR. RICHARDSON: --- CACTUS.
12536 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
12537 MR. RICHARDSON: But historically, the Media Co Op hasn't seen the need to seek membership in such organizations, and we have found that through self-governing and self-oversight we have been able to maintain a very high journalistic standard in our content.
12538 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hm.
12539 MR. RICHARDSON: And it has certainly been few and far between that we've ever found ourselves in any sort of trouble, and we do pride ourselves on the quality and accuracy of our content.
12540 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: So the answer is maybe?
12541 MR. RICHARDSON: Possibly.
12542 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay.
12543 I want to close with a question that our Chair asked the Canadian Media Guild the other day. And that question to them was the question I'm posing to you, which is are you not at all concerned -- and I'm quoting here, they were great words.
12544 Are you not all concerned as news professionals that CRTC, though independent from government but still within the executive branch of the Federal Government would somehow be instrumental in creating a fund to create news?
12545 Well, if you were to be bringing a news gathering component to community television ---
12546 MR. RICHARDSON: M'hm.
12547 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: --- and it were in some form, although not necessarily in the form we're looking at for the commercial stations, if you were accessing funds that were coming from -- that were prescribed by an organization such as this, does that cause you any concern that you're accessing money through, perhaps, CACTUS, that is fostering your organization?
12548 In other words, government-prescribed money, does that work against your ethics? No?
12549 MR. RICHARDSON: No, not at all. We frequently make use of grants such as New Horizons and Canada Summer Jobs, and we think that the fostering of community media and ---
12550 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
12551 MR. RICHARDSON: --- community development in general ---
12552 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
12553 MR. RICHARDSON: --- and especially the Canada Summer Jobs grant and development of ---
12554 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
12555 MR. RICHARDSON: --- young people is something that we wholly support and we have no reason to object to those sorts of programs.
12556 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah, okay.
12557 I asked that question, simply because the feeling is amongst community programmers that the system is working just fine but if there is a need for news it could be better delivered through the community site and the community channel site as opposed to the OTAs, and that's why I asked the question.
12558 Thank you.
12559 MR. RICHARDSON: Thank you.
12560 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
12561 I believe those are our questions. Thank you ---
12562 MR. RICHARDSON: Thank you very much.
12563 THE CHAIRPERSON: --- and ends the participants today.
12564 The forecast is for some rather messy weather tomorrow morning, so I invite every participant to leave early, leave plenty of time to get here on time because we're adjourned until 9:00 a.m. tomorrow morning.
12565 Thank you.
--- Upon adjourning at 4:31 p.m.
Debbie Di Vetta
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