ARCHIVED - Transcript, Hearing September 28, 2016
This page has been archived on the Web
Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.
Providing Content in Canada's Official Languages
Please note that the Official Languages Act requires that government publications be available in both official languages.
In order to meet some of the requirements under this Act, the Commission's transcripts will therefore be bilingual as to their covers, the listing of CRTC members and staff attending the hearings, and the table of contents.
However, the aforementioned publication is the recorded verbatim transcript and, as such, is transcribed in either of the official languages, depending on the language spoken by the participant at the hearing.
Location: Edmonton, Alberta
Date: September 28, 2016
© Copyright Reserved
Attendees and Location
Radisson Hotel & Convention Centre
4520 76th Avenue NW
- Chairman: Peter Menzies
- Members: Candice Molnar, Yves Dupras
- Legal Counsel: Valérie Dionne
- Secretary: Jade Roy
- Hearing Manager: Émilie Godbout
--- Upon resuming on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 at 8:28 a.m.
1742 THE CHAIRPERSON: I was going to say “Order, please” but there's already order. Good morning, everyone.
1743 Madam Secretary?
1744 THE SECRETARY: Thank you. Good morning.
1745 Before we begin, just a reminder that the Commission is also tweeting during the hearing the documents regarding the hearing at @crtchearings using the hashtag #crtc.
1746 We will now proceed with Item 6 on the agenda which is an application by Multicultural Broadcasting Corporation Inc. for a broadcasting licence to operate an ethnic commercial FM specialty radio station in Edmonton.
1747 Please introduce yourself and your colleagues and you will then have 20 minutes for your presentation.
1748 Thank you.
1749 MR. SAMUEL: Good morning. I'm Bijoy Samuel, Vice-President and General Manager, RED FM. I will now introduce my team.
1750 To my immediate right is our President Kulwinder Sanghera who has been involved in the South Asian community for over 30 years. His vision is to serve the ethnocultural communities in multiple cities with engaging radio programming. He is well experienced in building high quality and successful ethnic radio stations.
1751 Sitting beside him is Pooja Sekhon, our Chief News Reporter and talk show host who has been with RED FM Vancouver for almost a decade. With a Masters in Journalism from Delhi, she has over 16 years of news reporting experience.
1752 Next to her is our popular and multi-talented host from RED FM Calgary, Gurpreet Rattan. She is an award-winning international radio presenter with over 13 years of broadcasting experience and a Masters in Journalism and Mass Communication.
1753 On my left is our legal counsel Mark Lewis from Lewis Birnberg Hanet LLP whose extensive experience in broadcasting dates back to 1968.
1754 Next to Mark is Kevin Drew, radio personality with 15 years of experience on CKER, and he will be part of our on-air team here in Edmonton.
1755 In the second row, to my left behind Kevin, is Tony Senghera, our Sales Manager who has strong relationships with national advertising agencies, as well as with ethnic advertisers in Calgary.
1756 Sitting beside Tony is Almin Kassamali from the Calgary-based research and strategy firm StyleLabs Inc. with operations in Edmonton and New York City.
1757 Next to him is Irene Querubin. She has a degree in broadcasting and is the host of our Filipino show at RED FM Vancouver. She is actively involved in hosting events in the community. Previous to RED FM, she has worked in Filipino media, including TV and print.
1758 Next to her is our Calgary Station Manager, Michael Pedersen, who joined RED FM from the very first day RED FM came into operation.
1759 Next to Michael is RED FM Calgary's morning prime time talk show host and News Director, Rishi Nagar. He represents RED FM at more than 10 community events weekly on an average. His dedication and involvement in the community is commendable.
1760 Next is Kulmeet Sangha, one of the first South Asian broadcasters heard on CKER and he's presently operating an SCMO service here which started in 1998. He is widely recognized as a host and has been involved in various community organizations in Edmonton. He was part of our panel in 2008 and he is fully committed in realising our vision for Edmonton.
1761 With that, we will now begin our presentation.
1762 May I draw your attention to the TV screen, please?
1763 (VIDEO PRESENTATION)
1764 MR. SAMUEL: First, let's look at our business plan.
1765 While choosing our core target audience, we have strategically balanced underserved needs versus the business case.
1766 Our core audience are the South Asian and Chinese ethnic groups. They have the right combination of underserved needs, audience size, and an ecosystem of businesses to financially fuel our radio station.
1767 The Filipino community has also grown in population. However, due to its limited size of businesses, the Filipino community will be our secondary audience.
1768 When you combine the South Asian, Chinese and Filipino communities of Edmonton, they are about 152,760 people.
1769 It’s interesting to note that there are two radio stations in Calgary serving an audience of a similar size.
1770 Further, upon successful licensing of RED FM in Edmonton, the increase in programming for these three groups will be comparable to the total hours of programming presently available in Calgary.
1771 Next, let's talk about the impact on the incumbent, CKER FM, who is also serving South Asian and Chinese ethnic groups.
1772 We have undertaken extensive consumer and business research to ascertain market needs, demand and impact on the incumbent. We have commissioned StyleLabs, a research and strategy firm to conduct an advertiser study, consumer needs analysis and focus group, ethnic content consumer study, and the Filipino Supplement.
1773 We also commissioned custom reports like Stat Canada's "Selected Statistics and Projections for the Visible Minority Groups in the CMA of Edmonton" and Conference Board of Canada's "Medium-Term Economic Outlook for the Edmonton CMA".
1774 The sample size of our consumer survey was very large. StyleLabs surveyed 1,183 people belonging to the South Asian and Chinese ethnic groups. The research clearly shows that 52 percent of the sample does not listen to CKER FM. Sixty-four (64) percent of these non-listeners said that they would tune into the new station.
1775 And that's why there is a tremendous radio universe expansion opportunity from these non-listeners.
1776 Amongst the existing listeners of CKER FM, the quantitative data and the focus groups confirmed the respondents do not want a radio station to migrate their listenership but rather to augment their consumption.
1777 It is our position that we will not be competing head-to-head with CKER for their listenership. We have designed our programming schedule to complement that of CKER FM.
1778 In terms of the advertising impact, the existing ethnic radio advertising universe is very small. Just under 15 percent of the respondents surveyed currently advertise on ethnic radio stations in Edmonton.
1780 MR. KULWINDER SANGHERA: I would like to wrap this section with a few more key strengths of our business plan.
1781 Our strategy is to invest the most funds in programming and offset some of the other costs by taking advantage of the synergies with our sister stations.
1782 We have alternate revenue streams that we can rely on. As a contingency, should the need arise for supplementing additional funds, our operations in Calgary and Vancouver are always ready to provide the required cash flow.
1783 Our revenue forecasts over a seven-year period are realistic. We will be expanding the universe of radio listeners and advertisers. We have a history of outperforming our revenue forecasts.
1784 In Vancouver, we achieved our year 7 projections in the first year itself. In Calgary, we achieved our year 7 projections in just 28 months, notwithstanding the current economic conditions.
1785 To market the stations, we have allocated $90,000 for the first year and $400,000 over seven years. Our business plan is strong, sustainable, and ready to launch.
1786 Now, we would like to show you how the difference in our programming vision will be beneficial for our target audience. We are investing 841,000 in programming during our first year, and 6.7 million over the first seven years of operation.
1787 Why are we investing so much in programming? Mr. Sangha, please.
1788 MR. SANGHA: Firstly, our programming vision for Edmonton's ethnic communities is to build a community of engaged radio listeners by providing relevant and engaging local programming that fulfils the diverse and distinct needs of our target audiences. Secondly, we are investing in our human capital by paying our staff a living wage.
1789 Now, let's look at our format. We will be providing a full-service radio station.
1790 Here is an audio sample of our programming.
1791 (AUDIO PRESENTATION)
1792 MS. SEKHON: I would like to briefly elaborate on few of these programming elements.
1793 News: Our application addresses the underserved needs of our target audience by providing a locally focused news service. The format of our newscast is 70 percent local and regional news, and only 30 percent national and international news. To cover more local news stories, we will hire one full-time and two part-time reporters, who will report in South Asian and Chinese languages.
1794 To highlight local events, we will hire a weekend community events reporter. This person will attend and report from local events happening on the weekend.
1795 Our proposed approach to news is unique and has many benefits for our target audience; they are: A new and distinct local editorial voice; fair, balanced and un-opinionated news.
1796 The gap in local news for ethnic listeners will be filled with 82 newscasts weekly in Punjabi, Hindi, Cantonese, Mandarin, Urdu, and Tagalog. For the nine smaller ethnic groups, each week we will have nine newscasts and nine community updates.
1797 People will have access to live, local news, with broadcasts every hour from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. on weekdays. Our target audience will have a credible avenue to provide news tips on matters that they believe should be investigated and broadcast.
1798 Our target audience will be well-informed on local news as our reporters will cover various beats, including education, politics, health, crime, courts, and sports.
1800 MR. NAGAR: Next, let's look at our talk shows. We will have three talk shows totalling seven hours a day on weekdays in Cantonese, Punjabi, and Mandarin. The guiding philosophy of our talk shows is to inform, inspire, educate, and empower our listeners.
1801 To make the quality of ethnic talk shows to the next level, we will hire talk show producers for the Punjabi, Cantonese, and Mandarin talk shows. The format of our talk shows includes an open line programming component.
1802 During the weekdays, we will feature current affairs, informative interviews, segments, community event updates, topics that assist new immigrants to fit into the Canadian society, and much more.
1803 Our daily talk shows are inclusive of women's topics; however, additionally, through our talk shows on Saturdays and Sundays featuring a female host, we will provide a platform for women to engage, share, and discuss topics that are important to them.
1805 MR. DREW: Our programming plan also includes the following interesting elements:
1806 Canadian musical content. We will broadcast a minimum of 12 percent Canadian musical content on a weekly basis, and 50 percent of these musical selections will be of ethnic emerging artists.
1807 Features on finance, entertainment, and technology; business reports highlighting Canadian and international business news; traffic and weather reports every 30 minutes during prime commuting time.
1809 MS. KAUR: Next, we would like to merit your attention on our experienced approach towards furthering the broad service requirement.
1810 We are proposing service to 18 groups in 16 languages, this includes programming to nine new groups in their own language. Smaller ethnic groups need radio programming but their members cannot afford to either be volunteer producers or purchase brokered programming airtime. So here we have a win/win proposal for all.
1811 RED FM will not only have -- will not have any brokered programming. We'll be hiring producers/hosts to provide programming to these smaller ethnic groups. Our job offer will include a salary and additional revenue sharing opportunities as detailed in our application.
1813 MR. PEDERSEN: Now, let's look at our CCD proposal.
1814 Our CCD proposal is enriched by the synergies and experience of our Vancouver and Calgary stations. May I direct your attention to the video screen for a short video presentation.
1815 (VIDEO PRESENTATION)
1816 MR. PEDERSEN: After a decade of discovering, supporting, and promoting local talent and creating audio content for broadcast, we are excited to inject $716,500 over seven years as our over-and-above basic CCD contributions. We intend to supplement these funds through additional over-and‑above expenditures of $125,000 over five years courtesy of RED FM Vancouver.
1817 All of our over-and‑above basic CCD contributions are for ethnic talent development and audio content creation. Our proposal works at three levels:
1818 Number one are talent contests. To discover and support new and emerging local Canadian artists, we're proposing a Chinese talent contest, a South Asian talent contest, and a multicultural talent contest. Although administering talent contests takes a lot of time and work we're happy to conduct them because of the benefits they provide to the local talent.
1819 Number two are poetry contests. We believe that the creation of a bi‑annual poetry contest in South Asian and Chinese languages will create more engaging Canadian content.
1820 And, finally, Canadian ethnic artist development -- the next stage. We are proposing our bold idea of taking the Canadian ethnic artists to the next level of exposure through a series of concerts across four major Canadian cities.
1821 Here is a short video of what Edmonton musical performers have to say about our proposal.
1822 (VIDEO PRESENTATION)
1823 MR. PEDERSEN: Irene.
1824 MS. QUERUBIN: RED FM, beyond the role of a conventional radio station. Edmonton's ethnic communities will benefit from RED FM's philosophy “by the community, for the community” and its objective of community capacity building.
1825 RED FM is not just a radio station. Its deep involvement in community initiatives provides a platform for people to come together and make positive contributions in the community.
1826 In under 3 years, RED FM Calgary's listeners have raised $2,000,000 during annual radio-thons for the Calgary Food Bank, the Calgary Health Trust, and other charities.
1827 Recently, our radio-thons in Calgary and Vancouver raised over $700,000 to benefit the Canadian Red Cross' relief efforts in the aftermath of the Fort McMurray wildfires.
1828 We will now play a short video.
1829 (VIDEO PRESENTATION)
1830 MS. QUERUBIN: In Edmonton also, we will work hard to bring our communities together to help charities around us.
1832 MR. SENGHERA: Now to look at the icing on the cake, our experience and our synergies.
1833 As the saying goes, an experienced hand can make all the difference. RED FM is the licensee of CKYR FM Calgary. This experience provides us with the expertise of operating a successful radio station in the present economic climate of Alberta without compromising on high quality programming.
1834 We are famous amongst our audience for programming quality and community engagement.
1835 As mentioned, our experience and track record of successfully broadcasting in multiple languages will allow us to effectively serve our proposed audience of 18 groups in Edmonton.
1836 We have the ability to fulfill our local programming vision not just because we are passionate about providing high quality local programming, but also, we are not a standalone operator who would find it hard to consistently provide high quality programming in this economic climate.
1837 MR. SAMUEL: The incumbent’s ownership groups like Corus, Rogers Media, Newcap and Jim Pattison Broadcast Group in their joint intervention response to CRTC 2015-135 regarding market capacity consultation stated, and I quote, “a single-stick ethnic commercial radio station in this highly competitive market will find it very difficult to achieve viability.”
1838 Our synergies better position us to serve Edmonton than a standalone operator.
1839 For example, talent contest. Our talent contest coordinator -- our talent coordinator from RED FM Vancouver will manage our Canadian talent initiatives across the three radio stations with no cost-sharing
1840 implications to the Edmonton operation.
1841 National Revenue. We will offer package deals to national agencies for all the three stations. This puts us in a better position than a standalone operator to secure national advertising for Edmonton.
1842 Commercials. Between the three stations we will have a large team of creative and production staff to help the Edmonton station produce high quality commercials.
1843 Voice-over Talent Pool. Many ethnic communities -- many ethnic stations struggle with lack of diversity in their voice-over talent pool. Our Edmonton operation will have access to a diverse pool of male and female voices of RED FM stations in Calgary and Vancouver.
1844 Financial. We are in a better position than a standalone operator to financially support our Edmonton station and achieve our business plan.
1845 Some of the other synergies are contests and station promotions, website and IT services, technical services, and accounting.
1846 In closing, we’d like to reiterate that we have the right solution for the Edmonton market. The difference is in our local programming regime, our quality of application, our choice of core target audience that provides a strong business case, our commitments to CCD, and our Alberta experience and synergy.
1847 Licensing RED FM is in the public interest. Firstly, it creates a choice in the market and adds to the diversity of voices and ownership, and further contributes to the achievement of the objectives of the ethnic policy and the Broadcasting Act.
1848 Thank you. That concludes our presentation. We are ready for your questions.
1849 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
1850 Commissioner Dupras will begin our questions.
1851 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Good morning. I would start by asking you that you state that your station must absolutely target South Asian and Chinese audience as the main audience in order to be successful. I mean, we -- there were other applicants in this hearing, as you know, and some came with different proposal which weren’t targeting these population, these languages as main audience and they were confident that they could have a business case. Why is it, from what I -- from what you say, that this seems to be the only way in Edmonton?
1852 MR. SAMUEL: So we are proposing Chinese and South Asian languages as our co-target audience. And the reason, basic reason is because of the -- there are two reasons. One is the population size has grown to support the station; at the same time, the business case. There are enough advertising ethnic businesses around that can support ethnic business to business through this advertising -- through the radio station.
1853 But when you look at the Filipino community -- I know some of the other applicants have proposed Filipino as their core target audience. When we started this, we went out with the view of let’s find out which other big communities that we could serve. The message that we got back from our advertising survey, which we started, was that there is not enough businesses for the Filipino community, although there is a population. But there are some characteristics within this population that doesn’t allow us to make it into an ethnic radio station.
1854 I’ll ask Irene to elaborate on those and I’ll also ask Almin to talk about the research that came back, which shows that there’s not enough business case for the Filipino community.
1855 MS. QUERUBIN: I can share with you my experience and my knowledge of the Filipino community.
1856 So, for example, for many of us Filipinos, in order for us to come here we would have to satisfy a point system set out by the Canadian Immigration. It’s a set of criteria that measures our educational attainment, our professional background, how many years have we been working in a specific industry or field of profession. It also measures our ability to speak, read and write in English and among other things.
1857 So you would see then that when Filipinos come to Canada we have a very strong professional background and we have the unique ability to speak English that makes us readily employable here in Canada. So for many of us Filipinos, when we come here, we have the advantage and the advantage to become employable. So, many of us choose to get employed because we can easily assimilate ourselves with the knowledge of English that we have and our strong skills professionally.
1858 I would also like to share with you the data that I found from Statistic Canada where it says in 2001, 72 percent of labour force participants of Filipino origin were employed. So, 72 percent ---
1859 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: What -- I’m sorry, but we were talking about advertising. I mean, I thank you for your answer, but if we could focus on that?
1860 MS. QUERUBIN: So why are they not opening businesses? It’s because many Filipinos choose to get employment rather than open a business. I can share my experience, for example, as a new immigrant here, you know, 12 years ago, it’s much more secure for me to get a, you know, fixed income rather than set up for a self-employment where there is a lot of risk.
1861 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: But there’s one thing I don’t understand. Maybe you can help me. It’s not only Filipino business that want to get to Filipino people. It’s all sorts of business. I mean, all the Canadian businesses, I mean, that want -- that have products to sell. I mean, they’re interested in all the communities, no? You seem to say that it’s -- that only the Filipino businesses and they’re not enough to sustain a Filipino language station.
1862 MR. SAMUEL: So the success of ethnic stations is mostly based on local advertising that happens within ethnic communities to -- within the station. The station reaches out to its core ethnic communities.
1863 There could be some large businesses that would like to tap into multi-level -- multi-ethnic communities, but of our experience of so many years, we find those are very few -- that’s a really small segment where you have someone wanting to go into different. Most of the companies are targeting specific target audience.
1864 And, Kevin, would you like to add some?
1865 MR. DREW: I guess I want to clarify that the Filipino ethnic group, as Almin indicated, they have a higher education, they have a better ability to the English language so that when they arrive to Canada they’ll be more focused in -- put their life into the mainstream society and they can communicate basically rather than like South Asian or the Chinese community most people they still rely on their like modest language. So I think that may make the big difference because they don’t rely on their own language.
1866 MR. SAMUEL: And so to answer your question about Filipino business case, we had a very important point that we’d like to share, and that would be Almin, because he did extensive research and here’s what he found.
1867 MR. KASSAMALI: So when we first started putting together that Filipino business case, anytime you do a survey or any type of research you have to compile a large volume of sample, and so right at the sampling stage what we found was there was not enough available. We made hundreds, almost 1,000 calls to get 69 completes in our Filipino supplement.
1868 So we started investigating at a qualitative level why there was this big issue and again there was a couple of things. First of all, just as a side note, ethnic-to-ethnic advertising, as Bijoy mentioned, is very important to the success of this particular format. Now, the Filipinos, number one, are more employable, so they are more out in the workforce, and the other group of them that are self-employed, which is a very low incidence, they tend to invest in franchises that are not really targeting the same audience they’re more focused on the general population, so things like Subway for example. I mean, like they purchase a franchise and from that perspective they’re -- you know, their marketing is attached to that general population marketing budget.
1869 MR. SANGHERA: I would like to add more. When we were preparing our application our REDFM always wanted to get involved with the community. During the application process, we met a lot of organizations, Chinese, Filipinos, South Asians. Anytime we talked to a Filipino organization can you please explain us about your businesses, they could only name a few, maybe a bakery store or a small restaurant. We could not see a potential where we could visually go so okay these are the Filipino business we can generate revenue.
1870 So if you see in our application we put 81 letters that shows that we did our groundwork to see which core group is going to make our business case.
1871 MR. PEDERSEN: Hi there. Michael Pedersen, Station Manager of REDFM Calgary.
1872 We added more Filipino programming to our Calgary station, and as the Station Manager I have real boots on the ground experience going out with our Filipino host and looking for business. And I don’t have tangible data but I can tell you that it’s been very hard for us ---
1873 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: How many hours did you have?
1874 MR. PEDERSEN: I went out a couple of time. I would say ---
1875 MR. DREW: Hours of programming.
1876 MR. PEDERSEN: Hours of programming, four. Excuse me. We have four in Calgary.
1877 So we increased the amount of Filipino programming from Vancouver into Calgary, and we’ll do that into Edmonton.
1878 But it’s been challenging for us to find quality advertisers on a regular basis for our Filipino programming.
1879 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: And can you tell me, in your projection, out of the revenue that you have, what percentage of the revenue is attributable to South Asian businesses? I mean, is it 50 percent that comes from the communities and the rest comes from regular businesses? I mean not regular but more non-specific businesses.
1880 MR. SANGHERA: If we look at our chart, in the morning we have a Chinese programming, South Asian programming. It starts from 9:00 to 7:00.
1881 If you give us a little bit more time we can file that and we have to just put together. I don’t have the exact number.
1882 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: What I’d like to know is the revenue that you project comes from the communities businesses is what you say. So I’d like to know to which extent it comes from those businesses versus, I mean, other businesses that are not ethnic.
1883 MR. SAMUEL: Yes.
1884 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay?
1885 MR. SAMUEL: Most of our revenue that we get in our experience is majority from these ethnic businesses. We have a small component of national advertising that comes in also but that’s really small. And then there are those big car dealers that would like to reach multi-audience, but even they -- because budgets are tight, even they want to focus on specific core target audience.
1886 So we’ll have to really go back and drill and see how many are those but we can provide that to you.
1887 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: I mean rough -- just an approximation.
1888 MR. SAMUEL: If you want a ballpark is a majority is going to be ethnic-to-ethnic businesses.
1889 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: A majority being like 51 percent or 70, 80 percent?
1890 MR. SAMUEL: Seventy (70) to 80 percent, or higher actually. Actually, 80-plus -- sorry.
1891 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay.
1892 Now, you say in the programming that there exists a significant gap in the local and regional news available to radio listeners of the South Asian and Chinese community in Edmonton. Can you tell us more precisely what this significant gap is?
1893 MR. SANGHERA: When we were putting an application together and we wanted to know what is the gap, we recorded a local programming for over a month and we monitored the programming and the same time we were saying what are the important news of this day. And when we put it together, the data we looked at it, especially for South Asian, majority of the newscast comes from India or the BBC. Local news was very minimum, some of the days it’s at zero percent some of the days it comes up to maximum 18 percent. We filed this information with our application.
1894 Then we looked at the Chinese segment. The Chinese segment was a little bit more than South Asian local news but still there’s a lot of news was coming from Hong Kong. We looked at it. We said this is a good opportunity. When we did a research our research sample was very big. And that’s what we also find that people are missing local news and they want a lot more local news.
1895 MR. SAMUEL: I’ll have Pooja add to it.
1896 MS. SEKHON: And our format is we are completely committed to local news. Our format is 70 percent local and regional and 30 percent national and international.
1897 As in Calgary as well, we have the same format in Vancouver.
1898 We’ll have 82 newscasts from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. The bulletins or the newscasts every hour would be about four to five minutes, which is more than sufficient to cover news for that hour. And we have every hour, as I said, that could mean any development in the news story, any update would be then provided. We also have community updates and nine newscasts for smaller communities.
1899 Anything over and above five minutes every hour would be a lot of repetition, that’s what we also realized, because there’s so much that is happening in the city, Calgary newsroom, Vancouver newsroom and then Edmonton newsroom.
1900 So Edmonton newsroom is going to be a full-fledged newsroom with two -- three reporters, two part-time, one full-time, and two news anchors. That’s a very strong team of, you know, news members. And we would be sharing news with Vancouver and Calgary in a way if there is something in Vancouver which is of relevance to Edmonton listeners that will be shared; if there’s something happening in Calgary that is of relevance to Edmonton listeners that would be shared.
1901 So it’s three strong newsrooms working together.
1902 MR. SAMUEL: And I would get Almin to just -- sorry -- I would get Almin to talk about what the focus groups have to say.
1903 MR. KASSAMALI: In the qualitative research one of the reasons that respondents were looking to other media was because they felt that there was not enough local content that was available.
1904 When we talked about why radio differentiated from everything else, this was one of the things that kept coming up as a trend that, you know, radio is synchronise and, you know, through our cultural station we get access to this local news and it’s something that they were not getting enough of at this point.
1905 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: And is the gap limited to local news or is there other types of content?
1906 MR. SAMUEL: Yes, there are other ones.
1907 Almin, if you could talk about the other two.
1908 So the research came back with they wanted better quality programming, they wanted talk shows.
1909 For example, if you take the Chinese community, they have no talk shows that are long-form structure. We are going to provide long-form structure talk shows for one hour each.
1910 So presently, that’s not there. There’s no open -- there’s no place where we can have -- presently, where they can have open-line programming and discuss important issues that are relevant to them. We are going to be able to provide -- we are going to provide that, if we are successfully licensed. That’s one gap in talk shows.
1911 And sorry ---
1912 MR. KASSAMALI: Just to add to that, on the South Asian side, the gaps that we identified are they wanted better talk, more news, more music; on the Chinese side, more news, better programming, more music. And as a universe, news, talk, music and traffic were gaps that were identified in the research.
1913 MR. SAMUEL: And on the music side, if I can say, we’re adding diversity to the music. Basically, we’re adding diversity to news, diversity to talk, as well as to music.
1914 In terms of music, what you hear right now is a majority of old songs, but we will be bringing in more of the new ones.
1915 So those are the gaps that we’ll be creating. We’ll be -- that will be fulfilling. We’ll be creating choice.
1916 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: I mean you’d be giving more of what exists but that seems to be insufficient.
1917 MR. SAMUEL: So sir, let me answer it this way.
1918 Right now, what exists, for example, in music, say take the South Asian programming in morning time, they have music that plays which is -- if I can say under the “easy listening category” from ‘80s, ‘90s and 2000, up to 2005.
1919 The sound that we would provide, the music that we would provide is going to be more -- newer music. So that’s the difference that will be there. A majority of our music would be new.
1920 So we’ll be complementing that of CKER’s programming. So that’s the gap that we will fulfil, for example, in music.
1921 Kulwinder wants to add.
1922 MR. KULWINDER: With the music, you know, we’re going to have it throughout the day, the music. We have already monitored extensively what is being played. And we have our list. Our list will be totally -- I would say 70 percent different from the current music.
1923 As you know, the India -- South Asian music, Bollywood is a big industry and Punjabi music is a big industry. There’s a lot of the good music that’s not being played right now. We will play a lot of new music that will attract the younger generation and as well the older generation.
1924 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: And your programming aside from the music, how will it differ from World FM?
1925 MR. SANGHERA: So if I give you an example from 7:00 to 9:00 in the morning, Monday to Friday, they will play, like Bijoy said, very soft easy listening music. Those are the artists that were already 10 years ago popular.
1926 But the artists that are popular in the last four or five years, they get about an average about 20 percent air play, maximum up to 30. Some of the days we have monitored and realized that the more opportunity of the last five, six years’ artists are very good artists, that they get hardly any play during the week. So we will play those artists.
1927 Then, when you go to 9:00 to 11:00, Hindi Bollywood, we see a lot of like -- the ‘70s and ‘80s music played. Because I think that’s the host to test.
1928 We looked at it and we realized that the same problem exists. The Bollywood, so many movies -- newcomers, that music is not there. It’s only 20 to 30 percent.
1929 And when we will turn it around, we will play 70 percent of that new music and 30 percent of the soft music.
1930 MR. SAMUEL: And sir, if I can kind of sum it up in one way, the difference is in our local programming vision, which is to build a community of engaged listeners. Now, to build a community of engaged listeners, which is large, it takes a lot. You have to provide relevant programming. It has to be well -- it has to be of high quality.
1931 That is going to be the major difference that we will be providing. And you would notice the benefits of building a community of engaged listeners. We’ve seen how much the people then can contribute in fundraising, how much response they bring to advertisers.
1932 One of the reasons what we believe why there are so few ethnic advertisers right now on CKER is because there’s not an engaged community of audience base, which can respond to advertising. We specialise in that.
1933 So even to the fact, if I can say, when I say “relevant and engaged programming,” commercials -- even when you look at commercials, we create commercials that have theatre of the mind, that have good production values. All our programming would have high-quality production value.
1934 Many times, listeners don’t want to listen to commercials, unless you make it worth their while, unless you make it interesting and then they start listening. Their attention is there. And then they respond to that.
1935 It works very well, but it all starts with a vision of creating a community of engaged listeners. I’d like Mark to add.
1936 MR. LEWIS: We have great respect for Rogers, but they have a programming philosophy that’s very different than RED FM. And we’ve competed in other cities, Calgary, Vancouver with English language radio stations and ethnic radio stations.
1937 And we occupy a very different area because of the money we invest in programming by way of researchers, by way of honorary staff who are -- whose focus is engaging the listeners in local and Canadian issues.
1938 We really don’t focus on old country or homeland programming. It’s a Canadian focus, and that costs money.
1939 And as a result of that, there’s a very difference that the listener hears when they listen to our RED FM station in terms of their local reflection.
1940 Now, you know, Rogers may -- Rogers has cut back and diminished some elements of the programming, including local news. They’ll probably come here in a couple of days and say they’re doing a great job.
1941 But our monitors are very clear; that’s not their focus, and it doesn’t have to be their focus, being local news or local programming or local reflection. They’re successful in what they do, but there is a very different sound of the radio stations and community engagement, and that’s why RED FM has been successful.
1942 MR. SAMUEL: So just to illustrate what this community of engaged listeners can do, the difference it can make, I’d like to go back to our Calgary radio station. And I would like Rishi, who is our morning show talk show host to talk about just one example, just to illustrate and support our argument here.
1943 MR. NAGAR: Mr. Commissioner, I have an example in the recent past, in 2014. It was reported in a meeting of a residential committee that a few residents were extending their driveways. The front yards were being paved, thus capable of stealing parking from streets, and messing up the water drainage and also cheapening the value of the area.
1944 We brought city lawyers and councillors on air to supply the message and it was heavily propagated and we are now getting back to normal.
1945 I think this is the involvement of our radio station, as we move the whole community not to do that, and that was going against the bylaws.
1946 MR. SAMUEL: So programming is of use and relevance.
1947 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Taking into account the scarcity of frequency that exists in Edmonton and the broad service requirement that we have and the fact that the South Asian and Chinese community already have a station that is serving us, why should the Commission license another station in these languages, in these predominant languages?
1948 MR. SAMUEL: Yes, thank you for that question.
1949 As per our research, when we wanted to do this application, we said, “Let’s first find out is there a business case?” As much as we want to serve Edmonton, we also want to see is it a viable business project?
1950 So when we went out and researched, the answer that we got, which was very encouraging for us, is that -- about half -- 52 percent of the respondents do not listen to CKER.
1951 What tells us is that there’s a community that is growing in size but half of them are disconnected from the radio station.
1952 When we asked them further if there’s a new station which is going to provide you all of this, would you listen? Sixty-four (64) percent of them said, ‘yes’.
1953 What it means is although on the face of it, yes, CKER is serving the South Asian and Chinese community, but it is not able to fulfil all the diverse needs of that community. Audiences have more choices which they’re not able to get and they’re craving for more time.
1954 There’s no continuity in the programming real estate, if I can put it so. For example, at a time -- in morning time, when one community wants to listen, they don’t have programming.
1955 So I’ll get Almin to talk about this on research.
1956 MR. SANGHERA: I can add, if you look at the population size for South Asian, Chinese, look at Calgary, this size is large enough and it’s a growing community. Look in the next three years, we provided you the projection, the South Asian, I believe, is going to be close to 90,000 people, just in the next three years.
1957 The size of the large population -- one station, we believe, cannot serve. Because as the survey also shows, ---
1958 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: I understand that.
1959 MR. SANGHERA: --- 52 percent don’t listen to the radio.
1960 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Yes, but also there are other communities. Yeah. No, I understand. I mean, that it can be supported and there's ---
1961 MR. PEDERSEN: Commissioner, we're also proposing to support -- sorry.
1962 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: --- communities.
1963 MR. SANGHERA: We are proposing 16 languages.
1964 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: The question is how would it be wise to do that, you know, since there are other communities? Why should we give more to communities already served and not ---
1965 MR. PEDERSEN: Yes.
1966 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: --- a licence to other proposal, which plan to give service to other communities?
1967 MR. SAMUEL: In our respectful view, we think the other communities do not have a viable business case. South Asian communities, yes, they're served by CKER right now but they're partially served. There's a big vacuum still left, and both South Asian and Chinese community can support.
1968 For example, take Chinese community. There's -- so take Chinese community, it does not have enough programming available right now. They don't have talk shows. We will be able to support them. Businesses would start advertising there.
1969 Ethnic communities are growing. I would say in few years perhaps there will be other stations that can cater to these growing communities, but as we see it right now, it's the South Asian and Chinese, but we’re also doing the broad service requirement.
1970 So we will be catering to all the other smaller communities through our programming. We will hire on staff and provide high quality services to these groups.
1971 Mark Lewis would like to add more.
1972 MR. LEWIS: Commissioner, the broad service requirement is something we embrace. And the difficulty is, in ethnic broadcasting -- and you know this because you've been at many, many hearings -- there are population numbers such as 8,000, 4,000 people who don't have enough businesses or advertisers to support an hour of programming or 10 hours of programming, or for that matter 30 hours a week, if you have a population base of only 20 or 30,000 people.
1973 So ethnic broadcasting that's successful has to be built on a base of cross-subsidization, and there's two models. One is the brokerage model, where groups can get many hours but they have to pay the broadcast station owner to get on air, and that model just doesn't work anymore. It does work in major cities like Toronto, perhaps, but in a city like Edmonton, it won't work because the broker can't come up with $200 or $300 or $400 an hour in advertising revenue.
1974 The RED FM model, which is based on providing many hours a week of service to the largest communities where there are business activities that can support that programming, cross-subsidized the production of the number of hours to the smaller communities.
1975 Now, it's a dilemma. It's a real dilemma because in order to provide high quality programming to those communities with producers, paid staff, researchers, et cetera, the money has to come from somewhere and it comes from the money generated from South Asian and Chinese advertising and those hours of programming. So it's a very delicate balance.
1976 We don't think that in Edmonton there is another solution by allocating a very large number of hours to very, very small groups where there's no business case, there's no advertising revenue, or not sufficient.
1977 At -- remember; we're talking about advertising rates in the range of 11, 12, 13, $14 a minute. That can't support -- keep the lights on and support the salaries.
1978 MR. PEDERSEN: I think I ---
1979 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Doesn't this also depend on what you want to offer as a service? I mean, you -- there could be radio services that cost less to offer ---
1980 MR. LEWIS: Well, I'll take issue ---
1981 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: --- and do not need as much revenue?
1982 MR. LEWIS: Well, I'll take issue with that somewhat because, you know, we have a minimum wage in Canada, we have electrical bills, we have rents, et cetera, and to produce news is a very expensive proposition. And what you've heard in this hearing thus far is there's an appetite in these communities for news and local reflection, and that takes money.
1983 If you choose to serve those groups by playing records and not having that community reflection in those costs, you can do it at the minimum wage and you can do it at a very low cost. But we have a form of broadcasting -- we've been very successful at it -- which is a high cost model, and I don't think that these communities deserve anything less.
1984 MR. SANGHERA: May I?
1985 The people -- you want to serve the other ethnic groups. I -- one of the requirement in call was the onus is on the application to prove if there is a business case. I don't think those applicants have given proof or research that, yes, their business will -- their application is supported by a research or is a business -- there's a business case.
1986 They think there's a business case, but on the other side, we have done extensive research here to find out, we would want to serve the people high-quality programming; high-quality programming we wanted to meet the core group. Who is the core group going to subsidize the other 16 groups or 18 groups? Plus, if any other group is growing, the advantage for ethnic radio station is we can always look at later in our programming, “Oh, look, this group is increasing, there's a business opportunity,” we can increase the hours for that group.
1987 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay. You say that only 11.5 percent of your projected revenue will come from World FM, and you have revenue projections which are on the quite high side. I mean, can you comment on the reasonableness of this?
1988 MR. SANGHERA: When you look at a pie, there's about only 14 percent currently ethnic advertiser advertising ethnic radio, that include SCMOs, AM station and FM CKER. What we are projecting about 11 percent to come, but if you look at the pie there's 85 percent of the pie is not advertising. Thirty (30) percent of those people are not advertising right now, but 55 percent are print-heavy; they're advertising in print media.
1989 Even in Calgary, when we looked at it, we went after print media and we brought a lot of the advertisers back to our radio. I think same scenario in Edmonton that the large, 75 percent, 85 percent of the pie is not using currently radio. We have experience in Alberta; we know we can convert them to radio advertisers.
1990 MR. SAMUEL: I'll ask Almin to add to the research.
1991 MR. KASSAMALI: So first of all, there is only a small wedge of the current businesses that are advertising on radio, like Kulwinder said. We wanted to understand why that piece of the pie was so small, and what it came down to was the efficacy of advertising comes down to repetition and continuity, and because there is a shortage of inventory they do not get the impact that they would if it was larger.
1992 In an advertising in‑depth interview that I did, one of the respondents actually gave me a really good analogy. He said a successful station that would come in is not just there to create a news story but finish the existing one. And what he was basically trying to say is that the message is being broadcasted but it's being interrupted because of the limited inventory.
1993 So from that perspective, there -- even if you look at businesses that are not advertising right now, the research shows us that these people would be willing to advertise if we can prove that there's continuity.
1994 So this may sound a little outrageous, but we actually -- well, I believe from this research that CKER might actually get more advertisers on board as well because there's going to be the ability to create these longer campaigns between the two. It's going to be a ping pong between the two stations, which is going to give them the efficacy that they need.
1995 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Could you tell us more about the methodology -- sorry. Sometimes these English words for me too ---
1996 MR. KASSAMALI: Methodology.
1997 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: --- are difficult.
1998 Can you tell us more about the methodology that you used to come up with the sample of advertisers that you've used?
1999 MR. KASSAMALI: Absolutely. So what we wanted to do is to keep it as random as possible but still targeted. So what we did is we approached sampling companies, like ASDE Sampler, and we effectively told them to give us a sample from postal codes that are dense in these particular communities, and then from there it was random digit dialling.
2000 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: You have a station now, so in the Calgary market. Can you comment on the level of competition for advertising revenue in that market?
2001 MR. SAMUEL: Yes. I'll get our Sales Manager, Tony, to talk about the level of competition in Calgary.
2002 MR. SENGHERA: Currently, at this moment, and I have firsthand experience there, we do a great job of interacting with the clients there, meeting them face to face.
2003 As far as competition goes, we haven't really experienced much. We've had a lot of people migrate from, say, newspapers, print, Internet, and go on to radio. And they've -- on thing that was interesting is that they've increased our budgets as well, and we've been operating there for about three and a half years and we've had advertisers stick with us month to month, year to year; even in this current economic, I think you could say, downfall right now they're still sticking with us.
2004 We work with them, with, you know, going through our creative -- we act more of like consultants. We don't actually -- the way I look at it I don't sell them ads, I help them buy.
2005 And it's a total, you know, 360 where we help them; how do we get their message out? We work with creative, and I think if I want to pass it on to Gurpreet she can explain who -- she also works in our creative department; she can elaborate with one of the clients.
2006 MS. RATTAN: So Mr. Commissioner in our creative section what we do is we build our relationship with our clients. We do the customer service with them. We are the bridge for them, bringing them closer to their customers.
2007 For instance, it was July 31st and the ongoing advertisers with us and the other -- those who were not advertising with us. On July 31st there was a hailstorm in northeast Calgary and we thought of this thing that we were proactive about this thing; our sales team manager and all the members of the sales team were proactive and they reached out to the advertisers and the non-advertisers as well who were into construction business and they have their stucco and siding businesses going on. We had the regular ads running for them on air, and we thought of this thing that we should ask them that you'll get more business if we now advertise about the hailstorm thing.
2008 And we focused that thing in our scripts and we made the creative part in such a manner that that helped them to drive more business to our advertisers. So kind of that's a great and strong relationship we have been working with our clients.
2009 MR. LEWIS: When Red FM entered Calgary, you may recall it was a one-station market in terms of the Fairchild station which had a similar program mix as the program mix here in Edmonton, vis-à-vis CKER, and our projections presented to the Commission at that time really dealt very heavily on new business creation and conversion of print advertisers to radio.
2010 And that's precisely what occurred. The numbers that we're using here in this application are very reflective of the numbers that we provided to the Commission back then and the events that transpired in terms of developing that advertising need. So it's a -- we're not guessing. We're going on the basis of experience and projections that have materialized.
2011 The other thing that I want to add is we have with us a Mr. Sangha, who has an SCMO operation, and he has a base of advertisers who will also be converted to RED FM, so they're advertising on SCMO and that's part of our revenue forecast as well.
2012 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Can you provide more details on your plan to achieve your revenue projection and specifically your targeted advertising rates and what they're based on?
2013 MR. SANGHERA: Our rates are very conservative when we look at all the other applicants. In order to achieve the -- just one second, please.
2014 MR. LEWIS: Commissioner Dupras, do you have section -- I just want to make sure that we're not duplicating something you have in front of you -- we've provided hour-by-hour analysis in Section 7.1 of the application. It's about 10 pages long and it has ---
2015 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: I have 7.1.
2016 MR. LEWIS: Okay, thank you.
2017 MR. SANGHERA: Okay. I will just give you little example, when we were looking at how to achieve revenue because we are already, in Alberta, operating an FM station, I went back and I asked my accounting people I said, “Let's look at four months. Who are the people advertising currently with us?” So we said, “Okay, let's see has 500 to $1,000 business; who are those businesses? What category are they? Then let's see $1,000 clients; how many of those are advertising with us?” And then we -- I -- we compared it with Edmonton. We know there's similar businesses exist there.
2018 And then I looked at legal, medical, travel, they're -- they have the budget of around 15 to $2,000. Then we looked at the stage up. So when I looked at the overall picture, I was very satisfied and I know this is very achievable. And we divided in each category that it is possible to achieve. If you want I can go into each category and say how we are going to achieve this revenue.
2019 For example, we looked at 500 and up small business groups, janitorial service, because the nature of the -- Alberta winter storm there's a lot of janitorial work in -- during the winter. So those people advertise us. Money exchange, real estate specialist.
2020 So then the next category comes in, education. A lot of students come; colleges advertise. Finance, financial, grocery stores, sweet shop, beauty parlours. Then the next stage comes in but $1,500 and up you see communities large enough, they go to their own legal advisors in their mother tongue to communicate.
2021 So those are the heavy advertising, the medical sector, travel. We are -- people are really much connected with their homeland and the travel is an industry that really advertise with us. And the construction, restaurants, retail stores.
2022 The next sector comes outdoor sector for nature, transport repair, telecommunication, and the little bit bigger ethnic advertiser those are -- they supply foods and all that, food manufacture. And immigration advertiser is a big section that we get money from. Debt consultants.
2023 And on top of that then we go to telephone. So in Calgary right now Fido, Rogers; we continuously getting live-on-location from them and a good campaign from them.
2024 So we divide each category, and Edmonton and Calgary's not much different; those kind of advertisers still exist but difference between RED FM is when we approach a client they're simple read ads.
2025 My creative team create a tag line for them, or come up with a jingle so that really attracts. Our advertisers are really happy and something gets price, “Oh this -- I never thought that you could do this for me.”
2026 So it's an ongoing relationship we build with people.
2027 MR. SAMUEL: And in terms of a launch plan, for example, what we've -- for example, what we've ---
2028 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: And also if you can talk also about your advertising rates.
2029 MR. SAMUEL: Yes. Our rates in comparison are starting from $15.50 and they go up to 18.50 in primetime, as compared to other people who have $16, $22, $40, 25; ours are the lowest if you would see a comparison that is there.
2030 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: And compared to the SCMO that would ---
2031 MR. SAMUEL: SCMO has very limited audience base so it's hard to compare rates for two different ones.
2032 MR. SANGHERA: SCMO is mostly senior people at home listens. Yeah, the rates are very small.
2033 One thing I would like to tell, our SCMO Mr. Kulmeet Sangha is with us. He's going to be part of our team when RED FM -- if RED FM is licensed, he's going to shut down his SCMO service.
2034 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: So in terms of condition of licence, as we have asked others would you be prepared to accept a condition to broadcast 100 percent ethic programming and 85 percent third language?
2035 MR. SAMUEL:Yes, absolutely.
2036 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: And would you adhere to a condition of licence at a minimum of 44 percent of ethic programming each week would in the Punjabi, Hindi, Urdu languages?
2037 MR. SANGHERA: Minimum?
2038 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Yes.
2039 MR. SANGHERA: Yes.
2040 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: There's also a maximum question coming right up. And 38 percent of all ethic broadcast each week would be in the Cantonese and Mandarin language?
2041 MR. SANGHERA: Yes. Yes, we would do that.
2042 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS:Okay. And that you would be prepared to offer by condition of licence a weekly maximum of South Asian and Chinese language programming each week; and if yes, what would that be?
2043 MR. SANGHERA: We would do minimum 80 to 85 percent of South Asian and Chinese programming.
2044 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: I'm talking about maximum now.
2045 MR. SANGHERA: Maximum.
2046 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: If you were limited to a maximum in order to give ---
2047 MR. SANGHERA: That will limit us ---
2048 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: --- left some room for the other we would do minimum 80 to 85 percent of South Asian and Chinese programming.
2049 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: I’m talking about maximum now.
2050 MR. SANGHERA: Maximum.
2051 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: If you were limited to a maximum in order to give --
2052 MR. SANGHERA: That will limit us from the ---
2053 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: -- let some room for the other communities. What would be the maximum?
2054 MR. LEWIS: Is it possible to file that at the phase four on that question, Mr. Chair?
2055 THE CHAIRPERSON: You can file it in reply or you can take it as an undertaking.
2056 MR. LEWIS: Yes.
2057 THE CHAIRPERSON: Others have had --
2058 MR. LEWIS: Yes.
2059 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- the option so.
2060 MR. LEWIS: We’ll take it as an undertaking, Mr. Chair.
2061 THE CHAIRPERSON: You wish to take it as an undertaking. October 4th, end of day.
2063 MR. SANGHERA: Thank you.
2064 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay. And the programming, can you elaborate on how your programming would reflect local ethnic communities, other than I guess the main languages that you’ve told us about?
2065 MR. SANGHERA: One thing about RED FM is we deeply -- RED FM stand for “reflecting ethnic diversity”. We are deeply involved with our -- all the communities. We’re going to have nine new languages programming at -- in -- the nine new languages going to be Russian, Hungarian, Portuguese, Farsi, Korean, Gujarati, Bengali, Fijian and Vietnamese.
2066 MR. PEDERSEN: Mr. Commissioner, if I could add to that ---
2067 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: So how would you reflect their needs and interests --
2068 MR. PEDERSEN: Yes.
2069 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: -- for these communities in the programming --
2070 MR. PEDERSEN: I’ll add to that as the --
2071 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: -- you propose to them?
2072 MR. PEDERSEN: -- as the station manager in RED FM Calgary, we’re proposing a very similar format and business model in Edmonton.
2073 One of my many jobs is to program direct all of the languages that are not South Asian in Calgary. So I have an intimate relationship with all of the hosts, ongoing training for policy for real on-air room skills. We’re always interacting with local festivals.
2074 Just last weekend I was in Calgary with my family and there was a RED FM tent there with RED FM banners at an Arabic festival. There was also a Vietnamese music festival which was taking place and our Vietnamese host was there and she was MC-ing at it and we were a sponsor at that event. We -- if you look at our website, there are multiple, multiple events going on all around Calgary that are not just South Asian that we have an intricate role to play in. So we would do the same thing in Edmonton.
2075 And we find that by having a close relationship with these as a program director, we are in fact able to be involved in all of the different communities that we represent on-air.
2076 MR. SANGHERA: One thing I ---
2077 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: And this translates on-air?
2078 MR. PEDERSEN: Absolutely, yeah. I speak to our hosts on a regular basis. We’re aware of what’s happening in our communities and we’re always trying to help them with being involved in those events when things happen.
2079 MR. SENGHERA: If I may just add something, we sponsor a lot of these events that are not South Asian as well. So it’s free exposure for them in exchange where they’ll promote, where they’ll put the RED FM logo on their posters or a RED FM tent will be there where we can do a mini remote for them as well. So we do actively promote them on-air as well. So it’s not just we go to an event. It is also on-air as well.
2080 MR. SANGHERA: Especially in the talent contest.
2081 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: But, I mean, in terms of content on your programming, I mean, the -- you know, your logo on their posters. I mean, I understand you building the relationship, but on-air.
2082 MS. QUERUBIN: Mr. Commissioner?
2083 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: How do you reflect ---
2084 MS. QUERUBIN: I can share my experience in Vancouver as host of a Filipino program. So weekly I invite community leaders or individuals from the Filipino community to talk about their concerns, their charities, whatever it is, whether it’s immigration, whether it’s how to parent their kids born here, but at the same time and by being the Filipino culture. We also talk about the challenges that the Filipino youth face at school. We talk about Filipinos who have been in Canada for 20 years and now facing retirement. So we talk about all those issues on the program. I make sure that our programming content in the Filipino show reflects the concerns of the community.
2085 So if there’s a Filipino Independence Day, we promote it on the program. If it’s about the celebration of the original association or alumni association that we have back home, we always promote it on the program. And when I go out to the community, I always make sure, hey, let us take advantage of the Filipino programming that we have.
2086 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay. And the programming, I mean, you do -- you’re doing some of that kind of program. Is it for the same groups that you’re offering program -- such programming in Calgary and Vancouver?
2087 MR. PEDERSEN: It’s important I think to recognize that we don’t leave these independent producers sort of out in space. We do constantly work with them. They do all have program clocks that they’ve committed to and that we ensure that they stick to during their programs. And those include community events, local news, a certain amount of music that takes place, local -- and people in their communities come in for interviews. And, you know, as part of my role as a program director for these languages, we make sure that they continuously follow their program clocks and that we’re aware of the content that’s happening on-air.
2088 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: But is there some programming that you can recycle from Calgary, for instance, in Edmonton?
2089 MR. SAMUEL: No, all our Edmonton programming would be local by the people who are -- our staff here.
2090 MR. PEDERSEN: I’d say the only synergy there -- for example, our Filipino host and Irene, we connect them so they know each other and they can talk a bit about their experiences. You know, it helps if our Filipino hosts in both cities know each other and can communicate. But there is no, you know, repetition of programming from one city to the other.
2091 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay. Some more. Okay. About measuring your success and the specific measure that you intend to establish because you said that you would prefer not to have an advisory committee, can you explain how you would ensure that your station would serve and reflect the local communities without such a committee?
2092 MR. SAMUEL: So twice a year we would conduct open houses to invite our listeners to come to those open houses and share with us their feedback. They may have positive feedback. They may have points that they think we are missing out and they would like us to reflect on-air. They may have complaints and they may have suggestions as well. And we’ve received all of these as we go along. And we try and understand them and work our way around and fulfill the needs that are coming through.
2093 So these open houses will be promoted on-air so that people know that we are doing this, as -- and we will keep a log of all complaints and suggestions that come in during these open houses to value it and review and after three months of each -- within three months of each open house.
2094 At the same time, on-air what we also do is we open the lines up and we tell that particular language show, we say, “Please give us your feedback. Are we doing something that is -- are we not doing something that is missing, or how are you liking it? Please tell us what” -- so people are both. They will give us compliments. They will also -- many times they start with compliments and then, of course, they also have some suggestions that come along. Some have complaints as well.
2095 So we are open to people to give us feedback.
2096 MR. PEDERSEN: And, Mr. Commissioner, we are proud members of the CBSC. We do have an ongoing PSO that plays in the Calgary RED FM station that says if you have any concerns about our programming, please contact us. And I receive emails, probably a few a week about programming. Many of them are compliments, but once in a while somebody says, “Oh, you know, I don’t like the music you play” or whatever. And we respond to every one of those emails immediately.
2097 MS. RATTAN: And also to add to this, we also do get the feedback on our social media as well because it’s quite a bigger tool now. All the queries, all the requests we receive on our social media are met.
2098 MR. SAMUEL: Our slogan is “by the community, for the community”. And we work with their feedback.
2099 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: And finally -- well, I might have another question before this one. With respect to open line programming, can you elaborate how you would ensure balance, how you would ensure that the programming is of high standard, and how would you respond to complaints, and what mechanism you would put in place?
2100 MR. SAMUEL: So for open line programming, first of all, we have an eight second delay. All our hosts are trained in how they handle open line programming. They understand the CAB Code of Conduct. They understand CBSC codes. They understand CRTC’s policies on open line. They are well trained to handle the talk show that is happening.
2101 Yes, we will not shy away from difficult talks. We will talk about it, but our hosts are well equipped to handle them. They’re well trained.
2102 We hold refresher seminars. Just recently, about a month ago, we had Mark Lewis come in and talk to all the language hosts, even the smaller language hosts, and update them on what is defamation. That you cannot go out -- you cannot have any abusive comment on-air which would undermine a person in terms of cast, creed, race and sexual orientation and all of those. So our people -- all the hosts are well trained in the policies.
2103 MR. PEDERSEN: Not only do we have, you know, all 21 language groups represented right from Calgary in attendance at Mark’s seminar on policy training, we also stream out live via video to our Vancouver office that had all of our hosts there, including our independent language hosts, in attendance to follow our seminar on policy training.
2104 So it’s ongoing. We don’t train them once and then forget about them. We realize that once you get this training, you need to have refreshers from time to time, and we provided that to our hosts.
2105 MR. LEWIS: And if I might add, we focus certainly on open line programming, and one of the things that we did or we do, because we do this frequently, is we provide audio and video clips that we show at these seminars of program content of broadcasters that violates the code. Just so that people see where a particular broadcaster made an error, broadcast something controversial that contravened either the CBSC codes or the RTNDA codes.
2106 And then we have a full discussion, and we had a television linkup between the two cities and all the journalists were there, and they posed practical questions from their own experience as on-air hosts and producers as well as the examples that we presented to them. And we had a very fulsome discussion over several hours.
2107 So that’s part of the proactive aspect. Because we know that in ethnic broadcasting there are very, you know, very sensitive issues within communities on religion, sexual orientation, things of that nature.
2108 And I must tell you that the program hosts from every group participated very actively, asked questions, and I think we also provided print materials, extensive print materials for them to take away as well.
2109 And I think that that is one of the reasons why, over the last decade or so, we’ve had only I think one case that went to the CBSC where there was a significant issue raised, and we took measures to combat that problem.
2110 MR. SAMUEL: And in terms of application of this training, if I can just illustrate, all our hosts -- now, supposing a caller is saying something that is not right for on-air, the first response that happens is, of course, dump button or they may put the port down, switch the mic off of the caller and then correct the caller on air. And say, “On RED FM, you cannot have these kinds of abusive comments, and the view that you are giving, there could be other views as well.”
2111 So we balance as well.
2112 MR. SANGHERA: We have also placed on RED FM an open-line policy in place, and every host has read the policies. They’re fully aware of it.
2113 MR. SAMUEL: In fact, we get them to sign a -- we have a full, extensive binder. During the training phase, they go through it and then they sign off that they understand and sign.
2114 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay. Thank you.
2115 And to finish, and I mean unless there are other questions, I’m going to give you like the last word on this also.
2116 Can you explain how your business plan might be affected if a condition of licence limiting the number of hours of programming in South Asian and Chinese languages was imposed, limiting the programming overlap with CKER?
2117 Mr. SAMUEL: We don’t have any overlap at CKER presently.
2118 MR. LEWIS: I guess the difficulty of this question is I don’t know what the -- we don’t know, you know, based on what you’re asking us, how many hours a week we would be restricted to. If we had a number, we could certainly do some mathematical computations as to how many fewer ads would be sold.
2119 It would have some impact, but I can’t quantify it at this point, Commissioner.
2120 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Right now, what is it you’re proposing in terms of percentage? It’s ---
2121 MR. LEWIS: Well, for Punjabi, Indian, Pakistani, Punjabi ---
2122 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Of overall programming?
2123 MR. LEWIS: Yeah, out of 126 hours a week, we have thirty ---
2124 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: It’s thirty -- Punjabi is 30.95 percent.
2125 MR. LEWIS: Right.
2126 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Cantonese, 23 percent.
2127 MR. SAMUEL: Mandarin, 15 percent.
2128 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: And Mandarin, 15 percent.
2129 MR. LEWIS: And Hindi is 9.52 percent.
2130 So I mean in the abstract, I don’t know what that number is, that you’re suggesting would -- it would be lowered to. So it’s difficult to comment.
2131 It would obviously have a financial impact, and we don’t think that that money can be made up in terms of very small language groups. There’s no ---
2132 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: We said earlier, the maximum -- you agreed to the maximum ---
2133 MR. LEWIS: That’s correct.
2134 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: And --- and that could be it.
2135 And that works for your business plan but otherwise you’d be -- it wouldn’t be working for you?
2136 MR. LEWIS: I guess we’d have to have that discussion perhaps we can respond in undertakings, but I don’t know what that -- how significant the number would be as a cutback, a fallback.
2137 We’ve constructed a business plan based on inventory sellouts of those hours and, in the abstract, I just can’t comment right now. We can certainly take it offline and respond to you.
2138 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay, I understand. Maybe staff can provide a follow-up on that, if they have a better sense ---
2139 MS. DIONNE: If you could submit it as part of your Undertakings for October 4th?
2140 MR. LEWIS: Yes.
2141 THE CHAIRPERSON: October 4th?
2142 MR. LEWIS: Yes.
2143 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thanks.
2145 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay, well, that’s it for me, Mr. President.
2146 Thank you very much.
2147 MR. LEWIS: Thank you.
2148 MR. SAMUEL: Thank you.
2149 THE CHAIRPERSON: I believe that’s all our questions. Thanks very much. We will take a roughly 15-minute break and get back ---
2150 MS. DIONNE: Mr. Chair, can I just ask one question?
2151 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, sure.
2152 MS. DIONNE: That could be helpful.
2153 A number of applications considered at the hearing are not mutually exclusive, and the Commission could approve more than one application, as you know. How would the licensing of two or more stations impact your proposed business plan?
2154 MR. LEWIS: I’ll start off.
2155 If we were speaking, again, in the abstract of our application as filed with no further cutback of what I call “the core hours”, there would be some impact. It would depend on what conditions and what language groups would be served by the other stations.
2156 I’ll let Mr. Sanghera comment.
2157 MR. SANGHERA: I -- my belief is the amount of work we have done in Edmonton. Edmonton can only sustain one ethnic radio station. You have another French application, I think, that would be good if you want to license them.
2158 But from an ethnic point of view, we are all talking and seeing this. A lot of work has been put in this. I honestly believe there’s only one station which can survive right now at this moment.
2159 MS. DIONNE: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
2160 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. We will resume at 10 after 10:00.
--- Upon recessing at 09:55 a.m.
--- Upon resuming at 10:13 a.m.
2161 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you everyone. Madam secretary?
2162 MS. ROY: We will now proceed with Item 7 on the Agenda, which is an application by Harmon Bal, On Behalf of a Corporation to be Incorporated for a broadcasting licence to operate an ethnic commercial FM specialty radio station in Edmonton.
2163 Please introduce yourself and your colleagues and you will then have 20 minutes to make your presentation.
2164 MR. BAL: Thank you.
2165 Good morning Mr. Chairman, Commissioners and Commission Staff.
2166 My name is Harmon Bal and I’m here today with my team to introduce a new model for ethnic radio in Edmonton. It’s 2016. It’s time for fresh, new ideas.
2167 But first, let me introduce to the Commission my team. To my right is our radio consultant Steve Kowch from kowchmedia. To his right is Ashleigh Davidson, our production coordinator and General Manager at Vancouver Television. To her right is Malaika Jackson, vice-president at Vancouver Television.
2168 To my left is my father and trusted adviser, Hardev Bal. To his left is Sean Wright, a senior executive at Vancouver Television, and to his left is Perlita Torres, a registered psychologist in Edmonton's Filipino community, and soon to be one of our on-air hosts.
2169 I'm 35 years old, second-generation South Asian Canadian. Inclusiveness, multiculturalism and diversity is the back story to how I find myself appearing before you today. I am a product of Canada's multicultural vision that was embraced by my parents who instilled those values in me.
2170 MR. HARDEV BAL: My name is Hardev Singh Bal; I am Harmon's father. Forty-three (43) years ago when I came to Canada from New Delhi, there are no such thing as an ethnic radio station. There are no radio station that spoke my language, told where to buy groceries and prepare a South Asian meal, where to find traditional South Asian clothing, where to meet the people who spoke my language, go to find job, and play South Asian music.
2171 Ethnic radio station would have made my life and lives of other immigrants as so much easier back then. I was stranger in the country. I heard it's supposed to be very multicultural; quickly discovered back then, really wasn't.
2172 It took two to three years to make new friends, meet my wife. I got a -- I was the first one -- the first in my family not to have an arranged marriage. I wanted to adopt the Canadian way of life. I surrounded ourselves with the friends from the different culture and community. I raised my son, Harmon, as embrace multicultural.
2173 When my son told me he wanted to launch an ethnic radio station in Edmonton, my advice to Harmon was to make it multicultural radio station, not South Asian radio station during the week and airing other language program on hour and two-hour weekend. Diversity starts with being inclusiveness in your program schedule seven days a week.
2174 We also -- also, I told Harmon second-generation Canadian to know more about the happenings in their community. I am an old man, and I don't want to hear about politics back in home in India.
2175 Thank you.
2176 MR. HARMON BAL: This is why the principles of inclusiveness, multiculturalism and diversity will be the cornerstone of our new Edmonton ethnic radio station, Radio Diversity 106.5 FM. Our sell line is "Where Diversity Lives in Edmonton." It will be defined as Radio D 106.5 FM.
2177 We will increase diversity on Edmonton radio by including programming to nine underserved ethnic communities whose mother tongue is Bengali, Urdu, Guajarati, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Croatian, Serbian, and Portuguese. The last four languages were among those dropped by Edmonton's only radio -- only ethnic radio station, 101.7 World FM.
2178 Eight of these nine languages are not heard on Edmonton radio today. We will provide more than 31,000 people in those nine underserved ethnic communities the opportunity to hear quality programming in their own language on the radio. This represents 13 percent of the 244,540 who speak non‑official language mother tongues in Edmonton.
2179 Radio D 106.5 FM targets 23 cultural groups speaking 15 languages when you include our Tagalog, Punjabi, Hindi, Arabic, Cantonese, and Mandarin programming. Our programming will reach 46 percent of the 244,500 Edmonton residents who Statistic Canada says speak non‑official mother tongues.
2180 Radio Diversity 106.5 FM is not a Punjabi or Hindi radio station, and it is also not a Chinese radio station. We offer different languages, different voices, with different opinions, at different times of the day. This is why there is very little overlap of our programming with Rogers' 101.7 World FM.
2181 Punjabi, Hindi, and Urdu programming represents about 27 percent of our 126-hour broadcast week, compared to almost 50 percent on CKER. Our Mandarin and Cantonese programming represents only 11 percent of the broadcast week, compared to 21 percent on CKER.
2182 Radio Diversity 106.5 FM is designed to be inclusive, multicultural radio station. We will encourage our ethnic on-air hosts to be inclusive by talking about each other's cultural events, festivals, music, and food they eat.
2183 Ethnic radio that doesn't encourage inclusion is just creating linguistic programming silos; a digital Tower of Babel with X-number of languages being spoken without reference to what's happening in the other communities served by that radio station.
2184 For the past 16 years, I have produced some of the most watched ethnic and entertainment shows on Vancouver television. I launched Asian Connections Television in 2000. It became the most watched programming geared towards the South Asian community.
2185 Three years ago, I launched Vancouver Television, a 30-minute show about entertainment news, community events, and features on local people. It is the most watched entertainment programming in the Vancouver area.
2186 We want to build on Vancouver Television's success in the different cultural communities by using it as a model for our new ethnic radio station right here in Edmonton.
2187 MS. DAVIDSON: The success of Vancouver Television is all about our street team that visits as many multicultural events and festivals we possibly can. That is what we will do on Radio Diversity 106.5 FM in Edmonton.
2188 We will have eight part-time street team members in Edmonton. They will be the key to the success of our radio station, living up to the promise of being inclusive, multicultural, and diverse. The street team will be made up of young bilingual adults speaking English and at least one other language from the communities we serve.
2189 The street team will cover events of interest to both the older demos and the younger millennial ethnic listeners. We will have radio equipment on site to record people who want to talk about the event.
2190 Our street team will gather information for our newscasts that will air clips and reports filed from community events important to our listeners. Most of these events are not covered by the mainstream media.
2191 Now, it also helps that, just like in Vancouver, we will hand out amazing promotional items from various Hollywood movies. With our partnership with almost every major film studio in the United States, we have the ability to create a profitable street team by handing out items that not only attract the public and promote films, but have zero cost to Vancouver TV and Radio D here in Edmonton.
2192 People we interview will listen to hear themselves on the radio. It's a great promotion for Radio D and for the community. It's a win/win for everyone.
2193 MS. JACKSON: Now, the secret to the success of the street team is how we use social media. In Edmonton, we will have a street team with their own email address, phone number, and Web site contact form so people can invite us to their events.
2194 Now, we plan to have a more robust social media presence than our competition to tap into where the millennial generation lives and plays. We checked the Facebook of 101.7 World FM and they only had 595 likes and only 191 Twitter followers.
2195 Now, we attribute these low social media numbers to the older demos that listen to 101.7 World FM, and that is why, precisely why, we are targeting a younger social media-savvy listeners through Twitter, Facebook, and our station Web site.
2196 Now, when it comes to Facebook and Twitter, Vancouver Television has more than 100,000 social media followers compared to the 64,000 followers on Breakfast Television. Interesting to note that Breakfast Television is Vancouver's number one morning TV show. The young social media-savvy demos we reach on Facebook and Twitter have helped to increase the ratings on Vancouver Television.
2197 Now, based on our experience in Vancouver, we believe the same thing will happen in Edmonton. The street team will help Radio D generate an active following on social media to attract listeners to our ethnic radio station in Edmonton.
2198 MR. KOWCH: When we put together our application, we had to think outside the box. The first box is ethnic radio's habit of creating weekend linguistic ghettos. This happens when a station promises to broadcast in a lot of languages but runs out of time in the weekday program schedule. To fit all languages into the 126-hour broadcast week, many are limited to one- or two-hour time slots on weekends, usually in early morning or late nights when radio listening is not as high on weekdays.
2199 There are no weekend linguistic ghettos on Radio D 106.5 FM. In some day parts of the language of shows will rotate from day to day to guarantee all 15 of our targeted language groups are heard Monday to Friday between 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. as well as on weekends.
2200 The next box is the 126-hour broadcast week. Many people don’t live in a 126-hour broadcast week that starts at 6:00 a.m. and ends at midnight. Some, like those in the Filipino community, start their day much earlier than 6:00 a.m.
2201 That’s why our two-hour Tagalog Morning Show starts at 5:00 a.m. Monday to Saturday. Now, that first hour may be outside the 126-hour broadcast week, but it’s the right thing to do to meet the needs of Edmonton’s Filipino community.
2202 I want to bring Perlita Torres into the conversation. Ms. Torres migrated to Canada in 1988 from the Philippines and is a registered psychologist with a doctoral degree in forensic psychology and a PhD in Mental Health, Policy and Practice. She has worked in a treatment facility for children and adolescents for years, is an accredited expert in psychological, parenting, risk assessment, custody assessment, counseling and child development since 1990. She will also be one of our rotating hosts for our daily 411 Health and Lifestyle Show.
2203 MS. TORRES: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners and Commission Staff, a Tagalog morning show starting at 5:00 o’clock in the morning specifically for Edmonton’s Filipino community is much needed because that is the start of the day of many Filipino workers as they, more often than not, have two jobs during the day.
2204 Having a Filipino program in their own language with the music that they can relate to will also be a very good way to keep them connected with the Filipino community in Edmonton. This will prevent the feelings of isolation and loneliness similar to what Hardev Bal experienced 43 years ago.
2205 The weekly 411 Health and Lifestyle show that speaks directly to the Filipino community in their own language that tackle their general health, mental health issues, relationships and parenting in this country is long overdue. This program will be their only way to get the help they require in a more effective, culturally relevant and realistic manner.
2206 In my work as a psychologist, I am exposed to the Filipino children and adolescents who struggle because of the pressure of having to meet the expectations of their parents’ who still adhere to their cultural values while trying to fit in Canadian society. Parents, children, adolescents and young adults are in turmoil, unique and distinct from their Canadian counterparts.
2207 I will use my time on the 411 Health and Lifestyle show to provide information, tips, guidelines, and direction or answers to their questions or dilemmas that will be invaluable to the Filipino community.
2208 MR. BAL: Thank you, Perlita. I can’t wait to hear your show on Radio Diversity 106.5 FM.
2209 Sixty (60) percent of our programming is spoken word content. We have 90 newscasts a week, 54 are third language newscasts totaling four hours and 12 minutes a week. Another 36 newscasts will be in English.
2210 All our programming and news will be produced in-house.
2211 Forty (40) percent of our programming will be music. A minimum of 12 percent of the music played a week on Radio D 106.5 FM will be Canadian content, including local emerging ethnic artists from our 15 target groups.
2212 Fifty (50) per cent will be World Beat and International, five per cent experimental music to air on the weeknight Desi Show targeting the millennial audience and five per cent non-classical religious music for our Sunday morning religious programming.
2213 MR. WRIGHT: We will spend $332,263 over seven consecutive years in our Over-and-Above Canadian Content Development initiatives. Our commitments include one, providing a $5,000 university or college scholarships to 15 ethnic students.
2214 Two, help defray the cost of shooting a music video and recording a CD by providing $5,000 grants to 15 emerging ethnic musical artists.
2215 Three, pay for an annual talent development workshop that local emerging ethnic artists can attend for free.
2216 We will give FACTOR $70,263 over seven consecutive years in our Over-and-Above CCD funding. We will invite FACTOR to our annual talent development workshop to explain its grant program to musical artists no matter the language of their music as long as the artists are Canadian citizens.
2217 Five, our final CCD initiative is our Happy Birthday Canada $10,000 annual funding to help offset the costs of a stage and technical equipment for local ethnic bands to showcase their talent where all communities come together once a year to celebrate Canada Day. Over seven consecutive years our CCD initiatives are valued at $70,000.
2218 MR. BAL: We are proposing aggressive revenue targets for our four full-time sales reps who will be paid a combo salary and commission to sell eight minutes of commercials an hour. The 30-second spot rates start at $35 for morning and afternoon drive, $30 between 9:00 a.m. and noon, mid days $25, evenings $20 and overnight $15. There are also 90 news billboards and 96 traffic billboards a week. Billboards will cost $15.
2219 We anticipate six hours of Sunday religious programming will generate a positive cash flow to the bottom line; the same with our Street Team sponsorships because many clients prefer spending money on sponsoring an event than buying spots. We also anticipate the continued growth in online digital advertising to generate revenue on the station’s website.
2220 MR KOWCH: Our radio station will adhere to all regulatory guidelines including the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council Code of Ethics, Canadian Association of Broadcasting Code of Ethics, Canadian Association of Broadcasters Equitable Portrayal Code, Radio Television Digital News Association Code of Ethics and Election Canada rules governing media’s role during elections.
2221 All codes are listed in the kowchmedia Staying Out Of Trouble On the Radio eBook that all staff will be given a copy of. It will be the bible of how to do radio at our radio station.
2222 We will have a digital seven second delay system to dump unsuitable comments on air.
2223 We will have an advisory panel to provide feedback from the different communities to ensure Radio Diversity 106.5 FM provides the highest quality programming.
2224 We will have three groups each representing five targeted ethnic communities. Each group will have a chairperson mandated to contact senior management once a month to provide comments and advise us of upcoming events in their communities.
2225 Management will meet separately with each group every four months to review any complaints about programming and consider recommendations on how to better serve their communities on air.
2226 MR. BAL: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, in conclusion, we understand that a radio license is a privilege that needs to be earned but we also know our application not only increases diversity in the Edmonton radio market, as the CRTC requires in its call for applications, but our application also challenges the status quo of how to do ethnic radio across this nation.
2227 MS. JACKSON: Our application puts an end to the ugly and discriminating practice of weekend linguistic ghettos. This is nothing more than a multi-tier diversity loophole in an applicant’s condition of license. Applicants agree to direct ethnic programming to a minimum of X number of cultural groups in at least X number of different languages each broadcast week, but, in reality, as many as half the number of an applicant’s cultural groups or language groups are only heard on the radio in one or two hour blocks on the weekend.
2228 MR. BAL: And that is why we do not want to do that kind of ethnic radio. We are introducing a unique, modern and exciting new approach to programming ethnic radio in Edmonton and we assure you this will forever become a leading example for ethnic radio across Canada.
2229 On behalf of my team, I thank you for your time and we’re ready to respond to any questions you may have.
2230 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
2231 Commissioner Molnar will start our questions.
2232 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Good morning. I appreciate you say you want to bring something new to ethnic radio; it's a new approach and I'd like to understand better, understand well your approach.
2233 I've read your application and I have some questions and I think it's very important that we do understand the concept and how it is different.
2234 So before that maybe I'd like to understand a little bit of your experience. You speak of your experience in Vancouver with television. First, was it the OMNI Station your first ---
2235 MR. HARMON BAL:No, it's on community television. We produce ---
2236 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Not -- I think you brought up two, both your first program that you ran for, I think, 16 years and now you have Vancouver Television.
2237 MR. HARMON BAL: That's correct.
2238 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: The first one, was that on OMNI?
2239 MR. HARMON BAL: That was on Shaw.
2240 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Oh, on Shaw?
2241 MR. HARMON BAL: Yeah.
2242 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Okay. And Vancouver Television you say is on Shaw ---
2243 MR. HARMON BAL: Shaw, Novus, ---
2244 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: --- Eastlink.
2245 MR. HARMON BAL: --- and Eastlink.
2246 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Right. And I just have your brief sitting up here, so this is what I'm looking at and you say that you want to bring the -- what -- how did I read this; that you want to introduce this programming concept to Radio D. So what is the programming concept? What is it you're doing on your Vancouver Television program?
2247 MR. HARMON BAL: So Vancouver Television is -- it -- we go to various different community events, we film there; we produce shows and they air on television. So what we do is, firstly, we're not afraid to speak about the stuff that's hidden behind the scenes in most ethic communities; transgender, gay, lesbian issues.
2248 We want to bring those issues to light and we don't -- we understand it's a topic that a lot of people hide from, but those are the type of issues that we bring up; those are the type of events that we cover.
2249 Vancouver Television has become the leading entertainment programming in Vancouver and, Commissioners, you understand that community television is very, very difficult to operate, and that's why a lot of cable companies are required to provide free air time for community programming. They let them use their studio facility, so on and so forth.
2250 Vancouver Television, year after year, produces programming and we have not once not made a profit off community programming. We have our own equipment, our own studio, our own everything. And the type of customers that we deal with, the clientele that we have, was unheard of on community television. We deal with all the major film studios in the United States.
2251 We work with many, many large corporations, we do advertising for them; and these are the type of people that would not have advertised on community television.
2252 And, again, community television advertising is very, very specific to what you can and cannot say. So we use these advertisers in other methods as well, so we do a lot of social media advertising. We do -- and again we have the -- one of the largest social media following that we have created from absolutely zero to over 100,000 followers on social media compared to -- compared to any other entertainment show in that region.
2253 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: So one of the things I wasn't clear about is this concept that is on Vancouver Television you want to bring to radio here in Edmonton. It is inclusive?
2254 MR. HARMON BAL: That's correct.
2255 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Diverse.
2256 MR. HARMON BAL: M’hm.
2257 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: So who is your audience?
2258 MR. HAMON BAL: So our core audience is 18 to 34, and we plan on targeting an older demographic as well but not as much. We -- when you listen to ethnic radio these days you hear about -- every time I turn it on I hear about things that are going on in India and that's all I hear. And that's not something that I'm interested in learning about or listening to. So we want to bring a concept of diversity, and that's what our application is screaming out. It's screaming out diversity because that's what -- exactly what we want to do; we want to bring the communities together.
2259 So what we do on Vancouver Television is if we're at a Filipino event, we promote that event to other cultures. So if they have a festival, so for example, the Serbian Film Festival happens every year in Vancouver. Our team, we go, we cover the event and we promote the event to all the other cultures. So people can actually integrate rather than separate, and I think ethnic radio -- and this is my view -- is it's separating cultures rather than bringing them together because it's -- you're not telling people about what the other culture's doing or how to integrate. It's basically South Asian all day or South Asian and Chinese all day, and then you get the little breaks of one hour or whatever it may be on the weekends when no one's listening to the radio.
2260 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Okay. Once again in trying to maybe understand what -- what have you called this again; Radio D ---
2261 MR. HARMON BAL: Yeah.
2262 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: --- how it would sound, there was a couple of things in your application that I wasn't sure I understood well, and ---
2263 MR. HARMON BAL: Okay.
2264 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: --- one of those is The Desi Show.
2265 MR. HARMON BAL: Okay.
2266 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: That Desi Show, there's quite a number of hours, it appears, dedicated to that and did not have the same designation. You know again, I understand you're trying to bring something new and fit it into an old application, you know, that's designed on a model that you're looking to break out of a little bit, but normally we look at the number of hours broadcast in each language to each target group. And I wasn't sure how The Desi Show fit in that.
2267 MR. HARMON BAL: So that's new local and international South Asian music, interviews, and it's more of, like, a fun 8:00 to 11:00 p.m. time slot that we have there. And then on Saturday night it's just music. And then on Sunday we have the East Asian, we call it the East Asian Dance Party so, again, music at that time period from -- not from South Asian music but from East Asian music.
2268 MR. KOWCH: Can I just add something, Commissioner?
2269 If I'm looking at our version of Section 8.13 chart for the application, where it's a breakdown in all the hours because you were saying, you know, we like to know how many hours, so when we take a look at this; for example, we've broken it down so, like, Punjabi has eight hours plus 3.6 hours because of The Desi Show. All right? Hindi has eight hours plus 3.6 hours because of The Desi Show. Erdu has four hours plus 3.6 hours because of The Desi Show.
2270 The Desi Show is really our way of targeting the millenials in the South Asian community. It's more than a music show. It's a talk show; it's a crazy, zany show where young people are on the air talking to young people about things they care about, want to talk about, joke about, you know? Young people have a different way of listening to the radio when they listen to the radio.
2271 What we have to do is give them a reason to listen, and if we could talk to them and entertain them the same way they entertain each other, the same way they talk minus all the swearing then, you know, we have a success.
2272 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Okay. Could you undertake to provide to us that breakdown? You just broke down The Desi Show into different languages. You said 3.6 or whatever that is.
2273 MR. KOWCH: Yes, yes.
2274 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Can you undertake to file that where you would show the breakdown ---
2275 MR. KOWCH: Yes, because ---
2276 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: --- by hours, by language?
2278 MR. KOWCH: Yes, because we didn't include the 3.6 hours, that's right. So I can do that.
2279 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Thank you.
2280 MR. KOWCH: Can we just do it as a -- rather than an undertaking we can prepare it and give it to the Commission.
2281 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Well, if you prepare it and file it, that's an undertaking. That's great.
2282 MR. KOWCH: Okay. I've had difficulty filing things to the Commission, so I'll try it again.
2283 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: I'll let legal cover that off at the end.
2284 MR. KOWCH: Okay.
2285 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: There's a different way of doing that.
2286 MR. KNOWCH: Okay.
2287 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Okay. Another thing I read was that your morning would be in English. So every morning, Monday to Saturday?
2288 MR. HARMON BAL: Yeah, that’s correct. Monday to Saturday it would be in English, which is a universal language. So we’ll speak English from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Monday through Saturday, including Saturday.
2289 MR. KOWCH: The reason for that, Commissioner, is it’s the best way to talk to everybody. It’s the best way not to have a silo in the morning and be able to talk to all 15 communities. That show will deal with all kinds of issues across Edmonton in all the different communities that we serve. We will have guests over the period of a week that will hit all 15 communities. We will play some music in the morning to get people up and going from all different -- all our 15 different communities over the week. So that we -- you know, we could play 2 songs a day or -- and on the sixth day or whatever we play 3 or whatever it takes to make up the 15. But that’s our way of reaching out to the community and to tap into what’s going on in their different communities.
2290 MR. HARMON BAL: And also, I understand that most -- well, the ethnic radio that we have in Vancouver, most -- well, all of the time they’re -- every time I tune in they’re talking Punjabi, but being it in English it doesn’t mean that we’re targeting any mainstream or mainstream radio. We are targeting ethnic communities and ethnic communities alone.
2291 So -- and every morning we will talk about a different ethnic group, different topics, different things. And that’s where the -- people would actually join. So if we brought on, again, I reference the Serbian Film Festival or whatever it may be. We could talk about what happened there and people could join in into the conversation so.
2292 And we feel that there’s a lot of people out there that would tune in to ethnic radio, like half of my team here, if there was something related to their culture. Like they’re -- everyone’s kind of distant from their culture because they’ve grown up, they’ve raised here. They don’t really speak their -- they speak their language, but, you know, they have difficulty and there’s difficulty in the households and stuff, so that’s a way to connect everybody.
2293 MR. KOWCH: I’d like to bring Malaika in because she’s got the experience. And this is how it works, you know, in Vancouver, except they do it on television. But she can explain how the street team and the social media all comes together. But for the morning show, how they will go on the morning show from all the different cultural communities.
2294 MS. JACKSON: Yes, our -- so what we will do is we will go to different festivals, different cultural events, religious, community events in the city. And our street team, well, they’re going to be the people that are out talking to people. We’re going to bring one bilingual person, so someone that could speak the other language, and we’re going to go out in the community and talk to these people. And from there we will take our audio. We will send it to the radio station. We will get all the visuals and post it on social media. And that makes our millennial social media following be constantly engaged in what we’re doing at a very fast pace. So we believe that that’s a really good way in which to do that.
2295 MR. KOWCH: But explain --
2296 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Can I ---
2297 MR. KOWCH: -- to how you’re going to work it on the morning show, to get your reports on the morning show to talk about the thing the night before.
2298 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: How about if I ask my question?
2299 MR. KOWCH: Okay. Sorry.
2300 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Okay? No, no, I’m sorry. That didn’t come out. But my question about the morning show and trying to understand, so it’s -- it will be English language focussed on all of the cultural communities you want to serve?
2301 MR. HARMON BAL: That’s correct. So it would just focus on our groups, our cultural communities that we serve. The only difference is that we’ve got time to speak in English at that point.
2302 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: And while I understand you are saying you’re not seeking to focus on mainstream, to go head-to-head with the conventional commercial, something that might be of interest to cultural groups not in your target audience as well? Could you see that? I mean, you’ll be playing -- you will be playing world music.
2303 MR. HARMON BAL: That’s correct. We’ll be playing world music and we’ll be discussing issues that have to do with ethnic communities, ethnic issues.
2304 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: And you will have one host at this point of time who can speak to the issues of all?
2305 MR. HARMON BAL: Yes.
2306 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: All of -- okay. And just for the record ---
2307 MR. HARMON BAL: Well, it -- okay. So let me clarify. So if we’re talking about South Asian, we would have a South Asian host in studio that morning. If we’re talking about various different issues, then we would have a number of hosts there in the morning. So if we’re talking about Filipino, we’d have a Filipino host. If it’s -- if we’re trying to connect two cultures, there’s a festival -- Filipino festival Saturday at 7:00 p.m. and then there’s a -- something else in the -- later in the afternoon or whatever it may be. And then we could have the two hosts together talking about those specific events coming up.
2308 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: So a bit untraditional from where you would have a certain voice that you’d be expecting to hear every morning at 7:00. You might have different hosts, different folks depending on what you’re taking forward that day?
2309 MR. KOWCH: They’d be joining the main host.
2310 MR. HARMON BAL: Yeah.
2311 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Oh, I see. Okay.
2312 MR. HARMON BAL: So there would be a host --
2313 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Yeah.
2314 MR. HARMON BAL: -- for the show that people would recognize, but then there would be joining. So, like I said, if there was a Filipino event or whatever it may be, then we would bring those hosts in as well.
2315 MS. JACKSON: If I may, we are going to be representing 15 languages. We’ll have a host that could speak every one of those languages.
2316 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: You will have one host capable of speaking ---
2317 MS. JACKSON: We will have ---
2318 MR. HARMON BAL: No, no, no.
2319 MS. JACKSON: Each host, 15 hosts that will have -- be able to speak. That would be pretty impressive if -- no, no.
2320 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Okay.
2321 MS. JACKSON: Not quite.
2322 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Just for the record, there’s -- in different filings there has been a little bit of confusion as to how many cultural groups and languages you will be targeting.
2323 MR. HARMON BAL: Okay.
2324 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: So can you clarify? You have now said 15 languages, 23 cultural groups, 15 languages.
2325 MR. HARMON BAL: Yeah, that’s --
2326 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: That’s right?
2327 MR. HARMON BAL: -- that’s correct, yeah.
2328 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Okay. Okay. Thank you.
2329 You’ve heard us talk about conditions of licence and trying to use -- I guess getting feedback as it regards whether it’s reasonable to place conditions of licence to kind of ensure that you deliver what, you know, what we’ve -- you’ve spoke about in your --
2330 MR. HARMON BAL: Yeah.
2331 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: -- vision --
2332 MR. HARMON BAL: M’hm.
2333 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: -- that -- so that there continues to be that focus on those communities. So you would accept and it would be a condition of licence that --
2334 MR. HARMON BAL: Of course, yeah.
2335 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: -- you’d meet those --
2336 MR. HARMON BAL: Yes.
2337 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: -- those languages and those cultural groups and you would accept that?
2338 MR. HARMON BAL: Yes.
2339 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Have you heard the discussions that we’ve had with other parties as it regards minimum amounts of ---
2340 MR. HARMON BAL: Yeah.
2341 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: And maximum amounts --
2342 MR. HARMON BAL: Yes.
2343 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: -- to different groups? Are you -- what are your thoughts, first, on placing conditions of licence that would require that you put in place, that would either put limits, minimum or maximum, on the amount of language -- or different languages you serve?
2344 MR. HARMON BAL: We have absolutely no problem with that.
2345 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Yeah. There have been some -- okay. Because you have heard the conversations --
2346 MR. HARMON BAL: I’ve heard --
2347 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: -- some ---
2348 MR. HARMON BAL: -- I’ve heard, and again, I hear the same thing and I’ve been to the Vancouver hearing as well. And it seems to me I just keep hearing the same thing over and over about the Punjabi and being all day and the Chinese being all day. So we -- like, you know, we’re introducing a model of ethnic radio that increases diversity. We’re willing to adhere to conditions of the licence to hold us to the number of languages and cultural groups.
2349 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Okay. Well, we need the undertaking to know what you have proposed when you break out The Desi Show --
2350 MR. KOWCH: Yes.
2351 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: -- as the amount you would have in the different languages of Punjabi, Hindi and Urdu. Once that is filed, that amount would therefore be the potential minimum to those languages and you would be willing to accept that as a condition of licence?
2352 MR. KOWCH: As the minimum, yes. Yes.
2353 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: As a minimum. Right. So as a maximum, would you -- have you given any thought as to what sort of maximum would work for those languages?
2354 MR. KOWCH: Well, we've had discussions on this, as all the other applicants have, I'm sure, and we agree to the minimums. We have a difficult time agreeing to the maximums for a couple of reasons.
2355 One, it ties our hand. It allows CKER to increase, decrease, do whatever they want because they're not bound by this.
2356 Second, we know that the 2016 Census is coming out next year, and the last Census, I believe, was in 2011. Five years is a long time to see what the difference will be, and it's probably going to be a lot.
2357 And we -- as an ethnic radio station, and especially the way we want to do it, we want to ensure that if any of our 15 groups and they suddenly almost double or what have you, we want to be able to at least look at the possibility of increasing air time. If we do a cap on maximum, we can't do that for seven years, but the competition can. So my concern, we would be at a disadvantage.
2358 That said, we did propose in our response to Rogers' intervention, because Rogers was saying, “Well, you know, they're saying they're only going to do this time, this program schedule now, but nothing prevents them from changing it.” Well, we said we would accept a condition of licence to keep our present schedule for three years, so -- and that was before any discussion of caps.
2359 So we would have no problem, as a condition of licence, to keep our schedule as is for three years, but seven years to say that you can't react to an on -- growing ethnic population, I think, ties our hands and puts us at a disadvantage to the existing station. And I just think that's not a good business sense for us.
2360 And I did hear the Chairman say that -- yesterday that these were, like, questions, guidelines, or whatever, but necessarily being imposed on us. So I got from that that if we said no, we probably wouldn't be penalized.
2361 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: These are questions.
2362 MR. KOWCH: I'm sorry?
2363 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: I said these are questions ---
2364 MR. KOWCH: Yes.
2365 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: --- and that's why I began by asking what ---
2366 MR. KOWCH: Yeah.
2367 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: --- are your thoughts on choosing ---
2368 MR. KOWCH: That's our thoughts.
2369 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: --- minimums and maximums.
2370 MR. KOWCH: Minimums, no problem.
2371 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Okay. You've made a strong point about the fact that you're looking at the millennial audience as your target. Looking at some of what I got out of here, The Desi Show, and so on -- which I believe is targeted at that audience; is that true?
2372 MR. HARMON BAL: That's correct, but we also have the 411 Health and Lifestyle show that would rotate in different languages as well, 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., and in that show -- oh, sorry; and we've got the 411 Health and Lifestyle show at noon to 1:00 as well, and that would rotate between the languages as well. And that would target -- that would target a number of issues.
2373 So, you know, we would talk about health and issues that target an older demographic, but also we would talk about issues of transgender; we would talk about issues that need to be spoken about. And ethnic radio, they don't do that because it's something that's hidden behind the scenes and they don't want to talk about it. But we would talk about issues that are related to the millennials in that time slot as well.
2374 MS. JACKSON: If I may just speak on -- to some of the topics as well?
2375 So some of them are violence against women, social integration, immigration, education, health, mental health, family law, wellbeing and care, alcoholism, drug addiction, and as Harmon said, the biggest taboo in almost all ethnic cultures is coping with gay and lesbian, bisexual, transgender.
2376 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: So I, perhaps, didn't understand. As I was looking at your application it appeared that much of the programming targeting that millennial audience was occurring 7:00 p.m. and later?
2377 MR. KOWCH: Right, but it's not just exclusive, though, for the shows because in our talk shows, for example, we want to target a younger audience, and the best way to do that is to talk about what's going on in their community. That's what they care about.
2378 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: So you're targeting the younger audience throughout the entire broadcast?
2379 MR. KOWCH: As much as possible, but we understand that we also have to cater to an older audience. But what we won't do -- and this may alienate us from the older audience, what we won't do is talk about only what's going on back home, because that's a turnoff to the millennial generation.
2380 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Okay. You've -- state in your application that the Filipino community is a very large community here, and I think the largest in 11 of the 12 wards. And you spoke this morning of a program that would run from 5:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. It doesn't seem to be a lot devoted to what you have identified in your application as being one of the largest communities?
2381 MR. KOWCH: Well, it's a lot more than what's existing now. Our Tagalog morning show, if we go within the 126‑hour broadcast week, it doesn't look like that much, but it is primetime mornings. And we recognize that the 5:00 to 7:00 may not be part of the broadcast week, but it is part of the week of the Filipino community.
2382 And so we thought that it's important that they get to hear a morning show, no matter what time they get up, so that they can start their day listening to a program in their language. So technically, it's at six, that's 12; it's 12, plus the 411; it's 13 hours. But at least it's during the week and not on weekends. It's in primetime.
2383 That's -- see, that's what we're ---
2384 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: It's in the community's primetime.
2385 MR. KOWCH: But 6:00 a.m. is in the -- is in primetime as well.
2386 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Yeah, okay.
2387 Let me just cover a couple of regulatory issues, if you will, and then I'd like to speak to you a little more about your business plan.
2388 First of all, open line programming that you had proposed. I know in your opening remarks here you spoke about adhering to all regulatory guidelines, and you listed quite a few. You would also adhere to the policies as it regards open line programming?
2389 MR. KOWCH: Yes, the CRTC. I'm sorry; I forgot that one. I should have remembered because we had to deal with it when I was running the CFRB, so yes.
2390 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: So can you tell me what kind of mechanisms you'd be putting in place to ensure your compliance?
2391 MR. KOWCH: Well, to ensure our compliance, my experience doing it for 14 years at two of Canada's largest talk stations, is the -- is screening is important. Don't let anybody in. We screen out 50 percent of the calls because you just don't want to put them on the radio.
2392 It's training with the staff, you know, and the Couch media guide, Staying out of Trouble, it's all there with all kinds of tips and everything. And I do seminars with radio people across the country.
2393 It's to educate them as to how to stay out of trouble. It's to make sure that the guidelines are respected; screening. It's to make sure that, for example, you can't say, “Throw the bum in jail,” because that's a libel because you only put guilty people in jail.
2394 So we need to train the staff as to what can be said and can't be said, and I believe the most important thing is when somebody says something that's totally unacceptable it's not enough to hang up on them. You have to distance yourself, because silence means that you're sort of agreeing with them.
2395 That's how you -- we can do any topic in talk radio as long as you respect the rules and you understand that there are boundaries.
2396 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Okay. I'll ask it again.
2397 You actually have identified to us that you will be dealing with some very sensitive issues.
2398 It is your plan to deal with sensitive issues in a way that perhaps haven’t been dealt with within these communities before or maybe quite as directly dealt with. So how ensuring you have proper mechanisms in place, proper guidelines, proper mechanisms, perhaps things like time delay?
2399 MR. HARMON BAL: Yeah, we have a seven second time delay.
2400 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: So you have planned to put in place very strict guidelines and policies?
2401 MR. BAL: Of course.
2402 MR. KOWCH: And a no tolerance for disrespecting it.
2403 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: And how would you ensure that when you’re dealing with these most sensitive of issues that you ensure that you have a reasonable balanced opportunity for expressing different views. Have you considered that?
2404 MR. HARMON BAL: Yeah, so back to a little bit of my experience, I also own a beauty pageant and in that pageant it is the first pageant that has welcomed transgender contestants into the pageant.
2405 We’ve -- at Vancouver Television, we’ve been dealing with several issues like this, and again, on community television each show is screened by the cable company, so they watch the entire show, especially Shaw, and they pull out what can and cannot go into our show every week.
2406 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: But I’m sure you are very aware when you’re doing live talk radio ---
2407 MR. HARMON BAL: Yes.
2408 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: --- you don’t get to screen ---
2409 MR. HARMON BAL: I understand that, but
2411 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: --- so you have to have very ---
2412 MR. HARMON BAL: But we do have the delay and we would have the seven second delay system.
2413 MR. KOWCH: You see, if you work with your employees, and you give them the guidelines, and you explain how to do things, you know, we -- I will explain to them there are danger singles. When people call up there are certain words that they use and when you hear them you go like these people aren’t getting on the radio. You understand that you have a dump button and as soon as something that is unacceptable you dump them. There’s no like well, maybe, should we, could we, you get rid of them.
2414 You can allow people to make statements, controversial statements, but you have to allow balance and counter it, counter it with your reasoned opinion, or you have guests -- you know, you can have like a free-for-all group where it’s going to be balanced, somebody A is going to say something, somebody B is going to respond, that’s balance.
2415 MR. HARMON BAL: We would ensure that all calls and every comment that’s made adheres to all the guidelines definitely, but we won’t -- and I just want to be clear, just because it is a taboo and most of the other ethnic stations don’t talk about it, that doesn’t mean that we’ll hide from the topics and let these people struggle on their own because that’s not what we’re about.
2416 Again, we’re about inclusiveness and diversity, so it’s important not to shy away from these topics but bring them to light in an appropriate manner.
2417 MR. KOWCH: The other thing, Commissioner, in the 15 years of running CFRB and CJAD I’ve won 98 percent of all CBSC complaints. That’s quite a number. And the reason is because we understand that talk radio is going to offend people every day, but just because they’re offended doesn’t mean we’re breaking the rules of the CBSC or the CRTC, right.
2418 So it’s one thing to be offended, it’s another thing to break the rules and be in contravention of them. Offending people doesn’t bother me because that’s what talk radio does, okay, but within the parameters of providing high quality radio and not insulting people, not libelling people, not doing disparaging comments about someone’s sexuality, things like that.
2419 We -- in our guide, for example -- and this is very important in today’s world where we’re dealing very openly about transgender, when this first started a few years ago some of the hosts would say “Well, you know, he, she” and I’d -- like they’d be in the carpet immediately, and I’d say the rules are very simple, the minute that they start the process of changing their sex they are recognized as -- if they’re going to become a man they’re recognized as a he, if you say he or she, in my opinion, you’re contravening the rules because you’re making fun of them. And people looked -- they looked at me “Really” and I said yes. So, I mean, that stopped after the first reference.
2420 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Yeah, fair ---
2421 MR. KOWCH: So that’s what we’re going to do.
2422 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Fair enough.
2423 And we obviously aren’t here to discuss every possible issue you may address and good for you for wanting to address important issue, and emerging issues, and new issues and those important to millennials.
2424 My question really was, you know, in knowing that you’re dealing with these sensitive issues and that there are certain obligations that are best dealt with by putting controls in place, putting in, you know, you’re different control mechanisms like time delay, ensuring proper training, ensuring, you know, that the obligations for balanced programming are well understood beforehand so that we’re not talking about a particular show or a particular issue, it’s about the range of issues to say what are we going to do from a control management perspective to ensure this works properly.
2425 MR. KOWCH: Yeah, that’s why I included in our application a copy of Staying out of Trouble so the Commission could see exactly what we would be telling the host.
2426 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Let me ask about the religious programming as well that you propose. In the same way there are obligations of balance and so on as it regards religious programming, so you -- maybe just to begin, can you confirm that you would adhere to the Commission’s religious broadcasting policy?
2427 MR. HARMON BAL: Yes.
2428 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: And you are aware of that policy? You’ve read the policy?
2429 MR. KOWCH: Yes, I believe in our supplementary brief we even quoted some of the aspects of it.
2430 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Can you confirm the amount of religious spoken word programming that you’re proposing to broadcast each week?
2431 MR. HARMON BAL: So the religious programming itself again it won’t be a certain religion. We will rotate the religious programming as well.
2432 So we’ve got Sunday basically 6:00 a.m. to noon would be religious programming.
2433 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: So as we talked about on the talk shows there’s also obligations to ensure that there’s a balance and offering ---
2434 MR. HARMON BAL: It will be absolutely balanced. Again, we will be rotating the languages and it would be balanced whatever content that is aired in those time slots.
2435 MR. KOWCH: And when we talk about religious programming, we don’t mean religious programming like you hear in the States where some of it is very un-Christian the way they talk about different individuals. That would never happen here. This is more about religion. It’s more about faith. It’s not about condemning someone’s faith. It’s not about condemning someone’s lifestyle. That’s the type. So when we say “religious programming” ---
2436 MR. HARMON BAL: Again, it’s accepting each other’s faith no matter. To me, I look at a person as a person. I don’t care what colour they are or what sexual orientation. A person to me is a person and religion to me is religion. And we need to understand as a country that we need to accept different religious beliefs and that’s why the shows -- well, the programming itself would rotate and we would only have programming that again could integrate people to understand the other religion.
2437 MR. KOWCH: And if I can assure the ---
2438 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Once again I just
2440 MR. KOWCH: Sorry.
2441 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: I just want to go back to the regulatory policy ---
2442 MR. HARMON BAL: We understand.
2443 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: --- related to that and the requirement that there be mechanisms in place.
2444 MR. HARMON BAL: Of course, yes.
2445 MR. KOWCH: Religious programming will respect the same rules on air of all our other programming which respects the CRTC rules.
2446 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: You have, I think, if I understand, a number of low power religious ---
2447 MR. HARMON BAL: Yeah.
2448 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Low power ---
2449 MR. HARMON BAL: Just two that are on air, yeah.
2450 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Two on air?
2451 MR. HARMON BAL: Yeah.
2452 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: And they play religious programming?
2453 MR. HARMON BAL: That’s correct, yeah.
2454 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Is there any expectation on your part that there’s any kind of synergies that might exist between your other ---
2455 MR. HARMON BAL: No.
2456 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: --- undertakings, whether it be the radio or your television?
2457 MR. HARMON BAL: No.
2458 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: No? No synergies, okay.
2459 So speaking to your business plan just a little bit, I expect that you took a look at the applications filed by everybody else at this hearing.
2460 MR. HARMON BAL: Yes, I did.
2461 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: And so you may be aware that your revenues look perhaps ---
2462 MR. HARMON BAL: Yes, our revenues look a little bit higher but at the same time that the other applicants haven’t -- the other applicants are going on the same model of ethnic radio that has been happening for I don’t know how long.
2463 And when you approach new target markets, the revenue is -- it’s going to happen. Again, I bring reference back to community television. There’s tonnes and tonnes of shows that don’t even last on TV -- on community television because they can’t generate the revenue.
2464 There’s no -- there’s no film studio in the United States that deals with -- deals with community programming. They’ll deal with the big guys. They’ll deal with Entertainment Tonight or something like that. But in terms of revenue, we’ve created Vancouver Television to be quite profitable and our revenue projections, I don’t think that -- I know that they could be met if we’re targeting audiences that advertisers want to target.
2465 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: So just to understand that, you speak of the old model versus your new model of surveying.
2466 So we’ve heard over the last day and a half quite often about “under the old model” if you will. You know, and there’s been some extensive research done by some of the applicants as to how much some of the communities here in Edmonton can support; from an advertising perspective, the businesses of those communities can support.
2467 And you know quite a large discussion, for example, about the Filipino community and how it’s different and whether or not there’s actually a business base there.
2468 MR. HARMON BAL: I understand but at the same time the applicants were -- they’re talking about some things that, to me, didn’t make sense. Because there’s advertisers out there that want to target those people.
2469 So telling someone that the Filipino people are just going to be -- going to work and coming home and no one wants to target them, they’re not going to advertise, I think that’s -- to me, I’d be offended because I don’t think that’s correct.
2470 They do the exact same thing as all the other communities. They buy cars, they eat food, they buy clothes. They’re going to do the exact same things that everyone does.
2471 So there will be -- there’s not an opportunity for advertisers to target those groups right now because they can only target them for an hour on Saturday or whatever it may be.
2472 And if I was an advertiser and I -- if someone approached me and said, “Would you like to advertise in a Filipino show that’s half an hour on Sunday at 10:00 p.m.?” I’d probably say no as well.
2473 But if I say, “Do you want to advertise to a Filipino community that’s going to be six days a week, 5:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m.?” I would think twice and say, yeah, I think I’d want to advertise to them.
2474 MS. JACKSON: If I may, again, we’re trying to eliminate these ideas of weekend linguistic ghettos.
2475 If I could just tell you a short definition from Google as to what a ghetto actually is. It says,
2476 “To put in or restrict to an isolated or segregated area a group.”
2477 And that’s what we feel is happening. We feel by giving these languages prime time airtime, we feel that we’ll attract the advertisers.
2478 MR. HARMON BAL: There’s no doubt people will advertise.
2479 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Just one question.
2480 MR. HARMON BAL: Yes.
2481 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: What work have you done to test your revenue projections?
2482 You have -- you know, it’s not a question of whether or not you’re dealing with good subject matter or, I mean, taking people out of linguistic ghettos is a wonderful goal.
2483 MR. HARMON BAL: I understand exactly what you’re saying but I think that ---
2484 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Saying the old revenue model doesn’t work is also fair. But tell me how you have -- what you have to give us that says there’s some assurance that these revenues are achievable.
2485 MR. HARMON BAL: Again, I reference back to community television where I do make revenue to target all these different groups, and I’ve been making revenue on that for the last three years and I’m doing very well.
2486 So I have proof and I know that these companies -- I deal with a lot of the large car manufacturers that I’ve spoken to and I’ve got relationships with these people.
2487 I’ve got relationships with almost -- almost every film studio and they advertise with us. They will advertise. They will advertise to an ethnic market. They understand that Vancouver Television, although called Vancouver Television, is -- it is an ethnic programming which is in English, and they advertise there.
2488 And the background that we have on this is on community television, you’re only allowed to say and do certain things. You can’t do call-to-action. You can’t do -- you can’t do a lot of things, and it’s not like commercial television.
2489 So if they’re advertising there, what makes them not want to advertise on radio that’s 24 hours a day?
2490 Everyone watches movies. Every -- you can’t say that only a certain group of people are going to go to the theatre and watch a movie. Everyone is going to watch it.
2491 Everyone is going to buy certain brands of clothes and cars and those advertisers don’t currently have the opportunity. And sure, we’re going to test the market but at the same time, we’re going to make it happen because I have a track record of making it happen. I’m living off community programming.
2492 MR. KOWCH: Can I add just one more thing, Commissioner? Because I’ve heard a lot of the questions here this week, and I know one of the questions and we may get asked that question. It’s if we don’t make money and we have substantial losses, can you keep going?
2493 Well, we’re in a position to say the following: We believe in our budget. We believe we can do this. If you don’t aim high you’re not going to get anywhere. But we believe we can do this.
2494 However, if we don’t, right, we have the resources to keep going.
2495 So you’re saying, you know, what proof, what study, whatever? What we’re saying is we believe it so much we’re putting our money where our mouth is. Because if we don’t make these budgets, we’re not going to make as much revenue, and he’s prepared to lose that money.
2496 MR. HARMON BAL: We’re not spending money just because we have additional money to throw around. We obviously believe in what we’re doing and if we don’t test this now, you know, who knows if someone is ever going to come up and change ethnic radio?
2497 From the looks of it from what I’ve seen, hearing after hearing, nobody wants to change t. Nobody wants -- everyone wants to do their same old thing and if we don’t test it, we’ll never know.
2498 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Okay. Fair enough. And you have filed on the record the net worth and ---
2499 MR. HARMON BAL: Yes.
2500 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: --- financials?
2501 MR. HARMON BAL: Yup, yes.
2502 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: So I’m not going to ask that question.
2503 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: But I would like your perspective on one last thing and that is I know that you’re looking to do something new. Many are, as you’ve noted, you know, in the traditional model.
2504 So do you believe there’s room for you and someone else to also be licensed as part of this application?
2505 MR. HARMON BAL: Yes. I don’t believe any of the other applicants in -- that are appearing or have appeared have anything close to what we have. I -- you could bring another one of those applicants on, and they could do their programming, which is directed to one group all day, and we would have absolutely no problem with that. You could bring on two.
2506 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Thank you. Those are my questions.
2507 THE CHAIRPERSON: I believe Commissioner Dupras has a question.
2508 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: No.
2509 THE CHAIRPERSON: My belief was wrong.
2510 THE CHAIRPERSON: That concludes our questions. Maybe we’ll just take a quick five-minute break to freshen up and then we will resume at 11:30.
2511 MR. HARMON BAL: Thank you very much.
2512 COMMISSIONER MOLNAR: Thank you.
--- Upon recessing at 11:24 a.m.
--- Upon resuming at 11:29 a.m.
2513 MS. ROY: Please take your seats.
2514 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Madam Secretary?
2515 MS. ROY: We’ll now proceed with Item 8 on the agenda, which is an application by Akash Broadcasting Inc. for a broadcasting licence to operate an ethnic commercial FM specialty radio station in Edmonton. Please introduce yourself and your colleagues and you have 20 minutes to make your presentation.
2516 MS. MANN: Good day Chairman, Commissioner and CRTC staff. I am Herkiranjeet Kaur Mann, the President of Akash Broadcasting. It is a pleasure and privilege to be at this hearing today.
2517 I am and have been involved in the Edmonton community for a decade as a business owner and entrepreneur. My many connections both here and in British Columbia convince and give me the support to give back to our community. This is the rationale for Edmonton Connect 106.5 FM.
2518 I am pleased to be here today with my colleagues from Akash Broadcasting and our associates. I would like to introduce the member of our team starting on my far right.
2519 Mr. Marco Luciano started and produced “Radyo Migrante”,a multi-award winning show which included the J.S. Woodsworth Award for Human Rights and Equity at North York's community radio station CHRY 105.5 FM before he moved to Edmonton.
2520 Next to him, Ms. Nav Kaur is an Edmonton teacher, community educator, and equity advocate. She has recently completed her Master's in Education Policy and ran as a progressive candidate in the most ethnically diverse community in Edmonton. She is passionate about community building and resiliency through education.
2521 To her left, Ms. Simrat Cheema, a radio and television broadcaster with extensive experience focused on social issues.
2522 To my far left, Ms. Ida Lucila, prior to her move to Canada was the Executive Director of Ballet Philippines. She was Artistic Director of Edmonton Festival Ballet and Chameleon Dance Edmonton. In her quest to advocate she has organized Edmonton events such as the Filipino Fiesta and Philippine Art Festival 2010. She brings her organizational and community skill to our advisory Board.
2523 To her right, Mr. Satnam Rai, our financial advisor with longstanding investment in the Edmonton hospitality service, land development and retail sectors.
2524 In the back row on my far right, Ms. Kanak Chamarty, a journalist with experience at the Afternoon Chronicle after renowned Indian Express and here in Edmonton at World-FM, as Vice-President at the Council of India Society and Community Liaison with OMNI-TV.
2525 Next to her, Ms. Julie Zhangis a Mandarin journalist who came as an international student here to pursue her studies, chase her Canadian dream. And now, as a new mother, she brings practical insight to the life of recent immigrants.
2526 On her left, Mr. Jagdeep Sandhuhas a Masters in Electronics and Communication, worked for the Government of India as a telecom engineer. He is honours graduate network administrator from NAIT. He worked with World-FM as a news reader, talk show host and disc jockey. Presently he is with Telus in Edmonton.
2527 Directly behind me, Mr. Stephen Zolf,Edmonton born and raised is our legal counsel from Aird & Berlis; Mr. Andrew Forsyth, our Broadcast Consultant; and Mr. Kerry Pelser, our Consulting Engineer from D. E. M. Allen and Associates.
2528 This is our team.
2529 Before I turn our presentation over to my business partner and Edmonton Connect 106.5 FM Program Manager, Tejinder Singh Saini, who will be quarter-backing our appearance today, I would like to address our view of the economic situation in Edmonton. In our application filed with the Commission in June, we addressed the downturn in Alberta and, in particular, Edmonton. I would now like to add my own experience in this market acquired through the ownership of businesses I have with my family.
2530 The sector in which we are involved in Edmonton include hospitality, car rental companies and distribution of lighting and HVAC systems to the retail outlets, businesses that are among the most vulnerable in economic downturns and face competition from much larger multi-national companies. We have managed to sustain these companies during the fluctuation in the market and the recent after effects of the Fort McMurray fire because we are well financed savvy entrepreneurs.
2531 Our financial advisor, Satnam Rai,deals with the particulars of these trends daily and can speak to the detail in these matters. At the end of the day we have kept these businesses afloat during the rough times because we have the broad shoulders necessary to sustain our business’ activities even in rough times.
2532 It is this business expertise and experience that we will bring to Connect FM and to the people of Edmonton. We know this city and its people and we are in for the long haul.
2533 MR. SAINI: Thank you, Ms. Mann.
2534 The need for another ethnic service in Edmonton is evident. The Commission recognized this in broadcasting decision 2015-561 where, in its own words, “found that the Edmonton radio market could sustain, under certain circumstances, an additional radio station at this time. In the Commission's preliminary view, the market would best be served by proposing targeting ethnic communities.”
2535 Our experience with the market, the research we commissioned and the reaction garnered from those citizens who supported our application speak of this need. Radio listeners feel it is time to invest in an alternate to the incumbent service. Diversity is, after all, what this community and country is all about.
2536 One full-time ethnic station does not offer the growing City of Edmonton a sufficiently wide choice. A situation where there is one radio station for 20 percent of population and with 31 stations for other 80 percent does not speak to equality or diversity. It is our job to convince you Edmonton Connect 106.5 FM is the right circumstance for this market.
2537 It is the vision we have for Edmonton Connect 106.5 FM that we will present and hope to discuss with you today.
2538 Akash brings diversity of ownership and new voices and commitment to socially progressive programming; ownership with the principles and program facilitators are well-known and are respected in the community; a strong business plan built on pent-up demand for the -- for an alternate ethnic radio licence to serve Edmonton; a spoken work commitment that addresses the moods, the needs and desires of Edmonton through news and information, instructive talk segments and dramas to capture the spirit of the community; a commitment to cover local amateur sports, a frequently overlooked aspect, both social and physical wellbeing; a substantial Canadian content development package involved at the grass root level with active involvement based on first-hand experience; an advisory committee that will have real input to the management and ownership growth; research study which guide us in both understanding the perceptions of Edmonton retail community and radio listeners and in implementing programming that responds; a track record of proving leading edge internet-based radio and social media contact with Canada and beyond.
2539 We have created a schedule that is filled with exciting programs and projects. Ninety (90) percent of these are in third language. The Edmonton Connect 106.5 FM spoken word proposal makes up almost half of station's airtime. This is the verbal connection with Edmonton. Through these exchanges of information, opinion and entertainment Edmonton Connect 106.5 FM will
2540 engage the audience.
2541 Ms. Simrat Cheema has years of broadcasting experience and brings that asset to Edmonton Connect 106.5 FM. She will be in charge of these programs to make certain that they are creative and dynamic, all the while ensuring the objectives of the Broadcasting Act and the standards of Radio Regulations will be upheld.
2542 MS. CHEEMA: With over seven hours of locally produced news programming during the week, Edmonton Connect 106.5 FM will also reach out to Edmonton's Filipino, South Asian and Chinese communities with talk programming across the day. These programs will engage listeners with balanced content in programs like Kumonekta Edmonton, My Family My Home, Voice, Hui Jio and Health is Best. On weekends, we connect more of Edmonton's communities, adding programming in seven languages, Russian, Dutch, Ukrainian, Vietnamese, Spanish, Arabic, and Persian. These weekend concept programs will provide a link for these underserved communities.
2543 Ms. Nav Kaur will tackle the challenging programming on women's issues.
2544 MS. KAUR MANN: While we're witnessing an active approach to gender parity at all levels of government and in daily life, issues for women are complex and intersectional, like balancing child rearing, working, and culture. This is compounded by being a newcomer. This balancing is an overwhelming situation for immigrants who must also deal with linguistic, geographical, and environmental hurdles.
2545 Our plan is to reflect Edmonton as a society as it adapts and becomes even more inclusive through socially progressive programming devoted to these topics and more.
2546 MR. LUCIANO: And in music, it is central to all cultures and this is certainly the case in Edmonton, which is my home.
2547 Ethnic musical diversity via Edmonton radio is a difficult goal to achieve given the limitations of music that can be played on just one incumbent station. Edmonton Connect, 106.5 FM, will add to the amount of local independent music exposed in the market.
2548 Our relationship with Edmonton artists allows us to draw music from a large pool of talent. The depth of talent is not limited to just performers but also composers and producers. The evening of Souled Out show will feature fusion music from a wide range of producers and artists from all the communities that make up Edmonton.
2549 MR. SINGH SAINI: Canadian content development initiatives are an important part of Edmonton Connect 106.5 FM plan to invest in the support, promotion, training, and development of Edmonton's musical and spoken word talent. Edmonton Connect 106.5 FM's basic CCD contribution, as well as over-and‑above contributions totalling $542,000 over the seven years, will be directed to five eligible initiatives, all of which is detailed in our application.
2550 MR. RAI: These are all ambitious commitments, whether it is our spoken word and music programming or our CCD proposal; they all require a resilient financial support system.
2551 As an entrepreneur, retailer, retail and real estate developer for the past 18 years in Alberta, I work with dozens of our community's small businesses daily. It is these businesses that will drive the revenue for Edmonton Connect 106.5 FM.
2552 The present ethnic radio market is typically off limits to many businesses that could and would profit from advertising their goods and services to Edmonton consumers. The reason is simple; supply and demand.
2553 There is a limited amount of advertising inventory available on the incumbent ethnic station. If you look at broad numbers, there is only one radio station to cater to the 20 percent ethnic population versus 31 radio stations for the 80 percent.
2554 We submit that licensing Edmonton Connect 106.5 FM, a new locally based operator with close ties to the community with a vision to benefit the economic, cultural and social aspects of Edmonton, would generate new revenue in the market, and our radio retailers survey confirms this.
2555 Akash understands the dynamics of cyclical markets. That is why we are always believed in and focus on long-term sustainable growth rather than short-term profit and losses.
2556 Further, I can assure you that this team is ready and will not shy away from making required key investments, executing dynamic strategies, and willing and ready to accept short-term challenge for long-term opportunity.
2557 I am sure, Commissioners, you have noted our proposed projections demonstrate tight but, by end of term, manageable operating margins. In designing this station, it was paramount that it benefits the community, particularly in support of the Canadian content development.
2558 To ensure we meet the needs of the community and our mandate to serve, we have instituted a community advisory panel. Ida Lucila is one of the members.
2559 MS. LUCILA: The purpose of this advisory board is to create a mechanism by which Edmonton Connect 106.5 FM will further enhance its ability to fulfil its responsibility to serve and mirror the local community, and to reflect local issues and concerns during the term of its licence. This process will operate through an active, involved, and engaged group of local citizens that play a significant role in facilitating communication between Edmonton Connect 106.5 FM and their respective local communities.
2560 Firstly, a representative of the advisory board will sit on the Akash Broadcasting Board of Directors.
2561 Secondly, young advisors will make up a third of the advisory board membership and will represent youth from the various ethnic minority groups addressed by Edmonton Connect 106.5 FM's programming.
2562 Of the remaining members, at least two shall represent members of Edmonton's amateur sports community, and the remainder shall represent ethnic minority groups addressed by Edmonton Connect's programming.
2563 MR. SINGH SAINI: Growth in terms of geography, innovation, spirit, and cultural awareness is to the core of Edmonton Connect. We have put -- we have been prudent in assuming the start-up and operational cost of this project based on our belief in the goals and willingness to create, while aware of inherent risks.
2564 Above all, the FM broadcasting licence that we are anxious to begin, we have attained a great level of comfort and experience communicating with our community and far beyond via our Internet stream and a full complement of social media platform.
2565 We are pleased to present this video presentation produced by Akash Broadcasting that I believes captures the essence of our proposal.
2566 (VIDEO PRESENTATION)
2567 MR. SINGH SAINI: In conclusion, we believe our application fulfills the criteria for licensing as prescribed by the Commission. Akash is a new broadcaster with fresh ideas, respect for the regulatory process, and a desire to expand our track record of socially progressive service to Edmonton.
2568 We have submitted a quality application with a solid business plan that will connect 21 different cultural groups through 14 languages; over 56 hours of locally produced spoken programming, over and above the minimum requirement for Canadian content; over half a million dollars in Canadian content development initiative; an advisory board that will have a seat at the company's Board of Directors; provide an alternate for consumers, creators, and Canadians; open opportunities for new ethnic advertising dollars; and add to the musical diversity of the market.
2569 Licensing Akash Broadcasting will benefit not only the listeners but also the economic condition of the market. Our impact on the market will be positive and benefit to the Canadian system.
2570 MS. KAUR MANN: Mr. Chairman, licensing Akash Broadcasting, a new independent operator, will also contribute to diversity of ownership and news voices in Edmonton, as well as adding to gender parity in terms of control of ownership in the Canadian broadcasting industry.
2571 Akash Broadcasting has the resources, insight, and experience to launch Edmonton Connect 106.5 FM with a team that will promote, reflect, foster, engage and strengthen all aspect of the Edmonton community.
2572 Thank you for your attention to our presentation. Unfortunately, I must tell you that due to a death in his immediate family, Mr. Rahul Chopra, who, as our financial planner, researched, created, and filed the financial projection for this application is unable to be here this week.
2573 Mr. Rai and Mr. Forsyth will respond to the best of their ability in those matters. And Tejinder will direct your questions for the team.
2574 Thank you.
2575 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
2576 Please pass along our condolences to Mr. Chopra.
2577 I have a few questions, and the first one is an issue that gets addressed with not all but many of the -- probably the majority of the applicants in this.
2578 When you look at the primary audiences you're targeting and serving some might say that this is essentially a competitive duplication of existing services to those communities in Edmonton. In other words, just more service for the South Asian and Chinese language communities and why do we really need that right now.
2579 So tell me how this is not just a duplication of service to those audiences?
2580 MR. SINGH SAINI: Commissioner, sir, may I -- and while we're talking I'll have my team to also input into this.
2581 We're actually not providing a competitive service. We are actually providing fresh new ideas that are right now not offered on the incumbent station.
2582 We are providing programming that is focused on youth, focused on women, amateur sports, health, and fitness, major dramas, documentaries, audio books, fusion music that is also all not on incumbent station.
2583 And added to that for Filipino community we are actually providing with the growth of the community as the whole Edmonton is growing, we are providing more of air time for them so that they can have their own issues and challenges to be discussed and entertainment to be done.
2584 And also on top of it the way our schedule is split, it is actually when the South Asian programming is there on incumbent station we have other languages and when other language programmings are there there is a South Asian language programming on it.
2585 MR. LUCIANO: I guess just to add to that ---
2586 THE CHAIRPERSON: Just before you ---
2587 MR. LUCIANO: No, go ahead.
2588 THE CHAIRPERSON: But you are competing -- I mean, I know you said you're not offering a competitive service but people who are listening to World FM right now you would be happy to have listen to you as well, so in a sense -- I mean, there's nothing wrong with competition; it's probably a good thing, but you will be competing for the loyalty of people within those language communities, right?
2589 MR. SINGH SAINI: The growth of the community the way it's being experienced by any of the growing Canadian cities, and especially with the new immigrant and new population coming in, is that whatever programming right now that is being offered on World FM, that is music and talk shows, we are actually providing more of a complementary service to it.
2590 We're providing focused programming on different age groups and different areas that the community is actually interested in. So if we go, like, apple to apple it won't be a competition. It will be a complementary service, and the community itself will actually benefit from more programming that is available on it.
2591 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thanks I understand that perspective. Please go ahead.
2592 MR. LUCIANO:Related to that let me just tell you a little bit about the Filipino community. The Filipino community is the fastest growing community in Canada and in Alberta. And in Alberta alone there's approximately 113,000 Filipinos, and half of those live in Edmonton.
2593 And the current show that, you know, our colleague is talking about provides the two hour of music at the moment, as far as we know. And with the growth of the community since 2012 we need more than just music. We need more -- the interests have changed, particularly with the Filipinos coming under the live and caregiver program, the temporary foreign worker program, and migrant workers that came. They not only wanted to hear, you know, their communities and their -- you know, the country where they came from but also what's going on in Edmonton. Where to go in case of particular -- I'm talking particularly about my day-to-day work, which is a community worker. In Canada -- I'll give you concrete example in the last Phillipine election in May they triple the participation of overseas absentee voting, so the Filipinos are getting more engaged.
2594 Similarly in Canada, in Alberta, Filipinos have been participating in local elections and national elections. So there's getting more engagement, and music alone cannot provide these service.
2595 MR. SINGH SAINI: And Commissioner, sir, may I just add on to that?
2596 If usually someone asks what's the targeted audience that you're talking about that is different from World FM, we don't visualize it more as, like, 18 to 55.
2597 We visualize our radio station as a radio for a student who's actually driving back from university and enjoying that fusion music. We visualize the radio station more as for a single mum who has two kids and she's actually venturing on a new entrepreneur project. We are also visualizing radio as a mum who has a newborn child and she's looking for resources and assistant in that.
2598 So it's kind of like new avenues that are being opened to the community who's currently listening to the incumbent station.
2599 MS. KAUR MANN: Yeah, and also, just to add to that from my perspective as an educator. What really stood out for me, in terms of supporting this application, was the emphasis on cultural-specific programming, so really that merging and the promotion of artists in town.
2600 So -- and also, like, the variable, the texture; so the documentaries, the different sort of ideas, the audiobooks. Like, these are things that we don't have, and from an educational standpoint, we really need that kind of material being produced locally so that we could sort of start those conversations.
2601 So it adds that texture and that educational content and the culture. So from my perspective, that's what I see as very unique to Akash.
2602 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, Just to sort of follow through on that, and then we'll talk about some other things.
2603 We can look at this market from a strictly regulatory approach and see an existing ethnic radio station, and potential for one or maybe even two others. Or if you take a broader look, you can see a market where your primary audiences -- South Asian and Chinese again; referencing them most specifically, and particularly, the South Asian -- are served by an existing broadcaster, radio -- licensed radio broadcaster, SCMOs, numerous Canadian and international online sites where they can go and get information.
2604 So some might argue where’s the underservice? I mean, compared to say when the ethnic radio program was -- genre was sort of developing 25 or 30 years ago where there was very limited resources, in terms of people being able to access information that they might need, there is a plethora of it today. So why can't you serve the audience you're seeking to just by expanding your online operations, and why do you need to have spectrum to do it?
2605 MR. SINGH SAINI: Commissioner, sir, the baseline is -- it is local. It's -- for Edmonton, it's going to be here in Edmonton.
2606 Our experience with online service is that we actually first started with some spoken word programming, apart from music, that was news and news analysis. But we saw there was an initial, like, spike in the listeners but then it dropped down, and we kind of like started wondering as to what it is.
2607 And slowly and slowly we started substituting our talk shows, our spoken words on the online service to music, and we actually went back onto the track of what we thought was, potentially, our listeners.
2608 One of the reasons we figured out in our local online service was that talk shows listened to in Sydney, in California, in New Delhi, but if it's just being talked about something in India or in Edmonton, it really doesn't make a contextual sense as to what's happening because they don't know where Rogers' place is or where North Saskatchewan River is all about. So that's why -- what we figured out from there was the music is something that is universally more acceptable as our online listeners, from that sense.
2609 Other thing that we also have on online was our radio dramas and audiobooks. That, we thought, was there a strong appetite for people to listen, and the reason is that it's actually embedded in our culture.
2610 It's embedded. Like, South Asians are very much have a strong oral history. It's also part of our religious ceremonies. Prior to certain festivals, there are dramas that are being held.
2611 So storytelling is also part of whole thing that we first developed on our online service, but then when we saw there is an appetite, we actually brought that one in.
2612 So getting back to your answer; we actually have online service more from musical perspective, but when we have to serve local people, news about local people, events about local people, discussions and debate about local people, then online service really doesn't do a justification. So there is that need that kind of, like, have us moved from rather than actually serving an online to have a look at Edmonton ethnic radio station.
2613 MS. LUCILA: And -- sorry; if I can just add to that.
2614 I do understand your perception, your observation about information being readily ---
2615 THE CHAIRPERSON: I didn't say it was mine. I said some people might say.
2616 MS. LUCILA: Oh, sorry, okay. I will correct that infraction.
2617 So information is available in so many sources; like, there are forums, blogs. My personal perspective is that with -- the bane of the Internet is that you are unable to siphon off legitimate information. With the infrastructure of a radio station, it gives you the parameters, the regulations of legitimacy and credible information.
2618 MR. SINGH SAINI: And, sir, I just want to add on to this is like many of these on these table are from artistic background, and I think rather than having an online service with a local FM station, we think we will actually be positively contributing for the promotion and growth of our local talent.
2619 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, thanks.
2620 How did you -- what study or what rationale did you use in determining the breakouts of the various language groups when you built your business plan?
2621 MR. SINGH SAINI: Sure. I would like to have Mr. Forsyth to give us a perspective of the breakdown and also join in.
2622 MR. FORSYTH: Thank you, Tejinder.
2623 We took the traditional approach of looking at the marketplace, going to Statistic Canada, looking at the population trending and where -- which groups were in the marketplace. Certainly looked at what the incumbent was offering. We did some demand research with the audience with radio listeners in Edmonton to get a sense of what they were listening to, wanted to listen to, and their satisfaction level with the existing service.
2624 So all of those components went into the mix that made us come back to the centre of what we chose. And as a part of that exercise, we also tried to determine what groups would be able to obviously sustain the programming.
2625 While it would be easy to go to one of the smaller groups, and there are a lot of very small groups, as there are in any community, you need a large volume of those for that to work in radio. So that brought us back to the groups that we've chosen as the primary, such as the South Asian, the Chinese, and the Filipino communities, but with an opportunity to serve some of the others. So we need the larger base to serve the smaller base.
2626 THE CHAIRPERSON: So just as a follow-up on that -- and, please, you know, I'll get back to you.
2627 We've heard discussion this week and in previous experiences that some segments of society are easier to monetize than others due to varying cultural patterns. And in terms of that, it sounds from, what you said, that that was a feature of your plan when you put it together. Is that a fair assumption?
2628 MR. FORSYTH: Well, I think the assumption is, if I'm understanding your question correctly, Mr. Chairman, is that we looked at what groups would we require to develop or to provide enough revenue, enough income to make the whole work.
2629 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes. In other words, I mean, the South Asian community may have a more vibrant, distinctive business community that would be interested in advertising in that than, say, I don't know, the Scottish community or something less distinct. Is that fair? Because we had some discussion about that this morning in -- earlier this morning.
2630 MR. FORSYTH: Not to make light of your comment, but as a person of Scots generation, I think the thing with the Scots is they're well known to be cheap. So perhaps we didn't look at them just on that basis.
2631 THE CHAIRPERSON: I couldn't possibly comment on that.
2632 MR. FORSYTH: No, and I wouldn't put that to you, sir.
2633 But we did look at -- you're correct, there are various groups that have, from both sides, both as potential advertisers. In other words, the advertisers, it isn't specifically just a matter of being able to create revenue. Obviously, the revenue is important to keep the business going. There's two parts to that.
2634 One is that, yes, they would have an availability and a capability to advertise. When we looked at that, almost 60 percent of the retailers we spoke to said that they would be interested in advertising on another station, so there's that aspect of it but it also fills the consumers’ demand for information on those products and services that they may not be getting.
2635 The other side of this is there are those groups that have all of those elements. There are other newer groups that may not have that totalled, that may not necessarily have all of the businesses and all of the services, but they're still here in the community and they are consumers. And it's making sure that they have the availability, the information and that those advertisers have a vehicle by which they can approach them.
2636 Does that help you, sir?
2637 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, thanks. I understand.
2638 MR. KAUR MANN: Sir, I just want to add on to that. Those were figures and I'm talking about fillings now because once we got those figures and I started working with different groups in the community, different -- what are their needs, how are actually they frankly fulfilling those needs and in what can be done with it?
2639 And I talked with the different community groups in Filipino community and I think Marco can actually give a good insight as to right now there are no actually talk shows that the community is right -- being offered on the incumbent station.
2640 So I'll have both of my Filipino friends to fill it up.
2641 MS. LUCILA: I just would ---
2642 THE CHAIRPERSON: You go first. Not everyone at once. You go first.
2643 MS. LUCILA: Okay, ladies first.
2644 I just would like to add because I think the earlier conversation, the Filipino community was referenced.
2645 First of all, just to cultural background, the Philippines is 7,100 islands with more than 200 dialects. So the Filipino community by its very geography, the nature is -- we're very regional and we tend to be isolated from one another but we do rally in times of crisis and celebrations.
2646 In my own personal experience with my own projects, they do hold back for a bit and I reached the point where I was ready to commit my husband’s salary for the next several months but the Filipino community, they need something they can relate to and that resonates with their own lives and they eventually are able to rally and come up with and support something that they believe in.
2647 MR. LUCIANO: And I guess just to add to that, within our community, the fact that we are very geographically dispersed back home, it is the culture that unites our community. It's not really the language because she's talked about the language. There's about 200 dialects in the Philippines.
2648 And Akash Broadcasting is opening up the doors to provide our community with an opportunity to voice out our issues and to have our artists be at the forefront.
2649 And not only that, I think, you know, someone brought out numbers. Currently there are approximately only five print media in Filipino community and if you look at it, if you get a chance to look at it, half of those are advertisements. And, you know, Akash Broadcasting and Connect Radio can give an opportunity to the Filipino small businesses to get promoted more than just once a month on print media which has limited readership.
2650 MR. SINGH SAINI: And also to add, so that was Filipino community but me and Simrat, we started working with different South Asian groups and the need for programming focussed on film and because she is actually in a very dynamic role these days and also for youth, Simrat, can you fill that thing in?
2651 MS. CHEEMA: Yes. Our programs and not going to be just language specific. They will be cultural specific as well, as we mentioned before, and these programs are to -- our focus is to unite everybody through this station, connect everyone.
2652 Being a South Asian woman who came on work permit in Canada, not only myself, Nav is Canadian-born, a young woman. Then we have Julie who came from China on a student visa. We have, you know, different people from different backgrounds but we all connect.
2653 We connect on by discussing same issues. They not only affect our cultures or our ethnic groups, they also affect us as Canadians and we talk like we have to come up with these ideas, you know, in terms to -- in terms of like connecting with our kids.
2654 I'm a parent of two young adults now and being single mom, I face certain issues that will affect Julie, that might affect Julie also. Julie came as a young parent and, you know, she didn’t know how to connect with the Canadian society.
2655 So it's like we all face these issues, right, Nav? So if you have to add something more to this?
2656 THE CHAIRPERSON: I need to just segue into the next question here on that so we can -- you can maybe help me.
2657 You've described your programming as -- you used the term a couple of times -- socially progressive which -- so I'm going to ask you to unpack that a little bit. And just to give you a little bit of context on that, it's rare to see applicants or operators willing to identify themselves with one part of the spectrum or another, particularly when you get into smaller demographic groups, just because they usually want, for just good business reasons, to make sure they're appealing to the full spectrum of society.
2658 So that's just a little context around the question. So help me understand what you mean by socially progressive and how you see it working. Which parts of the community do you see it serving or do you see it serving all of the community? Just help me with that specific.
2659 Please go ahead.
2660 MS. KAUR: We're competing as who is going to answer this question I think but, Tejinder, do you want maybe start on your vision and then I can ---
2661 MR. SINGH SAINI: Yes, sure.
2662 MS. KAUR: And then I can pick up.
2663 MR. SINGH SAINI: Chairman, sir, as I was actually talking earlier because Mr. Forsyth actually was talking about figures because your initial question that triggered the discussion was did you pick up these communities just because of the business needs. Yes, that's one of the reasons because you have to make a venture financially sustainable.
2664 But looking at those figures and identifying those communities, that was the next thing that we drilled down is what kind of programming is actually needed which will be heard in the community, which in turn actually brings up the listeners, and that in turn actually brings up more advertisement dollars to the station.
2665 Talking of socially progressive programming, like we have programs that are focussed on youth because right now what's happening is youth actually listen to radio just for entertainment. And on ethnic media, there is no platform where the issues and the need, stories, celebrations, challenges are actually discussed on that.
2666 So we are actually opening up that platform where the things happen and in turn bring up a bridge that the parents are also listening but youth are discussing their issues.
2667 It's things that parents probably won't have that discussion with their kids but now it's opening up and they are actually building up those bridges.
2668 Nav, you want to jump in?
2669 MS. KAUR: Yeah. So I mean I think the socially progressive is actually addressing a gap in our community. So as was mentioned, I'm a teacher. I'm a community organizer, an educator here in town, born and raised here, and I actually ran recently and I door knocked on a lot of doors in my neighbourhood which is very ethnically diverse, talking about socially progressive ideas.
2670 So what that really means and what I think Akash Broadcasting has demonstrated even by the team that they've pulled together in terms of community leaders from all -- not just the title, right -- so community leaders that have weight in different varying capacities in terms of legitimacy, credibility in the community and how they bring community together, is unique to Akash’s vision.
2671 So for example, I'll just give you an example in the City of Edmonton. So in 2014, there was a report, a research report that was published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives which stated that Edmonton was the worst place in Canada to live as a woman.
2672 And so you can imagine being a racialized woman or a woman from another sort of minority group, these kinds of issues are compounded. And so, you know, the City of Edmonton actually addresses this directly with WAVE which is the Women’s Advocacy Voice of Edmonton. And so these are concerns that we know are materially impacting women and other marginalized people within sort of these demographics.
2673 And so that's what I think socially progressive actually is addressing as saying, you know, that this is a whole demographic that is existing. They're having these conversations and they’re being underserved. So some of the criteria for that report was talking about, I mean, why is it that worse for being a woman here, wages in Edmonton, wages for -- the wage gap disparity, domestic violence, and political representation were the three. And I would also argue that representation in media as well.
2674 So women like myself who ran for city councillor and all of that, really, like there’s not much happening in Edmonton. And this is why there’s definitely -- I represent a lot of folks in my community and this is a gap definitely.
2675 MR. LUCIANO: And my piece to that is that, like I said, the Filipino community is the fastest growing community and the least serviced community in the Province of Alberta and in the City of Edmonton. Having said that, the team that we have here in -- and with Akash Broadcasting opening the doors is not just “helping” the Filipino community, you know, get the voice or talk about the Filipino community, but Akash Broadcasting through Connect Radio is actually helping us help ourselves, helping us to talk about ourselves, the Filipino community. I think that that’s important for us in terms of how Akash Broadcasting is open and progressive compared to others.
2676 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. One more in the back and then I need to ask my next question.
2677 MS. CHAMARTY: Good afternoon, Chairman, Madam Chairman, ladies and gentlemen.
2678 I would like to also add to this concept of social bridging. I’ll -- apart from bringing my journalistic aptitude, I’m an expat, cultural expat where we long to integrate the cultures. And now we are here in Canada and Canada is -- has one of the most diverse population in the world right now. And according to the Statistic Canada, a recent national household survey, one out of every five people in Edmonton is a visible minority.
2679 So as a -- when the Akash Connect concept and project came, I’m here to support the application and the vision. And I wanted to integrate the cultures, bring in programs where we are bound by these ethnic synergy. And we would like to bridge the communities across, not only by individualistic regionality, but as a group of people here attending to the issues and matters which related to us as a domestic and -- that’s what I would like to add to the social bridging over here.
2680 Thank you, sir.
2681 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. You’ve enriched my understanding of your intentions.
2682 You have no doubt heard us ask, or maybe you haven’t, but we’ve asked others regarding their willingness to, and to inform us as whether they think it’s a good idea or not or whether it would be something that was workable for them to -- in regards to commitments of conditions of licence around language programming. So, for instance, would you be willing to accept a condition of licence or operate with a condition of licence dictating 100 percent ethnic programming as per your proposal?
2683 MR. SINGH SAINI: Yes, I’ll like to have our legal, Mr. Zolf, he likely be ---
2684 THE CHAIRPERSON: I’m sorry?
2685 MR. SINGH SAINI: I’ll have Mr. Zolf, our ---
2686 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thank you.
2687 MR. ZOLF: Thank you, Tajinder.
2688 Yes, Mr. Chairman, we would agree to that condition of licence that 100 percent would be ethnic programming.
2689 THE CHAIRPERSON: And 90 percent third language programming?
2690 MR. ZOLF: Ninety (90) percent third language programming, yes, that’s -- that would be acceptable.
2691 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. What about in other areas, like I think your Punjabi, Urdu, Hindi package adds up to 44 percent. Would you accept that as a maximum or as a minimum or both?
2692 MR. ZOLF: Well, on the question of the ---
2693 THE CHAIRPERSON: Or do you think it’s a good idea to have such a ---
2694 MR. ZOLF: Well, we’ve given that some thought given what’s transpired in the -- by the previous applicants, and subject to adding to the record further, either by -- in the reply phase or by way of an undertaking, at this point we would be reluctant to commit to that kind of a condition with that -- on specific hours for specific languages. That reflects -- I think is consistent with many of the applicants who appeared that it would be difficult -- such a condition I think would be difficult for a licensee to respond to evolving changes in taste and preferences over the course of a seven-year licence term.
2695 Moreover, we would also add that shackling a new entrant while the incumbent competitor has no such restrictions would be I think arguably difficult to justify just from the standpoint of competitive equity. And moreover, I think it would be amplified given that the incumbent in this case operates three radio stations in the market already, in addition to multiple holdings in conventional and discretionary television.
2696 So our view at this point is that it would be highly disadvantageous for the new entrant to be bound by that kind of a condition, given the fact that the competitor has free reign to reallocate its hours.
2697 But if the Commission ultimately in its wisdom determines that it would be appropriate, well, we think at the most those should be minimums rather than maximums.
2698 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thanks very much for that answer.
2699 Your -- how much does your current online programming have in common with what you propose to have here?
2700 MR. SINGH SAINI: Chairman, sir, apart from the songs that we’ll be playing, there’s nothing common. It’s altogether a new format and ---
2701 THE CHAIRPERSON: This would be a fresh start completely for you?
2702 MR. SINGH SAINI: Yes.
2703 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thanks.
2704 I just wanted to -- I had one question on the Hendershot Research Survey, what was the -- is -- just for my curiosity, I’m not challenging the integrity of it, but a survey of 400 seems small or seems prone to larger margins of error than people might wish. But my information about those things may be out of date, so I wanted to ask that question and see if somebody could bring me up to date on the accuracy of a survey of 400.
2705 MR. SINGH SAINI: Sure, sir. I’ll like to have Mr. Forsyth to actually give an insight to that.
2706 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
2707 MR. FORSYTH: I concur with the Chairman. These are always difficult numbers to go through. And as I am not Hendershot Research, but I did work closely with Ms. Hendershot as she put this together, I can try and give you an answer relative to the actual methodology and the error.
2708 As I understand, and I could clarify this at a later date if you wish with her, but my understanding is that it was in the range of 19 within 20 for accuracy. Four hundred (400) on a sample size of Edmonton would be appropriate. But I can clarify those numbers for you ---
2709 THE CHAIRPERSON: Sorry. I just -- maybe you could move the mic a little closer. I just missed what you said.
2710 MR. FORSYTH: I said my understanding is that the research was conducted with an accuracy rate of 19 out of 20 in 5 occasions. So that would be pretty standard. But that is my understanding. I can give you the precise number and file it with the Commission --
2711 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. If you could --
2712 MR. FORSYTH: -- the end of the day.
2713 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- undertake to do that that would be terrific. October 4th would be the date if you’re willing to do so.
2714 MR. FORSYTH: We would. Thank you very much.
2715 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thanks. And just clarify me, I didn’t seem to catch anything about study of any particular format in that survey. You have developed a very clear idea of the sort of programming you want to do and that, but I just wanted to -- again, there’s no really right or wrong answer, but just to clarify whether that study delved into format at all.
2716 MR. FORSYTH: No, it did not delve into formats, but the study was based around several of the ethnic communities.
2717 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
2718 MR. FORSYTH: And it was based on looking at the existing incumbent as a model to understand ---
2719 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yeah, it was quite specific in those areas.
2720 MR. FORSYTH: That would be correct.
2721 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thanks.
2722 In terms of your -- oh, I had just quickly a question on -- regarding your advisory committee, and having a representative of it sitting on the board, which is -- I don’t think I’ve heard of before but that makes no difference. But I did want to clarify whether that person would be a voting member of the board or a representative sitting on in an advisory capacity and an observer on that board.
2723 MR. SINGH SAINI: Chairman, sir, it will be in the advisory capacity, not as a voting member of the board.
2724 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, thanks very much.
2725 Your financial projections appear very prudent looking at them, and I was interested in your -- you’re being forthcoming about addressing the Edmonton economic situation in your oral presentation here in terms of that.
2726 I mean even in Year 7, although you portray a healthy operation, you don’t portray one that, compared to others, certainly is -- could be accused of being over-exploitive of the community in that sense.
2727 So with your business experience in other areas that you detailed in terms of that and having, as you say, successfully so far shepherded Edmonton businesses through some difficult times, were you particularly cautious in terms of your financial projections for your business plan because of this shift in economics or is that just your normal course of business?
2728 MR. SINGH SAINI: Chairman sir, I would like to have Mr. Forsyth and Mr. Rai to give an insight about that.
2729 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
2730 MR. FORSYTH: Thank you very much, Tejinder.
2731 If I could just backtrack for one moment, Mr. Chairman. The answer to your question on research was 400 interviews is 5 percent. That’s 19 times out of 20, which I believe is an acceptable margin.
2732 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. So we don’t have to do the undertaking anymore.
2733 MR. FORSYTH: No.
2734 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Perfect.
2735 MR. FORSYTH: We’ll do other things on October 4th.
2736 But to answer your question relative to the financials, and again both Mr. Rai and I are not handicapped on this matter as much as it was. Certainly, Mr. Chopra was the person that put these together in the first place.
2737 But I know in conversation with him, as we did when we looked at the Surrey application and the -- when that was filed, I think it is the general direction from the Akash Broadcasting Group that their approach is conservative from the viewpoint of looking at this as, as you noted, something that is not necessarily going to be there to generate a lot of money for the group as much as it is -- generate enough money to make it sustainable and to be able to put it back into the community, whether it’s the community directly or as an expensed CCD.
2738 So the methodology in putting the numbers together was a general line. This would be the approach no matter the market.
2739 But secondarily, when we look at the situation in Alberta and where Alberta has come from in 2008, and Mr. Rai can speak to this, we thought it would be generally very prudent to do that.
2740 And in fact internally, something we didn’t file with the Commission, but we ran other models that would have us work at a lower revenue rate based on lower incomes until there is some form of recovery in the oil and gas business.
2741 So the principles of Akash, we’re still accepting that this could be a situation. So the numbers we have are very conservative, but I think they do address some of the situations that the market is in.
2742 As I say, Mr. Rai might speak more to that.
2743 MR. RAI: Thank you, Andrew.
2744 Mr. Chairman, I’ll begin talking with the numbers. All right. How we -- generally, we have calculated all this.
2745 The CMA for -- the Edmonton CMA, total projected retail sales is in the terms of $26,590,000,000.
2746 The radio share percentage, the accepted principal is 0.35.
2747 And if we calculate whatsoever we have projected, that is just the 1.2 percent -- 1.2 percent of the total sales. And that’s very, very conservative.
2748 Secondly, what we have taken into account is, there is a -- how much is the total available inventory which we can sell to the advertisers? And what we have -- and right now, our estimates, if we sell 40 percent of the total available inventory, then we can achieve this target.
2749 Third approach we have just considered is that to generate this kind of revenue, how many real number of advertisers you need? Basically, the large advertisers, which have budgets over $1,500 per month, if we’ll just have 10 of the advertisers, we can generate around $180,000.
2750 Then along with the advertisers, which have budgets from 1,000 onwards, that is $12,000 per year. That will be the major chunk. If we can sell it to 60, it will be another 720 there.
2751 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
2752 MR. RAI: The third one, what we have done is the smaller advertisers. There the average will be around 300 bucks per month. Another 60 can generate another 216,000, yes.
2753 And with our connections with the community, I think the letters what -- I think Tejinder can support me, the letters what we have provided from the different businesses to whom we have already talked, some of them have done some commitments, and we are really positive that we have submitted around 75. And to me, that is achievable.
2754 And your second question, in the Edmonton, that have businesses where there is a downturn, yes, we do understand that.
2755 In our other businesses, what we do is we don’t do over-leveraging. We work with our own money. The second thing is we know that there, in the business plan, there will be some low years and there will be some up years.
2756 And basically, yes, everybody is talking that there is a doom and gloom in Alberta, yes. It is now like that. I was just going through the Dawnbridge (ph)article yesterday. The total investments which have come into Alberta this year is $66 billion, in comparison to the Ontario which is $69 billion. And if you compare the populations of the two provinces, we are at 4.1 million and they are at 13.7.
2757 On the other hand, the difference in the investments, what we are -- we are guarding the confidence, we are guarding here in Alberta. It’s just a $3 billion difference.
2758 Another thing, yes, these numbers are -- we are receiving, in Alberta, lower investments than 2014 where this figure was $98 billion, but that doesn’t mean that we cannot sustain it.
2759 We know that economy is the oil prices. You go and go for any of the studies, World Bank studies, the IMF studies, all the studies, almost we are in the range where we are, even in the oil prices, in the oil market we are actually at the bottom.
2760 Yes, some are -- temporarily something -- the prices can go down. That’s what is the economic syndrome. And moreover, as far as I think -- by your next question what I’m expecting, which will be coming, that do we have calculated our numbers? Yes.
2761 We also know that there is in the market, there is 11 percent decline. What we did was, me and Andrew, was sitting and -- straight line business. What we did was we made the -- we decreased our revenues for our shareholders, and that has given us for all the seven years the situation goes like that way. The maximum loss that we can get is $724,000.
2762 If it is in the range of 5 percent, we’ll be in the range of something -- two hundred something.
2763 That’s the calculations. And when we have discussed internally, I think the shareholders have the capacity to underwrite that kind of losses, if that is exactly the situation we’ll be in.
2764 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thank you.
2765 MR. RAI: Yes.
2766 THE CHAIRPERSON: I have one more question regarding the finances. Should your -- and you’ve talked about you’re operating with your own money, and you’ve identified a $700,000 resource for this.
2767 But I do need to ask, given that there is not yet an outcome from the other most recent competitive hearing in Vancouver, how would possible outcomes from that impact a positive outcome from you here in terms of your overall business plans?
2768 MR. RAI: Yes ---
2769 THE CHAIRPERSON: In other words, is the resource you’ve set aside for this project in Edmonton ---
2770 MR. RAI: Yeah, they are separate ---
2771 THE CHAIRPERSON: --- entirely separate?
2772 MR. RAI: It is entirely separate.
2773 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
2774 So you would have the potential capacity to deal with two issues at the same time?
2775 MR RAI: Yes, we can.
2776 THE CHAIRPERSON: Should that occur.
2777 MR. RAI: Yes, we can.
2778 THE CHAIRPERSON: Those are all my questions. I don’t -- those are all our questions.
2779 Thank you very much for your presentation and your very thorough and thoughtful answers.
2780 MR. SINGH: Chairman and Commissioners, thank you very much. Thank you very much.
2781 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
2782 We will break for lunch now and return at 2:00 o’clock.
--- Upon recessing at 12:39 p.m.
--- Upon resuming at 2:01 p.m.
2783 THE CHAIRPERSON: Welcome, everyone.
2784 Madam Secretary.
2785 THE SECRETARY: Thank you.
2786 We'll now proceed with Item 9 on the Agenda, which is an application by South Fraser Broadcasting, Inc. for a broadcasting licence to operate an ethnic commercial AM radio station in Edmonton.
2787 Please introduce yourself and your colleagues and you will then have 20 minutes for your presentation.
2788 MR. BADH: Thank you.
2789 MR. BADH: Good afternoon, Chair, Commissioners, Commission Staff. My name is Suki Badh, and I am here as the sole owner of South Fraser Broadcasting.
2790 I am a second-generation Sikh, but I define myself simply as a proud Canadian. I have a long history of community involvement and leadership which has resulted in me holding public roles in both Vancouver and on a national level. I have served on the Western Economic Diversification Committee, as well as the National Security Advisory Committee, reporting directly to the Minister of Public Safety and the Minister of Justice.
2791 I am actively engaged in building communities and have made public service an important part of my life. Whether it is fundraising for local hospitals and charities or awakening a community to the need to contribute to disaster relief, I have been at the forefront in doing so.
2792 I am backed today by a small but talented team with me. These are people who have lived and worked in Edmonton building this community and who have put almost a decade into crafting the application for this radio service. I feel fortunate to be surrounded by such a dedicated group of professionals and honoured by the enthusiasm and trust they have for my vision.
2793 Starting to my immediate left is Paul Singh. Paul is an Edmontonian, successful businessman, an experienced broadcaster, a community volunteer, a spiritual leader, and serves the public through his work with the Greater Edmonton area hospitals and his community outreach role with the Edmonton Police Services and the RCMP.
2794 Paul makes presentations on Sikhism, educating people at all levels and promoting interfaith tolerance and understanding. He is actively involved with youth, teaching classes that promote anti-gang, anti-violent choices. And he is also -- he also works with families to educate and deter family violence.
2795 To my right is Debra McLaughlin of Strategic Inc. Debra has helped to craft both our value proposition for the consumer and our messaging for this hearing.
2796 Next to Debra is Butch Alingod, an experienced broadcaster who has spent 17 years serving the listening community in Edmonton. He started his broadcasting career in the Philippines and subsequently, worked in both television and radio in this market. He volunteers for CJSR, the campus radio station from the University of Alberta, and Shaw's Community Cable Channel. Butch's dedication to local programming is why he became involved in this application.
2797 Next to Paul is Gurjot Sandhu, a graduate in International Business, Banhagara teacher, recording artist, and an advocate ofr 2.0/3.0 multicultural generation. As a matter of fact, yesterday Gurjot was involved in the organization of the Turban Awareness event.
2798 My interest in Edmonton market actually precedes the launch of South Fraser Broadcasting. I appeared in 2007 hearings here with an application for an English Triple A format. Although not an ethnic service, it had defined stream of programming that was designed to attract a 2.0 and 3.0 generation multicultural audience.
2799 My enthusiasm for Edmonton never waned and I have continued to track what's happening here ever since. When I was approached by CKUA to discuss buying their AM service, I jumped at the chance because I knew the vibrancy and growth within the multicultural population. I had a vision for the market.
2800 The contacts I made all those many years ago have grown into business relationships and I now sit before you as someone who is connected to this community and contributing to the development.
2801 Our proposal looks like a fairly -- looks fairly traditional ethnic application; it is not dissimilar in this regard to some of the others that you have heard before you in this process. We have all identified the big language groups and have provided, to greater and lesser extent, service to them. We have also used the same block-programming format, regular news reporting, and provided a combination of spoken word and music.
2802 However, there are some important distinctions that I think sets ours apart. I can organize these into three categories: Experience, soundness of the business plan, and approach.
2803 In terms of experience, I do not have to investigate or to learn the ethnic markets; I live them. I have worked in, for, and with the multicultural markets all of my professional life, and I have not limited my contribution to the South Asian communities. The third-language communities do come together as new Canadians and as the children of new Canadians. So there is a cross-cultural understanding that comes with sharing this experience.
2804 I have worked side by side with Chinese, Filipino, Spanish, Korean, Vietnamese communities and count among these people some of my best business and personal connections. You cannot work successfully with someone without learning a great deal about them.
2805 Specifically in broadcasting, I have direct experience in managing both an ethnic and English service. While this may seem like two worlds with neither lending itself well to the other, in fact, having done both makes me the exception and better positioned to succeed.
2806 For those of you who were at the most recent Vancouver hearings, you would have heard me speak passionately about the need for cross-cultural programming; to recognize those Canadians who have a foot in each world. Well, I am equally passionate about awakening advertisers to the opportunities these communities hold for them.
2807 Working now as I do in the English market, I understand the complexities and the mechanics of media buying in highly competitive mainstream environment. As a result, I am better positioned to develop strategies to develop the ethnic markets that work within the mainstream buying paradigms.
2808 I can attract strong talent, as you can see by the panel I have assembled here today. This means I am able to bring new business to this market and actually deliver on the promise that so many make of developing new sources of revenues.
2809 Which leads me to the next distinction, and that is the soundness of our business plan. We have neither the highest CCD nor revenues but we feel we are the most realistic.
2810 The truth is the Edmonton economy is not as robust as it was once, and while as an economist I understand the cyclical nature of the economies, I also know that Edmonton is not going to recover overnight. That is why my team has developed a plan that can sustain this business during the low points in the cycle by moderating expenses and projecting achievable revenues.
2811 There has been a lot of growth in Edmonton in the multicultural sector since the last census, and certainly since the last ethnic licence was granted. It is this growth that has created a pent-up demand for ethnic programming.
2812 But the growth in the overall market has not only slowed, in some categories it has reversed itself. The ethnic market has professionals from every discipline and can boast some of the brightest and best minds, but it also -- it is also true that the new and established Canadians often start and continue to service -- in the service jobs. In leaner times, these are jobs that are greatly affected and unemployment rates in these communities are on the rise.
2813 While the family reunification strategy of the current government will bring new people to the market, the reality is that these new families have to eat and have to have shelter. To do this, they will have to work as well, as we all do. For the foreseeable future in Edmonton, business community, fellow economists, and the government all say that jobs are not going to be in big supply.
2814 MR. SANDHU: I can speak directly to this. I graduated over a year ago with a degree in International Business and have not found a full-time job as of yet. I'll return to school in the fall because as I wait for the economy to cycle back I do not want to waste time. And I am not alone in this experience.
2815 Many of friends find themselves in the same position as I do. And out of my friends who did have work, most of them have been laid off. If you’re under the age of 34, finding work in the -- in Edmonton is not easy at all. It is clearly far worse than it was a year ago.
2816 MR. BADH: The Edmonton economy will recover as majority of economies do, but diversifying takes time and creating new jobs through the development of new categories of industry is not done overnight. It has been clear for some time that the boom economy that Alberta was enjoying could not continue indefinitely. So we plan for revenues that are achievable in tough times and manage expenses like programming and CCD that can be sustained over the long term.
2817 Our revenues will be largely premised on growth that has already taken place; transfer of monies from SCMOs into the broadcasting system; on developing revenues for ethnic programming amongst advertisers who historically have not appreciated the value of these markets; expanded budgets; and on bringing new advertisers into the system. It is not based on the anticipation of short or even mid-term growth.
2818 Finally, we differ in approach. Many of the applicants before you have planned to service multiple languages and groups but to do so in brokered arrangements. This is common in ethnic broadcasting. One of the disadvantages of this approach, however, is that there is inconsistency in quality and content that we think significantly detracts from the listening experience.
2819 It is not enough, in our assessment, to simply provide music and spoken word in third languages. You need to create a local programming that is connected to the communities and relevant to their day-to-day needs. That is why we’re choosing to use full and part-time employees to produce all languages.
2820 In-house gives us the opportunity to ensure all production elements are meeting broadcast standards. But more than that, it’ll give these producers access to newsfeeds, community leaders and newsmakers for interviews and artists who might not otherwise be available to them. It is far easier to get a community leader or a business person to agree to come to a studio for an interview that will be translated across many language groups than it is to get that person to agree to meet 14 different producers.
2821 It is also easier in terms of sales development to have one person speak for the station as a whole to a financial institution or home improvement stores, to have 14 producers approach these businesses, each looking for a piece of the advertising budget. Often, they have the net effect of cancelling each other out.
2822 We can present the holistic pitch to reaching the ethnic communities in Edmonton and provide the confidence to the buyer that their advertisement will reach the broadcast multicultural market.
2823 Our Surrey service gives us a small advantage in that we can simply tack on another user to our existing news licences, manage accounting, traffic and HR from a single location, and amortize expenses like software, engineering, some marketing and administration costs across two outlets. In this way, we are again better positioned to sustain the quality of a broadcast over lean times.
2824 Our approach means all the communities we serve will have the advantage of credible news sources, relevant discussion with the newsmakers of the day, and cross-cultural information. The plan we have envisioned sharing community calendars and knowledge across all groups through regular producer meetings and the full use of electronic file sharing. Doing it this way means we can celebrate and reflect cultures in 14 languages, but also create bridges and avenues for better cross-cultural understanding and appreciation.
2825 MR. SINGH: And that’s why the -- and that’s why the designated cross-culture programming segment is so critical to build connections between and among cultures. Produced in English, this content will cover topics that are common across cultures and sometimes specific to a culture. The beauty is that these discussions will utilize and will be conducted in the language understood by the largest proportion of the communities and the most spoken in English. This programming will invite people from all walks of life in the coverage area, every cultural and age group to participate, share and gain insights.
2826 I have firsthand experience of the dire need for a common language between the generations based on a repeated request I got from parents that I hear the same analysis and content while they were shuttling their kids to schools in their cars and vans. In my personal experience of conducting summer camps, interfaith seminars, religious, drugs and gangs awareness classes, the second generation and beyond are increasingly more comfortable in English. Cultural ties remain but it is the language that can sometimes limit the sharing.
2827 The other element of our approach which sets us apart from some applicants is that we are asking for space in an underutilized spectrum that is AM. With an AM signal we’ll be able to reach a larger ethnic audience that otherwise would never have access to programming in their native language. The FM signal is adequate for Edmonton proper, but once you move beyond these parameters, you start to experience signal reception problems. But we also know that a large part of our audience is on the move across Alberta. And while they may call Edmonton home, they in fact, need to have access in a larger geographic area.
2828 I personally was one of those listeners who, for a period of 12 years, missed that service. So our choice of 580 with a reach as far as Fort McMurray in the north and Red Deer in the south, Lloydminster in the east and Grande Prairie in the west was predicated on our knowledge of this market and its needs.
2829 MR. ALINGOD: Key to making the station relevant to listeners will be outreach into the community. By making producers employees, they will have the financial security and time to engage more fully with the groups they serve. While the GM and Advisory Committee will have oversight on community engagement and reflection, it will be the responsibility of the producers and hosts to go out into the community to be seen and heard.
2830 We expect the producers to be identifying key events the station can attend and report on, bring to the studio community members who can tell their stories. Unlike the rent model where the producer is the community liaison, host, salesperson, as well as accountant, many of these functions will be centralized, freeing them to get more deeply involved in the -- with the communities they serve.
2831 The station will host a town hall/open house each year where we will invite the community into the station to meet with staff throughout the day and in more structured format through a Q&A with management set for the evening. By formalizing the feedback process, this station will not only inspire trust through transparency, but also generate new and creative ways to serve these audiences.
2832 We will, of course, do regular research into the market as we have with our Surrey station.
2833 MS. McLAUGHLIN: The selection of the language groups and communities to be served are a function of three contributing factors: current size, projected growth, and the ability of the market to support programming; that is, the development of infrastructure. Of these three, the first two are the most important. If a group is both sufficiently large and growing, generally infrastructure is likely to follow. However, in a realistic business plan you can only sustain if you have a balance of supporting and subsidized programming.
2834 To determine which groups would be served, we looked first to the 2011 Census, then to Immigration Canada information on country of origin and settlement, plus we reviewed forecasts by both public and private organizations. The groups selected, 14 in total, represent the largest, and in some case the fastest growing, and certainly those with the greatest need.
2835 MR. SANDHU: Beyond just expanding the listening options for this very large multicultural community, the station will be engaging youth in a manner to which they can relate. The cross cultural program in English will give us a window into ours and other cultures that is currently missing. It will allow us to connect with the culture of our parents and to the culture of our friends and peers. It will cover our interests like contemporary third language music and amateur sports.
2836 For the first time, the voices of the younger generation will be consistently heard on ethnic radio in this market. In addition to what I believe to be a better listening option for the third language communities, the station will be investing in Canadian content development benefiting the younger generations.
2837 The proposed service will invest in education and training through NAIT, the intent being to inspire and support the next wave of broadcasters. A hundred thirty-five thousand dollars ($135,000) in investments will be made available to all students.
2838 And near and dear to my heart, this new station will also be advancing the exposure of Canadian artists who are creating and performing in the category of World Music. The festival proposed will be funded by the station, promoted within the communities and across all languages and positioned as an invitation for all of Edmonton to celebrate the music of the world.
2839 The $265,000 over seven years identified in the application will be directed to the staging costs and artists fees of Canadian performers like myself. I will have the chance to perform alongside some of the world's best before a hometown audience. What an honour.
2840 Third party producers have confirmed that the festival can be done in the manner conceived and for the budget allocated. As a result, we are on all counts
2841 confident that this initiative will deliver on our goal of bringing people together from all walks of life to celebrate music. It will satisfy the Commission’s expectation that the investment will indeed develop Canadian content. The remainder of the CCD funds will be directed to FACTOR which, of course, would be available to all artists.
2842 That these CCD initiatives are of particular benefit to the younger ethnic population is by design and recognizes the importance of supporting the continuation of the many cultures in people under the age of 35. This is a population that is increasingly split between competing influences. We have a unique kind of identity crisis not easily understood by their parents or grandparents.
2843 I also want to speak to the role radio can play in reaching the younger demographic. Yes we have social media but this forum lacks in two ways, focus and in trustworthiness. Social media is an ever changing information stream that may or may not catch people’s attention. It is also notorious for being unreliable in terms of fact checking. Radio can provide the timeliness of social media and the reliability that is missing in much of what we read.
2844 A case in point are the U of A language classes. I was fortunate enough to be able to study in Punjabi at the University of Alberta. However, I may be one of the last to do so. The lack of course registration has resulted in discussions of the cancellation of these classes. When I spoke with my peers they were surprised to know the programs were even available. It was one of a dozen topics that might have been mentioned on social media but however it did not get picked up.
2845 Current ethnic radio in this market tends to discuss what has died or departed instead of celebrating and promoting things while they are alive so it too missed the story.
2846 We need radio that is engaged with our challenges and knows our interests. We need a station that is serving the markets and not just producing third language content.
2847 MR. BADH: So we’ve spoken about how programs will be produced, our general approach of cohesive programming and community outreach and why we’ve chosen to do these groups we did. I will summarize the other important elements of our application; 110 hours of local programming; 60 hours of spoken word content; 15 hours and 15 minutes of news and information, of this, nine hours and 48 minutes will be pure news, of this, five hours and 56 minutes will be local.
2848 Research used in this application clearly shows that it is local news that is most important and we offer the highest amount of all the applicants before you. And because we know that this is the age of the empowered consumer, we will make portions of our programming available through podcasting putting the schedule back in the hands of the listeners.
2849 MR. SINGH: The advisory committee will be an important element of the station’s operations. Management will meet with them at least quarterly and will ask them to drop by in between these meetings. Finding members who are not just willing to contribute a few hours four times a year but rather share the vision will make this request less of an imposition. The station will be looking for those individuals who are aligned with the idea of bringing communities together while at the same time respecting the differences and their rights to maintain these.
2850 One of the challenges of having but one station for all of these language and cultural groups is that it has been impossible to provide true balance in reporting and a broad representation of perspectives. This new service will provide the desperately needed additional inventory for groups already served, but more than that, it will expand the cultures represented in the broadcast system in Edmonton. This will strengthen the community as a whole and break down prejudice and narrow thinking.
2851 The world is at a crossroads with nationalism growing at every turn, but what is really needed is more efforts, such as the ones proposed by
2852 South Fraser, at furthering understanding between cultures and not just reinforcement of the differences.
2853 MR BADH: South Fraser Broadcasting has the experience, the resources and the understanding of this market that will create programming that will increase the hours of tuning to radio, bring new money into the system while improving the understanding we’ll have of all communities that call Edmonton home.
2854 Far from being new to this market, we’ve been here for almost a decade and, in fact, we triggered this call because we believe that the timing is right. The need for a new approach to full multi-cultural broadcasting has never been greater.
2855 If granted the license, we believe the people of Edmonton will benefit from an expansion in service to the largest cultural groups and services to smaller ones currently without a voice. The market will benefit from cross cultural content that invites all people into multicultural themed programming through the use of English. The younger ethnic population will have meaningful support through our investments in CCD and programs designed specifically for them. We’ll use increasingly underutilized AM spectrum to accomplish all this and will put our years of broadcast experience to work to create a sustainable and consumer driven radio service.
2856 Thank you very much.
2857 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
2858 Commissioner Dupra will lead our questions.
2859 COMMISSIONER DUPRA: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
2860 Good afternoon. So I see that there’s a benefit in appearing a bit later in the process. You’ve been able to provide us with many answers to some questions we had to most applicants.
2861 You say that you’re -- again here we have a service that is primarily aiming at the South Asian and Chinese population. You’re saying that your service is not dissimilar to the other proposal but it’s your approach, your capacity that is the difference. Can you tell me how your proposed programming will be different from what is currently offered in the market and in what way will it bring added diversity in the Edmonton market?
2862 MR. BADH: Thank you very much.
2863 First of all, just the diversity component right now -- and I’m going to get Paul to address that one later on. Just the fact that there’s going to be another ethnic service will be diverse voices.
2864 Secondly, Edmonton has a whole -- about 750 -- 350,000 people have access to 19 stations. There’s 250 to 300,000 ethnics have access to one service. All right.
2865 To getting into the question of how are we different, how will we be different, again, Paul’s going to answer it but just let me get into a little bit of this, this balance approach -- again Paul will talk about that.
2866 But the other thing that we’re going to be doing is right now we feel that the service to the Chinese and the South Asians predominately is incomplete. So what we do is, is we complete that service. For example, if the South Asians are getting their service in the morning well that’s it, there’s nothing else to tune to.
2867 I understand -- I’ve been working in this market since we initially approached the CRTC about purchasing CKUA. At that time we put our schedule against Rogers’ schedule. It was a completely different schedule. Then we redid our schedule for this because the CRTC said “You know what, you’ve got to come back with a different approach” and it was actually taken off of a non-appearing hearing, so we redid our schedule. Once again Rogers remodified its scheduled. All right.
2868 So now if I look at the languages and I count -- the count just this morning, we are offering -- out of the 14 different languages we offer about six of them that Rogers is not covering.
2869 But you’re absolutely right, the bread and butter is still South Asian and Chinese community.
2870 Now, in terms of recognizing how we’re different, first of all, in-house production, quality control; secondly, counter to what Rogers is doing.
2871 Cross-cultural is a big component of ours, not only cross-cultural in the English language but cross-cultural within these cultural groups that serve. Having all the producers in-house we have a centralized file sharing system.
2872 For example, this event that Gurjot was at yesterday, well, guess what, nobody in the Chinese community would be talking about that, nobody in the Filipino community would be talking about that, but South Fraser Broadcasting, if it was licensed, this sort of a cross-cultural event would not only be discussed in the English language and in the youth program but it would also be discussed in the Chinese, the Filipino, the Farsi, the Arabic and so forth.
2873 The other way where we differ is we have a cross-cultural not only just in English language in the evenings but we have a cross-cultural approach aimed at women. And Paul again will highlight the need for that.
2874 In addition, we are going towards youth as well. And that begs another question and I’ll hold off until you ask that question. And one of the significant differences is we’re using an AM band while Rogers is using an FM band and this allows us to get a different audience, perhaps a younger audience.
2875 And the other main difference is in terms of being relevant in the community is that we have an advisory board. That’s our eyes and ears about the community of the successes. How do we make ourselves local and relevant? How can we ensure that we’re successful? These are eyes and ears.
2876 And, Paul, do you want to jump in in terms of the added service?
2877 MR. SINGH: Yes, I do.
2878 First of all I’ve been here 30 years, 30 years in Canada and all 30 years here in Edmonton. I’ve been into the business and also for the last 10 years been serving the community simply as a volunteer, whether it’s with the Edmonton Police Services as a hand-picked community outreach contact or for the RCMP, or just volunteering for the Greater Edmonton area hospitals for prayers or for even just going out simply helping patients in dire needs.
2879 What I see, the main difference here to what is being served here through Rogers, the only ethnic station that we have, we have certain fixed slots for each individual community.
2880 Whether it's the Punjabi program here, let's say it ends at 11 o’clock, no Punjabi is going to listen to any other ethnic community programming in between until another Punjabi programming is going to be on the air. That's a huge gap.
2881 With the South Fraser here, the proposal with the cross culture, if some of that analysis is carried on the air in English, which is the most spoken English here in Edmonton, which is what the youth understands, it's more likely that the youth will be tuned in just like the “Turban Eh!” yesterday. There was a lot of Sikhs. Well, it was locally the university students that showed up there. There was no major discussion about this one here, how do we get that message out?
2882 I mean it's -- when they put up the posters on this one here, yes, the hate part of this one got highlighted, but how do we bridge that gap of communication if there were discussions in the Punjabi program, in the Filipino program, in other language programs here? It was done in English. The youth will better understand and they're in a better position to communicate that to their parents and grandparents what the significance of the turban is. And that's not just the only issue.
2883 When we're talking about here dedicating certain time here, a fixed time here for the women for a cross culture, I've been into seminars where the issue of family violence nobody is discussing that one here. But there's -- there needs to be discussion and that's not only limited to a single community. So when that discussion will happen in the native languages and also that will be carried forward in English, obviously there is going to be more sort of listenership on this one here.
2884 Youth along the same lines here. Youth is turning away from the radio. Why? Because they are born here, they are raised here but they sometimes do not understand the language to its core.
2885 So if all that programming is only being done purely in that community language, you are not tuning into the youth and that's what needs to be tapped into.
2886 MR. BADH: If I may add, Commissioner, one more comment.
2887 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Yes, I was going to ask you about the youth since you had initiated it. So continue.
2888 MR. BADH: Can I add one more comment?
2889 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Yes, yes.
2890 MR. BADH: The other thing -- and perhaps, Paul, you can address that issue that's come up during the Commissioner’s question as well about the youth, about the sensitivity.
2891 The other thing is South Fraser, my background, our team’s background, I think we're going to be a little bit more sensitive to the various cultural needs. And Paul can probably talk about some of his experiences on air about the sensitivity issues.
2892 MR. SINGH: There has been programming in the past and I was a host on this ethnic radio here, through my time here back in 2008 all the way up to the change in the management.
2893 There's been -- when the youth wanted to discuss certain issues, they are not really listened to. They are not really given any time to. There's been -- for example, let's says we're airing religious scriptures or religious analysis in the mornings where the community is calling repeatedly that there are certain types of ads being run, whether it's about liquor, whether it's about astrology, that they do not appreciate that. When those concerns are passed on to the management, there is no communication. There is no reaction to it but the community starts to tune out.
2894 That is -- and the youth, we don’t really see the youth being represented in those ethnic radios, especially not the Punjabi community programming that -- you know, that's predominant that we listen to. There is no discussion about the youth.
2895 It's very little. If there is any, there's very little. And it's not addressing the issues they are facing here and that is what I personally feel that that needs to be addressed here. The youth needs to be given the voice to air their concerns, to have those discussions brought on the air.
2896 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: And did you say it was like through the English language that you would get to them?
2897 MR. SINGH: It needs to be done both in English and the native language.
2898 Whether it's -- let's say we're discussing about an issue which is the interfaith marriage in Sikh community, now every third marriage that's conducted in the Sikh temples is an interfaith marriage, but there continues to be resistance.
2899 Whether it's by the prescribed code of conduct in the religious terms or it's by the managements or it's by the elders in the community, there is -- well, the youth is having to make that decision. I mean if somebody falls in love here with somebody outside of the community and they're going to get married, well where do you actually have that marriage carried out? It's in the Sikh temple but there is a resistance.
2900 Nobody is discussing those issues. If there is a discussion, then it's only happening within the parents and the grandparents but the kids are being left out. The youth is not part of their discussion.
2901 But if there are shows, if there are talk show discussions on the air where kids can participate, they have a representative that can present their views more comfortably in English and the parents and the grandparents on the other side can do this one here and you have a host that can actually relay to both of these ones, can translate both of these ones so both sides understand the discussion, I think they will be much more productive, much more efficient.
2902 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay. Thank you.
2903 And what type of research have you conducted to determine if listeners or an advertising or advertisers are interested in your proposed programming?
2904 MR. BADH: Commissioner, when I -- I've been in this market since about 10 years and did an application for Triple A format, we were involved with research back then.
2905 Then when the whole discussion of purchasing CKUA about five or six years ago, we were involved in the research. Actually, matter of fact, that application which we filed about 2012-2013, we had a number of businesses that gave us supporting letters that they would advertise an “x” amount of dollars and so forth.
2906 And then this research we've been in the market talking to the business community and Ms. McLaughlin, whose business is to do research, is going to add a little bit more to that.
2907 MS. McLAUGHLIN: The canvassing of the businesses was just that. It wasn't a formal study. We didn't go out and call them or execute a questionnaire. What happened was a team of people went out and talked to the businesses to determine their levels of spending, what they were currently spending on, and their interest in all media, not just radio.
2908 In terms of consumer research, we did the population assessment which, of course given that the census is coming out or was conducted this year, we believed to be sadly out of date. We believe those numbers to be up. So we did the population to assess what groups were the largest.
2909 This station participated in an omnibus set of focus groups that have taken place over the past two years. So my company is doing research for several people entrusted in this market and not in broadcasting and so we tagged on a portion of that. It was never filed because it was part of an omnibus study and it contained other information that those clients probably would not want -- well, not probably, definitely told me did not want released.
2910 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: And this is how you came to the conclusion that you would take out of existing stations only 10 percent and that existing advertisers would increase their budget for 50 percent of your projected revenue?
2911 MR. BADH: Commissioner, wherever -- I've got almost 18 years of experience in ethnic broadcasting in English. Whenever a new licence gets issued, the revenues grow. The market grows and a lot of people, a lot of advertisers, potential businesses and so forth, advertisers do migrate from other sources as well, such as print, such as SCMO.
2912 So, yes, you're absolutely right.
2913 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay. And could you be more precise on your conclusion how you think that it could generate up to 50 percent of new revenues?
2914 MR. BADH: Sure. Debra, can you take that while I look at the numbers? Thanks.
2915 MS. McLAUGHLIN: Both Suki and myself are working in multicultural markets at the moment. Suki has a radio station that he is operating in Surrey. So he has to work with multi or ethnic broadcast or ethnic clients to develop advertising onto his station.
2916 But in the same sense when he's working with the English market because he's a Surrey station with the English advertisers, he's actually developing advertisers who are investing in an ethnic market but through an English station.
2917 So looking at what he's been able to achieve there was one of his contributing factors to what could be done here. Similarly, I’m working with a group of -- a station that is in a market that is 60 percent visible minority, and we are able to get English advertisers to rethink that market. It becomes a matter of positioning, becomes a matter of how you sell it.
2918 The mainstream media is sold and purchased somewhat different than ethnic, and when you apply the concepts that mainstream are looking for to an ethnic schedule, you can attract their attention, you can attract their dollars.
2919 For example, features are a very popular thing to sell in English radio. So you create a 60‑second themed interstitial that is content but is sponsored by an advertiser. You can transfer that over to an ethnic market, which I've been successful in doing and so has Suki.
2920 So it's -- you know, the canvass of advertisers were local advertisers, so they weren't necessarily national. What contributes to the view that we can develop that from English is our personal and very real experience in doing that right now in other markets.
2921 MR. BADH: If I may add, Commissioner, we've -- the backbone of every radio station, you need about approximately 40 key advertisers. Those are the ones that need to be identified. There are a number of advertisers in this market that have lent support to me, that have given me letters in the past, that I've communicated with in this process as well. So the backbone is there and that's how we can justify our 50 percent.
2922 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: And these are advertisers that may today advertise on World FM that are telling you they will spend more money or they will just share ---
2923 MR. BADH: Yes, most of them.
2924 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: --- whatever money they're ---
2925 MR. BADH: Yes.
2926 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: --- spending?
2927 MR. BADH: They will grow the budget, and -- you know what, Paul can attest to that because he's actually been in the market and he has experience with the advertisers in terms of how satisfied or dissatisfied. And if you produce a quality programming, advertisers, at the end of the day, want response. It's not the dollars and sense that they bring in to the radio, it's the dollar that -- the dollars and cents that they earn from their investment.
2928 Paul, did you want to elaborate?
2929 MR. SINGH: Yes, I do.
2930 I was hosting the early morning programs there, and again, as a volunteer host there, I was given a two‑hour slot. That slot was producing maybe about 10 to 15 minutes of the advertising before. It depends upon the quality. Once you tune into the community's, I guess, the pulse, when they start to listen, obviously, advertisers want to have their slots put into that program.
2931 Within about six months, we were close -- in a two‑hour program was hitting close to 30 minutes in advertising, and they were charging the top-most dollar; that's what I was told by the management.
2932 Now, once you improve the quality, like I said, if that is -- once you are addressing the issues that are being faced by the community or what they want to listen, that's where the connection needs to happen between the management and the programming and the audience.
2933 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay. When I look at your projections, I mean, you are starting to be profitable in Year 5, and you just started a new station in Surrey, and you've also applied for a Vancouver station that if ever your licence -- this station, I mean, you'll have three start-ups, and it takes you, like, five years to get to profitability.
2934 How are you going to be able to support all of these stations and development? Tell us more about your capacity to support.
2935 MR. BADH: Commissioner, by profession I'm an economist, a believer in dismal science. I budget for worst-case scenarios as well. I have handed my financials, under confidentiality, to the Commission.
2936 So far, Surrey is on budget and the other ones, whether I get the licence for Vancouver, there's projections made for that. I have adequate funding's to sustain these losses for the seven-year projections.
2937 Now, this is an investment, not just for one, two, three, four, five years, but beyond seven years the projections are made. If you look at my financials, I'm quite capable of handling all of this.
2938 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: And what if more than one station would be licensed in the Edmonton market, would you still launch?
2939 MR. BADH: I have had time to analyze that over the years. I think the Edmonton market, given the state of the Edmonton, Alberta/western Canadian economy, I think one is -- would be what the market can absorb, but if the Commission deemed it that they were going to licence two, by all means, I'm up for the challenge.
2940 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: And when you've talked of this station in the Edmonton market and the groups that you would serve, were these right away the groups that you determine in your mind that you would be serving, or you studied the market and you came to the conclusions that there were no other groups that could be served, for a radio station to be viable?
2941 MR. BADH: Going back ---
2942 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: And if you looked at other groups on which to base your main revenue, which other groups were they, and why wasn't it a viable option?
2943 MR. BADH: Our research goes back, for the ethnic market almost five to six years; for Edmonton market almost 10 years. So I've been -- and subsequent to the 2006, 2007, I've become more involved in the Edmonton economy. So we've done extensive amount of research.
2944 When we first made an attempt to purchase 580 CKUA and went to the CRTC, we had done our initial research in terms of what Rogers was airing, in terms of the language groups selected, and what we would. And then our application was made public for the last five years for all the other applicants to see.
2945 Then subsequent to that, Rogers asked for changes to the condition of licence in terms of the numbers of groups. So then we didn't know which way the CRTC was going to go. We sat, and subsequently for this call, we did some more research, which language groups. So we came up with those numbers.
2946 And then Rogers repositioned itself, and I am hearing that Rogers is once again going to reposition itself next week, I hear, but it remains to be seen.
2947 To answer your question, this was based on the extensive amount of research that we have done in this market over the last five or six years.
2948 Debra, do you want to add anything more?
2949 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: And didn't see any other groups which you could serve to distinguish or, you know, to serve other groups that would be large enough to support a project in Edmonton?
2950 MR. BADH: I'm going to -- before Debra jumps in, I'm going to sidestep a little bit.
2951 One of the puzzling things that we came across over the research was the Ukrainian group is quite large. And we think, okay, why not a Ukrainian sort of based radio station? But when you go to that community, you do your research, you know what, it's as assimilated, as North American, as western, as Canadian as they get, and they don't need a service of their own, it seems like. That's just an example of one language.
2952 Debra, we've done other languages as well?
2953 MS. McLAUGHLIN: Yes. And our application originally expanded on the South Asia, so at the time when we looked at it, Punjabi and Hindi were the two primary languages being served by the existing station. So adding Gujarati, Urdu, Bengali, Tamil was an expansion.
2954 So to look at the South Asian community and just take it as being Punjabi or Hindi, which were already extensively there, so we did expand that. And one of the reasons to expand it is the connections between all of those communities, because it's not just, again, servicing those language groups, it's creating cross-cultural stories. So there was a connection.
2955 The Vietnamese and Chinese; well, the Chinese was obviously picked because of their population size and their growth. The fact that their tuning in the market, at the -- when we looked at it, was limited to one portion of the day. That was the case with the Punjabi community and that was the case with the Chinese.
2956 So filling out those schedules so they had the ability to have traffic news on the way home, or weather information in the morning, or news headlines seems to make sense. They were the largest. We didn’t feel, despite being present on other stations, that they were sufficiently served.
2957 Then we, as I said, we looked at the other South Asian language groups and spoke with them and there was a demand. And then with the Chinese, we added Vietnamese and we added -- because Arabic is a growing language. And although the census data between 2006 and 2011 doesn’t show the growth as much as we believe to be there, there’s indications in the market of infrastructure for that language group. There is lots of Arabic classes. There are restaurants that are advertising in Arabic. And when we looked at those businesses and talked to people, we found that the commitment to that language was fairly high.
2958 And it’s not only just a case of people from Lebanon or Syria or Egypt that are -- they’re speaking those languages, because it is the language of Islam, there are a lot of people who understand that language. So that was the choice with that.
2959 Similarly, with Farsi, you know, you will see by our schedule it seems to be orphaned off in the corner late at night. But, in fact, when we talked to that population, we found out that they were tuning in on the weekends to programming from Iran so they could catch the rap-up, as it were, of the major stories of the week there. So we program that late at night when they were -- just before they tuned in to the programming from their home country so they could just -- it’s a nice tie-in. Here it is.
2960 So in discussing with people, it was not only a case of whose -- what size are they, what is the growth potential, but who would really want to listen?
2961 And we did talk to some other groups, the Ukrainian, some of the European. As Suki said, there was a real connection to culture, but not a connection to the language. There was an interest in language, but not so much as to make it a point of tuning.
2962 So when we put all those factors together, that and the interest in producing programming that would attract a younger audience because that group, from my experience, tends to be having the biggest challenges, it made sense to choose the languages that we did.
2963 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: And for the youth, just coming back to that, what indication have you that they’d be interested in a radio station like yours?
2964 MS. McLAUGHLIN: Well, we did talk to some of them, but I think the best voice in the room to address that would be our youth on the panel, Gurjot.
2965 MR. SANDHU: So, you know, just to summarize, like, you know, youth hasn’t abandoned radio. I’d say radio abandoned the youth. You know, all the elements that radio offers you, music, news and information, chances for dialogue, are all the things that youth want to be involved with. And right now, like, you know, youth will listen if you have content that attracts them. The success of the internet and social media is, you know, a living proof of that. You know, we seek what we want.
2966 And one thing the internet is not good at is, you know, keeping content, you know, limited. It’s really broad. You get so much noise when you’re on social media. So when you’re looking for local events or just like, you know, local community groups that you want to get involved with, there’s too much noise on social media.
2967 And I think that, you know, being involved with a radio, you know, you’re still limited. Radio can be created, is what I’m trying to say. Radio can be relevant and because -- in the current form, it doesn’t have to be the way it is. You can, you know, always change it around. Get the youth involved. Get them on shows.
2968 And having a young voice on the radio as well, you know, produces a -- we have all the music channels. We have, you know, Edmonton Oilers broadcasting. We have the different reviews for those. But we don’t have anything on the local level. You know, with the Edmonton Soccer Association, we have a mini-world cup this holiday every year -- every second year. And, you know, just broadcasting those events live there will, you know, get these -- the youth involved.
2969 So, you know, there’s people driving around. They want to know what the score is for the local games going on. You’re on the radio. You’re bringing it up. You’re bringing it up like during the weather updates and, you know, sport updates too.
2970 So, if we create this open environment that, you know, the youth will be fully engaged with it as well.
2971 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: So it’s like Field of Dreams. I’m sorry.
2972 MR. SANDHU: Yeah, but ---
2973 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Like you create it and they will come?
2974 MR. SANDHU: Exactly. It is. Like we’ll -- people will say why not just stick to, you know, podcast. But I was like, if you stay in that one limited field in Edmonton and Edmonton’s your main, you know, focus group that the youth are targeting, people will tune in just for local content. Right now, like social media’s too, you know, noisy.
2975 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: So it’s not based on any survey research that you’ve done, it’s ---
2976 MR. SANDHU: Well, personally, I see myself -- like right now there is two hours in, you know, Punjabi broadcasting where the youth do tune in in a week, which is on Friday nights they listen to the music. It’s limited in music. There’s no, you know, social -- like there’s no social involvement with that includes like, you know, business tips for the youth or soccer, sports and just like, you know, the -- whatever the youth identifies with. So I think if we get more of that programming in, they’ll keep tuning in.
2977 So right now, and I’ve seen it for the last two years, kids are tuning in to these music programs, but the more we get them involved with the different topics, the more our volumes will get.
2978 MR. BADH: Paul’s got something to add.
2979 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay. And you’re relying on this audience to which extent for your projections and the advertisers?
2980 MR. SANDHU: I’m going to pass that to Siku.
2981 MR. BADH: Yeah, sure. I’ll address that.
2982 My experience in the -- in other markets, when you offer -- you’re giving a platform to a group that feels alienated, and secondly, you’re doing it in a cross-cultural English language format. And the business community out there wants to target these individuals. So if you -- yes, if you build it they will come, but at the same time, all right, you’ve got to make it relevant and the business community needs to understand, look, if I’m targeting -- let’s say it’s ski passes and the youth is heavily involved, and you’ve got a program like we do that’s specifically targeting English language for the youth and we’ve got the Afro-Caribbean, World Beat type of a format as well that’s targeting youth, the advertisers will come.
2983 And Paul wanted to add something on that front as well.
2984 MR. SINGH: When we’re looking at getting how -- how do we get the youth involved, there’s already not only a need but almost like a demand here from the youth. They want to be listened to. They have issues. They want to have discussions. But nobody’s giving them the time.
2985 If we have segments that are dedicated to the youth and we also complement that with a cross-culture programming where ethnic programming is being also mixed with the English language, they’ll feel more comfortable.
2986 I’ve been to the same university, spent four years, where Gurjot is from, University of Alberta. But when there’s some issues within the University, whether it’s the new immigrants that the youth is coming over, they don’t know where to go. Whether they need to get their original certificates of education to be evaluated, what other avenues are available, whether it’s Native, whether it’s the University, whether they need to do the upgrading. There is no information that’s actually passed on to them. If we create that forum on the radio, I can’t see why the youth will not tune in.
2987 Drug problem. It’s -- kids are facing that. I go to these meetings for the Edmonton Police and the RCMP. We sit there. We discuss about this one here. They want to get the message across. They want parents to understand what to look for. They want kids to know where they can get some help. But that information is not being sort of passed on to them. And I think that’ll be really beneficial if we could have that.
2988 And then once you provide those services, once there are discussions, obviously businesses associated with those services will definitely be interested in advertising. That’s going to generate more revenues for the station.
2989 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay. Well, thanks. I think we covered this.
2990 You will be broadcasting religious programming.
2991 MR. BADH: Yes.
2992 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Can you confirm the amount of religious spoken word programming that you would broadcast each week?
2993 MR. BADH: I believe it’s seven hours.
2994 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: And what specific measure would you have in place so that the station, you know, would be in line with the Commission guidelines and the policy of religious programming?
2995 MR. BADH: Public notice -- I’m trying to get the public -- well, I am familiar with the public notice and I can’t recall the exact number.
2996 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: It’s 1993-78.
2997 MR. BADH: Correct. Correct. We are familiar with that. We follow that, yes.
2998 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay. And how would you ensure that the programs are balanced?
2999 MR. BADH: We are ---
3000 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: And offering -- offered the different views?
3001 MR. BADH: First of all, our on-air personalities will be fully trained. Secondly, our listener audience will be fully trained. Third, we’ll be members of the Broadcast Standards Association and will meet all of the requirements. And just in case things slip up, we’ll also have a delay mechanism in place.
3002 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay. Okay and the committee, you’ve asked -- you’ve talked about that in your presentation. Very good.
3003 Now, I’m going to ask you right now, the question -- conditions of licence and it should be ready to accept 100 percent ethnic programming in 86.5 percent third language?
3004 MR. BADH: Yes.
3005 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: And minimums of 33 percent of ethnic broadcast each week in Punjabi, Hindi, Urdu and Gujarati languages?
3006 MR. BADH: Yes.
3007 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: As well, 30 percent of ethnic programming in the Mandarin and Cantonese languages?
3008 MR. BADH: Yes.
3009 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: And should we set a maximum weekly of South Asian and Chinese languages, would you accept such a maximum and what would it be?
3010 MR. BADH: You know what, that’s a tricky one. I’ll tell you why because over the last six years that I’ve been trying to put this thing together with CKUA, yes, no go, et cetera, Rogers has been playing a little bit of changing the goal posts.
3011 And so I think tying whoever you license in this round -- tying their hands and leaving Rogers a little bit more freedom seems a little bit, a little bit unfair. I think if you’re going to licence a new person -- or sorry, a new applicant, I think, you know what? Let the two sort it out a little bit, if you will.
3012 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay, but I mean ---
3013 MR. BADH: To answer your question, ---
3014 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: What minimum percentage then of your total programming would you agree to accept to provide to secondary languages that you’re ---
3015 MR. BADH: Those minimums -- I’m accepting all of them.
3016 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Pardon me?
3017 MR. BADH: The minimums that you had indicated earlier for the two main languages plus the other ones, I ---
3018 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Well, these are minimums. I mean you can always increase and then, I mean, take room of some languages that are receiving less time.
3019 So is there a minimum of time that you’re ready to accept that you will give to these secondary languages?
3020 MR. BADH: I can go as high as 35, 35 percent.
3021 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Thirty-five (35) percent. Okay, and you would accept a condition licence on this?
3022 MR. BADH: Yes.
3023 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay.
3024 In your CCD, small questions; you’re giving all the money to FACTOR and as you know, in the Radio Regulations, Section 15, it says that when you have total revenues of more than 1,250,000, at least 15 percent of your basic CCD contributions should go to the Community Radio Fund of Canada.
3025 Is that something that you were aware of or are you asking for an exception?
3026 MR. BADH: That was an oversight.
3027 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Okay.
3028 So then can you confirm that you will adhere to the requirements of Section 15?
3029 MR. BADH: Yes, we will.
3030 COMMISSIONER DUPRAS: Thank you.
3031 Well, I think that’s it for my questions. Thank you very much.
3032 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Those are all our questions. We will take a break for 15 minutes and resume at 3:20.
3033 MR. BADH: Thank you very much.
--- Upon recessing at 3:04 p.m.
--- Upon resuming at 3:21 p.m.
3034 THE CHAIRPERSON: Order please. Madam Secretary.
3035 MS. ROY: Thank you.
3036 We will now proceed with Item 10 on the Agenda, which is an application by 1811258 Alberta Ltd., for a broadcasting licence to operate an ethnic commercial AM radio station in Edmonton.
3037 Please introduce yourself and your colleagues and you will then have 20 minutes for your presentation.
3038 MR. BUTTAR: Mr. Chair and Members of the Commission, my name is Sharnpreet Buttar. I am a shareholder and director of 1811258 Alberta Ltd., who I will be referring to as “the Company”.
3039 I have been working in radio in Edmonton with my sister and father since we were children. It is our privilege to appear here today to request approval for the Company to operate a licensed radio undertaking to serve Edmonton.
3040 With me today, to my right, is Sapreet Buttar, who will be the Station General Manager, on-air host, and she is also a shareholder in the Applicant Company. Sapreet has worked with our existing station for over 16 years.
3041 To Sapreet’s right is my father, Gursharan Buttar, our Program Manager and on-air host. Gursharan has operated a successful radio service providing content to service the South Asian community of Edmonton for the past 25 years.
3042 To my left is Harpreet Toor, a shareholder in the Company. To Harpreet’s left is Kulwinder Toor, a director and shareholder in the Company.
3043 Both Harpreet and Kulwinder have been operating successful businesses in the Edmonton market for many years and have dedicated a lot of effort and time in their service to the community by organizing various community events, cultural programs and fundraising efforts.
3044 To Kulwinder’s left is Sandeep Mann and to Sandeep's left is Pavan Mann. The Mann family are also shareholders in the Company and have been a vital part of the Edmonton South Asian business community and have always led the charge in various philanthropic responsibilities that they have held.
3045 We are all very fortunate today to have the opportunity to come together for this endeavour, as the Toor and Mann families are successful business operators in Edmonton who have chosen to invest in the new station.
3046 Behind me, to my right, we had expected Saira Qureishy to attend. Unfortunately, she was called away for an emergency in her child’s school. She would have been -- she is the Pakistani program on-air host.
3047 To her expected right would have been -- is currently Harpreet Sandhu, our News Director. Harpreet has worked with various radio stations in the Edmonton market for many years and is currently the editor-in-chief of one of the more prominent South Asian newspapers serving Alberta.
3048 Directly behind me is Rajwinder Klair, who is our General Sales Manager and one of our more experienced on-air hosts.
3049 On Rajwinder's left is Mel Bhatia of Bhatia Khurana LLP based in Edmonton, and is the Company’s Accountant.
3050 To Mel’s left is Kaan Yigit from Solutions Research Group who has conducted our market research.
3051 To Kaan’s left is Kerry Pelser from DEM Allen and Associates; and to Kerry’s left is Chris Weafer, our regulatory counsel from Owen Bird Law Corporation.
3052 Unfortunately, we are also missing Dustin Kong from our panel, as he will be hosting our Mandarin and Cantonese programming, as well as a member of our advisory panel. Dustin had prior commitments in his day-to-day job as a teacher with the Edmonton School Board.
3053 We would like to start our formal presentation with a short video.
3054 (VIDEO PRESENTATION)
3055 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: This is an application filed by a company effectively owned and controlled by three families which are respected members of Edmonton’s business community and which have long-standing experience and presence in Edmonton’s ethnic radio market; the Buttar Family, consisting of Gursharan Buttar, Sharnpreet Buttar and Sapreet Buttar, the Toor Family, consisting of Kulwinder Toor and Harpreet Toor and the Mann Family, consisting of Sandeep Mann and Pavan Mann.
3056 Together, these local owners have over 50 years of combined experience in all aspects of ethnic radio in Edmonton. In the past, the Buttar Family has worked with either SCMO services or has broadcasted on leased airtime on W1440 AM to provide high quality radio programming to Edmonton’s growing South Asian population.
3057 The individuals involved in the company have been proudly providing Edmonton’s many and diverse South Asian communities with over 50 years of combined service. Our journey has been built on deep rooted commitments; to produce balanced and responsive programming that consistently respects all views and values; to forge close, respectful working relationships with our audiences and communities; and to build a tested and trusted, professional broadcasting team that can sustain a financially viable radio station for serving Edmonton’s ethnic market.
3058 Our success has been led by Gursharan Buttar who has demonstrated vision and determination in his quest for developing and delivering responsible radio broadcasting programming for Edmonton’s ethnic communities. He has been a positive force in Edmonton in the Edmonton community for the past 25 years, as demonstrated by the video just aired and the large amount of letters of support for our application.
3059 My sister, Sapreet, and I have been very proud to have worked with him and for him in our radio business, building it over the past two decades to the point where we are hopeful and ready to move to the privilege of being a fully licenced service.
3060 Sapreet, being the General Manager of the Company, will expand on our plans for the new service.
3061 MS. SAPREET BUTTAR: Good afternoon. Let me begin by thanking you for the opportunity to put forward our vision for a new radio broadcasting service for Edmonton.
3062 In our presentation, we will highlight the vision for this proposed station, the representation of diverse cultures under one roof, our responsible approach to broadcasting, our Canadian Content Development Commitments, and last but not least our framework for programming and program schedule.
3063 As noted, we have provided radio programming service in Edmonton for over 25 years. The programming provided has evolved over time but the fundamental principles underpinning our radio service have always been in place to provide balanced, professional, high quality, inclusive programming for the whole South Asian community in full compliance to the principles of the Broadcasting Act and regulations of the CRTC. Logger tapes have been kept, log sheets have been followed, and spoken word has been carefully monitored. This years and years of experience culminates today with our appearance before you seeking your approval to move to the next level with a full licence to serve Edmonton.
3064 The Company has been making significant contributions in our community for many years. We have operated within the spirit and intent of the Broadcasting Act notwithstanding our low priority position within the regulatory framework as a SCMO service and then a service purchasing air-time on an AM station. These contributions to the objectives of the Broadcasting Act are clearly articulated in over a thousand letters of support which have been filed in support of our application.
3065 We have strived to be an effective, balanced service, meeting the Broadcasting Act objectives for providing independent, locally produced programming of high standard. We are broadcasters, plain and simple. Our longevity in the market and the support we engender from the community reflects the quality of our service and our commitment to providing a principled, professional local broadcasting service.
3066 We would emphasize to the Commission that in our many years of producing and delivering radio programming we have had no complaints filed with the CRTC or CBSC about our programming.
3067 Approval of our application will ensure that a vital, long-standing operation serving Edmonton is maintained and expanded. We are before you today seeking a license to ensure that we can continue to contribute to meeting the objectives set out in the Broadcasting Act and to continue serving our Edmonton audience with what we believe is a valuable locally owned and operated independent voice.
3068 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: We recognize that the Commission is concerned about the impact of a new entrant on the market. Our intent is to serve a significant but underserved community in the Edmonton area and as such there will be minimal negative impact on incumbent stations. The Edmonton ethnic communities are served over the air by one FM radio station owned by a dominant national diversified multimedia company, Rogers Communications.
3069 Our application is distinct in that we are already in the market securing revenue and serving the community. We will have the least impact on the incumbent ethnic station owned by Rogers or on any other licensed radio service as we are already in the market generating revenue. The incremental revenue we will generate will be less impactful then licencing a start-up new service and it will sustain a long standing voice in the Edmonton community.
3070 Our market research conducted by Solutions Research Group clearly shows support for our format and limited impact on the market. The concept of local ownership with a proven track record as an ethnic broadcaster in the Edmonton area drew strong support from those surveyed.
3071 Approval of our application will enhance, not impede the Broadcasting Act objectives in terms of the competitive state of the Edmonton ethnic market.
3072 Our business plan is not complicated. We already run a radio station which has been successful in the Edmonton market on a purchased time basis. We are in a position to move forward and operate the new service successfully within 12 months of approval. We have a staff with thousands of hours of broadcasting experience and a format that is proven in the market.
3073 Our business plan is thoughtful and conservative and reflects the realities of the present Alberta economy.
3074 Our proposal for Canadian content development is $385,000, with $55,000 per year broken down as $5,000 basic contribution, $15,000 per year to Factor, $15,000 per year to Musication. Lastly, we will provide $20,000 per year to the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology for scholarships for students from visible minority communities enrolled in broadcast journalism. This is a material amount of support for scholarships and we believe developing the next generation of journalists is key to ensuring news content development.
3075 Our approach was to focus funds towards existing programs which contribute to Canadian content development as opposed to creating new, potentially inefficient, programs.
3076 Our programming approach has been guided by meeting high standards of program quality, inclusiveness, balance, integrity and service to the community.
3077 Over the years, we have improved and expanded our program schedule by adding other South Asian languages, beyond the ones we started with, namely Punjabi, Hindi, Urdu and Gujarati. Other languages of programming to be aired include Tagalog, Cantonese, Mandarin, Bengali, Arabic, Russian, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Ukrainian, Croatian, Serbian, Spanish and English. We believe our schedule is a comprehensive map of languages and groups that reflect the Edmonton ethnic community.
3078 Our proposed station will be inclusive and will work to serve the entire ethnic community living in the Edmonton area.
3079 As for the South Asian community, our station will also serve the non‑Punjabi speaking South Asian community which includes Gujaratis, Bengalis from Bengal and Bangladesh, Hindi, being the national language of India, serves individuals from all the states of India and Fiji Islanders. We will broadcast in Urdu, the national language of Pakistan.
3080 We will broadcast in Mandarin and Cantonese to serve the large and underserved Chinese population of Edmonton. The Philippines, where Indian influence has existed for centuries, will be served through Tagalog programming.
3081 The company has provided a balanced editorial voice in the Edmonton community for 25 years. We operate on behalf of the community as a whole and present news in a fair and impartial manner without favouring any particular interest or interest group over another. We base the selection of news items for broadcast solely on journalistic principles.
3082 We draw a clear distinction between news and opinion and refrain from presenting a slanted representation of the news to serve a narrow point of view or segment of the community. An AM or FM quality signal will enable this balanced voice to be heard more widely and more clearly. The over 1,000 letters of support we have received speak to our moderate and inclusive news service.
3083 Our spoken word breakdown is as follows: 600 minutes per week of news; 600 minutes -- sorry, 112 minutes per week of sports; 56 minutes per week of traffic reports; 112 minutes per week of weather reports; 1560 minutes per week of talk show programs; 84 minutes per week of community announcements.
3084 We are a company very closely connected to our community. All of our programming is locally produced and will continue to be so should we be granted this licence.
3085 The company is a strong team with leadership committed to running a stable, quality radio station for the future. We are proud of the contribution this team is making to providing stable and quality radio for Edmonton’s South Asian communities, and of the greater contribution we can make in the future with a fully licensed station.
3086 Both I and Sapreet have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to grow up in this business. We would always insist on going to the radio with our dad when we were little children and watch him speak in front of the mic through the glass window. We were there to help him organize all the various cassettes and CDs over the years and to help him carry boxes and boxes of radio sets when we started the SCMO service.
3087 Once we were more capable, we began contributing to the business side of the operations and bringing in further youth listenership. Till date, our most important contribution was to recognize that the youth listeners all preferred to listen to their radio stations in their vehicles. Since SCMO services did not readily provide that luxury, we worked with our Dad to grow our service into leasing airtime on W1440 AM in order to be available over the air.
3088 We now have been working with the company in identifying the next steps that are necessary to serve the growing needs of our communities in Edmonton. For us to be able to grow along with the Edmonton market, it has become vital for us to receive a licence to operate our radio for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
3089 Having been a part of the broadcasting community for many years now, it has become an identity of our family, regardless of any other endeavours we embark upon.
3090 In conclusion, Mr. Chairman and Members of the Commission, we believe that an AM or FM licence is best suited to provide service to South Asians throughout the Edmonton area. We believe that we are best prepared to provide the service given our 25 years of experience providing balanced, inclusive programming embracing the whole community and the highly professional manner in which our operations have been conducted.
3091 Thank you for your attention and we look forward to responding to your questions.
3092 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Just as we get underway, I noticed in your video, which I enjoyed, the one comment I had, I never thought we’d get to the last presentation before -- with Ed Stelmach and Gene Zwozdesky, I’d find two Ukrainians in the presentation so. But thanks.
3093 So, you’ve been in the business for 25 years in Edmonton with SCMOs and your brokered programming. So you do 20 hours a week right now out of -- via Newcap in Wetaskiwin; right?
3094 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: To correct, that’s 26 hours a week.
3095 THE CHAIRPERSON: Sorry, 26 hours.
3096 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: Yes.
3097 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. And how does that break down? That’s like three, four hours a night?
3098 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: Four hours an evening from 6:00 to 10:00 from Monday to Saturday with 2 hours on Sunday from 8:00 to 10:00.
3099 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right. And any place else?
3100 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: No, that’s ---
3101 THE CHAIRPERSON: Is -- do you know of anybody else who’s doing that anyplace else in ---
3102 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: Not that we’re aware of, no.
3103 THE CHAIRPERSON: From any one of the other outlining stations? Anyway, you’re unaware of it anyway.
3104 So, I’m familiar with the demographics of Wetaskiwin and with Edmonton. So Edmonton is the primary target for that broadcast out of Wetaskiwin; right?
3105 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: Correct.
3106 THE CHAIRPERSON: And it’s supported by advertising --
3107 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: Primarily from Edmonton, yes.
3108 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- primarily from Edmonton?
3109 And it’s been a good, profitable operation for you?
3110 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: Yes, definitely.
3111 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. But you got out of the SCMO business; right?
3112 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: Yes.
3113 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. So that’s your main operation right now. But it’s really kind of a continuation of your brand from the SCMO days?
3114 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: Correct.
3115 THE CHAIRPERSON: Why did you make that decision to get out of the SCMO and go with this? Was it just a better business plan?
3116 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: It was mostly accessibility to the public for our radio and our programming. The feedback we were receiving is that there was a lot of issues faced with the specialty radio sets we would need to sell in order for SCMO to be transmitted in homes. Also, in order to keep up with the pace and the growth of the communities, we realized very quickly after speaking with a lot of the members that they needed access to our programming in their vehicles, and as well as at work, if needed. So therefore, our progress to AM programming was sort of a natural progression as the communities needed it.
3117 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
3118 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: And Gursharan would like to add to that.
3119 THE CHAIRPERSON: Try the other one. That’s okay. We can be patient. You might borrow the one to your left.
3120 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: Yeah, this one.
3121 MS. SAPREET BUTTAR: That’s only -- this one’s not working either.
3122 THE CHAIRPERSON: Oh.
3123 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: It seems to have cut out in the past few minutes.
3124 MS. SAPREET BUTTAR: Okay. It’s okay.
3125 THE CHAIRPERSON: Well, let’s just hang on for ---
3126 MS. SAPREET BUTTAR: It won’t come that far. Or will it? There you go.
3127 MR. GURSHARAN BUTTAR: When SCMO service started in mid of ‘90s, it was a plea for Edmontonian because they didn’t have any other mean to listen to their own programming. But the time progressed. There’s almost 20, 20 plus channels, TV channels right now which aired through various satellite or cable televisions.
3128 What we find with our presence in the community that radio is something people love to listen while they’re travelling. When they’re at home they have other means of information and entertainment. Main is television.
3129 And with the timing, with the progress in the community and development in the community, that was the only reason we find that need that now we need to reach people through the radio but over air -- over the airways. So that’s what prompt us to move from SCMO to 1440 AM dial.
3130 THE CHAIRPERSON: So you are really the oldest locally owned and operated ethnic radio service in Edmonton?
3131 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: From our knowledge, yes.
3132 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. So there’s a couple ways for people to look at that and I want to address it. One is, well, good for you. That took a lot of entrepreneurship with the SCMOs and that sort of stuff to get that set up and from the video and other evidence in your presentation. You’re imbedded in the community and popular.
3133 And then others might look at it and say, well, do we really need another ethnic radio -- a second ethnic radio service in Edmonton? Because actually we’ve already got one, you guys, and have for a very long time. Particularly when the largest audiences, not by all, by any stretch, but by most of the applicants have been the South Asian languages in terms of that.
3134 So how would you respond to that? To the first point of view, you can just say, “Thank you.”
3135 To the second point of view, you might want to expand on that a little bit and say why your 26 hours a week isn’t sufficient.
3136 Because if you’re broadcasting them in the evening, I don’t believe you’re actually going up against World FM at all in those languages at that time of day.
3137 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: No, I -- for the first point, thank you.
3138 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: For the second, we -- I believe we have a lot of -- a lot of various answers that you’ll get from the panel sitting here, but the main focus point will be that it was the needs of the community.
3139 We -- Gursharan started off beginning his programming 25 years ago with just a 15-minute segment on an FM station. That progressed within a few months to one hour due to the demand and the popularity of the program, after which he was approached to manage and work with a 24-hour SCMO station.
3140 From there, the progress led to him owning and beginning a SCMO station. From there, it progressed to the requirements of the community needing on-air programming, which is what led to 1440.
3141 This progress is what we have felt is necessary now with the level of community growth as well as the positions of the various languages and communities we hope to service and the demand that we are facing.
3142 Another point to that will be also in regards to the youth programming and the needs of the youth in order to keep them more attached to our programming, which is what we have felt is very important.
3143 I will ask Sapreet to speak to that. Also, I will ask Raj to speak to the sales requirements and the further need for advertising space that our advertisers require, as our sales manager.
3144 THE CHAIRPERSON: I think your other one might be working now. No? Okay.
3145 MS. BUTTAR: No, it’s still not working. I guess I’ll just use this one.
3146 Okay. So as far as youth programming, I’ve been very involved with the youth programming over the years and even now the Sunday programming, we do 8:00 to 10:00, which is hosted by myself as youth oriented.
3147 That being said, that’s two hours a week that is fully devoted to youth, and we get a lot of response from youth. So there’s times where there’s a lot of new immigrants that have moved here or we get parents that call because of language barriers and different generations. There’s a lot of topics the parents ask us to discuss on-air with the youth, which is when we bring in educated people that are more educated on these topics to further elaborate and to get the youth involved in this programming.
3148 So the limited time does sort of -- shall I keep going? Okay; sorry.
3149 The limited time does sort of limit us to how much we can reach out to the youth.
3150 THE CHAIRPERSON: If you find it distracting, please feel free to ---
3151 MS. BUTTAR: Okay, I’ll just wait for the mic then.
3152 THE CHAIRPERSON: You’re not on the clock here or anything.
3153 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: We’re radio hosts, we continue speaking regardless.
3154 MS. BUTTAR: Yeah, that’s fine. I’ll just use this.
3155 So that being said, yes, even though we are in the market, the limited time does affect us, and there’s still -- at the same time, we are very South Asian focused right now. But there’s a lot of other minority communities that we aren’t able to reach out, due to the limited time we have at the moment on the AM that we broadcast through.
3156 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: Now, I will ask Rajwinder to just give a quick overview of what her thoughts are, having experience with our advertisers on our current programming.
3157 MS. KLAIR: Thank you very much. Can you guys hear me? Thank you. Is it better? Thank you.
3158 Thank you very much for your time and ---
3159 THE CHAIRPERSON: Just make sure you don’t get too far away from it.
3160 MS. KLAIR: Okay.
3161 So what it is, we do have four hours in the evening, and I do see we have very community-oriented programs.
3162 So we do have a long list of advertisers basically some of them on waiting list because we cannot accommodate them because of our four-hours programming.
3163 So looking at that, we need probably 24 hours to accommodate them.
3164 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, were you done?
3165 MS. KLAIR: Yes, I’m done.
3166 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, sorry, I was just kind of -- so just so I can make sure I understand that. You’ve got a waiting list of advertisers waiting to get on. You’re sort of sold out for 26 hours a week right now?
3167 MS. KLAIR: That’s right (off mic). Yes, sir.
3168 THE CHAIRPERSON: And so just with your current inventory, with that, how many hours a week backlog would you say you have?
3169 Like, if you needed -- if you’ve got 26 hours a week right now, do you have enough backlog that you’re going to immediately support what, 30, 35, 40?
3170 MS. KLAIR: We can go up to 35 hours (off mic) ---
3171 THE CHAIRPERSON: Your mic is not on.
3172 MS. BUTTAR: None of them are working.
3173 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: This one seems to work.
3174 MS. BUTTAR: This one is working.
3175 THE CHAIRPERSON: So I tell you, maybe we should just take a little break because this is going to be distracting and it’s not fair to you to have all this sort of interruptions.
3176 So why don’t we just take a little break until we can make sure everybody’s stuff is working and then we can pick up where we left off, which will be that I need you to repeat what you’ve just said, so that it gets recorded and is on the record. Okay?
3177 And I can’t remember what it is. So you’re going to have to.
--- Upon recessing at 3:53 p.m.
--- Upon resuming at 3:54 p.m.
3178 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thank you. I think we’re mostly functional again.
3179 I think the question had been, how many hours of waiting lists do you have and that you could support in addition to the 26 hours that you’re currently selling?
3180 MS. KLAIR: Thank you, sir.
3181 We can go up to 35 hours right now.
3182 THE CHAIRPERSON: Sorry; is that 35 or 45?
3183 MS. KLAIR: Thirty-five (35). Three, five.
3184 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
3185 MS. KLAIR: Yes. And we do have advertisements at 30 seconds maximum time. So looking at that ---
3186 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, and remind me again, I have it here some place, but it would be quicker for you to -- how many hours of South Asian language programming you’re proposing in this application?
3187 MS. BUTTAR: Sorry, South-Asian programming?
3188 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
3189 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: We’ll just look to run those for a quick second.
3190 MS. BUTTAR: South Asian would be 80 percent. Oh, sorry, just one second.
3191 THE CHAIRPERSON: There’s a combination of Punjabi, Urdu and Hindi.
3192 Sixty-five (65) hours?
3193 MS. BUTTAR: Okay, the final figure is 65 for South Asian and 89 percent -- or sorry, 91 in total third language programming.
3194 THE CHAIRPERSON: So you’re two-thirds sold or more than halfway sold currently?
3195 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: That’s correct.
3196 THE CHAIRPERSON: Based on that. Okay.
3197 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: I believe our market researcher Kaan can also add some perspective on the current market and the advertising if you like.
3198 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, just so I have perspective too, that 1440 can be picked up very clearly in this part of Edmonton for sure.
3199 Is it -- is the reception good all throughout the city, so you’re able to sell the whole city?
3200 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: No, and I believe Gursharan can answer that question more accurately.
3201 MR. GURSHARAN BUTTAR: It is clear until the dark, before the sunset, they have to lower the power like any other AM station. So the northern part of Edmonton is not very clear. Signal is a major issue for us in the evening hours, and that’s one reason we are looking for a proper channel to serving Edmontonians.
3202 THE CHAIRPERSON: So you’re serving, maybe if it’s half, is it as much as half?
3203 MR. GURSHARAN BUTTAR: A little more than half.
3204 THE CHAIRPERSON: So about 600, 700,000 people right now?
3205 MR. GURSHARAN BUTTAR: More kind of -- major portion is in southeast, so major portion probably 70 plus percent we serve as I know.
3206 THE CHAIRPERSON: Is the southern portion the area of town where most members of these communities have settled?
3207 MR. GURSHARAN BUTTAR: That's right.
3208 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, thanks.
3209 Sorry, go ahead. I just wanted to make sure I had that.
3210 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: Sorry, if I could add, one issue that is faced due to the lowered power for the antenna on the AM is a lot of our radios cannot be heard in the homes and picked up on home radio sets.
3211 In the vehicles, we've heard that as long as you're travelling south of downtown, you have no issues, but anything north in the vehicles does start to cause a lot of disturbance.
3212 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. And if you were successful with this application, you would cease the brokerage?
3213 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: That's correct. We are currently on a one-year term, on a yearly term with them, whereas this licence would then be a full service licence we can receive. So in order for the longevity of the station, it's important or vital that we pursue this.
3214 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. I guess that kind of prompts the question that if you were successful, what would there be to stop somebody else from doing it just the same way? But you can't answer that, so I'm not going to ask you.
3215 MR. YIGIT: Mr. Chairman, if I could add some comments from a consumer research standpoint? We did fill the survey among South Asian, Chinese, and Filipino communities. Just wanted to give you a couple of highlights.
3216 One is a sort of a general question we tend to ask, you know, what would you think of a station broadcasting in the languages that you speak in your household.
3217 So, you know, in terms of their level of support, the total was 93 percent but that tends to be not the most important thing I look for when I look at those kinds of numbers. I like to look at the top box which is very supportive, and that comes in at 50 percent and that's across the three communities, South Asian, Filipino, and Chinese.
3218 And just to give you a perspective, these days if I were doing a similar kind of thing for a specialty TV service for example, I might get a top box in the 20-25 percent range and I would consider that quite strong. Whenever I see 50 percent, I know there is something, you know, more than just a casual interest.
3219 A couple of other highlights, one is 61 percent of South Asian respondents we interviewed already listened to the station, 27 percent say they always do, and the rest on an occasional basis. And that must be, in my opinion, a function of the time block that it's limited to evenings.
3220 So when we asked -- and when we asked them about daytime, adding more programming in the daytime, that sort of 61 percent goes up to 74 percent saying that would be valuable.
3221 And finally, you know, when we sort of concept test the station if you will, 76 percent say they would listen.
3222 So that may not be, you know, three hours a day, it might be some level of sampling, but what you're seeing is a kind of progression from a smaller number to a larger number and strong level of interest.
3223 And the last point I want to make is, you know, looking at the statistics, the first baseline for, say, South Asian, Chinese, and Filipino communities which are the biggest, 2011 census shows -- I'm sure you've heard from many other people -- 150,000 or so in terms of count.
3224 If I had to guess for today, that probably number would be about 190,000. So the market is bigger than what you would get the entire market in Kingston, Ontario.
3225 THE CHAIRPERSON: Actually, I remarked on those numbers because it was six out of 10 roughly or a little more than six out of 10 who are if not daily regular listeners to your programming and that's in the evening, which is unusual for radio, but I think it showed World FM had four out of 10. So it's a very high listenership to both.
3226 Is that correct?
3227 MR. YIGIT: That's not surprising. That's not surprising at all. Again, you're looking at ---
3228 THE CHAIRPERSON: And to make sure I'm fair because I asked this question of someone else, your sample size is 300. What would be the margin of error on that?
3229 MR. YIGIT: That would be about plus or minus 5.6 percent on a purely random sample. So it's decent for a market study of this nature.
3230 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. In terms of the business plan, I was curious about that because you point out that your business plan shows 50 percent of revenue coming from existing advertisers, right? So that's -- we've discussed that. That's your backlog already plus -- well, I guess that's pretty much it, plus enhanced buys I guess from that group.
3231 If the majority of -- if the majority of the community you're serving is living in south Edmonton and therefore already served by that 1440 signal, what is the opportunity -- the commercial opportunity? I mean I get the listenership opportunity because you're going to reach people who haven’t been reached. But are there more -- that many more businesses or the businesses you're getting primarily are also based in south Edmonton?
3232 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: I will ask Gursharan to answer that question, please.
3233 MR. GURSHARAN BUTTAR: Two things, sir. One is lots of businesses, untapped businesses out there. I will give you an example.
3234 There's 400 plus home builders in the community. Both of the radio stations, Rogers and our broker time, we have 20 plus or minus advertising on and off or seasonal and we have 40 some odd numbers in different newspapers.
3235 There is still 200 some home builders. Just one example is not advertising anywhere. The reason for that is they don’t see worthwhile spending their money on odd hours when people are not driving. They're already home.
3236 If we move that service during the rush hours, drive to and from work, we will tap that listenership and that business and that's the biggest growth we will see by the new licence.
3237 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, thank you.
3238 Go ahead.
3239 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: To add to that, the current demographics of a lot of the communities we're hoping to serve that are currently growing in the northern end of Edmonton, as well as some of the surrounding communities, has grown quite largely as well.
3240 The businesses that are currently operating up in Edmonton and northern Edmonton have expressed their frustration to us in the fact that our signal doesn’t reach there for many months out of the year since because sunrise fluctuates in Alberta quite heavily, we don’t -- in the winter months, which are also very long in Alberta, our signal doesn't reach to the homes that are north of downtown.
3241 So those businesses are some that we also look in the target.
3242 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. I understand that.
3243 I have questions you've probably -- if you've been observing for the two others, regarding conditions of licence in terms of your programming.
3244 Are you happy to or comfortable with taking a condition of licence to lock in the 100 percent ethnic programming that you offered?
3245 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: Yes.
3246 THE CHAIRPERSON: And the condition of licence that would lock in the 91 percent of third-language programming that you offered?
3247 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: Yes.
3248 THE CHAIRPERSON: What about the condition of licence -- and, again, just for context, okay. This is just for our information, okay. This isn’t -- this isn't a bar to jump over. This is to help us make sure we have the appropriate record in which to make -- potentially make decisions.
3249 That would be a minimum and/or a maximum 40 percent in the South Asian languages you listed?
3250 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: Yes.
3251 THE CHAIRPERSON: And, sorry, both?
3252 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: Both, yes.
3253 THE CHAIRPERSON: Or either, okay. And 24.5 hours minimum and/or maximum for the Chinese languages, Mandarin and Cantonese?
3254 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: Yes.
3255 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
3256 The question regarding the Filipino community and its growth, you don’t seem to have seen the same opportunity as some others and because it is -- it's been noted. It's among the fastest growing immigrant communities in the Prairies these days. I'm curious to know why you didn't see a commercial opportunity or service opportunity there that -- not all but some others have?
3257 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: Well, I will ask Kaan to give a premise to this answer. I will then follow it up with a more detailed one.
3258 MR. YIGIT: Yeah, you're absolutely right. I mean in terms of the overall growth, what’s interesting is the vast majority of that growth happened in the past five -- between 2006 and 2011 up until now. So the population doubled in that period.
3259 I think, you know, when you look at the projections that we have obtained from Statistic Canada. They are still seeing sort of a 4 to 1 ratio, a 5 to 1 ratio -- 5 to 1 ratio in terms of South Asian Chinese versus Filipino by 2031. So that’s a long way out. I totally appreciate that it’s more than 15 years out. But that actually must mean that that growth is going to slow somewhat.
3260 So that’s, you know, from a just pure, you know, share of pie. It’s true that growth has been very rapid. Probably the infrastructure hasn’t kept up with it yet from a small business standpoint, so the households are forming. But nevertheless, when you still compare it to Chinese and South Asian part of the pie, that’s, you know, four out of five, in essence.
3261 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: Well, to add to that, we -- over our many years of experience, we’ve been able to have research conducted with our boots on the ground and speaking with community members, associations and other organizations to assess the need of various communities. Our natural progression from a 15-minute segment to on-air broker time is because of that, because we understood the need and we identified the need and the demand.
3262 With what we’re seeing in the current Filipino community, we believe that the time we have and the time we’ve allotted and the schedule that we’ve formed is actually very accurate to their needs at the moment.
3263 MR. GURSHARAN BUTTAR: With our experience, we see community groomed with the time. And that’s what we’ll do. Community need to reach out. It’s starting with the one-hour per day. But I have no hesitancy in saying that it will increase the time, but we need to work with the community. We’ll reach out to the community. It’ll be a new concept for the community having their own programming -- own program and sporting their own program. But we’ll need some time. And but the time -- slower time will progress accordingly.
3264 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Do you have an online presence?
3265 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: I will ask Sapreet to refer to that.
3266 MS. BUTTAR: Through W1440 AM we are able to be streamed online and they do have a phone app that a lot of youth actually does tune in to. And as well, we are on social media, like Facebook, where we see more of the youth interacting with us. So we get a lot of questions and upcoming events they want us to talk about through our Facebook pages.
3267 THE CHAIRPERSON: It’s not a -- it’s app-based, not live -- it’s not a live stream?
3268 MS. BUTTAR: The live stream is through 1440 AM. They do have a live stream where you can tune in to our programs in the evening.
3269 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. So I could access -- if I wanted to listen to your programming tonight, I could go to 1440 --
3270 MS. BUTTAR: Definitely.
3271 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- Wetaskiwin and --
3272 MS. BUTTAR: Yeah.
3273 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- listen to it through there?
3274 MS. BUTTAR: That’s correct.
3275 THE CHAIRPERSON: So in terms of the -- that’s two reasons for asking, but one is, in terms of the portion of the audience that you haven’t been able to successfully reach with the radio signal, I’m curious to know about why that audience hasn’t been able to sort of tune in via the internet successfully, or you haven’t been able to make that transition. Is it ---
3276 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: Well, one issue we face is autonomy in that sense. The current website that the programming streams on is owned and operated by W1440. They ---
3277 THE CHAIRPERSON: All right. So Newcap makes the money if people go there.
3278 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: Well, not -- well, in -- also, they design how the app is built and what functions it provides, and we have no control over that. So if our community does have certain needs and demands, we’re unable to cater to that.
3279 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thanks.
3280 Why do you think -- I found it a little surprising, but you can dispossess me of the surprise that with an operation of your longstanding that should you go 24/7 in a sense or 126 hours of that that you would only get 5 percent of your revenue from the existing World FM.
3281 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: Right. Well, the largest ---
3282 THE CHAIRPERSON: Do you already have most of them?
3283 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: That’s correct, yes. So a large portion of that is that we wouldn’t be starting from the number zero. We currently have a large base of revenue, as well as current -- well, a revenue that is waiting to be taken upon. And also, we anticipate that there’s a lot of advertising that currently occurs in the print media in our community that will then have accessibility to advertising time on the radio and we would then be able to cater to those businesses as well.
3284 THE CHAIRPERSON: Do you have an advisory board for your current operation?
3285 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: We do.
3286 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. How does it work?
3287 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: Well, we currently have five individuals and we carefully decide upon and picked these individuals in accordance with their background and what their day-to-day occupations are, the various cultural backgrounds they come from and the various age groups that they’re from. We have five individuals who will meet four times a year that is planned, but we anticipate that being much more frequently in the early stages.
3288 And what they will be responsible for is reaching out to the communities, speaking with the communities and the individuals, the associations and the organizations to bring back feedback to us. We understand that in order to set up a radio service of this size and with the language groups and the various culture groups we’re hoping to work with, we need boots on the ground and we need credible people in place, and that’s what we believe we’ve been able to form here.
3289 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. How big is your staff currently and how would -- what would be the shape of your staff if you were successful in getting licensed?
3290 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: I will ask Sapreet to answer that question.
3291 MS. BUTTAR: Okay. So currently our staff consists of our general manager, being myself; our program manager, being Gursharan; advertising manager, Raj; and we have a newsroom manager. But that being said all of us do have duplicate roles where we are on-air hosts as well. We don’t just have management roles.
3292 As far as that, we do -- in total we have eight staff currently, the rest being part-time members that cater -- some of them are seven time -- seven hours a week, some are two hours a week. So that’s where the part-time roles fit in.
3293 If the licence were to be granted, we’re looking at 5 full-time positions and 17 part-time positions. The breakdown for the full-time, again, is a general manager, the program manager, advertising manager, the newsroom manager and the receptionist and administrative assistant. Keeping in consideration that a lot of our content is spoken word, we do feel necessary to have a full-time receptionist on board.
3294 Part-time we’re looking at about three to cater to the South Asian community, two to the English community, three to the Tagalog, one in the Latino, seven catering to the other minority communities that we’ll be catering to, and one part-time accountant.
3295 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: To add to that, we have the luxury of having a lot of staff that would be working part-time as -- in order to allow themselves to have full-time occupations, such as Dustin Kong who would sit on our advisory panel and would be the -- our lead host for Mandarin and Cantonese programming. He’s a full-time teacher with the Edmonton School Board. We also have Saira Qureishy who is the Urdu programming host and she is also a business woman in the community. And also, the staff that -- the full-time staff that Sapreet has mentioned has actually -- it’s -- we’re quite blessed to be -- to have quite a versatile staff that not only are they some of our leading and most popular hosts, they’re also taking on these managerial roles. And I think other than myself who has a rather funny yet embarrassing story as to why I’m no longer an on-air host, they all are avid on-air hosts.
3296 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. And do you do open line talk shows?
3297 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: Yes.
3298 THE CHAIRPERSON: And do you do currently do -- or you’re familiar with all the -- with the CRTC regulations around them and do you currently practice them or ---
3299 MS. BUTTAR: That’s correct. We do, yes.
3300 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. And if you were licensed, you would be part of -- or I guess you may be part of already because you’re brokering the broadcast ---
3301 MS. BUTTAR: Yes, we are indirectly through their CRTC regulations, yes.
3302 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
3303 MS. BUTTAR: In addition to that, we have been on-air 25 years and we’ve never had any complaints with the CRTC till date.
3304 THE CHAIRPERSON: Good for you.
3305 The -- what would be the impact on your business plan if there was more than one licence came out of this proceeding?
3306 MS. BUTTAR: I feel that we would probably have the least impact on the current market just because we have so much revenue in the market currently. A lot of our current advertisers that are currently advertising would expand their time as Kaan will -- I’ll get Kaan to comment on that in a bit as well.
3307 And as well, we are very passionate about what we do, so that being said, having -- sorry, just one second. Okay. So as far as the current licences, I feel that with the current broadcasting we’ll be working more complement -- like we would complement the programs. Even looking at a program structure right now, the way we have it is there’s no overlapping. When they’re serving to the Cantonese, we’re serving to different languages, vice versa.
3308 Having more than one licence would create a competition in the market definitely, but that’s something that we are totally capable and willing to take on.
3309 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. How significant an impact would it have on your business plan do you think? I mean, obviously it would depend on the nature of the licence.
3310 MS. BUTTAR: Definitely, yeah.
3311 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: Well, given our background and current footprint within the community as well as our revenue base, we believe that the figures we’ve come to are fairly conservative and attainable. Therefore, I don’t anticipate there being a large influence on our business moving forward.
3312 And to elaborate, I will ask Kaan to provide some feedback.
3313 MR. YIGIT: Yeah, I mean, if just looking at, you know, the numbers really and the forecasts and sort of going with the idea of large numbers, I mean, you’re looking at the ethnic community in this market growing at -- by leaps and bounds. Forecast is about 66 percent from, you know, the numbers that I could do over the next 15 years. So, from that standpoint, you’re going to go from, you know, 300 -- you know, 232,000 people born outside of Canada in this marketplace which -- excluding the second generation being born in Edmonton to 342. You know, if the question is, can this, you know, size of market support one or two stations again, my answer would be yes, why wouldn’t it? You have to believe that the infrastructure will catch up to the actual numbers of people for some time.
3314 And there’s also other piece of evidence but I’m not quite sure if I -- the -- you know, we’ve spoken to 19 advertisers. We’ve one 1 on 1 interviews out of a pool of 40 that we received to the radio station. And they were, you know, without exception, very enthusiastic about a full-time station here, and other station presumably because they know that there’s -- you know, there’d be more than one.
3315 But again, they always spoke in terms of expanding the market and being able to reach more of their market. So putting those two pieces together, I would say that the market should be able to support additional entrants.
3316 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Those are my questions. Those are our questions.
3317 Thank you very much for your presentation. We will adjourn for the day and we will resume at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow, which is half an hour later than originally planned.
3318 So thank you very much and have a pleasant evening.
3319 MR. SHARNPREET BUTTAR: Thank you.
--- Upon adjourning at 4:20 p.m.
- Date modified: